The Form of the Lord’s Supper in Scriptural Simplicity

Acts 2:46

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The ancient churches celebrated this ordinance every Lord’s day, if not every day when they assembled for worship.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Breaking bread from house to house.”―Either administering the Lord’s supper in private houses, sometimes administering it at one house, sometimes at another; or because their number was so large that one house could not hold them, they divided themselves into lesser bodies, and some had the ordinance administered to them in one house, and some in another.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Continuing daily”―as did many Churches for some ages.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Of his own age, Augustine testifies: “The sacrament of the unity of our Lord’s body is, in some places, provided daily, and in others at certain intervals, at the Lord’s table.”

AUGUSTINE (354-430): In some places, not a day intervenes on which it is not offered―in others, on the Lord’s day only.

JOHN GILL: As often as ye eat,’ 1 Corinthians 11:26. Though there is no set fixed time for the administration of this ordinance, yet this phrase seems to suggest that it should be often.

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): Although we have no express command respecting the frequency of its observance, yet the example of the apostles and of the first disciples would lead us to observe this ordinance every Lord’s day.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Shame on the Christian church that she should put it off to once a month, and mar the first day of the week by depriving it of its glory in the meeting together for fellowship and breaking of bread, and showing forth the death of Christ till He come.

JOHN CALVIN: The Lord’s Supper might be most properly administered, if it were set before the church very frequently, and at least once in every week in the following manner: The service should commence with public prayer; in the next place, a sermon should be delivered; then, the bread and wine being placed upon the table, the minister should recite the institution of the supper, should declare the promises which are left to us in it, and, at the same time, should excommunicate all those who are excluded from by the prohibition of the Lord; after this prayer should be offered―then either some psalms should be sung, or a portion of Scripture should be read, and believers, in a becoming order, should participate of the sacred banquet, the ministers breaking the bread and distributing it, and presenting the cup to the people.

C. H. SPURGEON: This leads on to the notion in some churches that only an ordained or recognized minister should preside at the Lord’s table. Small is our patience with this unmitigated Popery, and yet it is by no means uncommon―the friends like a “stated minister” to “administer the sacrament.” This may not always be the language employed, but it often is, and it is an unsanctified jargon, revealing the influence of priestcraft. Whence comes it? By what scripture can it be justified? “Breaking bread from house to house” does not read very like it―even now we know of churches which have dispensed with the Lord’s Supper week after week because the pastor was ill, there being, of course, no other brother in the whole community who had grace enough to preside at the table, or to “administer the sacrament,” as some of the brotherhood call it…We suppose that the idea of a deacon leading the communion would horrify a great many, but why? If the church should request a venerable brother to conduct the service, a brother of eminent grace and prayerfulness, would the ordinance be any the less instructive or consoling because he was not in the ministry?

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): That man has no right to preach, nor administer the sacraments of the Church of Christ, whom God has not sent; though the whole assembly of apostles had laid their hands on him.

C. H. SPURGEON: Who are we that our presence should render more valid, or more lawful, the remembrance of our Lord’s death until He come?

MATTHEW HENRY: Sacraments derive not their efficacy from those who administer them.

C. H. SPURGEON: Naturally enough the pastor, when there is one, leads the way by the respectful consent of all; but would fellowship with Jesus be more difficult, if he were out of the way, and an elder or deacon occupied his place? Our experience has never led us to bemoan, on the account of our people, that the communion was a maimed rite when a beloved deacon or elder has filled our chair. We love to have our brethren sitting with us at the table, breaking the bread as much as we do, and giving thanks aloud as we do, because we hope that by this visible sign men will see that “one is our Master, even Christ, and all we are brethren.”

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): I have long been of opinion that there was no scriptural authority for confining the administration of the Lord’s Supper to a minister. I had no doubt but that the primitive pastors did preside at the Lord’s table, as well as in the reception and exclusion of members, and in short in all the proceedings of the church; and that, where there was a pastor, it was proper that he should continue to do so. But that when a pastor died, or was removed, the church was not obliged to desist from commemorating the Lord’s death, any more than from receiving or excluding members. Neither do I recollect that any minister is said to have “administered” the Lord’s Supper, unless we consider our Saviour as sustaining that character at the time of its institution; and this silence of the Scriptures concerning the administration appears to me to prove that it was a matter of indifference

C. H. SPURGEON: All things are to be done decently and in order, but that order does not necessitate a church’s going without the Lord’s Supper because there is no pastor or regular minister to be had. At least we fail to see any support for such an idea, except in the traditions of the fathers, and the sooner these are consigned to oblivion the better. We confess we do not admire the Plymouth Brethren fashion of passing round a lump of bread for all to peck at, like so many crows, or the plan of hawking a slice from hand to hand, for each one to break on his own account, for it is not a clean or decorous practice; and as it never would be tolerated at our own tables, it certainly ill becomes the table of the Lord: but even these odd ways are better, or at least less harmful, than the practice of a “stated minister” administering the elements, for “stated minister” is little more than “priest writ large” in the idea of weaker brethren and the sooner it is put an end to the better…When matters have gone so far, it is surely time to speak out against such worship of men.

 

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God’s Election of Grace Unto Good Works

Ephesians 2:8-10

By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We trust, by the Holy Spirit, we are not afraid that you will so misunderstand us, as to suppose that when we speak of good works today, we shall in any way whatsoever wish you to imagine that they can promote your eternal salvation.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): A man is justified by faith alone, and not by works. Without works―that is, without regard to any former good works supposed to have been done by him―so the righteousness of Christ, without the good works which we afterwards perform, brings us life.

C. H. SPURGEON: I shall call your attention to the near neighbourhood of these two phrases, “not of works,” and “created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” The text reads with a singular sound; for it seems strange to the ear that good works should be negatived as the cause of salvation, and then should be spoken of as the great end of it.

WILLIAM JENKYN (1613–1685): We are not justified by doing good works, but, being justified, we then do good.

C. H. SPURGEON: Those who place least reliance upon good works are very frequently those who have the most of them; that same divine teaching which delivers us from confidence in our own doings leads us to abound in every good work to the glory of God…If we are not positively serving the Lord, and doing his holy will to the best of our power, we may seriously debate our interest in divine things, for trees which bear no fruit must be hewn down and cast into the fire.

