Thursday, November 17, 2011

JUDAS - DID HE PARTAKE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER?


The names of many characters recorded in the Old Testament often try God's saints, who fear lest they should prove apostates, and be found destitute of the Spirit and image of Christ. Abel had to contend with Cain and his false religion, Noah with Ham, Sarah with Hagar, and her son Ishmael, David was beset and pestered with Saul, and Ahithophel, and many others had similar trials to endure. In the New Testament also we find many characters spoken of who seemed to resemble the real saints, and yet bore not the true image of Christ, and had not the secret of the Lord which is with them that fear him.

The foolish virgins were with the wise, and were not detected until the cry was made, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him."

The primitive church, in the midst of prosperity and joy, was suddenly troubled when it was revealed that Ananias and Sapphira his wife, who had so recently joined them, had not the secret of God in their souls, and were struck dead for deception, and lying against the Holy Ghost: "And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things." (Acts 5:11).

All the above-named characters were found amongst the servants and saints of God, who were liable to err in judgment through not being able to search the heart and read the real state of hypocrites or deceivers.

But why the blessed Lord himself who knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, should have had Judas for an apostle is a deep mystery indeed. That Judas was a disciple of Christ is certain, that he was ordained by Christ to preach is also certain, and that he was chosen to be an apostle with the eleven is also certain.

The Lord Jesus bestowed upon Judas, as he did upon the other apostles, gifts for the work of the ministry, and apostleship to which he had ordained him, and so much was he like the others that they did not suspect him, and though Christ had said, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil," yet it does not appear to have aroused the apostles to search out the particular one of whom he spake.

But upon the occasion of Jesus and his disciples keeping the passover for the last time before he suffered, he said, "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me." (John 13:21).

Then arose the searching inquiry, and the favoured disciple, who was leaning on Jesus' breast, by the request of Peter, put the close and solemn question, "Lord, who is it?"

Christ did not answer by giving the name of the betrayer, but replied, "He it is to whom I shall give a sop when I have dipped it. And when he had dipped the sop, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon." (John 13:26).

It was not until after Judas had received the sop that Satan entered into him.

"Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly" (John 13:27).

The eleven apostles understood not what Jesus meant by the last sentence; but Judas both knew and felt it: "He then having received the sop went immediately out; and it was night." (John 13:30).

The next we read of Judas is in John 18:3: "Judas, then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons."

The other three evangelists agree with John that Judas partook of the passover, but do not state that he went out before the bread and wine was administered by Jesus to the eleven; but John, who probably wrote his gospel after the rest, makes the matter plain, inasmuch as he speaks of the passover supper only, and omits to mention the bread and wine, which are the emblems of Christ's body and blood.

It was at the eating of the passover that Jesus dipped the sop and gave it to Judas, and when he had received it Satan entered into him: "He then having received the sop went immediately out." By this statement from the pen of John the Holy Ghost has, we consider, made it very clear that Judas was not at the Table of the Lord to partake of the emblems of his broken body and precious blood; for if he went immediately out after having received the sop, and was not seen again by Jesus and his disciples until he came with the band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, he could not have been present at the Lord's Table. Besides, when the Lord's Supper was administered, sop was not dipped in the cup which contained the wine; but was dipped in the dish that contained the supper of the passover.

The cup which contained the wine, the emblem of the blood of the Lord, was not given to the apostles until after the supper of the passover, at which Judas was present, was ended, as shown by Luke: "Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you." (Luke 22:20).

We think no one will venture to say that the blood of Jesus was shed for Judas. Jesus had said to the twelve, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" (John 6:70).

He had also told them that one of them should betray him.

Now can we suppose that the Lord of life and glory would say to the betrayer, and the one he called a devil, "This is my body which is given for you; this do in remembrance of me?" and "This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you"?

Christ laid down his life for his sheep; he shed his blood for those only that were given to him by the Father, and these were chosen and loved in Christ, and can never fall out of him.

It is true Judas fell, but he was not a sheep.

He fell not out of God's love, for he was not in it.

He lost not the new birth, for he never had it.

He fell not from union to Christ, for he never experienced it; but he fell from the ministry and apostleship to which he had been called and ordained by Christ himself, that he might go to his own place.

It is, we again say, a deep mystery, and one that is calculated to make professors and ministers tremble, lest they should come short of eternal life and union with Christ, the living Head of his body, the church, who has said, "While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy Name; those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the sou of perdition; that the Scripture might be fulfilled" (John 17:12).

We hope the foregoing remarks are sufficiently plain to prove that the Lord did not hand the bread and wine, the emblems of his own body and blood, to Judas; consequently ministers go too far when they assert that Judas partook of the Lord's Supper.

By James Dennett - Gospel Standard - 1886

Sunday, October 09, 2011

WHAT HAS THE GOSPEL TAUGHT YOU?


What hath the gospel preached with the Holy Ghost, sent down from heaven into your souls, taught you?

Hath it taught you your sinnership?

Hath it taught you that you must anchor on Christ alone, without works?

Hath it taught you to inquire of God whether you are a sheep or a goat; an elect soul, or a reprobate one; a vessel of wrath, or a vessel of mercy; eternally justified, or eternally condemned?

Whether you are predestinated to be at the left hand for hell, or predestinated to be at the right hand for heaven, at the day of doom?

Has your mind been stunned out of the infernal mazes of universal redemption?

Do you believe there are sheep and goats from your own experience?

Has sin revived in you? (Romans 7:9)

Have you ever been shown the hell in your heart?

Has the lid of your heart ever been taken off by the Spirit of God?

Are you cursed, or blessed?

Damned, or saved?

Judge yourself, if the Spirit enables you, by what Ezekiel says, "Cursed is the pot whose scum is in it." (Ezekiel 24:6)

Is your scum in you?

Or, are you brought to lament, weep, mourn, sigh, and beat on your heart, day by day, very deeply indeed, saying, "O wretched man that I am"? (Romans 7:24)

What is the voice of your conscience, what is the voice of your heart?

Yes, or No, to these questions?

God does not want any one to mock him; he has mockery enough offered to him by the swarms and herds of parsons and professors of all denominations, without you helping them.

Let your honest conscience speak out; what are you,--a self-made Christian, or one made by God?

Are you a crab, or a sprout and twig in the glorious elect apple tree the Lord Jesus Christ?

Do you know what the anointing is which our text speaks of, or are you a tree destitute of sap, whom the Lord hath cursed?

What are you, or where are you?

