Missionary Requirements Part 2: The Missionary At Work

Mark 16:15
       Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

HUDSON TAYLOR (1832-1905): The “Great Commission” is not an option to be considered, but a command to be obeyed.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The actual constitution, establishment, and maintenance of this kingdom belong to the Lord; yet He will use human means in the whole administration of His government. His Word must be distributed, and that Word must be preached. Hence, under God, bibles and missionaries are the grand means to be employed in things concerning His kingdom. Bibles must be printed, sent out, and dispersed; missionaries, called of God to the work, and filled with the Divine Spirit, must be equipped, sent out, and maintained; therefore expenses must necessarily be incurred. Here the people now of the kingdom must be helpers. It is the duty, therefore, of every soul professing Christianity to lend a helping hand to send forth the Bible; and wherever the Bible is sent, to send a missionary, full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, to enforce its truths.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Yet we may not omit mentioning a frequent, and often involuntary, drawing of the mind to the great subject of missions, the awakening of a lively interest in their success, the granting of the spirit of special prayer for their increase and prosperity.

ROBERT MOFFAT (1795-1883): My thoughts became entirely occupied with the inquiry how I could serve the missionary cause. No missionary society would receive me. I had never been to college or to an academy. I, however, began to devise plans. I had been for a short time a sailor, and I resolved to go to sea again and get landed on some island or foreign shore, where I might teach poor heathen to know the Saviour.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): It is very remarkable, that in the book of life, we find some almost of all kinds of occupations, who notwithstanding served God in their respective generations, and shone as so many lights in the world.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER: It is certainly true that farmers, printers, mechanics of many kinds, teachers, male and female, and physicians are required to perfect the organization, and especially to the enlargement of missionary enterprise.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Paul, having in his youth learned to make tents, did not by disuse lose the art. Though he was entitled to a maintenance from the churches he had planted, and from the people to whom he preached, yet he worked at his calling to get bread, Acts 18:3.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I should advise every man to engage in Christian work, but not to give up all other occupations and live by the pulpit. All are called to be disciples and witnesses, but there needs to be a special call to be an apostle. 

ADAM CLARKE: In a thousand instances an apostolic preacher, who goes to the wilderness to seek the lost sheep, will be exposed to hunger and cold, and other inconveniences; he must therefore resign himself to God, depending on his providence for the necessaries of life. If God have sent him, He is bound to support him, and will do it: anxiety therefore, in him, is a double crime, as it insinuates a bad opinion of the Master who has employed him. Every missionary should make himself master of this subject.

AMY CARMICHAEL (1867-1951): The great lesson we can’t learn too well is that of adaptability—the faculty of fitting oneself quite happily into one’s circumstances, be they ever so uncomfortable and changeable…I would advise missionary candidates to practise balancing themselves on pinpoints—it will come in useful!

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): We want men of good plain sense in their heads and plenty of grace in their hearts―men who can make a good wheelbarrow and talk to the inquisitive heathen about the love of Christ, all the time they are knocking it together.

D. L. MOODY: Men who can think on their heels.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Our business is to preach the gospel and to bring this message of salvation to all.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Our missionary societies need continually to be reminded of this; they get so busy with translations, so diligently employed with the different operations of civilization, with the founding of stores, with the encouragement of commerce among a people, that they seem to neglect—at least in some degree—that which is the great and master weapon of the minister, the foolishness of preaching by which it pleases God to save them that believe.

WILLIAM CAREY (1761-1834): Is not the commission of our Lord still binding upon us? Can we not do more than now we are doing?

C. H. SPURGEON: There is not enough preaching by ministers and missionaries. They sit down interpreting, establishing schools, and doing this, that, and the other. We have nothing to find fault with in this; but that is not the labour to which they should devote themselves; their office is preaching, and if they preached more, they might hope for more success…Moffat preached wherever he went, and his labours were owned. Now we have our churches, our printing presses, about which a great deal of money is spent. This is doing good, but it is not doing the good. We are not using the means which God has ordained, and we cannot therefore expect to prosper.

JOHN BERRIDGE (1716-1793): I preach only at two times—in season and out of season, 2 Timothy 4:2. Such are my orders, and my Master has also said, “preach the gospel to every creature.”

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): The first thing to be gained from people is their heart, and for this it is necessary to preach the gospel.

C. H. SPURGEON: When the Moravian missionaries first went to Greenland, they tried to tell the Greenlanders about the existence of a God, and they spent some months in such preliminary subjects before they came to the gospel; but they never gained the attention of the people. Discourses upon such necessary subjects as the Godhead, and the immortality of the soul, and the like, were flavourless to the Greenlanders. It happened one day that one of the missionaries, translating the gospel according to John, read out these words: God so loved the world, that he gave his Only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. “What is that?” said the Greenlanders. “What is that? We never heard the like of that. Why have you not told us that before?” Nothing had been done till the missionaries came to the gospel itself. Then they reached the Greenlander’s heart—awakened his dormant intellect, and led him to Jesus.

HUDSON TAYLOR (1832-1905): Not by discussions nor by argument, but by lifting up Christ shall we draw men unto Him.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): This was the grand work of Paul and all the apostles; for this was our Lord’s command: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel.” Oh, brethren, this is our great work!

WILLIAM CAREY: My business is preaching the gospel, and I cobble shoes to pay expenses.

 

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Missionary Requirements Part 1: The True Missionary Spirit

Acts 13:13; 2 Timothy 4:10
       Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.
       Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica.

ADONIRAM JUDSON (1788-1850): The motto of every missionary, whether preacher, printer, or schoolmaster, ought to be “Devoted for life.”

WILLIAM S. PLUMER (1802-1880): Truth requires the statement that persons have gone on foreign missions who were certainly never called to that work.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): The idea of being a missionary, abroad or at home, may feed the vanity of some minds; and, indeed, there is no man that is proof against such temptations.