WILHELMUS à BRAKEL (1635-1711): True faith is the fountain of good works. Good works are fruits of faith and characteristic of it, and it is thus evident that where good works are absent, true faith is also absent. “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also,” James 2:26. You can be certain that the body is dead if breathing has ceased. You may likewise know that faith is dead, that is, that true faith is not present, when it does not manifest itself.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): They who are redeemed and purified by Christ, through the power of His grace upon them, become a people “zealous of good works.”

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): As Paul more plainly teaches us that we are redeemed from all iniquity, that Christ “might purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works, Titus 2:14.

WILHELMUS à BRAKEL (1635-1711): Far be it from us to suggest that the apostle here states that God perceives the faith and good works of some in advance and therefore elects them…These are fruits issuing forth from election. They are not the causes of election. They do not precede election but are a consequence of it. There is nothing which necessitates God to do anything. Nothing which would be in man, nor any future deeds, moved God to elect a person. The reason for election is nothing but the sovereign good pleasure of God, Ephesians 1:5,9. This alone is the fountain of election…God does not choose anyone unto salvation because of his good works, rather He chooses them unto good works.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Should not we likewise be excited to good works by this―that we were elected to them?

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works,” Titus 3:8. To “maintain” these according to the signification of the word used, is to excel in them; to outdo others; to go before others, by way of example.

JOHN WESLEY: Though the apostle does not lay these for the foundation, yet he brings them in at their proper place, and then mentions them, not slightly, but as affairs of great importance. He desires that all believers should be careful―have their thoughts upon them, use their best contrivance, their utmost endeavours, not barely to practise, but to excel, to be eminent and distinguished in them: because, though they are not the ground of our reconciliation with God, yet they are amiable and honourable to the Christian profession.

JOHN TRAPP: In all things show thyself a pattern of good works,” Titus 2:7. The word τυπος there used, signifies a thing that makes the stamp on the coin, or the mould whereinto the vessel is cast and shaped―the excellency of a Christian is to follow God fully, as Caleb, Numbers 14:24; to have a heart full of goodness, as those of Romans 15:14; and a life full of good works, as Tabitha, Acts 9:33.

NATHANIAL HARDY (1618-1670): Good works are jewels not to be locked up in a cabinet, but to be set forth to public view. If Christ would have Mary’s name remembered in the gospel until the world’s end for one box of ointment poured on His head, we cannot imagine that He would have the many pious and charitable deeds of His servants to be buried in oblivion.

WILHELMUS à BRAKEL: Therefore “let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.

JOHN CALVIN: And hence, as often as we become languid, or more remiss than we ought to be, in good works, let the promises of God recur to us, to correct our tardiness.

RALPH VENNING (1620-1673): Though we should not serve God for a reward, yet we shall have a reward for our service. The time is coming when ungodliness shall be as much prosecuted by justice, as in times past godliness had been persecuted by injustice. Though our reward be not for our good works, yet we shall have our good works rewarded, and have a good reward for our works.

C. H. SPURGEON: Yet even then the reward is not of debt, but of grace. God first works in us good works, and then rewards us for them.

JOHN CALVIN: We do not deny that a reward is promised to good works, but maintain that it is a reward of grace, because it depends on adoption…We must therefore hold these two principles: First, that believers are called to the possession of the kingdom of heaven―not because they deserved it through the righteousness of works―but because God justifies those whom He previously elected, Romans 8:30; Secondly, although by the guidance of the Spirit they aim at the practice of righteousness, yet as they never fulfill the law of God, no reward is due to them, but the term “reward” is applied to that which is bestowed by grace.

JOHN WESLEY: Although still, every good, as well as evil work, will receive its due reward.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Good works do not make a man good, but a good man does good works.

 

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The Idolatrous Strange Fire of Roman Catholic Worship

Leviticus 10:1,2

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The purpose of God in rejecting strange fire was to retain the people in His own genuine ordinance prescribed by the Law, lest any inventions of men should insinuate themselves; for the prohibition of strange fire was tantamount to forbidding men to introduce anything of their own, or to add to the pure doctrine of the Law, or to decline from its rule…All who forsake the Word fall into idolatry.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): What is idolatry? Is it not the transferring to the creature, the homage due to the Creator?

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Idolatry is a worship in which the honour due unto God in Trinity, and to Him only, is given to some of His creatures, or some invention of His creatures.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Worship God and Him only, even God the Father, Son, and Spirit―this excludes all creatures, angels, and men, things animate or inanimate, and images of them.

A. A. HODGE (1823-1886): What is the Romish doctrine and practice with regard to the worship of angels?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): [The Roman Catholic church] has commanded its votaries to pay religious homage to angels, contrary both to the example, and the express precept of Holy Writ; the angels are no more to be adored than saintly men, and neither the one nor the other can be worshipped without incurring the sin of idolatry! Take two parallel cases, [Revelation 19:10 and Revelation 22:8 & 9]. When John, seeing an angel, taking him for his Lord, bowed down to worship him, the answer was, “See thou do it not, for I am of your fellow servants, the prophets; worship God.”

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): In the original Greek, it is only, “See not,” with a beautiful abruptness.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The angel doth not only refuse it, but with some indignation.

C. H. SPURGEON: When the heathens, at Lystra, brought forth bullocks and sheep, and were about to do sacrifice unto Paul and Barnabas as unto Mercury and Jupiter, these holy men tore their clothes, and declared that they were men of like passions with others, Acts 14:6-18. Angels and holy men refuse all kinds of worship; they unanimously sing, “Not unto us, not unto us, but unto the name of Jehovah be all the praise.”

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The simplicity of the primitive Christian worship, as laid down in the book of the Acts, is worthy of particular notice and admiration. Here are no expensive ceremonies: no apparatus calculated merely to impress the senses, and produce emotions in the animal system, “to help,” as has been foolishly said, “the spirit of devotion.” The heart is the subject in which this spirit of devotion is kindled; and the Spirit of God alone is the agent that communicates and maintains the celestial fire; and God, who knows and searches that heart, is the object of its adoration, and the only source whence it expects the grace that pardons, sanctifies, and renders it happy. No strange fire can be brought to this altar: for the God of the Christians can be worshipped only in spirit and truth.

J. C. RYLE: As for the Church of Rome, if there is not an enormous quantity of systematic organized idolatry, I frankly confess that I do know not what idolatry is…It is idolatry to invoke the Virgin Mary and the saints in glory, and to address them in language never addressed in the Scripture except to the Holy Trinity.