By John Kay

Sunday, September 18, 2011

SALVATION - THE WORK OF GOD ALONE


“And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to, his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou!”
(Daniel 4:35)

These words were spoken by a great and mighty king who certainly had been one of the most proud and ostentatious monarchs that ever governed a kingdom, as his own words testify:

“The king sp├áke and said, Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty?”
(Daniel 4:30)

What a display of the pomp and pride of the human heart!

Nevertheless, this very man was brought down by the power of God, to acknowledge the superlative weakness of a mortal arm, and vindicate the sovereignty of Jehovah. What daring rebels must those persons be, who presume to arraign the eternal God at the bar of their human reason. Thousands, in the present day, are telling God he has a right to give all men a chance of being saved, and that unless he does so, he does not act fairly.

What awful words!

What! is the Most High God to give an account of his dealings towards mankind, to mortal flesh?

“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
(Genesis 18:25)

“Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid! For be saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.”
(Romans 9:14-15)

The Lord, in his infinite wisdom and love, was pleased to choose a portion of the human race that should be for the praise and glory of his grace. Had he seen fit, he might justly have passed by them and left them eternally to perish with the reprobate; but being determined to display the riches of his grace, in saving them from the rubbish and ruin of the fall, and raising them to eternal glory, he devised means (honorable to himself and all his glorious attributes) to bring about his gracious purposes:

“Not Gabriel asks the reason why;
Nor God the reason given;
Nor dares the favorite angel pry
Between the folded leaves.”


The church of God never merited anything at the hands of God. O, no;

“All title to favour she lost in the fall,
And was brought down to ruin, ‘neath Satan’s great thrall,
Her sins must have damned her, had not Jesus stood nigh,
And in her stead suffer, and bleed, too, and die.”


God gave his righteous commands to man; he had a sovereign right to do so; man broke them, consequently the curse was due to him: “The soul that sinneth shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:20)

What man or angel could revoke this curse?

No one; therefore says God’s word, by the mouth of his servant Isaiah, “And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore, his arm brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness it sustained him; for he put on righteousness as a breast-plate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head.” (Isaiah 59:16-17)

This arm of the Lord is no other than our glorious Redeemer, Jesus; “his reward is with him, and his work before him” (Isaiah 40:10).

The favoured Isaiah again cries out, “Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord; awake as in the ancient days, in the generations of old Art thou not it that hath cut Rahab, and wounded the dragon? Art thou not it which hath dried the sea, the waters of the great deep?” (Isaiah 51:9-10)

The eternal Father’s wrath due to the church - it was laid on the glorious Christ; here it’s awful blaze was totally quenched, and its mighty torrent, dried up, and no where else; but this was all done from the love he bore unto his spouse, as the poet sweetly sings:

“Twas love that brought the Saviour down,
To suffer, bleed, and die.”


Solomon says, “Many waters cannot quench love; neither can the floods drown it” (Song of Solomon 8:7).

Thus it was with the dear Redeemer: the waters of his heavenly Father’s wrath could not quench the love he had for his bride.

“On him almighty vengeance fell,
Which must have sunk his church to hell:
He bore, it for the chosen race,
And thus became their hiding-place.”


Oh, a precious hiding-place too! — from the wrath of God, the curse of the law, the rage of men and the spleen of devils. The Saviour’s merits are prevailing pleas before God, on behalf of his church; she is viewed complete in him. Jesus stood in the sinner’s place: “He was made sin for us.”

Not a sinner!

O, no; he was and is the spotless Son of God. Nevertheless, all God’s family are brought to acknowledge that they never deserved such a Saviour; that if ever they are saved, it must be by the matchless, unparalleled, and undeserved grace of God.

Where is the sensibly lost and ruined sinner (through the blessed Sprit’s teaching) but would blush at the idea of telling God he ought to have mercy on him?

Reader, if thou art one truly taught by God the Holy Ghost, thou seest thyself to be the vilest sinner on earth, and thy language before God, when approaching his sacred Majesty, is like the poet’s,

“My sole desert is hell and wrath.”


Paul declares, “That every mouth must be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God” (Romans 3:19).

Blessed be the eternal God, be stops his people’s mouths while on earth, and constrains them to plead guilty before him; but the rest of mankind are stopped from boasting in another world, by feeling the pains of hell, which their own consciences tell them they justly deserve, as the demerit of sin.

“By grace are ye saved.”
(Epheians 2:8)

Now, what is grace?

Free and pure mercy to the unworthy.

Then where is the merit of the sinner?

No where; he has none; no, he has not, by nature, so much as one good thought. I am confident, if God had left but one good deed for me to do, to complete my salvation, I must have been everlastingly damned, for all that mere nature could have done for me.

God declares, that “every imagination of the thought of the heart (or purposes and desires) is evil continually;” (Genesis 6:5) that is, while in a state of nature; consequently, if ever I do anything spiritually good, it is through the grace of God given me. Grace is God’s gift, and he will regard his own work, and give grace for grace; but it is bestowed all in and through the person, obedience, and blood of the dear Redeemer.

Salvation, how great the word!

How glorious a work!

In this was displayed the infinite condescension of the eternal, Three-One Jehovah. The Father in choosing, the Son in redeeming, and the Holy Ghost in regenerating the church of God, and making, known unto her her interest in the glorious work of Jesus. The everlasting glory of the everlasting Three-in-Out was consulted, when the plan of salvation was drawn in heaven, and we may rest assured, that Jehovah will not be frustrated in his designs.

What a wretched jargon would it be in the song we find the redeemed sing in heaven, to hear some of the party, every now and then, ascribing a song of praise to themselves, for accepting the offers of Grace, embracing heaven.

But this, blessed be God, shall never, be; for the song shall ever be sung, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-6).

The good Lord add his blessing to the few thoughts for his name’s sake.

A PENSIONER - Mr Mildenhall - Gospel Standard - 1837

Saturday, September 03, 2011

"ALL THAT THE FATHER GIVETH ME"


"All that the Father giveth Me shall come to Me; him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."
(John 6:37)

"All," not one, or two, or ten, or a million only, but "all."

And observe wherefore?

They are the Father’s gift to Jesus, and therefore they must come. He said elsewhere, "that I should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast given Me" (John 17:2).

Hence, therefore, there is a blessed provision, a blessed security, that they shall come; for they are the Father’s gift to Christ, as well as the purchase of Christ’s blood, and the promise is absolute in the charter of grace – "Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power" (Psalm 110:3). And, to give every possible encouragement to the poor coming sinner, whom God the Holy Ghost is leading by the hand to the all-precious Jesus, He adds, "And him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out."

