Prophetic Symbolism: The Two Pillars of Solomon’s Temple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Sola Scriptura―The Essential Basis of the Protestant Reformation

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

What saith the Scriptures?

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

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

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): It is here alone that infallibility resides. It is not in the Church. It is not in the Councils. It is not in ministers. It is only in the written Word…A man must make the Bible alone his rule. He must receive nothing, and believe nothing, which is not according to the Word. He must try all religious teaching by one simple test—Does it square with the Bible? What saith the Scriptures?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Job 19:23; Psalm 68:11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Difference Between Christian Faith & Worldly Fatalism

1 Samuel 3:18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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A Thankful Remembrance of God’s Holiness

Psalm 97:12; Psalm 30:4,5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Lessons From the Life of Lot Part 1: Lot’s Worldly Choices

Genesis 13:10-13

And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.

Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The various steps in the downward course of Lot are plainly marked out. First, he “lifted up his eyes and beheld.” Second, he “chose all the plain of Jordan.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): Lot’s choice was a terrible mistake.

A. W. PINK: Lot was still attached to “Egypt” in heart―To the worldly eye of Lot all the plain appeared “well watered, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt;” but to the holy eye of Jehovah the cities of the plain were peopled by those who were “wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly before the Lord,” which shows us what God’s eyes dwelt upon.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Such were the companions Lot must have in the fruitful land he had chosen.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN (1826-1910): But Lot evidently never thought about that. He knew it, though, and ought to have thought about it. It was his sin that he was guided in his choice only by considerations of temporal advantage.

A. W. PINK: Third, he “separated” himself from Abram.

D. L. MOODY: Lot was one of those characters who are easily influenced―and I think, perhaps, that is just the key to his character…So long as he stayed with Abram he got on very well. His mistake was in leaving him. Some men all through life have to be bolstered up by others. When they are at home, home has an influence over them; or while they are among their relatives or friends they stand well, but when they are away, and trial and temptation come, and the world comes in like a flood upon them, they are carried away.

A. W. PINK: Fourth, he “dwelt in the cities of the plain.” Fifth, he “pitched his tent toward Sodom.”

D. L. MOODY: Lot was probably like a great many men around us. He was careless; he was covetous…I imagine him saying, “Now, if I take these well-watered plains, I can accumulate wealth very fast. I know Sodom is a very wicked place, but I will not go to Sodom.” He at first did not intend to go into Sodom; but when a man begins to pitch his tent toward Sodom, and to look at it, it will not be long before he will be inside it. His heart will be there, and by and by his heart will take him down to Sodom.

A. W. PINK: Sixth, he “dwelt in Sodom,” Genesis 14:12.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There was poor Lot living over in Sodom, just as a great many professed Christians are doing today. I hope they are God’s people, but I cannot make them out. They like worldly amusements and they like worldly talk—they are like Lot in Sodom.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): No doubt, Lot thought he was doing well for himself and his family, when he moved to Sodom.

D. L. MOODY: And he was perhaps a very prominent candidate for political honours, and they all desired to show him respect because he was wealthy. Perhaps he owned the very best corner lots in Sodom; and if they had the custom of putting their names on buildings as they do now, you would have found ‘Lot’ on a great many of the finest buildings in Sodom―that is what the world calls prosperity.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: He has evidently made progress. He has “got on in the world.” Looked at from a worldly point of view, his course has been a successful one.

D. L. MOODY: Yes, getting on amazingly well. And if he was a judge, ‘Judge Lot’ would have sounded well, would it not?

A. W. PINK: Finally, we see him an alderman of Sodom, seated in its “gate,” Genesis 19:1; and his daughters wedded to men of Sodom, Genesis 19:14.

C. H. MACKINTOSH: Sitting in the gate—a prominent, influential post.

D. L. MOODY: He was a man of immense influence. That is what they would have told you down in Sodom. There was not a man in the whole city who had more influence than Lot. He was one of those men ‘who had not religion enough,’ as the world says, ‘to make him unpopular.’ But, look! Though everything was moving on well, when he had been there twenty years, this wise man, this influential man, had not won a convert. These worldly Christians don’t get many converts—note that.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): We know the arguments that have been put forward.  We have been told that we have to make the Church attractive to the man outside, and the idea is to become as much like him as we can.

