Waiting on the Lord in Faith & Hope

Psalm 130:5-7

I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope. My soul waiteth for the Lord, more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning. Let all Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): The Lord usually trains his servants to waiting, and to much conflict in their way to His immediate service.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): It may seem an easy thing to wait, but it is one of the postures which a Christian soldier learns not without years of teaching. Marching and quick-marching are much easier to God’s warriors than standing still. There are hours of perplexity when the most willing spirit, anxiously desirous to serve the Lord, knows not what part to take. Then what shall it do? Vex itself by despair? Fly back in cowardice, turn to the right hand in fear, or rush forward in presumption? No, but simply wait.

JOHN MILTON (1608-1674): They also serve who only stand and wait.

C. H. SPURGEON: He that waiteth on his master shall be honoured,” Proverbs 27:18, even though the waiting be almost passive.  Sometimes our master may not require us to do anything more than stand still.  But you know John, the footman, behind his master’s chair—if his master bids him stand there, he is as true a servant as the other attendant who is sent upon an errand of the utmost importance. The Lord for wise reasons may make us wait awhile.  Having done all, we may yet have to stand still and see the salvation of God, and we find it to be the hardest work of all.  In suffering especially is that the case; for it is painful to be laid aside from the Master’s service; yet the position may be very honourable. There is a time for soldiers to lie in the trenches as well as to fight in the battle.

JAMES VAUGHAN (circa 1878): Waiting is a great part of life’s discipline, and therefore God often exercises the grace of waiting. Waiting has four purposes. It practices the patience of faith. It gives time for preparation for the coming gift. It makes the blessing the sweeter when it arrives. And it shows the sovereignty of God—to give just when, and just as He pleases.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): There is no place for faith if we expect God to fulfill immediately what He promises.

C. H. SPURGEON: Wait in prayer, however. Call upon God, and spread the case before Him; tell Him your difficulty, and plead His promise of aid. In dilemmas between one duty and another, it is sweet to be humble as a child, and wait with simplicity of soul upon the Lord.  It is sure to be well with us when we feel and know our own folly, and are heartily willing to be guided by the will of God.

R. C. CHAPMAN (1803-1902): The best answers to prayer are those we have to wait and trust for. If we are answered quickly, let us be thankful; but let us be assured that by and by God will change His method with us, and that we shall be often made to wait.

C. H. SPURGEON: But wait in faith. Express your unstaggering confidence in Him; for unfaithful, untrusting waiting, is but an insult to the Lord.  Believe that if He keep you tarrying even till midnight, yet He will come at the right time; the vision shall come and shall not tarry. Wait in quiet patience, not rebelling because you are under the affliction, but blessing your God for it. Never murmur against the second cause, as the children of Israel did against Moses; never wish you could go back to the world again, but accept the case as it is, and put it as it stands, simply and with your whole heart, without any self-will, into the hand of your covenant God, saying, “Now, Lord, not my will, but Thine be done. I know not what to do; I am brought to extremities, but I will wait until Thou shalt cleave the floods, or drive back my foes. I will wait, if Thou keep me waiting many a day, for my heart is fixed upon Thee alone, O God, and my spirit waiteth for Thee in the full conviction that Thou wilt yet be my joy and my salvation, my refuge and my strong tower.”

JOHN CALVIN: As we act unjustly towards God when we hope for nothing from Him but what our senses can perceive, so we pay Him the highest honour, when, in affairs of perplexity, we nevertheless entirely acquiesce in His providence.

EDMUND CALAMY (1600-1666): But now, the promises are the wings of prayer. Prayer without a promise is as a bird without wings. Therefore we read both of Jacob and Jehosaphat, how they urged God in their prayer, with His promises, Genesis 32:9-12; 2 Chronicles 20:5-12.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): Remember also the Word—the Word, I say, upon which the Lord hath caused you to hope.

JAMES VAUGHAN: The picture of the waiting man is a striking one. It is as one on the ridge of a journey, looking onward on his way, standing on tiptoe, and therefore needing something to lean on, and to support him…Take care that you have a promise underneath you—“In His Word do I hope.”

JOHN CALVIN: For it is certain that faith cannot stand, unless it be founded on the promises of God…The word hope I take for faith; and indeed hope is nothing else but the constancy of faith.

JOHN BUNYAN: Hope is never ill when faith is well.

STEPHEN CHARNOCK (1628-1680): Faith doth ultimately centre in the Deity. God Himself in His glorious nature, is the ultimate object whereunto our faith is resolved.  The promise, simply considered, is not the object of trust, but God in the promise; and from the consideration of that we ascend to the Deity, and cast our anchor there. “Hope in the word” is the first act, but succeeded by hoping in the Lord―“In his word do I hope:” that is not all; but, “Let all Israel hope in the Lord.”  That is the ultimate object of faith, wherein the essence of our happiness consists, and that is God.  God himself is the true and full portion of the soul.

JAMES VAUGHAN: Let it not be so much the event which you wait for, as the Lord of the event, and the Lord in the event.

MARY WINSLOW (1774-1854): This is your God, too. And though He tries the faith of His people, He will appear. Remember Joseph was two long years in prison, after he had got the promise from the chief butler; and no doubt his faith was sharply tried, for God had partly given him the promise, by enabling him to interpret the dream. But, at last, the promise was fulfilled, and the blessing came in rich abundance. Take courage, He is the same now that He ever was.

 

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Are You Preparing a Sermon, or Writing an Essay?

