Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Matthew 15:21-23

Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.

And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

But he answered her not a word.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Perhaps we receive few answers to prayer, because we do not intercede enough for others.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): God exercises faith; but He never fails to honour it. He delays to answer prayer; but every word, every sigh, is registered for acceptance in His best time.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661):  It is said that He answered not a word, but it is not said, He heard not a word. These two differ much. Christ often heareth when He doth not answer—His not answering is an answer, and speaks thus—pray on, go on and cry, for the Lord holdeth his door fast bolted, not to keep you out, but that you may knock, and knock, and it shall be opened.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Knock, and it shall be opened unto you, Luke 11:9.” Volumes have been written upon prayer; but He who spake as never man spake, compares every thing in one word—knock.  The allusion is to a person who wishes to excite attention, in order to obtain relief—he knocks…[But] how are we to knock?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Knock with earnestness and perseverance.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD: Sweet Jesus, the heir of all, prayed with tears and strong cries, once, O my Father; again, O my Father; and the third time, O my Father, ere He was heard.

WILLIAM JAY: When are we to knock?

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD: You take it hard that you are not answered, that Christ’s door is not opened at your first knock. David must knock often: O my God, I cry by day, and thou hearest not, and in the night season I am not silent, Psalm 22:2.

WILLIAM JAY: Evening and morning and at noon,” says David, “will I pray and cry aloud,” Psalm 55:17. “Pray without ceasing,” says Paul, 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  And, says our Lord, “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint,” Luke 18:1.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The tendency to faint is ever present; but realize to Whom you belong. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts,” Zechariah 4:6.  However weak you are, however faint, that is always true. The Spirit of God is in you…If you do not pray you will faint. So, when you feel faint, go to God and talk to Him about it; ask Him to give you strength and power to go on with what you are doing, realizing that it is His work, that it is “well-doing.”  And He will reply to you and say, “Be not weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not, Galatians 6:9.  There is a glorious harvest coming.”

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): A strengthened soul is sometimes the best answer to prayer.

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): The great fault of the children of God is that they do not continue in prayer; they do not go on praying; they do not persevere. We should continue in prayer till the blessing is granted; without fixing to God at time when, or the circumstances under which, He should give the answer. Patience should be in exercise, in connection with our prayer.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): If an answer is not given to the first prayer, nor to the second, we must hold on, and hold out, till we receive an answer.  As troubles are sent to teach us to pray, so they are continued to teach us to continue in prayer.

ADAM CLARKE: Answers to prayer are to be received by faith; but faith should not only accompany prayer while offered on earth, but follow it all its way to the throne of grace, and stay with it before the throne till dismissed with its answer to the waiting soul.

C. H. SPURGEON: After prayer, I look out for the answer; I expect to be heard; and if I am not answered, I pray again, and my repeated prayers are but fresh enquiries. I expect the blessing to arrive; I go and enquire whether there is any tidings of its coming. I ask; and thus I say, “Wilt thou answer me, Lord? Wilt thou keep thy promise? Or wilt thou shut up thine ear because I misunderstand my own wants and mistake thy promise?”

WILLIAM JAY: Jacob said, “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me,” Genesis 32:26; and he prevailed. How? Perseveringly. The Lord does not always immediately appear to our joy. I waited patiently for the Lord,” says David; “and—at last—he inclined his ear unto me, and heard my cry,” Psalm 40:1.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour,” Matthew 15:28. She would not give over, though He gave her three repulses. So as she said, like Jacob, I will not let thee go, until thou bless me.” And as Jacob, like a prince, so she, like a princess, prevailed with God, and obtained the thing which she desired.

ADAM CLARKE: This is one of the finest lessons in the book of God for a penitent, or for a discouraged believer. Look to Jesus! As sure as God is in heaven, so surely will He hear and answer thee.

MATTHEW HENRY: God’s ear is wont to be open to the prayers of His people, and His door of mercy to those that knock at it.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): For it is certain that God never shuts the door to those who knock, and never disappoints those who sincerely pray to Him. “I said not to the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain,” Isaiah 45:19…We ought to draw high consolation from being assured that it is not in vain for us to seek God. “Seek,” says Christ, “and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened; ask, and it shall be given to you.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Never did the hand of faith knock in vain at God’s gate.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Knock, and wait until the door is opened.

F. W. KRUMMACHER (1796-1868): If six times the answer should be, “There is nothing;” yet wait on. The seventh time, which is the proper and the Lord’s time, will give the answer you need.

C. H. SPURGEON: Answers to prayer are given to those whose hearts answer to the Lord’s command.

WILLIAM JAY: Here is the command: “knock.”  And here is the promise: “it shall be opened.”

 

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Lifting Up Our Hearts & Eyes to God in Heaven

Psalm 25:1; Psalm 123:1; Lamentations 3:41

Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens.

Let us lift up our heart with our hands unto God in the heavens.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714):  Prayer is the ascent of the soul to God. God must be eyed and the soul employed.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The chief thing ought not to be omitted, even to raise up the hearts to God―and he adds, “to God who is in heaven:” for it is necessary that men should rise up above the world, and to go out of themselves, so to speak, in order to come to God.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Cyprian saith, that in the primitive times the minister was wont to prepare the people’s minds to pray by [saying] “Lift up your hearts.”

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677):  The great work of prayer is to lift up the heart to God. To withdraw the heart from all created things which we see and feel here below, that we may converse with God in heaven. Prayer doth not consist in a multitude and clatter of words, but in the getting up of the heart to God, that we may behave ourselves as if we were alone with God, in the midst of glorious saints and angels.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The first step in prayer, should always be the realization of the presence of the Lord. One of the greatest men of prayer was the saintly George Muller of Bristol. Here’s an expert in prayer, and He always taught that; that the first thing you do in prayer, is to realize the presence of God.You don’t start speaking immediately. You can utter lots of phrases, but you might as well not have done. You must realize the presence of God―and the realization is infinitely more important than anything you’ll say. So we realize this, and as we do so, we are filled with strength and power.

THOMAS MANTON: There is a double advantage which we have by this getting the soul into heaven in prayer. It is a means to free us from distractions and doubts. To free us from distractions: until we get our hearts out of the world, as if we were dead and shut up to all present things, how easily is the heart carried away with the thoughts of earthly concernments! Until we can separate and purge our spirits, how do we interline our prayers with many ridiculous thoughts!