D. L. MOODY: These men who are so very influential seldom get many converts to Christ. The world goes stumbling over them.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): Look at Lot. He spent years in Sodom building up a great reputation and even became a judge, but he had no business being there. We read, “That righteous man, dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds,” 2 Peter 2:8. Abram’s soul was not daily thus distressed. Why? Because he was not there at all.

D. L. MOODY: The world thought that Abram had made a great mistake; he stayed out there on the plains with his tent and altar, and if he had come to Sodom when Lot did, he too might have had a high position.

A. W. PINK: Notice how, in His faithfulness and grace, God had given Lot a very definite warning. From Genesis 14:1-24, we learn that in the battle between the four kings with the five, “they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.”

C. H. SPURGEON: Then, by the intervention of Abram, he was delivered from the captivity which threatened him and brought back again. This was a solemn warning, and you would have thought that Lot would have said, “I will go back to Abram’s way of living.”

A. W. PINK: Nevertheless, this experience failed to teach Lot the evil of being associated with the world, but he recovered his freedom and his property, only to return unto Sodom.

D. L. MOODY: There was another of Lot’s mistakes―returning to the city after such a warning.

ALEXANDER MacLAREN: We shall see, in subsequent sections, how far Lot’s own moral character suffered from his choice.

 

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The True Character of War

Isaiah 9:5

Every battle of the warrior is with confused noise, and garments rolled in blood.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): War is ever a cruel thing.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The noise of war drowns the voice of laws.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): And we know with how many miseries war is replete; for when once men begin to take up arms, the gate is opened to robberies and rapines, burnings, slaughters, debaucheries, and all violence.

JOHN TRAPP: War is as a fire, that feedeth upon the people, Isaiah 9:19―there is in war no measure or satiety of blood. The Greek word for war, signifies ‘much blood.’ The Hebrew word מלחמה, signifies the ‘devouring and eating of men, as they eat bread.’ The Latin  Bellum, a belluis, signifies destruction from wild beasts…War is the slaughter house of mankind, and the hell of this present world. It hews itself a way through a wood of men, and lays “heaps upon heaps,” as Samson did, Judges 15:16, not with “a jaw-bone of an ass,” and one after another, but in a minute of time, and by the mouth of a murdering piece.

C. H. SPURGEON: A man of war is glad of weapons which may fly where he cannot.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Against the flying ball no valour avails; the soldier is dead, ere he sees the means of his destruction. If Adam had seen in a vision the horrible instruments his children were to invent, he would have died of grief.

THOMAS COKE (1747-1814): We see at this day, when the art of war is brought to so high a pitch of perfection, how much money, labour, and blood it costs.

C. H. SPURGEON: Long have I held that war is an enormous crime. Long have I regarded all battles as but murder on a large scale…War is, in itself, so great an evil that there are many other evils necessarily connected with it.

MARTIN LUTHER: War is one of the greatest plagues that can afflict humanity; it destroys religion, it destroys states, it destroys families. Any scourge, in fact, is preferable to it. Famine and pestilence become as nothing in comparison with it.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER (1772-1851): The moral effects of war are also most deplorable.

JOHN CALVIN: In war all humanity and equity is buried.

C. H. SPURGEON: When a man is at war, he is not in the habit of sprinkling his adversaries with rosewater…There have been brilliant exceptions to the general rule, but war is usually as deceitful as it is bloody, and the words of diplomatists are a mass of lies. It seems impossible that men should deliberate about peace and war without straightway forgetting the meaning of words and the bonds of honesty! War still seems to be a piece of business in which truth would be out of place—it is a matter so accursed that falsehood is most at home there—and righteousness quits the plain.

JOHN CALVIN: War is pleasant to those who never tried it.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): It is an easy thing to speak of the war in the East—perhaps to plan an attack upon the enemy―but it is quite a different thing to be in the heat of the conflict. One may read of the sad effects of war, and may agree that they are indeed dreadful; but when the enemy is at one own’s door, plundering his goods, firing his home, slaying his dear ones, he is far more sensible of the miseries of war than ever he was―or could be―previously.

JOHN TRAPP: War is uncertain, and oft mischievous to both sides―and the best cause hath not always the best success.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): War is a tragedy which commonly destroys the stage it is acted on…Many a war is ill ended which was well begun.

