And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Aaron, you remember, fashioned the gold into a form of a golden calf. Then they proceeded to worship the golden calf and they said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt,” Exodus 32:4. And not only did they worship the golden calf, but they proceeded to open sin, and vice, and evil―And there you have false worship. Man arrogating unto himself the power to decide who is to be his god, and in turn, of course, it leads to sin, to open immorality, and to shameful behaviour―So, we have had the self-same thing in the Church and in the world. False worship, false religion, false gods, and an appalling state of evil, sin and vice. And then what happens? Well, you remember what happened to the Israelites? God punished them―and He always punishes sin.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): God will not be mocked, and in His righteous government He visits the iniquities of the fathers upon their children, and hence it is that seasons of prosperity are followed by seasons of adversity.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): The militant Church has always a summer and a winter, according as she enjoys the Sun of Righteousness, who hath “healing in His wings,” Malachi 4:2. Now, when the sun departs―when Jesus goes away―then it is dead winter with the Church…It is clear that under Joshua the Church had her summer and fair weather; the Prince of their salvation did fight for them and their enemies were subdued under them, Joshua 5:14. Again, the Lord left them many times under the Judges, and sold them to their enemies, and this was their winter, when God departed from them, and they worshipped other gods.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): In the case of every errant course there is always a first wrong step. If we can trace that wrong step, we may be able to avoid it and its results. Where, then, is the point of divergence from the “King’s highway of truth”? What is the first step astray?
A. W. PINK: God does not act arbitrarily―It was only when Israel “forsook the Lord God of their fathers…and followed other gods,” that His anger was kindled against them, and “He delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and He sold them into the hands of their enemies round about,” Judges 2:11-14.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I have an uncomfortable feeling that―our churches in general―are as they are because our foolish forefathers ceased to worship God and began to worship politicians…Those who remember the conditions before the First World War will know exactly what I mean. There was an optimism―political action! Even the church fell into the trap. And the great days in the assemblies of all the denominations used to be when the leading politicians came and gave addresses. This was wonderful! These were the great leaders! Nobody believes that sort of thing any longer. Thank God for that! The trouble by now is that of course we’re cynical, that we don’t trust anybody. We’ve lost faith, we’ve been mocked so often that the danger is that we become cynical and completely hopeless.
SAMUEL RUTHERFORD: Ye know what be the tokens of winter? Before the winter, the leaves fall off the trees: men now fall from their profession; many are ashamed to own Christ, and to profess Him, they will not be called Puritans.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We seem to be trying to tell people that their joining a church will not make them so very different after all. “We are no longer Puritans,” we say, “we believe that they over-did things and made Christianity too difficult for people. They frightened people with their strictness and their unnecessarily high standards. We are not so foolish as to do that,” we say, and indeed we do not do so.
A. W. PINK: It is because so many of the professing servants of God repudiated His Law during the previous generation that we are now plagued with a reign of lawlessness in the Church, home, and state.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Look at this attitude towards morality, towards law, and towards the ten commandments in particular…Take the much maligned and criticized ten commandments. God tells us to worship Him, not to bow down to images. What’s wrong with that? God tells us not worship idols, not to worship graven images―Is it wrong to tell a man not worship a motor car? Is it wrong to tell a man not worship a football or a pop star? Is it wrong to tell a man not worship his money?
Come on the practical details. Thou shalt not kill. Is that a restraint? Is it wrong to ask you not to kill? Thou shalt not steal. Is that some reprehensible prohibition? Thou shalt not commit adultery. What’s wrong with that? Why do people hate God for saying thou shalt not commit adultery? Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. You mustn’t malign your neighbour’s character or say untruths about him. Thou shalt not covet, or desire thy neighbour’s wife, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant. Tell me in the name of God, what’s wrong with these ten commandments? If only everybody in the world today kept the ten commandments, there would be no more drunkenness, no more alcoholism, no more drug addition, no more war, no more theft, no more robbery!
A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): The essence of sin is rebellion against divine authority.
C. H. SPURGEON: There has sprung up in the Church of Christ an idea that there are many things taught in the Bible which are not essential; that we may alter them just a little to suit our convenience: that provided we are right in the fundamentals, the other things are of no concern…But this know, that the slightest violation of the divine law will bring judgments upon the Church, and has brought judgments, and is even at this day withholding God’s hand from blessing us.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I have no hesitation in asserting again that one of the main causes of the condition of the Christian church today is the departure during the past century from a belief in the divine and plenary inspiration of the Holy Scripture, and its final authority in all matters of faith and practice. There is no question about this. The Christian Church herself by casting doubt upon the veracity of the Word and the authority of the Scriptures has literally sown the seeds of unbelief in the minds of the masses of the people, with the result that they are now outside the Church. And they will remain there until the Church returns to a belief in the authority of the Word of God.
C. H. SPURGEON: The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible is the religion of Christ’s Church. And until we come back to that the Church will have to suffer.