Saturday, September 29, 2007

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle's

“Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things, so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” — Psalm 103:5.

Beloved, there is need of this. Every Christian man has need that his soul should be restored, should be refreshed, re-invigorated, newly quickened. As to those who are saved, there is a constant need restoring them to their first love. This is promised in the words before us. I say there is need of it. There is need of it, first, because of the ordinary wear and tear, which operate upon spiritual life, as well as upon every other form of life. You cannot serve God, you cannot praise, you cannot pray, you cannot do anything without some expenditure of strength; and, therefore, you need to have that strength renewed. Moreover, in such a world as this, combatting with temptations, bearing up against the current of society, and I know not what besides of difficulty, takes away our strength. We need, therefore, to go and drink again of the brook by the way, that we may lift up our head once again. The ordinary wear and tear of spiritual life requires this.

Besides that, we are often the subjects of sinful decline. Backsliding is too common a complaint among Christians. We can ascend to the top of the mountain and dwell with God, but our foot soon begins to descend. There is a gravitation towards sinfulness in the best of men. Oh! that it were not so, but we are very conscious that it is so, and, therefore, we need to have the renewal.

From a sermon entitled "Our Youth Renewed," delivered February 24, 1870.

Photo by Nic McPhee; some rights reserved.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Think about God's goodness

Go to bed each night, and wake up each morning, with admiring thoughts of God’s goodness, and with adoring thoughts towards God’s greatness. You will find these thoughts to be like bees, that will come home to you laden with honey. Let your soul be a hive of them. Worship the Lord. Think much of him. Let every blessing you receive make you think of him. Do not sit at the table, and offer what we call “grace” because it is the custom to do so; but let your soul really see God’s hand in the gift of everything that is on the table. We need not fear worldly thoughts if we were to sanctify those worldly thoughts. Said one, “The road on which I tread makes me think of Christ - the way. The door through which I pass makes me think of Christ -the door. I cannot handle money but what I think that I am not my own, but am bought with a price. I do not receipt a bill without recollecting that he has blotted out the handwriting of ordinances
that was against me. I cannot talk to my fellow-man and receive his answer without thinking how I talk with God, and how he answers me.” In such manner, with many thoughts of God, you will find the fruit of heavenly-mindedness in your spirit. Angels will come and go to and fro
between you and the courts of the Most High, if you have many of these admiring and adoring thoughts of God.

From a sermon entitled "Thoughts and Their Fruit."

Photo by Thomas Mues; some rights reserved.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:3. is clear that only those who are poor in spirit do actually reign as kings unto God. The crown of this kingdom will not fit every head; in fact, it fits the brow of none but the poor in spirit. No proud man reigns, he is the slave of his boastings, the serf of his own loftiness. The ambitious worldling grasps after a kingdom, but he does not possess one, the humble in heart are content and in that contentment they are made to reign. High spirits have no rest; only the lowly heart has peace. To know one’s self is the way to self-conquest, and self-conquest is the grandest of all victories. The world looks out for a lofty, ambitious, stern self-sufficient man, and says he bears himself like a king and yet in very truth, the real kings among their fellows are meek and lowly like the Lord of all, and in their unconsciousness of self lies the secret of their power. The kings among mankind, the happiest, the most powerful, the most honorable, will one day be seen to be not the Alexanders, Caesars, and Napoleons, but the men akin to him who washed the disciples’ feet, those who in quietness lived for God and their fellow-men, unostentatious because conscious of their failures, unselfish because self was held in low esteem, humble and devout because their own spiritual poverty drove them out of themselves, and led them to rest alone upon the Lord. The time shall come when glitter and gewgaw will go for what they are worth, and then shall the poor in spirit be seen to have had the kingdom.

From a sermon entitled "The First Beatitude;" delivered in 1873.

Photo by audreyjm529; some rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Spirit reveals Christ to us

Oh, what a wondrous view of Christ the Holy Ghost sometimes gives us! As yet, however, I am afraid that very few of us have had more than a partial view of him. Have you not sometimes stood upon a hill, when it has been a day of mingled cloud and sunshine, and there has been a break in the clouds, and the sun has shone through, and that hill over yonder has been all ablaze with the golden sunlight, and marvellously has that part of the landscape been illuminated? All down the valley there was gloom; but presently the clouds shifted again, and then the beams of light traveled down into the plain, and the river flowing below flashed in the sunlight while the hill was once more enveloped in shade. As the clouds continued to move, the sunshine kept lighting up different parts of the landscape. It is just like that with regard to our view of Christ. The Spirit of God, who is the very perfection of light, shines upon Christ with a brilliance that the sun never possessed.

