Grace Gems for OCTOBER, 2017

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We all naturally love to have a pope of our own!

(J.C. Ryle, 1884)

"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong!" Galatians 2:11

One lesson we learn from this verse, is that great ministers may make great mistakes. The best of men are weak and fallible. Unless the grace of God holds them up, any one of them may go astray at any time. Let us learn not to put implicit confidence in any man's opinion, merely because he is a minister. Peter was one of the very chief Apostles and yet he could err. What are the best of ministers but men dust, ashes, and clay men of like passions with ourselves, men exposed to temptations, men liable to weaknesses and infirmities?

We all naturally love to have a pope of our own. We are far too ready to think, that because some great minister or some learned man says a thing; or because our own minister, whom we love, says a thing that it must be right,
without examining whether it is in Scripture or not.

It is absurd to suppose that ordained men cannot go wrong. We should follow them so far as they teach according to the Bible, but no further. We should believe them so long as they can say, "Thus it is written! Thus says the Lord!" but further than this, we are not to go. Infallibility is not to be found in ordained men, but in the Bible alone!

Let us take care that we do not place implicit confidence on our own minister's opinion, however godly he may be. Peter was a man of mighty grace, and yet he could err. Your minister may be a man of God indeed, and worthy of all honor for his preaching and example; but do not make a pope of him! Do not place his word on the same level with the Word of God.

The Christian minister is not infallible! The vulgar notion that a clergyman is not likely to hold or teach erroneous doctrines, and that we seldom need to doubt the truth of anything he tells us in the pulpit is one of the most mischievous errors which has been bequeathed by the Church of Rome. It is a complete delusion! Ordination confers no immunity from error! Ministers, like Churches may err both in living and matters of faith.

The Apostle Peter erred greatly at Antioch, where Paul withstood him to the face. Many of the church Fathers and Reformers and Puritans made great mistakes. The greatest errors have been begun by ministers!

The teaching of all ministers ought to be constantly compared with the Scriptures and when it contradicts the Scriptures, it ought not to be believed. However high a clergyman's office may be, and however learned and devout he may appear he is still only an uninspired man, and can make mistakes. His opinion must never be set above the Word of God!

Let us receive nothing, believe nothing, follow nothing which is not in the Bible, nor can be proved by the Bible. Let our rule of faith, our touchstone of all teaching, be the written Word of God alone!


"Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true!" Acts 17:11

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The line between the Church and the world seems completely effaced and forgotten!

(J.C. Ryle, 1884)

"For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?" 1 Corinthians 14:8

We need a more certain sound about personal holiness. I fear that the standard of holy living is lower just now than it has been for many years. Professing Christians seem unable to realize that there is anything inconsistent in ball-going, theater-going, gambling, card-playing, excessive dressing, novel-reading, and an incessant round of gaiety and amusements!

The line between the Church and the world seems completely effaced and forgotten!

A crucified life of self-denial and close walking with God, a life of real devotedness and zeal for holy living is hardly ever to be seen!

Yet surely our Lord meant something when He spoke of "taking up the cross!"

Surely Paul meant something when he said,
  "Come out from among them and be separate!"
  "Be not conformed to this world!"
  "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord!"

If Christ returns the second time in this generation, we shall find His words about the days of Noah and Lot fully verified. Those days are upon us!

"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all!"
"It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all!" Luke 17:26-29

"Ask for the old paths, where the good way is and walk in it. Then you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

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Sin has introduced great misery and universal disorder into the world!

(Charles Buck, 1771-1815)

"For hardship does not spring from the soil, nor does trouble sprout from the ground. Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward!" Job 5:6-7

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows!" John 16:33

Whoever considers the manifold calamities to which mankind are exposed in the present state, must feel some emotion of sorrow.

Sin has introduced great misery and universal disorder into the world! No person, however obscure, or eminent or educated can stand invulnerable against the arrows of adversity.

It is, however, the peculiar privilege of a godly man, that though, alike with others, he partakes of the sufferings of humanity yet he sees a wise hand directing every event, and rendering all subservient to a grand and glorious end. He desires to learn the noble lessons of patience and submission, while his heart glows with gratitude to Him to whom he is indebted for every comfort he enjoys, and without whose permission he knows no evil can transpire!

"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

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Take a stick and beat every blind man he met!

(John Newton, "MEMOIRS")

Those who believe the doctrines of sovereign grace often act inconsistently with their own principles when they are angry at the defects of others.

A company of travelers fall into a pit; one of them gets a passerby to draw him out. Now he should not be angry with the rest for falling in; nor because they are not yet out, as he is. He did not pull himself out. Instead, therefore, of reproaching them he should show them pity.

In the same way, a truly saved man will no more despise others than blind Bartimaeus, after his own eyes were opened, would take a stick and beat every blind man he met!

"For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

"By the grace of God I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10

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They seek to banish such a God from their thoughts!

(Arthur Pink)

"You have done these things, and I kept silent. You thought that I was just like you! But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face." Psalm 50:21

The only God against whom the natural man is not at enmity is one of his own imagination! The deity whom he professes to worship, is not the living God for He is truth and faithfulness, holiness and justice, as well as being gracious and merciful.

It is a god of their own devising and not the God of Holy Writ, whom the ungodly believe in!

