A Vital Question for the 21st Century

John 18:36-38

My kingdom is not of this world…

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then?

Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?

And when he had said this, he went out…

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): It is uncertain with what design Pilate asked this question.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Some think it is vox admirantis―as if Pilate wondered at Christ, that when his life was in question he should talk of truth; “Your life is in danger, and talk you of truth?”

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Some think that Pilate puts this question through curiosity, as irreligious men are sometimes accustomed to be eagerly desirous of learning something that is new to them, and yet do not know why they wish it; for they intend nothing more than to gratify their ears. For my own part, I rather think that it is an expression of disdain; for Pilate thought himself highly insulted when Christ represented him as destitute of all knowledge of the truth. Here we see in Pilate a disease which is customary among men.  Though we are all aware of our ignorance, yet there are few who are willing to confess it.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679):  Truth and error are all one to the ignorant man, so it hath but the name of truth.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I do not think he asked the question, “What is truth?” as if he seriously desired to know what it really was, for surely he would have paused for the divine reply and not have gone away from Christ the moment afterwards.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): This famous question, in my judgment, can only admit of one interpretation. It is the cold, sneering, skeptical interjection of a mere man of the world, who has persuaded himself that there is no such thing as truth, that all religions are equally false, that this life is all we have to care for, and that creeds and modes of faith are only words and names and superstitions, which no sensible person need attend to. It is precisely the state of mind in which thousands of great and rich men in every age live and die. Expanded and paraphrased, Pilate’s question comes to this: “Truth indeed! What is truth? I have heard all my life of various philosophical systems, each asserting that it has found the truth, and each differing widely from the others. Who is to decide what is truth and what is not?” The best proof that this is the right view of the sentence is Pilate’s behavior when he has asked the question. He broke off the conversation at this point.

 WILLIAM GURNALL: Truth is loved and prized only of those who know it. And not to desire to know it, is to despise it.

 TERTULLIAN (160-240): Our Lord Jesus Christ called Himself  “the Truth.”―“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” John 14:6.

JOHN CALVIN: It is not to one age only, or to one nation, that the saying of our Lord applies, for He adds, “no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

C. H. SPURGEON: If this Doctrine is true, then that which contradicts it cannot be true! It takes a good deal of courage to say that, nowadays.

LORD SHAFTESBURY (1801-1885): The larger portion of those who profess to believe, are eagerly eliminating from their creed all dogma and doctrine.  They accept the Scriptures just as far as it suits their philosophy.  Such will be the religion of the future, in which Vishnu, Mahomet, Jupiter, and Jesus Christ will all be upon a level; with some, all equally good, and with others, all equally bad.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Christianity is an exclusive religion; it claims that it, and it alone, is the truth of God. And not only is it the one and only way, it also does not need any help or assistance. There is no need to add a little Buddhism, or Mohammedanism, or Confucianism, or any other ‘ism’ to it. It is itself the way, and it is complete, it is entire.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Christ is the only way of access to God, and acceptance with Him.

C. H. SPURGEON: Jesus is the Truth―“Now be very careful upon that point,” says one. “Do you mean to say that there really is such a thing as the Truth?” By your leave, dear Sir, or without it, I will venture to assert that there is! “That reply is a very bigoted one because if there is a Doctrine that is the Truth, then that which is contrary to it is a lie.” Precisely so, and by your leave, or without your leave, I say again that it is so and it must be so in the natural order of things―If God has spoken thus, that which is opposed to God and His Truth, is not from Him and cannot stand on the same footing with that which is Divinely revealed.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): This is God’s Word, therefore it is true.

JOHN CALVIN: There is nothing holier, or better, or safer, than to content ourselves with the authority of Christ alone…It is to be noted, that the Word of God is set in opposition to all human counsels. What the world judges right is often crooked and perverse in the judgment of God.

C. H. SPURGEON: The age extols no virtue so much as “liberality,” and condemns no vice so fiercely as bigotry—alas!—honesty!…Our blessed Saviour is honestly intolerant! He says, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved, but He that believes not shall be damned.” Because He loves the souls of men, He will not bolster up the fiction of universal charity. And even before the Broad-church or No-church Pilate—He says that He has come to bear witness to the Truth. So there is the Truth, and that which is contrary to it is not Truth!

