Sunday, November 28, 2010
"Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise."
Here is this sin! Save me from it!
Here is this snare! Break it to pieces!
Here is this lust! Lord, subdue it!
Here is this temptation! Deliver me out of it!
Here is my proud heart! Lord, humble it!
Here is my unbelieving heart! Take it away, and give me faith; give me submission to
Your mind and will.
Take me as I am with all my sin and shame and work in me everything well pleasing in Your sight.
By J.C. Philpot
Saturday, November 27, 2010
“For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth; It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.”
- Romans 9:11-13
We trust that God will enable us to rightly divide the word of truth, and also to write in the spirit of love. We wish the reader to keep this expression in mind: “that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth.”
We believe Election is taught in the text. God loved Jacob and hated Esau before either was born. (Of course, this love and hatred dates back before the foundation of the world, or even before time was in existence.)
If God “decided” to love Jacob and hate Esau after they were born, then this would be according to their looks, or to some of their actions or deeds. That being true, then the purpose of God according to election would not stand. But the Scripture teaches that God chose a people in Him from before the foundation of the world. Therefore, God chose His people before they were in existence. The actions of the creature did not influence God in choosing them to be conformed to the image of His Son. Also, God did not choose His people because He foreknew they would be better than the rest. There is not any guess work in the matter. God called His people out of nature’s darkness and left the rest where they were. Therefore, by nature, God’s people are not any better than the rest.
In the sixth verse of this chapter, we note that Paul said, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.” Meaning, just because one is a natural Israelite does not mean that he is a Spiritual Israelite. Notice the 7th verse, “Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall Thy seed be called.”
Just because one is of the natural offspring of Abraham does not mean that gives him a right to heaven. Natural Israel is a type of Spiritual Israel.
“In Isaac shall Thy seed be called.” This does not mean the natural offspring of Isaac — Esau was a son of Isaac. In this instance, we see Isaac as a type of Jesus Christ.
Also, notice there is sharp difference between being of the seed of Abraham and being the children of Abraham. One may be of the children of Abraham and not be of the seed of Abraham, which include Gentiles.
We wish to call your attention to John 8:12-44. As Jesus was talking to the unbelieving Jews, they remarked that they were Abraham’s seed. Jesus answered, “I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because My word hath no place IN you. I speak that which I have seen with My Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto Him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, if ye were Abraham’s children, we would do the works of Abraham.”
Jesus plainly told these Jews that even though they were of the seed of Abraham, this did not mean they were the children of Abraham. They proved what they were by their works. They did not do the works of Abraham. “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17)
All of natural Israel are of the seed of Abraham, but all are not of the spiritual seed of Jesus Christ...
"Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved.”
The promise that was given to Abraham had a deep spiritual meaning, “For the promise, that he should be heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect: (no eternal life promised under the law — just natural blessings). Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all.” (Romans 4:13-16)
The meaning in a nutshell is this: The promise is sure to all the Spiritual seed—both Jews and Gentiles. The Jews are of the law, and the faith of Abraham also reaches to the Gentiles.
“Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” These were the twin sons of Isaac, so both were of the seed of Abraham. The Lord said unto Isaac’s wife: “Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:23)
As we think of the two nations, we think of sheep and the goats, or of the elect and the wicked.
The natural man would like to twist the Scriptures around and try to make it mean something other than what is written. We make no apologies for the truth, and it does not need any of our weak support. We know it is our lot to speak the truth in love, and we further believe it is our duty to earnestly contend for the faith once delivered to the saints, and not to “whitewash the truth”.
“Jacob have I loved.” Remember the Scripture: “Two nations are in thy womb.” Therefore, Jacob represents the nation of God’s people. “For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the lot of His inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 32:9)
This Scripture gives solid proof that Jacob represents the people of God whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance. (See Psalm 33:12)
“The Lord’s portion.”
This means a part or fraction, doesn’t it?
This is in harmony with the Scripture that says, “Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” (Romans 11:5)
Also we read, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)
Jesus did not say “big flock”, but rather little flock. This also shows that God’s people are few in number compared to all of mankind.
“Mine heritage is unto Me as a speckled bird, the birds round about are against her...”