WILLIAM S. PLUMER: It is necessary, for the comfort of the honest inquirer and for the glory of God, that it be distinctly stated that perhaps all who have erred in going abroad have been influenced by some wrong motive, or some want of reflection, as they themselves might have learned, if they had with sufficient care examined the whole matter.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): We all know what the missionary spirit is, and yet we could not any of us exactly describe it. It is a sort of thing that sets a man longing to see others saved, and makes him pant especially for those who have no means of grace in their own lands, that they may have those means carried to them, that they may be saved.

ARCHIBALD ALEXANDER (1772-1851): Before conversion, the soul is sordidly selfish, but no sooner does this change take place than the heart begins to be enlarged with an expansive benevolence. The whole world is embraced in its charity. “Good will to man” is a remarkable characteristic of the “new creature;” and this intense desire for the salvation of our fellow-men, and ardent wish that they may all become interested in that Saviour whom we have found to be so precious, is the true source of the missionary spirit.

HENRY MARTYN (1781-1812): The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become.

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): Although I was still very weak and ignorant in faith, I longed to win souls for Christ. Every month I circulated about three hundred missionary papers, distributed many tracts, and wrote letters to some of my former companions in sin.

C. H. SPURGEON: The very first service which my youthful heart rendered to Christ was the placing of tracts in envelopes, and then sealing them up, that I might send them, with the hope that, by choosing pertinent tracts, applicable to persons I knew, God would bless them. And I well remember taking other tracts, and distributing them in certain districts in the town of Newmarket, going from house to house, and telling, in humble language, the things of the Kingdom of God.

COUNT NIKOLAUS VON ZINZINDORF (1700-1760): I have but one passion―it is He, it is He alone. The world is the field and the field is the world; and henceforth that country shall be my home where I can be most used in winning souls for Christ.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): “Go ye into all the world,” Mark 16:15. Well then, you say, “Where am I to go?”
       Oh, that is very easy…There is nothing easier in the world than to know where you ought to begin missionary work. You have it in the first chapter of Acts and the eighth verse: Ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem―that is the city in which they were; and in all Judea―that is the State in which their city was; and in Samaria―that is the adjoining State; and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
       If you want to begin missionary work, you have to begin it in your home-town, and my friends if you are not interested in the salvation of the Chinese [here], then you are not really interested in the salvation of the Chinese in China, and you are only fooling yourselves if you think you are! Oh, I am calling a spade a spade tonight. If you are anxious about the souls of the Chinese in China, then you will be equally anxious about the souls of the Chinese here!―and I wonder how many of you have bought a thousand or a hundred Gospels of John, and then have gone round to the houses in the Chinese quarter and have said, “My friend, this is a little gift that will do your soul good if you will read it.” Ah, my friends, we are playing at missions, it is just a farce, that is all! “Go ye” is the first command. Go where? To those around me first.

C. H. SPURGEON: Rest assured that no missionary ardour really burns in the breast of that man who does not love the souls of those who live in the same house and dwell in the same neighbourhood. Give me that man for a missionary of whom it is said, that when he took a lodging in a house, all the other inhabitants were brought to God within six months; or he was a son, and his father was unconverted, but he gave the Lord no rest till he saw his parent saved; or he was a tradesman, and while he was pushing his business earnestly, he always found time to be an evangelist. That is the man who will maintain missionary fervour alive at home, and that is the man who will help to promote missionary effort abroad.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I made it a rule that I wouldn’t let a day pass without speaking to some one about their soul’s salvation; and, if they didn’t hear the gospel from the lips of others, there will be three hundred and sixty-five in a year that shall hear the gospel from my lips.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): God forbid that I should travel with anybody a quarter of an hour without speaking of Christ to them.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There is no better test of our spiritual state and condition than our missionary zeal, our concern for lost souls. That is always the thing that divides people who are just theoretical and intellectual Christians from those who have a living and a vital spiritual life.

C. H. SPURGEON: Every Christian here is either a missionary or an impostor. Recollect that. You either try to spread abroad the kingdom of Christ, or else you do not love Him at all…If every one of you Christians would every day make Christ known to somebody, what a missionary organization we should be!

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Let me look at my condition, my resources, my opportunities. How can I glorify God and promote the welfare of my fellow-creatures? Is there not a Bible to circulate? Are there not missionaries to support? Are there none perishing for lack of knowledge that I can myself instruct? Have I no irreligious neighbours to reclaim?

 

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Ask Yourself: What Really Motivates Me to Worship God?

Malachi 3:14
       What profit is it that we have kept his ordinance?

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Self is the chief end of every natural man…It is natural for man to worship God for self; self-righteousness is the rooted aim of man in his worship since his revolt from God, and being sensible it is not be found in his natural actions, he seeks for it in his moral and religious [acts]…Self is the measure of a world of seeming religious actions; while God seems to be the object, and His law the motive, self is the rule and end, Zechariah 7:5.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): It is not the matter of any duty that distinguishes the sound and unsound professors; but the motives, designs, and ends of the soul in them.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): May we not learn from hence that we should always have an end in view in repairing to the ordinances of religion, and be able to answer the question, why we attend the ministrations of the word?

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Some present themselves to God, as poor men offer a present to a great person: not to honour him, but to gain for themselves a reward richer than their gift―“What profit is it that we have kept his ordinance?” Some worship Him, intending thereby to wipe off their scores and satisfy their debts; as though a spiritual wrong could be recompensed with a bodily service, and an infinite Spirit be outwitted and appeased by a carnal flattery. Self is the spirit of carnality; to pretend a homage to God, and intend only the advantage of self, is rather to mock Him than worship Him.

J. H. M. d’AUBIGNÉ (1794-1872): The sovereign law given by God to all His creatures is, to love Him above all things, Deuteronomy 6:5. Now if a man, in doing what God commands, does it not from love to God, but from love to self, will God approve of his presuming to prefer himself to His infinite majesty, and will there be nothing vicious in an act containing indirect rebellion against his supremacy?

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Whatever is devoid of love is of no account in the sight of God.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Whatsoever any man aims at in worship above the glory of God, that he forms as an idol to himself instead of God, and sets up a golden image; God counts not this as a worship. The offerings made in the wilderness for forty years together, God esteemed as not offered to Him, Amos 5:25: “Have you offered to me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel?” They did it not to God, but to themselves; for their own security, and attainment of the possession of the promised land.

