The Difficulties of Consistent & Inconsistent Preaching

Acts 20:27

I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): Is the doctrine I preach truly evangelical? Let me not take this matter for granted; but examine whether it quadrates with the Scriptures.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There is nothing so dangerous as to exaggerate a part of truth into the whole of truth.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Take any doctrine, and preach upon it exclusively, and you distort it.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): There is a balance of truth to be observed―why? Because it is required of the Christian minister that he should declare “all the counsel of God,” and not only favourite portions thereof…When the Son of God became incarnate He came here in “the form of a servant,” Philippians 2:6; nevertheless, in the manger He was “Christ the Lord,” Luke 2:11! “All things are possible with God,” Matthew 19:26, yet God “cannot lie,” Titus 1:2. Scripture says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens,” Galatians 6:2, yet the same chapter insists “every man shall bear his own burden,” verse 5. We are enjoined to take “no thought for the morrow,” Matthew 6:34, yet “if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel,” 1 Timothy 5:8. No sheep of Christ’s can perish, John 10:28,29, yet the Christian is bidden to make his “calling and election sure,” 2 Peter 1:10. And so we might go on multiplying illustrations. These things are not contradictions, but complementaries: the one balances the other.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Balance is all-important.

JOHN CLAYTON (1754-1843): The faithful preacher may bear harder on one string than another: but he has respect unto all.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): We should endeavour to maintain a consistency in our preaching; but unless we keep the plan and manner of the Scripture constantly in view, and attend to every part of it, a design of consistency may fetter our sentiments, and greatly preclude our usefulness.

JONATHAN EDWARDS: If half my time be taken up in beating off the rough edges of certain passages, to make them square with my principles, I am not in the gospel scheme. If one part of scripture requires to be passed over, lest I should appear inconsistent, I am not sound in the faith, in God’s account, but have imbibed some false system instead of the gospel.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Have you ever seen the hard work that some brethren have to shape a Scripture to their mind? One text is not Calvinistic, it looks rather Arminian—of course it cannot be so and, therefore, they twist and tug to get it right. As for our Arminian brethren, it is wonderful to see how they hammer away at the ninth Chapter of Romans—steam-hammers and screwjacks are nothing to their appliances for getting rid of election from that chapter! We have all been guilty of racking Scripture, more or less, and it will be well to have done with the evil, forever!

JOHN NEWTON: We need not wish to be more consistent than the inspired writers, nor be afraid of speaking as they have spoken before us. We may easily perplex ourselves and our hearers, by nice reasonings on the nature of human liberty, and the Divine agency on the hearts of men; but such disquisitions are better avoided. We shall, perhaps, never have full satisfaction on these subjects, till we arrive in the world of light.

A. W. PINK: That there are difficulties in an attempt to set forth the truth of God’s sovereignty is readily acknowledged. The hardest thing of all, perhaps, is to maintain the balance of truth. It is largely a matter of perspective. That God is sovereign is explicitly declared in Scripture: that man is a responsible creature is also expressly affirmed in Holy Writ. To define the relationship of these two truths, to fix the dividing line betwixt them, to show exactly where they meet, to exhibit the perfect consistency of the one with the other, is the weightiest task of all. Many have openly declared that is impossible for the finite mind to harmonize them.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: But of course there is no contradiction here―there is no contradiction in Biblical teaching.

C. H. SPURGEON: If, then, I find taught in one part of the Bible that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and I find that in another Scripture, that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is only my folly that leads me to imagine that these two truths can ever contradict each other.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Christian simplicity will teach us to receive every Divine Truth upon this formal ground―that it is the Word of God.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Let every thing be received from Him with the simplicity of little children. And if there be in His word things which you cannot understand, sit not in judgment upon them with unhallowed confidence; but spread them before the Lord, saying, “What I know not, teach thou me,” Job 34:32.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Pray, observe―Paul doth not say he “hath de­clared all the counsel of God.” No; who can, but God Himself? The same apostle saith, “We prophesy but in part,” 1 Corinthians 13:9. There is a terra incognita—an unknown land, in the Scriptures, mysteries that yet were never fully discovered. We cannot declare all that know not all. But Paul saith, he “shunned not to declare all.” When he met a truth, he did not step back to shun it; as when we see a man in the street with whom we have no mind to speak, we step into some house or shop till he be past. The holy apostle was not afraid to speak what he knew to be the mind of God; as he had it from God, so should they from him. He did not balk in his preaching what was profitable for them to know.

C. H. SPURGEON: We cannot know everything and we cannot understand even half what we know! I have given up wanting to understand. As far as I can, I am content with believing all that I see in God’s Word. People say, “But you contradict yourself.” I dare say I do, but I never contradict God to my knowledge, nor the Bible. If I do, may my Lord forgive me…The sin of being inconsistent with my poor fallible self does not trouble me a tenth as much as the dread of being inconsistent with what I find in God’s Word!

CHARLES SIMEON: Those who are disposed to follow the counsel of their God—Remember to follow “the whole of it,” “without partiality and without hypocrisy,” 1 Timothy 5:21, James 3:17.

LORD SHAFTESBURY (1801-1885): Consistency is a noble thing in a right cause, but sinfulness in error.

C. H. SPURGEON: Mind that you are always consistent with yourselves. Yet not like the woman who, when in court, was asked by the judge, “How old are you?”

“Thirty,” she replied.

“Why, I heard you give the same age three years ago.”

“Yes, yer honour, but I am not one of those people who say one thing today, and another tomorrow.”

 

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Lessons From the Life of Lot Part 2: Lot’s Influential Achievements

Genesis 13:10-13; Genesis 19:1

And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan and Lot journeyed east…and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom…

And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): Lot began with choosing the plain; then he crept a little nearer, and pitched his tent ‘towards’ Sodom; next time we hear of him, he is living in the city, and mixed up inextricably with its people. The first false step leads on to connections unforeseen, from which the man would have shrunk in horror, if he had been told that he would make them.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Step by step he “entered into temptation.”

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): What shall we say of those who hope to be delivered and who profess to be Christians, but who are now seeking to get all the pleasure and good times the world can give them? One thinks of Lot and his family so long ago. They moved down to Sodom in order that they might participate in worldly things, tired of the life of separation lived up there on the hills of Palestine.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: Lot’s history teaches what comes of setting the world first, and God’s kingdom second. For one thing, the association with it is sure to get closer.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The two angels found Lot sitting in the gate of Sodom.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): By this time Lot had attained to a position of eminence in Sodom. The phrase, “sitting in the gate,” indicates that.

