Saturday, December 25, 2010
In Hebrews 10:19-22 We find there encouraging words for those who have been saved.
Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,
By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;
And having an high priest over the house of God;
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
The Lord says that we should have boldness to come before Him in prayer, because that is one of the privileges we have received. The Lord Jesus said: "Ask, and ye shall receive" (John 16:24).
Do we have to ask for everything?
No! God already knows what our needs are.
Can we change God's plans by our petitions?
No! God knows what we are going to ask Him, even before we were born.
But that is no reason to keep silent. That is no reason to be bashful before God, excusing ourselves that we do not know how to pray. We should pray to God when we get up in the morning, and when we go to bed in the evening and all the time in between. Through prayer and Bible study we establish an ongoing communication with God.
For example, if we do not know how to pray, we can tell the Father that we do not know how to pray. Then we can ask Him to teach us how to pray. This is one of the requests that God will fill, because it brings glory to God. And God will teach us what it means "to come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). It is a privilege to come before the throne of Almighty God and He always hears us.
Which other person in the world do you know who will always lend a willing ear, and who always understands what we mean?
We can ask God to give us light when we read the Bible. We can ask God to keep us faithful in His Word. We can ask God to teach us what it means to give Him all the honor and the glory. That is not a small request. We can ask God to give us a hatred for certain sins that we still embrace. We can ask God to give us a free and extrovert spirit and ability of speech when we speak with others. We can ask God to make other people receptive to the Word of God when we speak to them. We can ask God that He give us guidance and wisdom that we conduct ourselves as children of the Most High. We can ask God that our children may grow up fearing Him and honoring Him. We can ask God that He take away our fears concerning the future of our children, and that we will learn to give it all into His hand. We can ask God to teach us how to thank Him for everything that He sends our way, even those things that we do not like. We can ask God to give us a job in this church so that we will be fruitful in the furtherance of His Kingdom. We can ask God to give us boldness to step forward to offer our services for this church. As you know, we are a small congregation that is not growing. It may be God's will that we remain small, but we can ask God what we can do to help our congregation to grow. All these petitions, and many more, we may bring boldly before the throne of grace.
Do we hear Him?
If God the Son, the Second Person of the Triune Godhead, has been willing to lay down His life for us, and He has been willing to suffer the torment of the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for our sins, and we see in our life the reality of this great gift of faith He has given us, why then are we so timid?
If we truly hear Him, we will have more confidence to "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith".
If God is with us, who can be against us?
By Alfred J. Chompff
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I have often wondered how a gracious person can live in the army, and, along with wicked soldiers, enter into severe engagements with the enemy.
Is he not a murderer according to Galatians 5:21?
Does he not deliberately act contrary to the Saviour's instructions as recorded in Matthew 5:44?
Is it right or scriptural for a gracious person to take up arms at all against his fellow creatures?
A gracious soldier, in time of war and in engagements with the enemy, must be in a very deplorable situation. An answer will oblige Yours,
Answer by J.C. Philpot
Beyond all question, war, viewed in itself, is inconsistent with the gospel of peace and righteousness, and there is necessarily in the very profession of a soldier that which must shock every truly Christian heart.
So far we are fully agreed with our correspondent; but he seems to have confused two things, which we cannot but consider very different.
It surely is one thing, being a Christian, to go into the army, and another, being a Christian, to continue in the army.
We can hardly think that any man possessed of a tender conscience and the life of God in his soul would deliberately enlist as a private soldier, or purchase a commission as an officer.
But take the first case, with which we seem- more immediately concerned, that of a soldier in the ranks. A wild, reckless youth, in a moment of excitement, perhaps half drunk, or driven to it by poverty and destitution, enlists into a marching regiment.
After he has been some time in the ranks, the Lord is pleased to quicken his soul into spiritual life; and to doubt this is ever the case is to doubt the sovereignty of grace, and to deny positive facts.
Besides the burden of a guilty conscience, our poor unhappy youth has now to endure all the misery and wretchedness, the filth and wickedness, and probably the persecution of a barrack life, which has been called by those who know it, "A hell upon earth."
But what is the poor man to do?
He is like a mouse in a trap; he is in, but how is he to get out?
There are but two ways out; one he must not take, and the other he most probably cannot. These two ways are desertion or discharge. Surely J. H. would not recommend the former—at best a most terrible and perilous experiment, and subjecting a man to the disgrace and punishment of a felon.
This way, then, being thoroughly blocked out, can he avail himself of the second?
His discharge will cost him at least £40; and if he be a thoroughly good soldier, the probability is that the colonel will not part with him at any price. It is calculated that every soldier landed in India is worth to Government £100, and has probably cost twice that sum.
How will the commanding officer let that man purchase his discharge for £40?
But suppose the colonel were willing to let him go, can he always or often raise the
sum required for his discharge?
Then what alternative has he but to stay in his regiment?
Now, suppose the regiment is ordered off to India, and suppose it is sent on to Delhi or Lucknow, and suppose, as is most probable, it has to go into action against the sepoys, what is our Christian soldier to do?
Is he to refuse to march in the ranks, or not fire his Enfield rifle when the word is given to fire, or lie down on the ground when his fellow soldiers are rushing on to the charge?
It is fearful to think that he has to shed blood, but he has no alternative; and apart from his general duty as a soldier, if his comrade is about to be cut down by a sepoy, is he not to protect him, though in doing so he take the life of the enemy?
But examine the matter upon scriptural grounds.
Have we no instances of godly soldiers in the New Testament?
What was the centurion, (Matthew 8) of whom the Lord himself testified that He "had not found so great faith, no, not in Israel," but a soldier, or
rather what we should call a captain, in the Roman army, then occupying Judaea, as our troops are stationed in India?
And that this centurion was a saved man is evident from what the Lord added:
"And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."
He had come from the west to sit first at the Redeemer's feet, and will sit down hereafter to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
And who was the first Gentile to whose house salvation came after the Lord had risen from the dead but Cornelius, "a centurion of the band called the Italian band?" — just as we might say, however odd it may sound to the ear, " A Captain in the Scotch Greys," or "A Lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards."
On this Roman captain, whom J. H. would almost call "a murderer," and if so he could not have "eternal life abiding in him," (1 John 3:15,) the Holy Ghost fell, and he was baptized in the name of the Lord, being the first Gentile Baptist.
It appears also that he was not alone in the Italian band, for "a devout soldier waited on him continually," being what we should now call "the orderly" of this gracious, God-fearing captain.
Now, suppose that this godly captain had lived for about thirty years after his baptism, which might easily have been the case, it would have found him in the very heat of that tremendous war which ended in the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army under Titus; and suppose he was at - the siege of that city, as Baker might have been at the siege of Delhi; now, if there had been what is called a "sortie," that is, a rush from the city of the besieged Jews, and our godly captain had been at the head of his troop, must he have fought or fled?
And if the devout soldier who waited on him, his "orderly," had been at his side, and seen a Jewish desperado aiming a blow at his captain's head, might he save his life, even though he had to kill the Jewish soldier?
And would, in this case, this devout soldier have been "a murderer," and so been cut off from eternal life?"
Nor do we want modern instances. Colonel Gardner, a man favored with one of the most remarkable experiences on record, continued in the army after his call by grace, and, in fact, died with his sword in his hand, for he was cut down at the battle of Preston Pans by the scythe of a Highlander, when fighting bravely in defence of his king, his country, and, we may add, his religion; for Pope and Pretender had conspired to rob England both of liberty and religion.
Was Colonel Gardener "a murderer," and is he now in hell?
If so, he was awfully deceived; for, if we remember right, he had a most blessed visit from his dear Lord a night or two before the battle, and a sweet assurance from his own lips that he should shortly be with him.
Though we have thus written, let it not be supposed that we are vindicating war, or justifying a godly man for going into the army.
We are merely taking up the question, whether it be possible for a man to be in such a position, and yet be a partaker of grace.
At the present moment, the question assumes to us a greater degree of interest, as, from the letter which we inserted in the October No., from a soldier in India, and another to be found in our present pages, we have every reason to believe there are a few who fear God in our Indian army.
Did Christ o'er sinners weep?
And shall our cheeks be dry?
Let floods of penitential grief
Burst forth from every eye.
The Son of God in tears
The angels wondering see;
Hast thou no wonder, O my soul?
He shed those tears for thee!