JOHN WESLEY: There is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all,” 1 Timothy 2:5,6. This excludes all other mediators, as saints and angels, whom the Papists set up.

J. C. RYLE: It is idolatry to adore that which man’s hands have made―to call it God, and to adore it when lifted up before our eyes. And if this be so, then with the doctrine of transubstantiation, and the elevation of the host, I say there is idolatry in the Church of Rome.

MATTHEW POOLE: What a fig leaf they have made to cover their idolatry, in worshipping the bread in the eucharist, who think they may be excused from idolatry in it, because they think the bread is turned into the body of Christ; idolatry is not to be excused by think so’s.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): I have often pressed this question home to Catholic priests: “What is your function as a sacrificing priest?” They say, “It is my privilege to offer up the Lord Jesus from time to time a continual sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead.” I generally put it like this: “Well, Christ has to be slain that He may be offered up, doesn’t He?”

“Yes.”

“You claim then that every time you pronounce the blessing, you are sacrificing Christ for the sins of the living and the dead?”

“Yes.”

“Well then, you kill Christ afresh every time you offer that sacrifice!”

Then they begin to hedge. But there is no escape from the horrible conclusion. The Roman priest says that when he offers the sacrifice of the mass he is presenting Christ again for the sins of the living and the dead. And the only way the Christ can be a sacrifice is to be put to death; therefore, the priest kills Him afresh every time he offers. They cannot get away from it…If Christ has to be offered continually, then every priest is guilty of murdering the Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of God.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins,” Hebrews 10:10,11…How vain are the Romish inventions of confession, absolution, indulgences, masses, penances, purgatory, and the like tom-fooleries!

H. A. IRONSIDE: It was because the great reformers of the sixteenth century saw this clearly and were assured in their own hearts that the doctrine of the Church of Rome in regard to the Eucharist or the Mass was absolutely opposed to the Word of God and was not only blasphemous but idolatrous, that they came out in protest against that apostate system.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): I know they have many evasions; but yet the stain of idolatry sticketh so close to them, that all the water in the sea will not wash them clean from it. This text clearly stareth them in the face―“Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve,” Matthew 4:10.

C. H. SPURGEON: Oh, the long-suffering of God in tolerating that apostate and accursed church which has dared to set up both saints and angels, men and women, and I know not what besides, as objects of reverence in rivalry of the Lord of Hosts!

 

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The Growth of Grace Part 3: The New Convert Growing in Grace

I John 2:12,13; I Peter 2:2,3; Exodus 33:13

I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake…I write unto you little children, because ye have known the Father.

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): It is a sure mark of grace to desire more.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Strong desires and affections to the word of God are a sure evidence of a person’s being born again. If they be such desires as the babe has for the milk, they prove that the person is new-born. They are the lowest evidence, but yet they are certain.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): Receptiveness is a characteristic of the new heart; the new-born babe desires the sincere milk of the Word, that it may grow thereby.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Now, as God only thus reveals Himself by the medium of Scripture truth, the light received this way leads the soul to the Scripture from whence it springs, and all the leading truths of the word of God soon begin to be perceived and assented to. The evil of sin is acknowledged; the evil of the heart is felt.

JAMES HARRINGTON EVANS (1785-1849): A sense of God’s love in the soul will make a man of tender conscience.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): This tender conscience is afraid to put one foot before the other, lest it should put its foot in the wrong place.

JOSEPH ALLEINE (1634-1668): How warily does he walk, lest he should tread upon a snare!  He looks in front, and behind: he has his eye upon his heart, and is often casting it over his shoulder, lest he should be overtaken with sin…His fears are not so much of suffering as of sinning.

C. H. SPURGEON: Poor tender conscience; some despise him; but he is dear to the King’s heart. I would to God, my brethren, you and I knew more about him. I used to know a conscience so tender, that I would wish to feel it again.  Then we questioned the lawfulness of every act before we committed it; and then, though it was lawful, we would stop to see if it were expedient; and if we thought it expedient, even then we would not do it, except we felt it would be abundantly honourable to the Lord our God.  Every doctrine we used to scruple at, lest we should believe a lie; every ordinance we examined, lest we should commit idolatry; happy were the days when tender conscience went with us.

JOHN NEWTON: Indeed, notwithstanding the weakness of his faith, and the prevalence of a legal spirit, which greatly hurts him, there are some things in his present experience which he may, perhaps, look back upon with regret hereafter, when his hope and knowledge will be more established…His zeal is likewise lively; and may be, for lack of more experience, too importunate and forward. He has a love for souls, and a concern for the glory of God; which, though it may at some times create him trouble, and at others be mixed with some undue motions of self, yet in its principle is highly desirable and commendable.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): As children grow that are got stronger and riper, so as people grow in grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, they will be more settled, more confirmed: on first setting out they will prattle, but later they will be more manly, more firm, more steady.

JOHN NEWTON: The old Christian has more solid, judicious, connected views of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the glories of His person and redeeming love: hence his hope is more established, his dependence more simple, and his peace and strength, more abiding and uniform, than in the case of a young convert; but the latter has, for the most part, the advantage in point of sensible fervency…Particularly that sensibility and keenness of appetite with which he now attends the ordinances, desiring the sincere milk of the word with earnestness and eagerness, as a babe does the breast. He counts the hours from one opportunity to another; and the attention and desire with which he hears, may be read in his countenance―and the desire of grace, in this way, is grace.

JEREMIAH DYKE (1584-1639): True grace is growing grace. There is a growing in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18), a growing in wisdom (Luke 2:40), and a growing in faith (2 Thessalonians 1:3). All true grace grows. There are counterfeit and false graces, and this is the main thing that differentiates between true and counterfeit ones: true grace grows, counterfeit grace grows not.  There is a great deal of difference between a true tree and a pictured tree, between a true child, and the statue or image of a child.  A true child grows, but the image grows not—it is no taller or bigger at a hundred years old than it was the first day it was made. Where there is truth of grace, there is a life of grace, and life will put forth itself and cause a growth, as we see in living trees, and living children that are not yet come to their full growth—they grow because they live.