JOHN TRAPP: War is easily taken up, saith the wise historian, but not so easily laid down again; neither is the beginning and the end of a war in any one man’s power.

MATTHEW HENRY: When war is once begun it often lasts long; the sword, once drawn, does not quickly find the way into the scabbard again; nay, some, when they draw the sword throw away the scabbard, for they “delight in war,” Psalm 68:30. So deplorable are the desolations of war that the blessings of peace cannot but be very desirable.

MARTIN LUTHER: We read of the Emperor Octavian, that he did not wish to make war, however just his cause might be, unless there were sure indications of greater benefit than harm, or at least that the harm would not be intolerable, and said: “War is like fishing with a golden net; the loss risked is always greater than the catch can be.”

C. H. SPURGEON: Among those who read their Bibles, the allowance of defensive war may, perhaps, still be a question. But any other sort of war must certainly be condemned by the man who is a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. We shall say nothing, however, or but very little, concerning the criminality of those ambitious and unscrupulous persons who hurry nations into war without cause.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER: That nation which, without sufficient reason, commences a war, or provokes a war, has an awful responsibility resting on it; and so also, when a war is in progress, that nation which refuses to make peace, or insist on unreasonable conditions, is guilty of all the blood which may be shed, and all the misery produced.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Greed, avarice, national pride, the desire to possess, to become great and greater than everyone else.  These are the things that ever cause wars.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): Doubtless the passions of men are the immediate sources from whence the calamities of war arise: and men are strictly amenable, both to God and their fellow-creatures, for the evils, which, by their undue exercise of those passions, they inflict upon the world―but we are apt to look only to second causes, instead of acknowledging, as we ought, the First Great Cause.

GEORGE LAWSON (1749-1820): We should remember that the sword of war is the sword of the Lord: that He musters the hosts of battle—that when mighty conquerors go forth they are the instruments of His Providence for accomplishing those overturnings which for wise ends He determined before any of us were born. With the same disposition we should read or hear the accounts which we receive daily of those events which are now happening in the world. Let us not forget that all men and their actions are under the superintendence of One who never errs. “I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things,” Isaiah 45:7.

CHARLES SIMEON: War is one of God’s “four sore judgments,” wherewith he visiteth a guilty land, Ezekiel 14:21―one of those judgments with which God punishes the sins of men.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER: War is a fearful calamity and a heavy judgment from God on any nation, whether it be entered on for sufficient, or insufficient reasons.

THOMAS FULLER (1608-1661): Woes may come from peace; but they must come from war.

 

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Enoch’s Translation from Earth to Heaven

Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5,6

Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

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. But without faith it is impossible to please him.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): Enoch was the first who was translated into the Kingdom of God without death.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Enoch was the principal patriarch in the world, and besides, a great prophet and preacher. The eyes of all men about were upon him. How God “took him” is not declared.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): It must have been witnessed by someone of undoubted credibility; else the effect of it would have been lost.

JOHN OWEN: Whether there was any visible sign of it, as there was unto Elisha in the taking up of Elijah is uncertain. But doubtless, upon the disappearing of so great a person from the world, there was great inquiry after him. So when Elijah was taken up into heaven, though there was a visible sign of it, and his divine rapture was evident, yet the sons of the prophets, because of the rarity of the thing, would search whether he were not let down again on some mountain, or in some valley; “and they sought three days, and found him not,” 2 Kings 2:16,17. The apostle seems to intimate some such thing in the old world upon the disappearance of Enoch: they made great search after him, but “he was not found.”

CHARLES SIMEON: From its being said, that “he was not found,” it is evident that, as in Elijah’s case also, a search was made for him—this may refer to some search made by his friends, or rather by his enemies—he was a bold and faithful witness for God, and doubtless incensed many against him; and God took him from a persecuting and ungodly world, who probably enough were seeking to destroy him on account of his pungent admonitions.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): God hid Enoch from them, not under heaven, but in heaven. God took him body and soul to Himself in the heavenly paradise.

CHARLES SIMEON: While Enoch was in the body, he could not endure the full splendour of the divine glory.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Obviously, Enoch’s body was changed in some manner that we can’t understand.