He wept that we might weep,
Might weep our sin and shame;
He wept to show his love for us,
And bid us love the same.
Then tender be our hearts,
Our eyes in sorrow dim,
Till every tear from every eye
Is wiped away by him.
Are trials and afflictions necessarily chastisements for sin; in other words, are they always visitations for some particular disobedience?
Heavenly wisdom, holy caution, and spiritual experience, we feel, are deeply needed to handle these two subjects scripturally and experimentally, so as to clear God in all his dealings, not to darken counsel by words without knowledge, or advance anything inconsistent with the truth of God as revealed in the scripture, or made
known in the hearts of his people. We, therefore, crave the kind consideration of our readers if we fall short of handling them to their full satisfaction, as they are by no means so clear as most points of doctrine or experience.
1. The first point is, "How far trials and afflictions are necessarily chastisements for sin; in other words, whether they are always visitations for some particular disobedience?"
To clear up this point we offer the following considerations:
1. Would there be any trials and afflictions if there were no sin?
Were there any, could there have been any, in Paradise, in man's primitive, unfallen state?
Then trials and afflictions imply sin, and the continuance of afflictions implies the continuance of sin.
Apply this general truth to particular cases.
1. Here is a child of God afflicted in mind, or body, or family, or circumstances, under the hidings of God's face, assaulted and buffeted by Satan, in heavy bondage, much cast down and distressed in his soul, or tried in any of those various ways which make up tribulation's rough and thorny path.
Now, in most cases, he will not have far to look for the cause of this rod; for in very many instances, the affliction will either so follow upon the heels of the sin, or be so specially marked by circumstances for it, that there will be almost as if there were a voice in the trial declaring what it is sent for.
In this case, therefore, the matter is plain enough that the rod is for some slip, or fall, or departure from the right ways of the Lord.
There is no difficulty here. If the rod be not heard, it is not because the rod has no voice, but because the conscience has as yet no ear.
2. But let us assume that there has been no slip, no foolish action, inconsistent conduct, unbecoming words, hastiness of temper, strife or contention, no unkindness to a brother or sister in the Lord, no indulgence in pride, worldliness, and covetousness, no secret rebellion, fretfulness, or unthankfulness; assume there has been a freedom from these things, (and how many are free or for any length of
time?) may not afflictions yet come as a rod for sins that lie deeper still?
How often, where there has been no open breach made in conscience by the guilt of the above evils, there has been perhaps for weeks or months a coldness and deadness, a lukewarmness and barrenness in the things of God, a backsliding in heart and affection, a worldliness and carelessness, an ease and a self-indulgence, which for a time conscience may not loudly testify against, but which are all very contrary to the life and spirit of vital godliness.
A man may keep up all the form of private prayer, reading the scriptures with diligence and attention, attending the preached word at every available opportunity, and even at times have a few softenings and meltings, some transient feelings of sorrow and compunction for his comness and deadness, and yet be for the most part in a very barren and unhealthy state of soul.
Now, to chastise us for this backsliding in heart, as well as to bring us out of it, the Lord often sends some trial and affliction. Why it comes we may not see at first, and that it is sent as a scourge for our carnality and carelessness; but after a time, as the medicine works and the rod produces the peaceable fruits of righteousness, we are brought, as it were, to our senses by it; and, as the blessed Spirit works more sensibly and powerfully in and by it, we are led to see and feel more clearly and deeply into what a cold, carnal, lifeless, miserable spot we had got.
This feeling softening the heart brings forth confession, humiliation, penitence, and self-reproach; and when any sense of the Lord's mercy is manifested, godly sorrow, self loathing, earnestness, looking upon Him whom we have pierced, and, through all these working together to one aim and end, the blessed Spirit brings about a revival of faith, hope, and love, and a deliverance from the barrenness and death before experienced. In this case also we see that afflictions and trials bespeak the rod for sin, as well as instrumentally bring out of it.
3. But assume a third case, that the soul has been earnest, careful, and diligent, perhaps more favored with watchfulness and tenderness than usual, more spiritual, prayerful, and humble, and still affliction comes, and trials press more heavily than ever.
Can this be a rod now when there seems to be no cause for it?
But do we see things as God sees them?
Because matters are so far right and straight, may there still not be much underneath, much still lurking unseen?
The silver has to be "purified seven times" in the fire. (Psalm 12:
6.) The first or second time is not enough, no, nor the third, fourth, fifth, or sixth, to separate the dross and tin, so deeply are they hid, so intimately mixed with the pure ore. There may be much spiritual pride and self righteousness in the best of men, the most eminent for a godly life and conversation; nay, not only may there be, but there is sure to be, unless they have been in hot furnaces.
Do we want an instance?
Look at the case of Job. The Lord's own testimony of him was that there was not such another upon earth as a man who feared God and avoided evil.
Why then had Job such heavy afflictions?
Was not he watchful and prayerful, godly and upright, and all that we have assumed, the Christian to be whose case we are now describing?
But because Job was all this and more, who does not see that there was that secret spiritual pride lurking and working within, hidden indeed from Job himself, but seen by that all-seeing eye which reads all the thoughts and intents of the heart?
In this eminent saint and servant of God there was a fund of self righteousness hidden in the depths of his heart which called for the rod.
And yet there is evidently another side to the question. It would seem hardly scriptural to say that all trials and afflictions are chastisements for sin. Look at the afflictions of Jacob and the afflictions of Joseph. The former were plainly rods for transgression, but we could not say so of the latter. It was not a self righteous speech of Joseph when he said, "I have done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon."
Compare again the afflictions of David when persecuted by Saul, and his afflictions when driven from Jerusalem by Absalom. The latter were chastisements, but it would be hard to say the same of the former. Compare again the afflictions of Jonah with those of Heman (Psalm 138); or the trials of Jeremiah with those of Daniel. In Jonah and Jeremiah we can see that their backs called for strokes; but it is not so plain in the sorrows of Heman and the casting of Daniel into the den of lions.
When we come to the gospel dispensation we see this more plainly still. There is a suffering under the gospel "for Christ's sake," (Philippians 1:29); a "filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ" (Colossians 1:24); a having "fellowship with him in his sufferings,"
(Philippians 3:10); "a rejoicing in being counted worthy to suffer shame for his name," (Acts 5:41); a "glorying in tribulation," (Romans 5:3); a being afflicted for the consolation and salvation of our brethren. (2 Corinthians 1:6.)
When we read the long catalogue of the trials and afflictions of Paul (2 Corinthians 6:4-10, 11:23-29), and that the sufferings of Christ abounded in him (2 Corinthians 1:5); when we hear him say, "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong," we cannot surely call these afflictions chastisements in the strict sense of the word.
When again the Lord told the two sons of Zebedee that they "should drink of his cup and be baptized with his baptism," (Matthew 20:23); when he said to Ananias of Paul, "I will show him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake," (Acts 9:16); when "the Holy Ghost witnessed in every city to the same servant of God that bonds and afflictions abode him," (Acts 20:23); when we read of "receiving the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost," (1 Thessalonians 1:6); when Paul bids Timothy "be a partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God" (2 Timothy 1:8); and when we read of the saints before the throne who "came out of great tribulation" (Revelation 7:14); it certainly would seem very harsh, legal, and foreign to the spirit of the gospel, to say that all these afflictions and sufferings were rods for sin.
We seem, therefore, brought to this conclusion that though many, perhaps the great majority, of our afflictions are chastening rods, yet that all are not so, and that, distinct from the chastisement which they procure for themselves, there is a path of tribulation and sorrow appointed for the children of God whereby they become conformed to the suffering image of Jesus, drink of his cup, partake of his baptism, and suffer with him here that they may be glorified with him hereafter.
II. The other question need not occupy us so long. Grace effectually excludes merit. Whatever in us is good, and as such well pleasing and acceptable to God, is his own work in our hearts, for he "worketh in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure."
Nor indeed, though there is a connection between our disobedience and the Lord's frown, for if we walk contrary to him he will walk contrary to us, and so also between our obedience and his smile, yet we must beware lest in avoiding Antinomianism we run headlong into Arminianism.
In all his dealings and ways he is a sovereign.