By Robert Hawker

THE BLESSED DOCTRINE OF IMPUTATION


"Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree."
(Galatians 3:13)

Here Christ stands with all the curse of a broken law charged upon Him, as the sinner’s Surety; yea, as the curse itself. And consequently, as in the doing of this, He takes it from His people; they are redeemed from it.

The original debtor, and the Surety who pays for that debtor, cannot both have the debt at the same time charged upon them.

This, therefore, is the blessed doctrine of imputation.

Our sins are imputed to Christ.

His righteousness is imputed to us.

And this by the authority and appointment of JEHOVAH; for without this authority and appointment of JEHOVAH, the transfer could not have taken place. For it would have been totally beyond our power to have made it. But surely not beyond the right and prerogative of God. And if God accepts such a ransom; yea, He Himself appoints it: and if the sinner by Christ’s righteousness be made holy and if the sins of the sinner be all done away by Christ's voluntary sufferings and death; if the law of God be thus honoured, the justice of God thus satisfied, all the divine perfections glorified by an equivalent, yea, more than an equivalent, inasmuch as Christ’s obedience and death infinitely transcend in dignity and value the everlasting obedience of men and angels; surely, here is the fullest assurance of the truth of the doctrine of Christ’s imputed righteousness, and the perfect approbation of JEHOVAH to the blessed plan of redemption.

By Robert Hawker

"IF ONLY I HAD A MIRROR!"


A missionary doctor was on his rounds in a remote African village, trying to relieve the suffering of many who were undernourished and ill in other ways.

Whilst he was working there, he saw a man in the village with a large wound in his forehead, which was badly infected. He called the man over to him and said that his wound was serious and was in need of immediate treatment. No matter how the doctor argued and even the fellow villagers joined with him, no one could convince this man that the wound was as bad as they were saying!

"If only I had a mirror!" thought the doctor.

That evening, some friends of his came to visit, and he saw that one of them had a hand-mirror in their possession. He asked this lady if he could borrow the mirror on his rounds the next day, to which she gladly agreed. So, armed with this mirror, as soon as it was morning, the doctor hurried through the bush to the village, in order to find his reluctant patient.

As soon as the injured man saw his face in the mirror he was terrified, and pleaded with the doctor to do all he could to heal him.

How true a picture this is of mankind in general!

Whilst almost all will admit that they are not perfect until they have been shown their true state in the light of the mirror of God's Word and holy law, none will seek the only remedy which is in Christ Jesus.

Are you like this foolish man who would not face up to the true report of his state, or do you pray as David did: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me and know my thoughts: and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24).

By Gerald D. Buss

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

"LOVE YOUR ENEMIES"


The story is told of a minister who treated Christmas Evans most unkindly.

Soon afterwards this minister was charged with a crime and taken to court. On the day of the trial Christmas Evans went aside in secret and pleased with God that his old foe might be upheld, and his name cleared.

With what delight did he hear the news that he had been acquited. He was with a company of ministers at the time, but, with tears in his eyes, he immediately fell on his knees, exclaiming, "Thanks be unto Thee, O Lord Jesus, for delivering one of Thy servants from the mouths of the lions."

By B.A. Ramsbottom

Saturday, June 25, 2011

GOD WILL NOT ACQUIT THE WICKED


“The Lord is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked.”
(Nahum 1:3)

God will not acquit the wicked. This is a clear statement of the strict and perfect justice of God. God not only has a just and holy hatred for sin, but He also will judge it accordingly. God’s justice is perfect, not tainted and flawed like that of fallen men. Every sin, every transgression, every rebellion will meet the justice of God!

Where does that leave you and I?

We’re guilty of all the above.

Guilty!

And God has already said that He would not at all acquit the wicked. The answer is found in the precious name of Jesus. Representing the family of God while on the Cross, Jesus took our sins upon Himself.

He was not at all acquitted!

The just Judge did not “go easy” on Him. He suffered the due penalty for all of our dark, dirty sin. The blackness of our iniquity became His, and He suffered.

Oh, how He suffered!

Rejoice, believer in Christ. Rejoice, for you can have the assurance that the Just Judge has rightly and properly declared you righteous, free from guilt and sin.

Who can lay anything to the charge of God’s elect when God has justified?

His justice and grace have both been displayed through the Cross.

By Timothy Guess

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

THE WIND IS BLOWING


What wind is blowing?

It may be a wind of prosperity; things are looking well, at the moment.

“The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places...”
(Psalm 16:6)

Enjoy it; thank God for it; put the crown on His dear head while it lasts.

But remember – “In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity consider: God also hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him.”
(Ecclesiastes 7:14)

And when that day of adversity comes, don’t forget what the day of prosperity brought. Remember, it is the same God who sent the adversity that sent the prosperity, and He has not changed one iota in His faithfulness toward His dear people.

“Though He slay me,” says Job, “yet will I trust in Him.” (Job 13:15)

“He causeth His wind to blow.” (Psalm 147:18) It is His wind; His omnipotent, sovereign hand and arm that is stretched out in the lives of His dear people.

By Gerald D. Buss

Friday, April 01, 2011

THINGS A CHRISTIAN MUST KNOW


There are some sentiments which I believe essential to the very state and character of a true Christian. And these make him a Christian, not merely by being his acknowledged sentiments, but by a certain peculiar manner in which he possesses them.

There is a certain important change [that] takes place in the heart, by the operation of the Spirit of God, before the soundest and most orthodox sentiments can have their proper influence upon us.

It is sometimes called a new birth, sometimes a new creature or new creation, sometimes the causing light to shine out of darkness, sometimes the opening the eyes of the blind, sometimes the raising the dead to life.

Till a person has experienced this change, he will be at a loss to form a right conception of it; but it means not being proselyted to an opinion, but receiving a principle of divine life and light in the soul.

And till this is received, the things of God, the truths of the gospel, cannot be rightly discerned or understood by the utmost powers of fallen man who, with all his wisdom, reason and talents, is still but what the apostle calls the natural man, till the power of God visits his heart (1 Corinthians 2:14).

This work is sometimes wrought suddenly, as in the case of Lydia (Acts 16:14), at other times very gradually. A person who before was a stranger even to the form of godliness, or at best content with a mere form, finds new thoughts arising in his mind, feels some concern about his sins, some desire to please God, some suspicions that all is not right.

He examines his views of religion, hopes the best of them, and yet cannot rest satisfied in them. Today, perhaps, he thinks himself fixed; tomorrow he will be all uncertainty. He enquires of others, weighs, measures, considers, meets with sentiments which he had not attended to, thinks them plausible, but is presently shocked with objections, or supposed consequences, which he finds himself unable to remove.

