The Plain Truth about Lies, & Truth, for a “Post-truth” Era

I John 2:21; Ephesians 4:25

No lie is of the truth.

Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour.

GEORGE SEATON BOWES (circa 1820’s-1880’s): When the question, “What is truth?” was proposed at a Deaf and Dumb Institution, one of the boys drew a straight line. “And what is falsehood?” The answer was a crooked line.

THOMAS BOSTON (1676-1732): The lying tongue is contrary to truth. 

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): A lying tongue―the mischief of this is open and obvious…Every man hates to have a lie told him.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Liars pervert the end for which God created speech, which was, to give light to the notions of the mind.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Lying is such a sin, as takes away all society and conversation with men; how can you converse with him, if you cannot trust a word he says?

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): This even heathens and antichristian persons are obliged to acknowledge.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): This is a right and true judgment of the case; it is according to the nature and truth of things, and what is obvious and clear at first sight, and which every one must agree to…A tongue speaking falsehood, knowingly and willingly, with an intention to deceive others; to hurt the character of a neighbour, or to flatter a friend, is a most detestable evil; it ought to be so to men, and it must be so to God, who is a God of truth: nor is there anything in which a man more resembles the devil, who is the “father of lies,” John 8:44.

JOHN CALVIN: Nothing is deemed more precious by God than truth.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): It is certain that all kinds of lies are moral evils, and condemned by plain scriptures, that we must not “do evil that good may come,” nor tell a lie for God’s glory, Romans 3:7,8.

MATTHEW HENRY: Hypocrisy is lying; false doctrine is lying; breach of faith is lying. Lying, in commerce or conversation, is a sin which every good man hates and abhors—hates and doubly hates, because of the seven things which the Lord hates one is a “lying tongue,” and another is a “false witness that speaks lies,” Proverbs 6:16.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It is a great deal easier to set a story afloat than to stop it. If you want truth to go round the world you must hire an express train to pull it; but if you want a lie to go round the world, it will fly; it is as light as a feather, and a breath will carry it. It is well said in the old Proverb, “A lie will go round the world while truth is pulling its boots on.”

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546):  A lie is a snowball. The longer it is rolled on the ground, the larger it becomes.

JOHN WYCLIFFE (1330-1384): I believe that, in the end, truth will conquer.

HORATIUS BONAR (1808-1889): Truth is not the feeble thing which men often think they can afford to disparage. Truth is power; let it be treated and trusted as such.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): News may come that truth is sick, but never that it is dead. No, it is error that is short lived: “The lip of truth shall be established for ever: but a lying tongue is but for a moment,” Proverbs 12:19.

C. H. SPURGEON: Truth wears well. Time will test it, but it right well endures the trial…What a poor thing is the temporary triumph of falsehood! A lying lip is but for a moment! It is a mere gourd, which comes up in a night, and perishes in a night; and the greater its development the more manifest its decay.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Truth and honesty never wear out.

C. H. SPURGEON: We believe, brethren, in the power of truth―Next, let us remember that God’s truth is still the same. It does not matter whether fifty thousand espouse its cause, or only five, or only one. Truth does not reign by the ballot box, or by the counting of heads: it abideth forever.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Let us remind ourselves that the Scriptures, while they speak to us eternal truth, are always relevant.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Why, they are the Word of God, the true sayings of God; they are the counsel of God; they are His promises and His threatenings.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): One of the many titles given to the Holy Scriptures is “the Word of Truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15. They are such because they are a communication from “the God of Truth,” Isaiah 65:17, a revelation from Him “who cannot lie,” Titus 1:2.

THOMAS WATSON: Nothing is more contrary to God than a lie―How does this sin incense God? He struck Ananias dead for telling a lie, Acts 5:5. The furnace of hell is heated to throw liars into, “Outside are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoever loves and makes a lie,” Revelation 22:15.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): I know that all this sounds dreadful in many ears. I do not wonder. But the only question we have to settle is this: “Is Hell Scriptural?” Is it true? I maintain firmly that it is so…Where is the charity of keeping back any portion of God’s truth? What is the use of hiding eternal punishment from the impenitent and the ungodly? Surely it is helping the devil, if we do not tell them plainly that, “The soul that sins shall surely die!”

Yes, [and] heaven is truth and no lie―“There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie,” Revelation 21:27.

Verily these are solemn words; they ought to make us think.

HUDSON TAYLOR (1832-1905): There is a living God. He has spoken in His Word. He means just what He says, and will do all that He has promised.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): And wicked men who now doubt His truth and dare not trust His word now, will hereafter, in the most convincing, affecting manner, find His Word to be true in all that He has threatened.

 

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When God Shuts Up a Preacher’s Mouth

Ezekiel 3:24-27

Then the spirit entered into me, and set me upon my feet, and spake with me, and said unto me, Go, shut thyself within thine house. Behold, they shall put bands upon thee, and shall bind thee with them, and thou shalt not go out among them: I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house. But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD…

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Ministers are sometimes silenced through the sins of their people, and it becomes them to plead against such a judgment.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): God sometimes stops the minister’s mouth because the people shut their hearts. Why should the [tap] run to have the water spilt upon the ground? It is just that God should take away the ministry, or stop the minister’s mouth, when they despise His counsel, and the Word becomes a reproach to them.

C. H. SPURGEON: The Lord save us, who are his ministers, from being made the instruments of inflicting such a penalty. Let us exhibit a cheerful hopefulness in God, that we may plead it in prayer with Him when He threatens to close our lips.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): It is an unspeakable affliction to God’s workmen to be rendered useless and unserviceable—it spends a minister to preach, but more to be silent. It is a loud speaking judgment, when God shall say to them as to Ezekiel, “Son of man, I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, and thou shalt be dumb.” Such silencing providences, speak thundering language to gracious hearts; yet, even then, the keepers of the vineyard have a private vineyard of their own to look after, they have much home-work, when no out-work.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): I have seen men who have been indefatigable in the work of the kingdom suddenly laid aside by illness, and scarcely knowing what to do with themselves. What is the matter? They have been living on their own activities. You can be so busy preaching and working that you are not nurturing your own soul. You are so neglecting your own spiritual life that you find at the end that you have been living on yourself and your own activities. And when you stop, or are stopped by illness or circumstances, you find that life is empty and that you have no resources…That is why it is a good thing for all of us from time to time to stop and take a rest, and to examine ourselves, and ask, “What am I living on?”

