Lesson 5 from the Life of Lot: The Danger of Zoar

Genesis 19:23

The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Lot, when commanded to retake himself to the mountain, chose rather to dwell in Zoar.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Lot seems to be a type of that class of Christians who aim to make the best of both worlds, who are really occupied more with the things of earth than the things of heaven.

H. C. ANSTEY (1843-1922): Neutrality is the Zoar, the little city, to which many a righteous Lot has fled for refuge. It is not Sodom, it is far removed from that wicked city, but it is not the “mountain,” God’s place of safety. It is a place reached without much difficulty, for it is in the plain, and no toilsome mountain ascent lies before those who would reach it. It is a principle getting widely spread in our day, which unmasked speaks but plainly when it says, “Let us make the best of both worlds.”

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): It is a hard matter to enjoy the world without being entangled with the cares and pleasures of it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): This is the peculiar danger of Christian people―Indeed, this is perhaps the most urgent word that is needed by Christian people at this very moment.  The world is so subtle, worldliness is such a pervasive thing, that we are all guilty of it, and often without realizing it.

A. W. PINK: “Worldly” is a term that means very different things in the minds and mouths of different people. Some Christians complain that their minds are “worldly” when they simply mean that, for the time being their thoughts are entirely occupied with temporal matters. We do not propose to enter into a close defining of the term, but would point out that the performing of those duties which God has assigned us in the world, or the availing ourselves of its conveniences, or even enjoying the comforts which it provides, are certainly not “worldly” in any evil sense. That which is injurious to the spiritual life is, time wasted in worldly pleasures, the heart absorbed in worldly pursuits, the mind oppressed by worldly cares.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Worldliness is all-pervasive, and is not confined to certain things. No, worldliness is an attitude towards life. It is a general outlook.

A. W. PINK: It is the love of the world and its things which is forbidden, and very close watch needs to be kept on the heart, otherwise it will glide insensibly into this snare.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): Worldly things are a great snare to the heart.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Man can possess things, but when he is possessed by the things, then that is sheer slavery. When a man’s heart is taken up with these things, then that is utterly debasing…It’s a lust, of course, and nothing but a lust, and once you get involved with this, you’ll never be satisfied. That is the meaning of lust, it’s an inordinate affection. An affection is all right, but once it becomes inordinate, it’s all wrong. A desire is alright, but a lust is terrible; it means that you are governed and controlled by it, and you’ll never have enough.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): All the danger is when the world gets into the heart. The water is useful for the sailing of the ship; all the danger is when the water gets into the ship; so the fear is when the world gets into the heart.

A. W. PINK: The case of Lot supplies a most solemn warning against this evil.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): What did Lot gain in the way of happiness and contentment? What a commentary is Lot’s history upon that brief but comprehensive admonition, “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” 1 John 2:15.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The whole world is preaching materialism. The modern world is full of this―high society, and low society, are living in Sodom and Gomorrah today, the life of the cities of the plain―materialism―Lot chose it, you see, thinking he was clever, leaving his uncle Abraham to have the mountaintops for his sheep; the life of the cities, society, civilization! God said what He thought about it, and He carried out what He said…Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth. Don’t live for that! Don’t set your heart on things like that!

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699):  A man may be very mortified and yet be very subject to dote upon the world.

A. W. PINK: One form of worldliness which has spoiled the life and testimony of many a Christian is politics. We will not now discuss the question whether or not the saint ought to take any interest in politics, but simply point out what should be evident to all with spiritual discernment, namely, that to take an eager and deep concern in politics must remove the edge from any spiritual appetite. Clearly, politics are concerned only with the affairs of this world, and therefore to become deeply absorbed in them and have the heart engaged in the pursuit thereof, will inevitably turn attention away from eternal things. Any worldly matter, no matter how lawful in itself, which engages our attention inordinately, becomes a snare and saps our spiritual vitality.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Now that doesn’t say that we shouldn’t have politics, you’ve got to govern your country. But oh, that we had politics which was concerned about truth, and about principles, about morality and living, and not merely pandering to the lusts and desires of men and women.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): Separation from the world is the grand distinguishing mark of vital godliness.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: You don’t get it by being a hermit on top of a mountain, or by living on a lonely island all on your own.

J. C. PHILPOT: There may indeed be separation of body where there is no separation of heart. But what I mean is, separation of heart, separation of principle, separation of affection, separation of spirit.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): To be divided from the world—its possessions, its maxims, its motives—is the mark of a disciple of Christ.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): This is difficult unto our nature, because of its weakness. It is apt to say, “Let me be spared in this or that thing”—to make an intercession for a Zoar. “What shall become of me when all is lost and gone? What shall I do for rest, for ease, for liberty, for society, yea for food and raiment?”

C. H. MACKINTOSH: This world’s Sodoms and its Zoars are all alike. There is no security, no peace, no rest, no solid satisfaction for the heart therein. The judgment of God hangs over the whole scene; and He only holds back the sword, in long-suffering mercy, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

A. W. PINK: Lot is a concrete warning, a danger signal, for all Christians who feel a tendency to be carried away by the things of the world.

 

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A Question of Individual Conscience: War & Military Service

Matthew 26:51,52

And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): By these words, Christ confirms the precept of the Law, which forbids private individuals to use the sword―But here a question arises. Is it never lawful to use violence in repelling unjust violence?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There are those who say that fighting is always wrong―the “taking of life,” they say, is “always wrong.” They therefore argue that no state should ever go to war, that war is always wrong, for every state, and every country.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Long have I held that war is an enormous crime. Long have I regarded all battles as but murder on a large scale…The question of the rightness of war is a moot point even among moral men. Among those who read their Bibles, the allowance of defensive war may, perhaps, still be a question.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): I say unto you, that ye resist not evil,” Matthew 5:39. How do such words agree with going to war? Our Lord Jesus Christ has left us an example that we should follow His steps. Can we trace His footsteps into a field of battle? We are called to walk even as He walked. Is it walking like Him to go to war?

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): I have always deprecated war as one of the greatest calamities, but it does not follow from hence that it is in all cases unlawful.