As he goes on in his enquiry, his difficulties increase. New doubts arise in his mind; even the Scriptures perplex him, and appear to assert contrary things. He would sound the depths of truth by the plummet of his reason, but he finds his line is too short. Yet even now the man is under a guidance which will at length lead him right. The importance of the subject takes up his thoughts and takes off the relish he once had for the things of the world. He reads, he prays, he strives, he resolves; sometimes inward embarrassments and outward temptations bring him to his wits’ end. He almost wishes to stand where he is, and inquire no more. But he cannot stop. At length he begins to feel the inward depravity which he had before owned as an opinion: a sense of sin and guilt cut him out new work. Here reasoning will stand him in no stead.

This is a painful change of mind, but it prepares the way for a blessing. It silences some objections better than a thousand arguments, it cuts the comb of his own wisdom and attainments, it makes him weary of working for life, and teaches him, in God’s due time, the meaning of that text, “To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” Then he learns that scriptural faith is a very different thing from a rational assent to the gospel; that it is the immediate gift of God (Ephesians 2:8); the operation of God (Colossians 2:12); that Christ is not only the Object, but the Author and Finisher of faith (Hebrews 12:2); and that faith is not so properly a part of that obedience we owe to God, as an inestimable benefit we receive from Him, for Christ’s sake (Philippians 1:29); which is the medium of our justification (Romans 5:1); and the principle by which we are united to Christ, as the branch to the vine (John 17:21).

By John Newton

Monday, March 28, 2011

DEPENDANCE ON CHRIST ALONE


A JUDAS may have the sop — the outward privileges of baptism, the Lord's supper, Church-membership, etc.; but like John, to lean on Christ's bosom, is the gospel ordinance posture in which we should hear, pray, and perform all duties.

Nothing but lying on the bosom of Christ will dissolve hardness of heart, and make thee mourn kindly for sin, and humble thee indeed, and make thy soul cordial to Christ, yea, transform the ugliest piece of hell into the image and glory of Christ.

Looking at the natural sun weakens the eye; but the more you look at Christ, the Sun of righteousness, the stronger and clearer will the eye of faith be. Look but on Christ, and you will love him and live on him. See Christ, and you see all.

Keep your eye steadily fixed on his blood and righteousness, and only look at your graces in the second place; else, every blast of temptation will shake you. If you would so see the sinfulness of sin as to loathe it and to mourn for it, do not stand looking upon sin, but first look upon Christ as suffering and satisfying.

He who looks upon Christ through his graces, is like one that sees the sun in water, which wavers and moves as the water doth.

Look upon Christ only as shining in the firmament of the Father's grace and love, and there you will see him in his own genuine glory and unspeakable fulness.

He who sets up his sanctification to look at to comfort him, sets up that which will strengthen his doubts and fears.

Do but look off Christ, and presently, like Peter, you begin to sink into distress, discouragements, and despondency. A Christian seldom wants comfort, but by breaking the order and method of the gospel; i.e. by looking upon his own righteousness, instead of looking off to the perfect righteousness of Christ.

What is this, but choosing rather to live by candle-light than by the light of the sun ?

By Thomas Wilcox

CHRIST - ALL


"In the Lord shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory."
(Isaiah 14:24-25)

It is only the dying of that Just One for us who are unjust, that can bring us to God (I Peter 3:18).

He, who knew no sin, was made sin for us, that we, who were nothing but sin, might be made the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Christ is the Father's fulness of grace and glory. He must have the pre-eminence. He alone is worthy, who is to build·the spiritual temple of the Lord, and to bear the glory. Every vessel of this temple, from the cups to the flagolls, must all be hung upon Christ. He, by his Father's appointment, is the foundation-stone, corner-stone, top-stone.

Reader! dost thou profess the name of Christ, and partake of his ordinances? (Luke 1:6)

They are glorious privileges to the children of God. But if thou hast not the blood of Christ (I John 1:7; I Corinthians 3:11), at the root of thy profession, it will wither, and prove unprofitable.

Many are tossed to and fro, ready to be carried away with every wind of doctrine, ,by the sleights of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (Ephesians 4:14).

There are many foundations to build upon that are false, upon which much labour is spent in vain: some are not speaking the truth in love; neither are they growing up into him in all things, who is the Head, even Christ (Ephesians 4:15).

There cannot be a growing in Christ, without an union with him. Without that union, all that we do is accursed. If thou retain self-righteousness under thy profession, that viper will eat out all the vitals of it. Try and examine with the greatest strictness every day, what foundation thy profession and the hope of thy glory are built upon (I Corinthians 3:2): whether it be laid by the hand of Christ; if not, it will never be able to endure the storm which must come against it. Satan will throw it all down, and great will be the fall thereof (Matthew 8:27).

Consider, the greatest sins may be hid under the greatest duties and the greatest terrors. The wound which sin hath made in thy soul must be perfectly cured by the "blood of Christ"; not skinned over with duties, tears, enlargements, &c.

Apply what thou wilt besides the "blood of Christ," it will poison the sore. Thou wilt find that sin was never mortified truly, if thou hast not seen Christ bleeding for·thee upon the cross. Nothing can kill it, but a sight of Christ's righteousness.

Nature can afford no balsam fit for soul-cure. Healing from duty and not from Christ, is the most desperate disease.

Poor and ragged nature, with all its highest improvements, can never spin a garment fine enough (without spot) to cover the sours nakedness. Nothing can do it but Christ's perfect righteousness.

Whatsoever is of nature's spinning must be all unravelled, before the righteousness of Christ can be put on. Whatsoever is of nature's putting on Satan will come and plunder, and leave the soul naked and open to the wrath of God. All that nature can do, can never make up the least drachm of grace, mortify sin, or look Christ in the face. Thou mayest hear, pray, receive the sacrament, and yet be miserable, unless thou art made to see Christ superior to all other excellency and righteousness in the world, and all these falling before the majesty of his love and gract (Isaiah 2:17).

If thou hast seen Christ truly, thou hast seen pure grace, pure righteousness, in him every way infinite, far exceeding all sin and misery.

If thou hast seen Christ, thou wilt trample upon all the righteousness of men and angels, as to thine acceptance with God.

If ever thou hast seen Christ, thou hast seen Him a rock higher than self-righteousness, Satan, and sin (Psalm 61:2), and this rock doth follow thee (1 Corinthians 10:4), and there will be a continual dropping of honey and grace out of that rock to satisfy thee. (Psalm 81:16.)