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): One of the most difficult things in preparation for prayer is the restraining of loose and wandering thoughts―intruding thoughts surround us like a plague of flies: they are here, and there, and everywhere.

THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): Take heed of encumbering thy mind with too much business, more than thou canst grasp. It made Martha forget that “one thing necessary,” being “cumbered about with many things;” Luke 10:40. This breeds cares, which distract the mind.

THOMAS MANTON: Therefore we should labour all that we can to get the heart above the world into the presence of God and the company of the blessed, that we may deal with Him as if we were by Him in heaven, and were wholly swallowed up of His glory. Though our bodies are on earth, yet our spirits should be with our Father in heaven. For want of practising this in prayer, these distractions increase upon us.

 MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Realize that you are face to face with God. In this word ‘prayer’ the idea of being face to face is inherent in the very word itself. You come into the presence of God and you realize the presence and you recollect the presence―that is the first step always. Before you drop on your knees next time and begin to speak to God, try to remember His greatness and His majesty and His might, and then go on to remember that He is life, that He is holy, that He is righteous, that He is just, and that He is of such a pure countenance that He cannot even look upon evil.  Remember that you are speaking to the Judge of the whole world.

THOMAS MANTON: So, as for doubts, when we look to things below, even the very manifestations of God to us upon earth, we have many discouragements, dangers without and difficulties within. Till we get above the mists of the lower world, we can see nothing of clearness and comfort; but when we can get God and our hearts together, then we can see there is much in the fountain, though nothing in the stream; and though little on earth, yet we have a God in heaven.

JOHN CALVIN: This the Prophet confirms by the verb lift up; which intimates, that although all worldly resources fail us, we must raise our eyes upward to heaven, where God remains unchangeably the same, despite the mad impetuosity of men in turning all things here below upside down.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): O thou that dwellest in the heavens.” He who has made them, dwells in them―which is a very great encouragement to faith in prayer, when it is considered that God is the Maker and possessor of heaven and earth; and that our help is in, and expected from Him, who made all these―and although the Lord is everywhere, and fills heaven and earth with His presence―yet here in the heaven of heavens, the third heaven, the seat of angels and glorified saints, is the more visible display of His glory; here He keeps His court; this is His palace, and here His throne is prepared, and on it He sits.

MATTHEW HENRY: Praying is lifting up the soul to God as to “our Father in heaven,” Matthew 6:9.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): “Our Father which art in heaven,” [is] a compellation speaking our faith both in the power and in the goodness of God; our eyeing Him as in heaven speaketh His power, Psalm 115:3; our considering Him as our Father speaks our faith in His goodness, Matthew 7:11.

THOMAS MANTON: The lifting up the eyes implies faith and confident persuasion that God is ready and willing to help us. The very lifting up of the bodily eyes towards heaven is an expression of this inward trust.

RICHARD HOLDSWORTH (1590-1649): It is the testimony of a heavenly heart.  He that lifts up his eyes to heaven acknowledgeth that he is weary of the earth; his heart is not there; his hope and desire is above.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): Standing on earth thou art in heaven, if thou lovest God.

THOMAS MANTON: Let me especially press you to this: with an eye of faith to look within the veil, and whenever you come to pray, to see God in heaven, and Christ at His right hand.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Come on, thou indolent knave, down upon thy knees, up with thy hands and eyes to heaven.

 

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Guardian Angels

Hebrews 1:5-7,13,14

Unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? And again, when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire…But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): It is the highest honour of a creature to be active and useful for its God. Saints are called vessels of honour, as they are fitted for the Master’s use, 2 Timothy 2:21. Wherein consists the honour of angels but in this, that they are ministering spirits―serviceable creatures?   

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Now then, are they not all “ministering spirits?” What for? “To minister for them who shall be the heirs of salvation.” What is the greatest function of the angels after all? Well, it is to minister to you and to me, we who are the heirs of salvation; the angels are sent by God to do things for us.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): The angels in heaven are servitors to the saints.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is true, there is such a promise of the ministration of the angels, for the protection of the saints. The devil knows it by experience; for he finds his attempts against them fruitless, and he frets and rages at it, as he did at the hedge about Job, which he speaks of so sensibly, Job 1:10. He was also right in applying it to Christ, for to Him all the promises of the protection of the saints primarily and eminently belong―and to them, in and through Him.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Under Christ, as the Head, angels are the guardians of the church.

A. A. HODGE (1823-1886): What views have been entertained with respect to “guardian” angels?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): It was a common opinion among the Jews that every man has a guardian angel, and in the popish Church it is an article of faith.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): But this is a point on which the Scriptures are silent.

ADAM CLARKE: Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 18:10. Our Lord here not only alludes to, but, in my opinion, establishes the notion received by almost all nations, that every person has a guardian angel; and that these have always access to God, to receive orders relative to the management of their charge.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: I must point out that it does not to me seem to be the case that the Bible teaches a doctrine of what has been sometimes called a “guardian angel” for every one of us in particular. I think that’s not a true deduction. All we know is that the angels are looking after us for God in this way, but there’s no specific teaching that to every single person there is a specific “guardian” angel.

JOHN CALVIN: He has given His angels charge concerning thee, to keep thee in all thy ways,” Psalm 91:11. We may learn from this that there is no truth in the idea that each saint has his own peculiar guardian angel; and it is of no little consequence to consider, that as our enemies are numerous, so also are the friends to whom our defense is entrusted. It were something, no doubt, to know that even one angel was set over us with this commission, but it adds weight to the promise when we are informed that the charge of our safety is committed to a numerous host.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The protection here promised is exceeding broad as to place, for it refers to all our ways, and what do we wish for more?

JOHN CALVIN: It tends greatly to confirm our faith when we learn that an infinite number of guardians keep watch over us―as Elisha was enabled, by a like consideration, to despise the great army of adversaries which was arrayed against him, 2 Kings 6:16,17―the servant of Elisha saw the air full of angels. Thus also Christ said, “Can I not ask my Father, and He will send me, not one angel only, but a legion?”

MATTHEW HENRY: The angels guard the saints for Christ’s sake…What need have we to dispute whether every particular saint has a guardian angel, when we are sure he has a guard of angels about him?