WILLIAM GURNALL: As we deal with truth, so we deal with God Himself; he that despiseth that, despiseth Him. He that abandons the truth of God, renounceth the God of truth.

C. H. SPURGEON: Christ came into the world to bear witness to the truth, and He has sent you to do the same—take care that you do it.

 

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Morbid Introspection & Mysticism, Twins of Experiential Pride

Obadiah 3

The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): There is a certain breed of Calvinists, whom I do not envy, who are always jeering and sneering as much as ever they can at the full assurance of faith. I have seen their long faces; I have heard their whining periods, and read their dismal sentences, in which they say something to this effect—“Groan in the Lord alway, and again I say, groan! He that mourneth and weepeth, he that doubteth and feareth, he that distrusteth and dishonoureth his God, shall be saved.” That seems to be the sum and substance of their very ungospel-like gospel. But why is that they do this?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Faulty teaching, perhaps, or because of their temperament, because they look so much at their own imperfections.

C. H. SPURGEON: I speak now honestly and fearlessly. It is because there is a pride within them—a conceit which is fed on rottenness, and sucks marrow and fatness out of putrid carcasses. And what is the object of their pride? Why, the pride of being able to boast of a deep experience—the pride of being a blacker, grosser, and more detestable backslider than other people. “Whose glory is in their shame,” may well apply to them. A more dangerous, because a more deceitful pride than this is not to be found. It has all the elements of self-righteousness in it.

WILLIAM GURNALL:Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him,” Proverbs 26:12. That is, there is more hope of persuading him. Of all fools, the conceited fool is the worst. Pride makes a man incapable of receiving counsel…There is no reasoning with a proud man. He castles himself in his own opinion of himself, and there stands upon his defence against all arguments that are brought.

C. H. SPURGEON: I would sooner a man boast in his good works than boast in his good feelings, because you can deal with the man who boasts in his good works, you have plain texts of Scripture, and you convict him of being a legalist; but this other man boasts that he is no legalist; he can speak very sharply against legality; he knows the truth, and yet the truth is not in him, in its spirit, because still he is looking to his feelings, and not looking to the finished work of Christ.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: There is a wrong way of examining ourselves, as well as a right way. The right way, of course, is the one that is indicated in the Scriptures, and that always leads to a good result; the wrong way lead to morbidity and to a false introspection.  This is a very subtle matter, but there are many good people today in the Christian Church, who are absolutely orthodox, who are concerned about self-examination, but they are utterly paralyzed, and they are quite useless, because, in a sense, they do nothing else.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): There cannot be religion without feeling: how can you pray without feeling your wants?  How can you fear without feeling your danger?  How can you love without feeling the object lovely?  If you cry out, “Oh, the remains of my corruptions,” cry on: God loves to hear such cries.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: But what you must never do is sit in a corner going round and round in that whirlpool, that vortex of failure and defeat and self-condemnation. Introspection and morbidity are wrong, and indeed sinful, and the Christian has no right to be depressed in that way. Deliverance comes as you realize what the devil is trying to do with you, and that he has blinded you temporarily to justification by faith only. Justification by faith is always the place where you can get a foothold. Whenever you find yourself slipping down that slope of depression, the place which you will always recover stability and get a foothold is justification by faith only.  It defeats most of the wiles of the devil. Let us then be very certain about this, for it is the royal remedy, the invariably successful remedy against morbidity and introspection.

C H. SPURGEON: Of all the Diabolians that ever stole into the city of Mansoul, Mr. Live-by-feeling was one of the worst of villains, though he had the fairest face…You are justified by faith, not by feelings; you are saved by what Christ felt for you, not by what you feel; the root and basis of salvation is the cross, and “other foundation shall no man lay than that which is laid;” even though he place his experience there, he builds “wood, hay, and stubble,” and not the corner stone, which is Christ Jesus…Put no trust in frames and feelings―Faith can build on a “thou hast said it;” but it cannot build on frames and feelings, on dreams and experiences.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Rest not on your feelings and experiences but on the written Word.