Psalm 45:1

My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the thing which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): “My heart is inditing”― In Hebrew, it “boileth,” or “bubbleth up” like water in a pot over the fire. This phrase denotes that the workings of his heart were fervent and vehement, free and cheerful, and withal kindled by God’s grace, and the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): And it is confirmed by this, that from this verb is derived the noun מרהשת, marchesheth, a word which is found once or twice in Moses, and signifies a frying-pan, in which sweet-meats are baked. It is then of the same import as if the inspired writer had said, ‘My heart is ready to breathe forth something excellent and worthy of being remembered.’ He afterwards expresses the harmony between the tongue and the heart, when he compares his tongue to “the pen of a ready writer.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The pious meditations of the heart must not be smothered, but expressed in the words of our mouth, for God’s glory and the edification of others…Thus ministers should in their studies and meditations take in that Word of God which they are to preach to others. Thy words were found, and I did eat them, Jeremiah 15:16. They must be both well acquainted and much affected with the things of God, that they may speak of them both clearly and warmly, with a great deal of divine light and heat.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): As a rule, it is the best way to study Scripture apart from the idea of having to preach. It is not good always to be reading for others; one is in danger of falling into the mere business of sermon-making, which is very withering to the soul.  It is well to go to the word on the principle set forth in John 7:37, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink.” We only speak of the principle, not the strict application of the passage. We should betake ourselves to the fountain of holy Scripture, not to draw for others, but to drink for ourselves…The apostle Paul’s advice to Timothy is salutary to us all, “Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all,” I Timothy 4:15―The “profiting” is sure to “appear” if the habit of meditation be diligently cultivated; but if one goes to a meeting with a sermon diligently prepared, it may be not the thing which the Lord would have spoken at all.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Do you not think that many sermons are “prepared” until the juice is crushed out of them, and zeal could not remain in such dry husks? Sermons which are studied for days, written down, read, re-read, corrected, and further corrected and emended are in danger of being too much cut and dried.  You will never get a crop if you plant boiled potatoes. You can boil a sermon to a turn, so that no life remaineth in it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): Prepare, but beware of the danger of over-preparation. This is particularly true of written sermons. The danger is to be too perfect―very nice, very quiet, very ornate sentences turned beautifully, prepared carefully. What has this polishing of phrases, this writing and re-writing to do with Truth? There must be form, but we must never give inordinate attention to it. Can you conceive of the Apostle Paul spending three weeks in the preparation of one sermon, polishing phrases, changing a word here and there, putting in another adjective or adding another bon mot? The whole thing is utterly inconceivable.

JOHN FLAVEL (1630-1691): In all my observation I have not found, that ever God hath made much use of laboured periods, rhetorical flowers, and elegancies to improve the power of religion in the world.

C. H. SPURGEON: Do you not all know the superfine preacher? You ought to listen to him, for he is clever; you ought to be attentive to his words, for every sentence of that paper cost him hours of toilsome composition; but somehow it falls flat, and there is an offensive smell of stale oil―So long as the life of the sermon is strengthened by preparation, you may prepare to the utmost; but if the soul evaporates in the process, what is the good of such injurious toil? It is a kind of murder which you have wrought upon the sermon which you dried to death. I do not believe that God the Holy Ghost cares one single atom about your classical composition.

JAMES HARRINGTON EVANS (1785-1849): Our aim is not preach nicely arranged essays.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: No, what is needed is authority!  Do you think that John Knox could make Mary Queen of Scots tremble with some polished little essay?

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): An affected starchiness and over-accuracy will fetter you, will make your discourses lean and dry, preclude a useful variety, and savour more of the school-lamp, than of that heavenly fire which alone can make our meditations efficacious, and profitable either to ourselves or our hearers.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: What is a preacher? The first thing, obviously, is that he is a speaker. He is not primarily a writer of books, he is not an essayist or a literary man; the preacher is primarily a speaker…He is speaking in the Spirit, in demonstration of the Spirit and in power. I think this is an absolutely vital element in true preaching. A man cannot preach in cold blood—it’s impossible! He can offer a sermon, he read an essay, he can recite an essay, he can give a Bible lecture, but you can’t preach in cold blood…So a vital element in preaching is a reliance upon the Spirit. And another one is freedom. He must be free. That is why I say there are generally loose ends about preaching. A sermon that is perfect in its form, its diction, and in everything else, mitigates against preaching.

JOSEPH MILNER (1744-1797): What a number of elaborate sermons have been preached to no purpose!  Even the truth that is in them is rendered, in a great measure, useless, by the wisdom of words with which it is clothed.

ISAAC WATTS (1674-1748): If you pray and hope for the assistance of the Spirit of God in every part of your work, do not resolve always to confine yourself precisely to the mere words and sentences which you have written down in your private preparations. Far be it from me to encourage a preacher to venture into public work without due preparation and a regular composure of his discourse…But what I mean is, that we should not impose upon ourselves just such a number of pre-composed words and lines to be delivered in the hour, without daring to speak a warm sentiment that comes fresh upon the mind.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: A sermon is not an essay. That is something that needs to be said, and said constantly, because there are so many who clearly draw no distinction between a sermon and an essay―an essay is meant to be read, a sermon is primarily meant to be spoken and listened to.

C. H. SPURGEON: Give us sermons, and save us from essays!

 

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What Do God’s Holy Angels Really Look Like?

Genesis 18:1-3

And the LORD appeared unto [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, and said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant.

A. A. HODGE (1823-1886): Have angels bodies?

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Angels are pure spirits, though they are permitted to assume a visible form when God desires us to see them.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): These three men were three spiritual heavenly beings, now assuming human bodies, that they might be visible to Abraham, and conversable with him.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Abraham knew them not to be angels at first; they appeared as men, and he treated them as such; but they were angels―yea, one of them was Jehovah Himself.

A. A. HODGE: In certain situations the angels have “appeared” precisely like common men, and in other situations they acted very differently, in passing through stone walls, appearing and disappearing at will, Acts 12:7-10; Numbers 22:31; Judges 13:20…How are the apparitions of angels to be accounted for?

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Angels were represented by cherubim and seraphim…

By cherubim, no doubt Moses means angels, and in this accommodates himself to the capacity of his own people. God had commanded two cherubim to be placed at the ark of the covenant, which should overshadow its covering with their wings; therefore He is often said to sit between the cherubim. That He would have angels depicted in this form, was doubtless granted as an indulgence to the rudeness of that ancient people…That they covered the lid of the ark with their extended wings, I do not imagine to have been done to hide it, but to mark the readiness of their obedience, for the extension of their wings is equivalent to their being prepared for the performance of whatever God might command…The seraphim, of which Isaiah makes mention of in Isaiah 6, signify the same as the cherubim.

A. A. HODGE: The word seraphim signifies “burning, bright, dazzling.”

MATTHEW HENRY: Whether they were only two, or four, or―as I rather think―an innumerable company of angels that Isaiah saw, is uncertain. It is the glory of the angels that they are seraphim, and have heat proportionable to their light, and an abundance, not only of divine knowledge, but of holy love. Special notice is taken of their wings―and of no other part of their appearance―because of the use they made of them, which is designed for instruction to us. They had each of them six wings, not all stretched upwards―as those whom Ezekiel saw―but four wings were made use of for a covering, as the wings of a fowl, sitting, are; with the two upper wings, next to the head, they covered their faces, and with the two lowest wings they covered their feet, or lower parts. This bespeaks their great humility and reverence in their attendance upon God.