"They say: How can God know? Does the Most High even know what is happening?" Psalm 73:11
They would strip Deity of His omniscience if they could!
The wicked wish that there might be . . .
  no Witness of their sins,
  no Searcher of their hearts,
  no Judge of their deeds!
They seek to banish such a God from their thoughts!

What a proof that "the carnal mind is enmity against God!"

Such is the portion awaiting the lost:
  eternal separation from the fountain of all goodness;
  everlasting punishment;
  torment of soul and body;
  endless existence in the Lake of Fire;
  forever locked up with demons and the vilest of the vile;
  every ray of hope excluded; and
  utterly crushed and overwhelmed by the wrath of a sin-avenging God!
"Consider this, you who forget God or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue!" Psalm 50:22

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Never let us read any portion of God's Word without looking up for divine teaching!

(James Smith, "The Evening Sacrifice; Or, A Help to Devotion" 1859)

"Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Your law." Psalm 119:18

God's Book is a book of wonders! It is a wonderful record . . .
  of God's power in creation,
  of His wisdom in providence,
  and of His grace in redemption.

It has the stamp of infinity upon it. We cannot penetrate its heights, fathom its depths, or traverse its lengths and breadths but as we are taught of God. The Holy Spirit, who composed it and inspired holy men to write it, must unfold and reveal it to our minds or we shall never . . .
  see its glory,
  be impressed with its majesty,
  or rejoice in its divine truths.

Never let us read any portion of God's Word without looking up for divine teaching. Never let us imagine that we know all that is contained in any one verse of God's blessed Book for there is a fullness in the holy Scriptures not to be found anywhere else.

Oh, ever blessed Spirit of God, who has given us Your holy Word to . . .
   instruct our intellects,
   sanctify our hearts, and
   regulate our lives we beseech You to . . .
enlighten our minds to understand it,
open our hearts to receive it,
give us faith to believe it, and
enable us to reduce it to practice in our every-day life!

O may we be given grace . . .
  understand the sublime doctrines,
  believe the precious promises, and
  practice the holy precepts of Your blessed Word!
Lord, unveil to us the types, unfold to us the prophecies and apply to our hearts, the consolatory portions of the sacred Scriptures. May we hide the Word in our hearts, that we may not sin against You. O to catch the meaning, taste the sweetness, and feel the power of Your holy truth! O Lord, open our eyes, and unfold the truth to us this night! O Lord, soften our hearts, and bring home Your Word with power!

"Then He opened their understanding that they might understand the Scriptures." Luke 24:45

"Behold, God is exalted in His power! Who is a teacher like Him?" Job 36:22

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Consider carefully how you listen!

(J.C. Ryle)

"Consider carefully how you listen!" Luke 8:18
 

We learn from this verse, the great importance of right hearing. The words of our Lord Jesus Christ ought to impress that lesson deeply on our hearts. He says, "Consider carefully how you listen!"

The degree of benefit which men receive from all the means of grace depends entirely on the way in which they use them.
 

Private PRAYER lies at the very foundation of religion yet the mere formal repetition of a set of words, when "the heart is far away" does good to no man's soul.
 

Reading the BIBLE is essential to the attainment of sound Christian knowledge yet the mere formal reading of so many chapters as a task and duty, with out a humble desire to be taught of God, is little better than a waste of time.
 

Just as it is with praying and Bible reading so it is with LISTENING. It is not enough that we go to Church and hear sermons. We may do so for fifty years, and be nothing bettered, but rather worse! "Consider carefully," says our Lord, "how you listen!"

Would anyone know how to listen aright? Then let him lay to heart three simple rules:
 

For one thing, we must listen with FAITH, believing implicitly that every Word of God is true, and shall stand. The Word in old time did not profit the Jews, "not being mixed with faith in those who heard it." Hebrews 4:2
 

For another thing, we must listen with REVERENCE remembering constantly that the Bible is the book of God. This was the habit of the Thessalonians. They received Paul's message, "not as the word of men but the Word of God." 1 Thessalonians 2:13
 

Above all, we must listen with PRAYER praying for God's blessing before the sermon is preached, and praying for God's blessing again when the sermon is over. Here lies the grand defect of the hearing of many. They ask no blessing and so they receive none. The sermon passes through their minds like water through a leaky vessel, and leaves nothing behind.

Let us bear these rules in mind every Sunday morning, before we go to hear the Word of God preached. Let as not rush into God's presence careless, reckless, and unprepared as if it did not matter how we listened. Let us carry with us faith, reverence, and prayer. If these three are our companions then we shall listen with profit, and return with praise!

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Jellyfish Christianity

(J.C. Ryle, "The Importance of Dogma" 1900)

Eighteen centuries ago the apostle Paul forewarned us, "The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear!" 2 Timothy 4:3

The natural man hates the Gospel and all its distinctive doctrines and delights in any vain excuse for refusing it.

The plain truth is, that the root of the whole evil lies in the fallen nature of man, and his deeply-seated unbelief in God's infallible Word. I suspect we have no idea how little saving faith there is on earth, and how few people entirely believe Bible truths.

One man is proud he dislikes the distinctive doctrines of Christianity, because they leave him no room to boast.

Another is lazy and indolent he dislikes distinctive doctrine, because it summons him to troublesome thought, and self-inquiry, and mental self-exertion.