JOHN BRADFORD (1510-1555): Faith must go before, and then feeling will follow.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: This is a vital, essential aspect of the Christian life; but the devil tends to drive some [people] so far along that line that they tend to ignore the written Word…Put your emphasis on feeling, upon the “felt” aspect, and you are already in danger of degenerating into mysticism, or into a false asceticism, or into a kind of “illuminism.” And all these, of course, have made their appearance in history―there was much trouble in this respect during the Commonwealth under Cromwell. Certain sections of the Puritan movement were attacked by the devil along this line. Such people as the “Fifth Monarchy” men, and the people who came to be known as Quakers, are all illustrations of this. Their teaching, in general, was that nothing matters but what they call the Inner Light, the Spirit within you. Under the influence of the wiles of the devil, they tended to be carried off to such extremes that they lived solely on their feelings, on their impulses, on what they called their “leadings,” on impressions on their spirits. They say, “I suddenly felt; I was suddenly led; an impression was made upon my mind.”

This is a tendency for certain churches and individuals to fall into the same error at the present time. The result is that they tend to lose any sense of discrimination. They act solely on impulses, feelings, leadings, and impressions.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): We never rely with sufficient firmness on the Word of God, so long as we are led by our own feelings.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: They are not much interested in the written Word, the Scriptures. Their emphasis falls upon the Spirit, and they assert that He is ever in them to direct and guide them. They live entirely in the subjective realm, paying great attention to moods and feelings and states and impressions―they do not realize that the Word tells them to “prove” the spirits, to “test” the spirits, to examine them…These people turn a deaf ear to such warnings; the devil has pressed them so far that they are sure their guidance is infallible, and that if it is a strong impression it cannot be wrong.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Let us not, therefore, make too much of frames and feelings.

 

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Doing the Math on Time & Eternity

Psalm 90:1-4,10,12

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as one day; or as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night…

The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away…So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Children learn numbers as soon as they begin to prattle; and we do not need a teacher in arithmetic to enable us to count the length of a hundred upon our fingers. So much the fouler and more shameful is our stupidity in never comprehending the short term of our life.

JOHN SHOWER (1657-1715): O think a little, how inconsiderable a thing is the longest life of man on earth compared with an everlasting duration! The psalmist tells us, Psalm 39:5, “Thou hast made my days as an handbreadth, and mine age―my life, my time on earth―“is as nothing to thee;”―nothing, as compared with God’s duration, which is without beginning or end.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): A thousand years! This is a long stretch of time. How much may be crowded into it―the rise and fall of empires, the glory and obliteration of dynasties, the beginning and the end of elaborate systems of human philosophy, and countless events, all important to household and individual, which elude the pens of historians. Yet this period is to the Lord as nothing, even as time already gone…If a thousand years be to God as a single nightwatch, what must be the life-time of the Eternal!

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): If a thousand years be but as a day to the life of God, then as a year is to the life of man, so are three hundred and sixty-five thousand years to the life of God; and as seventy years are to the life of man, so are twenty-five million, five hundred and fifty thousand years to life of God. Yet still, since there is no proportion between time and eternity, we must dart our thoughts beyond all these, for years and days measure only the duration of created things.

JOHN SHOWER: If it had been said that a thousand millions of years are but as a minute, it would have been true. According to this computation, a thousand years as one day, suppose a man had been born five thousand years ago? He is in God’s sight as one born five days ago. If Adam, the first man, were now alive, he would not be six days old, by that reckoning.  And by the same account, he that has lived in the world sixty-two years has lived but an hour and a half.

C. H. SPURGEON: Before the Eternal, all the age of frail man is less than one ticking of a clock.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): This word ‘eternal’―it is a heavy word.

JOHN SHOWER: How useful and awful it may be, to make the comparison between the longest life and eternity…Old Jacob, when he passed one hundred and thirty years, said, “Few and evil are the days of the years of the life of my pilgrimage,” Genesis 47:9. What was that to Adam’s nine hundred and thirty years, after his creation in full strength and maturity? Or to Methuselah’s nine hundred and sixty years? But what a moment is that to the divine eternity?

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): This life, upon which every thing depends, is very brief: this is fearful. Look at the images of Scripture: a flower of the field; a flood; a watch in the night; a dream; a vapour.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): It is soon cut off, and we fly away.” That witness is indeed true.