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): When I was laid aside from the ministry, I felt it was to teach me the need of prayer for my people. I used often to say, “Now God is teaching me the use of prayer.”  I thought I would never forget the lesson, yet I fear I am grown slack again when in the midst of my work.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: May I remind you that the great Dr. Thomas Chalmers always said that what really brought him, under God, to understand the Gospel truly was an illness which confined him to his sick chamber for nearly twelve months.  He had been a brilliant ‘scientific’ and ‘intellectual’ preacher, but he came out of that sick chamber as a preacher of the Gospel, and he thanked God for that visitation.

C. H. SPURGEON: That is the cause of many ministers’ afflictions; they are necessary to our work.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): I never knew the meaning of God’s Word, until I came into affliction. I have always found it one of my best school-masters.

J. H. M. d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): God usually removes his servants from the field of battle to bring them back stronger and better armed.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: But then sometimes God does this to us to prepare us for something.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE: Every wise workman takes his tools away from the work from time to time that they may ground and sharpened; so does the only-wise Jehovah take his ministers oftentimes away into darkness and loneliness and trouble, that He may sharpen and prepare them for harder work in His service.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Luther said that he never undertook any fresh work but he was visited either with a fit of sickness or with some powerful temptation.

C. H. SPURGEON: Before any great achievement, some measure of the same depression is very usual…This depression comes over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger blessing for my ministry; the cloud is black before it breaks, and overshadows before it yields its deluge of mercy. Depression has now become to me as a prophet in rough clothing, a ‘John the Baptist’ heralding the nearer coming of my Lord’s richer benison. So have far better men found it.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): But as to the general purpose, God’s intention is by no means obscure, namely, that the Prophet ought not to take it ill, if he be for a time apparently useless…We see then that this is said for the Prophet’s comfort, that he should not murmur or take it ill that God wishes him ‘to remain shut up at home; because the fit time had not yet come.’

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): God not only orders our steps; He orders our stops.

JOHN CALVIN: They might be shut up, as in prison―The apostles are put in prison, but the force of their preaching is spread far and wide, and the course thereof is at liberty. Of which thing Paul boasteth very much, that the Word of God is not bound with him, 2 Timothy 2:9.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Some have observed that what this apostle wrote when he was a prisoner had the greatest relish and savour in it of the things of God.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): John Bunyan would not have done half the good he did, if he had remained preaching in Bedford, instead of being shut up in Bedford Prison.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): It was well that Bunyan did not escape from the prison at Bedford. Or we should not have had his Pilgrim’s Progress, and his Holy War.

THOMAS ADAMS (1583-1656): Our books may come to be seen where ourselves shall never be heard.  These may preach where the author cannot, and which is more―when he is not.

C. H. SPURGEON: It is a great trial to be unable to preach in the pulpit, but it is no small comfort to be able to preach through the press. By the aid of friends, the discourses which I have delivered in former times have been piloted through the press in a masterly manner, and would be forthcoming for several years, even if I were taken home to God; hundreds of manuscripts are in my publisher’s stores, and so I shall live and speak long after I am dead…My silent sabbaths breed in me a great hunger for the salvation of those to whom I can only speak through the press. O that the Lord would honour me by making me fruitful in the winter of my weakness!*
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*Editor’s Note: C. H. Spurgeon died two weeks after this writing this final note.

 

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The God of the Bible is a God of Mercy, Judgment & Justice

Psalm 101:1; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 89:14

I will sing of mercy and judgment.

The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty…

Justice and judgment are the habitation of thy throne: mercy and truth shall go before thy face.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): God’s mercy is holy mercy.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Mercy and truth―these shall be the heralds that shall announce the coming of the Judge. His truth binds him to fulfill all His declarations; and His mercy shall be shown to all those who have fled for refuge to the hope that is set before them in the Gospel.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): Mercy and truth meet in the person and sacrifice of the Son. Without the Saviour, we cannot conceive of mercy and truth being displayed by God to the rebellious. We could at least conceive of mercy without truth; but then it would admit the unclean into heaven: we could also conceive of truth without mercy; but then it would cast mankind without exception into hell.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The essential justice of God will not admit of the pardon and justification of a sinner, without a satisfaction; wherefore Christ was set forth to be the propitiation for sin, to declare and manifest the righteousness of God, His strict justice; that He might be just, and appear to be so, when He is the justifier of him that believes in Jesus; and Christ’s blood being shed, and His sacrifice offered up, He is just and faithful to forgive sin, and cleanse from all unrighteousnes, Exodus 34:6,7; Romans 3:25, 26―and so the glory of divine justice is secured and peace with God for men obtained, in a way consistent with it.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): The attribute of justice must be preserved inviolate.

WILLIAM ARNOT: Mercy reigns, not over righteousness, but through righteousness.

JOHN BOYS (1619-1625): His mercy being just, and His justice being merciful.

ABRAHAM WRIGHT (1611-1690): I know that the Gospel is a book of mercy; I know likewise that in the prophets there are many expressions of mercy; I know likewise that in the ten commandments, which are the ministration of death, there is made express mention of mercy, “I will have mercy on thousands,” Deuteronomy 5:10. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if every leaf, and every line, and every word in the Bible were nothing but mercy, it would nothing avail the presumptuous sinner…Therefore, although in Psalm 136 there is nothing but “His mercy endureth for ever,” which is repeated twenty-six times in twenty-six verses: yet mark what a rattling thunder clap is in verse 15―“But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for His mercy endureth for ever.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): It was an act of vengeance upon Pharaoh and his host, but it was an act of mercy unto the Israelites.

THOMAS S. MILLINGTON (1821-1906): Is God unrighteous, then, that taketh vengeance? No; this is an act of retribution. The Egyptians had slain the children of the Israelites, casting their infants into the river, Exodus 1:22.

G. S. BOWES (circa 1820’s-1880’s): Give them according to their deeds,” Psalm 28:4. The Egyptians killed the Hebrew male children, and God smote the firstborn of Egypt, Exodus 12:29,30.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): In that stroke that filled Egypt with anguish, there was conspicuous mercy―even to Egypt; the sharp stroke should have wrought repentance. [And it was mercy] to Israel, they being thus delivered, and their firstborn saved.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): God delights in judgment as well as in mercy.