He will sometimes smile into obedience, break down the heart with love, come over all the mountains and hills of sin and shame, and by a sense of his goodness and mercy lead to repentance. Nor must we, on the other hand, think that our obedience will necessarily draw down his smile. At the best, it is but poor and imperfect, mingled with sin and infirmity, and he may have to teach us more clearly and impress it more deeply on our hearts, that all our fresh springs are in him, and that there is no hope or help for us but in the blood and obedience of the Son of his love.
By J.C. Philpot
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Under the law it was so easy for a person to become ceremonially unclean. If he touched a dead body, or a grave, or a bone, he became unclean, and was cut off from Israel. It was for this reason that graves were often painted a dazzling white, especially at the time of the Passover when multitudes would visit Jerusalem.
A grave must be easily seen so that no one might stumble against it, and so be unclean. (Hence the remarks of the Lord Jesus concerning "whited sepulchres.")
We, too, continually have to do with dead things. We meet them day by day. Sometimes, inadvertently, we stumble upon them.
We hear some blasphemous remark.
We see some indecorous poster.
We overhear some filthy conversation.
There are a multitude of "dead things."
But what a contaminating effect they have upon us!
How we have to cry out, "Unclean! unclean!"
But under the law, God in His mercy made special provision for those who were ceremonially defiled. In Numbers chapter 19 we have an account of this merciful provision — the red heifer slain; the body burned; the ashes kept; the mingling with running water; the sprinkling; the purification.
If God was thus merciful under the law, is He less so under the gospel?
O our daily need of cleansing from daily defilement!
"Daily I'd repent of sin,
Daily wash in Calvary's blood."
And what a sacred passage is that which gives us the glorious antitype, the gospel fulfilment of Numbers 19; "For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh; HOW MUCH MORE shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" (Hebrews 9:13-14)!
Then there is the other side — not only the defilement but also the deadening effect.
What a deadening effect the things of the world have on us, even lawful things!
What deadness they bring upon our spirit!
How they hinder us in prayer!
How they harden our hearts!
We have to pray, "My soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken Thou me according to Thy word" (Psalm 119:25).
It is the same remedy for spiritual dryness and deadness as for defilement — the blood of Christ. It is "the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." A little sacred sense of it will make all the difference.
Thank God that "something yet can do the deed."
What power, what life, what efficacy in the blood!
No wonder the apostle says, "How much more!"
By B.A. Ramsbottom
(1 Peter 3:8)
Christian courtesy is an important subject. It is embraced in the well-known text:
"This people have I formed for myself they shall shew forth my praise"
God's people are called to be different. They should stand out from the world. And that not only in dress, chapel attendance, separation from wordliness, etc., but their behaviour should be seen to be different.
The world cannot understand some of the deep doctrines, but it does understand Christian courtesy.
The world does not read the Bible, but it does read God's people:
"Ye are our epistle written in our hearts known and read of all men".
(II Corinthians 3:2)
There is no excuse for a professing Christian to be rude, or ill-mannered, or impolite. A former generation set a most gracious example; many of them poor, uneducated, even illiterate, they were "nature's gentlemen."
Above all, the Lord Jesus was always courteous.
The sullen, unfriendly attitude of modern youth has nothing to commend it; our own young people must watch against it.
Some people pride themselves in being blunt, open, straightforward; whereas, in fact, they are downright rude.
Quite recently, in one of our towns, the roadsweeper went out of his way to sweep snow off the drives of three of the houses in one road. (They were all Strict Baptists.) When asked why just those three, he said, "They treat me in a different way from all the others in the road." They were courteous to him.
J.C. Philpot, in his obituary of Lady Lucy Smith, a member of one of the oldest families of the nobility, remarked that she was equally respectful whether in speaking to a beggar or to a nobleman.
We need to be courteous in speech. To say, "Thank you," costs nothing.
In going into a shop, why cannot we be different from the generality of people?
If we have a complaint to make — for instance, at school — let us be courteous. We gain nothing by rudeness, and certainly do not honour the Lord.
What about letter writing?
How deeply appreciated a kind note is!
How long is it since you wrote a letter of sympathy?
We remember an old lady who always noticed which people were not at chapel on the Lord's day. She made enquiries, and if they were unwell (whether old or little children), she sent a short note on the Monday morning.
In illness, a loving visit can be of such help. Don't stay long! And, if inconvenient, don't stay at all! And don't stare at the sick person or ask questions so you can tell everyone!
In trouble, likewise, a phone call, a card, a letter, a visit can mean so much. People usually say, "I just didn't think!" In Scripture thoughtlessness is not an excuse; it is a sin.
Be courteous to visitors (and entertain them if necessary). We once had a stranger come to our house, so shabby and rough-looking we only reluctantly (we must confess) asked him in. We are so pleased we were not impolite. He proved to be a most
Parents need to reprove and correct their children; may courtesy never be lacking.
Children need to be very careful lest they are discourteous to their parents — and to their teachers.
Husbands and wives must never allow their relationship so to degenerate that (though having a real, deep love underneath) politeness is lacking. "Even as Christ loved the church," is the standard.
In dealing with very old people whose minds have gone, we need to be careful that we are not discourteous; certainly they must not be laughed at. They were once respected men and women, in their own homes, with their own friends and associates. Above all, if they are the Lord's, He dearly loves them; they are still "the apple of His eye."
Especially in the church of God, there is need of loving courtesy. We must remember that God's people are the members of His mystical body. What we do (or say) to them must be "as unto the Lord."
Where controversy arises, may it be carried on quietly and in a right spirit. How many have marred their cause by doing the right thing in a wrong way! There was much unnecessary bitterness and hatred in some of the controversies which racked the church of God, especially in the eighteenth century. Good John Brine was an outstanding controversialist. No one could be stronger for the truth; but he was so courteous with his opponents and, if he felt his opponent had grace, he would reason with him as a beloved brother.
It may be said that some have not had the upbringing, the background. Neither had John Kershaw.
How do you think he fitted in when staying at the home of Lady Lucy Smith?
Or being entertained by the Lord Provost of Edinburgh?
Where there is much of the love of Christ and with it true humility, however roughly brought up, a child of God will not do anything out of place. Why, the fear of God has an influence here; and seeking to honour the Lord, fearing to put self forward, there will be the meekness and kindness which are the essence of Christian courtesy.
One area where courtesy seems specially lacking today is on the road. And how sad it is when those who profess God's name set such a bad example — breaking the speed limit, showing no consideration for others!
It was remarked to us recently that many can hear the most solemn sermon, and then drive home in a way which disgraces their Christian profession!
In the Word of God we have two people specially mentioned for courtesy — both, strangely, having no knowledge of the truth.
In Acts 27:3 we read: "And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself."
In Acts 28:7 we read: "In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously."
So Christian courtesy is a real blessing. It certainly has a unifying effect within the church of God; it certainly is a witness to those without.
"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous."
(1 Peter 3:8)
"Make us of one heart and mind.
Courteous, pitiful, and kind;
Lowly, meek, in thought and word,
Altogether like our Lord."
By B.A. Ramsbottom
Friday, September 03, 2010
I stand before you this evening as the servant of Christ, or the servant of the devil.
The gospel is a fan that will separate the chaff from the wheat. The Pharisees and philosophers get but little hope from me, and will, therefore, seek more flattering preaching elsewhere.
It will avail nothing to assent to this or that doctrine, unless the Lord writes it on the heart.
The more you know of the truth in a spiritual way, the humbler you will be.
The Bible to most is a sealed book.
When the Lord teaches, we must learn.
I cut down false religion, and exalted Christ, to the great offence of the pious Pharisees. Flesh and blood are not changed, and where the gospel is faithfully preached there will be the same consequences as in the time of our Savior and the apostles.
I am offensive in my preaching; I do not try to smooth it and make it palatable.
Do not cavil and reason with the carnal-minded. What advantage will it be if you persuade them to adopt your sentiments? If they are not born again of the Spirit of God, they will receive the doctrines carnally and not spiritually, which will only make them proud and licentious.
You cannot convince the natural man.
I come off with a good share of abuse as a fool, a madman, a deceiver. But Paul says, "As deceivers, and yet true."
We could as soon make a new world as begin a spiritual work in our souls. It is this doctrine that lays man so low in the dust.
"The preaching of the Cross is to those who perish foolishness." If what I preach is not foolishness to the natural man, know assuredly that I preach not the gospel. It troubles exceedingly the Pharisees; they are very unwilling to cast away their false idols.