JOSEPH ALLEINE (1634-1668): Wrong motives in holy duties―this was the bane of the Pharisees. Oh how many a poor soul is undone by this, and drops into hell before he discerns his mistake! He performs his “good duties” and so thinks all is well, but does not perceive that he is actuated by carnal motives all the while. It is too true that even with the really sanctified many carnal ends will often creep in; but they are the matter of their hatred and humiliation, and never come to be habitually prevalent with them, and bear the greatest sway. But when the main thing that ordinarily moves a man to religious duties is some carnal end—as to satisfy his conscience, to get the reputation of being religious, to be seen of men, to show his own gifts and talents, to avoid the reproach of being a profane and irreligious person, or the like—this reveals an unsound heart. Oh Christians, if you would avoid self-deceit, see that you mind not only your actions but your motives.

HENRY FOSTER (1760-1844): The unregenerate man does not sift his motives, and, therefore, is satisfied with himself; but the spiritual man, the more progress he makes, then more deeply does he see the corruption of his motives; and the more his need of Christ.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK: Such base scents will rise up in our worship from the body of death which cleaves to us, and mix themselves with our services, as weeds with the fish in the net. David, therefore, after his people had offered willingly to the temple, begs of God that their “hearts might be prepared to him,” I Chronicles 29:18…Without the heart it is no worship. It is a stage play.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Love to God evidences sincerity. The upright love thee, Song of Solomon 1:4. Many a child of God fears he is a hypocrite. Do you love God?―To love God is a better sign of sincerity than to fear Him. The Israelites feared God’s justice: When he slew them, they sought him, and inquired early after God, Psalm 78:34. But what did all this come to? Nevertheless, they did but flatter him with their mouth, and lied to him with their tongue; for their heart was not right with him, verses 36, 37. That repentance is no better than flattery, which arises only from fear of God’s judgments, and has no love mixed with it. Loving God evidences that God has the heart, and if the heart be His, that will command all the rest.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Where love is, duty follows of course, and is easy and natural, and flows from a principle of gratitude.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): I am tired of the word “duty”—tired of hearing, duty, duty, duty! Men go to church because it is their duty. They go to prayer-meeting because it is their duty…Suppose I told my wife that I loved her because it was my duty—what would she say? Every year I go up to Connecticut to visit my aged mother. Suppose when I go next time, I should tell her that I knew she was old, and that she was living on borrowed time; that I knew she had always done a great deal for me, and that I came to see her every year because it was my duty. Don’t you think she would say, “Well, then, my son, you needn’t take the trouble to come again”? Let us strike for a higher plane.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Unless the soul shall truly love, and really adore, and sincerely bow, our worship will be as unacceptable as though it were formal and outward…Dost thou love God, not with lip-language, but with heart-service? Dost thou love to pay Him homage?

ABRAHAM BOOTH (1734-1806): No worship is agreeable to the Messiah’s kingdom, which is not animated by heavenly affections.

WILLIAM BATES (1625-1699): Therefore let us exercise this duty―this affection, that so we may be truly wise―wise for ourselves, and wise towards God.

C. H. SPURGEON: Search yourselves, then, and see whether you love God or no. Put your hands on your hearts, and as in the sight of Him whose eyes are as a flame of fire, answer to Him; make Him your confessor at this hour; answer this one question: “Lovest thou me?”

 

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The Peevish, Discontented, Nagging Wife

Proverbs 21:9; Proverbs 19:13; Proverbs 27:15; Proverbs 21:19
       It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house.
       The contentions of a wife are a continual dropping…A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.
       It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Christian women! Think not these Proverbs unworthy of your attention.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): What a great affliction it is to a man to have a brawling scolding woman for his wife, who upon every occasion, and often upon no occasion, breaks out into a passion, and chides either him or those about her, is fretful to herself and furious to her children and servants, and, in both, vexatious to her husband.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): She is never at rest, always agitated.

MATTHEW HENRY: A cross peevish wife is a great affliction: her contentions are continual; every day, and every hour in the day, she finds some occasion to make herself and those about her uneasy. Those that are accustomed to chide never want something or other to chide at; but it is “a continual dropping,” that is, a continual vexation, as it is to have a house so much out of repair that it rains in and a man cannot lie dry in it.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): A quarrel between a man and his wife is, as to the torment which it inflicts, the nearest thing to a quarrel between the man and his own conscience. Next to himself, she lies closest to him, and the pain of a disagreement is proportioned accordingly.

CHARLES BRIDGES: A solitary life without would be better than a quarrelsome life within. Some intervals of comfort might be abroad; none at home. Infinitely greater is this trial, when it comes from a man’s own flesh; when she, who ought to “a crown to her husband,” becomes “rottenness to his bones,” Proverbs 12:4; when she that his bound to be his choicest treasure, becomes his piercing scourge. It cannot be but a miserable thing to behold, that yet they are of necessity compelled to live together, which yet cannot be in quiet together.

J. R. MILLER (1840-1912): A woman’s voice is a wonderful revealer of her character.

ADAM CLARKE: Vain, empty women are those that make the most noise.

J. R. MILLER: The “law of kindness” is on the tongue of the excellent woman, Proverbs 31:26. She has trained her speech to gentle tones.

MATTHEW HENRY: The finest ornament of Christian women is a meek and quiet spirit, a tractable easy temper of mind, void of passion, pride, and immoderate anger, discovering itself in a quiet obliging behaviour towards their husbands and families.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): Earth has nothing gentler than the female heart in which piety dwells.

CHARLES BRIDGES: Her glory is departed from her, should she lose “the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit,” lovely in the sight of man, and “in the sight of God of great price,” I Peter 3:4…The brawling woman, revolting against her Maker’s rule of subjection, is no less a tormentor to herself than to her husband―the intent of the Divine ordinance is here contravened. For it would seem “good for the man to be alone” rather than that his “help-meet” (Genesis 2:18) should turn to be his hindrance, and his curse.