A. A. HODGE: It probably presents, under a different aspect, the ideal beings commonly designated “cherubim” and “living creatures” in Ezekiel.

MATTHEW HENRY: The “living creatures” which Ezekiel saw coming out of the midst of the fire, Ezekiel 1:5,  were seraphim―“burners;” for “he maketh his angels spirits, his ministers a flaming fire, Psalm 104:4…The prophet himself explains this vision, Ezekiel 10:20, I knew that the living creatures were the cherubim, which is one of the names by which the angels are known in Scripture…That which comes out of the fire, of a fiery amber colour, when it comes to be distinctly viewed, is “the likeness of four living creatures;” not the living creatures themselves―angels are spirits, and cannot be seen―but the likeness of them, such a hieroglyphic, or representation, as God saw fit to make use of for the leading of the prophet, and us with him, into some acquaintance with the world of angels.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): The extraordinary shape of these angels, which appeared to the prophet in this vision, is symbolical.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Great angels they are, but they act invisibly for the most part; their hands are under their wings, Ezekiel 1:8.

JOHN CALVIN: It is enough for me that the images were winged, which represented angels…Besides, it is preposterous, as I have said, forcibly to transfer these rudiments, which God delivered only to His ancient people, to the fullness of time, when the Church has grown up and has passed out of its childhood.

JOHN TRAPP: The distinct knowledge of angels, as angels, is reserved till we are like the angels in heaven―I read of a friar that undertook to show to the people a feather of the wing of the angel Gabriel, and so verified the old proverb, “a friar, a liar.”

C. H. SPURGEON: There was an amusing incident in my early Waterbeach ministry which I have never forgotten.

One day, a gentleman, who was then mayor of Cambridge, and who had more than once tried to correct my youthful mistakes, asked me if I really had told my congregation that if a thief got into Heaven, he would begin picking the angels’ pockets. “Yes, sir,” I replied, “I told them that if it were possible for an ungodly man to go to Heaven without having his nature changed, he would be none the better for being there; and then, by way of illustration, I said that were a thief to get in among the glorified, he would remain a thief still, and he would go round the place picking the angels’ pockets!”

“But, my dear young friend,” asked Mr. Brimley, very seriously, “don’t you know that the angels haven’t any pockets?”  “No, sir,” I replied, with equal gravity, “I did not know that, but I am glad to be assured of the fact from a gentlemen who does know. I will take care to put it right the first opportunity I get.” 

The following Monday morning, I walked into Mr. Brimley’s shop, and said to him, “I set that matter right yesterday, sir.”

“What matter?” he enquired.

“Why, about the angels’ pockets!”

“What did you say?” he asked, in a tone almost of despair at what he might hear next.

“Oh, sir, I just told the people I was sorry to say that I had made a mistake the last time I preached to them; but that I had met a gentleman—the mayor of Cambridge—who had assured me that the angels had no pockets, so I must correct what I had said, as I did not want anybody to go away with a false notion about Heaven. I would therefore say that, if a thief got among the angels without having his nature changed, he would try to steal the feathers out of their wings!”

“Surely, you did not say that?” said Mr. Brimley.

“I did, though,” I replied.

“Then,” he exclaimed, “I’ll never try to set you right again.”

 

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Filling the Spiritual Storehouse with the Promises of God

2 Peter 1:2-4; Psalm 144:13

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises.

That our garners may be full, affording all manner of store.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): “Our garners.” Some read storehouses, and I would not reject this meaning.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): The right use of knowledge is first to “lay it up” in a storehouse―“Wise men lay up knowedge,” Proverbs 10:14; then out of the storehouse to disperse it.

ALEXANDER COMRIE (1706-1774): The time of trouble and darkness and anxieties is the time when support is needed through promises.  See it with Moses, Abraham, Jeremiah, John and others.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): David encouraged himself in the Lord his God,” I Samuel 30:6―exercised faith on his God; he encouraged himself in the power and providence of God; in the promises of God, and His faithfulness in keeping them; in a view of his covenant relation to God; in remembrance of the grace, mercy, and goodness of God, and his former experiences of it; hoping and believing that God would appear for him in some way or another, and work salvation for him.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): In a time of trial you will find one promise will give you more comfort and support than all the arguments that can be produced by reason: “This is my comfort in my affliction, thy word hath quickened me,” Psalm. 119:50; he had a word to support him.

JOHN CALVIN: The promises of God do not have place in a time of quietness and peace, but in the midst of severe and terrible conflicts.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Get hold of the promises of God, and when you feel downcast, when the wind is in the east, when the liver does not work, or when you have a real heart-ache, when the dear child is dead, when the beloved wife is sick, or when there is trouble in the house from any cause, then get you the words of the Lord; and may it always be said of you: “The people rested themselves on the words of King Jesus, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords!”

JOHN CALVIN: It is this alone which supports the believer amidst all the fears, dangers, and distresses of his earthly pilgrimage; for the joy of the Spirit is inseparable from faith…It is certain that faith cannot stand, unless it be founded on the promises of God.

WILLIAM GURNALL (1617-1679): The wise Christian will store himself with promises in health for sickness and in peace for future perils.

THOMAS MANTON: Every time you read the Scriptures, you should lay something up…“Lay up his words in thine heart,” Job 22:22. What [promises] have you hidden in your heart for comfort against temptations, desertions, afflictions? What have you laid up against a dear year?

C. H. SPURGEON: It is well when there is plenty, and that plenty consists of “all manner of store.”―There are some promises in the Bible which I have never yet used; but I am well assured that there will come times of trial and trouble when I shall find that that poor despised promise, which I thought was never meant for me, will be the only one on which I can float. I know that the time is coming when every believer shall know the worth of every promise in the covenant.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): God’s promises, and our own experiences, are sufficient to encourage our dependence upon God, and our expectations from Him, in all the affairs of this life.

C. H. SPURGEON: As we believe our Bibles, we are bound to rely upon the promises contained there…I remember a minister who went to see an old lady, and he thought he would give some precious promises out of the word of God.  Turning to one, he saw written in the margin of her Bible, ‘P,’ and he asked, “What does that mean?”  “That means precious, sir,” she answered.  Further down, he saw ‘T & P,’ and he asked what the letters meant.  “That,” she said, “means tried and proved, for I have tried and proved it.”