WILHELMUS à BRAKEL  (1635-1711): A war is lawful when enemies conspire to attack a nation that has not offended them, but which dwells quietly and peacefully—If the government of such a country then arms itself against such enemies, resists violence with violence, punishes them, and renders them incapable of returning violence, this is a righteous undertaking.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): As the sword must never be taken in hand without cause, so not without cause shown―the merits of the cause must be set forth. Even to the proclamation of war must be subjoined a tender of peace, if they would accept it upon reasonable terms.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The saints, of course, throughout the centuries, have always acted on this principle. You have had some very saintly men in the armies and navies of some countries, outstanding Christians, some of them. And you’ve had outstanding Christians, such as Oliver Cromwell and others who clearly give an answer to that statement that ‘killing is always wrong.’―The typical pacifist, of course, would say that, as it is wrong for the state to ever go to war, it is clearly equally wrong, if not more so, that any individual should ever partake in it.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: No doubt, there are many of the Lord’s beloved people in the army, but the question is not, “Can I be saved and be in the army?” Thousands have gone to heaven who have lived and died in that profession. But the real question for every loyal heart is―“Is it abiding with God or walking in the footsteps of Christ to go to war?” If it be, let Christians do so; if not, what then? You have only one question to ask yourself, namely, “Is the profession of arms one which a disciple of Christ can properly follow?”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: There is no word from Him in any way that prohibits a man that becomes a Christian from being a soldier. But then someone says, “Haven’t we got certain specific statements by the Lord which really make this question of fighting and of killing quite impossible?” And the one, of course, that they immediately produce is from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel about “turning the other cheek,” and about not only loving your neighbour, but about loving your enemies…It always seems to be assumed that if a man is fighting in the army of the state to which he belongs against the army of an opposing state that he of necessity is hating his enemy. But surely that is a very false assumption. It is wrong to assume that every man who fought in the Second World War hated every individual German in the German army―it’s just not true. There is a difference between hating what your enemy at the moment stands for, and hating the man himself. It is possible for a man fighting for a principle, even to be sorry for the people against whom he is fighting, for their blindness, or for their ignorance, or for their sinfulness.

WILHELMUS à BRAKEL: John the Baptist baptized soldiers, and rather than commanding them to forsake warfare, he exhorted them to be satisfied with their wages and not to be a burden to anyone, Luke 3:14. The centurion of Matthew 8 is praised for his faith and was not dismissed from his service. Cornelius the centurion, a godly man, was visited by Peter, and while Peter was preaching he received the Holy Spirit, Acts 10. There is no word of rebuke, however, nor of being dismissed from his service.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: Much use is sought to be made of the fact that the centurion in Acts 10 was not told to resign his commission. It is not the way of the Spirit of God to put people under a yoke. He does not say to the newly converted soul “you must give up this or that.” The grace of God meets a man where he is, with a full salvation, and then teaches him how to walk by presenting the words and ways of Christ.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Here is a country going to war. What does the Christian do? He, now, is in duty bound to examine what his country is saying, and what his country is doing. If he is satisfied that it is an entirely wrong cause, he is perfectly justified in refusing to have anything to do with it, because the cause is wrong, it’s unjust―But what he’s satisfied that it is a just cause?

C. H. MACKINTOSH: We can only answer the question by a reference to Christ. How did He act? What did He teach? Did He ever take the sword? Did He come to destroy men’s lives? Did He not say, “He that taketh the sword shall perish by the sword?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: A man can be a conscientious pacifist―and I am talking about a Christian of course, and alright, I respect him. If he still feels that he cannot take part in war―then I wouldn’t hesitate to say that he is entitled to refuse to do so. He’ll have to bear the consequences of this, he may have punishment, he may be put in jail―if he prefers that, it is for him to decide. Ultimately, a man is left with his own conscience, and this is something the state must respect; that was why in the two World Wars, the position of the conscientious objector was always recognized. But he must never say that all Christians must be in his position―and the Christian who does fight in a war must not despise the pacifist.

 

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How Can We Find Comfort In All Our Afflictions?

Psalm 119:49,50

Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): David had his afflictions, and so has every good man; none are without them; it is the will and pleasure of God that so it should be; and many are their afflictions, inward and outward.

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW (1808-1878): What is the comfort sought by an unbeliever in his affliction? Alas, he seeks to drown his sorrow by plunging yet deeper into what created it.  He goes to the world for his comfort―the world that has already lied to him, betrayed him, and stung and wounded him more keenly and deeply than a serpent.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The worldling clutches his money-bag, and says, “this is my comfort;” the spendthrift points to his gaiety and shouts, “this is my comfort;” the drunkard lifts his glass and sings, “this is my comfort.”

OCTAVIUS WINSLOW: But turn to the man of God. What was the Psalmist’s comfort in his sorrow?

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): Hope in His promise.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): In his word do I hope,” Psalm 130:6. What supported his patience was the confidence which he reposed in the divine promises. Were these promises taken away, the grace of God would necessarily vanish from our sight, and thus our hearts would fail and be overwhelmed with despair. Besides, he teaches us, that our being contented with the Word of God alone affords a genuine proof of our hope.

C. H. SPURGEON: The man whose hope comes from God feels the life-giving power of the Word of the Lord, and he testifies, “this is my comfort.”―the Word frequently comforts us by increasing the force of our inner life; “this is my comfort; thy word hath quickened me.” He means, ‘Thy Word is my comfort,’ or the fact that ‘Thy word has brought quickening to me is my comfort.’ Or, that the hope which God had given him was his comfort, for God had quickened him thereby. Whatever may be the exact sense, it is clear that the Psalmist had affliction and that he had comfort in it―Comfort in affliction is like a lamp in a dark place. Some are unable to find comfort at such times; but it is not so with believers, for their Saviour has said to them, “I will not leave you comfortless,” John 14:18.

HUDSON TAYLOR (1832-1905): He means just what He says, and will do all that He has promised.