Another is grossly ignorant he imagines that all distinctive doctrine is a mere matter of words and names, and that it does not matter a jot what we believe.

Another is thoroughly worldly he shrinks from distinctive doctrine, because it condemns his darling world.

But in one form or another, I am satisfied that "original sin" is the cause of all the mischief. And the whole result is, that vast numbers of men greedily swallow down the seemingly new idea that doctrine is of no great importance. It supplies a convenient excuse for their sins.

The consequences of this widespread dislike to doctrine are very serious in the present day. Whether we like to allow it or not, it is an epidemic which is doing great harm. It creates, fosters, and keeps up an immense amount of instability in religion. It produces what I must venture to call, if I may coin the phrase, a jellyfish Christianity in the churches that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power.

A jellyfish, as everyone knows who has been much by the sea-side, is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little, delicate, transparent umbrella. Yet the same jellyfish, when cast on the shore is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation.

Alas! It is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, "No dogma, no distinct tenets, no positive doctrine."

We have hundreds of jellyfish clergymen, who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity. They have no definite opinions they belong to no school or party. They are so afraid of "extreme views" that they have no views at all.

We have thousands of jellyfish sermons preached every year sermons without an edge or a point. They are as smooth as billiard balls awakening no sinner, and edifying no saint.

We have legions of jellyfish young men annually turned out from our seminaries, armed with a few scraps of second-hand philosophy, who think it a mark of cleverness and intellect to have no decided opinions about anything in religion, and to be utterly unable to make up their minds as to what Christian truth is. Their proud hearts are not satisfied with truths which satisfied the godly of former years. Their only creed is a kind of "Anythingism." They believe everything and are sure and positive about nothing!

And last, and worst of all, we have myriads of jellyfish worshipers respectable church-going people, who have no distinct and definite views about any point in theology. They cannot discern things that differ, any more than color-blind people can distinguish colors! They think that . . .
   everybody is right and nobody is wrong,
   everything is true and nothing is false,
   all sermons are good and none are bad,
   every minister is sound and none are unsound.
They are "tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine!" They are often carried away by any new excitement and sensational movement. They are ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old Scripture truths.

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The only true reformer of mankind!

(J.C. Ryle)

Political and social reforms labor in vain because they ignore the fall of Adam and original sin. These are great stubborn facts, which ruin all their calculations. Without acknowledging the reality and consequences of sin the great problems of human nature can never be solved.

How much we ought to hate sin, and to make the checking of sin the first object in our efforts to do good! How much we ought to long and strive to promote the progress of the Gospel of Christ! This, after all, is the only true reformer of mankind. Just in proportion as men are brought under the influence of the despised old Gospel will be the increase of peace on earth and goodwill among men.

The more Christ is known and loved, and the more the Bible is read the more will the inhabitants of the earth love one another. The more grace reigns over hearts and lives the less hatred and violence will there be in the world. If pure and undefiled religion prevailed everywhere then such plagues and pests and nuisances as quarreling, robbing, murder, drunkenness, immorality, swindling, gambling, idleness, lying, and cheating would be comparatively unknown. Most of the prisons and workhouses would soon be shut. Lawyers and policemen would have little to do. Taxes would be cut in half.

He is the truest friend to human happiness who does the most to spread the knowledge of Christ and evangelize the world!

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Unless our study of Scripture . . .

"He who says he abides in Him, ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked." 1 John 2:6

(Arthur Pink)

Unless our study of Scripture is conforming us, both inwardly and outwardly, to the image of Christ it profits us not!

"Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21

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True Christianity!

(J.C. Ryle)

"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain!" Philippians 1:21

True Christianity is not merely the believing a certain set of theological propositions.

It is to live in daily personal communication with an actual living person Jesus the Son of God!

"The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20

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Nestle in our Savior's arms!

(J.R. Miller, "Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ" 1890)

"He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in His arms," Mark 9:36

This picture of "Jesus with the little one in His arms" is very beautiful. In all the Bible there is scarcely another picture which so well represents the attitude both of the saved soul and of the Savior in all Christian life.

Jesus takes the child in His arms
there is love, tenderness and protection.

The bosom is the place of warmth, of affection, of intimacy, of confidence.

The encircling arms imply safety, support and shelter.

Jesus lifted up the child and held it in His arms just so does He carry His people through this wilderness world! He does not merely tell them what path to travel but He takes them on His shoulders, carrying not only their burdens but themselves! Thus He bears them on through life and through death to Heaven, where they shall forever be with Him!

Then look at the picture the other way the child in the Savior's arms. The child's attitude speaks of trust, confidence, repose, peace, love, joy just the feelings which belong to the true Christian. What a place the bosom of Christ is in danger, in storm, in sorrow, in death! Shall we not likewise learn to nestle in our Savior's arms in all our troublesome experiences?

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Our merciful, compassionate Christ!

(J.C. Ryle)

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!" Philippians 1:6

Let us take comfort in the thought that the Lord Jesus does not cast off His believing people because of failures and imperfections. He knows what they are.

He takes them, as the husband takes the wife with all their blemishes and defects; and once joined to Him by faith, He will never leave them. He is a merciful and compassionate High-priest. It is His glory to pass over the transgressions of His people, and to cover their many sins.