WILLIAM ARNOT: Specifically, this contention is a continual dropping.
      Let a wife note well that the resulting mischief does not depend on the degree of furiousness which may characterize the conflict. It depends on length rather than loudness. A perennial drop may do more to drive a man to extremities than a sudden flood. A little for ever is more terrible to the imagination than a great outpouring at once. A “continual dropping” is said to have been one of the engines which the wit of man contrived when it was put upon the stretch for the means of torturing his fellows. The victim was so placed that a drop of water continued to fall at regular intervals on his naked head. With length of time, and no hope of relief, the agony becomes excruciating, and either the patient’s reason or his life gives way.
      Let a wife, or a husband, beware. Don’t make home miserable by gloomy looks and taunting discontented words. Don’t deceive yourself with the pleas that your complaints were never immoderate: if your moderate complaints never cease, they will eat through a man’s life at last…Though words of discontent should never rise into the violence of a passion―although they should never be heavier than drops of water―yet, if they continue to drop, drop―dropping so that he sees no prospect of an end, his heart will either be hardened into indifference, or broken into despair. Love cannot be sustained by dislike, administered in moderate quantities; if it does not get positive, manifest, gleaming love to live upon, it will die.

CHARLES BRIDGES: Whether the woman lusts for rule, or repines under the obligation to submit, either principle breaks the rank, in which God has placed her. Occasions always present themselves for the display of this unhappy temper. After the attempts to soothe and pacify her, the “return of clouds after rain” betokens more showers, and dispels the hope which a passing sunbeam may have raised. Unrestrained by Divine grace, she becomes her husband’s torment, and her own shame.

MATTHEW HENRY: It is better to be alone than to be joined to one who, instead of being a meet-help, is a great hindrance to the comfort of life.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Be resolved not to be of a contentious spirit.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): In June, 1742, I rode over to a neighbouring town, to wait upon a justice of the peace, a man of candour and understanding; before whom―I was informed―their angry neighbours had carried a whole wagon-load of [recent Methodist converts]. But when he asked what they had done, there was a deep silence; for that was a point their conductors had forgot. At length one said, “Why, they pretended to be better than other people; and besides, they prayed from morning to night.”
      “But have they done nothing besides?” asked the justice.
      “Yes, sir,” said an old man, “an’it please your worship, they have converted my wife. Till she went among them, she had such a tongue! And now she is as quiet as a lamb.”
      “Carry them back, carry them back,” replied the justice, “and let them convert all the scolds in the town.”

 

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The Spiritual Checks & Balances of Proper Bible Study

John 17:17; John 10:35
       Thy Word is truth.
       The Scripture cannot be broken.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The Scripture “cannot be broken,” or be made null and void; whatever that says, it is true.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Nothing which is written therein can be censured or rejected.

JOHN GILL: There is no contradicting it, or objecting to it. It is a Jewish way of speaking, much used in the Talmud; when one doctor has produced an argument, or instance, in any point of debate, another says, איכא למיפרך―“it may be broken;” or objected to, in such and such a manner, and be refuted: but the Scripture cannot be broken―that is, it is not to be objected to, and there can be no confutation of that.

ROBERT HALDANE (1764-1842): On what principle but that of verbal inspiration of Scripture, can we explain our Lord’s words “the Scripture cannot be broken”?―By often referring to the “Scriptures,” which He declared “cannot be broken,” the Lord Jesus Christ has given His full attestation to the whole of them as the unadulterated Word of God…He told the Jews that they made “the Word of God of none effect through their traditions,” Mark 7:13. By calling them “the Word of God,” He indicated that these Scriptures proceeded from God Himself.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Christian simplicity will teach us to receive every Divine Truth upon this formal ground―that it is the Word of God.

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

JOHN WESLEY: Consequently, all Scripture is infallibly true.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): The truths revealed in Scripture are of two sorts: some are plain doctrines, fit for the entertainment of novices, and may be called the porch and entrance; others are deep mysteries, to exercise the wits of the strongest.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The Bible would not be the Book of God if it had not deep places here and there which man has no line to fathom.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Plain places are for our nourishment, hard places for our exercise; these are to be masticated as meat for men, those to be drunk as milk for babes…Some things in God’s Word are folded up in obscurity, to tame the pride of our natures, and to sharpen the edge of our industry, in searching the Scriptures, and seeking out the sense, by comparing one place with another.

RICHARD ROGERS (1550-1618): It is true indeed, that many things in them are hard to be understood, which the wicked pervert, as Peter saith, to their own destruction, 2 Peter 3:16. But where care is joined with gifts of knowledge, there may be seen a most sweet agreement betwixt them, and no one either to jar with another, or any one to be frivolous, or absurd, as some are bold to affirm, but “seven times tried in the fire, and pure,” and holy, as the Psalmist saith, Psalm 12:6.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Scripture is the best interpreter of itself.

THOMAS MANTON: Nothing is more profitable to dissolve doubts and objections raised from Scripture, than to compare one Scripture with another. For Scripture is not opposite to Scripture. There is a fair agreement and harmony between the truths therein compared; and one place doth not cross another, but clear and explain another.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Scripture is the best expounder of Scripture. The diamond is not to be cut except with a diamond. We shall not understand one passage in the Word without another to explain it. That book has keys in its own self for all its own locks, and keys that fit every ward…A reference Bible is the best commentator in the world; and the most heavenly exposition is the searching out of kindred texts, and comparing their meaning.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): “Comparing spiritual things with spiritual,” I Corinthians 2:13—one part of revelation with another—In Paul’s epistles there is that which is hard to be understood; but to those who, being well-versed in the Scriptures, know how to compare spiritual things with spiritual, they will be easy and safe.

JOHN ROBINSON (1575-1625): Like as the lamps in the golden candlestick did one help another’s light, so doth one place of holy Scripture, another’s. And though a thing be found in one place, to insist upon it, in a difference, as to neglect others, is the highway to error and to lose the right sense, by breaking the scripture’s golden chain, whose links are all fastened together.