C. H. SPURGEON: Remember the word unto thy servant.” He asks for no new promise, but to have the old word fulfilled…The Psalmist does not fear a failure in the Lord’s memory, but he makes use of the promise as a plea, and this is the form in which he speaks, after the manner of men when they plead with one another―there is a world of meaning in that word “remember,” as it is addressed to God; it is used in Scripture in the tenderest sense, and suits the sorrowing and the depressed. The Psalmist cried, “Lord, remember David, and all his afflictions,” Psalm 132:1; Job also prayed that the Lord would “appoint him a set time, and remember him,” Job 14:13.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Promises are the cordials which in every age have supported and strengthened the believer.

EDMUND CALAMY (1600-1666): Therefore we read both of Jacob and Jehosaphat, how they urged God in their prayer, with His promises. And certainly the prayers of the saints, winged with David’s promises, will quickly fly up to heaven, and draw down grace and comfort into their souls.  And upon this account it is that the promises are so useful to a Christian, because they are so helpful in prayer. When we pray, we must urge God with His promises.

C. H. SPURGEON: Upon which thou hast caused me to hope.” The argument is that God, having given grace to hope in the promise, would surely never disappoint that hope. He cannot have caused us to hope without cause. If we hope upon His Word we have a sure basis.

ALEXANDER COMRIE (1706-1774): His word shall not fail.

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): And ought not the believer to take comfort from the same cause, amidst all the exercises he meets with in his warfare?

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The promises yield strong consolation.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Therefore let us treasure up all the promises; all will be little enough when we need comforts.  That we may not have them to seek in a time of distress, it is good they should be familiar. As you read the word, collect them for your comfort and profit; happy is the man that hath his garner full of them

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): The wise Christian will store himself with promises in health for sickness, and in peace for future perils.

THOMAS MANTON: Every time you read the Scriptures, you should lay something up―What have you hidden in your heart for comfort against temptations, desertions, afflictions?  What have you laid up against a dear year? “Lay up his words in thine heart,” Job 22:22. In a time of trial you will find one promise will give you more comfort and support than all the arguments that can be produced by reason.

C. H. SPURGEON: God never gives His children a promise which He does not intend them to use. There are some promises in the Bible which I have never yet used; but I am well assured that there will come times of trial and trouble when I shall find that that poor despised promise, which I thought was never meant for me, will be the only one on which I can float. I know that the time is coming when every believer shall know the worth of every promise in the covenant.

J. C. RYLE: I have seen not a few dying persons in my time. I have seen great varieties of manner and deportment among them―but one thing I have never seen. I never saw anyone enjoy what I should call real, solid, calm, reasonable peace on his deathbed, who did not draw his peace from the Bible. And this I am bold to say, that the man who thinks to go to his deathbed without having the Bible for his comforter, his companion, and his friend, is one of the greatest madmen in the world. There are no comforts for the soul but Bible comforts, and he who has not got hold of these, has got hold of nothing at all, unless it be a broken reed.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Believers in Christ die as well as others―but though they die, they shall live again, John 11:25,26: “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

C. H. SPURGEON: If you do not need this promise just now, you may very soon. Treasure it up.

 

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The Depths of Christ’s Suffering During Calvary’s Darkness

Psalm 69:2, Psalm 42:7, Psalm 130:1; Psalm 22:1; Matthew 27:45,46

I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me…Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy watersports: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me…Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): These words are quoted by our Lord from Psalm 22:1; they are of very great importance, and should be carefully considered.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): Darkness enwrapped His soul and in anguish He cried, “Eli, Eli, lama, sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): Some would translate the words, “My God, my God, to what a degree,” or “to what a length of time, hast thou forsaken me?” “Lama” in the Hebrew has this signification.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): A strange complaint to come from the mouth of our Lord Jesus, Who, we are sure, was “God’s elect, in whom his soul delighted,” Isaiah 42:1, and One in Whom He was always “well pleased.”

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): He who hung there on the accursed tree had been from all eternity the object of the Father’s love. To employ the language of Proverbs 8, the suffering Saviour was the One Who “was by Him, as one brought up with Him,” He was “daily His delight.” His own joy had been to behold the Father’s countenance. The Father’s presence had been His home, the Father’s bosom His dwelling-place, the Father’s glory He had shared before ever the world was. During the thirty-three years the Son had been on earth He enjoyed unbroken communion with the Father. Never a thought that was out of harmony with the Father’s mind, never a volition but what originated in the Father’s will, never a moment spent out of His conscious presence. What then must it have meant to be “forsaken” now by God! Ah, the hiding of God’s face from Him was the most bitter ingredient of that cup which the Father had given the Redeemer to drink.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): Matthew represents these three long hours from noon till what answers to our 3 P.M. as passed in utter silence by Christ. What went on beneath that dread veil, we are not meant to know. Nor do we need to ask its physical cause or extent. It wrapped the agony from cruel eyes; it symbolised the blackness of desolation in His spirit, and by it God draped the heavens in mourning for man’s sin. The cry that broke the awful silence, and came out of the darkness, was more awful still.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Every word in this terrible cry from the cross is emphatic; every syllable cuts and pierces to the heart.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): At that awful moment, the iniquity of us all was laid upon Him to the uttermost.

C. H. SPURGEON: Isaiah tells us in his wonderful 53rd Chapter, that “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us allIt pleased the Lord to bruise Him. He has put Him to griefThou shall make His soul an offering for sinWe did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.” This, indeed, was the very sting of Christ’s death―that cry, “My God, My God! Why hast thou forsaken Me?” was the innermost blackness of the thick darkness of death! Our Lord’s death was penal—inflicted upon Him by Divine Justice—and rightly so, for on Him lay our iniquities—and therefore on Him must lay the suffering.

A. W. PINK: The very word “forsaken” is one of the most tragic in all human speech.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): It was unquestionably drawn from Him by intensity of sorrow…For not only did He offer His body as the price of our reconciliation with God, but in His soul also He endured the punishments due to us; and thus He became, as Isaiah speaks, a man of sorrows, Isaiah 53:3.