JOHN NEWTON: A tree is most valuable when laden with ripe fruit, but it has a peculiar beauty when in blossom. It is spring-time with the new convert. He is in bloom, and, by the grace and blessing of the heavenly Farmer, will bear fruit in old age. His faith is weak, but his heart is warm. He will seldom venture to think himself a believer; but he sees, and feels, and does those things which no one could, unless the Lord was with him. The very desire and bent of his soul is to God, and to the word of His grace. His knowledge is but small, but it is growing every day. If he is not a father or a young man in grace, he is a dear child. The Lord has visited his heart, delivered him from the love of sin, and fixed his desires supremely upon Jesus Christ. The spirit of bondage is gradually departing from him, and the hour of liberty, which he longs for, is approaching, when, by a farther discovery of the glorious Gospel, it shall be given him to know his acceptance, and to rest upon the Lord’s finished salvation.

C. H. SPURGEON: Everything in the kingdom of grace is not to be learned in ten minutes. I bless God that a man who has believed in Jesus only one second is a saved man; but he is not an instructed man, he is not an established man.  He is not trained for battle; nor tutored for labour.  These things take time.

 

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The Atheist: The Ultimate April Fool

Psalm 14:1; Psalm 94:8; Proverbs 8:5; 3:35; 19:29

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.

Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?

O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart. The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools. Judgments are prepared for scorners, and stripes for the back of fools.

JOHN JAMIESON (1759-1838): The world we live in is a world of fools.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): We are sometimes tempted to think, “Surely there never was so much atheism and profaneness as there is in our days;” but we see the former days were no better; even in David’s time there were those who had arrived at such a height of impiety as to deny the very being of a God.

JEREMY TAYLOR (1613-1667): Who in the world is a verier fool, a more ignorant, wretched person, than he that is an atheist?

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Such are commonly and justly called fools every where in Scripture, and that purposely to meet with their false, yet common conceit of themselves, as if they were the only wise men, and all others were fools.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): There are others who, without absolutely denying the Divine existence, deny His providence; that is, they acknowledge a Being of infinite power, etc., but give Him nothing to do, and no world to govern. There are others, and they are very numerous, who, while they profess to acknowledge both, deny them in their heart, and live as if they were persuaded there was no God either to punish or reward.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): There is no fear of God before his eyes; no reverential affection for Him, but enmity to Him…As the atheist denies God in words, the idolater denies Him in facts, worshipping the creature besides the Creator, and giving his glory to another, and his praise to idols, which is a virtual denial of Him.

MATTHEW HENRY: Atheistical thoughts are very foolish wicked thoughts, and they are at the bottom of a great deal of the wickedness that is in this world.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): A hypocrite may well be termed a religious atheist, an atheist masked with religion.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): An Atheist, strictly speaking, is one who does not believe, and who absolutely ridicules, the being of a God. That appellation, certainly, is not usually given to superstitious persons, but to those who have no feeling of religion, and who desire to see it utterly destroyed.

JOHN GILL: Atheists condemn revelation, despise the Word of God, and regard no day nor manner of worship; and this notwithstanding the majesty of God, at whose presence they tremble not, and notwithstanding the goodness of God, which should induce them to fear Him, and notwithstanding the judgment of God on others, and even on themselves; and notwithstanding the future awful judgment, which they put far away or disbelieve.

MATTHEW HENRY: An atheist justifies himself in his iniquity and evades the argument taken from the judgment to come by pleading that there is not another life after this, but that when man dies there is an end of him, and therefore while he lives he may live as he lists.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The Atheist is the fool pre-eminently, and a fool universally―to say there is no God is to belie the plainest evidence, which is obstinacy; to oppose the common consent of mankind, which is stupidity; to stifle consciousness, which is madness.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The name of God is written in such full, fair and shining characters upon the whole creation, that all men may run and read that there is a God. The notion of a deity is so strongly and deeply impressed upon the tables of all men’s hearts, that to deny a God is to quench the very principles of common nature; yea, it is formally deicidium—a killing of God, as much as in the creature lies.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): This is the secret desire of every unconverted bosom.

C. H. SPURGEON: If the sinner could by his atheism destroy the God whom he hates there were some sense, although much wickedness, in his infidelity; but as denying the existence of fire does not prevent its burning a man who is in it, so doubting the existence of God will not stop the Judge of all the earth from destroying the rebel who breaks His laws; nay, this atheism is a crime which much provokes heaven, and will bring down terrible vengeance on the fool who indulges it.

JEREMY TAYLOR: A man may better believe there is no such man as himself, and that he is not in being, than that there is no God―and if he knows it not, he is a fool.

C. H. SPURGEON: The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork, Psalm 19:1. He who looks up to the firmament and then writes himself down an atheist, brands himself at the same moment as an idiot or a liar.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: A fool is one that hath lost his wisdom and right notion of God and divine things, which were communicated to man by creation; one dead in sin, yet one not so much void of rational faculties, as of grace in those faculties; not one that wants reason, but who abuses his reason.

JEREMY TAYLOR: Can anything in this world be more foolish than to think that all this rare fabric of heaven and earth can come by chance, when all the skill of art is not able to make an oyster? To see rare effects, and no cause―a time without an eternity; a second without a first; a thing that begins not from itself, and therefore, not perceive there is something from which must be without beginning? These things are so against philosophy and natural reason, that he must needs be a beast in his understanding that does not assent to them.

JOSEPH ADDISON (1671-1719): There is not a more ridiculous animal than an atheist―his mind is incapable of rapture or elevation: he can only consider himself as an insignificant figure in a landscape, and wandering up and down in a field or a meadow, under the same terms as the meanest animals about him, and as subject to as total a mortality as they―with this aggravation: that he is the only one amongst them who lies under the apprehension of it. In distresses he must be of all creatures the most helpless and forlorn; he feels the whole pressure of a present calamity, without being relieved by the memory of anything that is past, or the prospect of anything that is to come. Annihilation is the greatest blessing that he proposes to himself, and a halter or a pistol the only refuge he can fly to. But if you would behold one of these gloomy miscreants in his poorest figure, you must consider them under the terrors―or, at the approach of death.

MURDOCH CAMPBELL (1901-1974): Someone once asked Margaret Mackenzie to explain the request of the foolish virgins when they said to wise―“Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out, Matthew 25:8. She replied, “Did you ever hear of godless persons on their death bed asking the Lord’s people to pray for them. Well, that is the meaning of their cry.”