Sometimes the Spirit shines upon Christ’s priesthood, and oh, what a wonderful sight it is then for us to see Christ offering up himself as the one great, sacrifice for sin! Another time it may be that the Spirit shines specially upon the prophetic character of Christ, and we then admire him as revealing God to us, and teaching us the truth. Perhaps, the next, day, the Spirit shows us Christ’s royal character, and then we cry, or more probably we sing, —

“All hail the power of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall;
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown him Lord of all.

“Babes, men, and sires, who know his love,
Who feel your sin and thrall,
Now joy with all the hosts above
And crown him Lord of all.”

Sometimes a beam of light will shine upon Christ’s hands that were pierced by the nails and then we wonderingly ask, “How could the hands of the Creator of the universe be thus nailed to the tree for us?” Anon the Spirit’s bright light gleams upon the face of Jesus, and we then —

“ See divine compassion
Floating in his languid eye”

as he bows his head to death for us. But what will it be if the Holy Spirit shall be pleased to give us a full view of Christ upon the cross? Then will our happy spirits indeed glorify him, and each redeemed one will softly sing, —

“Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the cross I spend,
Life, and health, and peace possessing
From the sinner’s dying Friend.

“Here I’ll sit for ever viewing
Mercy’s streams, in streams of blood;
Precious drops! my soul bedewing
Plead and claim my peace with God.

“Here it is I find my heaven
While upon the cross I gaze;
Love I much? I’ve more forgiven;
I’m a miracle of grace.”

Oh, for such a sight of Christ as that, for thus Jesus is glorified, and we are truly blessed!

From a sermon entitled "A Promise And Precedent," delivered January 4, 1874.

Photo by bitterroot; some rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Lord reigns!

The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad... (Ps. 97:1)

This kingdom that God is now setting up is his everlasting kingdom. It will not be administered by the weakness of man, but by the power of God; not by the folly of man, but by the judgment of God. God will, in this kingdom, nakedly manifest his own righteousness, his own compassion and pity; his own love, his own peace: he will do all things immediately by his own self. And therefore all the pride and ambition, all the oppression and tyranny, and miscarriages that have been in the government of men, shall be wholly taken away. Pure righteousness and judgment and equity shall be infallibly dispensed; and infinite power, strength, holiness, goodness, and authority shall shine forth nakedly in the face of God; and that shall be the judge of all men. We shall no longer be abused and oppressed by the will of men, by the lusts of men. The poor people shall no longer groan under the burden of men's lusts, nor sweat for the pleasure and contents of men; nor their faces any longer be ground by the hardness of the spirit of men; but they shall be under the protection of God. The great cry now of the people is, "Let's have a King!" Ye shall have one, one that will "reign in righteousness", the LORD himself.

From Treasury of David, exposition of Psalm 97:1.

Photo by Jason Hunter; some rights reserved.

Monday, September 24, 2007

How to see the Lord

...I have come to the conclusion that Mary Magdalene was selected to see Christ first because she loved him most. John loved Jesus much, but Mary loved him more. John looked into the empty sepulcher, and then went away home; but Mary stood there, and wept, until her risen Lord appeared to her. Love, you know, is a keen-eyed grace. People usually say that love is blind. In one sense, the saying is true; but, in another sense, there never were such good eyes anywhere else as those which love carries in her head. Love will look for Jesus, and discover him where none else can. If I set the unloving to read a chapter in the Bible, they will find no Savior there; but if I ask the gracious Robert Hawker to read that same portion of Scripture, he finds in it the name of Jesus from beginning to end. If I beg one, who is simply a critical scholar, to study a Psalm, he sees no Messiah there; but if I set an enthusiastic lover of the Savior to read it, he sees him, if not in every verse, still here and there he has glimpses of his glory.

If you want to see Jesus, and to have sweet revelations of his glory, you must love him.

From a sermon entitled "Christ's Manifestation to Mary Magdalene."

Photo by Thomas Mues; some rights reserved.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bear testimony to the sufferings of Christ

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.” 1 Peter 5:1.

I judge that the principal business of any minister of Christ, or of any elder of the Church of Christ, is to bear testimony to the sufferings of Christ. If the atoning sufferings of Christ are left out of a ministry, that ministry is worthless. “The blood is the life thereof,” is as true about sermons as it is about animals and sacrifices. A bloodless gospel, a gospel without the atonement, is a gospel of devils, and not the gospel of God. Many are laboring hard, till their oars bend, to get away from the gospel of Jesus Christ; — I mean hundreds of so-called ministers of Christ; — but in proportion as they forsake the gospel, they cease to be what they pretend to be. They are not the ministers of God, or of his Christ; they are not ambassadors telling of reconciliation to men, if in their teaching the sufferings of Christ are beclouded, and their cause and motive and object are obscured.