MATTHEW HENRY: How He uttered it: “with a loud voice”―Now the scripture was fulfilled, Joel 3:15, 16; “The sun and the moon shall be darkened.” “The Lord shall also roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem.” Christ’s being forsaken of His Father was the most grievous of His sufferings, and that which He complained most of—this brought the “waters into the soul,” Psalm 69:1,2.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: Separation from God is the true death―the “wages of sin;” and in that dread hour He bore in His own consciousness the uttermost of its penalty. The physical fact of Christ’s death, if it could have taken place without this desolation from the consciousness of separation from God, would not have been the bearing of all the consequences of man’s sins…He then was indeed bearing the whole weight of a world’s sin.

A. W. PINK: The Redeemer was left alone with the sinner’s sin―that was the explanation of the three hours darkness.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): All the hosts of hell were, as it were, let loose upon Him; as He himself says, “This is your hour, and the power of darkness,” Luke 22:53. Above all, the wrath of God was now poured out upon Him, as the Surety and Substitute of a guilty world.

C. H. SPURGEON: The darkness outside of Him was the figure of the darkness that was within Him…And now, when I come to think of it, this darkness appears to have been most natural and fitting―it would have been impossible for human eyes to have looked upon the Saviour when He was in the full vortex of the storm of wrath which fell upon Him—It was not meet, when He trod the winepress, that He should be gazed upon. He must tread the winepress alone in all the fullest meaning of that word―He, alone, of all mankind could truly say, “All Thy waves and Thy billows have gone over Me.”

CHARLES SIMEON: His sufferings were such as no finite imagination can conceive.

C. H. SPURGEON: Oh, Brothers and Sisters, you can have no thought—it is impossible you should—of the depth of the Saviour’s sufferings! The Greek liturgy, when it speaks of Christ’s sufferings as “Thy unknown sufferings” has just hit the mark. They were unknown—unknown to us and unknown, also, perhaps, to lost souls in Hell, so dire and so extreme were they! He was shut up in the darkness that He might there alone bear the whole of it…It is as much as if God had said to us, “You want to know what Christ had to suffer? You cannot know, but that black darkness is the emblem of it.”

 

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Doing Our Part

Exodus 17:8-13

Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.

And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand. So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.

And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): Joshua led men to an actual conflict, while Moses, assisted by Aaron and Hur, prayed. It was a combination of fighting and faith, the manifestation of loyalty to duty combined with dependence on God.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Behold Moses and Joshua on this occasion in their respective departments, and see in what various and suitable ways God qualifies and employs His servants―each has his own calling and work.  It would be absurd to extol the valour of Joshua at the expense of the piety of Moses, or to extol the piety of Moses at the expense of valour in Joshua.  It was not for want of courage that Moses prayed, or for want of devotion that Joshua fought.  It was the same spirit that actuated the supplicant and the warrior.

J. R. MILLER (1840-1912): Each did his own part. It is just in this way that God’s work is always to be done. No one person has universal gifts. One man is a poor talker, but has brains and heart, and can make plans, and impart energy and inspiration. Another is an eloquent speaker, but lacks in the very points in which the first excels. Put the two together, and they can achieve great results.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): There is not a greater, or more pleasant variety of qualities, smells, and colours, among the herbs and flowers with which the earth is variegated and decked, for the delight and service of men, than there is in the gifts and abilities of ministers for the use and service of the church. One hath quickness of parts, but not so deep and solid a judgment. Another is grave and solid, but not so ready to speak. One is wary and reserved, another open and plain. One is melancholy and timorous, another cheerful and courageous.

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): And so is it now. While the Lord’s ministers are going forth, in their public labours for the people, the saints of God are holding up their hands by their private prayers for them, as Aaron and Hur did the hands of Moses.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Some Christians have more opportunities to glorify God than others, higher privileges of service, greater abilities and gifts—the “talents” were not distributed equally: one had five, another three, another one, Matthew 25:15. But let us not murmur; all have more than they can improve.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): My dear Brothers and Sisters, our gifts are various. God has been pleased to place us in different positions and to give us different talents—you are not all called to the same work for Christ—but every saved man or woman has some work to do.

J. R. MILLER: In a church, some can sing well; some cannot sing, but can teach; some can do neither, but can carry comfort to the sick; some can manage business affairs; and some can make money, and give it. There is a diversity of gifts, no two having the same. But if all work together, each doing his own part, the church is not only a power, but there is no necessary work which is not done.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): The division of labour is the multiplication of joy, and all who have shared in the toil will be united in the final triumph.

JOHN FLAVEL: Love and union bring every man’s gifts and graces into the common bank, and instead of monopolies, they drive a free and open trade, to the great enriching of the church―when these different gifts and qualities shine together in the church, what a glorious constellation do they make!

J. R. MILLER: Never worry because you have not the gift some other one has; you have some gift, and that is the one God wants you to use.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): The Lord suits His instruments to the work which He gives them to do.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Great is the wisdom wherewith the Lord Jesus Christ builds His Church. All is done at the right time, and in the right way. Each stone in its turn is put in the right place. Sometimes He chooses great stones, and sometimes He chooses small stones—He often chooses the most unlikely and roughest stones, and fits them into a most excellent work.

Sometimes the work goes on fast, and sometimes it goes on slowly. Man is frequently impatient, and thinks that nothing is doing. But man’s time is not God’s time. A thousand years in His sight are but as a single day. The great Builder makes no mistakes. He knows what He is doing. He sees the end from the beginning.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: He alone begins and completes the work—the rest of us do our little bit of the great work which lasts on through the ages, and, having inherited unfinished tasks, we transmit them to those who come after us―We are like the workers on some great cathedral, which was begun long before the present generation of masons were born, and will not be finished until long after they have dropped trowel and mallet from their dead hands. Enough for us if we can lay one course of stones in that great structure. So, if our work is but preparatory for that of those who come after, let us not think it of slight importance.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): We must also, like Aaron and Hur, assist each other, holding up each other’s hands, and animating each other’s hearts; nor ever terminate our exertions, till God shall scatter all our enemies.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Everyone has his work to do.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: Be sure that all who have had any portion in the toil shall share in the victory—and that victory is certain. Are you to have part in it?