He knew what they were before conversion wicked, guilty, and defiled; yet He loved them. He knows what they will be after conversion weak, erring, and frail; yet He loves them. He has undertaken to save them, notwithstanding all their shortcomings and what He has undertaken, He will perform.

"My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one can snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27-28

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O for a spirit of habitual prayer!

(James Smith, "The Evening Sacrifice; Or, A Help to Devotion" 1859)

"But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress and He hears my voice!" Psalm 55:16-17

The well taught Christian carries everything to God and in so doing, obtains relief, enjoys peace, and grows in grace.
For all that we need we should call upon God.
And from all that we fear we should flee unto God.

At the close of every day, it is our mercy to call upon the Lord.
We must make confession of sin and obtain pardon.
We must carry to Him our burdens and obtain relief.
We must tell out before Him our needs and obtain a supply.

Oh, how precious it is to go to the Lord at the close of each day, and tell Him all that has . . .
  vexed us,
  grieved us,
  cast us down, or
  disquieted our spirits!

And how blessed to go to him each morning, and seek grace to live holily and happily through the day!

Nor is it less blessed to have a few minutes with God at noon breaking, as it were, the day in two, and keeping short accounts with God.

O for a spirit of habitual prayer
, that at evening, and at morning, and at noon we may pray, and cry aloud to God!

If we were more with the Lord in prayer, we would have . . .
  more strength to carry our crosses,
  more patience to bear our troubles,
  and more comfort amidst life's sorrows.

Holy Spirit, take up your residence in my heart as a Spirit of prayer, and lead me daily, hourly, yes, very often to the mercy-seat. Let me find the hours of prayer to be precious seasons. And especially at eventide, when worn and exhausted with the toils and troubles of the day let me find sweet solace and refreshment in pouring out my soul unto God.

Precious Lord Jesus, draw our souls to You evening by evening, and lead us into the presence of Your Father, that we may have sweet and hallowed fellowship with God! Let our devotions ascend as sweet incense to God.

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In that moment we would fall into mischief and misery, if not into Hell!

(James Smith, "The Evening Sacrifice; Or, A Help to Devotion" 1859)

"I have gone astray like a lost sheep seek Your servant" Psalm 119:176

However far the Lord's people may wander from Him, they cannot forget His word or His gracious dealings with them. They remember the years of His leading and sustaining.

Like sheep every one of us have a propensity to wander. We need keeping every moment. If it were possible for the Lord to take His eyes off of us but for one moment in that moment we would fall into mischief and misery, if not into Hell. But the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry.

My soul, have you wandered from the Lord? Have you wandered from the green pastures of His Word? Have you wandered from the Church, which is His fold? Have you wandered from His throne of grace or from His nail-pierced side? If so,
  your graces will wither,
  your comforts will die, and
  your profession will become a mere form.

Cry to the great Shepherd, cry mightily to Jesus, "Seek Your servant!" Blessed be His holy name He will go out into the wilderness in search of every one of His lost sheep and He will never return until He finds and restores it.

Jesus, Shepherd of my soul seek me, and bring me back from all my wanderings. Let me feed and be bound with Your flock. Let me hear Your sweet voice calling me by name, and leading me home. May I never enjoy rest, but at Your side; nor feel at home, but with Your flock and family.

Tonight, O Savior, draw me near to Yourself. Soothe my perturbed spirit with the communications of Your grace and truth and let me lie down conscious of my saving interest in You, of Your love to me, and of my safety through You. Nearer to You, O Jesus draw me still nearer to You!

"My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish ever! No one can snatch them out of My hand." John 10:27-28

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Divine punishment or divine chastisement?

(Arthur Pink)

There is a threefold distinction between divine punishment and divine chastisement.

The first lies in the character in which God acts.
  In the former, God acts as Judge.
  In the latter, God acts as Father.

The second distinction lies in the recipients of each.
  The objects of the former, are His enemies.
  The objects of the latter, are His children.

A third distinction is seen in the design of each.
  The one is retributive the other remedial.
  The one flows from His anger the other flows from His love.

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Some of the preachers say that there is no Hell!

(J.C. Ryle, 1884)

"For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?" 1 Corinthians 14:8

We need a more certain sound about the state of man after death. There is a growing disposition in this day to give up the old doctrine of the judgment of the wicked, and the eternal misery of all who die impenitent and unbelieving. Men are gradually being indoctrinated with the notion that there is hope for all beyond the grave, and that at any rate there is nothing to fear, and no punishment after death, no matter how we live or die.

I regard such teaching as most mischievous and likely to promote carelessness and immorality! Yet in hundreds of pulpits the subject is either carefully avoided, or else handled in a most unsatisfactory manner.

Let us beware of being wise above that which is written, and of ignoring, shirking, or strangling plain texts of Scripture.

I cannot feel surprised when I am told that abandoned women in the streets of London have been heard to say, "Come along! Who's afraid? Some of the preachers say that there is no Hell."

"Ask for the old paths, where the good way is and walk in it. Then you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

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What He has purposed in eternity past He works in time

(James Smith, "The Evening Sacrifice; Or, A Help to Devotion" 1859)

"Remember the former things, those of long ago. I am God, and there is no other. I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please!" Isaiah 46:9-10

Thus the Lord speaks and thus the Lord acts.