Examine if ever thou hast beheld Christ as the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14-17).

Men talk much of believing whilst whole and sound; none do it-Christ is the mystery of the Scripture; grace the mystery of Christ. Believing is the most wonderful thing in the world. Put any thing of thine own to it, and thou spoilest it; Christ will not esteem it believing. When thou believest and comest to Christ, thou must be stripped of thine own righteousness, (O, that is hard!) all thy imaginary holiness, sanctification, duties, tears, humblings, &c., and bring nothing but thy sins, thy wants, and miseries; else Christ is not fit for thee, nor thou for Christ.

Christ will be a perfect Redeemer and Mediator, and thou must be an undone sinner, or Christ and thou wilt never agree. It is the hardest thing in the world to take Christ alone for righteousness: that is to acknowledge him Christ. Whatever comes in, when thou goest to God for acceptance, besides Christ, it is anti-Christ.

Make only Christ's righteousness triumphant.

All besides that is Babylon, which must fall if Christ stand, and thou shalt rejoice in the day of the fall thereof. Christ alone did tread the wine-press, and there was none with him (Isaiah 63:3).

If thou join any to Christ, Christ will trample upon it in fury and anger, and stain his raiment with the blood thereof.

Thou thinkest it easy to believe: was thy faith ever tried with an hour of temptation, and thorough sight of sin?

Was it ever put to resist Satan, and to feel the wrath of God lying upon thy conscience?

When thou wert apprehensive of hell and the grave, then did God show thee Christ, a ransom, a righteousness, &c.?

Then couldest thou say, "...Oh! I see grace enough in Christ"?

If so, thou mayest say that which is the greatest word in the world, I believe.

Untried faith is uncertain faith.

To believing there must go a clear conviction of sin and the merits of the blood of Christ. A thing more difficult than to make a world. All the power in nature cannot get so high in a storm of sin and guilt, as really to believe there is any grace, any willingness in Christ to save. When Satan chargeth sin upon the conscience, then for the soul, through the blessed Spirit, to charge it upon Christ, is gospel-like; that is to make him Christ. He serves for that use. When the soul, in all distresses, is enabled to say, "Nothing but Christ; Christ alone for righteousness, justification, sanctification, redemption (I Corinthians 1:30), not humblings, not duties, not graces," &c., then the soul is got above the reach of the billows.

All temptations, Satan's advantages and our complainings, are laid in self-righteousness and self-excellency. God pursueth these by many ways, as Laban pursued after Jacob for his images. These must be torn from thee, be as unwilling as thou wilt. With these Christ will not dwell; and till Christ comes in, guilt will abide. When guilt is raised up, there is no getting it allayed any way but by Christ's blood; all other ways tend to harden the conscience. Christ be thy peace (Ephesians 2:14), not thy duties, thy tears, &c.

Thou mayest oppose Christ by duties as well as by sins. Look at Christ, and do as much as thou canst. Stand with all thy weight upon Christ's righteousness. Take heed of having one foot on thine own righteousness, another on Christ's.

Until Christ come and sit upon the throne of grace in the conscience, there is nothing but guilt, terrors, secret suspicions, the soul hanging between hope and fear.

Whosoever is afraid to see sin's utmost vileness and to confess the desperate wickedness of his own heart, suspects the merits of Christ. However so great a sinner thou art (I John 2:1), if Christ be thine Advocate, thou wilt find him Jesus Christ the righteous. In all doubtings, fears, storms of conscience, Christ only can relieve thee: do not argue it with Satan, he desires no better: bid him go to Christ, and he will answer him. It is his office to be our Advocate (I John 2:1), to answer the law as our Surety (Hebrews 7:22), and justice, as our Mediator. (Galatians 3:20; I Timothy 2:5), He is sworn to that office (Hebrews 7:20-21).

Satan may quote, and corrupt, but he cannot answer Scripture.

It is Christ's word of mighty authority. Christ foiled Satan with it (Matthew 4:10). In all the Scripture there is not one hard word against a poor sinner stript of self righteousness.

Nay, it plainly points him out to be the subject of the grace of the gospel, and none else. To be enabled to believe Christ's willlingness, will make thee willing.

If thou findest that thou canst not believe, remember it is Christ's work to make thee believe. He works to will and to do of his own good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

"By grace thou art saved through faith, and not of thyself; it is the gift of God." Plead with him for that gift. (Ephesians 2:8).

Christ is the author and finisher of faith; and when the blessed Spirit enables thee to feel this, thou wilt mourn for thine unbelief, which would set up guilt in the conscience above Christ, undervalue the merits of Christ, and account his blood an unholy, a common and unsatisfying thing.

Thou complainest much of thyself: doth thy sin make thee look more at Christ, less at thyself?

That is right: otherwise complaining is but hypocrisy.

To be looking at duties, graces, enlargements, when thou shouldst be looking at Christ, is self-righteous and pitiful. Looking at them will make thee proud; looking at Christ's grace will make thee humble. In all thy temptations be not discouraged (James 1:2). Those surges may be, not to drown thee, but to heave thee off from thyself on the rock Christ.

Thou mayest be brought low, even to the brink of destruction, ready to fall. Thou canst not be brought lower than the belly of hell (Jonah 2:2). Many saints have been there.

Yet, there thou mayest cry; from thence thou mayest look again towards the holy temple (Jonah 2:4). Into that temple which was built with hands none might enter but purified ones, and with an offering too (Acts 21:26). But now Christ is our temple, sacrifice, altar, high priest, to whom none must come but sinners, and that without any offering but his own blood once offered (Hebrews 7:27).

Remember all the patterns of grace that are in heaven. Thou thinkest, "...Oh! what a monument of grace should I be!"

There are many thousands as rich monuments as thou canst be. No guilt ever exceeded the merits of Christ's blood; no sin could ever conquer the invincible power of his grace. Do not despair; hope still, even when the clouds are blackest.

Whatsoever Satan or conscience says, do not conclude against thyself. Christ will have the last word. He is Judge of quick and dead, and must pronounce the final sentence. His blood speaks reconciliation (Colossians 1:20), cleansing (I John 1:7), purchase (Acts 20:28), redemption (I Peter 1:18-19), purging (Hebrews 9:13-14), remission (Hebrews 9:22), liberty (Hebrews 10:19), justification (Romans 5;9), nearness to God (Ephesians 2:13).

Stand and hearken what God will say, for he will speak peace to his people, and to his saints (Psalm 85:8). He speaks grace, mercy, and peace (2 Timothy 1:2). That is the language of the Father and of Christ. Wait for Christ's appearing as the morning star (Revelation 22:16). He shall come as certainly as the morning, as refreshing as the rain (Hosea 6:3).