JOHN WESLEY: Accordingly in Psalm 136:1-26, that clause, “For his mercy endureth for ever,” is subjoined to the thanksgiving for His works of vengeance as well as for His delivering the righteous.

A. W. PINK: From God’s side, it is an act of justice, vindicating His honour. The mercy of God is never shown to the prejudice of His holiness and righteousness―it is an act of equity, when they are made to suffer the due reward of their iniquities. But from the standpoint of the redeemed, the punishment of the wicked is an act of unspeakable mercy―How dreadful would it be, if the present order of things, when the children of God are obliged to live in the midst of the children of the Devil, should continue forever! Heaven would at once cease to be heaven.

JOHN CALVIN: Although God is pitiful and even ready to pardon, yet He does not therefore spare the despisers.

WILLIAM ARNOT: There would be no glory in God’s present compassion, if it had not the full terror of immutable justice behind it to lean upon. Even the divine longsuffering would lose its loveliness if it did not stand in front of divine wrath. You cannot paint an angel upon light: so mercy could not be represented―mercy could not be, unless there were judgment without mercy, a ground of deep darkness lying beneath, to sustain and reveal it…When the day of grace is past, the throne of judgment stands alone, and the impenitent must meet it.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Sins against God’s mercy will bring the greatest and sorest judgments upon men’s heads and hearts. Mercy is God’s Alpha, justice is His Omega.

A. W. PINK: How many there are who say, I do not believe that God will ever cast me into Hell; He is too merciful. Such a hope is a viper, which if cherished in their bosoms will sting them to death. God is a God of justice as well as mercy, and He has expressly declared that He will “by no means clear the guilty.’ Yea, He has said, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God,” Psalm 9:17.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Beware of manufacturing a God of your own: a God who is all mercy, but not just; a God who is all love, but not holy; a God who has a heaven for everybody, but a hell for none; a God who can allow good and bad to be side by side in time, but will make no distinction between good and bad in eternity. Such a God is an idol of your own, as truly an idol as any snake or crocodile in an Egyptian temple. The hands of your own fancy and sentimentality have made him. He is not the God of the Bible, and beside the God of the Bible there is no God at all.

ABRAHAM WRIGHT: In our addresses therefore unto God, let us so look upon Him as a just God, as well as a merciful; and not either despair of, nor presume upon His mercy.

JOHN CALVIN: We have then only the true knowledge of God, when we not only acknowledge Him to be the Creator of the world, but when we also fully believe that the world is governed by Him, and when we further understand the way in which He governs it―that is, by doing mercy and judgment and justice.

DUTCH PSALTER (Psalm 36):

Thy mercy and Thy truth, O Lord, transcend the lofty sky;

Thy judgments are a mighty deep, and as the mountains high.

From those that know Thee, may Thy love and mercy ne’er depart,

And may Thy justice still protect, and bless the upright heart.

 

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When God’s Providences Seem to Contradict God’s Promises

Genesis 13:14-16; Genesis 15:1-4

And the LORD said unto Abram…Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered…

After these things, the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir.

And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be.

And he believed in the LORD.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): It appears from that passage that even the godly are tempted to doubt of the Providence of God―It is therefore a temptation to which all men are naturally prone, to begin to doubt of the providence of God, when His hand and judgment are not seen.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): God’s actions may appear to us to be the reverse of His promises, and then our best course is to come before Him in prayer and put the matter before Him just as it strikes our apprehension. We are allowed to do this, for this holy and inspired man did so unrebuked—but we must do it humbly and in faith.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Note: True believers sometimes find it hard to reconcile God’s promises and His providences, when they seem to disagree.

JOHN CALVIN: God exhorts Abram to be of a tranquil mind; but what foundation is there for such security, unless by faith we understand that God cares for us, and rest in His providence?

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): When our own reason fills us with a distrust of providence, it naturally prompts us to sinful shifts, and there leaves us entangled in the snares of our own making. Beware therefore you lean not too much to your own reasons and understandings.

 THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): God is to be trusted when His providences seem to run contrary to His promises.

JOHN COLLINGES (1623-1690): Among other habits of grace, faith and patience are not the least. The exercise of these is when sense fails, and the providence of God moves out of our sight, [or] in a time of adversity when it seems to move at a great distance from the promise, if not directly contrary to it. “Blessed are they who have not seen, and have yet believed,” saith our Saviour, John 20:29. God gave Abraham a promise, nay, divers promises; two of the more eminent: the one of a child; the other, of a numerous seed, and their inheriting the land of Canaan. Now, if the providence of God had presently moved in a direct line towards the fulfilling of these promises, where had been room for Abraham’s faith, so much celebrated in Scripture?

MATTHEW HENRY: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform,” Romans 4:20,21. Such was his full persuasion, and it was built on the omnipotence of God. Our waverings rise mainly from our distrust of the divine power; and therefore to fix us it is requisite we believe not only that He is faithful, but that He is able, that hath promised.

JOHN COLLINGES: The providence of God delays the time, and suffereth Abraham first, and his wife to live to an age, that they both were past any reasonable hope of children, then it giveth him a child: why doth providence move thus slowly, and obliquely? How else should Abraham’s faith have been tried? How should it have been tried whether he would stagger at the promise through unbelief?

 TIMOTHY CRUSO (1657-1697): Let no appearing impossibilities make you question God’s accomplishment of any of His gracious words. Though you cannot see how the thing can be done, ’tis enough if God hath said that He will do it.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

JOHN COLLINGES: Another branch of that promise was, that this Eliezer of Damascus of whom thou speakest, shall not be thine heir: but he that shall come forth of thine own bowels, shall be thine heir. Later, God, by His providence, tempteth Abraham; He bids him go, and with his own hands sacrifice this his son, his only son; what an oblique, yet contrary motion of providence doth this seem to be, to the promise of Isaac his son being the heir? “In Isaac shall thy seed be called,” saith the promise, Hebrews 11:18.―How shall that be, when Isaac, who as yet had no seed, must be sacrificed? But how else shall Abraham’s faith and obedience be tried, which standeth on the record―“By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac,” Hebrews 11:17…Abraham had a promise of Canaan for his seed―but providence went a great way around about before it sensibly came home to this promise.