Your zeal must be in the strength of the Lord.
You will find much opposition, both within and without, against a spiritual work; but if it is the Lord's work, it will surely be carried on.
Knowledge does not profit, unless it is given by God the Holy Spirit. "The kingdom of God is not in word, but in power." All knowledge avails but little, if there is not a knowledge of Christ Jesus. It is not receiving the gospel in word only, but in power, and in the Holy Spirit, which saves.
It is an inestimable blessing to be taught the value of God's word, so as to prize it, and to give much time to reading and meditating upon it.
Remember, Satan has millions of devices, of which a young convert knows but little.
All knowledge without the knowledge of Jesus will avail nothing. You are a poor dark, miserable, bewildered, deluded creature, if you know not Christ Jesus.
Seeing yourself lost and helpless will lead you to pray to God frequently and fervently to keep you from falling. You will feel troubled and distressed at your cold and lukewarm state, and be grieved that covetousness, pride, and diverse lusts are waging such strong war against your soul. But do not forget that we are soldiers, and have a continual warfare.
Some have a clear knowledge of the doctrines, but are evidently void of grace.
The power of godliness is but little known. Satan is well pleased with the state of religion in our day, or he would roar a little more loudly.
If we are too much liked by the world, and too well spoken of, it would not be so, if we lived godly in Christ Jesus. God forbid that we should rest in a form of godliness.
"Sell that you have, and give to the poor" is a harder lesson to learn than election.
The least work of grace in the heart is worth a thousand worlds!
I am daily a debtor to sovereign grace. We need holding up in all our goings out and comings in.
There is nothing worth living for in this vain world. Vanity is stamped upon all created good.
May the Lord break down your self-will and free-will, and make you a humble man; for if the dross be taken away from the silver, there comes forth a vessel for the refiner. It is a painful process to pass through the furnace; but the best religion is bought the dearest, and what we get cheap we do not much value.
It is a great mercy that we are out of hell.
Prosperity in worldly things will dampen the desire of eternal things.
I find that nothing but true religion will satisfy me.
I know myself to be a vile sinner, and Jesus Christ as a precious Saviour.
On what minute points do the most important matters sometimes hang, and how good it is to see in them the hand of God, who numbers the very hairs of our head, and without whom, not a sparrow can fall to the ground!
There is but very little true religion anywhere. It is a very narrow way to heaven, and if we enter in, it will be entirely by the grace of God.
Much covetousness lurks in man's nature. From the prophet to the priest they all went after it in former days; and as it was then, so it is now.
The cross is not to be escaped, if we are to enter into glory.
Deliver us from everything that may entangle our affections, and harden our hearts.
If the way to heaven is so narrow, and so few find it, what will become of those who never seek it?
Has your religion cost you anything? If it has cost you nothing, it is worth nothing.
When the Lord finds His rod, His people find their knees.
Children take more notice of what their parents do, than to what they say.
Make us more dead to the world, and separate in spirit from it.
Dead fish go with the stream, living ones against it.
Real religion is to be severed from the world, to be married to Christ, and to bring forth fruit unto God.
Grant that we may hold the world with a loose hand.
We come into the world crying, we go through it complaining, and go out of it groaning.
If we are brought to consider what Christ sacrificed for us, and how little we sacrifice for Him, we might blush!
"No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also."
You will not be persecuted for holding doctrinal truths in the head; but for having grace in your heart; for the former will not cause you to differ from the world.
When the fruits of the Spirit manifest themselves in your life; when you are blind to your own interest in this world; when you are deaf to the advice of the worldly-wise, then it will be said of you, "He is a changed man; he is a fool!"
Now, my dear brother, be assured of this, as God works in your soul, such changes as these will be caused; so that instead of panting after the riches of this world, you will pant after the unsearchable riches of Christ!
'Human nature' cannot and will not make great sacrifices; but as you have a knowledge given to you by the Spirit of the exceeding great and precious promises laid up in Christ for God's chosen few, you will be led to see the nothingness and vanity of all things here below, and you will with joy cry out, "We have a kingdom which cannot be moved!"
God, by His Spirit, quickens, and He alone can enable you to separate from your old companions and the world, and so make great sacrifices for Christ's sake, who has died that you might live; who became poor that you through His poverty might be made rich!
By William Tiptaft
"Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word."
"It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes."
The children of God almost always flourish more in trials and difficulties, than in the sunshine of health and prosperity.
"I know, O LORD, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me."
By William Tiptaft
Satan is a very subtle enemy, and never spreads his snare in your sight. I hope you will not be induced to value any knowledge which does not cause you to love Christ more, and to live more decidedly as a member of His kingdom.
Satan does not care how much knowledge you have in your head, so long as he can keep possession of the citadel of your heart. Consequently, he will change his position a thousand times, before he will surrender his hold. But God's grace must and will dethrone him, and set up the kingdom of Christ in your heart, so that you will serve a new Master, and for very different wages.
All that Satan can tempt us with, are perishable things of time, that will soon vanish away. But though we profess to despise the riches and honors of this life, none but those who are taught of God will view them in their proper light.
Satan is the god of this world, and he blinds the minds of those who do not believe. If one device will not succeed, he will try another; and every unregenerate man will be led captive by him, in some way or other.
Many may think they have outwitted him by a knowledge of doctrinal truths in the head, while their heart is devoid of grace. I feel this is Satan's most subtle device.
It matters little what a man knows, if Christ is not the pearl of great price to him.
Is Jesus Christ precious to you?
Do you love Him so that you would die for Him?
Do you count all you lose for His sake gain?
By William Tiptaft
"If anyone would be My follower, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me."
The power of godliness is but little known.
There is a daily cross, and you must bear it, or there will be no crown.
"And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple."
By William Tiptaft
A little plain food and plain clothing are quite good enough for our vile bodies.
"After all, we didn't bring anything with us when we came into the world, and we certainly cannot carry anything with us when we die. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction."
(1 Timothy 6:7-9)
By William Tiptaft
The way to heaven is strait and narrow, and Satan is an unwearied adversary, in disputing every inch of the way.
You will be much despised and cast out for Christ's sake, and nothing will offend more than separating yourself as much as possible from carnal people.
It is 'the life' which condemns the professing world.
When the world sees you unmoved by the riches and the pleasures which it so much adores; when you are led by the Spirit "to count all things but rubbish for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ"; you must expect then to bear reproaches
from the Hagar race!
There is but very little true religion anywhere.
It is a very narrow way to heaven, and if we enter in, it will be entirely by the grace of God.
It is very plain that the world is too much in the hearts of (some who profess to know Christ), and Satan covers over covetousness under the name of prudence.
How (some professors) compare themselves one with another, instead of with the word of God.
But God has a people, whom He will separate from the world.
I am not heaping up treasures upon earth for moth and rust to corrupt. I feel thankful to the Lord I am so provided with every comfort in this world. I hope that He will teach me self-denial, that I may more liberally assist the poor and
afflicted brethren who lack even the necessities of life. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
As a Christian, your mind will be much more easy the less you have to do with the world. Having food and clothing, be content therewith.
Riches and cares choke the seed, and keep you from communion with God.
"People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many
foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction."
(1 Timothy 6:9)
Your kingdom is not of this world.
If I love my money more than Christ, woe is me!
By William Tiptaft
When the Lord opens your eyes wider, you will see how much worldly-mindedness there is, in one shape or other, among the professors around you.
"If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."
(1 John 2:15)
A day will soon arrive when it will be made known how much we have spent in the gratification of our own lusts; and how little for Christ. When He lived in this world 'self', was out of the question.
True knowledge of Christ alone will avail; they must be taught of God what riches they have in Christ, to make them despise the world and all its wealth and honors.
By Willam Tiptaft
We can spend everything upon that vile monster - self!
Pray for each other that the Lord may cause us to give freely for His sake; for "there is one who scatters, and yet increases."
Take my advice and have as little to do with the world as you can help.
How very little we really need in this life!
By William Tiptaft
Before a man can preach the spirit of the gospel, his life and conduct must be according to it; and most gospel preachers fall short in this respect.
It is the cross we are inclined to shun. But we shall bear it, if we are Christ's ministers, and then our walk will be quite contrary to the world.
By William Tiptaft
"I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again."
It seems very cutting to parents when I warn them against making children Pharisees and hypocrites.