This Scripture also shows that God’s people are few in number.
The Scripture says “as a speckled bird” in the singular, and not in the plural. Yet, the birds round about her are mentioned in the plural. This Scripture shows that there is a difference between God’s people and the world. God’s people are spoken of as “Children of Light.” The world is in darkness and hates the light. Therefore, God’s people are hated by the world.
“If ye were of the world, the world would love its own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”
Let us go back to Jacob.
“He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.”
I believe this Scripture shows where God finds all of His people. This not only applies to Jacob himself, but it also applies to all of God’s people.
We ask you dear reader, have you been there?
Do you know what it is to be in a barren condition?
Have you been in a place where there is not any rest?
Have you become so helpless (in a spiritual sense) that you could not lead yourself, and that you could not travel on your own strength and you desired guidance, and prayed as one did: “...lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Psalm 61:2)
God found Jacob in a desert land. We believe this means it was the time when God first made Himself known to Jacob. So, when God first made Himself known to you, you were not in a pleasant condition. God showed what you were by nature, and that you were a lost and ruined sinner. “Son of man, cause Jerusalem to know her abominations.” (Ezekiel 16:2) It is necessary for one to be taught that he is a sinner before he will have any need of mercy. When one realizes that he is a sinner, he cannot help but cry out for mercy. He cries because he feels the need of mercy. This prayer is not mechanical, but one cries for deliverance because he wants relief.
The love of God is everlasting. We believe that God has loved His people from all eternity. As God has chosen His people in Him from before the foundation of the world, we believe that God has loved this same people from before the foundation of the world. “I am the Lord, I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” (Malachi 3:6) We believe the comfort of this Scripture shows that God is not changeable, and that He will continue to love His people, and that He will never forsake them even though in their feelings they may feel that God has forgotten them, or forsaken them.
“But Esau have I hated.” The love of God is perfect, and the hatred of God is perfect. Love and hate are two opposites, just as light and darkness. We think of the love of God as the positive side, and the hatred of God as the negative. We believe the hatred of Esau is in a negative sense, meaning that God surely determined from all eternity not to have mercy upon all of Adam’s race. On the positive side, as God determined to save a few, He also determined in a negative sense to not save the rest of mankind, but rather to leave them where they are and let them perish in their sins. We believe this is what is meant in the sense that God hated Esau. Meaning, that God has hated the wicked from all eternity, or that God has determined beforehand to not have mercy upon the wicked, or not save the wicked from their sins, or just let them perish in their sins, in which they love and delight.
We quote from Zanchius:
“When hatred is ascribe to God, it implies (1) a negation of benevolence, or a resolution not to have mercy on such and such men, nor to endue them with any of those graces which stand connected with eternal life. So, ‘Esau have I hated’ (Rom. 9), i.e., “I did, from all eternity, determine within Myself not to have mercy on him.’”
(Absolute Predestination, page 58, by Jerome Zanchius.)
The wicked do not know anything about the wisdom of God. This wisdom is hidden. (See I Corinthians 2:7) Also, consider these Scriptures: “But if our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (II Corinthians 4:34)
“And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believe not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
(II Thessalonians 2:10-12)
“And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
Someone might say, “Wait just a minute. I thought you said God knows everything. Well, you just quoted a Scripture that God never knew the workers of iniquity. So, here is something that God Himself acknowledged that He did not know.”
In answer to that, we believe this means that God never knew the workers of iniquity or the wicked as His people.
As God never knew the workers of iniquity as His people, He certainly knew that they were workers of iniquity, and were not His people, didn’t He?
And, since God knew they were not His people, He certainly knew they were workers of iniquity, didn’t He?
If not, then how did He know they were?
This is a hard doctrine. The world cannot stand it, and they hate it.
“The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.”
(I Corinthians 2:14)
Paul knew there would be opposition brought forth. The world says, “How cruel it would be not to give everybody a chance to be saved.” If it were left up to us to save ourselves, or to perform certain conditions in order to merit our salvation, we would all be lost and doomed to everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, because we know that our righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of God.
Oh, how we do need the grace of God!
“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
Who are we to question God?
He was not obligated to save any.