DAVID DICKSON (1583-1662): The Lord will hear when I call unto him,” Psalm 4:3. Let us remember that the experience of one of the saints concerning the verity of God’s promises, and of the certainty of the written privileges of the Lord’s people, is a sufficient proof of the right which all his children have to the same mercies, and a ground of hope that they also shall partake of them in their times of need.

MATTHEW HENRY: Those that have experienced the performance of God’s promises themselves should encourage others to hope that He will be as good as His word to them also.

C. H. SPURGEON: Oh that our conversation were more often sweetened with the precious promises of God! After dinner we often sit for half an hour, and pull our ministers to pieces, or scandalize our neighbours.  It would be far better if we said, “Now, friend, quote a promise,” and if the other replied, “And you mention a promise too.”  Then let each one speak according to his own personal knowledge concerning the Lord’s fulfillment of these promises, and let everyone present tell the story of the Lord’s faithfulness to him.  By such holy converse we would warm our own hearts, and gladden one another’s spirits… Let us know the promises. Should we not carry them at our fingers’ ends?  Should we not know them better than anything else?

THOMAS MANTON: That we may not have to seek them in a time of distress, it is good they should be familiar.

C. H. SPURGEON: If a poor Christian in distress could remember God’s promises they would inspire him with new life; but when they are forgotten, his spirits sink.

JOHN GILL: Saints are sometimes apt to forget even the gracious promises of God they have understood and received comfort from; the word, or words, on which they have been caused to hope, until the Spirit of God, who is their best remembrancer, puts them in mind of them.

JOHN CALVIN: Let us therefore embrace all the promises of God with our whole heart, and let us also add to them His power.

C. H. SPURGEON: He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,” Hebrews 13:5. Go, brother, anywhere on earth, and even up to heaven with that in thy hand: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Or will this other word suit you better, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.― If you do not need this promise just now, you may very soon.  Treasure it up.

THOMAS MANTON: Therefore let us treasure up all the promises; all will be little enough when we need comforts…As you read the word, collect [God’s promises] for your comfort and profit; happy is the man that hath his garner full of them.

 

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The Mysterious Beginnings of Grace in the Soul

John 3:1-8

There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): The beauty and propriety of this simile will more appear by observing that the same Hebrew word רוח is used both for the wind, and for the Spirit of God; it is used for the “wind” in Genesis 3:8, and in other places; and for the Spirit of God in Genesis 1:2, and elsewhere. So likewise the Greek word πνευμα is used for them both, for the wind in this place, and often for the Holy Ghost. And it may be observed, that the Holy Spirit, because of His powerful, comfortable, and quickening influences, is compared to the wind.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): The Spirit came upon the apostles in a rushing mighty wind, Acts 2:2. His strong influences on the hearts of sinners are compared to the breathing of the wind Ezekiel 37:9, and His sweet influences on the souls of saints to the north and south wind, Song of Solomon 4:16.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The manner of the Lord’s work in the hearts of His people is not easily traced; though the fact is certain, and the evidence demonstrable from Scripture. In attempting to explain it, we can only speak in general, and are at a loss to form such a description as shall take in the immense variety of cases which occur in the experience of believers.

JOHN GILL: The Spirit of God is a free agent in regeneration; He works how, and where, and when He pleases; He acts freely in the first operation of His grace on the heart, and in all after influences of it; as well as in the donation of His gifts to men, for different purposes, I Corinthians 12:11. And this grace of the Spirit in regeneration, like the wind, is powerful and irresistible; it carries all before it; there is no withstanding it; it throws down Satan’s strong holds, demolishes the fortifications of sin; the whole posse of hell, and the corruptions of a man’s heart, are not a match for it.

MATTHEW HENRY: The Spirit, in regeneration, works powerfully, and with evident effects―Thou hearest the sound thereof―though its causes are hidden, its effects are manifest. When the soul is brought to mourn for sin, to groan under the burden of corruption, to breathe after Christ, to cry “Abba, Father,” then we hear the sound of the Spirit, and we find He is at work, as in Acts 9:11: “Behold he prayeth.” He works mysteriously, and in secret hidden ways: Thou canst not tell whence it comes, nor whither it goes. How it gathers and how it spends its strength is a riddle to us; so the manner and methods of the Spirit’s working are a mystery.

WILLIAM ARNOT (1808-1875): The way of God, in the regeneration of man, is past finding out. One part of it He keeps near Himself, concealed by the clouds and darkness that surround His throne; another part of it He has clearly revealed to our understandings, and pressed on our hearts.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): The Bible applied to the heart by the Holy Ghost, is the grand instrument by which souls are first converted to God.  That mighty change is generally begun by some text or doctrine of the Word brought home to a man’s conscience.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Usually when God converts young people in the first stages of sin, before they have formed evil habits, He does it in a gentle manner; not by the “terrors of the law, the tempest, fire and smoke,” but He makes them like Lydia, “whose heart the Lord opened” that she received the word.  On such “it droppeth like the gentle dew from heaven upon the place beneath.” With hardened sinners grace cometh down in showers that rattle on them; but in young converts it often cometh gently. There is just the sweet breathing of the Spirit. They perhaps scarcely think it is a true conversion; but true it is, if they are brought to life.       

WILHELMUS à BRAKEL (1635-1711): Even in the common way of conversion, one experiences something with which another is not acquainted.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): Many of God’s children cannot trace the particular footsteps of their conversion.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): Conversion is a great and glorious work of God’s power, at once changing the heart, and infusing life into the dead soul; though the grace then implanted more gradually displays itself in some than in others. But as to fixing on the precise time when they put forth the very first act of grace, there is a great deal of difference in different persons; in some it seems to be very discernible when the very time was; but others are more at a loss…It is to be feared that some have gone too far in attempting to direct the Spirit of the Lord, and to mark out His footsteps for Him. Experience clearly shows that we cannot trace the operations of the Holy Spirit in the conversion of some who afterward prove the best of Christians.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): There is no reason to doubt that it was religious principle and conscientious feeling that excited in Nicodemus the desire to gain a more intimate knowledge of the doctrine of Christ. And although that seed remained long concealed and apparently dead, yet after the death of Christ it yielded fruit, such as no man would ever have expected, John 19:39.