But the truth is cutting to flesh and blood, for it is sharper than any two-edged sword. We strongly oppose what the professing world calls true religion.
Much of the religion of the present day, is nothing but the work of Satan. It is very near and dear to the flesh, and the lost feel very loath to give it up; as unwilling as the Jews were to leave their religion for Christ.
The whole work of salvation is Christ's, and Christ's alone.
By William Tiptaft
God's children need much humbling and stripping; and frequently a "furnace", to take away the dross which gathers so very fast.
"I have refined you but not in the way silver is refined. Rather, I have refined you in the furnace of suffering."
By William Tiptaft
What a mockery is a mere profession of religion which costs a man nothing!
There is no more true religion than what is felt, known, and experienced in the soul.
Real religion will find its way to the heart, and its effect will be manifest in the life.
When the Lord has taken a poor sinner in hand He will never leave him, but will surely purge away his dross and tin. He will slay his idols, and tear him from those things he so much loves.
The more God's children are taught spiritually, the greater fools do they become in their own eyes, and the more astonished they are that God should show mercy to such poor worms of the earth.
By William Tiptaft
The soul is in its best state when most humbled.
Lowliness of mind and contrition of spirit are the best evidences of the effects of grace wrought in the soul. The promises are nearly all for...
The afflicted children of God.
For the Lord will revive the humble and the contrite.
He will give grace to the lowly, and feed the hungry with good things.
By William Tiptaft
There is nothing worth living for in this vain world.
Vanity is stamped upon all created good.
All dealings with the world are of a deadening nature; therefore, whatever unnecessarily brings us into contact with the world should be avoided.
"No man can serve two masters."
That great truth is a continual cross to many.
"O wretched man that I am!" says the great apostle.
And so says every child of God needs stripes, scourges, rods, and afflictions, besides various other crosses to separate us from worldly things. Our souls so very much cleave to the dust.
By William Tiptaft
Monday, August 16, 2010
The first three verses of 1st Corinthians 13 make it clear that if we do not have “agape”, or if we do not have the love of God that is shed abroad in the hearts and souls of those who are truly children of God, then we have a clear sign that we are not saved. Let us begin there today, and let us review the necessity of Agape.
The necessity of Agape (1 Corinthians 13:1-13, Ephesians 1:4-6)
1 Corinthians 13:1
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
1 Corinthians 13:2
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:3
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:4
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
1 Corinthians 13:5
Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
1 Corinthians 13:6
Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;
1 Corinthians 13:7
Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
1 Corinthians 13:8
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
1 Corinthians 13:9
For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
1 Corinthians 13:10
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
1 Corinthians 13:11
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:12
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1 Corinthians 13:13
And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
Now the question remains, “Do we have charity?” and thus let us dig into the following four verses and find out if we do have that charity that the Bible speaks about.
Therefore the title of today’s article is, “Do We Have Charity?”
Let me state up front that the word that is translated “charity” in 1st Corinthians 13 is the Greek word agape The English word “to love” comes out of two Greek words: agapao and phileo. Whenever a love comes out of the will of man it is the word agape. Whenever a love comes out of the feelings of man it is the word phileo. For example, to love our neighbor as ourselves by giving him a gospel tract is “agapao”, whereas to have pity on a beggar and give him alms is “phileo”.
And even though throughout the entire chapter 13 the translators chose to use the word charity, we want to take note that throughout the entire chapter 13 the Greek word agape is used, which never has the meaning of almsgiving.
What is it that we must absolutely have, or else we evidence that we have not been regenerated?
It is agape, whereas phileo is optional.
For example, when God commands us to love our fellow man in the church, it is conceivable that we do not love him with our feelings, for we are repulsed by something of his personality. But we have made a decision to love him and to do him good, for that is what we are commanded to do. Nevertheless, this does not remain a coldhearted action on our part, for God also commands us to pray for our brethren in the church. And when we pray for someone, and pray sincerely, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost for this person, and we are growing in love for our fellow brethren. This is the love shown in 1st Corinthians 13.
We can take as our example the love, agape, that Christ has for us, which is a love that was an impulse of His will. Every single individual of the entire human race looks repulsive in the eyes of God, for God is repulsed by the multitude of our sins. But in eternity past the Father chose a bride for His Son out of this repulsive human race, and therefore He chose a certain number of people (Ephesians 1:4) whom He chose to love with an unconditional agape, for He chose to love us according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:5). It had to be an unconditional love, for if God would have made it conditional, any condition would have become a law, then no one of those He chose would have made it, NO NOT ONE, for man is not able to obey any law of God perfectly.
And so He washed us from our sins by having Christ pay for our sins on the cross, and He made us accepted in His Beloved, which refers to Christ, to the glory of His grace (Ephesians 1:6).
It means that He would have to give us the status of adopted sons and daughters freely, for as the bride of Christ we enter into His family. We were drafted to come into His family, and therefore He made us joint heirs with Christ, joint heirs of the New Heaven & New Earth.
This, in a nutshell, is the entire Gospel of grace. This is the good news for all those whom God has chosen from eternity past. And this is the love, agape, that God has for us, and that Christ has for us, and this is the love that initially was an impulse of His will, but eventually it included His pity for us, who are bankrupt and poor beggars, for we were unable to help ourselves. This is the love, agape, that we must have for the brethren in church as much as we must have it for our wife, as I have already explained last week.
Now we have to find the answer to the question:
Do we have this agape?
Do we have this charity?
God helps us along to the answer by defining for us what He means by charity, or agape.
"Charity Suffereth Long" (1 Corinthians 13:4, Proverbs 10:12, Proverbs 15:1, Proverbs 17:9, 1 Peter 4:8)
1 Corinthians 13:4
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
Charity suffereth long and is kind. Of all the characteristics of agape that are mentioned here in 1st Corinthians 13 here are the two characteristics that stand out with head and shoulders that describe the nature of charity. Let us think of the context. There were contentions and strifes at the church of Corinth; there were suspicions, and jealousies, and heart burnings; there would be unkind judging, and imputation of improper motives, and selfishness; there was also envy, and pride, and boasting, and all of these were inconsistent with love.
And in this environment God, through the hand of the apostle Paul, designed to correct these evils, and to produce a different state within the church by exercising love. Thus, when God says here “charity suffereth long”, He uses a word here which means: slowness to anger, or slowness to passion, or long suffering, or patient endurance, or forbearance. It is opposed to “haste”, and to passionate expressions, and to irritability.
And thus, when God says, “charity suffereth long”, He refers to the state of mind which can bear long when we are oppressed, or when we are provoked, or when we are gossiped about, or when someone seeks to do us harm.
In these matters of interpersonal relationships we find that the Prophecy of Proverbs is a goldmine. For example, we must hold back and not lash out in anger trying to defend ourselves, for God is our defender. God says in Proverbs 10:12, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.”
What did God mean thereby?
If in the course of a discussion we are being attacked, or we are being provoked, or the subject of a gossip about us is being brought up as a matter of accusation, then if we try to defend ourselves we are risking that the discussion turns into an atmosphere of hatred, and God says that hatred does not solve anything but stirs up strifes.
God will defend us, and in time we shall be vindicated.
On the other hand, when we are attacked and we respond with love, God says that “love covereth all sins”.
Whose sins are covered?
The sins of the attacker are his sins, and God will deal with him; we are no mediator in his sins. But our sins, which are many, will be covered, and will not be laid out for all to see. Remember that true atonement of our sins can only be done by Christ on the cross. The covering of our sins in the eyes of God can only occur on the cross, but our sins in the eyes of the world will be covered when we respond in love.
God teaches us exactly the same thing in Proverbs 15:1, where He says, “A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.”
And so, the subject of longsuffering must be foremost in our minds when we are dealing with our fellow man. We must constantly remind ourselves what we preach, and what the Word of God says. It does not mean that from now on our dealings with others will be smooth and without any wrath. We are human, and we are subject to many temptations, and we are not always responding to other people’s accusations as true saints, but sometimes we to can respond in ways that are not good.
Let me bring up two other examples of longsuffering. God says in Proverbs 17:9, “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.”
If we cover a transgression, or an accusation, or a matter in which we are being provoked, by passing it over, we will find that the discussion turns into loving one another. But if we repeat the matter of the accusation, or we repeat the matter in which we are being provoked, we run the risk that we are losing friends, or worse, that our friends will side with our enemies.