TIMOTHY CRUSO: Cast not away your confidence because He defers His performances. Though providences run cross, though they move backwards and forwards, you have a sure and faithful word to rely upon. Promises, though they be for a time seemingly delayed, cannot be finally frustrated. Dare not to harbour such a thought within yourselves as Psalm 77:8; “Doth his promise fail for evermore?”  The being of God may as well fail as the promise of God.

JOHN CALVIN: Therefore, whenever we may wander in uncertainty through intricate windings, we must contemplate, with eyes of faith, the secret providence of God which governs us and our affairs, and leads us to unexpected results.

C. H. SPURGEON: It is glory of Omnipotence to work by improbabilities.

JOHN COLLINGES: God does this, that He might be the more admired in the works of His providence…Now, when the providence of God hath moved obliquely, and to our appearance quite contrary unto the promise, when it comes home to it, to give it a being and issue, it comes upon us [suddenly] and contrary to the expectations of our sense and reason, and so wonderfully affects our hearts, that it enforces from us great and high acknowledgments of the omnipotency and power of God, of His mercy and goodness, and of His truth and veracity―If the providence of God moved in a [direct] line, He would neither have so much of the prayers and cries of His people, during the want of their desired good, nor yet so much praise upon the bestowing of it.

 

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King Solomon’s Tweets of Wisdom & Warning

Proverbs 10:19; Proverbs 29:20; Proverbs 14:29; Ecclesiastes 5:3

In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

Seest thou a man that is hasty in his words? there is more hope of a fool than of him.

He that is hasty of spirit exalteth folly.

A fool’s voice is known by [a] multitude of words.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): We cannot conceive of words, much less a multitude of words, without sin―the wisdom of these proverbs will be acknowledged by those who know the sins of the tongue, and the immense difficulty of restraining the unruly member. 

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): It is seldom seen that a man of many words miscarries not. 

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): A fool’s voice is known by a multitude of words;” it discovers the man to be a foolish, and rash, and inconsiderate man—“A fool is also full of words,” Ecclesiastes 10:14—Forward to promise and brag what he will do, which is the common practice of foolish men. 

CHARLES BRIDGES: Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth,” Proverbs 27:1. How awfully has this boasting been put to shame!—Abner promised a kingdom, but could not ensure his life for an hour, 2 Samuel 3:9-27…The rich fool’s soul was required of him “on the very night” of his worldly projects “for many years” to come, Luke 12:16-20. 

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): A little time may produce considerable changes, and such as we little think of. “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips,” Proverbs 27:2. [Even] when we have done it we must not commend ourselves, for that is an evidence of pride, folly, and self-love, and a great lessening to a man’s reputation. Every one will be forward to run him down that cries himself up.

CHARLES BRIDGES: There is the sin of egotism: “Our own mouth praises us, not another.”  We love to hear ourselves talk, and present our own judgment intrusively.

MATTHEW HENRY: There may be a just occasion for us to vindicate ourselves, but it does not become us to applaud ourselves―thus boasting is for ever excluded. 

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): We are on dangerous ground when we are contending in our own cause…Self-love ties a bandage on the eyes of the understanding, and then leads the blind astray.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): It is impossible to speak much, and yet speak nothing but truth; and injure no man’s character in the mean while. 

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880):  Sins of the tongue are commonly very cruel…Its canons are infernal. One of them is, “If a lie will do better than the truth, tell a lie.” Another is, “Heap on reproach; some of it will stick.” 

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile,” Psalm 34:13. The precept which David here delivers relates to a virtue which is very rare, namely, that we should be truthful and free from deceit in our discourse. Some, indeed, understand it in a much more extended sense, supposing that slander is condemned. 

PETER BARO (1534-1599): Detraction or slander is not lightly to be passed over, because we do so easily fail in this point. The good name of a man, saith Solomon, is a precious thing to everyone, and to be preferred before much treasure, Ecclesiastes 7:1. It is no less grievous to hurt a man with the tongue than with a sword: nay, oft-times the stroke of a tongue is worse than the wound of a spear, as it is in a French proverb.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Slander is an old-fashioned weapon out of the armoury of hell, and is still in plentiful use…Slander leaves a slur, even if it be wholly disproved. 

JOHN TRAPP: Slander is a kind of murder. 

ADAM CLARKE: He that uttereth slander is a fool,” Proverbs 10:18. He slays three persons: The man whom he slanders; him to whom he communicates the slander; and himself, the slanderer.

C. H. SPURGEON: The deadliest of all venom is the slander of the unscrupulous. Some men care not what they say so long as they can vex and injure. 

CHARLES BRIDGES: The next warning is directed against hasty words. 

WILLIAM ARNOT: It is the part of a wise man to set a watch upon his own lips. 

MATTHEW HENRY: A man may show himself to be a wise man—by the good government of his tongue…We ought to be “swift to hear,” and “slow to speak,” James 1:19…Seest thou a man that is forward to speak to every matter that is started, and affects to speak first to it, to open it, and speak last to it, to give judgment upon it, as if he were an oracle? There is more hope of a modest fool who is sensible of his folly, than of such a self-conceited one…He that is hasty of spirit, whose heart is tinder to every spark of provocation, that is all fire and tow, as we say―he thinks hereby to magnify himself and make those about stand in awe of him, whereas really he exalts his own folly. 

WILLIAM ARNOT: If we fling the door open, and allow the emotions to rush forth as they arise, it is certain many of our words will be evil, and do evil. 

CHARLES BRIDGES: He that hath knowledge spareth his words, and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit, Proverbs 17:27. A man of knowledge will spare his words, when the probable prospect is harm rather than good. 

MATTHEW HENRY: He “spares his words,” because they are better spared than ill-spent. This is generally taken for such a sure indication of wisdom that a fool may gain the reputation of being a wise man if he have but wit enough to hold his tongue, to hear, and see, and say little. If a fool hold his peace, men of candour will think him wise, because nothing appears to the contrary, and because it will be thought that he is making observations on what others say, and gaining experience, and is consulting with himself what he shall say, that he may speak pertinently. See how easy it is to gain men’s good opinion?