A. A. HODGE: They are instruments of good to God’s people.

MATTHEW HENRY: As unanimous in their service as if they were but one, or a guardian angel, “encampeth round about those that fear God,” Psalm 34:10. God makes use of the attendance of the good spirits for the protection of His people from the malice and power of evil spirits; and the holy angels do us more good offices every day than we are aware of―in obedience to their Maker, and in love to those that bear His image, they condescend to minister to the saints, and stand up for them against the powers of darkness; they not only visit them, but encamp round about them, acting for their good as really, though not as sensibly, as for Jacob’s (Genesis 32:1), and Elisha’s.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): As there is an innumerable company of holy angels to encamp about the saints, and do them all the service they can, and are appointed to; so there is undoubtedly an innumerable company of devils, who do all the hurt they can, or are permitted to do, unto the sons of men―there are whole squadrons and regiments of them, yea, even legions; which are formed in battle array, and make war against Christ, the seed of the woman; as they did when He was in the garden, and hung upon the cross, which was the hour and power of darkness; and against His members; as they did in pagan Rome against the Christian church, and in papal Rome, against the same. And what a mercy it is for the saints, that besides twelve legions of good angels and more, which are ready to assist and protect them, they have God on their side! And therefore it signifies not who is against them; and they have Christ with them, who has spoiled principalities and powers; and greater is the Holy Spirit that is in them, than he that is in the world.

JOHN CALVIN: He does not make use of angels as if He could not do without them. But it contributes much to aid our weakness that He hath appointed heavenly messengers to be our defenders and guardians.

MATTHEW HENRY: All the glory be to the God of the angels.

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The Solemn Fast

Ecclesiastes 3:1,4; Joel 2:12,15

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven―a time to weep…a time to mourn.

Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning…Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Mourning and fasting usually go together.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): “Call a solemn assembly.” עצרה  (atsarah) signifies a time of restraint, as the margin has it. The clause should be translated “consecrate a fast, proclaim a time of restraint”―that is, of total abstinence from food.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): But that there be no error in the name, let us define what fasting is; for we do not understand by it simply a restrained and sparing use of food, but of something else…Let us, therefore, make some observations on fasting, since very many, not understanding, what utility there can be in it, judge it not to be very necessary, while others reject it altogether as superfluous. Where its use is not well known it is easy to fall into superstition…The Papists seek to pacify Him by fasting as by a sort of satisfaction―yet the intention, as they call it, is nothing else but a diabolical error, for they determine that fasting is a work of merit and of satisfaction, and a kind of expiation―Fasting, we know, is not of itself a meritorious work, as the Papists imagine it to be: there is, indeed, strictly speaking, no work meritorious.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER (1772-1851): External fasting, without corresponding internal penitence and humiliation, is hypocrisy, and such fasting is severely reproved by the prophet Isaiah. (Isaiah 58).

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There is a fasting which is not fasting, and there is an inward fasting, a fasting of the soul, which is the soul of fasting.

JOHN CALVIN: It is not then approved by God, except for its end; it must be connected with something else, otherwise it is a vain thing. Men, by private fastings prepare themselves for the exercise of prayer, or they mortify their own flesh, or seek a remedy for some hidden vices. Now I do not call fasting temperance; for the children of God, we know, ought through their whole life to be sober and temperate in their habits; but fasting, I regard that to be, when something is abstracted from our moderate allowance: and such a fast, when practiced privately, is, as I have said, either a preparation for the exercise of prayer, or a means to mortify the flesh, or a remedy for some vices.

HENRY SCUDDER (died 1659): As there were some devils that could not be cast out, but by fasting and prayer, so it may be that such hardness of heart may be grown upon a person, or some sinful lusts may have gotten so much strength, that they will not be subdued―some evils, private and public, which cannot be prevented or removed, or some special graces and blessings, which shall not be obtained or continued―but with the most importunate seeking of God by fasting and prayer.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Fasting and prayer are proper means for the bringing down of Satan’s power against us, and the fetching in of divine power to our assistance. Fasting is of use to put an edge upon prayer; it is an evidence and instance of humiliation which is necessary in prayer, and is a means of mortifying some corrupt habits, and of disposing the body to serve the soul in prayer. When the devil’s interest in the soul is confirmed by the temper and constitution of the body, fasting must be joined with prayer, to keep under the body…And it signified the mortifying of sin and turning from it, “loosing the bands of wickedness,” Isaiah 58:6,7.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): It ferrets out corruption, and is to the soul as washing to a room, which is more than sweeping; or as scouring to the vessel, which is more than ordinary washing. It subdues rebel flesh, which with fulness of bread will wax wanton, as Sodom, Jeshurun, and Ephraim. It testifies true repentance by this holy revenge, 2 Corinthians 7:11, while we thus punish ourselves by a voluntary foregoing of the comforts and commodities of life, as altogether unworthy.

JOHN CALVIN: The uses and ends of a fast, we know, are various: but when the Prophet here speaks of a solemn fast, he doubtless bids the people to come to it suppliantly, as the guilty are wont to do, who would deprecate punishment before a judge, that they may obtain mercy from Him…True believers may cease for a time to partake of their ordinary food, when, by voluntary fasting, they humbly beseech God to turn away His wrath.

JOHN TRAPP: Hence it is called a day of humiliation, or of humbling the soul.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): “I humbled my soul with fasting,” Psalm 35:13. In the Hebrew, it is “I afflicted my soul.”

MATTHEW HENRY: David chastened his soul with fasting, Psalm 69:10…A fast is a day to afflict the soul; if it does not express a genuine sorrow for sin, and does not promote a real mortification of sin, it is not a fast; the law of the day of atonement was that on that day they should afflict their souls, Leviticus 16:29-31.

HENRY SCUDDER: Fasting is an open profession of guiltiness before God; and an expression of sorrow and humiliation…but it is not enough that the body be chastened, if the soul be not also afflicted, because it is else but a mere bodily exercise, which profiteth little; nay, it is but a hypocritical fast, abhorred and condemned of God; frustrating a chief end of the fast, which is that the soul may be afflicted. Afflicting the soul worketh repentance―another chief end, and companion of fasting: “for godly sorrow worketh repentance, never to be repented of,” 2 Corinthians 7:10.

MATTHEW HENRY: Fasting, without reforming and turning away from sin, will never turn away the judgments of God, Jonah 3:10.