In the first Epistle of Peter we find many nuggets of interpersonal relationships, such as: Christ is our example, and guidance for husbands and wives, and be of one mind toward one another, and how a Christian should act in this world, and rejoicing in trials, and cast your care upon Him. But today we will look only at 1 Peter 4:8, “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”
Whose sins are being covered?
Our sins are covered for the world.
Only the atonement of Christ on the cross can cover our sins in the sight of God. No action on our part can contribute one iota to the actual covering of our sins before God. But we can make our lives on this earth more pleasant by having fervent charity among the brethren. And by fervent charity is meant that we not only extend our love to the brethren because we were commanded to do so, not only extend our love to the brethren because we have to, but because we want to.
We fervently want to have a loving relationship with our brothers and sisters in Christ, even though they live far away. We realize that this might be a problem in our congregation, because some of us live 100 miles away from others whom we want to befriend. This is a problem, but not an insurmountable problem. What we need is some initiatives in this direction.
But the question that we are facing today is this:
Do we have charity?
Are we longsuffering toward our fellow man?
When we talk with our brethren of the church, are we slow to anger, or slow to passion, and passing over points of friction, and can we bear long with them knowing that God ultimately will set the record straight?
Or are we immediately on fire, and want to win the debate, and want to have the last word. Think about this now, and see what our behavior was in the past, and if we have to change our attitude, and if we perhaps have to change our style of discussion.
For Christ has not called us to be His debaters, but His witnesses. When we witness that we are the children of God, we must show with our actions that the love of God was indeed shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, and this would show up in our speech as well.
"Charity is Kind" (1 Corinthians 13:4, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, 1 Thessalonians 4:9, Ephesians 4:32, Matthew 6:14-15)
1 Corinthians 13:4
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Be kind toward one another.
Here is another characteristic of charity, or agape, that shows up in our speech.
Are we kind towards one another when we speak?
Are we making friends?
Are we accepting one another as equals, not trying to dominate a discussion?
Believe me, nobody likes a man who knows it all, for the simple reason that such a man does not exist. If we have studied long and hard in the past, then let us share our knowledge in a non-threatening way, in love accepting one another as Christ has commanded us. This is the way to make friends. And be at peace when others do not believe us, for most of the time it is not life threatening to us if we do not win the debate. Let us now look at a couple verses, and see if we can make this subject matter a little clearer.
The church in Thessalonica were a congregation who from the beginning were full of love towards one another. We can read that in 1 Thessalonians 4:9, where we read, “But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.”
And although this verse speaks of brotherly love, we should be aware that the word agape is used, not the word phileo. We read here in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all (men).”
Here is a very good example of being kind. It does not mean that we must become a push-over, but that we are firm toward them that are unruly. This means that we must be firm toward them who try to lord it over the rest of the congregation. They are the ones that are unruly, because they hate the present rules and want to establish their own rules. In other words, by being stern with those that are unruly we are kind to the rest of the congregation. And we are also kind to the congregation when we are kind to the feeble minded, which means to those who have not had the opportunity of gaining a knowledge of the Word of God. Be kind to them, for the Father loves them as much as He loves us. Comfort the feeble minded, and support those that are weak in the faith, such as little children and those that are new in the faith. Perhaps in time they will be as strong in the faith as we are.
And “be patient to all”. The word men is in italics, and was added by the translators. Be patient with the children, for they must still learn the gravity of worshipping God. Be patient with the teenagers, for they must still learn the gravity of the Judgment of God. Be patient with the young adults, for they must learn that to be a successful parent we must raise our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Be patient with the old men and the old women, for they have missed the opportunity to be taught, and now is their opportunity to get to know the Lord Jesus Christ and the Father who sent Him. Be patient with elders and deacons who are supposed to know, for now is their opportunity to learn to be teachers of the Word of God and to learn how to teach the sovereignty of God in the church and in the world, and to learn how to be kind and compassionate towards our fellow man. And be patient with all those who seem to have no love for their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They too can be redeemed if the Lord wills.
When we look at 1 Corinthians 13:4, and we read, “Charity is kind” we realize that the word for “kind” means to be good-natured, gentle, tender, and affectionate. Love wishes well to our neighbor. It is not harsh, or sour, or morose, or ill-natured. Tindal writes “love is courteous”. The idea is that under all provocations and confrontations love is gentle and mild. But hatred results in harshness, severity, unkindness of expression, anger, and a desire of revenge. Watch out for those symptoms. But love is the reverse of all these. A man who truly loves another will be kind to him, and desires to do him good; he will be gentle, not severe and harsh; he will be courteous because he desires his happiness and does not want to hurt his feelings.
Let us hear what God says how we should behave in the church when we claim that we are Christians, which means of the family of Christ, when we claim that we are the Bride of Christ, and when we claim that we love one another.
God says in Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Now, this was the reason why the Lord Jesus after the last Passover meal washed the disciple’s feet. Ceremonially it meant that the disciples should wash one another’s feet, meaning that they should forgive one another their sins. Their conscience had become dirty in walking through this world, which is symbolized by their dirty feet.
And thus while they washed one another’s feet they forgave each other their little annoyances, for Christ had already washed their souls clean.
Therefore, God says in Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
Tenderhearted means that mutual forgiveness must be guaranteed within the body of Christ. It cannot be that one member of the family of Christ cannot forgive another member. If this kind of unforgiveness shows up, it means that one of the parties, or perhaps both parties, are not saved, because they do not have the love of God in their hearts. Therefore it is absolutely mandatory that within the body of Christ we will forgive one another, for the Lord Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15,
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
By forgiving one another we do not let the other party off the hook. They still have to answer to God for their own sins. But we let ourselves off the hook, for by forgiving them their trespasses we in turn receive peace in our hearts, and we can put the offending party and their offense out of our mind.
"Charity Envieth Not" (1 Corinthians 13:4, Mark 15:10, Galatians 5:26)
1 Corinthians 13:4
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
“Charity envieth not” because if we love one another then we rejoice with one another. We would not envy someone else because of God’s favor resting upon him. If God considers that person and decides that out of God’s providence that person should get a little more than most other people do, then we should appreciate the wisdom of God to do such a thing.
Remember that envy is a grievous sin.
If covetousness is a deadly sin, for it is synonymous with idolatry, then envy, which is worse than covetousness, is even more of a grevious sin.
We can see the effects of this terrible sin in the lives of the scribes and Pharisees at the time the Lord Jesus walked on this earth, for we read that Pilate saw their envy. We read in Mark 15:10, “For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.”
They were envious that the Lord Jesus would draw all people to Himself, and thus He had to go. But their hatred of Him was so great that they resorted to murder, and thus the Lord Jesus was captured before they had an accusation to blame Him off.
This is what envy does.
It leads to hatred and even to murder. We also see it in the lives of Cain and Abel how envy leads to murder. Make sure we understand that we can actually have murder in our heart before we resort to the actual act of killing someone.
Envy usually lies in the same line of business, or occupation, or rank. We do not usually envy a head of state, or a conqueror, unless we are aspiring to the same rank. The farmer envies another farmer. The teacher envies another teacher. The physician envies another physician who is more successful than he is.
The correction of all these is love, or agape. If we loved others, we would not envy them, but we would be thankful to God that He has blessed them with some extra gifts.
After listing 18 works of the flesh, and 9 fruits of the Spirit, God gave us a last push on the matter of envy. Even though He had already stated this work of the flesh in verse 21, the Lord counted it worthy to repeat this warning concerning envy. He says in Galatians 5:26 “Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” We see here that to envy one another is part of the desire for vain glory, which is a desire to be rich in the world and to have many things with which we can parade before others; but it is all vain glory. And this matter of vain glory is related to the following two items on the list.
"Charity Vaunteth Not Itself" (1 Corinthians 13:4)
1 Corinthians 13:4
Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
The Greek word translated “vaunteth” occurs only in this place, and nowhere else in the New Testament. The idea is that of boasting, or bragging, or vaunting. It has the notion of boasting or of vaunting of our own excellencies or gifts. The definition of the verb “to vaunt” is “to make a vain display of our own worth or accomplishments.” And thus it is related to pride, or boasting, or being puffed up.
Charity does not boast of itself; and that is obvious. Charity does not brag about how good and lovely we are. And instead of claiming how good and lovely we are, we need to ask ourselves if we do have charity for one another.