It is the glory of some of us that, whatever else we bear witness to, we certainly are witnesses of the sufferings of Christ. We declare to men that there is no hope for them but in Christ who died; we testify to them that we have ourselves exercised faith in his death, and have thereby received eternal life; we tell them that we know that what we say is true, we are as sure of it as was that disciple who, when he saw the blood and water flowing from Christ’s side, bore witness to it, and added, “He knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe.” These things are not like dreams to us, they are part of our very being; we have believed in the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, our troubled conscience has therein found peace, our soul has been filled with all the fullness of God; and therefore we are and must be witnesses to the sufferings of the crucified Son of God, to the reality of the atonement that he made on the cross, and to the effect of that atonement upon the heart and conscience of all those who receive it.

From a sermon entitled "A Witness And A Partaker," delivered November 4, 1883.

Photo by harvest_japan*; some rights reserved.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A word for men and women of God

When John looked at Christ’s right hand, he tells us that in it he saw seven stars. These are generally understood to be the ministers of the seven churches of Asia; we are told, in the twentieth verse [of Revelation ch. 1], that “the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches,” and I do not know who the angels of the churches can be unless they are the messengers of the churches, those ministers of whom Paul wrote, “they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.” At any rate, we shall take it for granted that these stars represent the pastors of the churches, the ministers of Christ. These stars are said to be in the Lord’s right hand, first, because he made them stars. They are in the hand of him who made them what they are. Under the old covenant, there were to be, in the tabernacle, seven lights always burning upon the seven-branched candlestick, or lampstand; but John saw in Christ’s hand seven stars; not ordinary lamps, but stars shining with a greater brilliance and a more heavenly light than could ever be seen in the oil-fed lamps in the ancient tabernacle. If any man in the Church of God shines like a star to guide others to the port of peace, he owes his light entirely to Christ. It must be so, because it is Christ’s right hand that has made him what he is; he is a light because Christ has given him light, he owes his spiritual radiance entirely to him who is the Lord and Giver of light in the midst of his Church.

My dear brethren in the ministry, if you want to shine for Jesus, you must be made into stars to be held in his right hand. There is no possibility of your being of spiritual use to your fellowmen, or exercising a ministry that shall tend to their eternal salvation, except as you are made into a light to be held in the right hand of the Lord Jesus Christ. All the education in the world, all the natural talent that any possess, all the acquired practice of oratory, all the powers which are the result of long experience, can never make a good minister of Jesus Christ. The stars are in the right hand of Christ; ministers are not made by men, but by the Lord himself, if they are worthy to be called ministers at all.

From a sermon entitled "A Portrait No Artist Can Paint," delivered April 26, 1885.

Photo by Ibrahim Iujaz; some rights reserved.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

God's unspeakable gift

Our Lord Jesus must be a gift to us if we are ever to possess him. He could only come to us sons of men by way of gift. Consider the dignity of his person for a minute, and then ask how it is conceivable that we could have deserved that such a person as he should come here, and live and die, that we might be saved. I can conceive of a man meriting this or that honor among his fellow-men; but when I think of the Prince of life, the Lord of glory, equal with the Father, King of kings and Lord of lords, very God of very God, and when I see him giving himself up to die for men, my very blood boils at the thought that we could ever have deserved that sacrifice. One is indignant that human pride should dare to go the length of even imagining that a life of perfection could have deserved to be rewarded by the gift of Christ. Nay, my brethren, if we had kept God’s law without a flaw, if there had been no omission of duty, and no commission of sin, and we could have taken the compound merits of a perfect world, and laid them at the feet of God, they could not have deserved that Christ should become man, that Christ should live in poverty, that Christ should die in shame for man. There would have been no need of Christ’s death if man had not sinned; but had there been a supposable need, Christ’s sacrifice could not have been deserved even if we had remained innocent, like our first parents in the Garden of Eden, before the Fall. I am sure that none of you could, for a minute, tolerate the thought that any human merit should deserve the incarnation of God upon this earth, the coming of the Divine Son in our nature into this world, and his shameful death upon the cross of Calvary.

But, next, this will be very evident from the nature of the work for which Christ was given. It is clear from the Scriptures that he was given for the undeserving. He came into the world to save sinners. He took upon himself, not our righteousness, for there was none for him to take; but, as we read just now, “the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” The prominent and paramount idea of Christ in the Scripture is that of a Priest offering sacrifice; but the Priest is for men who need atonement for their sins; the expiation, the sacrifice, the sin-offering, is for guilty men. How could Christ die on the cross for deserving men? The idea is absurd! No bruises were required for those who needed not to be healed. There needed to be no chastisement of peace for those who deserved well of God. The very work of Christ in dying, “the Just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God,” implies that we were at a distance from God. It also implies our injustice; and, consequently, our total inability to deserve such a gift at God’s hand. No, no; a Savior is for sinners; a dying Savior must be for those who deserved to die. Christ does not come, therefore, to us as deserving him; but he is God’s unspeakable gift.