A. W. PINK: Behold how great a fire a little matter kindleth. From a lifting up of the eyes to behold the land and seek pasturage for his flocks, to becoming an official in the city of wickedness!―And in response to Lot’s request that they partake of his hospitality, the angels said, “Nay, but we will abide in the street all night.” Their reluctance to enter Lot’s dwelling intimates the condition of Lot’s soul.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Lot “pressed upon them greatly,” Genesis 19:3; partly because he would be no means have them to expose themselves to the inconveniences and perils of lodging in the street of Sodom, and partly because he was desirous of their company and converse. He had not seen two such honest faces in Sodom this great while.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): As Lot pressed them vehemently, and they knew him to be a righteous man, but not yet willing to make themselves known, they consented to take shelter under his hospitable roof. The men of this abandoned city, being informed of the arrival of these strangers―who probably were of a very beautiful appearance―flocked from all quarters of the town, numbers of every age, with the most infamous purpose, shocking to relate or think of.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them,” Genesis 19:4,5. Their meaning was, that they might commit that unnatural sin with them they were addicted to, and in common used, and which from them to this day bears the name of Sodomy.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him. And said unto them, I pray you, brethren, do not do so wickedly,” Genesis 19:6,7. It appears from the fact that Lot went out and exposed himself to danger, how faithfully he observed the sacred right of hospitality. It was truly a rare virtue, that he preferred the safety and honour of the guests whom he had once undertaken to protect, to his own life. As the constancy of Lot, in risking his own life for the defense of his guests, deserves no common praise, so now Moses relates that a defect was mixed with this great virtue―Lot devises an unlawful remedy: “Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof,” Genesis 19:8.

JOHN GILL: This was a very great evil in Lot to make such an offer of his daughters; it was contrary to parental love and affection, and exposing the chastity of his daughters, which should have been his care to preserve; nor had he a power to dispose of them in such a manner: and though fornication is a lesser evil than sodomy, yet all evil is to be avoided, and even it is not to be done that good may come: nothing can be said to excuse this good man, but the hurry of spirit, and confusion of mind that he was in, not knowing what to say or do to prevent the base designs of those men.

JOHN CALVIN: Others would excuse Lot by a different pretext, namely, that he knew his daughters would not be desired. But I have no doubt that, being willing to avail himself of the first subterfuge which occurred to him, he turned aside from the right way…He should rather have endured a thousand deaths, than have resorted to such a measure.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN: It is evident how he had failed in the life of faith…Moreover, the deterioration of his own character is vividly portrayed.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): Now see how much influence he has got: “And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door,” verse 9.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN: The man who had attempted to compromise with principle is here seen hated of the world, having lost his personal peace, his testimony paralyzed, and utterly unable to influence his city toward righteousness.

H. A. IRONSIDE: How many other dear children of God since, who have sought and obtained positions of power and influence in this poor “Christ-less world,” hoping thereby to be used in its improvement, only to be bitterly disappointed at last, besides being degraded themselves.

D. L. MOODY: These worldly Christians that talk about having an influence over the world—where is it? I would like to see it.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): To attempt to reprove the world’s ways, while we profit by association with it, is vanity; the world will attach very little weight to such reproof and such testimony.

 

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The Financial Security & Freedom of Individuals & Nation States

Proverbs 22:7; Deuteronomy 28:12; Deuteronomy 15:5,6

The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.

The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow…Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day. For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): The matter of debt should be of greater concern among Christians.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Such obligations as that of the borrower to the lender, often force the dependant to a servile bondage…Often also the influence of capital is an iron rule of the rich over the poor. Many, who profess to resist conscientiously state-interference, have little regard for the consciences of their dependants.

H. A. IRONSIDE: The rich almost invariably lord their position over the poor, except where grace intervenes to check the potential pride of the human heart. Therefore it is natural that he who lends should consider himself superior to the borrower. The borrower destroys his own freedom by his neglect of the divine command―he who obeys the Scriptural injunction to “owe no man any thing, but to love one another,” Romans 13:8, will escape the awful bondage of the debtor.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): A borrower is another name for a beggar.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Some sell their liberty to gratify their luxury.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): This disease is prevalent in the community―If at the first they took borrowed money, as they might take opium, as a medicine to relieve an acute disease which would not yield to other means, they chew it now every day and all day, as the staff of their life―they count debt their element; they live in it; they do not expect to get out of it; they scarcely wish―at least, they never energetically strive to get out.

C. H. SPURGEON: The Bible never tells us to get out of debt; it tells us we are not to have any.

MATTHEW HENRY: To be able to lend, and not to have need to borrow, we must look upon as a great mercy―Therefore it is part of Israel’s promised happiness that they should lend and not borrow. And it should be our endeavour to keep as much as may be, out of debt.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Now I say that this is something that is absolutely vital for us as a starting point. This is true of nations, it’s true of classes, it’s true of individuals. And surely there is nothing that is quite so pathetic, as the way in which people think along one line when they’re thinking of nations, and along another line when they’re thinking of individuals.

MATTHEW HENRY: Thou shalt lend to many nations”―upon interest―which they were allowed to take from the neighbouring nations―“but thou shalt not have occasion to borrow.” This would give them great influence with all about them; for the borrower is servant to the lender. It may be meant of trade and commerce, that they should export abundantly more than they should import, which would keep the balance on their side.

WILLIAM ARNOT: We are met here by the old cry, that business cannot be conducted at all if these principles are closely insisted on.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): We do not enter into the question as to how far persons engaged in trade can carry out this holy and happy rule. There are certain terms―such as “cash in a month,” or the like, and so long as these terms are observed, it may be questioned how far one is actually in debt.

WILLIAM ARNOT: In some cases it may be right to borrow, and in others it is certainly wrong.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The magnitude of our National Debt is a frequent topic of conversation. We have, indeed, but an indistinct idea of a number not very far short of two hundred millions; yet we can form some conception of it…What is commonly called our National Debt, is swelled to an enormous greatness. It may be quickly expressed in figures; but a person must be something well versed in calculation to form a tolerable idea of accumulated millions.*

C. H. SPURGEON: We know many persons who are always doing a great deal and yet do nothing—just before a general election there is a manifestation of most remarkable men—generally persons who know everything and a few things besides, who, if they could but be sent to Parliament, would turn the whole world upside down and put even pandemonium to rights! They would pay the National Debt within six months and do any other trifle that might occur to them.