 

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Our Present & Future Adoption as the Sons of God

Galatians 4:4,5; John 1:12,13; Romans 8:23

When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The Son of God became a Son of man, that the sons and daughters of men might become the sons and daughters of God Almighty. The privilege of adoption is entirely owing to Jesus Christ; He gave this power to them that believe on His name.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): To them gave he power to become the sons of God.” This expression means “He gave them the privilege of adoption into God’s family.”―The word “power” in this sentence requires careful guarding against misrepresentation. It means, as the marginal reading says, “right, or privilege.” It does not mean strength or ability. It does not mean that Christ confers on those who receive Him a spiritual and moral strength, by which they convert themselves, change their own hearts, and make themselves God’s children.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): This is an act of pure grace. No man can ever have a “right,” in himself, to become adopted.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): If the cause of adoption be inquired for, it must be said to have been the mere mercy and goodness of God.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): Our right and title to spiritual adoption, and the privileges thereof arise from our union with Jesus Christ; we being united to the Son of God, are, by virtue of that union, reckoned or accounted sons, Galatians 3:26, “Ye are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.” The effect of saving faith is union with Christ’s person, and the consequence of that union is adoption, or the right to the inheritance.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Now what does this term “adoption” mean?

C. H. SPURGEON: Adoption is that act of God whereby men, who were by nature the children of wrath, even as others, and were of the lost and ruined family of Adam, are from no reason in themselves, but entirely of the pure grace of God, translated out of the evil and black family of Satan, and brought actually and virtually into the family of God.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): And the agent that brought you into this family is the Holy Spirit.

JOHN CALVIN: Having been engrafted into the body of Christ, we are made partakers of the Divine adoption, and heirs of heaven.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): The moment they believe, they are sons.

C. H. SPURGEON: They take His name, share the privileges of sorts, and they are to all intents and purposes the actual offspring and children of God!

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): So now we are the sons of God. But―“waiting for the adoption?” Why then should we wait for what we have already?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The Apostle Paul is the only writer in the New Testament that uses the term “adoption.”―And there is no doubt at all that he borrowed the term from Roman law and jurisprudence. It is a term, and an idea that the Jews knew nothing about at all; it was in no part of their legal system―quite foreign to the Jew. But it was a term with which any Roman was familiar; and the Apostle Paul, had been born a free Roman citizen, and had lived in that atmosphere. In Roman law, adoption secured for the adopted child a right to the name and the property of the person by whom he had been adopted—an absolute legal right.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Adoption, amongst the Romans, was two-fold; first, private, in the house, and afterwards public, in the forum. The former of these every believer has received already through the operation of the Spirit of God upon his soul: but for the latter he waits till that period when God shall come to gather together His elect from every quarter of the world.

MATTHEW HENRY: The privileges of their adoption shall be completed in the resurrection of the body.

MATTHEW POOLE: Now we have the right, but not the full possession, of our inheritance: the apostle himself explains his meaning in the next words: “The redemption of our body”—our perfect deliverance from sin and misery; this phrase is used in other places; see Luke 21:28, Ephesians 4:30. But why of our body, and not of our souls? Because their souls would be in actual possession of the inheritance before that day.

ADAM CLARKE: They who believe in Christ with a heart unto righteousness are freed from the bondage of their sinful corruption, and brought into the glorious liberty of the sons of God; and they look forward with joyous expectation, waiting for the general resurrection, when their bodies also shall be redeemed from corruption, and the whole man—body and soul—shall be adopted into the family of heaven.

CHARLES SIMEON: That is the period when the body will enjoy the redemption that has been long since possessed by the soul; and a blessedness will be then imparted to the whole man, of which his present most exalted happiness is but an earnest and foretaste. Now the believer knows that period shall arrive: and he longs for it, and “groans within himself,” through the ardour of his desires after it. Even here his anticipations of it have been sweet, infinitely beyond the powers of language to express―“a joy unspeakable.” What then shall the full possession be in the complete enjoyment of his God? From the private adoption, by the testimony of the Spirit, he has been almost wrapt at times into the third heaven, notwithstanding the clog which his body has imposed upon his soul. What then shall the public manifestation of this honour in the presence of the whole assembled universe be, when his “redeemed body” shall possess all the purity and perfection of his soul?

C. H. SPURGEON: We do not know the greatness of adoption yet. Yes, I believe that even in eternity we shall scarcely be able to measure the infinite depth of the love of God in that one blessing of “adoption by Jesus Christ unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will.”

CHARLES SIMEON: I wonder not that Paul “groaned” in this body, being burdened; yea, that he “groaned, earnestly desiring” to be clothed upon with his heavenly house, namely, with his body in its renovated and perfect state, 2 Corinthians 5:2-5. This ought to be the state of every true believer; and it will be in proportion as he lives nigh to God, and has “his conversation in heaven.”

 

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The Witness & Testimony of a Good Report

Hebrews 11:1,2,4-6

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report…By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): What cheered all the pious antediluvian patriarchs through their wearisome pilgrimage of several hundred years?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Witness was borne unto them that God was well-pleased with them. That’s the secret of every one of them.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The word which we translate “obtained a good report,” literally signifies, “were witnessed of ”―this, therefore, is God’s witness or testimony concerning them.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): It is the Holy Spirit in the Scripture that gives them this good testimony―that they pleased God, that they were righteous, that they were justified in the sight of God. That whereon this testimony was founded, is their “faith.” In, by, or through their believing it was that they obtained this report.