From a sermon entitled "God's Unspeakable Gift."

Photo by FordRanger ; some rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The false Gospel... and the true

I have heard that an Englishman has professed himself a Mahometan because he is charmed by the polygamy which the Arabian prophet allows his followers. No doubt the prospect of four wives would win converts who would not be attracted by spiritual considerations. If you preach a gospel which makes allowances for human nature, and treats sin as if it were a mistake rather than a crime, you will find willing hearers. If you can provide absolution at small cost, and can ease conscience by a little self-denial, it will not be wonderful if your religion becomes fashionable. But our gospel declares that the wages of sin is death, and that we can only have eternal life as the gift of God; and that this gift always brings with it sorrow for sin, a hatred towards it, and an avoidance of it. Our gospel tells a man that he must be born again, and that without the new birth he will be lost eternally, while with it he will obtain everlasting salvation. Our gospel offers no excuse or cloak for sin, but condemns it utterly. It presents no pardon except through the great Atonement, and it will give that man no security who tries to harbor any sin in his bosom. Christ died for sin; and we must die to sin, or die eternally. If we preach the gospel faithfully, we must preach the law.

You cannot fully preach salvation by Christ without setting Sinai at the back of the picture, and Calvary in the front. Men must be made to feel the evil of sin before they will prize the great Sacrifice which is the head and front of our gospel. This is not to the taste of this or any other age; and therefore I am sure man did not invent it.

From a sermon entitled "Our Manifesto," delivered April 25, 1890.

Photo by j.anne4; some rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

He speaks to the young

...God regards not age in his speaking, but he condescends to speak with young children. Samuel was the Lord’s in his long-clothes, and served the Lord while a boy; and the Lord did not disdain to come to his little cot at night and call him by his name. We often talk as if it could not be possible that the Lord should speak with boys and girls; and yet, my brethren, there is not much more of a stoop in God’s talking with a child than in his speaking to a man. Indeed, the man has more of sin, and thus he is often farther off from God than the child. If the children here present are, by God’s grace, made willing to hear God’s voice — if they are obedient to the Lord, and have open hearts and attentive minds towards his Word — the great God will not pass them by. The Lord stoops to the lowliness of a child, and smiles at its simplicity. If young people are prayerful, thoughtful, reverent, believing, and obedient, the fact that, like Samuel, they are small in stature and young in years, shall be no detriment to them. The Lord will speak, and call them by their names.

My observation leads me to believe that many children have heard more of God than persons who are grown up. They may not find willing ears to hear what the Lord has said to them; but if they did, they could tell us marvellous things. Some of us remember how in our own childhood the Lord dealt wonderfully with us; and there were “prophecies which went before” concerning us, whose meaning we can now read, though at the time we did not understand them. I think that young Samuel was one of the fittest persons in the world for the Lord to choose as his messenger; and so far from its being unusual for young ears to hear the voice from heaven, I think they are the best prepared to do so. Four times the Lord said, “Samuel, Samuel”; and the child responded and said at last, when he knew who it was that called him, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.” Anyone here who can say from his heart, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth,” will not be long without a word from the Invisible.

From a sermon entitled "A Private Enquiry," delivered October 9, 1890.
Photo by Paul Hart; some rights reserved.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A word on poverty and riches

We may not judge a person’s character by his position in life. Certainly, poverty is no sign of grace, for there are many who bring themselves to it by their own wickedness; but on the other hand, wealth is no sign of divine favor, for many there be who will have their portion in this life only, and have no inheritance in the life everlasting. As a general rule piety is more often found among the poor than among the rich; and in persecuting times, it is almost of absolute necessity that a clean conscience should involve poverty.

Let this encourage any here who are just now very low in circumstances. You are where prophets and saints have been. God can lift you up, and would do so if it were really for your good. Be more concerned to act like a Christian in your present condition than to escape from it. Remember, however poor you are, your Master was poorer, and that whatever else you have not, you still have a share in his love. Seek to be rich in faith if you be poor in all besides. You can honor God much in your present condition, you can learn much in it, you can prove much the divine faithfulness, you can exercise much sympathy towards others; therefore be not impatient. Since other men both greater and better than you have trodden this rough road, bow before the determination of God’s providence, and ask for grace to be patient under your affliction.