ANDRONICUS (16th Century): The Lord’s dealings with His people are various, but all lead to the same end; some are shaken with terror, while others are more gently drawn, as with cords of love. In these things believers should not make their experiences standards one for another; still there is a similarity in their being brought to the same point of rejecting both sinful and righteous self, and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ as their complete salvation.

 

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Seeking God’s Guidance When Troubles & Confusions Multiply

2 Corinthians 4:8; Psalm 73:24 ;Psalm 31:3

We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.

Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel.

For thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Any sincere follower of God may use these words.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Happy is the man who personally appropriates God’s Word, and practically uses it as his comfort and counsellor…One of the most practical benefits of Holy Writ is guidance in the acts of daily life; it is not sent to astound us with its brilliance, but to guide us by its instruction.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): In dark and doubtful [times], when a man multiplieth consultations and perplexed thoughts, and changeth conclusions as a sick man doth his bed, and knows not what course to take, whether this or that, then the Word will direct him what to do, so as that a man may find quiet in his soul.

C. H. MACKINTOSH (1820-1896): The grand question is this: Is God’s Word sufficient or not?

THOMAS MANTON: Indeed, here is the question: How far is the Word of God a counsellor to us in such perplexed and doubtful cases?

ALEXANDER COMRIE (1706-1774): [Believers] “expect” counsel and teaching in obscure matters. Sometimes the soul is brought into circumstances wherein she knows not God’s will, nor can distinguish between sin and duty, which come very close, since both in what she commits and omits, the soul can fall into sin against the Lord.

C. H. SPURGEON: Of two evils, choose neither.

THOMAS MANTON: The Word of God will help him to understand how far he is concerned in such an action in point of duty and conscience…Now it is a great relief to the soul, when a man understands how far he is concerned in a point of duty. The conflict many times lies not only between light and lust, or light and [self-interest]―then a gracious man knows what part to take; but when it lies between duty and duty, then it is tedious and troublesome to him. Now the word will clearly tell you what is your duty in any action, whatever it be. As to the prudent management of the action in order to success, the Word will teach you to go to God for wisdom (James 1:6), and to observe His answer.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): God at all times, circumstances, and places, though ever so minute, ever so particular, will―if we diligently seek the assistance of His Holy Spirit, apply general things to our hearts, and thereby―to use the words of the Holy Jesus―“lead us into all truth” and give us the particular assistance we want.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): If any man object, that angels come not down daily from heaven to reveal unto us what we ought to do, the answer is ready, that we are sufficiently taught in the Word of God what we ought to do, and that they are never destitute of the counsel who ask it of Him, and submit themselves to the government of the Spirit. Therefore nothing doth hinder and keep us back from being ready to follow God, save only our own slothfulness and coldness in prayer.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Study the Word with prayer. Mark the Divine Spirit shedding light upon it.  Compare it with the observation of the providences of the day (Psalm 107:43); not judging by constitutional bias―a most doubtful interpreter―but pondering with sober, practical, reverential faith. Let the will be kept in a quiet, subdued, cheerful readiness, to move, stay, retreat, turn to the right hand or to the left, at the Lord’s bidding; always remembering that is best which is least our own doing, and that a pliable spirit ever secures the needful guidance.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: It is the application of all the doctrinal and historical parts of Scripture, when we are reading them over, that must render them profitable to us, as they were designed “for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, and to make every child of God perfect, thoroughly furnished to every good work,” 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. I dare appeal to the experience of every spiritual reader of Holy Writ, whether or not, if he consulted the Word of God in this manner, he was not at all times and at all seasons, as plainly directed how to act, as though he had consulted the Urim and Thummin which was upon the high priest’s breast.  For this is the way God now reveals Himself to man: not by making new revelations, but by applying general things that are revealed already to every sincere reader’s heart.

JONATHAN EDWARDS (1703-1758): One erroneous principle, than which scarce any has proved more mischievous to the present glorious work of God, is a notion that it is God’s manner in these days to guide His saints―at least some that are more eminent―by inspiration, or immediate revelation.

A. P. GIBBS (1890-1967): Like the people of Athens, they spend their time in nothing else, but either to tell or hear of some new thing.  This is a mischievous malady indeed.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): When God is said to enlighten us, it is not that we should expect new revelations, but that we may see the wonders in His word, or get a clear sight of what is already revealed.  Those that vent their own dreams under the name of the Spirit, and divine light, they do not give you mysteria, but monstra―portentous opinions; not to show you the wondrous things of God’s law, but the prodigies of their own brain…The light which we have, is not without the Word, but by the Word.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): He that would utterly separate the Spirit from the Word, had as good as burn His Bible.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: Our blessed Lord, though He was the eternal God, yet, as man, He made the Scriptures His constant rule and guide―And thus, when led by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil, He repelled all his assaults with “It is written.”  A sufficient confutation this, of their opinion who say “the Spirit only, and not the Spirit by the Word, is to be our rule of action.”  If so, our Saviour, who had the Spirit without measure needed not always to have referred to the written word.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Every child of God has a twofold guide: the Word without, and the Spirit within, Isaiah 30:20,21: “Thine eyes shall see thy teachers: and thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”

GEORGE MÜLLER (1805-1898): To ascertain the Lord’s will we ought to use scriptural means.  Prayer, the Word of God, and His Spirit should be united together. We should go to the Lord repeatedly in prayer, and ask Him to teach us by His Spirit through His Word.  I say by His Spirit through His Word. For if we should think that His Spirit led us to do so and so, because certain facts are so and so, and yet His Word is opposed to the step which we are going to take, we should be deceiving ourselves.

 

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A Special Reminder & An Encouragement to Elderly Believers

2 Peter 1:13,14; Joshua 13:1

I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.

Now Joshua was old and stricken in years; and the LORD said unto him, Thou art old and stricken in years, and there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): God puts Joshua in mind of his old age―Note, old people should be reminded by the growing infirmities of age to do quickly, and with all the little might they have, what their hand finds to do. The consideration of the uncertainty of the time of our departure out of the world―about which God has wisely kept us in the dark―should quicken us to do the work of the day in its day…We must make hay while the sun shines.

ISAAC WATTS (1674-1748): Do I observe the declining day, and the setting sun sinking into darkness? So declines the day of life, the hours of labour, and the seasons of grace.