 

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Jesus Christ, the Most Forsaken Man in the History of the World

Isaiah 53:3-5

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): He is despised and rejected of men—accounted as the scum of mankind, as one unworthy of the company and conversation of all men.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people,” saith the Psalmist in the person of Christ, Psalm 22:6—A worm and no man, not held so good as wicked Barabbas, but crucified between two thieves, as worse than either of them, and made nothing of.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It was not only His last scene that was tragical, but His whole life was a life of humiliation, meanness, poverty, and disgrace…He was born in a stable because there was no room in the inn, and for want of conveniences, nay for want of necessaries, he was laid in a manger, instead of a cradle.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): This shows the meanness of our Lord’s birth, and into what a low estate he came; and that now, as afterwards, though Lord of all, yet had not where to lay His head in a proper place; and expresses His amazing grace, in that He was rich, yet for our sakes became poor.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): He came unto his own,” John 1:11to those of His own family, city, country; and His own people. “And his own received him not”—would not acknowledge Him as the Messiah, nor believe in Him for salvation.

JOHN GILL: Christ suffered many things in His personal character, being traduced as a sinful and wicked man, and a friend and encourager of sinners; as a man of immoral principles and practices; as an idolater, a blasphemer, an impostor, a seditious person; as one that had had familiarity with the devil, and did His miracles by his assistance.

MATTHEW POOLE: Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country, John 4:44. Christ spake those words more than once, Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:4, Luke 4:24.

JOHN GILL: Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?” John 7:48—men famous for wisdom, learning, or holiness…He had none about Him of any rank or figure in life, only some few fishermen, and some women, and publicans, and harlots.

MATTHEW HENRY: The place where He preached—in Galilee, a remote part of the country, that lay furthest from Jerusalem, as was there looked upon with contempt, as rude and boorish. The inhabitants of that country were reckoned stout men, fit for soldiers, but not polite men, or fit for scholars.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The first great cause why Jesus was rejected by those to whom He appealed, may be deduced from the tenor of His doctrine—it offended the pride of the Pharisees, was repugnant to the wise infidelity of the Sadducees, and condemned the pliant temper of the Herodians…Besides, their dislike to His doctrine was increased by His manner of enforcing it. He spoke with authority, and sharply rebuked the hypocrisy, ignorance, ambition, and avarice of those persons who were accounted the wise and good, who sat in Moses chair, and had hitherto been heard and obeyed with reverence. But Jesus exposed their true characters; He spoke of them as blind guides; He compared them to “painted sepulchres,” and cautioned the people against them as dangerous deceivers.  It is no wonder, therefore, that on this account they hated Him with a perfect hatred.

MATTHEW HENRY: He was the stone which the builders refused; they would not have Him to reign over them―they had formed a design to kill Him…Was Christ betrayed by a disciple? So it was written, Psalm 41:9, “He that did eat bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against me.

JOHN GILL: What an horrid, insolent, and unparalleled action that was—the betraying of Him by Judas into the hands of the high priest, Scribes, and Pharisees…“Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled,” Matthew 26:56. They were the “disciples” of Christ that forsook Him, whom He had called, and sent forth as His apostles to preach His Gospel; and to whom He had given extraordinary gifts and powers; who had forsaken all and followed Him, and had been with Him from the beginning; had heard all His excellent discourses, and had seen all His miracles, and yet these at last forsake Him, and even “all” of them: John the beloved disciple, that leaned on his bosom, and Peter, that professed so much love to Him, zeal for him, and faith in Him.

ADAM CLARKE: They lead him to the high priest’s house, and Peter follows and denies his Master.

MATTHEW HENRY: It added affliction to His bonds, to be thus deserted.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): No other place so well shows the griefs of Christ as Calvary and no other moment at Calvary is so full of agony as that in which this cry rends the air, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): These are words of unequalled pathos. They mark the climax of His sufferings. The soldiers had cruelly mocked Him: they had arrayed Him with the crown of thorns, they had scourged and buffeted Him, they even went so far as to spit upon Him and pluck off His hair. They despoiled Him of His garments and put Him to an open shame. Yet He suffered it all in silence. They pierced His hands and His feet, yet did He endure the cross, despising the shame. The vulgar crowd taunted Him, and the thieves which were crucified with Him flung the same taunts into His face; yet He opened not His mouth. In response to all that He suffered at the hands of men, not a cry escaped His lips. But now, as the concentrated wrath of heaven descends upon Him, he cries, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Surely this is a cry that ought to melt the hardest heart!

C. H. SPURGEON: O Christian, pause here and reflect! Christ was punished in this way for you!

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.

C. H. SPURGEON: Methinks I hear the Father say to Christ, “My Son, I forsake thee because thou standest in the sinner’s stead. As thou are holy, just and true, I never would forsake thee. I would never turn away from thee, for, even as a man, thou have been holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners—but on thy head rests the guilt of every penitent—transferred from him to thee, and thou must expiate it by thy blood. Because thou standest in the sinner’s place, I will not look at thee till thou have borne the full weight of my vengeance. Then, I will exalt thee on high, far above all principalities and powers.”

 

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Elect Angels & Their Employments

1 Timothy 5:21

I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.

A. A. HODGE (1823-1886): What are the Scriptural designations of angels?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): We have a description of them in 1 Timothy 5, verse 21, as the “elect angels”―there are some angels that can be described as the elect angels, and others not.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): He calls the angels elect, unquestionably in opposition to the evil and reprobate angels.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The elect angels are called the sons of God in Job 1:6 and elsewhere; not because they are so by eternal generation, as Christ alone; nor by adoption and regeneration as the saints; but by creation―as Adam is called the son of God, Luke 3:38; and by resemblance, for they are made in God’s image, and are like Him as His children, both in their substance, which is incorporeal, and in their excellent properties, which are life and immortality, blessedness and glory; wherein we shall one day be their equals, Luke 20:3.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Another term that is used about angels is that they are called the “holy angels.”

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): There are good angels, who have continued in that goodness in which they were created…Good angels may be said to have been ever with God, and are always serving Him, and since they never sinned, they stand in no need of renovation.

JOHN TRAPP: The good angels are not stable by their own strength, but by God’s stablishing of thereto stand when others fell―and that the good angels stand, and are out of danger of ever falling, is of divine grace.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): They are the objects of God’s free and sovereign grace.

First, because of His election of them from out of the whole angelic race (I Timothy 5:21).

Secondly, and in consequence of their election, because of His preservation of them from apostasy, when Satan rebelled and dragged down with him one-third of the celestial host (Revelation 12:4).