From a sermon entitled "The Filling of Empty Vessels."

Photo by Lida Rose; some rights reserved.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Plead with God in prayer!

Make thou good use of thy God, and especially gain the fullest advantage from him by pleading with him in prayer. In troublous times, our best communion with God will be carried on by supplication. Tell him thy case; search out his promise, and then plead it with holy boldness. This is the best, the surest, the speediest way of relief.

What would some of us do if we had not a God to go to? Though we are not tried and troubled as some men are, and God has set a hedge about us, yet there are times in our life when we should die of a broken heart if we could not tell our griefs to God. Like Job, we could curse the day of our birth, and wish that we had never been born, if we were utterly bereft of God. We should look forward to annihilation as a hopeful thing if we could not speak with God, our ever-gracious Friend. But when we can get away to him, and tell out the whole matter, and lay hold upon him by the hand of faith, and plead his promise, then the darkened cloud withdraws, and we come out into the light again, and sing, “This God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our Guide even unto death.”

From a sermon entitled "The Master-Key, Opening The Gate Of Heaven," delivered May 23, 1886.

Photo by harvest_japan*; some rights reserved.

Friday, September 14, 2007

We have a better covenant in Christ

Today believers are not under the covenant of “If thou doest this thou shalt live,” but under that new covenant which says, “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” It is not now “Do and live,” but “Live and do;” we think not of merit and reward, but of free grace producing holy practice as the result of gratitude. What law could not do, grace has accomplished.

We ought never to forget this bottom of everything, this making of all things new by the fashioning of a new covenant, so that we have come out from under the bondage of the law and the ruin of the fall, and we have entered upon the liberty of Christ, into acceptance with God, and into the boundless joy of being saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, so that we “shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end.” You young people, as soon as ever you know the Lord, I exhort you to study well that word “covenant.” It is a key-word opening the treasures of revelation. He that rightly understands the difference between the two covenants has the foundation of sound theology laid in his mind. This is the clue of many a maze, the open sesame of many a mystery. “I make all things new,” begins with the bringing in of a better hope by virtue of a better covenant.

From a sermon entitled "Sermon for New Year's Day," delivered January 1, 1885.

Photo by Chris; some rights reserved.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Truthfulness in everything

The Lord Jesus says “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” May the Holy Ghost make you true to the core. Be afraid to say a word more than you feel. Never permit yourself to speak as if you had an experience of which you have only read. Let not your outward worship go a step beyond the inward emotion of your soul. If Christ be truly your Lord you will obey him: if he be not your Lord do not call him so. It is a great point in all your religious thoughts, beliefs, words, and acts to have the heart moving in all. It is an awful thing to make a high profession of sanctity, and yet live in the indulgence of secret vice. Such persons will listen to my observation and commend me for my faithfulness, and yet continue in their hypocrisy.

This is most painful. These men can speak the Jew’s language, and yet the tongue of Babylon is more natural to them: they follow Christ, but their hearts are with Belial. Ah, me! My soul is sick at the thought of them. Be true! Be true! If truth will carry you no further than despair, better that you stop in despair than gain a hope by a lie. Do not live on fiction, profession, presumption. Eat ye that which is good, and feed only upon the truth. Remember that when you build with the wood, hay, and stubble of mere notion you are only gathering materials for your own funeral pile in that day when the fire shall devour all lovers and makers of a lie. Be true as steel! Every wise builder for his soul must mind that.

From a sermon entitled "On Laying Foundations," delivered January 21, 1883.

Photo by Sami Keinänen; some rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Jesus has come to purify

“And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” — Malachi 3:3.

It is well for us to know that, whenever Jesus Christ draws near to a soul, he comes in utmost mercy to make it clean. Because he is in himself the incarnation of ineffable love, his coming always means that he is about to purify the soul, for the highest mercy is to rid us of sin. The grandest thing that God himself can do in the purpose of his love is to purify us into his own glorious holiness. Christ loved his church, and this is how he showed it; “He gave himself for it, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.”

The Well Beloved seeks to purify his chosen by the washing of water through the word. It is the way his love takes: for true love doth ever choose the way of holiness. That love which would lead its beloved into sin is lust; it deserves not the name of love; but true love will ever seek the highest health and wholeness (which is holiness) of its object. Pure affection will grieve to see a fault, mourn over a folly, and seek to remove a blot. Perfect love seeks the perfection of the thing it loves. Such is the perfect love of Christ: whenever he comes to a soul in love he comes as a refiner. He comes with this object, — to take away the dross from the silver, and to make the fine gold purer still.

From a sermon entitled "The Sitting of the Refiner."