J. W. ALEXANDER (1804-1859): Precisely for this reason is faith so often dwelt on as the instrument; because faith, as faith, lays hold of God’s veracity; and trust is nothing else but faith in a promise.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I would entirely disagree with the interpretation of this by John Owen that the testimony is the testimony that’s given to Enoch “in the Scripture.” The Scripture tells us that the testimony was given to him before his translation, and the Scriptures were not written until some considerable period of time afterwards. No, no, the testimony is not the mere record in the Scripture―he was given it! As all these men were given it; it’s something personal, it’s something subjective, it is in the realm of assurance of salvation.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Assurance is the fruit that grows out of the root of faith.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Assurance is an effect of faith, therefore it cannot be faith itself. The cause cannot be the effect, nor the root the fruit. As the effect flows from the cause, the fruit from the root, the stream from the fountain, so does assurance flow from faith―again, a man must first have faith, before he can have assurance, therefore assurance is not faith. And that is clear by this, a man must first be saved before he can be assured of his salvation; for he cannot be assured of that which is not.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Faith saves us, but assurance satisfies us—full assurance is not essential to salvation, but it is essential to satisfaction.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Very well, you see the importance of considering such a case.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God,” Romans 8:16. Therefore, for more assurance, it is confirmed by another and greater testimony, and that is of the Spirit Himself; He witnesses with our spirits, and seals it up unto us; He first works grace in our hearts, and then witnesseth to it. This testimony is not alike in all believers, nor in any one of them at all times.

ADAM CLARKE: It must come from God Himself.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Now that is the thing to which I am calling attention, as I say, the common factor to all these people who are mentioned in this chapter from Hebrews is just that: they were given the knowledge―the certain knowledge, that they were well-pleasing to God. They were given a testimony. You remember it in the case of Abel? “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts.” That’s the thing! He was given to know, that God was pleased with his gift; he wasn’t uncertain, he was given the assurance, so that before he was murdered by his brother, he was rejoicing in this assurance of his relationship to God. And in the same way we are told of Enoch: “before he was translated, he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” Now the first thing that arises therefore for our consideration is this: How exactly was Enoch given this testimony that he pleased God?

MATTHEW POOLE: It is better felt than expressed.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Well, I have no hesitation in answering that question in this way: the answer, I suggest, is found in what we are told about him in Genesis 5, verse 24: “And Enoch walked with God.

EDWARD PAYSON: What enabled Enoch to walk with God?

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Faith was in Enoch the leading principle from which his works proceeded.

JOHN OWEN: To “walk with God,” is to lead a life of faith in covenant obedience unto God―to “walk with God” is, in all our ways, actions, and duties, to have a continual regard unto God, by faith in Him, dependence on Him, and submission to Him.

THOMAS BROOKS: Though no man merits assurance by his obedience, yet God usually crowns obedience with assurance―the more the soul is conformed to Christ, the more confident it will be of its interest in Christ.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): There are special comforts laid up for those who love Christ, and prove it by keeping His words. This, at any rate, seems the general sense of our Lord’s language: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him,” John 14:23. The full meaning of this promise, no doubt, is a deep thing which no man can understand except he that receives and experiences it. But we need not shrink from believing that eminent holiness brings eminent comfort with it.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Sanctification is the seed; assurance is the flower that grows out of it.

C. H. SPURGEON: The expression “walking together” is often used in Scripture as a figure for communion.

AUGUSTUS TOPLADY (1713-1778): The very essence of assurance lies in communion with God.

JOHN NELSON DARBY (1800-1882): This is very important and very precious. If we walk with God, we have the testimony that we please Him; we have the sweetness of communion with God, the testimony of His Spirit, His intercourse with us in the sense of His presence, the consciousness of walking according to His Word, which we know to be approved by Him—in a word, a life which, spent with Him and before Him by faith, is spent in the light of His countenance and in the enjoyment of the communications of His grace and of a sure testimony, coming from Himself that we are pleasing to Him. A child who walks with a kind father and converses with him, his conscience reproaching him with nothing—does he not enjoy the sense of his parent’s favour?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Very well, my friends, Do we know anything about that? Do we know anything about walking with God? Do we know anything of God bearing testimony that He’s well-pleased with us? Has He given us these intimations?

 

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Abortion Seen Scripturally & Scientifically

Jeremiah 1:4,5

Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): What God says of the prophet Jeremiah is true of all: “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee.”

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The forming of the human fetus is God’s act, and a curious piece of workmanship it is; see Psalm 139:14,15, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret.”

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The different parts of the human body are formed in a succession of time; for in the first germ there is no arrangement of parts, or proportion of members, but it is developed, and takes its peculiar form progressively.*

MATTHEW HENRY: It is possible that infants may be wrought upon by the Holy Ghost, even from their mother’s womb; for John Baptist even then was “filled with the Holy Ghost,” who took possession of his heart betimes; and an early specimen was given of it, when he “leaped in his mother’s womb for joy,” at the approach of the Saviour.

JOHN CALVIN: The power of the Spirit, I acknowledge, did operate in John, while he was yet in his mother’s womb.

JOHN GILL: And it came to pass that when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb,” Luke 1:41. Whilst John the Baptist was in the womb, he “leaped for joy” at the salutation of Mary―which motion was not natural, but supernatural, being made at hearing* the voice of Mary who had now conceived the Messiah.

TERTULLIAN (160-240): John and Jesus were both alive while still in the womb. Elizabeth rejoiced as the infant leaped in her womb; Mary glorifies the Lord because Christ within inspired her, Luke 1:26-55…For us, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from other parts of the woman’s body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter when you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one: you have the fruit already in the seed.*

JOHN CALVIN: The fetus, though enclosed in the womb of its mother, is already a human being, and it is almost a monstrous crime to rob it of the life which it has not yet begun to enjoy. If it seems more horrible to kill a man in his own house than in a field, because a man’s house is his place of most secure refuge, it ought surely to be deemed more atrocious to destroy a fetus in the womb before it has come to light.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): There is nothing that is more deeply inlaid in the principles of the natures of all living creatures, and so of man himself, than a love unto and a care for the preservation and nourishing of their young. Many brute creatures will die for them; some feed them with their own flesh and blood; all deprive themselves and act in their behalf to the utmost of their power. Now, such is the efficacy, power, and force of indwelling sin in man—an infection that the nature of other creatures knows nothing of—that in many it prevails to stop this fountain, to beat back the stream of natural affections, to root up the principles of the law of nature, and to drive them unto a neglect, a destruction of the fruit of their own loins.