JOHN SHOWER: The comparison of this life with the other, of time with eternity, whether in happiness or misery, is of so much moment and use, that it may serve so many excellent purposes, and produce such wise thoughts and reflections, that I wish we would consider the one and the other more seriously and frequently. How little a while we are to abide here, and after death we must abide forever in Abraham’s bosom, or in torments; with God in endless glory, or in everlasting fire with the devil and his angels.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Eternity to the godly is a day that has no sunset: eternity to the godless is a night that has no sunrise.

JOHN SHOWER: Upon the whole, who would not pray with David, that God would teach him to number his days, and value his little time, so as to apply his heart to wisdom, that he may walk in the way of life?

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): O God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): See this obvious difference between the Christian and the non-Christian? The non-Christian does everything he can not to think of the world beyond. That is the whole meaning of the pleasure mania of today. It is just a great conspiracy and effort to stop thinking, and especially to avoid thinking of death and the world to come―that is typical of the non-Christian; there is nothing he so hates as talking about death and eternity.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): Eternity―O that the sinner would study this word, methinks it would startle him out of his dead sleep! O that the gracious soul would study it, methinks it would revive him in his deepest agony!

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714):  The crosses and comforts of this present time would not make such an impression upon us as they do if we did but believe the things of eternity as we ought.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): We must not forget that the issues of Eternity are settled in Time.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.” We can never do that, except we number every day as our last day.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The great weight of eternity hangs upon the small wire of time.

J. C. RYLE: A mistake about your soul is a mistake for eternity…Sit down and think.

 

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The Wonder of the Babe in the Manger

Luke 2:8-14

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The shepherds knew with certainty that this was a work of God.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Had not the angel given them this direction, they would never have thought to have looked for, and found Him in such a place: and moreover, it might have been a stumbling to them, and an objection with them against His being Christ, the Lord, had they not been told beforehand where He was; but by this means this objection was prevented, and this stumbling block was removed out of the way, and they were prepared to see Him, embrace, and believe in Him, in this mean condition.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): By being in a manger He was declared to be the king of the poor. They, doubtless, were at once able to recognize His relationship to them, from the position in which they found Him. I believe it excited feelings of the tenderest brotherly kindness in the minds of the shepherds, when the angel said—“This shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the child wrapped in swaddling-clothes and lying in a manger.” In the eyes of the poor, imperial robes excite no affection, a man in their own garb attracts their confidence. With what pertinacity will workingmen cleave to a leader of their own order, believing in him because he knows their toils, sympathizes in their sorrows, and feels an interest in all their concerns…

I think I hear the shepherds comment on the manger-birth, “Ah!” said one to his fellow, “then he will not be like Herod the tyrant; he will remember the manger and feel for the poor; poor helpless infant, I feel a love for him even now, what miserable accommodation this cold world yields its Saviour; it is not a Caesar that is born to-day; he will never trample down our fields with his armies, or slaughter our flocks for his courtiers, he will be the poor man’s friend, the people’s monarch; according to the words of our shepherd-king, he shall judge the poor of the people; he shall save the children of the needy.’ Surely the shepherds, and such as they—the poor of the earth, perceived at once that here was the plebeian king; noble in descent, but still as the Lord hath called Him, “one chosen out of the people,” Psalm 89:19

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): How unlikely would it seem to a merely human judgement, that the Saviour of sinners, the promised Messiah―the Lord of all―should be a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, and lying in a manger. Yet thus it was―thus He emptied Himself―and thus it was foretold of Him, that He should be despised for the poverty of His appearance.

C. H. SPURGEON: I think it was intended thus to show forth His humiliation. He came, according to prophecy, to be “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;” He was to be “without form or comeliness,” “a root out of a dry ground,” Isaiah 53:2,3. Would it have been fitting that the man who was to die naked on the cross should be robed in purple at His birth? Would it not have been inappropriate that the Redeemer who was to be buried in a borrowed tomb should be born anywhere but in the humblest shed, and housed anywhere but in the most ignoble manner?