JOHN WESLEY: Hast thou laboured, by watching, fasting, and prayer, to possess thy vessel in sanctification and honour? If thou hast not been guilty of any act of uncleanness, hath thy heart conceived no unclean thought? Hast thou not looked on a woman so as to lust after her? Hast thou not betrayed thy own soul to temptation, by eating and drinking to the full, by needless familiarities, by foolish talking, by levity of dress or behaviour? Hast thou used all the means which scripture and reason suggest, to prevent every kind and degree of unchastity?

THOMAS BOSTON (1676-1732): A time of personal fasting is a time for the runaway to return to his duty, and to set matters right again, that were put wrong by turning aside from God and His way.

MATTHEW HENRY: When God says, You shall fast, it is time to say, “We will fast.”―Seasons of deep humiliation require abstinence―fasting from bodily refreshments, upon such extraordinary occasions, is a token of self-judging for the sins we have committed and of self-denial for the future; fasting for sin implies a resolution to fast from it, though it has been to us as a sweet morsel.

 

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The Unpayable Price of Redemption

1 Corinthians 6:20

Ye are bought with a price.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I cannot handle money but what I think I am bought with a price. I do not receipt a bill without recollecting that He has blotted out the handwriting of ordinances that was against me.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): Your soul is of no little price. Gold or silver, of as much as would cover the highest heavens round about, cannot buy it.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): The real value of a thing is the price it will bring in eternity.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): What price this is, that is here mentioned, Peter tells us both negatively and positively, 1 Peter 1:18,19: “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”―The blood of Christ, called truly the blood of God, there being in Christ two natures in one person, and a communion of properties of each nature. If Christ had not been man, He could have had no blood to shed: had He not been God, the blood which He shed could not have been a sufficient price of redemption.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): His life is the ransom price, yea, He Himself―“Our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, Titus 2:13,14―not merely His own things, but His own self; not the world, and the riches of it, not gold and silver, and such like corruptible things, as the price of redemption; not the cattle on a thousand hills for sacrifice; not men nor angels, but Himself; all that belonged to Him, all that is near and dear, His name, fame, credit, and reputation; His time, strength, and service: all the comforts of life, and life itself; His whole manhood, soul, and body, and that as in union with His divine person; which He gave into the hands of men, and of justice, and to death itself, to be a ransom price of His people, and for a propitiation and sacrifice for their sins, to be paid and offered in their room and stead: not for all mankind, but for many; for us―for all the elect of God, for the church; and who are represented when He gave himself, or died for them, as ungodly, sinners, and enemies: this was a free and voluntary gift, and is an unspeakable one; who can say all that is contained in this word “himself?”

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): 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.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21. Christ became sin, not by sin inherent in Him, but by our sin imputed to Him; so are we made the righteousness of God, by Christ’s righteousness imputed and given unto us.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): Christ’s death is considered as a redemption of man from sin, the law, and the curse, because liable to a debt which he cannot of himself pay; and His death was in this respect a paying of the debt that man was owing, and loosing of the captive and imprisoned sinner.  Even as when a piece of land is mortgaged, and a person comes in, and pays that for which it was mortgaged; so Jesus Christ comes in, and―as it were―asks, ‘What are these men owing? and what is due to them?’ It is answered, ‘They are sinners; death, and the curse are due to them.’ ‘Well,’ He says, ‘I will take their debt on myself, I will pay their ransom, but undergoing all that was due to them.’ “He hath redeemed us from the curse of the law being made a curse for us, that the blessing of Abraham might come on us,” says the apostle, Galatians 3:13.  And so Christ’s death, in this respect, is to be looked on as a laying down of the same price that justice would have exacted of men. His death is the paying of our ransom, and satisfying of the account that was over our head.

JOHN CALVIN: Though He was just and innocent, He yet underwent punishment for sinners, and the price of redemption was thus paid.

C. H. SPURGEON: The covenant of works required of Adam and all his children to pay the price themselves, in consideration of which they were to receive all the future blessings of God. But in the covenant of grace, seeing we have nothing to pay, God “freely forgives us all,” provided only that we believe in Him who hath paid the price for us.

WILLIAM TIPTAFT (1803-1864): All must be humbled to receive salvation as a free gift, or they will never have it―to receive it “without money and without price,” Isaiah 55:1

JOHN GILL: The only price of redemption of the soul is the precious blood of Christ―nor is the redemption of the soul possible upon any other ground.

JAMES DURHAM: The committing of yourselves to Him, to be saved by His price paid to divine justice, and resting on Him as He is held out in the gospel, is the way to read your interest in His redemption.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The sight of the bread broken, and the wine poured out [in the Lord’s Supper] reminds us how full, perfect, and complete is our salvation. Those lively emblems remind us what an enormous price has been paid for our redemption. They press on us the mighty truth, that believing on Christ, we have nothing to fear, because a sufficient payment has been made for our debt. The “precious blood of Christ” answers every charge that can be brought against us.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853):  Has not God bought you with a price of infinite value?

 

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The Beauty of Holiness

Psalm 27:4; 2 Chronicles 20:21

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD.

And when [Jehoshaphat] had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness…

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The glorious majesty of God is called “the beauty of holiness.”

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Holiness is the beauty of God Himself, He is glorious in it; it is the beauty of angels, it makes them so glorious as they are; and it is the beauty of saints, it is what makes them like unto Christ, and by which they are partakers of the divine nature.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): A chief emphasis is placed upon this perfection of God: God is oftener styled Holy than almighty, and set forth by this part of His dignity more than by any other. This is more fixed on as an epithet to His name than any other. You never find it expressed ‘His mighty name’ or ‘His wise name,’ but His “great” name, and most of all, His “holy name.”

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): This perfection, as none other, is solemnly celebrated before the Throne of Heaven, the seraphim crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts,” Isaiah 6:3. God Himself singles out this perfection: “Once have I sworn by my holiness,” Psalm 89:35. God swears by His holiness because that is a fuller expression of Himself than anything else. Therefore are we exhorted, “Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness,” Psalm 30:4…Thus we read of “the beauty of the Lord,” which is none other than “the beauty of holiness,” Psalm 110:3.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Power is God’s hand or arm, omniscience His eye, mercy His bowels, eternity His duration, but holiness is His beauty.