Who are we to question as to why He does not save more, or why does He not save all?
If our souls were cast into hell, would we have any reason to blame God or charge Him with injustice?
But, rather, would not we say as the poet,
“If my soul were cast in hell,
Thy righteous law approves it well.”
“I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” This is God’s business, and He did not ask our advice.
Who is man to try to attend to God’s business?
When God created the world and everything therein He did not consult man about the matter. This was all done and accomplished before God formed man of the dust of the earth.
“Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, why hast Thou made me thus?”
It would do well that we take heed to that Scripture, and be reconciled to the will of God. God is the potter and we are the clay.
Let us remember that the wicked are not in trouble as other men, and they do not know anything about the soul afflictions of God’s people. (Psalm 73:5) “The wicked shall do wickedly and none of the wicked shall understand.” (Daniel 12:10)
The wicked will not come unto Jesus, and they will not cry for mercy, because they will never feel the need for mercy. The wicked love sin, and live in it, and have pleasure in unrighteousness. Some of the wicked may appear to be righteous or religious in the sight of men, but it is for some selfish motive to promote their own business, interest, or seeking the praise of men.
A sinner who comes to Jesus seeking mercy will not be turned back. Yet, one cannot come to Jesus unless he is drawn by the Father. “No man can come unto Me, except My Father which sent Me draw him.” (John 6:44)
We believe that God draws His people by His love. “I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to Me; and him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.”
This is a positive expression, and it means that God’s people will not fail to come to Jesus. Again, none of the wicked will be included in that number that will come to Jesus. Only those that were given to Jesus for His bride will come to Him; and all of them SHALL come.
Now, all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Therefore, all of God’s people are sinners, and they will come to Jesus seeking mercy and none of them shall be cast out.
Therefore, dear one, if you feel the need for mercy, and find that you do not have the ability to do anything to merit your salvation, this is some sweet evidence that you are included in that blessed number. If you have ceased from your own works, and you do not have any tools with which to work, it is some sweet evidence that you are a fit subject to enter into that rest.
“For he that is entered into His rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from His.”
— By Woodrow W. Hudson
Thursday, November 25, 2010
A Scrap or Two of Experience, and a Hint or Two on the Will of the Ever-Adorable and
We are commanded, whatever our hands find to do, to do it with all our might, for time is hastening away. Scripture tells us our life is but a vapor, or night-time.
The vapor is far spent, and the night-time is nearly over with some; for now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed, and the astonishing morning of eternity is at hand.
Therefore, if we recollect things that are good, we had better mention them before our tongues are silent in the grave.
I remember once, when I was a church clergyman, a farmer driving me in a gig; and as we passed by a village, he said to me, "Do you want any money? For if you do, I will give you or lend you a ten-pound note, whichever you like."
If a stone had fallen out of the skies into the conveyance, it would not, partly, have surprised me, or hardly or exceedingly very much more, for it was so entirely unexpected; and pride and disinclination would have made me unwilling to think of it. But it struck me now, after about thirty years back, that it was the hand of God.
I know the closeness with which I was cleaving to the Lord by prayer at that time. How many times have I asked this of the Lord, that I might not get a wink of sleep when I have gone to bed (believing it would not do my health any hurt), but that I might pray to God all the night long!
And what have you got by your prayers?
I have got the providential bounties of God and the assurance of the salvation of my soul. And if you can do the same, you will do pretty well. You will have got the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
I never got much from God by saying, "Give me this, or give me that;" but rather, by waiting upon God, and saying, first, "Am I thy child?" and secondly, "What is to be done, Lord?"
Hours and hours, and afternoons, and days, and weeks, in secret prayer have I waited in a waiting posture of soul before God, asking the Holy Spirit to enable me to look unto Jesus, and, like Jonah, to draw virtue from Jesus to heal all my sorrows. I never found a good deal of what is called prayer to do me much good. A good many prayers amount to this, secretly to get God to excuse them bearing the cross.
I have heard many prayers, the secret drift of which was this, that it would be a good thing if they could give trouble the slip, that is, if they could escape it.