The sun may as well be hindered from rising, as Christ the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2).

Do not legalize the gospel, as if part remained for thee to do and to suffer, and Christ were but a half Mediator; as if thou must bear part of thine own sin, and make some satisfaction. May sin break thy heart, but not thy hope in the gospel.

When we come to God, we must bring nothing but Christ with us. Any ingredients, or any previous qualifications of our own, will mar faith. He that builds upon duties, graces, &c., knows not the merits of Christ. This makes believing so hard, so far above nature: if thou believest, thou must renounce as dung and dross (Philippians 3:7-8) thy privileges, thine obedience, thy baptism, thy sanctification, thy duties, thy graces, thy tears, thy meltings, thy humblings, and nothing but Christ must be held up.

Thy workings, thy self-sufficiency must be destroyed; thou must receive all at God's hand. Christ is the gift of God. (John 4:10, and 3:16.) Faith is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). Pardon is a free gift. (Romans 5:16.) Ah! how nature storms, frets, rages at this, that all is gift, and it can purchase nothing with its words and tears, and duties, that all works are excluded, and of no value in the justification of the soul (Romans 4:6).

If nature had been to contrive the way of salvation, it would rather have put it into the hands of saints and angels to sell it, than into the hands of Christ who gives freely, whom therefore it suspects. Nature would set up a way to purchase by doing; therefore it abominates the merits of Christ, as the most destructive thing to it. Nature would do anything to be saved, rather than go to Christ, or close with Christ, and owe all to him.

Christ will have nothing; but the soul would thrust somewhat of its own upon Christ. Here is the great controversy.

Consider; - didst thou ever yet see the merits of Christ, and the infinite satisfaction made by his death?

Didst thou see this when the burden of sin and the wrath of God lay heavy on thy conscience?

That is grace!

The greatness of Christ's merit is not known, but to a poor soul in deep distress. Slight convictions will have but a slight, low esteem of Christ's blood and merits.

Despairing sinner! thou lookest on thy right hand and on thy left, saying, "Who will show me any good?" thou art tumbling over all thy duties and professions to patch up a righteousness to save thee.

But when the Holy Spirit enables thee to look at Christ, thou wilt say, He is a Saviour, and there is none besides him (Isaiah 14:21).

Look any where else, and thou art undone.

God will look at nothing but Christ; and thou must look at nothing else. Christ is lifted up on high, as the brazen serpent in the wilderness, that sinners at the ends of the earth - the greatest distance - may see him and live (John 3:14-16). The least sight of him will be saving; the least touch healing to thee. And God intends thou shouldst look on him; for he hath set him upon a high throne of glory, in the open view of all poor sinners.

Thou hast infinite reason to look on him; no reason at all to look off him. He is meek and lowly of heart (Matthew 11:29).

He will do that himself which his creature has to do; viz., bear with infirmities (Romans 15:1). No pleasing himself; no standing upon points of law (Romans 15:2). He will restore the spirit of meekness (Galatians 5:1), and bear thy burdens (Galatians 5:2). He will forgive; not only till seven times, but seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-22). It put the faith of the apostle to it to believe this (Luke 17:4-6).

Because we are hard to forgive, we think Christ is so. We apprehend sin too great to be pardoned. We think Christ doth so, and measure infinite love with our line, infinite merits with our sins, which is the greatest pride and blasphemy (Psalm 103:11-12; Isaiah 40:16). Hear what he saith: "I have found a ransom." (Job 33:24).

"In him I am well pleased."
(Matthew 3:17)

God will have nothing else. Nothing else will do thee good, or satisfy conscience, but Christ, who satisfied the Father. God doth all upon the account of Christ. Thy deserts are rejection, wrath, hell. Christ's deserts are acceptance, pardon, life. He will not show thee the one, withont giving thee the other. It is Christ's own glory and happiness to pardon.

Consider; whilst Christ was upon the earth, he was more among publicans and sinners than scribes and pharisees, his professed adversaries, for they were righteous ones.

It is not as thou imaginest, that his state in glory makes him neglectful, scornful to poor sinners. No; he hath the same heart now in heaven. He is God and changeth not. He is "the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world" (John 1:29).

He went through all thy temptations, dejections, sorrows, desertions, rejections. (Matthew 4:3-12, Matthew 4:26; Mark 15:34; Luke, 22:44; Matthew 26:38). He hath drunk the bitterest of the cup, and left thee the sweet: the condemnation is out. Christ drank up all the Father's wrath at one draught; and nothing but salvation is left for thee. Thou sayest I cannot believe, I cannot repent. Christ is exalted a Prince and a Saviour, to give repentance and remission of sins (Acts 5:31).

Hast thou nothing but sin and misery?

Then Christ is just suited to thee. We would be bringing to Christ, and that must not be. Not a penny of nature's highest improvements will pass in heaven. Grace will not stand with works (Titus 3:6; Romans 11:6). That is a terrible point to nature, which cannot think of being stripped of all, not having a rag of duty or righteousness left to look at. Self-righteousness and self-sufficiency are the darlings of nature, which she preserves as her life. That makes Christ seem ugly to nature. Nature cannot desire him. He is just opposite to all nature's glorious interests. Let nature but make a gospel, and it would make it quite contrary to Christ. It would be to the just, tile innocent, the holy, &c. Christ makes the gospel for thee; that is, for neeuy sinners; the ungodly, the unrighteous, the
accursed.

Nature cannot endure to think the gospel is only for sinners: it will rather choose to despair, than to go to Christ upon such terms. When nature is put to it by guilt or wrath, it will go to its old haunts of self-righteousness, self-goodness, &c.

An Infinite Power must cast down those strong-holds.

None but the self-justiciary stands excluded by the gospel. Christ will look at the most abomiuable sinner before him; because to the other Christ cannot be made justification. He does not know or confess his sin (John 9:41). To say, in compliment, "I am a sinner," is easy; but to pray with the publican indeed, "Lord be merciful to me a sinner!" is the hardest prayer in the world.

It is easy to say, "I believe in Christ." But to see Christ full of grace and truth, "of whose fulness thou mayest receive, grace for grace;" that is saving.

It is easy to profess Christ with the mouth. But, to confess him with the heart, as Peter did, to be "the Christ, the Son of the living God," the alone Mediator; that is above flesh and blood.

Many call Christ Saviour; few know him to be so. To see grace and salvation in Christ, is the greatest sight in the world. Sights will cause applications. Men may be ashamed to think, in the midst of so much profession, they have known so little of the blood of Christ, which is the main thing of the gospel.