What He has purposed in eternity past He works in time. Then the plan was drawn and then the provision was made. God's purposes cannot fail, nor shall His work ever be left unfinished. What He has promised to us He will give to us; and the work He has commenced in us He will complete. Whatever concerns our salvation He will perfect, according as it is written, "We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son . . . And those He predestined He also called; those He called He also justified; those He justified He also glorified!" Romans 8:28-30

This is God's plan commenced, carried on, and completed by Himself to the praise of the glory of His grace!

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A respectable old book, containing a great deal of truth but truth mixed up with error and fables!

(J.C. Ryle, 1884)

"For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?" 1 Corinthians 14:8

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work!" 2 Timothy 3:16-17

We need a more certain sound about the inspiration, sufficiency, and supremacy of Holy Scripture.

There is a growing inclination to depreciate the blessed volume as a respectable old book, containing a great deal of truth, but truth mixed up with error and fables.

There is a hasty readiness to assume that whenever the conclusions of so-called science conflict with the Bible that the Bible must be wrong and science right, it being coolly forgotten that perhaps we do not rightly interpret the Book.

Away with all this!

Let us boldly place the Bible on the pedestal where our forefathers placed it, and maintain, like them, that, however imperfectly we may understand it, the old Book is perfect, and is an infallible rule of faith and practice!

"Ask for the old paths, where the good way is and walk in it. Then you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

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A shelf in my head!

(Charles Spurgeon)

Before I knew the gospel I gathered up a heterogeneous mass of all kinds of knowledge from here, there, and everywhere a bit of chemistry, a bit of botany, a bit of astronomy, and a bit of this, that, and the other. I put them altogether, in one great confused chaos.

When I learned the gospel, I got a shelf in my head to put everything in its place, just where it should be.

It seemed to me as if, when I had discovered Christ and Him crucified, I had got the center of the system, so that I could see every other science revolving around in order.

From the earth, you know, the planets appear to move in a very irregular manner some are progressive, retrograde, stationary, etc. But if you could get upon the sun, you would see them marching round in their constant, uniform, circular motion.

Likewise with human knowledge. Begin with any other science you like and truth will seem to be amiss. But if you begin with the science of Christ crucified, you will begin with the sun and you will see every other science moving around it in complete harmony.

The old saying is, "Go from nature up to nature's God." But it is hard work going up hill. The best thing is to go from nature's God down to nature. If you once get to nature's God, and believe Him and love Him it is surprising how easy it is to hear music in the waves, and songs in the wild whisperings of the winds; to see God everywhere, in the stones, in the rocks, in the rippling brooks; and to hear Him everywhere, in the lowing of cattle, in the rolling of thunder, and in the fury of tempests.

Get Christ first, put Him in the right place and you will find Him to be the wisdom of God in your own experience.

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God's jewels!

(Thomas Watson, "Religion Our True Interest")

"They will be Mine!" says the Lord Almighty, "in the day when I make up My jewels!" Malachi 3:17

God's people are His jewels His own special treasure!

In what sense are the saints, God's jewels?

Jewels are precious things; the Hebrew word for jewels signifies a treasure. A treasure is made up of costly things gold, and diamonds and rubies. Such a precious treasure, are the saints to God.

They are jewels for their sparkling quality. Their holiness shines and sparkles in God's eyes! (Song of Solomon 4:9), "You have ravished My heart, with one glance of your eyes!" That is, with one of your graces.

The godly are jewels for their scarcity. Diamonds are not common. Just so, the godly are scarce and rare. There are but few of these to be found. There are many false professors (as there are many plastic diamonds) but few true Christians. Among the millions in Rome, there were but few senators. Just so, among the swarms of people in the world there are but few true believers.

The godly are jewels for their price. Queen Cleopatra had two jewels which were worth half the price of a kingdom. Thus the saints are jewels, for their value. God esteems them at a high rate; He parted with His best jewel for them Christ's precious blood was shed to ransom these jewels!

The saints are jewels for their adorning quality. Jewels adorn those who wear them. The saints are jewels which adorn the world. Their piety mixed with prudence honors the gospel. Hypocrites eclipse true religion and make it badly spoken of. The saints as jewels, render it illustrious by their sanctity.

God the Father has chosen these jewels, and set them apart for Himself!

Christ has bought these jewels with His blood!

The Holy Spirit has sanctified them. When they were a lump of sin He made them into His jewels! He will string these pearls together and put them into His celestial cabinet!

Bless God who has wrought such a change in you! From lumps of dirt and sin He has made you into His jewels!

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Old fossils unsuited to the present times!

(J.C. Ryle, 1884)

"For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?" 1 Corinthians 14:8

We need a more certain sound about the work and offices of our Lord Jesus Christ. Men nowadays will dwell exclusively on His prophetic office, the beauty of His personal character, the splendid example of His kindness, patience, condescension, purity, and self-denial. All this, however true, is only half the truth and by far the least important half too.

The main thing about Christ, of which this age never hears enough, is . . .
  the atonement He made by His death,
  His vicarious sacrifice on the Cross,
  the redemption He obtained for man by His blood,
  His victory over the grave by His resurrection,
  His active life of intercession at God's right hand,
  and the absolute necessity of simple faith in Him.