JOHN NEWTON: Some people are startled at the enormous sum of our National Debt: they who understand spiritual arithmetic may be well startled if they sit down and compute the debt of national sin…But what arithmetic is sufficient to compute the immensity of our national debt in a spiritual sense? or, in other words, the amount of our national sins? The spirit of infidelity―like a river―which was restrained within narrow bounds, has of late years broken down its banks, and deluged the land. This wide-spreading evil has, in innumerable instances, as might be expected, emboldened the natural heart against the fear of God, hardened it to an insensibility of moral obligation, and strengthened its prejudices against the Gospel. The consequence has been, that profligate wickedness has become almost as universal as the air we breathe; and is practiced with little more reserve or secrecy than the transactions of common business.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): It is an observation of Benjamin Franklin, “that one vice costs more to keep, than two children.” True piety is the most economical thing in the world—and sin the most expensive thing in the world. How much do the drunkard, debauchee, and frequenter of theaters—pay for their sinful gratifications! What is spent in this nation every year in the grosser sensual indulgences, would pay the remainder of the National Debt. Piety would save all this to the nation.

C. H. SPURGEON: Lying pays no tax. The more’s the pity. It might bring in enough to pay the National Debt.

JOHN NEWTON: Proverbs 14:34. There I read that “righteousness exalteth a nation, and that sin is a reproach,” and if persisted in, the ruin of any people.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): National judgments are always the consequence of national sins.

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*Editor’s Note: In John Newton’s day, a British National Debt of £200,000,000 represents a modern equivalent of about $70 billion in 2017 US dollars. However, in 2017, the actual US National Debt is $21 trillion―an amount of financial debt 300 times greater than that which concerned John Newton. This US National Debt, as well as its spiritual component, grows higher every single second, while the inevitable day of reckoning draws ever closer. It takes time for great nations to destroy themselves with the accumulated interest of continued folly; but time is all that it takes.

 

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A Reason for Thankfulness: God’s Enduring Mercy & Goodness

Psalm 136:1

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Editor’s Note: The phrase “for He is good; his mercy endureth forever,” is found 10 times in the Old Testament, counting Jeremiah 33:11, where it reads “the LORD is good; for His mercy endureth forever.” The phrase “his mercy endureth forever” is found a total of 41 times in the Bible, 26 times in Psalm 136 alone.

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HENRY SMITH (1560-1591): Many sweet things are in the Word of God, but the name of mercy is the sweetest word in all the Scriptures, which made David harp upon it twenty-six times in this Psalm.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Why should we object to the reiteration in this instance, for which the best reasons can be shown?

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): All repetitions are not vain―this repetition is not to be disapproved when there is a special emphasis, and spiritual elegancy in it, because there was a special reason in it, the Psalmist’s purpose there being to show the unweariedness, and the unexhausted riches of God’s free grace; that notwithstanding all the former experiences they had had, God is where He was at first.

THOMAS SCOTT (1747-1821): The frequent repetition of this sentence shews how greatly the Lord delights in mercy, and deems Himself honoured by the exercise of it.

ROBERT HARRIS (1578-1658): Mercy pleaseth Him. It is no trouble for Him to exercise mercy. It is His delight: we are never weary of receiving, therefore He cannot be of giving; for it is a more blessed thing to give than to receive; so God takes more content in the one than we in the other.

THOMAS SCOTT: And it teaches us that this attribute should be peculiarly dear to us, being the source of all our hopes and comforts.

JOHN CALVIN: The recollection of God’s mercies should flourish throughout all ages.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): See how the mercy of God wrought in all the days of old, even from the foundation of the world! Precisely in the same manner it still operates, and shall ever continue to operate, towards all who fear His name, Psalm 103:17. God will not withdraw it from those who are united unto Christ by faith, Psalm 89:28-36. He may hide His face from them for a season; but with everlasting mercies will He gather them, Isaiah 54:7-10. The repetition of this truth twenty-six times in as many verses is a very sufficient pledge to us that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance,” Romans 11:29; and that “whom he loveth, he loveth to the end,” John 13:1.

THOMAS SCOTT (1747-1821): By “mercy” we understand the Lord’s disposition to be compassionate and to relieve those whom sin has rendered miserable and base; His readiness to forgive and to be reconciled to the most provoking of transgressors, and to bestow all blessings upon them; together with all the provision which He has made for the honour of His name, in the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Time would fail us to tell of His preserving, sustaining, pardoning, supplying mercy. Unto His own, God is “the Father of mercies,” 2 Corinthians 1:3.

CHARLES SIMEON: We would more particularly recommend to every one to consider the mercies which he himself has received: we would have every one trace them from his earliest infancy to the present moment: and, in reference to those interpositions of the Deity which appear to have been more conspicuous, we would recommend that they be inspected with peculiar care, entering minutely into all the particulars of each, and viewing in each distinct particular the transcendent mercy of God.

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): It is very sweet and blessed; under present troubles, to call to remembrance former mercies. Asaph found this, Psalm 77:3-6―Reader, let you and I look back, under any new troubles, to past deliverances, and behold the many Ebenezers which we have set up, that we may say, “Hitherto hath God helped us.”

CHARLES SIMEON: Perhaps it will be said by some, I have not yet obtained an interest in Christ: how then can I render thanks for what I have never received? To this we reply, Have you no temporal mercies for which to give thanks? And, if you are not yet partakers of spiritual mercies, have you no reason to thank God for the offer of them, and for not having been yet visited with the judgments which you have so richly merited? Think what is the state of millions who have not committed either more or greater sins than you; and what might at this moment have been your state also, if God in his infinite mercy had not spared you; and given you space for repentance?

A. W. PINK: Unspeakably solemn is it to see so many abusing this Divine perfection. They continue to despise God’s authority, trample upon His laws continue in sin, and yet presume upon His mercy. But God will not be unjust to Himself. God shows mercy to the truly penitent, but not to the impenitent, Luke 13:3. To continue in sin and yet reckon upon Divine mercy remitting punishment is diabolical. Christ is the spiritual Mercy-seat, and all who despise and reject His Lordship shall perish.

CHARLES SIMEON: Do but think of this, and you will want no further incentive to gratitude and thanksgiving. But think also of the offers of salvation now made to you, a salvation free, and full, and everlasting: O! what thanks does this call for at your hands! What if one such offer were now made to those who are shut up under chains of everlasting darkness and despair; would no thanks be expressed by them? I call upon you then to give thanks unto the God of heaven, who yet waiteth to be gracious unto you, and whose long-suffering you should account to be salvation.