Thirdly, in making Christ their Head (Colossians 1:15-18; I Peter 3:22), whereby they are eternally secured in the holy condition in which they were created.

Fourthly, because of the exalted position which has been assigned them: to live in God’s immediate presence (Daniel 7:10); to serve Him constantly in His heavenly temple; to receive honourable commissions from Him (Hebrews 1:14).

A. A. HODGE: What are their employments?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The first thing we are told about them that they spend their time in adoring God and the Lamb. Read again the fifth chapter of the book of Revelation, and you’ll find that they’re singing His praise, worshipping and adoring Him. That’s the thing that comes first. That’s the thing they delight in.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Those that are employed in the court above rest not day nor night from praising God, which is their business there; and those that are employed in the camp below are never idle, nor lose time; they are still “ascending and descending upon the Son of man, John 1:51, as on Jacob’s ladder, Genesis 28:12; they are still “walking to and fro through the earth, Zechariah 1:10.

A. A. HODGE: God employs them as His instruments in administering the affairs of His providence.

JOHN MILTON (1608-1674): Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth

Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): They do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His Word. He says to one, Go, and he goeth; to another, Come, and he cometh: and it is His pleasure they regard, and not the nature of the employment; and if two of them were summoned into His presence, and ordered, the one to govern an empire, and the other to show Hagar a well, they would repair to their posts with equal readiness and delight.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): In angelic ministry, it matters not to an angel whether he be sent to destroy an army or to protect the person of some heir of salvation; it is the Master who entirely fills his vision…This is most true, and so should it be with us.

MATTHEW HENRY: Good angels are employed not only as the ministers of God’s providence, but sometimes as the ministers of His Word.

A. A. HODGE: The law “was ordained by angels,” Galatians 3:19.

JOHN GILL: Angels were concerned in the giving of the law, and were frequently employed under the former dispensation, in messages to men, and in making revelations of God’s mind and will to them.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: And, of course, we have this crucial statement in that last verse of the first chapter of Hebrews, where they are described as “ministering spirits”―“Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” And I understand from Acts 27, verses 23 and 24, that the angels are sometimes used by God to cheer us, and to give us comfort and consolation, for the apostle Paul tells his companions on that ship, you remember, that was already in a shipwrecked condition―“for there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear not, Paul;” and he told him certain things. The angel was sent by God in order to cheer up the apostle.

JOHN TRAPP: The holy angels are styled Eγρηγοροι―“watchers,” Daniel 4:10.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Indeed the whole Scripture is full of evidences, which prove that angels are guardians to the godly, and watch over them.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Christians, God and angels are observing how you quit yourselves like children of the Most High.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: They’re looking at us. In 1 Corinthians 11:10, Paul uses these words: “For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.” You remember that he’s considering the question of women praying without their heads being covered. Apparently, some of the women at Corinth were taking part in prayer with their heads uncovered, and the apostle tells them that’s quite wrong; it’s not only wrong because a women should have her covered to show that she is under the authority of the man, but in addition to that he says that she should be covered because of the presence of the angels. In other words, the scripture teaches that when we are met together in prayer, that the angels of God are present, and they are looking upon us, and the women is to be covered when she takes part in public prayer because of the presence of the angels. It’s a tremendous and a remarkable thing; let us bear it mind.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Remember that, ye sons of men, ye are not unregarded; ye do not pass through this world in unseen obscurity. In darkest shades of night eyes glare on you through the gloom. In the brightness of the day angels are spectators of your labours. From heaven there look down upon you spirits who see all that finite beings are capable of beholding.

 

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The Growth of Grace Part 2: Grace in the Blade, or, the New Convert

John 1:16

And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Grace is both a grace, and a vessel to receive grace.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The Lord leads all His people effectually and savingly to the knowledge of the same essential truths, but in such a variety of methods, that it will be needful in this discussion to set aside, as much as possible, such things as may be only personal and occasional in the experience of each, and to collect those only which in a greater or lesser degree are common to them all.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The kingdom of God, which is generated in the soul by the Word of life, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, is first very small; there is only a blade, but this is full of promise, for a good blade shows there is a good seed at bottom, and that the soil in which it is sown is good also.

JOHN NEWTON: He may be a believer thus far: he believes the word of God, sees and feels things to be as they are there described, hates and avoids sin, because he knows it is displeasing to God, and contrary to His goodness: he receives the record which God has given of His Son; he has his heart affected and drawn to Jesus by views of His glory, and of His love to poor sinners; he ventures upon His name and promises as its only encouragement to come to a Throne of Grace; he waits diligently in the use of all means appointed for the communion and growth of grace; he loves the Lord’s people, accounts them the excellent of the earth, and delights in their conversation. He is longing, waiting, and praying, for a share in those blessings which he believes they enjoy, and can be satisfied with nothing less. He is convinced of the power of Jesus to save him; but, through remaining ignorance and legality, the remembrance of sins previously committed, and the sense of present corruption, he often questions His willingness; and, not knowing the aboundings of grace, and the security of the promises, he fears lest the compassionate Saviour should spurn him from his feet.

ROBERT BOLTON (1572-1631): That faith which is never assaulted with doubting is but a fancy. Assuredly that assurance which is ever secure is but a dream.

J. C. PHILPOT (1802-1869): You may not perhaps, for the most part, enjoy a strong or clear assurance of your interest in Christ; you may be frequently much exercised whether you are a child of God; and yet you may at times have had a sweet testimony that grace is in your heart.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): A bruised reed will He not break, and the smoking flax will He not quench, Matthew 12:20. He gathers the lambs with His arm, and carries them in His bosom. He affords to young converts some peculiar encouragements to allure them on, till they have advanced too far to think of going back, whatever they meet with.

JOHN NEWTON: While he is thus young in the knowledge of the Gospel, burdened with sin, and perhaps beset with Satan’s temptations, the Lord, “who gathers the lambs in his arms, and carries them in his bosom,” is pleased at times to favour him with cordials, that he may not be swallowed up with over-much sorrow. Perhaps his heart is enlarged in prayer, or under hearing [a sermon], or some good promise is brought home to His mind, and applied with power and sweetness.

SAMUEL MARTIN (1802-1850): So God deals with us in our spiritual childhood, and the weakness of our faith.