Paul tells us the old Gentiles were “without natural affection,” Romans 1:31. That which he aims at is that barbarous custom among the Romans, who ofttimes, to spare the trouble in the education of their children, and to be at liberty to satisfy their lusts, destroyed their own children from the womb; so far did the strength of sin prevail to obliterate the law of nature, and to repel the force and power of it. Examples of this nature are common in all nations; and amongst ourselves, of women murdering their own children, through the deceitful reasoning of sin.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): How great, therefore, the wickedness of human nature is! How many girls there are who prevent conception, and kill and expel tender fetuses, although procreation is the work of God!

JEROME (340-420): They drink potions to ensure sterility and are guilty of murdering a human being not yet conceived. Some, when they learn that they are with child through sin, practice abortion by the use of drugs.

JOHN CALVIN: When a woman in some way drives away the seed out the womb, through aids, then this is rightly seen as an unforgivable crime.**

BASIL (329-379): Moreover, those, too, who give drugs causing abortion are deliberate murderers themselves, as well as those receiving the poison which kills the fetus―whether the embryo were perfectly formed, or not.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): We talk of our American civilization. We forget the alarming increase of crime in our midst. It is said that there is no civilized country on the globe where murder is so frequently committed and so seldom punished.

JOHN CALVIN:  “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward,” Psalm 127:3. The Hebrew word שכר translated “reward,” signifies whatever benefits God bestows upon men.

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407): Why then do you abuse the gift of God and fight with His laws, and follow after what is a curse, as if a blessing, and make the place of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter?

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Thou shalt not kill,” Exodus 20:13. In this commandment is a sin forbidden, which is murder, and a duty implied, which is, to preserve our own life, and the life of others.

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*Editor’s Note: The human fetus begins to form ears in the 9th week of pregnancy, and, by the 18th week, is able to hear sounds in the womb. This capability increases as the baby continues to grow in the womb. By the 25th week (6 months), the fetus hears sounds outside the womb. When Mary arrived at Elizabeth’s house, Elizabeth was six months pregnant with the baby John the Baptist, (Luke 1:36-44), and thus capable of hearing Mary’s voice. It is scientific fact that this development of the fetus in forming human body parts is a process of growth, for which human life is necessary; because without life, growth is impossible. Therefore, by inherent definition, abortion must be the ending of a human life.

**Editor’s Note: By the phrase “unforgivable crime,” Calvin does not mean an “unforgivable” sin in terms of salvation, that, upon repentance, God cannot forgive this sin. Scripture elsewhere makes it clear that murderers can, and have been forgiven. He means that this sin is unforgivable in that, as it is murder, it ought to be punished.

 

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Lesson 4 From the Life of Lot: Lot’s Flight From Sodom Into Zoar

Genesis 19:16-25, 29

And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.

And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live.

And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The Lord has a very peculiar care for His own people—He is their Father and He guards them as His own dear children. Whenever times of great trouble come, He thinks especially of them. He drowned the antediluvian world, but not till Noah was safely in the ark. He burned Sodom and Gomorrah, but not till Lot had escaped to the little city called Zoar. In all His judgments He remembers His mercy towards His believing people—He does not suffer them to be destroyed even in the day of the destruction of the ungodly.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Whoever would have concluded that Lot was a “righteous man” had not the New Testament told us so!

C. H. SPURGEON: Lot was a righteous man, notwithstanding his imperfections.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): God’s electing, effectual, distinguishing grace will preserve His people from total and final apostasy—these indeed may fall frequently and foully, but yet they will not fall totally nor finally from God.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): Though in the midst of snares, and temptations, God will preserve them.

C. H. SPURGEON: There is Lot—evil Lot. He has been acting very badly and has got away down there in Sodom. Still, he is a child of God. He is vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked, proving that he has some fear of God in his heart. Well, what does the Lord say? “Haste you,” He says, “for I cannot do anything till you have come out of here.” Lot must get to Zoar. There must be a little city to shelter Lot!

 THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): But mark here, when God biddeth him go to the mountain―then he goeth to Zoar.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): What a picture! He seems like a drowning man, ready to catch even at a floating feather. Though commanded by the angel to flee to the mountain, he refuses, and still fondly clings to the idea of “a little city,”—some little shred of the world. He feared death in the place to which God was mercifully directing him—yea, he feared all manner of evil, and could only hope for safety in some little city, some spot of his own devising. “Oh! let me escape thither, and my soul shall live.” How sad. There is no casting himself wholly upon God…His soul seemed completely unhinged; his worldly nest had been abruptly broken up, and he was not quite able to nestle himself, by faith, in the bosom of God.

THOMAS COKE: What a mixture of unbelief! Why, could not He who called him out, help him on his way?―Lot betrayed the weakness of his faith, as if he saw a better way of security for himself than God pointed out, or, as if he doubted the sufficiency of the Divine protection. He urges two motives for permission to go to the city of Zoar; 1st, Because it was near, not so far off as the mountains; and 2nd, Because it was a little one, with fewer inhabitants, and so probably less depraved than the others―though there was much infirmity in Lot’s pretending to choose the place of his safety, the more mercy is manifested in God’s yielding to his request.

EDWARD PAYSON (1783-1827): Witness the preservation of guilty Zoar for the sake of Lot.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): God hath sometimes spared a people for the sake of one man.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: Zoar is spared, not for the unworthy reason which Lot suggested―because its minuteness might buy impunity, as some noxious insect too small to be worth crushing―but in accordance with the principle which was illustrated in Abraham’s intercession, and even in Lot’s safety; namely, that the righteous are shields for others.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): These are the salt of the earth, that sprinkled here and there, preserve it from putrefying and perishing. God gave all the souls that were in the ship to Paul, and all that were in Zoar to Lot. If it were not for His elect in the world, He would make a “short work in the earth,” Romans 9:28.

JEROME (340-420): Zoar, of all the five cites, was preserved by Lot’s prayer.

MATTHEW HENRY: See what favour God showed to a true saint, though weak. Zoar was spared, to gratify him. Though his intercession for it was not, as Abraham’s for Sodom, from a principle of generous charity, but merely from self-interest, yet God granted him his request, to show how much the fervent prayer of a righteous man avails.