A. W. PINK: But let our final thought be of God’s spiritual mercies unto His own people. “Thy mercy is great unto the heavens,” Psalm 57:10. The riches thereof transcend our loftiest thought. “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him,” Psalm 103:11. None can measure it. The elect are designated “vessels of mercy,” Romans 9:23. It is mercy that quickened them when they were dead in sins, Ephesians 2:4,5. It is mercy that saves them, Titus 3:5. It is His abundant mercy which begat them unto an eternal inheritance, I Peter 1:3.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): His mercy in providing heaven for His people is more than all the rest.

ROBERT HARRIS: It is everlasting―Everlasting mercy, then, is perfect mercy, which shuts out all the imperfections of time, beginning, end, succession, and such is God’s mercy, chiefly to his church, an endless mercy; it knows no end, receives no interruption.

ROBERT HAWKER: O give thinks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever,” verse 26. The Psalm sweetly ends as it began―And therefore we may find cause to give thanks to our God in Christ, and join the song, for His mercy endureth forever!

 

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The Power of Praise in the Midst of Persecution & Peril

Psalm 40:3; Psalm 146:2

He hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): A Christian is a bird that can sing in winter, as well as in spring.

JOHN FOXE (1517-1587): In the year 1527, there happened a rare and marvellous example, and spectacle, in the town of Munich in Bavaria; a certain man, named George Carpenter, of Emerich, was there burnt—he was desired by certain Christian brethren, that as soon as he was cast into the fire, he should give some sign or token what his faith or belief was. To whom he answered, “This shall be my sign and token; that so long as I can open my mouth, I will not cease to call upon the name of Jesus.”

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The first that were burnt for religion, since the Reformation began, are said to be Henry and John, two Augustinian monks at Brussels, in 1523, under James Hogostratus the Dominican Inquisitor. The executioner, asked if they had recanted in the flames, denied there was any such thing, but said that when the fire was put to them, they continued singing the creed, and Te Deum, till the flame took away their voice. All this Erasmus testified, though he was no Lutheran.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): Martin Luther wrote a hymn upon their death, full of fire and energy which, in a short time, was sung everywhere in Germany and the Netherlands, the beginning of which has been thus translated:

No, their ashes will not die;

Abroad their holy dust will fly,

And scatter’d o’er earth’s farthest strand,

Raise up for a God a warlike band.

Satan, by taking life away,

Make keep them silent for a day;

But death has from him a victory rung

And Christ in every clime is sung.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Let us sing Psalms and spite the devil.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Luther’s translations of the psalms were of as much service as Luther’s discussions and controversies―his translation of the Psalms and his chorales did more, perhaps, to make the Reformation popular than even his preaching, for the ploughman at his field-labour, and the housewife at the cradle, would sing one of Luther’s Psalms; so, too, in our own country, in John Wycliffe’s day, fresh psalms and hymns were scattered all over the land.

J. H. M. d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): From the days of Luther the people sang; the Bible inspired their hymns. It was impossible, in celebrating the praises of God to be confined to mere translations of the ancient hymns. Luther’s own soul, and that of several of his contemporaries, raised by faith to the sublimest thoughts, and excited by the battles and perils which incessantly threatened the rising church, soon gave utterance to their feelings in religious poems, in which poetry and music were united and blended.

MARTIN LUTHER: After theology, it is to music that I give the first place and the highest honour.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): All intense emotion seeks expression in poetry, and music is the natural speech of a vivid faith. Luther chanted the Marseillaise of the Reformation, “A safe stronghold our God is still,” and many another sweet strain blended strangely with the fiery and sometimes savage words from his lips. The Scottish Reformation, grim in some of its features as it was, had yet its “Gude and Godly Ballads.”

C. H. SPURGEON: Methinks, in a spiritual sense, when Martin Luther first bowed his knee, the Church began to chant, “Let God arise and let His enemies be scattered,” Psalm 68:1. When John Knox in Scotland upheld the glory of Jesus’ name, was it not once again, Psalm 68:1, “O God arise, let them that hate Him, flee before Him?

WILLIAM TAYLOR (1821-1902): Praise and power go ever hand in hand. The two things act and react upon each other. An era of spiritual force in the Church is always one of praise.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is said of Luther, that when he heard any discouraging news, he would say, “Come, let us sing the 46th psalm.”

C. H. SPURGEON: Do you desire a far nobler example? Your great Lord and mine, when He went to His last tremendous conflict where the powers of darkness marshaled all their strength against Him, and He strove until He sweat, as it were, great drops of blood—how did He go? Here is the answer: After supper, they sang a hymn, Mark 14:26; “After they had sung a hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives,” that is, to Gethsemane—He went to His agony singing! He was about to be deserted by His friends and even forsaken of His God, but into that deadly contest, wherein He must be cast into the disgrace and dishonour of scourging and shameful spitting—even to that, our Champion went with a song upon His lips because the LORD was His song! So, my friends, while we are working, let us sing! You will do your work much better if your hands keep time to a cheery strain. While we are fighting let us sing and plant our blows while we chant our hallelujahs.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1901): This is the greatest challenge that comes to us. We are standing for the truth, we are fighting for the truth, but are we rejoicing?―If we really believe what we read we must praise Him…His high praises should be on our lips because of what He has done in His Son. We must praise Him for whatever may be happening to us. We do not wait for a mood or a state, we do not wait for results; we praise Him for what He has done, and for the wonderful works of God. What are we? We are sons of God! We are the children of the living God! And the exhortation that comes to us is this:

“Children of the heavenly King,

As ye journey sweetly sing…”

MARTIN LUTHER: The Christian ought to be a living doxology.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Nothing tends so much to animate to courage and confidence, and therefore it has always been employed in warfare. On a similar principle, there has never been a revival of religion, in any country or in any neighbourhood, but has been attended with a fondness for psalmody. Luther knew the force of it, and much and successfully encouraged it in the beginning and progress of the Reformation in Germany. It is also a very enlivening exercise. Nothing is so adapted to excite holy affections. Let any one, in order to prove this, read only, and then sing the very same words, and what a difference will he feel in the effects of the two.

 THOMAS KEN (1637-1711): Praise God from whom all blessings flow;

                  Praise Him, all creatures here below;

               Praise Him above, ye heav’nly hosts:

               Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

                   Amen.