JOHN NEWTON: But he mistakes the nature and design of these comforts, which are not given him to rest in, but to encourage him to press forward. He thinks he is then right because he has them, and fondly hopes to have them always. Then his mountain stands strong. But before long he feels a change: his comforts are withdrawn; he finds no heart to pray; no attention in hearing; indwelling sin revives with fresh strength, and perhaps Satan returns with redoubled rage. Then he is at his wits’ end; thinks his hopes were presumptuous, and his comforts delusions.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Up, poor soul! If Satan is trying to tear thee, tell him it is written, He is able to save to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by him;” that “whosoever cometh he will in no wise cast out,” Hebrews 7:25; John 6:37. And it may be that thus God will deliver thee from that desperate conflict into which, as a coming sinner, thou hast been cast.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): Have they little grace?  Is it scarce smoking?  He is not a rigid taskmaster, like to the Egyptians, nay, nor like to the law. He quenches not the smoking flax. Are they staggering because of apprehended or real weakness, and their hearts shaking like the trees in the wood, or rather, like so many straws?

PHILIP MELANCTHON (1497-1560): Contemplate the Son of God on the right hand of His Father, as a powerful Mediator who intercedes for us; and He asks you to be assured that your sins are forgiven, and that you are accounted righteous, and received by the Father for the sake of His Son, offered as a victim on the cross.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): Faith may be as “a grain of mustard seed.” Matthew 17:20. Nothing so little as grace at first, and nothing more glorious afterward.

WILLIAM JAY: A spark is fire, and a little grace is grace, and perfectly distinguishable from mere nature.

RICHARD SIBBES: Let us not therefore be discouraged at the small beginnings of grace, but look on ourselves as elected to be “holy and without blame,” Ephesians 1:4. In case of discouragement, we must consider ourselves as Christ does, who looks on us as those He intends to fit for Himself. Christ values us by what we shall be, and by what we are elected unto. We call a little plant a tree, because it is growing up to be so. “Who has despised the day of small things?” Zechariah 4:10. Christ would not have us despise little things—a pearl, though little, yet is of much esteem…Christ, we see, ever cherishes even the least beginnings.

JOHN NEWTON: By these changing dispensations, the Lord is training him up, and bringing him forward. He receives grace from Jesus, whereby he is enabled to fight against sin: his conscience is tender, his troubles are chiefly spiritual troubles; and he thinks, if he could but attain a sure and abiding sense of his acceptance in the Beloved, hardly any outward trial would be capable of giving him much disturbance.

WILLIAM JAY: Remember one thing: be simple, and receive the kingdom of God as a little child, not only as to its doctrines, but as to its invitations and promises. The writer one day attended the dying-bed of a young female. “I have little,” said she, “to relate as to my experience. I have been much tried and tempted, but this is my sheet-anchor: He has said, “Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out.” I know I come to Him, and I expect that He will be as good as His Word.

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

 

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The Growth of Grace Part 1: Awakening Grace, or The Effectual Call

Ephesians 2:8; Mark 4:28

By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): First the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” As it very aptly describes the progress of the seed from first to last, so it very beautifully represents the gradual increase of the work of grace, under the instrumentality of the Word, accompanied with the Spirit and power of God.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): By grace in the blade, I would understand a person who is under the drawings of God, which will infallibly lead him to the Lord Jesus Christ for life and salvation. The beginning of this work is instantaneous. It is effected by a certain kind of light communicated to the soul, to which it was before an utter stranger. The eyes of the understanding are opened and enlightened.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): First, the Spirit makes his approach to the understanding, and on it He puts forth an act of illumination: the Spirit will not work in a dark shop; the first thing he does in order to faith, is to beat out a window in the soul, and let in some light from heaven: hence believers are said “to be renewed in the spirit of their mind,” Ephesians 4:23; which the same apostle calls being “renewed in knowledge,” Colossians 3:10. By nature we know little of God, and nothing of Christ, or the way of salvation by Him. The eye of the creature therefore must be opened to see the way of life, before he can by faith get into it.

JOHN NEWTON: The light at first afforded is weak and indistinct, like the morning dawn…We commonly speak as if conviction of sin was the first work of God upon the soul, that He is in mercy about to draw unto Himself. But I think this is inaccurate. Conviction is only a part, or rather an immediate effect of that first work; and there are many convictions which do not at all spring from it, and therefore are only occasional and temporary, though for a season they may be very sharp, and put a person upon doing many things. In order to a due conviction of sin, we must previously have some adequate conceptions of the God with whom we have to do. Sin may be feared as dangerous without this; but its nature and demerit can only be understood by being contrasted with the holiness, majesty, goodness, and truth, of the God against whom it is committed. No outward means, no mercies, judgments, or ordinances, can communicate such a discovery of God, or produce such a conviction of sin, without the concurrence of this Divine light and power to the soul.

WILLIAM GURNALL: When the Spirit of God has sprung with a divine light into the understanding, then He makes his address to the conscience, and the act which passes upon that is an act of conviction—this conviction is nothing but a reflection of the light that is in the understanding upon the conscience, whereby the creature feels the weight and force of those truths he knows, so as to be brought into a deep sense of them.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): No man can feel sin but by grace.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The grace of God works in, and by, the Word of God, brings that to mind, and sets that home to the conscience.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): None are converted, but are first convinced of their danger and evil estate; God’s first work is upon their understandings: “After that I was instructed, I smote upon the thigh,” Jeremiah 31:19. There is some light that breaks in upon the soul, which sets them seriously a-considering, “What am I? Whither am I going? What will become of me?”

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): He is like John Bunyan’s pilgrim, he has a heavy burden on his back, and he knows not how to get rid of it; he wrings his hands and cries, “What shall I do?  I am undone.  I have rebelled against God, and God is angry with me.”

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Persons under soul-trouble, and sore conviction, would be glad to do anything, or comply on any terms, to get peace with God…We all naturally are legalist, thinking to be justified by the works of the law. When somewhat awakened by the terrors of the Lord, we immediately, like the Pharisees of old, go about to establish our own righteousness, and think we shall find acceptance with God, if we seek it with tears; finding ourselves damned by nature and  our actual sins, we then think to recommend ourselves to God by our duties, and hope, by our doings of one kind or another, to inherit eternal life.  But whenever the Comforter comes into the heart, [He] convinces the soul of these false rests, and makes the sinner to see that all his righteousness is but as filthy rags: that his best works are but so many splendid sins.