A Christless, formal profession is the blackest sight, next to hell. Thou mayest have many good things; one thing may be wanting, that may make thee go away sorrowful from Christ. Thou hast never sold all that thou hast, never parted with all thine own righteousness, &c.

Thou mayest be high in duty, and yet a perfect enemy and adversary to Christ in every prayer, in every ordinance. Free will, or moral capacity of believing in, turning unto, and calling upon God in Christ, the Scriptures, the Articles of the Church, and that experience of Christian men, declare the natural man hath not. His refuge is free grace. (John 6; I Corinthians 2; Romans 8:7).

The idea of it will soon be destroyed in his heart who hath had any spiritual dealing with Jesus Christ; as to the application of his merits, and subjection to his righteousness; Christ is every way too magnificent a person for poor nature to apprehend. Christ is so infinitely holy, nature durst not look at him; so infinitely good, nature can never believe him when it lies under full lengths of sin.

Christ is too high and glorious for nature to do so much as to touch.

There must be a divine nature first put into the soul, to make it lay hold on him who lies so infinitely beyond its sight. That Christ which the natural man can apprehend, is but a Christ of his own making; not the Father's Christ, not Jesus the Son of the living God, to whom none can come without the Father's drawing (John 6:44-46).

Judge not Christ's love by providences, but by promises (Psalm 63; Hebrews 12:1; Ecclesiastes 9). Bless God for shaking off false foundations; and for any way whereby he keeps the soul awakened and looking after Christ. Better is sickness and temptation, than security and slightness. It was the saying of a great saint, he was more afraid of his duties than his sins: the one often made him proud, the other always made him humble.

High professor! despise not weak saints. Thou mayest come to wish to be in the condition of the meanest of them.

It is a high privilege to be faithful to others' infirmities while sensible of thy own; to be content with little of the world, then little will serve; to think very little of the earth because unworthy the least; to think much of heaven not little, because Christ is so rich and free; to think every one better than thyself, and ever carry self-loathing about thee, as one fit to be trampled upon by all the saints; to see the vanity of the world, and the consumption that is upon all things, and love nothing but Christ; to mourn to see so little of Christ in the world, so few needing him-trifles pleasing them better; to mourn to think how many under baptism and ordinances, who are not under grace-looking much after duty and obedience, little after Christ, or grace; to prepare for the cross, and welcome it; to bear it triumphantly as Christ's cross, whether scoffs, mockings, jeers, contempt, imprisonments, &c.; to remember thy sins, Christ's pardonings; thy deserts, Christ's merits; thy weakness, Christ's strength; thy pride, Christ's humility; thy many infirmities, Christ's restorings; thy guilt, Christ's new applications of his blood; thy failings, Christ's assistance; thy wants, Christ's fulness; thy temptations, Christ's tenderness; thy vileness, Christ's righteousness.

Blessed soul! whom Christ shall strip of his own righteousness and wash in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14).

Woeful, miserable professor! who hast not the power within. Rest not on the judgment of thy fellow-creatures.

Thou mayest be applauded by them, and cast away in Christ's day of trial. Thou mayest come to baptism, and never "come to Jesus and the blood of sprinkling."

But thou who hast found Christ ALL and thyself absolutely NOTHING, who makest Christ all thy life, and art dead to all righteousness besides; thou art the Christian, one highly beloved, who hath found favour with God, a favourite of heaven.

Do Christ this one favour for all his love to thee; love his poor saints and people (the meanest, the weakest notwithstanding any difference in judgment); they are engraven on his heart, as the names of the children of Israel on Aaron's breast-plate, (Exodus 28:21). Let them be so on thine.

"Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper that love thee,"
(Psalm 122:6)

By Thomas Wilcox - Additions added by William Gadsby

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

LABOURING AFTER HEALING


"Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord, that walketh in His ways. For thou shall eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee."
(Psalm 128:1-2)

Blessed is every one that walketh in His ways. Not that walketh in our ways, but in His. We cannot by nature comprehend His way, that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and not the righteous.

We think, Now to-day I have watched, and not fallen into sin. Now Christ will surely love me. But this sets us at an infinite distance from Him. It is the utmost abomination to Him.

"No," says He: "if you are already washed, you have no need of Me."

"For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands."

Not any fleshly labour; but when we tremble at the judgments of God and at His Word, this will bring on great labour and sorrow, which is the spiritual labour set forth here.

Such will hear the voice: "Come unto Me, all ye that labour."

Therefore let me entreat you not to look only on the sore, but to the promised help of the Lord Jesus Christ. Do not ponder on the impossibilities and the evils, but consider Him and His power. For when you are most filled with fear and think your entanglements so strong and that you have been so long in them you will never get out, then is the very time that Christ comes. If there be the incorruptible seed in you in the very least degree, it will lead you to fear and tremble exceedingly when there comes on you a deadness to spiritual things, no sense or feeling, but a stupid frame; and to examine minutely into the causes of this declension, and to bring them before God. If these things are not in you, it is because you have not the Spirit of the Lord and do not walk in His ways, nor labour to be right with Him. For your declension and distance and deadness are marks at the best of God's great displeasure; and you have need to examine your sore, for you may find it infinitely worse than you have any idea of, very terrible indeed, and that you have not the Holy Spirit to help you. For if He does help you, you will surely be led to this scrutiny and spiritual labour.

I have never yet failed of rinding relief in humble confession and prayer. I have always found the Lord a kind Friend in the time of extremity. But He will be inquired of to do these things for us, and when I have been enabled to make Him my Refuge in good earnest, I have never known Him to fail me, or forsake me.

I hope the Lord will make you well to remember when spiritual liberty is lost. If the Spirit of God has discovered to you such death and distance, He will also work in you repentance unto life, and make you very fearful of continuing in such a place.

Be sure you be watchful and very tender of sad discoveries. Do not trifle with them, lest a worse thing come upon you. The light of the body is the eye; but if you shut that eye by sin, you know not whither to go.

I have often found the good of rather dwelling upon what the Lord says He will do for us, than considering what I am to do to attain these things. We are needy beggars, whether we know it or not. We have need to examine well His Word, and what the Lord has promised to do for such.

"But O," say you, "my sore rankles and pinches."

True, and can you mend it by your pity?

What brought on the sore?

Sin.

What makes it rankle?

Sin.