JOHN HOWE (1630-1705): This may be said to be a transcendental attribute, that, as it were, runs through the rest, and casts luster upon them. It is an attribute of attributes.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: As His holiness seems to challenge an excellency above all His other perfections, so it is the glory of all the rest; as it is the glory of the Godhead, so it is the glory of every perfection in the Godhead; as His power is the strength of them, so His holiness is the beauty of them; as all would be weak without almightiness to back them, so all would be uncomely without holiness to adorn them. Should this be sullied, all the rest would lose their honour; as at the same instant the sun should lose its light, it would lose its heat, its strength, its generative and quickening virtue. As sincerity is the luster of every grace in a Christian, so is purity the splendor of every attribute in the Godhead. His justice is a holy justice, His wisdom a holy wisdom, His arm of power a “holy arm,” Psalm 98:1, His truth or promise a “holy promise,” Psalm 105:42. His name, which signifies all His attributes in conjunction, “is holy,” Psalm 103:1.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): He is essentially holy―It is the infinite purity of His nature.

A. W. PINK: Holiness is the antithesis of sin, and the beauty of holiness is in direct contrast from the ugliness of sin. Sin is a deformity, a monstrosity. Sin is repulsive, repellent to the infinitely pure God, Habakkuk 1:13: that is why He selected leprosy, the most loathsome and horrible of all diseases, to be its emblem…At the opposite extreme from the hideousness of sin is “the beauty of holiness.” Holiness is lovely in the sight of God: necessarily so. It is the reflection of His own nature, for He is “glorious in holiness,” Exodus 15:11.

ANDREW GRAY (1805-1861): Another thing which we may call an element of beauty in God, is the combination of His various attributes in one harmonious whole. The colours of the rainbow are beautiful, when taken one by one: but there is a beauty in the rainbow, which arises not from any single tint; there is a beauty in it which would not exist if the several hues were assumed in succession―a beauty which is the result of their assemblage and collocation, and consists in their blended radiance. In like manner do the several perfections, which co-exist and unite in the nature of God, produce a glorious beauty.

MATTHEW HENRY: The harmony of all His attributes is the beauty of His nature…The “beauty of holiness” is called indeed the “perfection of beauty,” Psalm 50:2.

ANDREW GRAY: But, over and above all, there is a beauty which belongs to such combinations and harmonies as the Psalmist describes, when he tells us, “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other,” Psalm 85:10.

A. W. PINK: It is this, supremely, which renders Him lovely to those who are delivered from sin’s dominion.

JOHN GILL: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts―mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts,” Isaiah 6:3,5―the same divine and glorious Person described here is none other than the Lord Christ (John 12:41), King of kings, and Lord of lords, King of saints, and Lord of the armies in heaven and in earth; and a lovely sight it is to see Him by faith, in the glory and beauty of His person, and in the fulness of His grace…“Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God  hath shined,” Psalm 50:2―that is, Christ; He is the perfection of beauty.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Jesus Christ, the true light, shone forth in the beauty of holiness and truth―God was in Christ, and in Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.

JOHN FLAVEL: What is the last instruction from God’s holiness? That all the despisers of, and scoffers at holiness, are despisers of God; for holiness is the very nature of God…There is none holy as the Lord.

A. W. PINK: He only is independently, infinitely, immutably holy.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Wherefore frivolous is the boast of those who arrogate more than God has conferred upon them. If we believe the Pope, in him is the holiness of holiness.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Indeed no less is implied in the Pope’s ordinary title, “Most Holy Lord,” or, “Most Holy Father”―claiming the prerogatives which belong to God alone.

JOHN CALVIN: Yet, since he does not produce God’s authority for this, but vaunts himself of titles invented without foundation, we may safely laugh at his stupid impudence.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We think too much of God’s foes and talk of them with too much respect. Who is this Pope of Rome?―“His Holiness?” Call him not so, but call him His Blasphemy!

JOHN GILL: Praise God, who is glorious in holiness, whose beauty lies in His holiness, and who is holy in all His ways and works.

ANDREW GRAY: We conclude by noticing some traits of the beauty of the Lord: It never deceives; it never fades; it never loses its power; it never disappoints.

C. H. SPURGEON: What a word is that―“the beauty of the Lord!” Think of it, dear reader! Better far―behold it by faith! What a sight will that be when every faithful follower of Jesus shall behold “the King in His beauty!”

 

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Vignettes of God’s Vengeance Upon the Persecutors of His People

Luke 18:7,8; Romans 12:19; Genesis 12:3

Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you that he will avenge them speedily.

For it is written, vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curses thee.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): This is an inestimable pledge of special love, that God should so greatly condescend for our sake. For although in Genesis 12:3 He here addresses one man only, He elsewhere declares the same affection towards His faithful people. We may therefore infer this general doctrine, that God so embraces us with His favour, that He will bless our friends, and take vengeance on our enemies.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): The saints are persons of honour; they are God’s first-born. Oh, how enraged will the Lord be against such as offer injury to them! They trample God’s pearls in the dust. They strike at the apple of His eye.

WILHELMUS à BRAKEL  (1635-1711): As the King of His church, [the Lord Jesus] keeps His church as the apple of His eye and is a fiery wall round about her, protecting her against the attacks of the enemy and reproving her enemies, as He formerly “reproved kings” for her sake, Psalm 105:14.

DAVID DICKSON (1583-1662): Howsoever the persecutors of the church conceive themselves not to oppose God but men only, when they trouble His people and servants for righteousness, yet because the quarrel is the Lord’s, therefore their opposition is declared to be “against the LORD, and against His Christ,” Acts 4:25-27.

THOMAS WATSON: The righteous are God’s diadem. Will a king endure to have His robes spit upon and His crown thrown in the dirt? What is done to the righteous is done to God Himself. When the king’s favourite is struck at, the king himself is stuck at. “I know thy rage against me,” II Kings 19:27―the rage of Sennacherib was against the person of Hezekiah, but, there being a league between God and His people, the Lord took it as done to Himself.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The LORD loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his saints; they are preserved for ever: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off,” Psalm 37:28. The awarding of honour to whom honour is due is God’s delight, especially when the upright man has been traduced by his fellow men. It must be a divine pleasure to right wrongs, and to defeat the machinations of the unjust.

DAVID DICKSON: None of God’s judgments, and specially none of those judgments whereby He pleads the cause of His church against her enemies, should be lightly looked upon, “for the LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth,” Psalm 9:16.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): With what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again,” Matthew 7:2―He will be as froward as they for the hearts of them, beat them with their own weapons, overshoot them in their own bows, shape their estates according to their own patterns, and cause others to write after their copies, as it fared with Pharaoh, Adonibezek (Judges 1:5-7), and Agag (1 Samuel 15:32,33).