JOHN NEWTON: There may be for a while some efforts to obtain the favour of God by prayer, repentance, and reformation; but, for the most part, it is not very long before these things are proved to be vain and ineffectual. The soul, like the woman mentioned Mark 5:26, wearied with vain expedients, finds itself worse and worse, and is gradually brought to see the necessity and sufficiency of the Gospel salvation.

MATTHEW HENRY: It must be resolved purely into the free grace of God, given through Jesus Christ to all true believers that receive it as a free gift.

HORATIUS BONAR (1808-1889): The reason why we so often find the awakened sinner so slow in apprehending the simple gospel of the grace of God, is that he cannot understand its freeness or fullness.

JOHN NEWTON: He wants to feel something that may give him a warrant to trust in the free promises of Christ. His views of the Redeemer’s gracefulness are very narrow: he sees not the harmony and glory of the Divine attributes in the salvation of a sinner: he sighs for mercy, but fears that justice is against him.

JOHANN VON STAUPITZ (1460-1524): Look to the wounds of Jesus Christ, to the blood which He has shed for thee: then thou shalt see the grace of God.

WILLIAM FENNER (1560-1640): This is for all poor broken hearts in whom God hath engendered the true desire of grace. Let such know that the first step to grace is to see that they have no grace; and the first degree of grace is the desire of grace.

 

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Staggering in Unbelief at the Promises of God

2 Timothy 2:13

If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): If we believe not.” This may be understood, either of such who are altogether destitute of faith, who do not believe in Christ at all―or, it may be understood of true believers, whose faith sometimes is very low, as to its exercise on Christ, and with reference to their future glory and happiness.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Unbelief is at the bottom of all our staggerings at God’s promises. It is not the promise that fails, but our faith that fails when we stagger.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Experience teaches us how backward and slow we are to embrace the promises of God…But whence is it, that we with so much difficulty rely on the promises of God, except that we imagine Him to be like ourselves?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It is the cause of much weakness to many that they do not treat the promises of God as realities.  If a friend makes them a promise, they regard it as a substantial thing, and look for that which it secures; but the declarations of God are often viewed as so many words which means very little.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): But there is one grand difference between the promises of Adam’s children and the promises of God, which ought never to be forgotten. The promises of man are not sure to be fulfilled. With the best wishes and intentions, a man cannot always keep his word. Disease and death may step in like an armed man, and take away from this world him that promises. War, or pestilence, or famine, or failure of crops, or hurricanes, may strip him of his property, and make it impossible for him to fulfil his engagements. The promises of God, on the contrary, are certain to be kept. He is Almighty: nothing can prevent His doing what He has said. He never changes: He is always “of one mind:” and with Him there is “no variableness or shadow of turning,” Job 33:13; James 1:17. He will always keep His word.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The permanence of God’s character guaranties the fulfilment of His promises.

JOHN CALVIN: This doctrine must be frequently repeated and inculcated, that we may know that God will do what He hath once spoken.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Whether we believe or believe not, or whether we be faithful to our trust or be not, yet God will show Himself faithful, either to His promises made to them that believe, or to His threatenings denounced against those that believe not―for it is impossible that He Who is truth itself should be otherwise.

J. C. RYLE:It is impossible for God to lie,” Hebrews 4:18. The most unlikely and improbable things, when God has once said He will do them, have always come to pass. The destruction of the old world by a flood, and the preservation of Noah in the ark, the birth of Isaac, the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, the raising of David to the throne of Saul, the miraculous birth of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the scattering of the Jews all over the earth, and their continued preservation as a distinct people―who could imagine events more unlikely and improbable than these? Yet God said they should be, and in due time they all came to pass. In truth, with God it is just as easy to do a thing as to say it. Whatever He promises, He is certain to perform.

JOHN CALVIN: The promises of God, and His truth in performing them, are inseparably joined together…Let us therefore embrace all the promises of God with our whole heart, and let us also add to them His power; for His hand ought never to be separated from His mouth. We must not imagine His power to be, as philosophers talk, a power that is unemployed, but, as the Scriptures teach us, powerful and active.―“Therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak. Behold, it is I,” Isaiah 52:6. The verb “to speak” relates to the promises. Behold I, relates to actual power; as if He had said, “Although now there be nothing more than that there sound in your ears the words by which I promise what is hardly probable, yet you shall speedily obtain it; for I will actually accomplish what I promise.” Hence we ought to draw the universal doctrine, that the promises of God and the fulfillment of them are linked together by an indissoluble bond.

A. W. PINK: Where Divine veracity is engaged, omnipotence will make it good.

JOHN CALVIN: Unless we depend upon the word of God, all the benefits which He confers upon us will be unsavoury or tasteless to us…For of what advantage to us will the promises of God be, if we distrust Him?

JOHN GILL: There is no reason to stagger at, or hesitate about any of the promises of God, since they are made by Him that cannot lie; His faithfulness is engaged to perform them; with Him all things are possible; every promise is in Christ, yea and amen, and never did any fail; and yet so it is, that some of God’s children, through unbelief, do stagger at the promises of God; thinking either that they are too great for them, or demur upon them through difficulties which attend them.

C. H. SPURGEON: When we believe God as He is revealed in Christ Jesus, we believe all His promises. Confidence in the Person involves confidence in all that he speaks: hence we accept all the promises of God as being sure and certain.  We do not trust one promise and doubt another but we rely upon each one as true, and we believe it to be true to us so far as it has respect to our condition and circumstances.

JOHN CALVIN: All the promises of God must lean and be stayed upon this foundation, that they may be sure and certain to us, that God hath adopted us in Christ, and hath promised that He will be our God and our Father.

JOHN GILL: Christ is faithful to all His covenant engagements for [His people], to bring them to glory, and to every word of promise concerning their happiness, and to every branch of the faithful saying above mentioned; and He is ever the same in his love to them, and in the efficacy of His blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; and His salvation is an everlasting and unchangeable one; nor do the saints’ interest in it, and security by it, depend upon their acts of believing, or their frames, but upon the firmness and unchangeableness of Christ, the object of faith. “He cannot deny himself;” He cannot go contrary to His word; that would be to act contrary to His nature and perfections, and would be a denying of Himself, which is not possible; wherefore His faithfulness will never fail, even though, the faith of His people does, as to the exercise of it.

TIMOTHY CRUSO (1657-1697): The being of God may as well fail as the promise of God.

 

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