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.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Our time is short…The devil is therefore more mischievous because he knows “he hath but a short time,” Revelation 12:12―Oh, “learn for shame of the devil,” as Hugh Latimer said once; therefore to do your utmost, because “the time is short,” or “rolled up,” as sails used to be when the ship draws nigh to the harbour. This argument prevailed much with Peter to bestir him in stirring up those he wrote unto, because he knew that he must “shortly put off his tabernacle.”

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): It is a rare thing to see a man in old age naturally vigorous, healthy, and strong; and would it were not more rare to see any spiritually so at the same season!

MATTHEW HENRY: As long as we live we should be endeavouring to glorify God and edify one another…Old age affords a great opportunity for usefulness. Especially, if it be a good old age. Theirs may be called a good old age, that are old and healthful, not loaded with such distempers as make them weary of life; and that are old and holy, old disciples whose hoary head is “found in the way of righteousness” (Proverbs 16:31)―old and useful, old and exemplary for godliness; theirs is indeed a good old age.

JOHN TRAPP: Some men live long, but are good for little.

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407): What sloth in old age!

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): They are tempted to take things easier, spiritually as well as temporally, so that it has to be said of some “ye did run well.”―So many leave their first love, lose the joy of their espousals, and instead of setting before younger Christians a bright example of trustfulness and cheerfulness, they often discourage by gloominess and slothfulness.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): It is a rare case to find a man in old age full of faith, love, and spiritual activity.

A. W. PINK: In this connection let us remind ourselves of that verse, “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s,” Psalm 103:5…But how is the eagle’s youth renewed? By a new crop of feathers, by the rejuvenation of its wings. And that is precisely what some middle-aged and elderly Christians need: the rejuvenation of their spiritual wings—the wings of faith, of hope, of zeal, of love for souls, of devotedness to Christ.

MATTHEW HENRY: As thy days, so shall thy strength be, Deuteronomy 33:25. Many paraphrase it thus, “The strength of thy old age shall be like that of thy youth; thou shalt not feel a decay, nor be the worse for the wearing, but shalt renew thy youth.”―And, as for old men, it is promised that they shall fill their days with the fruits of righteousness, which they shall still bring forth in old age, to show that the Lord is upright, Psalm 92:14,15.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.” This is here promised unto believers as an especial grace and privilege…The grace intended is, that when believers are under all sorts of bodily and natural decays, and, it may be, overtaken with spiritual decays also, there is provision made in the covenant to render them fat, flourishing, and fruitful―vigorous in the power of internal grace, and flourishing in expression of it in all the duties of obedience.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Nature decays but grace thrives. Fruit, as far as nature is concerned, belongs to days of vigour; but in the garden of grace, when plants are weak in themselves, they become strong in the Lord, and abound in fruit acceptable with God. Happy they are who can sing Psalm 92, enjoying the rest which breathes through every verse of it; no fear as to the future can distress them, for their evil days, when the strong man faileth, are the subject of a gracious promise, and therefore they await them with quiet expectancy. Aged believers possess a ripe experience, and by their mellow tempers and sweet testimonies they feed many. Even if bedridden, they bear the fruit of patience; if poor and obscure, their lowly and contented spirit becomes the admiration of those who know how to appreciate modest worth. Grace does not leave the saint when the keepers of the house do tremble; the promise is still sure though the eyes can no longer read it.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Grace is often in the greatest vigour when nature is decayed; witness Abraham, Job, David, Zachariah, and Elisabeth, and good old Simeon, who went to the grave like shocks of corn, fully ripe.

A. W. PINK: O to be like “Paul the aged” (Philemon 1:9), who was in full harness to the end…The most active worker in a church of which I was pastor, was seventy-seven years old when I went there, and during my stay of three and a half years she did more for the Lord, and was a greater stimulus to me than any other member of that church. She lived another eight years, and they were, to the very end, filled with devoted service to Christ.

MATTHEW HENRY: The last days of the saints are sometimes their best days, and their last work is their best work…When we see death hastening towards us, this should quicken us to do the work of life with all our might.

JOHN TRAPP: Thou hast not long to do; up therefore and be doing; work while it is yet day; the night of death cometh, when none can work, John 9:4.

A. W. PINK: Instead of saying, “The days of my usefulness are over,” rather reason, “The night cometh when no man can work, therefore I must make the most of my opportunities while it is yet called day.”

JOHN TRAPP: Up, therefore, and be doing, that the Lord may be with you.

 

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A New Year’s Eve Post: The Ticking Down of the Clock

Genesis 1:1,5; Revelation 10:5,6

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth… So the evening and the morning were the first day.

And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time no longer.

THOMAS ADAMS (1583-1656): The world began with time, and time with it.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Everyone knows that after this world, and all things in it are at an end, time will be no more.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Time shall be swallowed up in eternity.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Before the Eternal, all the age of frail man is less than one ticking of a clock.

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): In the beginning―that is, in the beginning of time, when that clock was first set a going: time began with the production of those beings that are measured by time. Before the beginning of time there was none but that Infinite Being that inhabits eternity.

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): There is a time appointed by the Father when the whole machinery of creation shall stop.

MATTHEW HENRY: It is a season of grace that will soon be over.

C. H. SPURGEON: There is one thought which should not leave us when talking about times and seasons, namely, that nowjust now―this present flying moment, that second which is being recorded by the ticking of yonder clock, is the only time which we have to work with. I can do nothing with the days that are past, I can do nothing with the days future—yet I reach out towards them—but I cannot improve them…For practical purposes, the only time I have is that which is just now passing. Did I say I had it? While I said I had it, it is gone, like the meteor which dashes down the sky, or the eagle which flies afar.

THOMAS MANTON (1620-1677): All space of time should be small to them that know the greatness of eternity.

H. A. IRONSIDE (1876-1951): Time is given us to use in view of eternity.

THOMAS BROOKS (1608-1680): Time is not yours to dispose of as you please; it is a glorious talent that men must be accountable for as well as any other talent.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): A man has not a time for which he is not accountable to God. If his very diversions are not governed by reason and religion he will one day suffer for the time he has spent in them.

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): The common complaint is, We lack time; but the truth is, we do not so much lack it as waste it.

JOHN OWEN (1616-1683): Have you time enough to eat, to drink, to sleep, to talk unprofitably, it may be corruptly, in all sorts of unnecessary societies, but have not time to live unto God?