DAVID DICKSON: His judgments bear the impression of His wisdom and justice, so as the sin may be read written on the rod.

JOHN TRAPP: God delights to punish cruelty in kind. Sisera annoys God’s people with his iron chariots, and is slain by a nail of iron, Judges 4:13,21; Jezebel’s brains, that devised mischief against the innocent, are strewed upon the stones; by a letter to Jezreel she shed the blood of Naboth, and by a letter from Jezreel the blood of her sons is shed.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): In some cases the Lord has signally interposed, and showed how entirely the lives and the hearts of His adversaries were in His hands.

THOMAS WATSON: What became of the pagan Emperors―Julian, Nero, and Diocletian? One of them had his death wound from heaven. Others had their bowels come out and died raving. Charles IX of France had gutted himself with the blood of so many Christians in the massacre at Paris, was in such inward horror that he never dared be waked without music, and at length blood issued out of so many parts of his body that he died bleeding.

JOHN TRAPP: Charles IX, and Felix, the Earl of Wartenburg, who threatened to ride up to the spurs in the blood of the Lutherans, were stewed in their own broth, choked in their own blood: they had “blood given them to drink, for they were worthy,” Revelation 16:6.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The violent dealings of men return upon their own heads―those that showed no mercy shall have no mercy shown them, James 2:13.

JOHN TRAPP: God delights to retaliate to bloody and deceitful men especially―Sir Ralph Elerker, Knight Marshal of Calais in Queen Mary’s reign, being present at the death of Adam Damlip, martyr, bid the executioner despatch, saying that he would not away till he saw the traitor’s heart out. Shortly after this Sir Ralph was slain, among others, in a skirmish at Bullein, and his heart cut out of his body by the enemies―a terrible example to all merciless and bloody men; for no cause was known why they should use such indignation against him more than the rest, but that it is written, “With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

THOMAS WATSON: These were set up as public monuments of God’s vengeance.

MATTHEW HENRY: Thus the righteous God sometimes, in His providence, makes the punishment to answer the sin, and observes an equality in His judgments; the spoiler shall be spoiled, and the treacherous dealer dealt treacherously with, Isaiah 33:1.

JOHN TRAPP: Bishop Ridley told Stephen Winchester that it was the hand of God that he was now in prison, because he had so troubled others in his time. And as he had inflamed so many good martyrs, so he died miserably of an inflammation, that caused him to thrust out his tongue all swollen and black, as Archbishop Arundel had died before him―Archbishop Arundel and Stephen Gardiner were smitten in their tongues and famished, as they had silenced preachers, spoken swelling words against the professors of the truth, and so brought a famine of the Word.

THOMAS WATSON: Shall not God avenge His elect? Surely He will.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you,” 2 Thessalonians 1:6. They, therefore, who have given you tribulation, shall have tribulation in recompense―because He has promised it; and because He is inclined to do it.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Therefore whosoever they be that slight the Scriptures, they slight that which is no less than the Word of God; and they who slight that, slight Him that spake it; and they that do so, let them look to themselves, for God will be revenged on such.

JOHN TRAPP: “Ye shall sow as ye reap, drink as ye brew, and be served with the same sauce.”

 

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What is True Gospel Holiness?

1 Peter 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 4:3

Be ye holy, for I am holy.

For this is the will of God, even your sanctification.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): There is not more counterfeit coin this day in the world than there is counterfeit holiness in the world.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There be those who, in order to purge themselves of sin, flagellate their bodies, observe protracted fasts, wear sackcloth and hair shirts next to their skin, and even some have gone so far as to imagine that to refrain from ablutions, and to allow their body to be filthy, was the readiest mode of purifying their soul. A strange infatuation certainly! Yet today, in Hindostan, you shall find the fakir passing his body through marvellous sufferings and distortions, in the hope of getting rid of sin.

JOHN BROWN (of Haddington) (1722-1787): Holiness does not consist in mystic speculations, enthusiastic fervors, or uncommanded austerities; it consists in thinking as God thinks, and willing as God wills.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Some would have moral virtue to be holiness.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): A man may not be morally evil, yet not spiritually good.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Why, self-love will carry a man to perform all moral actions.  A man, perhaps, will not get drunk for fear of making his head ache; a man may be honest, because it would spoil his reputation to steal. And so a man who has not the love of God in his heart, may do moral actions.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The natural man’s attitude towards morality is generally negative. His concern is that He should not do certain things. He does not want to be dishonest, unjust or immoral. The Christian’s attitude towards morality is always positive; he hungers and thirsts after a positive righteousness like that of God Himself…Something more than morality is necessary―a radical change of heart is necessary.

C. H. SPURGEON: There is a young man here who says, “I mean to lead a perfectly pure and holy life. I resolve to serve God.” Now should we dissuade such a man from the attempt? By no means! It has been sometimes said that we speak against morality. Never!—never a word against it!

THOMAS BROOKS: Ah, sirs, holiness is a flower that grows not in Nature’s garden. Men are not born with holiness in their hearts, as they are born with tongues in their mouths: holiness is a divine offspring: it is a pearl of great price, that is to be found in no nature but a renewed nature, in no bosom but a sanctified bosom.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564):  No one leads a holy life except he is united to God.

C. H. SPURGEON: You must get a new heart or you cannot be holy…Holiness is better than moral­ity. It goes beyond it. Holiness affects the heart. Holiness re­spects the motive. Holiness re­gards the whole nature of man. A moral man does not do wrong in act; a holy man hates the thought of doing wrong―a moral man would not commit outward sin; a holy man would not commit inward sin.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): When we are born again, then our sanctification, our inward and outward holiness begins.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): There are three things which are essential to inward gospel holiness: 1. The Holy Ghost

2. Faith in Christ

3. A new heart and new spirit.

Without these three, there is no such thing as gospel holiness in man.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): The Holy Spirit assumes the office of the sanctifier of the people of God.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The Spirit sanctifies us by bringing us to the Word, the Word that brings us to a knowledge of Jesus.