ADAM CLARKE: But who that thinks he can speak well can refrain from speaking?

WILLIAM ARNOT: To refrain, that is, to bridle back the lips, requires some practice to make one skilful in it; but skill in that art will be very profitable in the long run. It easier, and more natural, when one is full of emotions, to open the sluices, and let the whole gush forth in an impetuous stream of words. It is easy, but not right; it is pleasant to nature, but it is offensive to God, and hurtful to men. You must consider well, and pull the bridle hard, and permit no false or proud words to pass the barrier of the lips. Strangle the evil thoughts as they are coming to the birth, that the spirits that troubled you within may not go forth embodied to trouble also the world.

JOHN CALVIN: Good order cannot exist, unless princes are sedulously on the watch to repress pride.

 

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A Vital Question for the 21st Century

John 18:36-38

My kingdom is not of this world…

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?

Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?

And when he had said this, he went out…

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is uncertain with what design Pilate asked this question.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Some think it is vox admirantis―as if Pilate wondered at Christ, that when his life was in question he should talk of truth; “Your life is in danger, and talk you of truth?”

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Some think that Pilate puts this question through curiosity, as irreligious men are sometimes accustomed to be eagerly desirous of learning something that is new to them, and yet do not know why they wish it; for they intend nothing more than to gratify their ears. For my own part, I rather think that it is an expression of disdain; for Pilate thought himself highly insulted when Christ represented him as destitute of all knowledge of the truth. Here we see in Pilate a disease which is customary among men.  Though we are all aware of our ignorance, yet there are few who are willing to confess it.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679):  Truth and error are all one to the ignorant man, so it hath but the name of truth.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I do not think he asked the question, “What is truth?” as if he seriously desired to know what it really was, for surely he would have paused for the divine reply and not have gone away from Christ the moment afterwards.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): This famous question, in my judgment, can only admit of one interpretation. It is the cold, sneering, skeptical interjection of a mere man of the world, who has persuaded himself that there is no such thing as truth, that all religions are equally false, that this life is all we have to care for, and that creeds and modes of faith are only words and names and superstitions, which no sensible person need attend to. It is precisely the state of mind in which thousands of great and rich men in every age live and die. Expanded and paraphrased, Pilate’s question comes to this: “Truth indeed! What is truth? I have heard all my life of various philosophical systems, each asserting that it has found the truth, and each differing widely from the others. Who is to decide what is truth and what is not?” The best proof that this is the right view of the sentence is Pilate’s behavior when he has asked the question. He broke off the conversation at this point.

 WILLIAM GURNALL: Truth is loved and prized only of those who know it. And not to desire to know it, is to despise it.

 TERTULLIAN (160-240): Our Lord Jesus Christ called Himself  “the Truth.”―“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” John 14:6.

JOHN CALVIN: It is not to one age only, or to one nation, that the saying of our Lord applies, for He adds, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

C. H. SPURGEON: If this Doctrine is true, then that which contradicts it cannot be true! It takes a good deal of courage to say that, nowadays.

LORD SHAFTESBURY (1801-1885): The larger portion of those who profess to believe, are eagerly eliminating from their creed all dogma and doctrine.  They accept the Scriptures just as far as it suits their philosophy.  Such will be the religion of the future, in which Vishnu, Mahomet, Jupiter, and Jesus Christ will all be upon a level; with some, all equally good, and with others, all equally bad.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Christianity is an exclusive religion; it claims that it, and it alone, is the truth of God. And not only is it the one and only way, it also does not need any help or assistance. There is no need to add a little Buddhism, or Mohammedanism, or Confucianism, or any other ‘ism’ to it. It is itself the way, and it is complete, it is entire.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Christ is the only way of access to God, and acceptance with Him.

C. H. SPURGEON: Jesus is the Truth―“Now be very careful upon that point,” says one. “Do you mean to say that there really is such a thing as the Truth?” By your leave, dear Sir, or without it, I will venture to assert that there is! “That reply is a very bigoted one because if there is a Doctrine that is the Truth, then that which is contrary to it is a lie.” Precisely so, and by your leave, or without your leave, I say again that it is so and it must be so in the natural order of things―If God has spoken thus, that which is opposed to God and His Truth, is not from Him and cannot stand on the same footing with that which is Divinely revealed.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): This is God’s Word, therefore it is true.

JOHN CALVIN: There is nothing holier, or better, or safer, than to content ourselves with the authority of Christ alone…It is to be noted, that the Word of God is set in opposition to all human counsels. What the world judges right is often crooked and perverse in the judgment of God.

C. H. SPURGEON: The age extols no virtue so much as “liberality,” and condemns no vice so fiercely as bigotry—alas!—honesty!…Our blessed Saviour is honestly intolerant! He says, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but He that believes not shall be damned.” Because He loves the souls of men, He will not bolster up the fiction of universal charity. And even before the Broad-church or No-church Pilate—He says that He has come to bear witness to the Truth. So there is the Truth, and that which is contrary to it is not Truth!

WILLIAM GURNALL: As we deal with truth, so we deal with God Himself; he that despiseth that, despiseth Him. He that abandons the truth of God, renounceth the God of truth.

C. H. SPURGEON: Christ came into the world to bear witness to the truth, and He has sent you to do the same—take care that you do it.

 

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Morbid Introspection & Mysticism, Twins of Experiential Pride

Obadiah 3

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There is a certain breed of Calvinists, whom I do not envy, who are always jeering and sneering as much as ever they can at the full assurance of faith. I have seen their long faces; I have heard their whining periods, and read their dismal sentences, in which they say something to this effect—“Groan in the Lord alway, and again I say, groan! He that mourneth and weepeth, he that doubteth and feareth, he that distrusteth and dishonoureth his God, shall be saved.” That seems to be the sum and substance of their very ungospel-like gospel. But why is that they do this?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Faulty teaching, perhaps, or because of their temperament, because they look so much at their own imperfections.

C. H. SPURGEON: I speak now honestly and fearlessly. It is because there is a pride within them—a conceit which is fed on rottenness, and sucks marrow and fatness out of putrid carcasses. And what is the object of their pride? Why, the pride of being able to boast of a deep experience—the pride of being a blacker, grosser, and more detestable backslider than other people. “Whose glory is in their shame,” may well apply to them. A more dangerous, because a more deceitful pride than this is not to be found. It has all the elements of self-righteousness in it.