These blessed truths are seldom made enough of in this day. They are either judiciously dropped as offensive or coolly left in the background as old fossils unsuited to the present times! If there is not a vast amount of veiled heresy around us, I am greatly mistaken.

"Ask for the old paths, where the good way is and walk in it. Then you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

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The person and work of the Holy Spirit

(J.C. Ryle, 1884)

"For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?" 1 Corinthians 14:8

We need a more certain sound about the person and work of the Holy Spirit.

There is a great quantity of teaching, I am afraid, in which there is no place left for the Third Person of the Trinity. His presence in the hearts of professing Christians is taken for granted. They think that they possess Him as a matter of course because they are baptized, or because they belong to the Church, or because they are communicants! In short, many would say, like the Ephesians of old, "We have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit!" Acts 19:2

But surely this is not Apostolic teaching. People need to be told now as much as they were told eighteen centuries ago, that the fruits of the Spirit are the only evidence of having the Spirit, and that those fruits must be seen that we must be . . .
  born of the Spirit,
  led by the Spirit,
  sanctified by the Spirit, and
  experience the operations of the Spirit.

"If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he does not belong to Christ." Romans 8:9

There is far more heresy concerning the Holy Spirit in the present time, than most people suppose.

"Ask for the old paths, where the good way is and walk in it. Then you will find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

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All these things shall have no place in Heaven!

(J.C. Ryle, "Shall We Know One Another in Heaven?" 1870)

I pity that man who never thinks about Heaven. I mean by "Heaven" the future dwelling-place of all true Christians, when the dead are raised, and the world has passed away. Cold and unfeeling must that heart be, which never gives a thought to that dwelling-place! Dull and earthly must that mind be, which never considers Heaven.

We may die any day. "In the midst of life, we are in death." We must all die sooner or later. The youngest, the fairest, the strongest, the cleverest all must go down one day before the scythe of the King of Terrors. This world shall not go on for ever as it does now. Its affairs shall at last be wound up.

Now, what will Heaven be like? The question, no doubt, is a deep one, but there is nothing presumptuous in looking at it. The man who is about to sail for Australia or New Zealand as a settler, is naturally anxious to know something about his future home, its climate, its employments, its inhabitants, its ways, and its customs. All of these are subjects of deep interest to him.

In the same way, you are leaving the land of your nativity and you are going to spend the rest of your life in a new world. It would be strange indeed if you did not desire information about your new abode.

Now surely, if we hope to dwell for ever in that "better country, even a heavenly one" then we ought to seek all the knowledge we can get about it. Before we go to our eternal home we should try to become acquainted with it.

Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.
All who are found there, will be of one mind and of one experience:
 chosen by the same Father,
 washed in the same blood of atonement,
 and renewed by the same Spirit.

Universal and perfect holiness, love, and knowledge will be the eternal law of the kingdom.

Heaven is the eternal presence of everything that can make a saint happy and the eternal absence of everything that can cause sorrow. Sickness, and pain, and disease, and death, and wickedness, and poverty, and labor, and money, and care, and ignorance, and misunderstanding, and slander, and lying, and quarrels, and envies, and bad tempers, and infidelity, and superstition, and heresy, and schism, and wars, and fightings, and bloodshed, and murders, and law-suits all, all these things shall have no place in Heaven! On earth, in this present time, they may live and flourish. In Heaven even their footprints shall not be known.

"Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes!" Revelation 7:16-17

 

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The Bible is always a new book to those well acquainted with it!

(Arthur Pink, "The Divine Inspiration of the Bible")

Although one may know, word for word, the entire contents of some chapter of Scripture; and although he may have taken the time to thoughtfully ponder every sentence therein yet, on every subsequent occasion, provided one comes to it again in the spirit of humble inquiry, each fresh reading will reveal new gems never seen there before and new delights will be experienced never met with previously. The most familiar passages will yield as much refreshment at the thousandth perusal as they did at the first!

The Bible has been likened to a fountain of living water the fountain is ever the same, but the water is always fresh!

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"The Bible is always a new book to those well acquainted with it!" Robert Chapman

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"A humble and prayerful spirit will find a thousand things in the Bible which the proud, self-conceited student will utterly fail to discern!" J.C. Ryle

 

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Catch the little foxes!

(J.C. Ryle)

"Catch the little foxes that ruin the vineyards; for our vines have tender grapes." Song of Songs 2:15

Resolve at once, by God's help, to break off every known sin, however small.

Look within, each one of you. Examine your own hearts. Do you see there any habit which you know is wrong in the sight of God? If you do, resolve at once to cast it off!

Nothing darkens the eyes of the mind so much, and deadens the conscience so surely as an allowed sin. It may be a little one but it is not any less dangerous.

A small leak will sink a great ship.
A small spark will kindle a great fire.
In the same way, a little allowed sin will ruin an immortal soul.

Take my advice, and never spare a little sin! Israel was commanded to kill every Canaanite, both great and small. Act on the same principle and show no mercy to little sins.

You can be sure that no wicked man ever meant to be so wicked at his first beginnings. But he began with allowing himself some little sins, and that led on to something greater, and that in time produced something greater still, and thus he became the miserable being that he now is.