C. H. SPURGEON: You will never find true faith unattended by true godliness; nor will you ever discover a truly holy life which does not have at its root a living faith based upon the righteousness of Christ. We must have faith, for this is the foundation; we must have holiness of life, for this is the superstructure.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The Holy Spirit came in order to reveal Christ to us. His primary work is to make Christ real to us, to show us what Christ has done for us, to remind us of His teaching, to give us a longing and a love for Christ, to enable us to live as Christ lived―to conform us to His image.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): The Holy Spirit is first of all a moral flame. It is not an accident of language that He is called the Holy Spirit, for whatever else the word “holy” may mean it does undoubtedly carry with it the idea of moral purity. And the Spirit, being God, must be absolutely and infinitely pure. With Him there are not―as with men―grades and degrees of holiness. He is holiness itself, the sum and essence of all that is unspeakably pure…At the base of all true Christian experience must be a sound and sane morality.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): We may depend upon it as a certainty that where there is no holy living there is no Holy Ghost.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And grieve not the holy Spirit of God,” Ephesians 4:30. We have here what really makes Christian ethics what it is, and differentiates it from every other kind of moral or ethical system. There is no other kind of moral ethical teaching which ever makes this kind of statement. This is the peculiar thing about Christianity. All the others will tell you not to lie, they’ll tell you always to speak the truth, they’ll tell you not to lose your temper, but always to be controlled and disciplined, they’ll tell you not to steal, they’ll tell you not to use bad language, or any kind of corrupt communication, and to be kind and good and helpful and philanthropic―they do all that! But never in their systems do you find this―grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.  Never!

A. W. TOZER: As water cannot rise higher than its source, so the moral quality in an act can never be higher than the motive that inspires it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And that is important of course in this way: that unless our conception of the Christian life, and of Christian conduct and behaviour includes this, is based upon this, and always leads us to this, it is not truly Christian. Good conduct is not of necessity Christian. And this is a tragic fact in the life and history of the Church, as we all know so well; that so often morality is taken for Christianity, a morality which uses Christian terminology. But this is the test. Is our whole life centered around a truth like this? Is this at the very heart of our whole outlook upon conduct and behaviour, and at the very heart of our practice?

JOHN OWEN: Gospel truth is the only root whereon Gospel holiness will grow.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Holiness, or that piety which is proper and genuine, is wrought by a Divine Truth, otherwise it is superstition, not godliness―and civility, not holiness.

JOHN BERRIDGE (1716-1793): All fancied sanctification, which does not arise wholly from the blood of the cross, is nothing better than Pharisaism…Holiness, as well as pardon, is to be had from the blood of the cross.

 

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Hammers & Nails in the Service of God

Jeremiah 23:29; Ecclesiastes 12:11

Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?

The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened by the masters of assemblies, which are given from one shepherd.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): The Word is a hammer, but it breaks not the flinty heart when lightly laid on.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): The truth must be preached boldly.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Let us be bold and outspoken, and never address our hearers as if we were asking a favour of them, or as if they would oblige the Redeemer by allowing Him to save them.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The preacher should never be apologetic, he should never give the impression that he is speaking by their leave as it were; he should not be tentatively putting forward certain suggestions and ideas.  That is not to be his attitude at all.

C. H. SPURGEON: Sometimes godly men rap hard; they do not merely hint at evil, but hammer at it…Martin Luther was wont to smite with his fist at such a rate that they show, at Eisenach, a board—I think a three-inch board—which he broke while hammering at a text. John Knox seemed as though he would “ding the pulpit in blads” which, being interpreted, means in English that he would knock it into slivers. That was evidently the style of the period when Protestants were fighting for their very existence, and the Pope and his priests and the devil and his angels were aroused to special fury: yet I do not suppose that Melancthon thought it needful to be quite so tremendous, nor did Calvin hammer and slash in a like manner.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): I preach as though Christ was crucified yesterday; rose again from the dead today; and is coming back to earth tomorrow.

WILLIAM GURNALL: King James said of a minister in his time, he preached as if death was at his back. Ministers should set forth judgment as if it were at the sinner’s back, ready to take hold of him. Cold reproofs or threatenings, they are like the rumblings of thunder afar off, which affright not as a clap over our head doth.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): There are always wanton persons who, while they fearlessly despise God, treat with ridicule all threatenings of His judgment, and at the same time hold in derision all injunctions as to a holy and pious life. Such persons must not be taught, but must be beaten with severe reproofs as with the stroke of a hammer.

C. H. SPURGEON: A hard, unfeeling mode of speech is also to be avoided; want of tenderness is a sad lack, and repels rather than attracts. The spirit of Elijah may startle, and where it is exceedingly intense it may go far to prepare for the reception of the gospel; but for actual conversion more of John is needed,—love is the winning force. We must love men to Jesus. Great hearts are the main qualifications for great preachers, and we must cultivate our affections to that end. At the same time our manner must not degenerate into the soft and saccharine cant which some men affect who are for ever dearing everybody, and fawning upon people as if they hoped to soft-sawder them into godliness.

GEORGE SWINNOCK (1627-1673): The hammer of the law may break the icy heart of man with terrors and horrors, and yet it may remain ice still, unchanged; but when the fire of love kindly thaweth its ice, it is changed and dissolved into water―it is no longer ice, but of another nature.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Let the reproof be as sharp as thou wilt, but thy spirit must be meek. Passion raiseth the blood of him that is reproved, but compassion turns his bowels. The oil in which the nail is dipped makes it drive the easier, which otherwise have split the board. We must not denounce wrath in wrath, lest sinners think we wish their misery; but rather with such tenderness, that they may see it is no pleasing work to us to rake in their wounds, but do it that we might not by a cruel silence and foolish pity be accessory to their ruin, which we cordially desire to prevent…Dip the nail in oil, reprove in love―but strike the nail home.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Sometimes it is necessary to say and write the same things over and over again, partly that they may be the better understood, and partly that they may be more strongly fixed in the memory; as also, that the saints may be the more established in the present truth.

WILLIAM GURNALL: Indeed he is the better workman, who drives one nail home with reiterated blows, than he which covets to enter many, but fastens none. Such preachers are not likely to reach the conscience, who hop from one truth to another, but dwell on none. Every hearer is not so quick as the preacher, to take a notion as it is first darted forth.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The great art of teaching is the art of repetition; the true teacher always knows that it is not enough to say a thing once, but that it needs to be repeated…There never was a Teacher in this world like the Lord Jesus Christ! His method is particularly interesting and fascinating―you find Him repeating “Seek ye first the kingdom of God,” Matthew 6:33. That is just another way of saying that you must have the single eye, and serve God and not mammon, verse 24. At all costs we must do this. He therefore puts it three times over, introducing it by means of the word “therefore.”―Verse 25: “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” Then in verse 31, He says it again, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?” Then in verse 34, He says it again finally: “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.  Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” So He says it three times, but each time in a slightly different form.