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): When we saw Him wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger, we were tempted to say, “Surely this cannot be the Son of God.” But see His birth attended, as it is here, with a choir of angels, and we shall say, “Surely it can be no other than the Son of God, concerning whom it was said, when He was “brought into the world, Let all the angels of God worship him,” Hebrews 1:6.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): You see here, although Christ lay in the humble manger, yet nothwithstanding, there were some circumstances, that showed the greatness of His person, that He was no ordinary person; He lay in the manger indeed, but the wise men came and adored Him; and here is a host of angels that praise Him.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): For unto us a child is born,” Isaiah 7:14. This was “good tidings of great joy to all people,” Luke 2:10. Angels first brought it, and were glad of such an errand. Still they pry into this mystery and can never sufficiently wonder to see that the great God [should be] a little child; that He who ruleth the stars should be sucking at the breast; that the eternal Word should not be able to speak a word.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Nevertheless, in the manger He was “Christ the Lord,” Luke 2:11!

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): That babe, lying in the manger―a helpless babe, that can’t move, has to be carried, has to be attended to, there He is lying in a manger. What is this? Well, you see, this how the apostle Paul describes it―look at that babe, and this is what he says: “All the fullness of the Godhead dwelleth in Him bodily,” Colossians 2:9―it’s all there! In that one little babe! All the fullness of the Godhead, all the glorious purposes of God, they’re all there in that helpless little babe in the manger.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): Filling the world He lies in a manger!

C. H. SPURGEON: Never let us for a moment hesitate as to the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His Deity is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. It may be we shall never fully understand how God and man could unite in one person, for who can by searching find out God? These great mysteries of godliness, these “deep things of God,” are beyond our measurement. Our little skiff might be lost if we ventured so far out upon this vast, this infinite ocean, as to lose sight of the shore of plainly revealed truth. But let it remain as a matter of faith that Jesus Christ, even He who lay in Bethlehem’s manger and was carried in a woman’s arms, and lived a suffering life and died on a malefactor’s cross, was, nevertheless, “God over all, blessed forever, upholding all things by the word of His power,” Romans 9:5; Hebrews 1:3.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The Babe of Bethlehem, and all the Godhead! it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell―it’s all in Him―the babe lying in the manger, but He is the Saviour of the world, and He will reign from pole to pole, and His people, now despised and insignificant, shall reign with Him, and rejoice with Him, and in His holy presence, forever and forever.

 

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King Herod’s Murderous Mentor

Revelation 12:1-5; Matthew 2:13

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: and she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

Behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): A dragon the devil is called for his sharp-sightedness―as also for his mischievousness to mankind; and lastly for his serpentine subtilty, Genesis 3:1.

THOMAS ADAMS (1583-1656): Herod was a fit type of the devil. The devil is like Herod, both for his subtlety and cruelty…The cruelty of Herod was monstrous. He slew all those he could suspect to issue from the line of David―all the infants of Bethlehem under two years old, at one slaughter, Matthew 2:16.

JOHN TRAPP: By his imps and instruments―such as Herod was―Satan exerciseth his malice against the saints, lending them his seven heads to plot, and his ten horns to push; but all in vain.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Satan and his emissaries will do their utmost, though all in vain, to stop the work of God.  Thus it was in the first ages, thus it is in our days, and thus it will be till time shall be no more.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Is the Devil a living reality, or is he nothing more than a figment of the imagination? Is the word “Satan” merely a synonym for wickedness, or does it stand for a concrete entity?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981):  At this point we must assert our faith. We shall be regarded as fools. Any man who believes in the devil today is regarded as almost unintelligent, yet if you believe the Bible you must believe in [the existence] of this tremendous person and his awful power.

A. A. HODGE (1823-1886): How may it be proved that Satan is a personal being, and not a mere personification of evil?

A. W. PINK: No unbiased mind can read carefully the fourth chapter of Matthew without coming to the conclusion that we have recorded there a real conflict between two persons—our Lord Jesus Christ and Satan.>

EDWARD REYNOLDS (1599-1676): Satan hath three titles given in the Scripture, setting forth his malignity against the church of God; a dragon, to note his malice; a serpent, to note his subtlety; and a lion, to note his strength.

A. A. HODGE: What are the names by which Satan is distinguished, and what is their import?

A. W. PINK: Thirty-five times he is denominated “The Devil,” which means “the Accuser,” or “Slanderer,” accusing the saints before God and traducing the character of God before men. Fifty-two times he is called “Satan,” which means “Enemy” or “Adversary.” He is God’s enemy and man’s adversary.