C. H. SPURGEON: I think that this sparing of Zoar is an instance of the cumulative power of prayer. I may liken Abraham’s mighty pleading for Sodom to a ton weight of prayer, supplication that had a wonderful force and power. Lot’s petition is only like an ounce of prayer. Poor little Lot, what a poor little prayer his was! Yet that ounce turned the scale. So, it may be that there is some mighty man of God who is near to prevailing with God, but he cannot quite obtain his request; but you, poor feeble pleader that you are, shall add your feather’s weight to his great intercession, and then the scale will turn. This narrative always comforts me. I think that Zoar was preserved, not so much by the prayer of Lot, as by the greater prayer of Abraham which had gone before; yet the mighty intercession of the friend of God did not prevail until it was supported by the feeble petition of poor Lot.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): God did indeed graciously condescend to Lot’s request; and spared Zoar for his sake: but his unbelief was punished, not only in the fears which harassed him in Zoar, but in the awful dereliction that he afterwards experienced. 

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Sometimes, by strange and even terrible things in righteousness, the Lord answers His people.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): But God will preserve His own elect.

MATTHEW HENRY: The purpose and the power of God, the purchase and the prayer of Christ, the promise of the gospel, the everlasting covenant that God has made with them, ordered in all things and sure, the indwelling of the Spirit, and the immortal seed of the word—these are their security.

 

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The Biblical Balance For A Happy Marriage

1 Peter 3:1,7; Ephesians 5:22-25,33

Ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands―Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it―let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407): The scales should always be equally poised in exhortations.

JOHN DAVENANT (1572-1641): This Paul has accurately observed in this whole exhortation―he cast into one scale the duties of wives: now he places in the other the duties of husbands also, so that both should be equal in weight.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): Mutual respect is a duty of married life; for though, as we shall afterwards consider, especial respect is due from the wife—yet respect is due from the husband also.

ROBERT HAWKER (1753-1827): Observe what those two great apostles Peter and Paul, have said on this subject.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Peter and Paul taught the same doctrine.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): The submission of the wife to her husband must be entire, cheerful, uniform, “as unto the Lord,” because the husband is as truly the head of the wife, as Christ is the Head of the Church.

JOHN DAVENANT: The limitation is: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord,” Colossians 3:18―If the husband attempt to entice his wife into any sin, it is not fit that those who are in the Lord, should obey in such things.

CHARLES SIMEON: There is no other limit to her submission…

What is the meaning of those words, “As the Church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands, in every thing?” I confess to you that this appears somewhat harsh―but I am not at liberty to soften it, or to introduce into God’s Word any qualifying expressions, to lower the standard He has given us. You yourselves see the comparison which is instituted by God Himself, and the extent of the requisition that is made. Had the comparison been omitted, we might possibly have thought that the expression, “every thing” did admit of some modifications and exceptions. But who will so construe the obedience which the Church owes to Christ? If, then, we cannot so limit the requisition in the one case, neither can we in the other: and, consequently, in our statement of the duties of a wife, we must take the ground which is laid in Scripture, and set forth the will of God as it is plainly declared in the inspired volume.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Why? Because, otherwise, “the Word of God will be blasphemed,” Titus 2:5―It is unseemly to see a woman, as much as once in her lifetime, to offer to overtop her husband.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): With comparatively rare exceptions, wives are no longer in subjection to their husbands; and as for obeying them, why, the majority of women demand that such a hateful word be stricken from the marriage ceremony.

JOHN DAVENANT: But God most clearly has sanctioned this female subjection: “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,” Genesis 3:16.

CHARLES SIMEON: If this appear, as I fear it will, “an hard saying,” that impression will soon be removed, by stating next the duties of the husband. “Husbands, love your wives.” Here we observe the counterpart of the comparison which has been before made in relation to the wife―Is the wife to submit to her husband as unreservedly as the Church submits to Christ? Know ye then, that the husband is to love his wife as truly and tenderly, yea, and, as far as it is possible, to the very same extent―“as Christ has loved the Church, and gave himself for it.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Thus the authority of the man over the woman is founded on his love to her―and this love must be such as to lead him to risk his life for her.

CHARLES SIMEON: Now, let us suppose a husband to act on this principle: to exercise self-denial, to the utmost possible extent, for the good of his wife; to pant after her happiness, as to be willing to do any thing, or suffer any thing, in order to promote it: and let us suppose him never to propose any thing to her, but for her good; and never, in any instance, to thwart her, but with a view to her truest happiness; methinks she would never complain of the extent of her duty to him; it would be all easy, all delightful. Let it be remembered, then, that this is the husband’s duty to his wife.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them,” Colossians 3:19. Never say a bitter word against them.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I have known wives afraid to talk to their husbands, afraid of getting them mad.

C. H. SPURGEON: Oh, there are some spirits that are very bitter! A little thing puts them out and they would take delight in a taunt which grieves the spirit. I pity the poor woman who has such bitterness where she ought to have sweetness―yet there are some such husbands.

ADAM CLARKE: Wherever bitterness is, there love is wanting.

JOHN BUNYAN: Think on this, you mad-brained blasphemous husbands!

ROBERT LEIGHTON (1611-1684): Your wives are subject to you, but you are likewise subject to this Word.

A. W. PINK: May it move them to treat their wives with that love, sympathy, patience, gentleness, considerateness, which is their due.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714):  And that, notwithstanding the imperfections and failures that she is guilty of.

CHARLES SIMEON: The duties of man and wife are placed in a light peculiarly simple and beautiful, each under one single term: “Wives, submit―Husbands, love.”

ROBERT LEIGHTON: As being heirs together of the grace of life.” This most strongly binds all these duties on the hearts of husbands and wives, and most strongly indeed binds their hearts together, and makes them one. If each be reconciled unto God in Christ, and so an heir of life, and one with God, then are they truly one in God with each other; and that is the surest and sweetest union that can be―Hearts centering in Him, are most excellently one―Loth will they be to despise one another, who are both bought with the precious blood of one Redeemer, and loth to grieve one another.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Now, as to Peter and Paul―when we receive and venerate everything that they have delivered to us, we hear not so much them, as Christ speaking in them.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): As Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:21, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost;” or as Paul puts in 2 Timothy 3:16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.

 

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