 

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Prophetic Symbolism: The Two Pillars of Solomon’s Temple

2 Chronicles 3:3,17; Matthew 12:42; Matthew 16:13-18

Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God…And he reared up the pillars before the temple, one on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz.

[Jesus said:] And, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The Church is a temple which Christ is the Builder of, Zechariah 6:11-13. Herein Solomon was a type of Christ.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): Jesus Christ is the Son of God―the Temple Builder. In this respect “a greater than Solomon is here,” inasmuch as Jesus is Himself the true Temple, being for all men, which Solomon’s structure only shadowed, the meeting-place of God and man, in whom God dwells and through whom we can draw near to Him, the place where the true Sacrifice is once for all offered, by which Sacrifice sin is truly put away. And, further, Jesus is greater than Solomon in that He is, through the ages, building up the great Temple of His Church of redeemed men, the eternal temple of which not one stone shall ever be taken down.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): Perhaps there may be an allusion to the two pillars of Solomon’s temple, Jachin and Boaz.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): These were no doubt emblematical.

MATTHEW HENRY: Their significancy is intimated in the names given them: Jachin―“He will establish;” and Boaz―“in Him is strength”…The gospel church is what God will establish, what He will strengthen, and what the gates of hell can never prevail against.

ADAM CLARKE: I will strengthen them in the LORD; and they shall walk up and down in his name, saith the LORD,” Zechariah 10:12.―I, the God of Israel, will strengthen them in the Lord Jesus, the Messiah.

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): We here discover where the strength of the Church lies, and in Whom alone she finds victory, even in Christ.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength,” Isaiah 26:4. Christ is the LORD JEHOVAH, which is, and was, and is to come, self-existent, eternal, and immutable; and in Him is strength, as well as righteousness for His people; and that for everything it is wanted for, to bear up under temptations and afflictions, to withstand every spiritual enemy, to exercise every grace, and discharge every duty: and this strength is everlasting; it always continues in Him, and is always to be had from Him; He is the “eternal” God, who is the refuge of His people, and His “arms” of power and might “underneath” them are “everlasting:” the words may be rendered, “for in Jah” is “Jehovah, the Rock of ages;” Jehovah the Son is in Jehovah the Father, according to John 10:38.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): God and Christ are the strength of the church, and of all believers.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: Christ is, in inmost reality, all which the Temple was but in the poorest symbol―And He is the Lord of the Temple.

THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): As the Son of God indeed speaks of building and contriving anew of His house, as a prerogative proper to Him as the Son, which to the same purpose the apostle Paul in like manner allegeth: “Christ as the Son over his own house, is the builder thereof,” Hebrews 3:3-5―which prerogative Christ here holds forth, saying, “I will build my church.

MATTHEW HENRY: The foundation on which it is built is “this Rockand it must be meant of Christ, for “other foundation can no man lay,” 1 Corinthians 3:11; see Isaiah 28:16Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation.”

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): Strange that anybody would think that our Lord meant He would found His church on a mere man. Not Peter, but Christ is the “Rock.” Peter agrees with this, for in his first epistle he speaks of Christ as the living stone, and of himself and all believers as living stones who have come to Christ and are built upon Him, 1 Peter 2:4-8.

JOHN GILL: Christ is the “Rock” on which the church and every believer is built, against which “the gates of hell cannot prevail;” and He has been the Rock of His people in ages past, and will be in ages to come.

MATTHEW HENRY: “The gates of hell shall not prevail against it;” neither against this truth, nor against the church which is built upon it…This assures us that the enemies of the church shall not gain their point. While the world stands, Christ will have a church in it, in which His truths and ordinances shall be owned and kept up, in spite of all the opposition of the powers of darkness.

THOMAS COKE: Our Lord’s meaning therefore is, that the Christian church shall never be annihilated; no, not by the united force of men and devils combined against it.

MATTHEW HENRY: And it is against the mind of Christ, that His people should have troubled hearts even in troublous times.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I will build my church.” See how positively He speaks. Not, “I think I will.” Not, “I may,” but “I will.” Beloved, these “shalls” and “wills” are the very marrow of the Gospel! They make the strength of it. Take the “shalls” and “wills” out of the Bible and put in conditional “ifs” and “buts” and “perhaps,” in their place—what a desolate appearance it would present! These “shalls” and “wills” stand like Jachin and Boaz, the great pillars of the Temple, right at the entrance, and we must see to it that we never give up these potent “shalls” and “wills,” but hold fast and firmly to them!

MATTHEW HENRY: This is our comfort―though the times will be very troublous, and this good work will meet with great opposition, yet it shall be carried on, and brought to perfection at last.

 

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Sola Scriptura―The Essential Basis of the Protestant Reformation

Romans 4:3; John 5:39; John 10:35; Luke 11:28

What saith the Scriptures?

Jesus said: Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me—The scripture cannot be broken—Blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): Our Lord Jesus Christ honoured the Scriptures, explained them, adopted them as the very Word of God, and as the supreme sovereign authority―on their authority it is His will that faith should rest.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): It is here 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…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 saith the Scriptures?

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): I therefore take little notice of what a man may saith, though he flourisheth his matter with many brave words, if he bring not with him, “Thus saith the Lord.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There was a great Reformation in the 16th Century, but what was that Reformation?

E. W. BULLINGER (1837-1913): What was the Reformation in its essence? Was it not just the abandonment of human authority for Divine authority? Was it not all contained in this—the giving up of the authority of the church for the authority of the Word of God?

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ: The infallible authority of the Word of God alone was the first and fundamental principle of the Reformation…One is scarcely able at the present time to form an idea of the sensation produced by this elementary principle, which is so simple in itself, but which had been lost sight of for so many ages. Some individuals of more extensive views than the generality, alone foresaw its immense results. The bold voices of all the Reformers soon proclaimed this powerful principle―“Christians, receive no other doctrines than those which are founded on the express words of Jesus Christ, His apostles, and prophets. No man, no assembly of doctors, are entitled to prescribe new doctrines.”

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Let not authority from man, but evidence from the Word, conclude thy judgment; that is but a shore, this a foundation. Quote the Scripture rather than men for thy judgment. Not, so saith such a learned holy man; but, thus saith the holy Scripture.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Unless then I shall be convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason, I must be bound by those Scriptures which have been brought forward by me; yes, my conscience has been taken captive by these words of God. I cannot revoke anything, nor do I wish to; since to go against one’s conscience is neither safe nor right: here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It is the lack of this resolve that makes so many denominations in the world today. Most professors never look in the Bible to see what is right and what is wrong. Their father and mother went to a certain place of worship, so they go to it. They saw things in a certain light and their children do the same. But they never search the Scriptures to see whether these things are so or not. I am afraid there are many Christians and some ministers, too, who would be afraid to search the Scriptures lest they should learn too much from them!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: According to the teaching of the Bible, one thing only matters, and that is the truth.