Do we love our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Is that so, or is it not?
Where is the evidence?
Remember that our love for one another will show itself in our actions. Let us then look at our actions and see how little we do for one another, and ask ourselves if perhaps we can do more for one another. You may reply that you are already doing a great deal for the community at large. That is fine, but that is not where your priorities lie.
Your priorities are your brothers and sisters in Christ in the church.
And is our concern for one another flowing over to our children?
This, I believe, is the weakest link in our interpersonal relationships. Pray to God that we as a church may grow in the grace and the knowledge of the Lord, and that we may look at Jesus as our example.
And pray to God that He will strengthen our love for one another, for we need it.
But God, for us, His people, in His infinite wisdom and love for us has kept us in the faith, and has counted us worthy to remain standing faithfully in this world full of apostacy and idolatry. Show God our gratitude for His unspeakable love and grace.
By Alfred J. Chompff
Friday, August 13, 2010
Christian husbands are bidden (Ephesians 5:25-33) to love their wives. The whole of the exhortation is somewhat too long to quote fully, but we will give one verse: "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it" (Ephesians 5:25).
Now look at the foundation of this exhortation.
Why should a Christian husband, according to this precept, love his wife?
Because it is his duty, or because conducive to his happiness, or because it is what she has a right to as his partner in life?
None of these grounds is named, or even alluded to. But this is the foundation of the precept. Christ loved the Church as His mystical body, and gave Himself for it. Therefore as the believing husband holds to the believing wife as her natural head, the same relative position which Christ holds to the church as her spiritual head, he is bound to love her for Christ's sake and after Christ's example. Christ and His Church are one; she is His own flesh which He nourisheth and cherisheth. So a man and his wife are one flesh. When, then, he loves her he loves himself; and to nourish and cherish her is to nourish and cherish his own body, as Christ does the church.
Is not this noble gospel ground full of the sublimest and deepest truth?
Is it not a spiritual, heavenly and holy view of Christian marriage, and does it not baptize that social tie as with the very spirit and love of Christ?
What a sanctity it throws round the marriage of Christians!
How it elevates it above all worldliness and carnality, and brings down upon conjugal love the pure breath of heaven, more than reinstating it to what it was in Paradise in the days of man's primeval innocence!
Now take, as a counterpart, the precept to Christian wives:
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the Church; and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything."
This precept, perhaps, may be less palatable to those to whom it is addressed, for no wife minds how much her husband gives her of his love, but she has not always the same pleasure in giving him her obedience. But let her like it or not, the submission and subjection of a wife to her husband are here inculcated as one of the precepts of the gospel.
But on what high, holy and spiritual ground it is placed. How the precept is based upon and connected with the glorious gospel doctrine of the headship of Christ and the church's subjection and submission to Him as such.
When, then, a Christian wife seeks not her own will but her husband's, when she submits to his desires and wishes (and of course the apostle assumes that as a Christian man these would be in harmony with the gospel), her very submission is her glory as well as her happiness.
Is it not so in our submission to Christ?
Is it not our glory and happiness to know no will but His, and to yield to Him the obedience of love?
Thus ye Christian wives, when you submit yourselves to your husbands in love and affection, you do so after the example of the church. There is no loss of dignity or position in this, no giving up of your rights. When you can respect and love your husband as a Christian man as well as a Christian partner, and you can walk together not only in conjugal but spiritual love, as he will require nothing from you which you may not safely and scripturally yield to him, so will it be your pleasure as well as your privilege to walk with him as his equal in Christ, but now subordinate in present position.
By J.C. Philpot
Thursday, August 12, 2010
"Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers..."
(1 Peter 1:1)
What makes the children of God so strange?
The grace of God which calls them out of this wretched world. Every man who carries the grace of God in his bosom is necessarily, as regards the world, a stranger in heart, as well as in profession, and life.
As Abraham was a stranger in the land of Canaan; as Joseph was a stranger in the palace of Pharaoh; as Moses was a stranger in the land of Egypt; as Daniel was a stranger in the court of Babylon; so every child of God is separated by grace, to be a stranger in this ungodly world.
And if indeed we are to come out from it and to be separate, the world must be as much a strange place to us; for we are strangers to...
in our daily walk,
in our speech,
in our mind,
in our spirit,
in our judgment,
in our affections.
We will be strangers from...
the world's company,
the world's maxims,
the world's fashions,
the world's spirit.
"They confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
J.C. Philpot - "The Precious Trial of Faith" - 1865
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Unless the trumpet give a certain sound, who is to prepare himself for the battle?
I want no new doctrines, nor any new religion, as I want no fresh Bible and no new Lord; all I want is to live more daily in the sweet enjoyment of them, and to manifest more of their power in heart, lip and life.
We are no longer young. Life is, as it were, slipping from under our feet, and therefore I desire to spend the rest of my days, be they few or many, in serving the Lord, walking in His fear, enjoying His presence, preaching His gospel, contending for His truth and living to His glory.
It is a poor life to live to sin, self and the world, but it is a blessed life to live unto the Lord. I only wish that I could do so more and more, but I have to find that the good I would I do not, and the evil I would not that I do.
How soon we sink down into carnality and death, and like a rower plying against the stream, at once fall down with the current when we cease to ply our oars. These oars are prayer, reading, meditation and heart examination, and without them too soon we slip away from the harbour to which we hope we are bending our course.
And yet we daily find that we cannot use these oars to purpose except the Lord be pleased to put strength into us. We may indeed attempt to use them, and should not cease to do so. But alas, of how little avail are they unless He who teaches the hands to war and the fingers to fight, teach us also their use, and give us power to use them in His strength, not our own.
I am not one bit stronger in myself with all my long profession and, I hope, possession of the life of God; but on the contrary, have a more sensible feeling of my weakness, sinfulness and helplessness than ever I had before. At the same time I hope I have learned more deeply and thoroughly whence all my strength, wisdom, righteousness and sanctification are to come, and thus to look more to the Lord and less to self.
May our lot, living and dying, be with the saints of God whom He has redeemed with the precious blood of His dear Son, whom He has called and quickened by His grace, and to whom He has made known the blessed mysteries of His kingdom as set up in the heart by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Time and life are fast passing away with us, but we hope that through distinguishing grace we have not lived altogether to sin and self, but have endeavoured, very weakly, indeed, and imperfectly, yet in the main sincerely, to serve God in our day and generation, to seek the good of His people, to be blessed and be made a blessing.
To live a life of faith upon the Son of God is indeed a blessing beyond all price, and such a life here will prepare for a life of eternal and unalloyed enjoyment hereafter.
But though we thus seem to get sick of earth, sin and self, yet we feel the need of divine communications of life, light, liberty and love to raise up the heart and draw the affections heavenward.
Hunger is not food, weariness not rest, and sickness not cure. How we need the blessed Lord to appear for us and in us, that we may find in Him that rest and peace, that happiness and consolation, which none but He can bestow.
It is an inestimable mercy when in the absence of suspension of mental energy, the soul can quietly and softly repose on the bosom of mercy. And indeed, this is one of the choicest blessings of the covenant of grace, that it gives rest and peace, quietness and stillness in the assurance that the work of Christ is a finished work, that nothing remains to be done, and that all is secured in the Person of the Son of God, in whom the Father is ever well pleased.
May our desire and delight be to exalt Thy worthy name; for Thou art our All in all!
All divine truth is in Jesus, comes from Him and leads to Him. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.
Holiness of practice, what is it?
It is not a set of feelings.
It is a course of conduct, and it comprises several particulars, as first, abstention from the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22).
Mix not with what appears to be wrong; ask not how far you can go in that which even the world blames.
What moral, worldly men blame, should it not be eschewed by professing Christians?
Where the worldling would not go, should the Christian think of going?
Just think of it – “the appearance” that which looks wrong.
You may say, “O but my conscience does not accuse me; my motives are not bad.”
That rule is not permitted you. No man has a right, professing the name of Jesus Christ, to go on that ground. It is ungracious ground; it is false ground, unholy, untender ground.
It is the excuse of the flesh; it is the deception of the heart, the hypocrisy of the mind, the pollution of Satan. It is not good ground.
Whether your conscience accuses you or not is not the question (though, by the way, I might say that perhaps the reason why your conscience does not accuse you is that it is very much hardened; and if so, then your case is much worse). O “follow holiness” by keeping from the appearance of sin.