CHARLES BRIDGES: So wisely has God linked together the several parts of His system, that we can receive no portion soundly, except in connection with the whole. The accuracy of any view is more than suspicious, that serves to put a forced construction upon Scripture, to dislocate its connection, or to throw important truths into the shade. Apparently contradictory statements are in fact only balancing truths; each correcting its opposite, and, like the antagonal muscles, contributing to the strength and completeness of the frame. Every heresy probably stands upon some insulated text or some exaggerated truth, pressed beyond “the proportion of faith”—They are mostly based on partial or disjointed statements of truth. Truth separated from truth becomes error.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): Compare Scripture with Scripture. False doctrines, like false witnesses, agree not among themselves.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): There is nothing so dangerous as to exaggerate a part of truth into the whole of truth…Scripture, you see, must be interpreted by Scripture; we must never interpret Scripture in such a manner as to contradict other Scriptures―if our interpretation of any one of these things contradicts the plain and obvious teaching of Scripture at another point, again it is obvious that our interpretation has gone astray. Scripture must be taken and compared with Scripture. There is no contradiction in Biblical teaching.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): There is not in the Bible a single essential truth that is not comparatively plain.

JOHN KNOX (1514-1572): The Word of God is plain in itself. If there appear any obscurity in one place, the Holy Ghost, which is never contrarious to Himself, explaineth the same more clearly in other places; so that there can remain no doubt, but unto such as obstinately will remain ignorant.

ANDREW FULLER (1754-1815): There is such a harmony in Divine truth, that a proper view of any one branch of it will lead on to a discovery of others.

 

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Good Works in Their Proper Scriptural Place

Ephesians 2:8; James 2:14-26
       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.
       What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
       Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): Does not James here contradict Paul’s doctrine in the matter of justification?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): James never intended, for a moment, nor do any of his words lead us into such a belief, that there can be any merit whatever in any good works of ours. After we have done all, if we could do all, we should only have done what we were bound to do. Surely there is no merit in a man’s paying what he owes; no great merit in a servant who has his wages for doing what he is paid for…The fact is, James and Paul are perfectly reconcilable, and they are viewing truth from different standpoints.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The justification of which Paul speaks is different from that spoken of by James; the one speaks of our persons being justified before God, the other speaks of our faith being justified before men: “Show me thy faith by thy works,” says James―“let thy faith be justified in the eyes of those that behold thee by thy works;” but Paul speaks of justification in the sight of God, who justifies those only that believe in Jesus, and purely on account of the redemption that is in Him. Thus we see that our persons are justified before God by faith, but our faith is justified before men by works. This is so plainly the scope and design of the apostle James that he is but confirming what Paul, in other places, says of his faith, that it is a laborious faith, and a “faith working by love,” Galatians 5:6; I Thessalonians 1:3; Titus 3:8; and many other places.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): We must come to good works by faith, and not to faith by good works.

R. L. DABNEY (1820-1898): While our works are naught as a ground of merit for justification, they are all-important as evidences that we are justified.

C. H. SPURGEON: Good works are useful as evidences of grace. The Antinomian says, “But I do not require evidences; I can live without them.” This is unreasonable. Do you see yonder clock? That is the evidence of the time of day. The hour would be precisely the same if we had not that evidence. Still, we find the clock of great use. So we say, good works are the best evidence of spiritual life in the soul. Is it not written, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren?” Loving the brethren is a good work. Again, “If any man abide in me, he shall bring forth fruit.” Fruits of righteousness are good works, and they are evidences that we abide in Christ…Our good works must flow from our union with Christ by virtue of our faith in Him.

HUGH LATIMER (1483-1555): We must first be made good before we can do good; we must first be made just before our works can please God―for when we are justified by faith in Christ, then come good works.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): When God’s children are once planted in Christ, they begin then to bud. When Matthew was converted, he followed Christ; he made a feast to Christ, there is his bounty; he invited the publicans and sinners to Christ, there is his charity. So Job feared God, and eschewed evil. Cornelius prayed, and, with his prayers, his alms-deeds ascended up to heaven. Dorcas was a disciple full of good works.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Dorcas was constantly employed in doing good…she was very kind and beneficent to the poor, she wrought with her hands much for their sakes.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Good works have their proper place. They justify our faith, though not our persons; they follow it, and evidence our justification in the sight of men.

JOHN GILL: Ye see then how that by works a man is justified.”―Not as causes procuring his justification, but as effects declaring it.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): There is, therefore, no contradiction between the apostles.

C. H. SPURGEON: Secondly, we think good works are the witnesses or testimony to other people of the truth of what we believe…and a new-born creature—the man created in Christ—must preach Jesus Christ wherever he goes. This is the use of good works. He will preach, not with his mouth always, but with his life. The use of good works is, that they are a Christian’s sermon. A sermon is not what a man says, but what he does. You who practice are preaching; it is not preaching and practising, but practising is preaching. The sermon that is preached by the mouth is soon forgotten, but what we preach by our lives is never forgotten. There is nothing like faithful practice and holy living, if we would preach to the world…Faith shows itself by good works, and therefore is no dead faith. God’s house is a hive for workers, not a nest for drones.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): It is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is not alone.

C. H. SPURGEON: The faith which does not produce good works is not saving faith: it is not the faith of God’s elect: it is not faith at all in the Scriptural sense.

 

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The Language of Holy Humility & its Conversational Counterfeit

Luke 5:8, 9
       When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): This word of Peter’s came from the same principle with theirs who, under the Old Testament, so often said that they did exceedingly fear and quake at the extraordinary display of the divine glory and majesty. It was the language of Peter’s humility and self-denial.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): The most holy men are always the most humble men.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Humility is one of the chief of all the Christian virtues; it is the hallmark of the child of God…The way to become poor in spirit is to look at God.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): The most holy men, when once they have fixed their eyes awhile upon God’s holiness, and then looked upon themselves, have been quite out of love with themselves. After the vision the prophet Isaiah had of God sitting upon the throne, and the seraphim about Him, covering their faces, and crying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts,” how was this gracious man smitten with the sense of his own vileness! They did no more cry up God as holy than he did cry out upon himself as unclean, Isaiah 6:5. So [also] Job, “Now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself,” Job 42:5,6.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): They that know God will be humble; they that know themselves cannot be proud.