J. C. RYLE: The Protestant Reformation was mainly effected by translating and circulating the Bible.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): This is the “light that shines in a dark place,” 2 Peter 1:19; and a dark place indeed the world would be without the Bible.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Luther said he would not live in Paradise without the Bible―as with it, he could easily live in hell itself.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): It is to be feared―greatly feared―that Holy Scripture is fast losing its divine place in the hearts of those who profess to take it as the divine rule of faith and morals. We have often heard that watchword sounded in our ears, “The Bible, and the Bible alone, is the religion of Protestants.” Alas! if this motto were ever really true we fear that its truth at this moment is more than questionable.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Some are rejoicing because Protestantism and Roman Catholicism are drawing nearer together. “What does the past matter?” they say, “Let us have the right spirit, let us come together, all of us, and not be concerned about these particularities.”—To me, all such talk is just a denial of the plain teaching of the New Testament, a denial of the Creeds and the Confessions and the Protestant Reformation!—Are we accepting this modern idea that the Reformation was the greatest tragedy that ever happened?

MARTIN BUCER (1491-1551): God permits divisions, in order that those who belong to Him may learn not to look to men, but to the testimony of the Word, and to the assurance of the Holy Ghost in their hearts.

C. H. SPURGEON: There are some who think and say that they can do without the Bible. But certainly such think and speak not by the Spirit of God! This is always an Infallible test of the work of the Spirit—that He honours God’s own Word.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Reformation doesn’t mean scrapping the whole of the Bible, and putting up your own ideas and theories. It means the exact opposite, it means returning to the Bible…There have been other reformations. What were they? Well, every reformation that has ever happened in the life of the church, and has led to new life, and power, and vigour in the church, and a corresponding influence in the lives of the people―every reformation has been a return to the New Testament―every one of them!

J. C. RYLE: The churches which are most flourishing at this day, are churches which honour the Bible. The nations which enjoy most moral light, are nations in which the Bible is most known…The godliest families are Bible-reading families. The holiest men and women are Bible-reading people. These are simple facts which cannot be denied.

C. H. SPURGEON: The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible is the religion of Christ’s church…I ask every Christian here whether he can honestly say that he has given up his mind to be molded by the Holy Spirit—whether, upon questions that are in dispute among men, he has really searched the Scriptures and whether he is prepared at all costs to follow the Truth of God wherever it leads him?

J. C. RYLE: The only question is—Is the thing said Scriptural? If it is, it ought to be received and believed. If it is not, it ought to be refused and cast aside.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: My friends, we’re not only the guardians and custodians of the faith of the Bible itself. We are the representatives and the successors of the glorious men who fought this same fight, the good fight of faith in centuries past. We are standing in the position of the Protestant Reformers.

MARTIN BUCER: Thus then, dearly beloved brethren, to the Scriptures―the Scriptures!

 

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God’s Providence: A Printing Press for Martin Luther’s Preaching

Job 19:23; Psalm 68:11

Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!

The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Our translators have made a strange mistake by rendering the verb יחקו yuchaku, “printed,” when they should have used “described, traced out.” O that my words were fairly traced out in a book! It is necessary to make this remark, because superficial readers have imagined that the art of printing existed in Job’s time, and that it was not a discovery of the 15th century of the Christian era: whereas there is no proof that it ever existed in the world before 1440, or thereabouts.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The Chinese indeed tell us that they had the art of printing long before. But in Europe it was not heard of till the year 1440.

ADAM CLARKE: The first printed book with a date is a psalter printed by John Fust, in 1457, and the first Bible with a date is that by the same artist in 1460.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): The invention of the art of printing forms an era in the history of mankind, next in importance to the promulgation of the Law, and the publication of the Gospel. Until this splendid gift was bestowed upon man, books, which were all in manuscript, were circulated within a comparatively narrow sphere, and knowledge was in the possession of only a privileged few.

ANDREW MILLER (1810-1883): Before the days of printing, many valuable books existed in manuscript, and seminaries of learning flourished in all civilized countries, but knowledge was necessarily confined to a comparatively small number of people. The manuscripts were so scarce and dear that they could only be purchased by kings and nobles, by collegiate and ecclesiastical establishments. “A copy of the Bible cost from forty to fifty pounds* for the writing only, for it took an expert copyist about ten months’ labour to make one.”―This invaluable art of printing, however, rendered the fountains of information accessible to all.

JOHN TRAPP: This paved a way for the great work which Martin Luther began in Germany.

ALEXANDER CARSON (1776-1844): Anyone who reads the history of the Reformation with an eye to this characteristic in Divine Providence will see it surprisingly illustrated in innumerable instances. The character and circumstances of Luther alone will afford a multitude of such providential provisions.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): On the 31st October 1517, at noon, Luther walks boldly towards the Wittenberg church and posts upon the door Ninety-five Theses, or propositions.

ANDREW MILLER: The germs of the Reformation were contained in these propositions…The university and the whole city of Wittenberg were in commotion. All read the Theses; the startling propositions passed from mouth to mouth; pilgrims from all quarters then present in Wittenberg, carried back with them the famous Theses of the Augustinian monk, circulating the news everywhere. Luther had now entered the field against the doctrine and the abuses of the church of Rome.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ: Luther’s Ninety-five Theses spread with the rapidity of lightning. A month had not elapsed before they were at Rome. “In a fortnight,” says a contemporary historian, “they were in every part of Germany, and in four weeks they had traversed nearly the whole of Christendom, as if the very angels had been their messengers, and had placed them before the eyes of all men. No one can believe the noise they made.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): We are so interested in Luther the theologian that we tend to forget Luther the preacher―Martin Luther was pre-eminently a great preacher.

J. W. ALEXANDER (1804-1859): Luther preached almost daily at Wittenberg.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ: If Luther and Zwingli had strictly confined themselves to preaching, the Reformation would not so rapidly have overrun the Church.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The sermon which he preached today was dispersed by means of the printing press so that tomorrow they heard it thundering along the foot of the Apennines, and old Rome itself trembled at the voice of the monk of Germany!