Brethren, resist sin in its beginnings. Some sins may look small and insignificant, but mind what I say resist them, make no compromise, let no sin lodge quietly and undisturbed in your heart. Remember the Apostle's words, "A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough!" 1 Corinthians 5:6

Many a man could tell you with sorrow and shame, that he traces his ruin to the point I speak of to giving way to sin in its beginnings. He began habits of deception and dishonesty in little things and they grew on him. Step by step, he has gone on from bad to worse until he has done things that at one time he would have thought impossible. At last he has lost his character, lost his peace, and almost lost his soul. He allowed a gap in the wall of his conscience, because it seemed a little one and once allowed, that gap grew larger every day, until in time the whole wall came down!

Whatever the world may like to think there are no little sins! All habits are formed by a succession of little acts, and the first little act is of mighty consequence.

The ax in the fable, only begged the trees to let him have one little piece of wood to make a handle and he would never trouble them any more. He got it, and then he soon cut them all down!

The devil only wants to get the wedge of a little allowed sin into your heart and you will soon be all his own.

It is a wise saying, "There is nothing small between us and God for God is an infinite God."

There are two ways of coming down from the top of a ladder.
One is to jump down and the other is to come down by the steps.
Both will lead you to the bottom.

Just so, there are two ways of going to Hell.
One is to walk into it with your eyes open few people do that.
The other is to go down by the steps of little sins and that way is only too common. Put up with a few little sins and you will soon tolerate a few more. Even a heathen could say, "Who was ever content with only one sin?" If you put up with little sins, then your path in life will be worse and worse every year.

Jeremy Taylor very clearly described the progress of sin in a man:

First sin startles him,
then it becomes pleasing,
then it becomes easy,
then it becomes delightful,
then it becomes frequent,
then it becomes habitual,
then it becomes a way of life.
Then the man feels no guilt,
then he becomes obstinate,
and then he is damned!

Friends, if you don't want to come to this, remember the rule I give you this day resolve at once to break off every known sin!

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It cleaves to us like our skin!

(J.C. Ryle)

"An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest." Luke 9:46
"
Then He said to them: He who is least among you all he is the greatest." Luke 9:48

As astonishing as it may seem, this little company of fishermen and publicans was not beyond the plague of a self-seeking and prideful spirit. Such is the heart of man. There is something very instructive in this fact. It ought to sink down deeply into the heart of every Christian reader.
 

Of all sins, there is none against which we have such need to watch and pray, as pride.
It is a pestilence that walks in darkness and a sickness that destroys at noon-day.

No sin is so deeply rooted in our nature as pride! It cleaves to us like our skin! Its roots never entirely die they are ready, at any moment, to spring up, and exhibit a most pernicious vitality.
 

No sin is so senseless and deceitful as pride. It can wear the garb of humility itself. It can lurk in the hearts of the ignorant, the ungifted, and the poor as well as in the minds of the great, the learned, and the rich. 

Of all creatures, none has so little right to be proud as man and of all men, none ought to be so humble as the Christian!
 

Is it really true that we confess ourselves to be "miserable sinners," and daily debtors to mercy and grace? Are we the followers of Jesus, who was "meek and lowly of heart," and "made Himself nothing" for our sakes? Then let that same mind be in us, which was in Christ Jesus. Let us lay aside all proud thoughts and self-conceit. In lowliness of mind, let us esteem others better than ourselves. Let us be ready, on all occasions, to take the lowest place. And let the words of our Savior ring in our ears continually, "He who is least among you all he is the greatest."

Let a prayer for humility form part of our daily supplications.

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What a pavilion of comfort is this!

(Octavius Winslow)

"As the Father has loved Me so have I loved you!" John 15:9

Believer, you have a home in the heart of Jesus! What a pavilion of comfort is this the love of Christ! To know that the affections of Jesus embrace and entwine around us, to be assured that He loves us each one as though we were the only one whom He loved what a privilege and a bliss!

And yet so it is, Jesus loves you, cares for you, watches over and sympathizes with you as if you were the only one whom He loved. "He loved me and gave Himself for me!" Seek this individual consciousness of Christ's love, and you will be supremely happy!

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At the feet of Jesus!

(J.R. Miller, "At the Feet of Jesus" 1891)

As we know Martha wherever we see her by her diligent, eager serving; so we know Mary by her posture at the feet of Jesus. Only three times she is seen in the Gospel story and each time she is at her usual place.

First, we find her sitting at Christ's feet as a learner, eagerly listening to His words. "She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet, and listened to His teaching." Luke 10:39

At the feet of Jesus
is the place of discipleship, where one learns the lessons the Master has to teach, where one's soul receives the blessings He has to give.

Every believer should learn the lesson that there can be no beautiful Christian character for him, no sweet influence pouring out from his life, no blessed ministry giving comfort and joy to others unless he first sits at Christ's feet as a learner. He must receive before he can give. This is a vital principle in Christian life. We can give out to others only what God has first given to us.

You see a beautiful rose bathed in the summer sunshine and pouring forth its sweetness. "I would have my life like the rose!" you say. Yes, but where did the rose get its loveliness and its fragrance? Down out of the sky, did it not? It looked up and opened its heart and the sun poured his warm beams into the flower's bosom. Out of the air at night came the gentle dew and crept into the flower's folds, and the beauty burst out and the sweetness flowed forth.