Let me repeat it: what the world condemns, do not touch.
Secondly, abstention from actual wrong.
“Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned?”
Can you touch pitch and not be defiled?
Can you walk in what God forbids and be innocent?
Can you join yourself to any wrong thing, anything that appears wrong to the world, that the world would condemn, and be innocent in that union?
No. And think of the effect upon others. Think of the effect upon your brethren if you walk in wrong. Why, it stumbles them, it stumbles tender people; it reproaches the church of Christ and brings evil.
Therefore, abstain from every evil. Be jealous of God’s honour, of His Christ. Be jealous of His holy gospel, of His holy promise, and walk so as that the finger of reproach shall never be justly pointed at you, and unjustly at the gospel through your conduct.
If you are spoken against, let it be falsely; then a blessing shall attend you according to Christ’s Word. But if it be justly, woe to you, for if you be the Lord’s child, then you will smart for what you do. His rod shall make you know what an evil thing and bitter it is to go where He has told you not to go, to walk in what He has forbidden.
What? will you touch that which is sin?
Will you knowingly do that which you know the LORD has forbidden?
Would you do that?
Then you are not following holiness, and if a child of God, O what is before you God only knows.
You are not walking as the Lord commands you to do.
Follow holiness, leave off everything that is evil – all lying:
“Putting away lying...”
“Lie not one to another.”
“..Speak every man truth with his neighbour.”
“...Love the truth and peace.”
These things are not for nothing spoken; dear friends, they are not given to us for nothing. The Lord knew well our base, false nature, the hypocrisy and lying that we have in it; and therefore He said to His saints, Do not practise that; speak the truth; let your yea be yea, and your nay, nay.
Walk so; follow this holiness – separation from the world that lieth in wickedness.
Follow holiness in those particulars. Follow holiness in all your dealings with men, so that if they know your religion, if they know your strict and particular belief and hate it, and express their hatred of it, there yet may be extorted from their unwilling lips a testimony of the goodness and uprightness of your life.
Happy the man whose dealings with men are equal to his profession before God!
It ought to be so. I touched upon this important subject just now, in speaking of masters and servants.
Then come also to closer relationships in life.
What of the husband?
The Scripture tells him what to do, that he is to cherish his wife and give her the honour that is due to the weaker vessel; that he and she are one flesh; that he is in all faithfulness to attend to her, leaving all others, leaving his father and his mother and being “joined unto his wife; and they two shall be one flesh” (Ephesians 5:31).
And says Paul, “No man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church” (verse 29).
That is the Scripture, and he who breaks it, if he be a child of God, will get = broken for his breaking of it, in some way.
And what of the wife?
Yes, it is said to her that she is to obey her husband in all things in the Lord. She in her wifely duties has the Word of God to teach her. She must behave herself, comport herself consistently with that relationship that is the nearest, and dearest, and sweetest of all the relationships the earth knows. Husband and wife are to follow holiness, as when the wife prays to be enabled to fulfil her duties, and the husband begs for grace to enable him to do that which is enjoined upon him in the Scriptures.
What sorrow of heart has the breach of this precept occasioned some good men for many years after the sin has been forgiven!
It is godly sorrow that “worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of” (2 Corinthians 7:10). The shame, the carefulness, the indignation, the vehement desire, the zeal, the revenge, which follow a breach of this branch of holiness they, through grace, have had.
Follow holiness, too, in that external conduct which attaches or should attach to every professor of the name of the holy child Jesus.
“Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”
(2 Timothy 2. 19)
Parents are addressed. The father, he is not to provoke his children lest they be discouraged, but he is to tell his children about the Lord’s goodness; he is to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, admonishing them in that great, that good commandment, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” (Exodus 20:12).
That belongs to us who are parents, and in very substance belongs to all children. You children who are still with your parents, do tenderly regard God’s Word. It is a solemn thing for children to disregard parents.
Disobedience to parents is one of the crying sins of today, and it is one that the Apostle Paul mentions. Disobedience to parents is mentioned together with unthankfulness and unholiness. O children, regard your parents tenderly; obey them constantly. Obey them because the Lord has told you to do so, and do not forget that disobedience to parents is a sin which God will punish; and where He forgives it by the blood of Christ, there are often times and things which make the child in later days (perhaps when he himself is a parent) remember the sins of his youth.
Often he may have to say to his heavenly Father, “Remember not the sins of my youth” (Psalm 25:7); remember not against me former transgressions. Here I speak out of a painful experience. It is a bitter thing to sin against God and transgress His holy Word.
And then in the next place, follow holiness in all your conduct in the church as professors. Follow holiness – separation from every evil thing; as for instance, obeying them that have the rule over you, for they admonish you, and “they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
That is God’s word, and although I speak as a pastor of this church, I would say to you, “Mind that word.”
I do not say it because I have had any reason to smart under any disregard of it amongst you. I would bless God with humility that He has been so kind to me, a weak, unworthy pastor.
But who knows what I may come into?
May I be kept from giving any occasion of stumbling.
Do not forget that scripture: “Obey them that have the rule over you.”
No pastor’s rule lies in an external rule over the mind, will, judgment, conscience or estates of his people. It lies in this: the unction of the ministry, which will bring them to the obedience of Christ. It lies thus in God’s power. I would not give a straw for the external authority of a minister, if he should not possess also, and chiefly, the authority that the affection of the people willingly gives him, from the power and unction of the Word in their hearts. Other than that I never sought, as far as I know myself.
Follow holiness in this also: be careful one of another, be tender one
for another, mind each other’s wealth.
“Look not ... on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4).
Follow holiness in obedience to the precepts. One of them is:
“Exhort one another daily, and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
And again, “Thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him” (Leviticus 19:17).
Remember those things. They come fromheaven and are not to be disregarded. You are to look on the wealth of your friend, your brother, your neighbour, to look after his growth in grace. If you see him wrong, walking in any wrong thing, go to him and tell him; if he shall offend you, tell him his fault privately. Do these things; follow these things. Because the world goes otherwise, you must be separate. God has called you to holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7), to act from other principles than the world’s and with other ends.
Follow this holiness. We are to treat each other with all uprightness and all purity. The aged men and deacons are to be grave; the elder women are to be treated as mothers, and the younger as sisters in the Lord, with all purity. These things God has enjoined on us, and he who disregards them at all walks improperly, walks against the Lord, and the Lord will walk against him in some way sooner or later for doing so.
And how shall you enter heaven without a proper walk?
Though not by the merit of a proper walk, yet by the testimony of a good work your faith will be justified. Abraham was justified by works (James 2:20-23).
Think of it, dear friends.
Do you complain of bondage?
Do you complain that you are walking in darkness, that God hides His face notwithstanding your confessions and your prayers to Him?
Now examine your conduct; go into your soul, and say to it, “What are you doing? How are you living?”
Then go to your walk.
What is it?
Is it such as even the world would disapprove?
Then ask no longer why the former days were better than these, for therein you do not enquire wisely.
Rather charge yourself no longer to walk in that which dishonours God’s truth, and name, and church, and brings bondage and wounding to your soul, and guilt and defilement on your conscience.
Without a gracious walk, what is a profession?
Without straight feet, what is a glib tongue?
What are prayers, if the conduct is not right?
No man shall see the Lord without his heart, his spirit, his mind and his conduct being all of a piece. Grace saves from sin.
“Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.”
“Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?”
And “how shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
Dear friends, if you live in sin, you are not dead to it – you are its servants.
“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?”
Three things must accord: heart, lip, life; these make up a man.
Now take this exhortation by God’s help to yourselves, as I would take it to myself. Let us examine not only what we believe, but how we are living. Let us continually seek to abstain from the appearance of evil, and to turn away from all wrong things; things which not only God condemns, but which appearance may condemn, and which men if they saw would condemn.
Only thus living have we any right to talk of experience in divine things or to mention Jesus Christ.
Therefore, the Lord help us, help us individually, help us as a church to hate evil, to hate the garment spotted by the flesh, and to fear doing anything that would bring a reproach to Christ, to His church, anything that would bring the frown of God, that would bring it danger.
The good Lord make us fear where we should fear, help us where we need help, strengthen us where we need strengthening, purge us, cleanse and save us, and grant us His smile and His presence.
By J.K. Popham - 1911