How little value they put on the cutting operations of the Spirit of God; how little value they put on the bitter herbs of tribulation the elect are predestinated to eat Christ with. Bitter herbs, the bitter dispensations of providence and grace, are as needful as the sweets of grace. I look at those who are dictating to God for the sweets, and are as shy of the bitters as a dog is of the whip, and I ask, What do these get from God? Not much.
They have no hearty union with God in his will; they have a secret clash with God as regards the bitters. Repentance is not so sweet to them as faith; they cannot say, "I delight to do thy will, O my God."
You will find these men, most men, more or less, secretly at war with God; their language is this: "Give me this and give me that, and excuse me in that;" whereas, I believe that sound godliness and wisdom would wish for their repentance to be as sound as their faith, and their gospel obedience as sound as either.
I know what it is to get answers to my prayers through the bitterest and most roaring tempests of sorrow as well as through the most conspicuous fountains of joy felt; and generally through life, often to my dismay and anguish, have found that I have had to be led in paths that I have not known.
"Deep in unfathomable mines," &c., often has repentance never to be repented of to be worked out.
A person that I used to hear many years ago, at prayer-meetings, praying for all the sweet blessings of the covenant of grace, and whose repentance and longing for the bitters of godliness as well as the sweets I never could well see, said formerly to me, "No wonder you do not get anything from God; you do not ask for anything."
No; I used to be at that time afraid to ask for sorrows, and so asked comparativeiy for nothing direct, but communed with God about what was to be done; but am not afraid now to ask the blessed God for sorrow, but say, "Accomplish in me all thy will, and let that will be mine."
"Epaphras, who is one of you, saluteth you, always laboring, or striving, fervently for you in prayer, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
Here I make two remarks.
1. I pray that I may not suffer as an evil-doer, nor be buffeted for my faults; and that I maybe kept from evil, that it may not grieve me.
2. That if any one through grace is enabled to have a perfect union with God's will, whatever that will may be, he is more likely to be gently dealt with than those who are half suffocated with self-will.
Great men do not like people that are always saying "Give me this, and give me that." Kings would not. So we know not how to order our speech before the blessed Lord. And the safest prayer is indited prayer,—indited by the Spirit of God.
The Scriptures and our feelings are our guides in prayer under the Spirit of God felt. Godly people, who have the Spirit of God, and are elected, are not thus weary of prayer. After elect souls are brought into a personal felt union with the Son of God spiritually, they are rapt in wonder, astonishment, and praise.
The quickening influences of the Spirit of God are their wonderful topic all the day long. If God smites them, they fall under it; if he checks them, they halt; if he smiles on them, they run the way of his commandments. No miser loves gold half so much as a godly person is rapt in the influences felt of the Spirit of God.
"Can it be possible," says he, "that God who made the earth, the sea, and the skies, and all that in them is, can and does commune with me in Jesus Christ as a man communes with a friend, as a father with his son or daughter, or in the nearer ties still of virtuous husbands and wives?"
O, astonishing! And yet the Scriptures lead us to expect that such shall be the case between God and the elect. And when souls experimentally find it so in themselves, they are like the chariots of Amminadib; they are all on fire, as it were, with the golden gloss of the Sun of righteousness shining on their souls.
What makes godly people know it comes from God is, because their repentance is as firm as their faith, and their gospel obedience as sound as either. While replenished with quickening grace felt, softened by the dews of heavenly influence, soothed by the becalming influences of the Spirit of God, godly people go on confessing their sins, watching and praying against their besetments, having continual and unspeakable indignation against themselves on account of their shortcomings; they live a sort of heavenly life upon earth. Instantly serving God night and day, they hope to come to the ravishing fulfilment of all the promises where sorrow and sighing shall be no more for ever and ever. Having been enabled through grace to hunger and thirst to be delivered from the love and practice of sin, they will be delivered from its guilt and punishment; having had godly sorrow given, never to be repented of, and vital faith, and, as the fruits and effects, a genuine love to holiness universally, they are sure enough to be saved; and that has been my case, notwithstanding every mournedover shortcoming.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
We are reminded of the sore poverty that some of the saints of God had to endure in a former generation.
Work was now very bad, and provisions immensely dear. We had three small children, and had lost one about six months before.