THOMAS FULLER (1608-1661): As good as to have no time, as to make no good use of it―time misspent is not lived, but lost.

JOHN TRAPP: They that lose time are the greatest losers and wastefullest prodigals.

JOSEPH ALLEINE (1634-1668): Give me a Christian that counts his time more precious than gold.

DAVID BRAINERD (1718-1747): Oh, how precious is time, and how it pains me to see it slide away, while I do so little to any good purpose.

RICHARD BAXTER (1615-1691): I have these forty years been sensible of the sin of losing time; I could not spare an hour…What have we time and strength for, but to lay out both for God?

MATTHEW HENRY: Christians must be good husbands of their time, and take care to improve it to the best of purposes, by watching against temptations, by doing good while it is in the power of their hands, and by filling it up with proper employment―one special preservative from sin. They should make the best use they can of the present seasons of grace. Our time is a talent given us by God for some good end, and it is misspent and lost when it is not employed according to His design. If we have lost our time heretofore, we must endeavour to redeem it by doubling our diligence in doing our duty for the future.

C. H. SPURGEON: No man ever served God by doing things tomorrow―the ticking of the clock saith, today! to-day! to-day! We have no other time in which to live. The past is gone; the future hath not come; we have, we never shall have, anything but the present. This is our all―I say again, I do not care what you do with your to-morrow. If you will but give God your now, your to-morrows will be all right. For duty, then, let the Christian prize the “now.”

JOHN TRAPP: It is reported of Ignatius, that when he heard a clock strike, he would say, Here is one hour more now past that I have to answer for.

ISAAC WATTS (1674-1748): Do I observe the declining day, and the setting sun sinking into darkness?  So declines the day of life, the hours of labour, and the seasons of grace.

A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): We have much to do and little time in which to get it done!

C. H. SPURGEON: Listen for one moment to the ticking of that clock!

WILLIAM JAY (1769-1853): Think of your pulse, where the question is asked sixty times every minute, whether you shall live or die.

C. H. SPURGEON: You hear the ticking of that clock—it is the footstep of death pursuing you. Each time the clock ticks, death’s footsteps are falling on the ground close behind you. You will soon enter another year. This year will have gone in a few seconds.

ISAAC WATTS: Does a new year commence, and the first morning of it dawn upon me? Let me remember that the last year was finished, and gone over my head, in order to make way for the entrance of the present: I have one year the less to travel through the world, and to fulfill the various services of a travelling state.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): Hence it follows, that there is no time for idleness.

CHARLES BRIDGES (1794-1869): Is it a time to stand idle, when we stand at the door of eternity?

THOMAS MANTON: Eternity depends upon this moment.

MAXINE COLLINS (1920-1984): I have but today, may I make it tell

Not in history books, but that I used it well
For Jesus.
Just today, yesterday is gone
Tomorrow yet to come,
And between them hung
Is that space of time and place
That is this day, this hour, this minute
This one breath is all that I can claim
May its aim, be to proclaim:
Jesus.

 

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Jesus Christ the Messiah, the Immanuel of Prophecy

Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-23

Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Who would have thought that the prophecy contained in Isaiah 7:14 could have referred to our Lord?

JOHN TRAPP (1601-1699): Christ, indeed, was not called by this name Immanuel that we anywhere read of.

C. H. SPURGEON: Scriptural names, as a general rule, contain teaching, and especially is this the case in every name ascribed to the Lord Jesus. With Him names indicate things. “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,” because He really is all these.

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): The design of these words is not so much to relate the [exact] name by which Christ should commonly be called, as to describe His nature and office; as we read that “his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,” etc., in Isaiah 9:6, and, that “this is” said to be “His name whereby he shall be called, The Lord our Righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:6, although He be never called by these names in any other place of the Old or New Testament.

C. H. SPURGEON: When He is said to be called this or that, it means that He really is so. I am not aware that anywhere in the New Testament our Lord is afterwards called Emmanuel. I do not find His apostles, or any of His disciples, calling Him by that name literally. But we find them all doing so in effect, for they speak of Him as, “God manifest in the flesh,” I Timothy 3:16. And they say, “The word was made flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth,” John 1:14. They do not use the actual word, but they again interpret and give us free and instructive renderings while they proclaim the sense of the august title and inform us in many ways what is meant by God being with us in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a glorious fact of the highest importance that, since Christ was born into the world, God is with us.

JOHN CALVIN (1509-1564): The Jews are hard pressed by this passage of Isaiah 7; for it contains an illustrious prediction concerning the Messiah, who is here called Immanuel; and therefore they have laboured, by all possible means, to torture the Prophet’s meaning to another sense.

JOHN GILL (1697-1771): Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son. This is not to be understood of Hezekiah, the son of Ahaz, by his wife, as some Jewish writers interpret it; which interpretation Jarchi refutes, by observing that Hezekiah was nine years old when his father began to reign, and this being, as he says, the fourth year of his reign, Hezekiah must be at this time thirteen years of age; and besides, his mother could not be called a “virgin:” and for the same reason it cannot be understood of any other son of Ahaz, either by his wife, as Kimchi thinks, or by some other young woman; moreover, no other son of his was ever lord of Judea, as this Immanuel is represented to be in Isaiah 8:8―nor can it be interpreted of Isaiah’s wife and son, as Aben Ezra and Jarchi think; since the prophet could never call her a “virgin” who had bore him children.

JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (347-407): If any Jew objects, “How could a virgin bring forth?”―Ask him, How could Sarah, when old and barren, bear a child?

MATTHEW HENRY (1662-1714): Here is a question asked which is enough to answer all the cavils of flesh and blood, Genesis 18:14―Is any thing too hard for the Lord?

J. C. RYLE (1816-1900): Let us observe in these verses from Luke, the two names given to our Lord.  One is “Jesus,” the other “Emmanuel;” one describes His office, the other His nature.  Both are deeply interesting.

C. H. SPURGEON: His name is called Jesus, but not without a reason.

J. C. RYLE: The name Jesus means “Saviour”―It is given to our Lord because “He saves His people from their sins.” This is His special office. He saves them from the guilt of sin, by washing them in His own atoning blood. He saves them from the dominion of sin, by putting in their hearts the sanctifying Spirit. He saves them from the presence of sin, when He takes them out of this world to rest with Him. He will save them from all the consequences of sin, when He shall give them a glorious body at the last day.