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ: The impulse which the Reformation gave to popular literature in Germany was immense. While in the year 1513 only thirty-five publications had appeared, and thirty-seven in 1517, the number of books increased with astonishing rapidity after the appearance of Martin Luther’s Theses. In 1518 we find seventy-one different works; in 1519, one hundred and eleven; in 1520, two hundred and eight; in 1521, two hundred and eleven; in 1522, three hundred and forty-seven; and in 1523, four hundred and ninety eight. And where were all these published? For the most part at Wittenberg.

And who were their authors? Generally Luther and his friends. In 1522, one hundred and thirty of the reformer’s writings were published; and in the year following, one hundred and eighty-three…The celebrated painter Lucas Cranach, published under the title of The Passion of Christ and Antichrist, a set of engravings which represented on one side the glory and magnificence of the Pope, and on the other the humiliation and sufferings of the Redeemer. The inscriptions were written by Luther.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): It was not merely the preaching of Luther and his friends which established Protestantism in Germany. The grand lever which overthrew the Pope’s power in that country, was Luther’s translation of the Bible into the German tongue.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): The translating of the Scriptures into vulgar tongues was the glory, strength, and joy of the Reformation from Popery. Bless God for the translation of the Scriptures.

C. E. STUART (1828-1903): With the dawn of the Reformation, access to the original Hebrew and Greek sources was reopened; and the invention of printing brought within the reach of many the Scriptures in the original tongues. Then fresh translations were made. German, English, French, Italian, and Spanish versions by degrees appeared, made more or less directly from the Hebrew and Greek. William Tyndale was the first who translated the New Testament for English readers―Tyndale’s New Testament appeared in 1525.

J. H. MERLE d’AUBIGNÉ: The struggles of England with the Popedom began shortly after the dissemination of the English New Testament by Tyndale.

ADAM CLARKE: It was a wise saying of the Popish bishops in the time of Queen Mary: “If we do not put down this printing, it will put us down.” They laboured to put down the printing, but they could not; and, under God, the printing, by exposing the wickedness of their doctrine and practices, and especially by multiplying copies of the New Testament, did most effectually put them down.

JOHN TRAPP: That admirable invention of printing was a special blessing of God to mankind―that the Bible comes to us so cheap, is cause of thankfulness which our godly ancestors so hardly got and gladly bought at so dear a rate; in King Henry VIII’s days, some gave a load of hay for a few chapters of James or Paul.

____________________________________

*Editor’s Note: In terms of purchasing power, paying £50 in 1517 for a copy of the Bible would equal approximately $100,000 US in 2017.

 

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The Difference Between Christian Faith & Worldly Fatalism

1 Samuel 3:18

It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): When the awful tidings were broken to the aged Eli that both of his wayward sons were to be smitten by Divine judgment on the same day, he quietly acquiesced saying, “It is the LORD: let Him do what seemeth Him good.”

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): This he speaketh not out of obstinacy or hypocrisy, as some have censured, but in a humble submission to his heavenly Father.

A. W. PINK: It is to be carefully noted that he did not take refuge in fatalism.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Fate and fatalism; the world has believed in that―what is to be, will be.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): What is fate?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: What’s fate? “Well, nobody knows what fate is,” they say, “all we know is that there seems to be something that’s influencing us and governing us, and it’s more powerful than we are. If you’re fated to do something, then you’ll do it; if you’re fated that such a thing should happen to you, then it will happen to you.” That’s fatalism—this belief in some unseen power that we can’t define, but which is obviously there governing circumstances and what happens to us…It teaches that what is to be, will be—therefore it is utter folly to strive or make any effort. Fatalism teaches that you can do nothing about life, that there are powers and factors controlling you inexorably, and holding you in the grip of a rigid determinism.

C. H. SPURGEON: But there is a difference between that and God’s Providence. Providence says, ‘Whatever God ordains must be.’—I hear one say, “Well, Sir, you seem to be a fatalist!” No, far from it. There is just this difference between fate and Providence: Fate is blind; Providence is full of eyes. There is a design in everything and an end to be answered… All things are working together and working together for good. They are not done because they must be done, but they are done because there is some reason for it. It is not only that the thing is because it must be. But the thing is, because it is right it should be―the wisdom of God never ordains anything without a purpose. Everything in this world is working for some one great end. Fate does not say that. Fate simply says that the thing must be. Fate is a blind thing…Providence is not that ‘what is, must be’but that, what is, works together for the good of our race, and especially for the good of the chosen people of God.

A. W. PINK: And what is faith? A blind credulity? A fatalistic acquiescence? No, far from it. Faith is a resting on the sure Word of the living God, and therefore says, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose,” Romans 8:28.

OSWALD CHAMBERS (1874-1917): The difference between fatalism and faith lies just here. Fatalism means, “My number’s up; I have to bow to the power whether I like it or not; I do not know the character of the power, but it is greater than I am, and I must submit.”  The submission of faith is that I do know the character of the Power, and this was the line Job took:  “Though He slay me, yet I will trust the fact that His character is worthy,” Job 13:15.  This is the attitude of faith all through—I submit to One whose character I know but whose ways are obscured in mystery just now. We do know the character of God, if we are Christians, because we have it revealed to us in Jesus Christ—“He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,” John 14:9. Anything that contradicts the manifestation given in and through the Lord Jesus Christ cannot be true of God. Therefore we know that the character of God is noble and true and right, and any authority from God is based, not on autocracy or mere blind power.

C. H. SPURGEON: That man who says, “It is my Father’s will,” is the happy man!

A. W. PINK: There is a general lack of regard unto God’s admonitions and instructions when troubles and sufferings come upon Christians. Too often they view them as the common and inevitable ills which man is heir unto, and perceive not that their Father hath any special hand or design in them. Hence they are stoically accepted in a fatalistic attitude. To be stoical under adversity is the policy of carnal wisdom: make the best of a bad job is the sum of its philosophy. The man of the world knows no better than to grit his teeth and brave things out, having no Divine Comforter, Counselor, or Physician.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Now, on the other hand, as soon as we are convinced that God cares for us, our minds are easily led to patience and humility.

C. H. SPURGEON: We find a depth of comfort in saying, “It is the Lord, let Him do what seems good to Him.”

A. W. PINK: The contentment here exhorted unto is something other than a fatalistic indifference: it is a holy composure of mind, a resting in the Lord.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): How often, when a difficulty or trial has arisen, either from feelings within or from circumstances without, helpless as an infant I have shut my door and come to the Lord, and laid it before Him, pleading the promise—“Cast thy burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain thee,” Psalm 55:22.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The great advantage and efficacy of prayer are declared and proved: “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” whether he pray for himself or for others―Elijah “prayed that it might not rain;” and God heard him in his pleading so that it “rained not on the earth for the space of three years and six months.  Again he prayed, and the heaven gave rain,” James 5:17,18.