DAVID BRAINERD (1718-1747): I could not but think, as I have often remarked to others, that much more of true religion consists in deep humility, brokenness of heart, and an abasing sense of barrenness and want of grace and holiness than most who are called Christians imagine; especially those who have been esteemed the converts of the late day. Many seem to know of no other religion but elevated joys and affections, arising only from some flights of imagination, or some suggestion made to their mind, of Christ being theirs, God living in them, and the like.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): The humble, however, even when they have extraordinary discoveries of God’s glory, are overwhelmed with their own vileness and sinfulness.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): The state of the heart of God’s children is not to be judged by what they call “comfort,” or the lack of it; by strong words or lively feelings; but by steady obedience to His Word.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): It is true that you feel contrary principles, that you are conscious of defects and defilements; but it is equally true, that you could not be right, if you did not feel these things. To be conscious of them, and humbled for them, is one of the surest marks of grace; and to be more deeply sensible of them than formerly, is the best evidence of growth in grace.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Real progress may be usually reckoned by the gauge of humility…The higher a man is in grace, the lower he will be in his own esteem.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Humility is to make a right estimate of oneself.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Most men are too great and too good in their own esteem. Self-love representeth ourselves to ourselves in a feigned shape and likeness, much more wise, and holy, and just, than we are; it maketh us loath other men’s sins, rather than our own; to extenuate other men’s gifts and graces, and cry up our own; but this should not be: “Let each esteem other better than themselves,” Philippians 2:3. Humility is content to sit in the meanest place: “Who am less than the least of all saints,” Ephesians 3:8; “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief,” I Timothy 1:15.

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): Poverty of spirit is the bag into which Christ puts the riches of His grace.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: The most difficult thing in the world is to become poor in spirit.

C. H. SPURGEON: Humility itself may be counterfeited with much ostentation.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: If our humility is not unconsciousness it is exhibitionism…I always think of a man whom I once met. I was due to preach for a weekend in a certain town and he met me at the station, and then, before I had had time to say almost anything to him, he said, “Well, of course, I am not one of the great people in this church, I am just, you know, a very ordinary, humble man. I am not a great theologian, I am not a great speaker. I do not take part in the prayer meeting, but you know I am just the man who carries the visiting preacher’s bag.” “Oh, what a humble man I am!” I thought.

C. H. SPURGEON: Those who are proud of their humility are proud indeed…Oh, let us beware of mock humility!

JONATHAN EDWARDS: Those who possess apparent humility are inclined to boast of it, and to make an exhibition of it in some affected singularity…But it is quite otherwise with real humility; those who are truly self-abased, make no display of their humility; nor do they at all affect singularity in dress or manner.

JOHN NEWTON: To speak of one’s self in abasing terms is easy: and such language is often a thin veil, through which the motions of pride may be easily discerned; but though the language of humility may be counterfeited, its real fruits and actings are inimitable…An humble frame of mind is the strength and ornament of every other grace, and the proper soil wherein they grow.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Humility is the sweet spice that grows from poverty of spirit…Poverty of spirit is a kind of self-annihilation.

R. C. CHAPMAN: Christ was the only one who could, without a struggle, be content to be “a worm, and no man,” Psalm 22:6—The more we have of Christ in our hearts, the less room for self—Self-humiliation brings with it a tenderness of spirit; and as we sink in our own esteem, the Lord fulfills in us that precious promise, “To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word,” Isaiah 66:2.

ROWLAND HILL: If you want to see the height of the hill of God’s eternal love you must go down into the valley of humility…Where do the rivers run that fertilize our soil―is it on the barren top of yonder hill? No, it is in the vales beneath. If you would have the river, whose streams make glad the city of our God, to run through your hearts and enrich them to His glory, you must abide in the vale of humility.

AUGUSTINE (354-430): The proud hilltops let the rain run off; the lowly valleys are richly watered.

C. H. SPURGEON: Humble hearts lie in the valleys where streams of grace are flowing, and hence they drink of them…Let us be humble that we may not need to be humbled, but may be exalted by the grace of God.

 

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Obedience to God’s Word: The Best Proof of True Love for Christ

John 14:21, 23; John 15:10; John 14:24; Luke 6:46
       He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me…If a man love me, he will keep my words.
       If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love: even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
       He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
       Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): For some reason or other we tend to think of love as being a mere matter of sentiment and feeling; we tend to regard it as simply an emotion. And we tend to carry this over into our thinking concerning the New Testament’s great gospel of love, and the announcement of the love of God to offending sinners. Yet think for a moment of John’s Gospel and his first Epistle in which so much is said about love, and also of I Corinthians 13. You will see that their whole emphasis is upon the fact that love is something which is very practical. How often does our Lord say in various ways, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me.”

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): When a man has true love to Christ, it is sure to lead him to dedication. There is a natural desire to give something to the person whom we love, and true love to Jesus compels us to give ourselves to Him. One of the earliest acts of the Christian’s life is to take ourselves, and lay body, soul and spirit upon the altar of consecration, saying, “Here I am; I give myself to thee.”

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Where there is a true love to Christ there is a value for His favour, a veneration for His authority, and an entire surrender of the whole man to His direction and authority.

C. H. SPURGEON: True love next shows itself in obedience. If I love Jesus, I shall do as He bids me. He is my husband, my Lord—I call Him “Master.” “If ye love me,” saith He, “keep my commandments.” This is His chosen proof of my love, and I am sure, if I love Him, I shall keep His commandments.

MATTHEW HENRY: Love is the root, obedience is the fruit. Where a sincere love to Christ is in the heart, there will be obedience.

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): As obedience is the best evidence of love, so love is the best spring of obedience. It is love that makes it pleasant to ourselves.

MATTHEW HENRY: All obedience begins in the affections, and nothing in religion is done right, that is not done there first…Where love is, duty follows of course, is easy and natural, and flows from a principle of gratitude.