Photo by Scott Robinson; some rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The God who cannot lie

If a man has given his word, that word is his bond. If a thing be solemnly signed and sealed it becomes even more binding, and he that would run back from a covenant would be thought to have forfeited his character among men. God forbid that we should ever think the Most High could be false to his word. It is not possible. He can do all things except this — he cannot lie; it is not possible that he should ever be untrue. He cannot even change: the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. He will not alter the thing that hath gone out of his lips. When then we come before God in prayer for a covenant mercy we have his truthfulness to support us. “O God, thou must do this. Thou art a sovereign: thou canst do as thou wilt, but thou hast bound thyself by bonds that hold thy majesty; thou hast said it, and it is not possible that thou shouldst go back from three own word. How strong our faith ought to be when we have God’s truth to lean upon. What dishonor we do to our God by our weak faith; for it is virtually a suspicion of the fidelity of our covenant God.

From a sermon entitled "The Covenant Pleaded."

Photograph by Jackie; some rights reserved.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"

“The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!"

This is and always has been the universal cry of the church of Jesus Christ. There is no one common theory about the exact meaning of that coming, but there is one common desire for it, in some form or other. Some of us are expecting the bodily coming, because the angel said when the cloud concealed the rising Christ, “This same Jesus who is taken up from you into heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” We therefore look for his descent upon the earth in person, to be here literally among us. Some expect that when he comes it will be to reign upon the earth, making all things new and bringing to his people a glorious period of a thousand years, in which there shall be perpetual Sabbath rest. Others think that when he cometh he will come to judge the world, and that the day of his appearing is rather to be regarded as the end of all things and the conclusion of this dispensation than as the commencement of the age of gold. There are some who think the millennium a dream, and the coming of Christ in person to be a mere fancy, but they believe that he will come spiritually, and they are looking for a time when the gospel shall spread very wonderfully, and there will be an extraordinary power about the ministrations of the word, so that nations shall run unto him and be converted to his truth. Now it would be very interesting to take up these various statements and speculations, but we do not want to do so, because after all, in whatever way men look at it, all the true people of God still desire the coming of Christ, and so long as he draws near they are content. They may have more or less light about the manner of it, but still the coming of Christ has been ever since the time when he departed the great wish and desire, yea and the agonizing prayer of the church of God.

“Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus,” is the cry of the whole host of the Lord’s elect. It is true that some have not always desired this coming from motives of the most commendable kind, and many become more than ever earnest in this prayer when they have been in a state of disappointment and sorrow, but still that which they desire is a right thing, and a promised blessing to be given in its time. I suppose the file of sorrow will always give a keener edge to the desire of Christ’s coming. Luther on one occasion, when much discouraged, said, “May the Lord come at once! Let him cut the whole matter short with the day of judgment; for there is no amendment to be expected.” When we get into this state of mind the desire, though right in appearance, may not be quite as pure as we think. Desires and prayers which grow out of unbelief and petulance can hardly be of the very best order. Perhaps when we more patiently wait and quietly hope, we may not be quite so feverishly anxious for the speedy coming, and yet our state of mind may be more sober and more truly watchful and acceptable than when we showed more apparent eagerness. Waiting must sit side by side with desiring: patience must blend with hope. The Lord’s “quickly” may not be my “quickly”; and if so, let him do what seemeth him good. It may be a better thing after all for our Lord to tarry a little longer, that so by a more lengthened conflict he may the better manifest the patience of the saints and the power of the eternal Spirit. It may be the Lord may linger yet a while, and if so, while the church desires his speedy advent, she will not quarrel with her Master, nor dictate to him, nor even wish to know the times and the seasons. “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly,” is her heart’s inmost wish, but as for the details of his coming she leaves them in his hands.

From a sermon entitled "The Two 'Comes." Delivered December 31, 1876.

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Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Spirit gives us a new life

What the Spirit of God does for us is to give us a new life, to start us afresh with a new nature upon a new career. Whoever believes in Jesus is born again. Regeneration is a great mystery, but you have that mystery. Do not puzzle yourself about the new birth, you have experienced it if you really believe in the Lord Jesus. As I tried to explain it just now, you are born again; you are a new creature in Christ Jesus; you have begun life again. It is of little use to attempt to mend the old nature, it is too far gone. There was a certain prince who used to swear this oath, “God mend me!” but a good man saith, “I think he had better make a new one.” Some men think God will mend them, but they err. I like the drunkard to become sober, and the thief to become honest, and mend himself as much as he can; but what he really wants is making over again. I have heard of a man who brought his gun to the gunsmith’s to be repaired. “You want it repaired,” says the smith. “Well, what it wants is a new stools, dock, and barrel.” That looked very like making a new one....