One circumstance that occurred about this time I think I shall never forget. One week we had a very scanty allowance of food, not sufficient to last us through. In the hope of getting my piece out [of cloth; he was a handloom weaver], if it were possible, by Saturday, I worked very hard; but this hard work and the want of nourishment, our food being principally barley, so exhausted me that I was obliged through weakness to leave off on Friday at the very time when we had not one morsel of food remaining.
Here was a gloomy scene, not a morsel of food for husband, wife or child; the wife, too, with an infant at her breast. If ever I prayed in my life, I did that night, that the Lord would take away our appetite and send us to bed satisfied. And I believe the Lord heard my cry, for the poor children wanted to go to bed, and said not one word about anything to eat, for which I felt thankful.
But my trouble was about the morning, for I could not leave the morrow to take thought for the things of itself.
I rose very early the following morning, and worked till I was obliged to leave the loom, and could scarcely walk or stand, I was so faint and weak. My poor wife, who was as weak and sickly as I, burst into tears, and cried, "O what shall we do? I cannot live. I am sure we shall die of want!" and I was sunk so low, both in body and mind, that I verily believed it would be the case.
But what was the finishing stroke to my feelings was that my eldest child, who was about five years of age, looked up to me with tears running down its little cheeks, and cried, "Father, give me some bread; O my father, do give me some bread."
I thought my soul would have burst of grief. "O," cried I, "are my children to die of want before my face, and I cannot help them?"
I ran into a little place under the cellar stairs, fell on my knees before God, and entreated the Lord with all my soul to take away my life. "O Lord, do take away my life; let me die; how can I behold the death of wife and children?"
Whilst I was upon my knees entreating God to take away my life, these words came with great power and force into my mind: "And they did all eat and were filled; and they took up the fragments that remained twelve baskets full." And it was repeated again: "And they took up of the fragments that remained twelve baskets full."
I did all I could to put it away. "What," said I, "can it have to do with me in our situation? It has nothing to do with me."
I kept crying for some time, but the whole connection came so powerfully to my mind how the Lord had fed five thousand in the wilderness with five loaves and two fishes, and they were all filled. "Well," thought I, "He is as able to feed us now with fish and bread as He was then." That precious text flowed into my soul with such light, life, liberty, power and glory: "Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and for ever," and my soul was so refreshed, and my faith so strengthened by it that I was as sure that we should have a supply as that there was a God.
I arose off my knees as strong as a giant in mind and body, and told my wife that the Lord would most certainly send us something to eat, and very soon. She wanted to know how and when. "It does not matter," said I, "about the how nor the when. I know it will be the case, and my soul can bless God for it before it comes."
Just upon the back of this, a man knocked at the door, and I went and opened it to him. It was a gentleman's servant. "John," said he, "my master has bought some herrings to give to his factory people. I had no orders to leave you any, but I thought as I came along that I would leave you twelve, if you like to accept them."
I was so overpowered that I could scarcely speak to the man. The goodness, mercy and kindness of my dear Lord shone so brightly that I was quite lost in wonder. Whilst I was still wondering and admiring the goodness of God to a worthless worm, a neighbour sent two cakes of bread. I thought my very soul would have burst through my poor body, and taken its flight into glory unto my dear Jesus.
I withdrew into the little palace under the cellar steps, the very place in which, a few hours before, I had begged God to take away my life.
And O what a heavenly palace it was!
After returning my God thanks, some of the fish were soon ready, and we sat down to the table all crying together. "Come, my dears," said I, "we are now dining on the same food as Jesus and the five thousand dined on in the wilderness"; and I do believe in my very soul that Jesus sat with us at the table.
O the sweetness of that fish and bread!
And how wonderful the goodness and mercy of the Lord appeared to me in sending fish and bread as the food of the soul in promise, and then the first morsel of food to the body must be fish and bread also. The fish were so sweet and good that we soon made a breach into the twelve.
O how my poor soul was overcome with the lovingkindness of my dear Lord!
The remainder of the day was taken up with nothing but praises, thanksgivings, adorations and honours to my God for His wonderful deliverance.
- From Mercies of a Covenant God by John Warburton (1776-1857).