WILLIAM GURNALL:Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him,” Proverbs 26:12. That is, there is more hope of persuading him. Of all fools, the conceited fool is the worst. Pride makes a man incapable of receiving counsel…There is no reasoning with a proud man. He castles himself in his own opinion of himself, and there stands upon his defence against all arguments that are brought.

C. H. SPURGEON: I would sooner a man boast in his good works than boast in his good feelings, because you can deal with the man who boasts in his good works, you have plain texts of Scripture, and you convict him of being a legalist; but this other man boasts that he is no legalist; he can speak very sharply against legality; he knows the truth, and yet the truth is not in him, in its spirit, because still he is looking to his feelings, and not looking to the finished work of Christ.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: There is a wrong way of examining ourselves, as well as a right way. The right way, of course, is the one that is indicated in the Scriptures, and that always leads to a good result; the wrong way lead to morbidity and to a false introspection.  This is a very subtle matter, but there are many good people today in the Christian Church, who are absolutely orthodox, who are concerned about self-examination, but they are utterly paralyzed, and they are quite useless, because, in a sense, they do nothing else.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): There cannot be religion without feeling: how can you pray without feeling your wants?  How can you fear without feeling your danger?  How can you love without feeling the object lovely?  If you cry out, “Oh, the remains of my corruptions,” cry on: God loves to hear such cries.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: But what you must never do is sit in a corner going round and round in that whirlpool, that vortex of failure and defeat and self-condemnation. Introspection and morbidity are wrong, and indeed sinful, and the Christian has no right to be depressed in that way. Deliverance comes as you realize what the devil is trying to do with you, and that he has blinded you temporarily to justification by faith only. Justification by faith is always the place where you can get a foothold. Whenever you find yourself slipping down that slope of depression, the place which you will always recover stability and get a foothold is justification by faith only.  It defeats most of the wiles of the devil. Let us then be very certain about this, for it is the royal remedy, the invariably successful remedy against morbidity and introspection.

C H. SPURGEON: Of all the Diabolians that ever stole into the city of Mansoul, Mr. Live-by-feeling was one of the worst of villains, though he had the fairest face…You are justified by faith, not by feelings; you are saved by what Christ felt for you, not by what you feel; the root and basis of salvation is the cross, and “other foundation shall no man lay than that which is laid;” even though he place his experience there, he builds “wood, hay, and stubble,” and not the corner stone, which is Christ Jesus…Put no trust in frames and feelings―Faith can build on a “thou hast said it;” but it cannot build on frames and feelings, on dreams and experiences.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Rest not on your feelings and experiences but on the written Word.

JOHN BRADFORD (1510-1555): Faith must go before, and then feeling will follow.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: This is a vital, essential aspect of the Christian life; but the devil tends to drive some [people] so far along that line that they tend to ignore the written Word…Put your emphasis on feeling, upon the “felt” aspect, and you are already in danger of degenerating into mysticism, or into a false asceticism, or into a kind of “illuminism.” And all these, of course, have made their appearance in history―there was much trouble in this respect during the Commonwealth under Cromwell. Certain sections of the Puritan movement were attacked by the devil along this line. Such people as the “Fifth Monarchy” men, and the people who came to be known as Quakers, are all illustrations of this. Their teaching, in general, was that nothing matters but what they call the Inner Light, the Spirit within you. Under the influence of the wiles of the devil, they tended to be carried off to such extremes that they lived solely on their feelings, on their impulses, on what they called their “leadings,” on impressions on their spirits. They say, “I suddenly felt; I was suddenly led; an impression was made upon my mind.”

This is a tendency for certain churches and individuals to fall into the same error at the present time. The result is that they tend to lose any sense of discrimination. They act solely on impulses, feelings, leadings, and impressions.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): We never rely with sufficient firmness on the Word of God, so long as we are led by our own feelings.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: They are not much interested in the written Word, the Scriptures. Their emphasis falls upon the Spirit, and they assert that He is ever in them to direct and guide them. They live entirely in the subjective realm, paying great attention to moods and feelings and states and impressions―they do not realize that the Word tells them to “prove” the spirits, to “test” the spirits, to examine them…These people turn a deaf ear to such warnings; the devil has pressed them so far that they are sure their guidance is infallible, and that if it is a strong impression it cannot be wrong.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Let us not, therefore, make too much of frames and feelings.

 

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Doing the Math on Time & Eternity

Psalm 90:1-4,10,12

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as one day; or as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night…

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away…So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Children learn numbers as soon as they begin to prattle; and we do not need a teacher in arithmetic to enable us to count the length of a hundred upon our fingers. So much the fouler and more shameful is our stupidity in never comprehending the short term of our life.

JOHN SHOWER (1657-1715): O think a little, how inconsiderable a thing is the longest life of man on earth compared with an everlasting duration! The psalmist tells us, Psalm 39:5, “Thou hast made my days as an handbreadth, and mine age―my life, my time on earth―“is as nothing to thee;”―nothing, as compared with God’s duration, which is without beginning or end.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): A thousand years! This is a long stretch of time. How much may be crowded into it―the rise and fall of empires, the glory and obliteration of dynasties, the beginning and the end of elaborate systems of human philosophy, and countless events, all important to household and individual, which elude the pens of historians. Yet this period is to the Lord as nothing, even as time already gone…If a thousand years be to God as a single nightwatch, what must be the life-time of the Eternal!

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): If a thousand years be but as a day to the life of God, then as a year is to the life of man, so are three hundred and sixty-five thousand years to the life of God; and as seventy years are to the life of man, so are twenty-five million, five hundred and fifty thousand years to life of God. Yet still, since there is no proportion between time and eternity, we must dart our thoughts beyond all these, for years and days measure only the duration of created things.

JOHN SHOWER: If it had been said that a thousand millions of years are but as a minute, it would have been true. According to this computation, a thousand years as one day, suppose a man had been born five thousand years ago? He is in God’s sight as one born five days ago. If Adam, the first man, were now alive, he would not be six days old, by that reckoning.  And by the same account, he that has lived in the world sixty-two years has lived but an hour and a half.

C. H. SPURGEON: Before the Eternal, all the age of frail man is less than one ticking of a clock.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): This word ‘eternal’―it is a heavy word.