C. H. SPURGEON: Love is the spring of true obedience. “This is the love of God, that we keep His commandments,” I John 5:3. Now a man who is not obedient to God’s commandments is evidently not a true believer; for, although the keeping of the commandments does not make me a child of God, yet, being a child of God, I shall be obedient to my heavenly Father. But this I cannot be unless I love God. A mere external obedience, a decent formal recognition of the laws of God, is not obedience in God’s sight. He abhors the sacrifice where not the heart is found. I must obey because I love, or else I have not in spirit and in truth obeyed at all.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): No man will actually obey God but he who loves Him.

WILLIAM JAY: Jesus would have this known, not to His disciples only, but to others, and to all: “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do,” John 14:31.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Christ subjects Himself to the moral law, and did apply the precepts to Himself, no less than to us; and so is a pattern of obedience to us, that we ought to direct and order all our actions according to the law and word of God.

C. H. SPURGEON: And yet there are some who profess to love Christ who very seldom think of keeping some of His commandments.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” Not one nor two only, but all. It is not given us to choose which we shall keep, and which we shall break.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): If any one duty be willingly neglected, the golden chain of obedience is broke. And nothing is really good that is not so in all its parts.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): There is no such thing as a saving faith in Christ where there is no real love for Him, and by “real love” we mean a love which is evidenced by obedience. Christ acknowledges none to be His friends save those who do whatsoever He commands them, John 15:14. As unbelief is a species of rebellion, so saving faith is a complete subjection to God: hence we read of “the obedience of faith,” Romans 16:26.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Our Lord says it is useless to talk about loving Him unless we keep His commandments. “He that loveth me truly,” He seems to say, “does what I tell him to do.” Nothing is so fallacious as to substitute feelings and sensibilities for definite obedience.

BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): Love is a conduct, not a feeling; and the evidence of love is not emotion, but obedience.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Others may talk of loving Christ, but this is the man that truly does love Him; for his observance of Christ’s commands is a proof and evidence that he loves Him not in word only, but in deed and in truth.

A. W. PINK:And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments,” I John 2:3. Is that not plain enough? A godly life is the first proof that I am a child of God. But let us observe the solemn declaration that immediately follows. “He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” verse 4. Do these words anger you? We trust not: they are God’s, not ours.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Obedience is the best test…The best mark to judge, and which He has given us for that purpose, is to inquire if His Word and will have a prevailing, governing influence upon our lives and temper. If we love Him, we do endeavour to keep His commandments. If your love and dependence are not fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ, if your tempers and practice are not governed by His commands, you are not of God.

 

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Reading the Bible with Personal Application

I Peter 2:2,3
       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.

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.

ROBERT MURRAY M’CHEYNE (1813-1843): If ye be led by the Spirit, ye will love the Bible. You will say, “Oh, how I love thy law, it is my meditation all the day,” Psalm 119:97.

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): Through His Word, our Father speaks to us, encourages us, comforts us, instructs us, humbles us, and reproves us.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Read it because it is the food that God has provided for your soul, because it is the Word of God, because it is the means whereby you can get to know God. Read it because it is the bread of life, the manna provided for your soul’s nourishment and well-being…The Bible is God’s Book and it is a Book of Life. It is a Book that speaks to us a word from God.

ALEXANDER COMRIE (1706-1774): It is true that God does not address you in His Word by name, but the Word is to each one in particular. “Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of men,” Proverbs 8:4; what Jesus declares unto you, is spoken to you in particular, as though your name and surname stood printed in the Bible.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): What the Scripture speaketh to all, is to be esteemed as spoken to every singular person, for they are included in their universality―So Psalm 27:8, “When thou saidst, Seek ye my face, my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.” God’s words invite all, but David maketh the application to himself.

THOMAS ADAM (1701-1784): Every one should apply Scripture to himself, as if it was written for him only.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): The Bible is a book which calls not so much for the exertion of our intellect as it does for the exercise of our affections, conscience and will. God has given it to us not for our entertainment but for our education, to make known what He requires from us. It is to be the traveller’s guide as he journeys through the maze of this world, the mariner’s chart as he sails the sea of life. Therefore, whenever we open the Bible, the all-important consideration for each of us to keep before him is, What is there here for me today? What bearing does the passage now before me have upon my present case and circumstances—what warning, what encouragement, what information? What instruction is there to direct me in the management of my business, to guide me in the ordering of my domestic and social affairs, to promote a closer walking with God?

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): We should read with a view to self-application. Instead of thinking of others—which is too frequently the case—we should think of ourselves, inquiring how it bears upon our own character and condition.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Take every word as spoken to yourselves. When the Word thunders against sin, think thus: “God means my sins.” When it emphasizes any duty, “God intends me in this.” Many put off Scripture from themselves, as if it only concerned those who lived in the time when it was written; but if you intend to profit by the Word, bring it home to yourselves: a medicine will do no good, unless it be applied.

THOMAS BRADBURY (1831-1905): You read your Bible every day, you say? Well! that is good so far as it goes. But does the Bible ever read you?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: When the Spirit is illuminating the page and our minds at the same time, as He does with a child, the first thing you’re conscious of is that the Bible after all is speaking to you. When you read about the Pharisees, you’re not reading about people who lived two thousand years ago, you feel you’re reading about yourself. And when you read about some of these characters in the Old Testament, David and so on, you’re not reading a history book, you’re reading about yourself. You say, “That’s me! It’s all very well; it looks terrible in David, but I’ve got that sort of thing in me.” When the Bible speaks to you like that, you’re a child of God. He never does that with a hypocrite. He never does that with a man who only has an intellectual interest in it. If you feel therefore that the Bible is speaking to you about yourself, speaking to you directly, that it’s not merely some general truth, or the gathering of doctrines, but is a living word that’s saying something to you, upbraiding you, condemning you, increasing your hunger and thirst, and so on―well then that’s a living spiritual relationship that the Holy Spirit alone can produce.