C. H. SPURGEON: By any other name Jesus would not be so sweet, because no other name could fairly describe His great work of saving His people from their sins.

J. C. RYLE: The name “Emmanuel” is scarcely less interesting than the name “Jesus.” It is the name which is given to our Lord from His nature as God-man, as “God manifest in the flesh.”―Let us take care that we clearly understand that there was a union of two natures, the divine and human, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a point of the deepest importance.

JOHN CALVIN: This name was unquestionably bestowed on Christ on account of the actual fact; for the only-begotten Son of God clothed Himself with our flesh, and united Himself to us by partaking of our nature. He is, therefore, called God with us, or united to us; which cannot apply to a man who is not God.

C. H. SPURGEON: Those words, “being interpreted,” salute my ear with much sweetness. Why should the word, “Emmanuel,” in the Hebrew, be interpreted at all? Was it not to show that it has reference to us Gentiles and therefore it must be interpreted into one of the chief languages of the then existing Gentile world, namely, the Greek? This, “being interpreted,” at Christ’s birth and the three languages employed in the inscription upon the cross at His death, show that He is not the Saviour of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles―Let us preserve with reverent love both forms of the precious name and wait the happy day when our Hebrew brethren shall unite their “Emmanuel,” with our “God with us.”

 

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The Sublime Mystery of the Trinity of the Godhead

2 Corinthians 13:14; Deuteronomy 6:4

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.

Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord.

ADAM CLARKE (1760-1832): Many think that Moses teaches in these words the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity. It may be so―a plurality is expressed in the word אלהינו  Eloheinu, which is translated “our God.”

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): No one can read the Bible without, of necessity, coming face to face with this doctrine of the Trinity…There is no doctrine which shows so clearly our absolute dependence upon the revelation that we have in the Scriptures. No human being would have thought of the doctrine of the Trinity. It comes directly from the Bible and from nowhere else at all.

B. B. WARFIELD (1851-1921): As the doctrine of the Trinity is indiscoverable by reason, so it is incapable of proof from reason. There are no analogies to it in nature, not even in the spiritual nature of man, who is made in the image of God. In His Trinitarian mode of being, God is unique; and, as there is nothing in the universe like Him in this respect, so there is nothing which can help us to comprehend Him.

THOMAS WATSON (1620-1686): Our narrow thoughts can no more comprehend the Trinity in Unity than a nutshell will hold all the water in the sea.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: It is beyond any question the most mysterious and the most difficult of all biblical doctrines.

ISAAC WATTS (1674-1748): If we say that the Three Persons of the Trinity, by mutual indwelling and love, approach each other infinitely in one Divine nature, and yet lose not their distinct personality, it would be but an obscure account of this sublime mystery.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Let me lay down certain points of vital importance in this connection. The doctrine of the Trinity does not mean that there are three gods…While God in His innermost nature is one, He nevertheless exists as three Persons. Now we are already in trouble, are we not? Do you not want to ask me at this point: ‘Are you saying that there are three Persons, different in essence? If you are―then there must be three gods.’ To which my reply is this: “Hear, O Israel: Jehovah, our God, is one Jehovah.” I must say that. What is the trouble, therefore? Well, the trouble, once more, is due to the inadequacy of language. We have to talk about ‘persons’ because we cannot think of a higher category than persons, and as we think of persons we think of individuals, and we are separating them. But as the Bible uses these expressions, they obviously mean something different.

B. B. WARFIELD: The term “Trinity” is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): Why should conscientious persons object to these terms―if they think them agreeable to the truth―merely because they are not expressed in the precise words of Scripture?

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: There are those who have tried to deny the doctrine of the Holy Trinity in this way: they say, “There are not three Persons, there is only one Person, there is only one God; but that one God can reveal Himself in different ways. He once revealed Himself as the Father; then at other times He reveals Himself as the Son; and again at other times He reveals Himself as the Holy Spirit.”…But the Bible rejects all that. Father, Son, and Spirit are not merely modes in which God appears―no, no―there are three Persons in the Godhead. The Persons refer to each other; Christ spoke about the others and referred to the others―not meaning Himself but the other Persons in the Holy Trinity. So we reject any teaching that there is only one God who shows Himself in these different forms.

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): The things which are revealed are enough, without venturing into vain speculations. In attempting to define the Trinity, or unveil the essence of Divinity, many men have lost themselves.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Very well, I can sum it up like this: The Trinity has existed in the Godhead from all eternity. A statement of the Athanasian Creed with regard to this gives a perfect definition: “The Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet there are not three Gods but one God. The Father is Lord, the Son is Lord, the Holy Ghost is Lord, and yet there are not three Lords but one Lord. For as we are compelled by Christian truth to acknowledge each Person by Himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the same truth to say that there are three Gods or three Lords.” And in reality you can never get beyond that.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): The doctrine of the Deity of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit, in union with the Father, so that they are not three Gods, but one God, is not merely a proposition expressed in words, to which our assent is required, but is absolutely necessary to be known; since without it no one truth respecting salvation can be rightly understood, no one promise duly believed, no one duty spiritually performed.  I take it for granted, that this doctrine must appear irrational and absurd in the eye of reason, if by reason we mean the reason of man in his fallen state, before it is corrected and enlightened by a heavenly teacher.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): Bring me a worm that can comprehend a man, and then I will show you a man that can comprehend the Triune God.

C. H. SPURGEON: We cannot explain how the Father, Son, and Spirit can be each one distinct and perfect in Himself, and yet that these three are one, so that there is but one God; yet we do verily believe it.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: “But I cannot understand the doctrine of the Trinity,” says someone, “and because I cannot understand it, I don’t believe it.”

AUGUSTINE (354-430): Therefore seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand.

MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: Oh, I am not saying that I understand the Trinity, and I am not asking you to understand it. I am simply telling you that you will go to a Christless eternity unless you believe this message of the God who is, and always was, the three Persons in this blessed Godhead—coequal, coeternal in every respect. This is a great and eternal mystery. It is beyond us, but it is true.

JOHN BUNYAN (1628-1688): The doctrine of the Trinity! You ask me what that is? I answer, It is that doctrine that sheweth us the love of God the Father in giving His Son; the love of God the Son in giving Himself; and the love of God the Spirit in His work of regenerating us, that we may be made able to lay hold of the love of the Father by His Son.

 

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