JOHN OWEN: It was of the whole person, as unto state and condition that “Enoch was translated;” his whole person―soul and body―was taken out of one condition, and placed in another. Such a translation without a dissolution of the person is possible; for as it was afterwards actually made in Elijah, so the apostle intimates the desirable glory of it, 2 Corinthians 5:4― “We groan, not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” Unto this translation there is a change required, such as they shall have who will be found alive at the coming of Christ: “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” 1 Corinthians 15:51―they must be made incorrupt, powerful, glorious, spiritual, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44. So was it with the body of Enoch, by the power of God who translated him; his body was made in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, incorrupt, spiritual, immortal, meet for the blessed habitation above. So was Enoch translated.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Enoch was taken out of the world by an unusual mode, and was received by the Lord in a miraculous manner.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): And in the very act God changed his body into a spiritual, powerful, glorious, and incorruptible one; as all ours who are true believers shall be at last, 1 Corinthians 15:51, 1 Thessalonians 4:17.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Our vile bodies shall be changed and conformed to Christ’s most glorious body, in beauty, agility, impassibility, and other angelical perfections, Philippians 3:21.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Incidentally, it shows us the importance of the doctrine of the resurrection of the body, and that we must never surrender that. We don’t merely go on as spirits, the whole man is to be saved; the body is to be redeemed, as well as the soul and spirit.

JOHN CALVIN: The translation of Enoch took place to be as a visible representation of a blessed resurrection.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): He could not bear testimony to the resurrection, for he did not die—however that may be, there was some special rapture, some distinct taking up of this choice one to the Throne of the Most High.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): That is the prophetical significance; but there is a spiritual meaning and practical application also, and this is what we so much desire to make clear—Enoch’s translation to heaven was a miracle, and that which is spiritually symbolized is a supernatural experience. The whole Christian life, from start to finish, is a supernatural thing…As it is impossible to please God without faith, and as Enoch received testimony that he did please God, then he must have had faith—a justifying and sanctifying faith.

JOHN OWEN: This the apostle affirms of Enoch in the last place: “For before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” These words are an entrance into the proof of the apostle’s assertion, namely, that it was “by faith Enoch was translated”—for before that translation he had that testimony. For it is said of him, that “he walked with God three hundred years,” Genesis 5:22—after which he was translated. “Walking with God” in Moses, the Apostle renders by “pleasing God,for this alone is well-pleasing to him: His pleasure, His delight is in them that fear Him, that walk before Him.

C. H. SPURGEON: You cannot please God unless you have faith in Him…This is evidently the Apostle’s interpretation of his walking with God, and it is a most correct one, for the Lord will not walk with a man in whom He has no pleasure. Can two walk together, except they are agreed? If men walk contrary to God, He will not walk with them, but contrary to them. Walking together implies amity, friendship, intimacy, love—and these cannot exist between God and the soul unless the man is acceptable unto the Lord.

D. L. MOODY: Enoch walked with God. And when he was translated, he changed his place, but not his company. One day the cord that bound him to earth and time snapped asunder. God said unto him, “Come up hither,” and up he went to walk with Him in glory. God liked his company so well that He called His servant home. Andrew Bonar has said that Enoch took a long walk one day, and has not got back yet. With one bound he leaped the river of death, and walked the crystal pavement of heaven.

 

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Two Swords

Luke 22:35-38: John 18:1-6, 10, 11

And [Jesus] said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords.

And he said unto them, It is enough…

When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons.

Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground…

Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): I must here confess that the matter about the swords appears to me very obscure. I am afraid I do not understand it, and I know of none who does.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Some think it is spoken ironically: “Two swords among twelve men! you are bravely armed indeed when our enemies are now coming out against us in great multitudes, and every one with a sword!”

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): A smile must have passed over the Saviour’s face as He saw how they had misunderstood Him! He did not mean that they should literally carry swords, but that they should now have to go through an alien world and to meet with no friends or helpers…He could never have thought of their fighting that He might not be delivered unto the Jews, since for that purpose two swords were simply ridiculous! They had missed His meaning, which was simply to warn them of the changed circumstances of His cause—but they caught at the words which He had used and exhibited their two swords.