WILLIAM TYNDALE (1490-1536): As thou readest, think that every syllable pertaineth to thine own self, and suck out the pith of Scripture.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: When you are reading your Scriptures in this way—it matters not whether you have read little or much—if a verse stands out and hits you and arrests you, do not go on reading. Stop immediately, and listen to it. It is speaking to you, so listen to it and speak to it.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Say, therefore, with David, “Blessed be thou, O Lord, teach me thy statutes,” Psalm 119:12. And with Zwingli, “I beseech thee, Almighty God, to direct our ways.”

ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): You never read God’s Word to profit but as it teaches you to pray while you read.

A. W. PINK: There should be a definite asking of Him to graciously anoint our eyes, (Revelation 3:18), not only that we may be enabled to behold wondrous things in His law, (Psalm 119:18), but also that He will make us of quick discernment to perceive how the passage before us applies to ourselves—what are the particular lessons we need to learn from it. The more we cultivate this habit, the more likely that God will be pleased to open His Word unto us.

MATTHEW HENRY: The Bible is a letter God has sent to us; prayer is a letter we send to Him.

BROWNLOW NORTH (1810-1875): Never neglect daily private Bible reading. And when you read, remember that God is speaking to you.

 

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The Deceptive False Faith of Trusting in Faith

Ephesians 2:8
       By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Observe adoringly the fountain-head of our salvation, which is the grace of God. “By grace are ye saved.”
        Remember this; or you may fall into error by fixing your minds so much upon the faith which is the channel of salvation as to forget the grace which is the fountain and source even of faith itself. Faith is the work of God’s grace in us. No man can say that Jesus is the Christ but by the Holy Ghost. “No man cometh unto me,” saith Jesus, “except the Father which hath sent me draw him,” John 6:44. So that faith, which is coming to Christ, is the result of divine drawing. Grace is the first and last moving cause of salvation; and faith, essential as it is, is only an important part of the machinery which grace employs. We are saved “through faith” but salvation is “by grace”―Faith occupies the position of a channel or conduit pipe. Grace is the fountain and the stream; faith is the aqueduct along which the flood of mercy flows down to refresh the thirsty sons of men.

PHILIP MELANCTHON (1497-1560): When thou art told that we are justified by faith think not that this takes place because faith is a virtue in us by which we secure the approbation of God, or because faith is the parent stock of other virtues; but be assured of this, whenever thou hearest the word faith, that what is offered is something out of ourselves.

C. H. SPURGEON: Faith is getting right out of yourself and getting into Christ.

JAMES HERVEY (1713-1758): The ground of our comfort, the cause of our justification, is not the grace of faith, but the righteousness which is of God by faith; not the act of believing, but that grand and glorious object of a sinner’s belief, the Lord our Righteousness. Faith recommends to God, and justifies the soul, not for itself or its own worth, but on account of what it presents and what it pleads.

C. H. SPURGEON: The Lord Jesus Christ Himself is the object of our faith. Faith is only the channel or aqueduct, and not the fountainhead, and we must not look so much to it as to exalt it above the divine source of all blessing which lies in the grace of God. Never make a Christ out of your faith, nor think of it as if it were the independent source of your salvation. Our life is found in “looking unto Jesus,” not in looking to our own faith. By faith all things become possible to us; yet the power is not in the faith, but in the God upon whom faith relies. Grace is the powerful engine, and faith is the chain by which the carriage of the soul is attached to the great motive power. The righteousness of faith is not the moral excellence of faith, but the righteousness of Jesus Christ which faith grasps and appropriates. The peace within the soul is not derived from the contemplation of our own faith; but it comes to us from Him who is our peace, the hem of whose garment faith touches, and virtue comes out of Him into the soul.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Read the works of the Puritans and you will find that they devoted not only chapters but volumes to the question of “false peace.” Indeed, this danger has been recognized throughout the centuries. There is the danger of trusting your faith instead of Christ, of trusting your belief without really becoming regenerate. It is a terrible possibility.

C. H. SPURGEON: They attend a revival meeting, and they declare themselves saved, though they have not been renewed in heart, and possess neither repentance nor faith. They come forward to avow a mere emotion. They have nothing better than a resolve; but they flourish it as if it were the deed itself.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: No sinner ever really “decides for Christ.” That term “decide” has always seemed to me to be quite wrong…I can think of an old man who often used the following expression: “You know, friends, I decided for Christ forty years ago, and I have never regretted it.” What a terrible thing to say! “Never regretted it!” But that is the kind of thing people say who have been brought up under this teaching and approach.

C. H. SPURGEON: Do you not see at once that this is legality? that this is making our eternal life to depend on something we do? Nay, the doctrine of justification itself, as preached by an Arminian, is nothing but the doctrine of salvation by works, after all! for he always thinks faith is a work of the creature, and a condition of his acceptance. It is as false to say that a man is saved by faith as a work, as that he is saved by the deeds of the Law. We are saved by faith as the gift of God, and as the first token of His eternal favour to us; but it is not our faith as our work that saves, otherwise we are saved by works, and not by grace at all.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Faith is not the product of man’s free will and power, but it is the free gift of God.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: No man truly comes to Christ unless he flies to Him as his only refuge and hope, his only way of escape from the accusations of conscience and the condemnation of God’s holy law…The convicted sinner no more “decides for Christ” than the poor drowning man “decides” to take hold of that rope that is thrown to him and suddenly provides him with the only means of escape. The term is entirely inappropriate.

C. H. SPURGEON: Now you who have been looking to your faith, I want you to look to Jesus Himself rather than at your poor feeble faith…Mark, thy faith has nothing to do with anything within thyself; the object of thy faith is nothing within thee, but a something without thee. Believe on Him, then, who on yonder tree, with nailed hands and feet, pours out His life for sinners. There is the object of thy faith for justification; not in thyself―thou art to look to Christ and to Christ Jesus alone.

JOHN ANGELL JAMES (1785-1869): It is by faith, not for faith, that we are justified.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): Faith in faith is faith astray.

C. H. SPURGEON: If you trust to your faith and to your repentance, you will be as much lost as if you trusted to your good works or trusted to your sins. The ground of your salvation is not faith, but Christ; it is not repentance, but Christ. If I trust my trust of Christ, I am lost. My business is to trust Christ; to rest on Him.

 

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