A. W. PINK: And Paul was no stoical fatalist. “Pray for us…that I may be restored to you the sooner,” Hebrews 13:18,19. The language used here by Paul denotes that he believed man’s goings are of the Lord, that He disposes the affairs of the Church much according to their prayers, to His glory and their consolation. “That I may be restored to you the sooner” is very striking, showing that Paul was no blind fatalist: if God had decreed the exact hour, how could prayer bring it to pass “the sooner”? Ah, it is utterly vain for us to reason about or philosophize over the consistency between God’s eternal decrees and prayer: sufficient for us to be assured from Scripture that prayer is both a bounden duty and blessed privilege.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Know ye, then, your privilege: Carry to the Lord your every want, your every fear; and “cast all your care on Him, who careth for you,” 1 Peter 5:7. “Commit your way to Him,” and not only shall your trials be alleviated, but “your very thoughts,”―the most variable things under the whole heaven―“shall be established,” Proverbs 16:3. “This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,” Isaiah 54:17; and they who possess it, enjoy a heaven upon earth.

 

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A Thankful Remembrance of God’s Holiness

Psalm 97:12; Psalm 30:4,5

Rejoice in the LORD, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness…Sing unto the LORD, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Holiness is an attribute which inspires the deepest awe, and demands a reverent mind; but still―give thanks at the remembrance of it. “Holy, holy, holy!” is the song of seraphim and cherubim, Isaiah 6:3; let us join it not dolefully, as though we trembled at the holiness of God, but cheerfully, as humbly rejoicing in it.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): But why should you give thanks at the “remembrance” that God is holy?

SAMUEL CHANDLER (1693-1766): The holiness of God here refers particularly to his truth and faithfulness to His promises, which argues the rectitude and sanctity of His nature.

C. H. SPURGEON: Give thanks at the remembrance of the whole of Him, for that is His holiness―His wholeness, the entire, perfect character of God―the harmony of all His attributes, the superlative wholeness of His character.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): His holiness is essential to Him, and in which He is glorious; and which appears in all His ways and works of providence and grace, and both in the redemption and sanctification of His people; and besides this, there is the holiness of Christ, which is imputed to His saints, and the sanctification of the Spirit, which is wrought in them; and at the remembrance of each of these it highly becomes them to give thanks to the Lord, since hereby they are made meet to be partakers of his kingdom and glory.

THOMAS CHALMERS (1780-1847): We should further be grateful because of this essential attribute in the Godhead; for it is in virtue of His holiness that evil cannot dwell with Him, and that the world will at length be delivered, and this conclusively, from the wickedness and malice and vile sensualities by which it is now so disquieted and deformed.

ADAM CLARKE: He who can give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness, is one who loves holiness; who hates sin, and who longs to be saved from it.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is a matter of joy to the saints that God is a holy God; for then they hope He will make them holy―more holy. None of all God’s perfections carries in it more terror to the wicked, nor more comfort to the godly, than His holiness. It is a good sign that we are in some measure partakers of His holiness if we can heartily rejoice and give thanks at the remembrance of it…Sinners tremble, but saints rejoice, at the remembrance of God’s holiness.

SIR RICHARD BAKER (1568-1644): But now that it is to sing of God’s “holiness”what should profane voices do in the concert? None but “saints” are fit to sing of “holiness,” and specially of God’s holiness.

MATTHEW HENRY: His saints in heaven sing to Him; why should not those on earth be doing the same work, as well as they can, in concert with them?

C. H. SPURGEON: If all others fail to praise the Lord, the godly must not. To them God is peculiarly revealed, and by them He should be specially adored.

MATTHEW HENRY: They have experienced him to be a God gracious and merciful; and therefore let them sing to Him. We have found His frowns very short. Though we have deserved that they should be everlasting, and that He should be angry with us till He had consumed us, and should never be reconciled, yet “His anger endureth but for a moment.” When we offend Him He is angry; but, as He is slow to anger and not soon provoked, so when He is angry, upon our repentance and humiliation His anger is soon turned away, and He is willing to be at peace with us. If He hide His face from His own children, and suspend the tokens of His favour, it is but in a little wrath, and for a small moment; but He will “gather them with everlasting kindness,” Isaiah 54:7,8. If “weeping endureth for a night,” and it be a wearisome night, yet as sure as the light of the morning returns after the darkness of the night, so sure will joy and comfort return in a short time, in due time, to the people of God; for the covenant of grace is as firm as the covenant of the day.

C. H. SPURGEON: Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord,” Philippians 3:1. “Finally,” says Paul, as if this was the end of his epistle, the conclusion of all his teaching. But never do it finally―never come to an end of it. Rejoice in the Lord, and yet again rejoice, and yet again rejoice; and as long as you live, rejoice in the Lord.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): There is plenty of gladness amongst professing Christians, but a good many of them would resent the question, is your gladness “in the Lord”?

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): Reader! do not fail to remark the vast difference, between rejoicing in the Lord, and taking confidence in the flesh.

HENRY GROVE (1683-1738): Our rejoicing in the Lord denotes our taking a very sincere and cordial pleasure in whatever relates to the ever-blessed God, particularly His existence, perfections, and providence; the discoveries of His will to us, especially in His Word; the interest we have in Him, and the relations wherein we stand to Him; His continual protection, guidance and influence; His gracious intercourse with us in the duties of religious worship; and, finally, the hope He has given us of fulness of joy, in His beatific and most glorious presence above.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: The true source of true joy lies in our union with Jesus. To be in Him is the condition of every good.

MATTHEW HENRY: Let all the streams of comfort, which flow to us in the channel of Christ’s kingdom, lead us to the fountain, and oblige us to rejoice in the Lord. All the lines of joy must meet in Him as in the centre…It is the character and temper of sincere Christians to rejoice in Christ Jesus. The more we take of the comfort of our religion the more closely we shall cleave to it: the more we rejoice in Christ the more willing we shall be to do and suffer for Him, and the less danger we shalt be in of being drawn away from Him. The “joy of the Lord is our strength,” Nehemiah 8:10.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say rejoice,” Philippians 4:4. No duty almost more pressed in both Testaments than this of rejoicing in the Lord.

 

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