The old law had for its token the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the distinguishing ordinance of the new covenant goes much further. What does Christ say to his people in the act of baptism? He says, “Ye are dead. Ye must be buried, and must rise into newness of life.” Baptism cannot do this, but it sets forth our need of the death of the old nature and of resurrection into new life. We must be born again, not washed, not cleansed, not mended up, but made new creatures in Christ Jesus; and every man who believes in Jesus has undergone that wondrous change.

From a sermon entitled "Faith and its Attendant Privilege."

Photo by Bitterroot; some rights reserved.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Greatness in this life

If God adds to our store of the comforts of life, we shall be grateful. We shall be diligent in business, but we shall not be greedy and miserly. “While others stretch their arms, like seas, to grasp in all the shore,” we shall be content with far less things, for we know that greed after earthly riches brings with it slackness of desire as to true riches. The more hungry a man is after this world, the less he pines after the treasures of the world to come. We shall not be covetous, if we are like a weaned child; neither shall we sigh for position and influence; whoever heard of a weaned child doing that ? Let it lie in its parent’s bosom and it is content, and so shall we be in the bosom of our God. Yet some Christian men seem as if they could not pull unless they are the fore horses of the team. They cannot work with others, but must have the chief place, contrary to the word of the apostle who says, “My brethren, be ye not many masters, lest ye receive the greater condemnation.” Blessed is that servant who is quite content with that position which his master appoints him — glad to unloose the latchet of his Lord’s shoes — glad to wash the saints’ feet — glad to engage in sweeping a crossing for the king’s servants.

Let us do anything for Jesus, counting it the highest honor even to be a door-mat inside the church of God, if we might be such a thing as that, for the saints even to remove the filthiness from themselves upon us, so long as we may but be of some use to them, and bring some glory to God. You remember the word of Jeremiah to Baruch. Baruch had been writing the roll for the prophet, and straightway Baruch thought he was somebody. He had been writing the word of the Lord, had he not? But the prophet said to him, “Seekest thou great things for thyself? Seek them not.” And so saith the mind of the Spirit to us all. Do not desire to occupy positions of eminence and prominence, but let your soul be as a weaned child — not exercising itself in great matters.
From a sermon entitled "The Weaned Child."

Photo by Victor Geere; some rights reserved.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Looking Unto Jesus

This world saw our Lord Jesus for a very little time, but now it seeth him no more. It only saw him with the outward eye and after a carnal sort, so that when the clouds received him and concealed him from bodily vision, this spiritually blind world lost sight of him altogether. Here and there, however, among the crowds of the sightless there were a few chosen men who had received spiritual sight; Christ had been light to them, he had opened their blind eyes, and they had seen him as the world had not seen him. In a high and full sense they could say, “We have seen the Lord,” for they had in some degree perceived his Godhead, discerned his mission, and learned his spiritual character. Since spiritual sight does not depend upon the bodily presence of its object, those persons who had seen Jesus spiritually, saw him after he had gone out of the world unto the Father. We who have the same sight still see him. Read carefully the words of the verse before us: “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me.”

It is a distinguishing mark of a true follower of Jesus that he sees his Lord and Master when he is not to be seen by the bodily eye; he sees him intelligently and spiritually; he knows his Lord, discerns his character, apprehends him by faith, gazes upon him with admiration, and looks to him for all he needs. Now, my brethren, remember that as our first sight of Christ brought us into spiritual life, for we looked unto him and were saved, so it is by the continuance of this spiritual sight of Christ that our spiritual life is consciously maintained. We lived by looking, we live still by looking. Faith is still the medium by which life comes to us from the lifegiving Lord. It is not only upon the first day of the Christian’s life that he must needs look to Jesus only, but every day of that life, even until the last, his motto must be, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” The world sees him no more, for it never saw him aright; but ye have seen him and lived, and now, through continuing still to see him, you remain in life.

From a sermon entitled "Life In Christ," delivered January 1, 1871.

Photo by Bob Jagendorf; some rights reserved.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Jesus is still the same today

Whatever was in the heart of Christ before the stars began to shine, that same infinite love is there today. Jesus is the same today as he was when he was here on earth. There is much comfort in this thought. When he tabernacled among men, he was most willing to save. “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden,” was the burden of his cry; he is still calling to the weary and the heavy laden to come to him. In the days of his flesh he would not curse the woman taken in adultery, neither would he reject the publicans and sinners who gathered to hear him; he is pitiful to sinners still, and saith to them yet, “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” That delightful sentence which so graciously came from his lips, “Thy sins, which are many, are forgiven thee,” is still his favourite utterance in human hearts. O think not that Christ in heaven has become distant and reserved, so that you may not approach him. Such as he was here, a Lamb, gentle and meek, a man to whom men drew near without a moment’s hesitation, such is he now. Come boldly to him, ye lowliest and guiltiest ones, come near to him with broken hearts and weeping eyes.