THOMAS GOODWIN (1600-1679): Some interpreters hence observe that it is lawful to wear defensive weapons. There is the clearest evidence for it here, for they did not only wear swords, but Christ bids them, if they had no swords, to sell their garments and buy swords. And when Peter had done this mischievous act, in drawing his sword and striking the high priest’s servant, Christ did not bid him fling it away, but only to put it up again into its place.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): He said unto them, “It is enough”―that is, no more talk about that. He was not speaking about actual defense.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Our Lord, seeing their dullness of understanding, dismisses the subject. The disciples took His words about the swords literally, but He was talking figuratively. If they could not see His meaning now, they would later. At present, He said “enough” and for wise reasons would say no more.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Our Saviour doth doubtless speak in a figure.

HUGH  LATIMER (1483-1555): In this world God hath “two swords;” the one is a temporal sword, the other a spiritual. The temporal sword resteth in the hands of kings, magistrates, and rulers, under Him; whereunto all subjects be subject, as well the clergy as the laity, and punishable for any offence, Romans 13:1-4.

CHARLES SIMEON (1759-1836): God has appointed magistrates as his vicegerents in the world, and has put the sword into their hands “for the punishment of evildoers, and the support of them that do well,” Romans 13:4; and if they should forbear “to execute wrath” upon those who violate the laws, they would themselves be guilty of a dereliction of their public duty.

HUGH  LATIMER: The spiritual sword is hands of ministers and preachers; whereunto all kings, magistrates, and rulers, ought to be obedient; that is, to hear and follow, so along as the ministers sit in Christ’s chair; that is, speaking out of Christ’s book. The king correcteth transgressors with the temporal sword; yea, and the preacher also, if he be an offender. But the preacher cannot correct the king, if he be a transgressor of God’s Word, with the temporal sword; but he must correct and reprove him with the spiritual sword; fearing no man, and setting God only before his eyes, under whom he is a minister, to supplant and root up all vice and mischief by God’s Word; whereunto all men ought to be obedient.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The church’s weapons are not carnal, but spiritual; not the sword of the civil magistrate, but “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God,” Ephesians 6:17; Christ’s kingdom, being not of this world, is not supported and defended by worldly means, or carnal weapons.

MATTHEW HENRY: Christ’s ministers, though they are His soldiers, do not “war after the flesh,” 2 Corinthians 10:3,4… The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, the only offensive weapon in all the Christian armoury; and we may say of it as David said of Goliath’s sword, “None is like that” in our spiritual conflicts.

JOHN GILL: The sword of the Spirit is sharper than a “twoedged sword,” and is said to come out of the mouth of Christ (Revelation 19:13-15), with which He pierces into and cuts the hearts of men…One of its edges is the law, which sharply reproves and menaces for sin, threatening with curses, condemnation, and death; and which, in the Spirit’s hand, cuts deep into the hearts of men, lays open the corruption of their nature, and the swarms of sin which are in them; it causes pain and grief, working wrath in the conscience; it wounds and kills, and is therefore called the letter that kills, 2 Corinthians 3:6. The other edge is the Gospel, which cuts in pieces the best of men; all their works of righteousness, which it removes from their justification and salvation; and all their wisdom, holiness, freewill power, and creature abilities.

MATTHEW HENRY: Peter must put up his sword, for it was the sword of the Spirit that was to be committed to him―weapons of warfare not carnal, yet mighty. When Christ with a word felled the aggressors, he showed Peter how he should be armed with a word, “quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,” Hebrews 4:12―and with that, not long after this, Peter laid Ananias and Sapphira dead at his feet, Acts 5:1-10.

ADAM CLARKE: He uses no sword but the sword of the Spirit.

HUGH  LATIMER: God will have the faith defended, not by man’s power, but by His Word only, by the which He hath evermore defended it, and that by a way far above man’s power or reason, as all the stories of the Bible make mention.

 

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Our Lord Jesus Christ’s Rule for Christian Fasting

Matthew 6:16-18

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): Fasting is supposed to be the ordinary practice of the godly. Christ does not make light of it, but merely cautions them against its abuses.

LANCELOT ANDREWES (1555-1626): When ye fast.” I say first, this very “when” shows Christ’s liking of it, that there is a time allowed for it, else He would allow it no “when”―no time at all; this “when” is a presupposing, at least, for can any man fancy that Christ would presuppose aught that were not required of us by God?