JOHN SHOWER: How useful and awful it may be, to make the comparison between the longest life and eternity…Old Jacob, when he passed one hundred and thirty years, said, “Few and evil are the days of the years of the life of my pilgrimage,” Genesis 47:9. What was that to Adam’s nine hundred and thirty years, after his creation in full strength and maturity? Or to Methuselah’s nine hundred and sixty years? But what a moment is that to the divine eternity?

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): This life, upon which every thing depends, is very brief: this is fearful. Look at the images of Scripture: a flower of the field; a flood; a watch in the night; a dream; a vapour.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): It is soon cut off, and we fly away.” That witness is indeed true.

JOHN SHOWER: The comparison of this life with the other, of time with eternity, whether in happiness or misery, is of so much moment and use, that it may serve so many excellent purposes, and produce such wise thoughts and reflections, that I wish we would consider the one and the other more seriously and frequently. How little a while we are to abide here, and after death we must abide forever in Abraham’s bosom, or in torments; with God in endless glory, or in everlasting fire with the devil and his angels.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Eternity to the godly is a day that has no sunset: eternity to the godless is a night that has no sunrise.

JOHN SHOWER: Upon the whole, who would not pray with David, that God would teach him to number his days, and value his little time, so as to apply his heart to wisdom, that he may walk in the way of life?

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): See this obvious difference between the Christian and the non-Christian? The non-Christian does everything he can not to think of the world beyond. That is the whole meaning of the pleasure mania of today. It is just a great conspiracy and effort to stop thinking, and especially to avoid thinking of death and the world to come―that is typical of the non-Christian; there is nothing he so hates as talking about death and eternity.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): Eternity―O that the sinner would study this word, methinks it would startle him out of his dead sleep! O that the gracious soul would study it, methinks it would revive him in his deepest agony!

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714):  The crosses and comforts of this present time would not make such an impression upon us as they do if we did but believe the things of eternity as we ought.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): We must not forget that the issues of Eternity are settled in Time.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” We can never do that, except we number every day as our last day.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The great weight of eternity hangs upon the small wire of time.

J. C. RYLE: A mistake about your soul is a mistake for eternity…Sit down and think.

 

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The Wonder of the Babe in the Manger

Luke 2:8-14

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The shepherds knew with certainty that this was a work of God.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Had not the angel given them this direction, they would never have thought to have looked for, and found Him in such a place: and moreover, it might have been a stumbling to them, and an objection with them against His being Christ, the Lord, had they not been told beforehand where He was; but by this means this objection was prevented, and this stumbling block was removed out of the way, and they were prepared to see Him, embrace, and believe in Him, in this mean condition.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): By being in a manger He was declared to be the king of the poor. They, doubtless, were at once able to recognize His relationship to them, from the position in which they found Him. I believe it excited feelings of the tenderest brotherly kindness in the minds of the shepherds, when the angel said—“This shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the child wrapped in swaddling-clothes and lying in a manger.” In the eyes of the poor, imperial robes excite no affection, a man in their own garb attracts their confidence. With what pertinacity will workingmen cleave to a leader of their own order, believing in him because he knows their toils, sympathizes in their sorrows, and feels an interest in all their concerns…

I think I hear the shepherds comment on the manger-birth, “Ah!” said one to his fellow, “then he will not be like Herod the tyrant; he will remember the manger and feel for the poor; poor helpless infant, I feel a love for him even now, what miserable accommodation this cold world yields its Saviour; it is not a Caesar that is born to-day; he will never trample down our fields with his armies, or slaughter our flocks for his courtiers, he will be the poor man’s friend, the people’s monarch; according to the words of our shepherd-king, he shall judge the poor of the people; he shall save the children of the needy.’ Surely the shepherds, and such as they—the poor of the earth, perceived at once that here was the plebeian king; noble in descent, but still as the Lord hath called Him, “one chosen out of the people,” Psalm 89:19

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): How unlikely would it seem to a merely human judgement, that the Saviour of sinners, the promised Messiah―the Lord of all―should be a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. Yet thus it was―thus He emptied Himself―and thus it was foretold of Him, that He should be despised for the poverty of His appearance.

C. H. SPURGEON: I think it was intended thus to show forth His humiliation. He came, according to prophecy, to be “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;” He was to be “without form or comeliness,” “a root out of a dry ground,” Isaiah 53:2,3. Would it have been fitting that the man who was to die naked on the cross should be robed in purple at His birth? Would it not have been inappropriate that the Redeemer who was to be buried in a borrowed tomb should be born anywhere but in the humblest shed, and housed anywhere but in the most ignoble manner?

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): When we saw Him wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, we were tempted to say, “Surely this cannot be the Son of God.” But see His birth attended, as it is here, with a choir of angels, and we shall say, “Surely it can be no other than the Son of God, concerning whom it was said, when He was “brought into the world, Let all the angels of God worship him,” Hebrews 1:6.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): You see here, although Christ lay in the humble manger, yet nothwithstanding, there were some circumstances, that showed the greatness of His person, that He was no ordinary person; He lay in the manger indeed, but the wise men came and adored Him; and here is a host of angels that praise Him.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): For unto us a child is born,” Isaiah 7:14. This was “good tidings of great joy to all people,” Luke 2:10. Angels first brought it, and were glad of such an errand. Still they pry into this mystery and can never sufficiently wonder to see that the great God [should be] a little child; that He who ruleth the stars should be sucking at the breast; that the eternal Word should not be able to speak a word.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Nevertheless, in the manger He was “Christ the Lord,” Luke 2:11!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): That babe, lying in the manger―a helpless babe, that can’t move, has to be carried, has to be attended to, there He is lying in a manger. What is this? Well, you see, this how the apostle Paul describes it―look at that babe, and this is what he says: “All the fullness of the Godhead dwelleth in Him bodily,” Colossians 2:9―it’s all there! In that one little babe! All the fullness of the Godhead, all the glorious purposes of God, they’re all there in that helpless little babe in the manger.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): Filling the world He lies in a manger!