Though he be King and Priest, surrounded with unknown splendor, yet still he retains the same loving heart, and the same generous sympathies towards the sons of men. He is still the same in his ability as well as in his willingness to save. He is Jesus Christ the anointed Savior still. In his earthly days, he touched the leper and said, “I will; be thou clean;” he called Lazarus from the tomb, and Lazarus came; sinner, Jesus is still as able to heal or quicken thee now as then. “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Now that the blood is spilt indeed, and the sacrifice is fully offered, there is no limit to the ability of Christ to save. O come and rely upon him, and find salvation in him now. Believer, it will cheer you also to remember that when our Lord was here upon earth, he showed great perseverance in his art of saving. He could say, "Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.” Rejoice that he is the same today, he will not cast one of you away, nor suffer his little ones to perish, he brought all safe in the days of his flesh; he takes care to keep all safely in these the days of his glory, he is the same today, then, as he was on earth.

From a sermon entitled "Jesus Christ Immutable," delivered January 3, 1869.

Photo by a tai ; some rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

It shall be well with the righteous!

“Say ye to the righteous, it shall be well with him.”

Briefly let me run over a few things which the Christian has... He has a Bank that never breaks, the glorious throne of grace; and he has only to apply on bended knee to get what he will. Over the door there is written, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.”

He has ever near him a most sweet companion, whose loving converse is so delightful that the roughest roads grow smooth, and the darkest nights glow with brightness. The coldest and most shivering days become warm when that companion talks. “Did not our hearts burn within us while he spake with us by the way?...”

The believer has an arm to lean upon also, an arm that is never weary, never feeble, never withdrawn; so that if he hath to climb along a rugged way, the more rough the road the more heavily he leans, and the more graciously he is sustained.

Moreover, he is favored with a perpetual Comforter - not an angel to whisper of heaven, but God himself, the blessed Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, to pour in oil and wine into every wound, and to bring to his remembrance the things which Christ hath spoken. Why, sirs, if there were anything that the Christian needed which were not supplied to him, I might admit that it must sometimes be ill with him; but when I read, “All things are yours, whether things present or things to come; or life or death, all are yours; and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s,” truly I conclude that it is and must be well with the righteous.

It is well with the righteous when he comes to die.... Lastly; it is well with the righteous after death. His disembodied spirit is in Jesus' bosom. Is it not well? When the trumpet sounds, his spirit comes down to meet the risen body; to behold the glorious advent of the once despised Son of David, to reign with him in his reign, and triumph in his triumph, and then to he caught up to sit upon his throne, and dwell with him where the glorified church is, world without end. “Say ye to the righteous, it shall be well with him.”

From a sermon entitled "Cheering Words and Solemn Warnings," delivered January 13, 1867.

Photo by Robin Ducker; some rights reserved.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Labor Day

We won't be publishing today in observance of the Labor Day holiday (US). Enjoy the day!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Jesus, The Stronger One

“When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace: but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils. He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.” — Luke 11:21-26.

THE Lord Jesus is ever in direct and open antagonism to Satan. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed,” has been most emphatically fulfilled. Christ has never tolerated any truce or parley with the evil one, and never will. Whenever Christ strikes a blow at Satan, it is a real blow, and not a feint, and is meant to destroy, not to amend. He never asks Satan’s help to subdue Satan, never fights evil by evil; he uses the weapons which are not carnal, but mighty to the pulling down of strongholds; and he uses them ever with this intention, not to dally with Satan, but to cut up his empire, root and branch. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”

There is a deadly, implacable, infinite, eternal hatred between Christ and that sin of which Satan is the representative. No compromise can ever be thought of, no quarter will ever be allowed. The Lord will never turn from him purpose to bruise Satan under his feet and to cast him into the lake of fire. Hence there was nothing more libelous than the assertion of certain Pharisees in Christ’s day, that he cast out devils through Beelzebub, the Prince of devils. O base suggestion, that the Lord of glory was in league with the dunghill Deity, the Prince of devils. He never fights the Lord’s battles with the devil’s weapons, he has not the most distant affiance with evil. It is not possible that he should be the friend and patron of that spirit of unhallowed charity which for the sake of peace would give tolerance to error. No, he never allies himself with Satan, to advance the kingdom of God, but he comes against him as a strong man armed, determined to fight until he wins a decisive victory.

From a sermon entitled "“The Strong One Driven Out By A Stronger One," delivered February 5, 1865.

Photo by Christian Guthier; some rights reserved.