SAMUEL MILLER (1769-1850): There is no precept in the Word of God which enjoins the observance of a particular number of fast days in each year. It is to be considered as an occasional, or perhaps, more properly speaking, a special duty, which, like seasons of special prayer, ought to be regulated, as to its frequency and manner of observance, by the circumstances in which we are placed.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER (1772-1851): Some Christians neglect it altogether, under the false notion that literal fasting is not enjoined, but only penitence and abstaining from sin.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): This is a mistake; there is no such term in the Bible as ‘fasting from sin;’ the very idea is ridiculous and absurd, as if sin were a part of our daily food.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Let us define what fasting is.

SAMUEL MILLER: Fasting is abstinence from food.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Fasting is a religious abstinence, whereby we forbear the use of all earthly comforts in the time set apart for this duty—a forbearing of food, whether meat or drink, Esther 4:16; Jonah 3:7. From this the whole action is called a fast, which imports not a sober use of food—for this we are at all times bound to observe—but a total abstinence, if necessity of nature through some debility and infirmity doth not require otherwise.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is an act of self-denial, and mortification of the flesh―a means to curb the flesh and the desires of it, and to make us more lively in religious exercises, as fulness of bread is apt to make us drowsy.

HUDSON TAYLOR (1832-1905): Self-denial surely means something far greater than some slight and insignificant lessening of our self-indulgences!

ADAM CLARKE: At present it is but little used; a strong proof that self-denial is wearing out of fashion.

MATTHEW HENRY: Christ does not direct to abate anything of the reality of the fast; He does not say, “take a little meat, or a little drink, or a little cordial;” no, “let the body suffer, but lay aside the show and appearance of it―while thou deniest thyself thy bodily refreshments, do so as that it may not be taken notice of.”

JOHN CALVIN: Fasting is a subordinate aid, which is pleasing to God no farther than as it aids the earnestness and fervency of prayer.

HUDSON TAYLOR: In Shansi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spend time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a Divinely appointed means of grace. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are, dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER: There are, however, degrees of fasting, both as to the time of abstinence from food, and whether the abstinence be total or partial. The Ninevites, when brought to repentance by the preaching of Jonah, tasted neither bread nor water for three whole days. This was a severe fast. Daniel fasted three full weeks; but this was not a total abstinence, for he says, “I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth,” Daniel 10:2,3.

HENRY SCUDDER (died 1659): The Scripture hath not determined how long a continued fast should be kept. We have examples that some have fasted a longer time, as three days, some a shorter, but none less than one day.

SAMUEL MILLER: The frequency with which every individual Christian ought to fast, and the extent to which he ought to carry his abstinence on each occasion, are questions concerning which no definite rule can be laid down. The Word of God prescribes no precise law as to either of these points.

HENRY SCUDDER: Let it be as shall best suit your occasions. As for the Lord’s day, though it cannot be denied but that if the present necessity require, you may fast upon that day―yet because the Sabbath is a day of Christian cheerfulness, and fasting is somewhat of the nature of a free-will offering, I think you will do best to set such a day apart to yourself for fasting, which is more your own, and not the Lord’s day.

MATTHEW HENRY: Christ does not tell us how often we must fast; circumstances vary, and wisdom is profitable therein to direct; the Spirit in the Word has left that to the Spirit in the heart. But take this for a rule: whenever you undertake this duty, study to approve yourselves to God, and not to recommend yourselves to the good opinion of men.

SAMUEL MILLER: Let pagans, Mohammedans, and nominal Christians flatter themselves with the dream that the mere physical observance of abstinence, independent of the state of the soul, will recommend them to God. But let us remember that the character and exercises of the inner man are everything here.

JOHN CALVIN: Fasting is not simply, or by itself, approved by God, but on account of the end designed by it…We must hold by this rule, that the duties of men are to be judged according as they are directed to a proper and lawful end―a holy and lawful fast has three ends in view. We use it either to mortify and subdue the flesh, that it may not be wanton, or to prepare better for prayer and holy meditation; or to give evidence of humbling ourselves before God, when we would confess our guilt before Him.

MATTHEW HENRY: Fasting is the humbling of the soul, Psalm 35:13―that is the inside of the duty; let that therefore be thy principal care, and as to the outside of it, covet not to let it be seen. If we be sincere in our solemn fasts, and humble, and trust God’s omniscience for our witness, and His goodness for our reward, we shall find both that He did see in secret, and will reward openly.

 

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