C. H. SPURGEON: Some repetitions are not vain. The reduplication here used is like the repeated blow of a hammer.

E. PAXTON HOOD (1820-1885): Some preachers expect too much of their hearers; they take a number of truths into the pulpit as a man might carry up a box of nails; and then, supposing the congregation to be posts, they take out a nail, and expect it to get into the post by itself. Now that is not the way to do it. You must take your nail, hold it up against the post, hammer it in, and then clinch it on the other side.

C. H. SPURGEON: Our esteemed brother D. L. Moody has a lively, telling style, and he thinks it wise frequently to fasten a nail with the hammer of an anecdote.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Men are dull to conceive, hard to believe, apt to forget, and slow to practise heavenly truths, and had therefore great need to have them much pressed, and often inculcated―a nail, the further it is driven in, with the greater difficulty it is pulled out.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Surely the hammer cannot break the rock in pieces, unless wielded by an able workman―and it is God’s Spirit alone that can thus apply it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The prime and greatest need in the pulpit is spiritual authority…There is but one thing that gives a preacher authority, and that is that he be “filled with the Holy Spirit.”

 

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Jesus Christ’s Parable of the Wedding Garment

Matthew 22:2, 3, 10-13

The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, and sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding…

So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Many a time the question has been asked: “What was the wedding garment?”

BENJAMIN KEACH (1640-1704): The garment of salvation is Christ’s righteousness.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The perfect righteousness of Christ is “upon all those who believe,” Romans 3:22. It is their “wedding garment”—“the best robe,” Luke 15:22, by which they are covered.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Not only Christ is made righteousness to His people (1 Corinthians 1:30), but they are made “the righteousness of God in Him,” 2 Corinthians 5:21; His righteousness is put upon them, and imputed to them, so that they are righteous as He is righteous…This is imputed to the elect of God by the Father, through a gracious act of His, and what they are clothed and covered with by the Son, and is put upon them and applied unto them by the Spirit; and which faith receiving puts off its own rags of righteousness, and makes use of this as its proper dress to appear in before the most High.

THOMAS WILCOX (1622-1687): Poor ragged nature, with all its highest improvements, can never spin a garment fine enough—without spot—to cover the soul’s nakedness.  Nothing can do it but Christ’s perfect righteousness.

C. H. SPURGEON: It may be said to be Christ’s righteousness imputed to us, for alas, many nominal Christians kick against the doctrine of justification by the righteousness of the Saviour and set up their own self-righteousness in opposition to it. To be found in Christ, not having our own righteousness, which is of the law, but having the righteousness which is of God by faith, is a very prominent badge of a real servant of God, and to refuse it is to manifest opposition to the glory of God, and to the name, person, and work of his exalted Son…The true saint wears the wedding garment, but he owns that the Lord of the feast provided it for him, without money and without price.

A. W. PINK: And thus may each one say, “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,” Isaiah 61:10.

C. H. SPURGEON: But we might with equal truth say that the wedding dress is a holy character, the imparted righteousness which the Holy Spirit works in us, and which is equally necessary as a proof of grace. If you question such a statement, I would remind you of the dress which adorns the saints in heaven. What is said of it? “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” Revelation 7:14. Their robes therefore were such as once needed washing; and this could not be said in any sense of the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ; that was always perfect and spotless. It is clear then that the figure is sometimes applied to saints in reference to their personal character.

A W. PINK: Righteousness imputed, and righteousness imparted, constitute our salvation.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): The righteousness of Christ―first imputed, then implanted.

C. H. SPURGEON: Holiness is always present in those who are loyal guests of the great King, for “without holiness no man shall see the Lord,” Hebrews 12:14. Too many professors pacify themselves with the idea that they possess imputed righteousness, while they are indifferent to the sanctifying work of the Spirit. They refuse to put on the garment of obedience…This man without the wedding garment is the type of those who, in these days, pretend to be Christians.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): This man was not naked, or in rags; some raiment he had, but not a wedding garment―this hypocrite was never discovered to be without a wedding garment, till the king himself came in to see the guests.

CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): Matthew says, the king “saw there a man which had not on wedding garment. And he saith unto him, “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment.” The little word not appeared twice over, but it is not the same Greek word on those two occasions. The first word, ‘Ou,’ simply marks a fact; he had it not on. But when the king asked him the reason, Jesus used a slightly different word for ‘not,’ ‘Me,’ which suggests not merely the fact that he lacked the wedding garment, but that he did so definitely―of his own thought, and will, and intention. When the man came in not having a wedding garment, and the king talked to him, he said, “it is not only a fact that you have not a wedding garment; you did not intend having one. Your ‘not’ is the definite not of not willing. You are determined not to have it on. Your presence in here is the supreme sign of your rebellion.”—“And he was speechless;” he had nothing to say.

C. H. SPURGEON: The original Greek says, “he was muzzled.” He may have talked glibly enough before the King came in; he had not a word to say afterwards. Eloquent silence that! Why did he not even then fall on his knees, and seek forgiveness for his daring crime? Alas! pride made him incapable of repentance; he would not yield even at the last moment. There is no defense for a man who is in the Church of Christ, but whose heart is not right towards God.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The true believer embraces His righteousness as the wedding garment, whereby alone he expects admission to the marriage-feast of heaven.

C. H. SPURGEON: The King still comes in to see the guests who have accepted his royal invitation to his Son’s wedding. Woe be to any whom He finds without the wedding garment!―If the Lord our God were to come into His church today there would be an awful shrinkage among the number of His guests; a panic would seize the assembly, and the door would be blocked with men hastening to escape His eye.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): But there will be no deception at the last day. The unerring eye of God will discern who are His own people, and who are not. Nothing but true faith shall abide the fire of His judgment. All spurious Christianity shall be weighed in the balance and found lacking. None but true believers shall sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb. It shall avail the hypocrite nothing that he has been a loud talker about religion, and had the reputation of being an eminent Christian among men.

JOHN GILL: Such as are without the wedding garment―the robe of Christ’s righteousness―shall be cast into outer darkness.

 

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