Would you have your life like the rose? You must commune with Christ. Your heart must receive the warmth of His love. You must take His words into your soul. He must fill you with His own blessed life. All you can bring to Christ is your own emptiness the emptiness of penitence, of humility, of a thirsty soul.

A poet speaks of Mary's eyes as "homes of silent prayer." Her eyes of prayer told of a great heart-hunger. She did not talk in Christ's presence. She had nothing to say. She wanted Him to speak to her. And any word He spoke went down deep into her heart and became a blessing there, pouring its sweet influence through all her life.

Here we get the first lesson from Mary. You must sit at Christ's feet as a learner, as a receiver. Let Him teach you. Let Him pour His own life and love into your heart.

The first thing is, not what you shall do for Christ but what Christ shall do for you; not what you shall give to Him but what you shall receive from Him. Keep all the windows of your soul open toward Him, that the light from His face may shine into the very depths of your being. Take His words into your heart and ponder them with love and prayer until they fill you with their own life and spirit.

Says Henry Drummond: "Ten minutes spent in Christ's presence every day, yes, two minutes, if it is face to face and heart to heart will make all things different. Throughout the whole day, your actions, down to the last detail, will do homage to that early vision."

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Sola Scriptura!

(J.C. Ryle)

Next to praying, there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible-reading.
By reading that Book, we may learn . . .
   what to believe,
   what to be,
   what to do,
   how to live with comfort,
   and how to die in peace.

The Bible alone is "able to make a man wise unto salvation, through faith which is in Christ Jesus." 2 Timothy 3:15. It alone can . . .
   show you the way which leads to Heaven,
   teach you everything you need to know,
   point out everything you need to believe,
   and explain everything you need to do.

It alone can show you . . .
   what you are a sinner,
   what God is perfectly holy,
   the great giver of pardon, peace, and grace Jesus Christ.

The Bible applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit, is the grand instrument by which souls are converted to God. In this way the Bible has worked moral miracles by thousands! It has made . . .
  drunkards become sober,
  immoral people become pure,
  thieves become honest, and
  violent people become meek!

The Bible has wholly altered the course of men's lives!
It has caused their old things to pass away and made all their ways new.
It has taught worldly people to seek first the kingdom of God.
It has taught lovers of pleasure to become lovers of God.
It has changed the stream of men's affections to run upwards instead of running downwards.
It has made men think of Heaven instead of always thinking of earth.

The Bible can enable a man . . .
  to bear afflictions without murmuring, and say, "It is well."
  to look down into the grave, and say, "I fear no evil."
  to think on judgment and eternity, and not feel afraid.

Is a man drowsy in soul? The Bible can awaken him.

Is he mourning? The Bible can comfort him.

Is he erring? The Bible can restore him.

Is he weak? The Bible can strengthen him.

Is he in company? The Bible can keep him from evil.

Is he alone? The Bible can talk with him. (Proverbs 6:22)

All this the Bible can do for all believers;
for the least as well as the greatest;
for the richest as well as the poorest.
It has done it for thousands already and is doing it for thousands every day!

It is in Scripture alone that infallibility resides. It is not in the Church. It is not in the Councils. It is not in ministers. It is only in the written Word.

All other books in the world, however good and useful in their way are more or less defective. The more you look at them the more you see their defects and blemishes. The Bible alone is absolutely perfect. From beginning to end, it is "the Word of God."

A man must make the Bible alone his rule. He must receive nothing, and believe nothing, which is not according to the Word. He must try all religious teaching by one simple test: Does it square with the Bible? What do the Scriptures say?
The only question is: Is the thing said Scriptural?
If it is then it ought to be received and believed.
If it is not then it ought to be refused and cast aside.

The churches which are most flourishing at this day, are churches which honor the Bible.
The nations which enjoy most moral light, are nations in which the Bible is most treasured.
The godliest families are Bible-reading families.
The holiest men and women are Bible-reading people.
These are simple facts which cannot be denied.

Every one who cares for his soul ought . . .
   to treasure the Bible highly,
   to study it regularly, and
   to make himself thoroughly acquainted with its contents.

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A certain woman once called upon her clergyman to tell him how distressed her mind was

("Pleasant Readings for the Home" Author unknown)

A certain woman once called upon her clergyman to tell him how distressed her mind was. He received her with all tenderness, and inquired into the cause of her distress. She went on to say that her mind was very much troubled indeed, but she did know how to tell him. The clergyman judging that it must be something serious, urged her to be explicit upon the subject of her trouble.

At last she said, "It is the length of your neckties, sir when in the pulpit."

"Oh," he said, "the length of my neckties is what distresses you? I will take care that this shall be a source of distress to you no more."

So fetching his neckties, he said, "Here is a pair of scissors, cut them to your wish."

After she had done this she thanked him, and professed to feel her mind relieved.

"Well, my friend," said he, "I may tell you that my mind has also been much troubled, perhaps even more than yours."

"Oh, sir, I am sorry for that. What, sir, has distressed your mind so?"

He replied, "It is the length of your tongue! And now, as one good turn deserves another, you will allow as much to be cut off as will reduce it to its proper length!"

She was speechless and learned an important lesson.

"Do not grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged!" James 5:9