A. A. HODGE: What do the Scriptures teach concerning the relation of Satan to other evil spirits and to our world?

A. W. PINK: He is termed “The Prince of this world,” John 14:30, which defines his position in relation to our earth. He is named “Beelzebub,” Matthew 12:27, which regards him as the head of the demons. He is spoken of as the “Wicked One,” Matthew 13:19 which refers to him as the prime mover of all wickedness. He is styled “Apollyon,” that is “Destroyer,” Revelation 9:11, which links him with the Bottomless Pit.

A. A. HODGE: Other evil spirits are called “his angels,” Matthew 25:41; and he is called “Prince of Devils,” Matthew 9:34; and “Prince of the powers of the Air,” and “Prince of Darkness,” Ephesians 6:12. This indicates that he is the master spirit of evil…Throughout all the various books of Scripture Satan is always consistently spoken of as a person, and personal attributes are predicated of him. Such passages as Matthew 4 and John 8:44, “he was a murderer from the beginning,” are decisive―He is termed a “Liar, and the father of it,” because he is the inveterate opposer of the truth; a “roaring lion,” I Peter 5:8; ” a “sinner from the beginning,” 1 John 3:8; an “accuser,” Revelation 12:10; a “deceiver,” Revelation 20:10; a “serpent,” Isaiah 27:1; and a “tormentor,”Matthew 18:34―These and other titles of Satan are meaningless unless he is a personal being.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I believe Satan to exist for two reasons: first, the Bible says so; and second, I’ve done business with him.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Those of us who have passed through any spiritual conflicts know that Satan is a terribly real personage.

A. A. HODGE: He “transforms himself into an angel of light,” 2 Corinthians 11:14. If he can deceive or persuade he uses “wiles,” Ephesians 6:11; “snares,” 1 Timothy 3:7; “depths,” Revelation 2:24; he “blinds the mind,” 2 Corinthians 4:4; “leads captive the will,” 2 Timothy 2:26; and so “deceives the whole world,” Revelation 12:9. If he cannot persuade he uses “fiery darts,” Ephesians 6:16; and “buffetings,” 2 Corinthians 12:7. As examples of his influence in tempting men to sin, the Scriptures cite the case of Adam and Eve, Genesis 3; of David, 1 Chronicles 21:4; of Judas, Luke 22:3; Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:3, and the temptation of our blessed Lord.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Whatever power God permitteth Satan to have―yet it is limited; he cannot hurt or molest any further than God pleaseth.  He had power to set Christ on a pinnacle of the temple, but not to cast Him down. He had a power to touch Job’s skin, but a charge not to endanger his life: “Behold, he is in thine hand, but save his life,” Job 2:6. God sets bounds and limits to the malice of Satan, that he is not able to compass all his designs.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): In preserving the life of his Son, God maintained such reserve, as to give some indications of His heavenly power, and yet not to make it so manifest as to prevent it from being concealed under the appearance of weakness: for the full time of glorifying Christ openly was not yet come. The angel predicts an event which was hidden, and unknown to men. That is an evident proof of divine guidance. But the angel orders Joseph to defend the life of the child by flight and exile―we are here taught, that God has more than one way of preserving His own people. Sometimes He makes astonishing displays of His power; while at other times He employs dark coverings or shadows, from which feeble rays of it escape.

THOMAS MANTON: Remember, Satan is in God’s hand.

RICHARD SIBBES (1577-1635): Satan knows that nothing can prevail against Christ, or those that rely on His power.

 

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Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

Matthew 15:21-23

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

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

But he answered her not a word.

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

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

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

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

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

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

WILLIAM JAY: When are we to knock?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Lifting Up Our Hearts & Eyes to God in Heaven

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Guardian Angels

Hebrews 1:5-7,13,14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Solemn Fast

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Unpayable Price of Redemption

1 Corinthians 6:20

Ye are bought with a price.

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

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

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

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

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

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Not only did He offer His body as the price of our reconciliation with God, but in His soul also He endured the punishments due to us; and thus He became, as Isaiah speaks, a man of sorrows, Isaiah 53:3.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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