C. H. SPURGEON: Never let us for a moment hesitate as to the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His Deity is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. It may be we shall never fully understand how God and man could unite in one person, for who can by searching find out God? These great mysteries of godliness, these “deep things of God,” are beyond our measurement. Our little skiff might be lost if we ventured so far out upon this vast, this infinite ocean, as to lose sight of the shore of plainly revealed truth. But let it remain as a matter of faith that Jesus Christ, even He who lay in Bethlehem’s manger and was carried in a woman’s arms, and lived a suffering life and died on a malefactor’s cross, was, nevertheless, “God over all, blessed forever, upholding all things by the word of His power,” Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:3.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The Babe of Bethlehem, and all the Godhead! it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell―it’s all in Him―the babe lying in the manger, but He is the Saviour of the world, and He will reign from pole to pole, and His people, now despised and insignificant, shall reign with Him, and rejoice with Him, and in His holy presence, forever and forever.

 

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King Herod’s Murderous Mentor

Revelation 12:1-5; Matthew 2:13

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

Behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): A dragon the devil is called for his sharp-sightedness―as also for his mischievousness to mankind; and lastly for his serpentine subtilty, Genesis 3:1.

THOMAS ADAMS (1583-1656): Herod was a fit type of the devil. The devil is like Herod, both for his subtlety and cruelty…The cruelty of Herod was monstrous. He slew all those he could suspect to issue from the line of David―all the infants of Bethlehem under two years old, at one slaughter, Matthew 2:16.

JOHN TRAPP: By his imps and instruments―such as Herod was―Satan exerciseth his malice against the saints, lending them his seven heads to plot, and his ten horns to push; but all in vain.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Satan and his emissaries will do their utmost, though all in vain, to stop the work of God.  Thus it was in the first ages, thus it is in our days, and thus it will be till time shall be no more.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Is the Devil a living reality, or is he nothing more than a figment of the imagination? Is the word “Satan” merely a synonym for wickedness, or does it stand for a concrete entity?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981):  At this point we must assert our faith. We shall be regarded as fools. Any man who believes in the devil today is regarded as almost unintelligent, yet if you believe the Bible you must believe in [the existence] of this tremendous person and his awful power.

A. A. HODGE (1823-1886): How may it be proved that Satan is a personal being, and not a mere personification of evil?

A. W. PINK: No unbiased mind can read carefully the fourth chapter of Matthew without coming to the conclusion that we have recorded there a real conflict between two persons—our Lord Jesus Christ and Satan.>

EDWARD REYNOLDS (1599-1676): Satan hath three titles given in the Scripture, setting forth his malignity against the church of God; a dragon, to note his malice; a serpent, to note his subtlety; and a lion, to note his strength.

A. A. HODGE: What are the names by which Satan is distinguished, and what is their import?

A. W. PINK: Thirty-five times he is denominated “The Devil,” which means “the Accuser,” or “Slanderer,” accusing the saints before God and traducing the character of God before men. Fifty-two times he is called “Satan,” which means “Enemy” or “Adversary.” He is God’s enemy and man’s adversary.

A. A. HODGE: What do the Scriptures teach concerning the relation of Satan to other evil spirits and to our world?

A. W. PINK: He is termed “The Prince of this world,” John 14:30, which defines his position in relation to our earth. He is named “Beelzebub,” Matthew 12:27, which regards him as the head of the demons. He is spoken of as the “Wicked One,” Matthew 13:19 which refers to him as the prime mover of all wickedness. He is styled “Apollyon,” that is “Destroyer,” Revelation 9:11, which links him with the Bottomless Pit.

A. A. HODGE: Other evil spirits are called “his angels,” Matthew 25:41; and he is called “Prince of Devils,” Matthew 9:34; and “Prince of the powers of the Air,” and “Prince of Darkness,” Ephesians 6:12. This indicates that he is the master spirit of evil…Throughout all the various books of Scripture Satan is always consistently spoken of as a person, and personal attributes are predicated of him. Such passages as Matthew 4 and John 8:44, “he was a murderer from the beginning,” are decisive―He is termed a “Liar, and the father of it,” because he is the inveterate opposer of the truth; a “roaring lion,” I Peter 5:8; ” a “sinner from the beginning,” 1 John 3:8; an “accuser,” Revelation 12:10; a “deceiver,” Revelation 20:10; a “serpent,” Isaiah 27:1; and a “tormentor,”Matthew 18:34―These and other titles of Satan are meaningless unless he is a personal being.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I believe Satan to exist for two reasons: first, the Bible says so; and second, I’ve done business with him.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Those of us who have passed through any spiritual conflicts know that Satan is a terribly real personage.

A. A. HODGE: He “transforms himself into an angel of light,” 2 Corinthians 11:14. If he can deceive or persuade he uses “wiles,” Ephesians 6:11; “snares,” 1 Timothy 3:7; “depths,” Revelation 2:24; he “blinds the mind,” 2 Corinthians 4:4; “leads captive the will,” 2 Timothy 2:26; and so “deceives the whole world,” Revelation 12:9. If he cannot persuade he uses “fiery darts,” Ephesians 6:16; and “buffetings,” 2 Corinthians 12:7. As examples of his influence in tempting men to sin, the Scriptures cite the case of Adam and Eve, Genesis 3; of David, 1 Chronicles 21:4; of Judas, Luke 22:3; Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:3, and the temptation of our blessed Lord.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Whatever power God permitteth Satan to have―yet it is limited; he cannot hurt or molest any further than God pleaseth.  He had power to set Christ on a pinnacle of the temple, but not to cast Him down. He had a power to touch Job’s skin, but a charge not to endanger his life: “Behold, he is in thine hand, but save his life,” Job 2:6. God sets bounds and limits to the malice of Satan, that he is not able to compass all his designs.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): In preserving the life of his Son, God maintained such reserve, as to give some indications of His heavenly power, and yet not to make it so manifest as to prevent it from being concealed under the appearance of weakness: for the full time of glorifying Christ openly was not yet come. The angel predicts an event which was hidden, and unknown to men. That is an evident proof of divine guidance. But the angel orders Joseph to defend the life of the child by flight and exile―we are here taught, that God has more than one way of preserving His own people. Sometimes He makes astonishing displays of His power; while at other times He employs dark coverings or shadows, from which feeble rays of it escape.

THOMAS MANTON: Remember, Satan is in God’s hand.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): Satan knows that nothing can prevail against Christ, or those that rely on His power.

 

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