Your looking at it will not mend it, and if you are too proud to look up at the brazen Serpent, then you must perish. God has set up His dear Son for the salvation of sinners that are stung to death. This brazen Serpent becomes the resurrection and the life to those who look upon It. He heals the wound sin has made, and carries us safely through all future troubles, let them be what they may. Thus God is glorified, and the sinner saved and humbled.

A Morning Reading by James Bourne - 1841

COVENANT HELP


"Lord, how long wilt Thou look on..."
(Psalm 35:17)

The Lord does look on all the affairs of men. In the judgments around us we see that He does look on. Many of us are hampered and tied in many ways. David prays: "Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink."

Now in our troubles we shuffle about, and do not come to the point; but if we could come at once simply to the point and tell the Lord our case, and how we are oppressed, and say: "Lord, heal me," we should doubtless find He would do it.

"How long?" Just as long as Joseph hid himself from his brethren when they told him their pitiful tale: "Then Joseph could not refrain himself before them...and Joseph said unto his brethren: I am Joseph...Come near unto me" (Genesis 45:1-4).

"For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin."
(Hebrews 4:15)

But Satan is always trying to throw dust in our eyes, that this character of our Lord may be hidden. Therefore David prays: "Keep not Thou silence, O God."

"Forsake me not, O, Lord: O my God, be not far from me."
(Psalm 38:21)

"Take hold of shield and buckler, and stand up for mine help."
(Psalm 35:2)

We want this in all our troubles, that the Lord would be our shield and buckler to defend us.

"Thou which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him."
(Psalm 35:10)

Now the stability of the covenant is confirmed in two ways.

First, by the promises laid down in all parts of the Scripture, to Abraham and others, that God will be with His people, and never leave them nor forsake them. This covenant contains not only eternal life, but all helps on the road, all things that we stand in need of in the various circumstances into which we are brought. There is no trouble or difficulty for which a remedy is not provided.

But, secondly, its stability is shown ten thousand times more by the various helps and comforts of the Spirit in our hearts, and His kind hand towards us which we have met, and do meet with. All these are part of the covenant, and every time He appears for us in any difficulty is a fresh confirmation of it.

No one good thing has failed of all the Lord has spoken.

To whom could you go with your complaints and burden?

Do you not go to the Lord, and does He not appear?

And so He will to the end. He will never leave us nor forsake us.

The death of our late friend fills me with awe; not on his account, as if I had any doubt of his happy end, but as to the manner of it. Now a death-bed is not a place for preaching; it is a place of much discomfort, and no help but in the Lord. But I have been praying the Lord that, if consistent with His will, I may leave a humble testimony that I have walked in His fear. This is what it is your privilege to do, to beg of God that He would appear for you not only in spiritual, but also in temporal matters; that you may not be unwise, but understanding what His will is concerning you; and that you may make Him your Friend. If you want a fuller testimony of His mind toward you, let your request be made known to Him.

By James Bourne

Saturday, March 12, 2011

THE EXTENT OF CHRIST'S ATONEMENT


We do not believe that the Son of God laid down His precious life a sacrifice for the sins of the non-elect, but for His sheep.

We believe His sacrifice was of a substutionary character, that the sins which were laid upon Him by God (Isaiah 3) and which He undertook to bear and for which He suffered the unmitigated penalty of the outraged justice of God in a broken law, were the sins of His elect people of whom He said: "Thine they were and Thou gavest them Me...I pray for them" (John 17).

We believe that His one offering of Himself did eternally expiate all those sins which were thus imputed to Him, and that for His sake God fully and freely forgives the sins of all who are interested in the covenant of which Christ the Son incarnate is the blessed Mediator (II Corinthians 5:30; John 10:11; John 10:26; Hebrews 8:8-12, etc).

We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ as exalted at His Father's right hand, having finished the work His Father gave Him to do here on earth, is the propitiation for all who ever do or ever will seek reconciliation with God as feeling their alienation and guilt and repenting of their sins, which we believe none ever can or ever will do but those who are quickened into divine life by God the Holy Spirit, which we believe none are but those who were chosen unto eternal life in Christ Jesus before the world began (John 6:37, John 6:44-45, John 6:64-65; Ephesians 1:4, etc.).

We do not believe that Christ died for Judas but that He did die for Peter, and that the cause of Judas's reprobation and eternal ruin when he went to His own place was his own sin, and that the cause of Peter's repentance and pardon and restoration was the grace of God in Christ Jesus.

God's people are no better than others by nature. Christ died for the ungodly, but not for those who live and die in their sins.

To suggest that Christ exalted is the propitiation for the sins of every single individual of the human race, implies either that God received complete satisfaction for the sins of reprobates, such as Judas, Ahithophel, Saul, Cain, etc., or that His sacrifice was deficient; which to suggest is blasphemy.

Further, we believe that Christ is able to save all those to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7). Consequently, subject to the Holy Spirit's sovereign guidance and disposal, the gospel is to be preached or declared (not offered) to all men (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 16:6-7). But we believe that none but those (known only to the Lord Himself) who were predestinated unto salvation, do in fact ever really come thus to the throne of God's heavenly grace to plead for mercy on the ground of Christ's atoning blood; being taught by the Holy Spirit their helplessness and ruin (Romans 8:9, Romans 8:14, Romans 8:29-39, etc.).

We believe that repentance and faith are the gifts of Christ (Acts 5:31), and that these invaluable graces, like all other parts of salvation are bestowed freely on all the election of grace in the Lord's own time; and that everyone who is eternally saved in the Lord Jesus Christ will most heartily acknowledge that his salvation is absolutely attributable to the free grace of God, without any contribution of the sinner's own; that it is of God that His people are in Christ Jesus, who is made unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; that he that glorieth shall glory alone in the Lord (I Corinthians 1:30).

We believe that for substance the language of every regenerated sinner will be that of the psalmist: "Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that Thou bearest unto Thy people: O visit me with Thy salvation ; that I may see the good of Thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Thy nation, that I may glory with Thine inheritance."

"And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and upon the Israel of God " (Galatians 6:16).

And whatever the means used of God, whether terrible or more gentle, they are emphatically blessed whom the Lord causeth to approach unto Him, that they may dwell in His courts (Psalm 65:4; Jeremiah 31:3).

By J.H. Gosden

Saturday, February 26, 2011

WATER


Substance of a Sermon Preached - September 29th, 1811 - By William Huntington.
_______________________________________________

“When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.”
(Isaiah 41:17)

DEAR Friends:

Without any introduction, I shall come to my text. A poor man, first is one that is, as we say, over head and ears in debt, and hath not a mite to pay his creditors; therefore is exposed to a prison, there to remain, unless he is forgiven by his creditor, or a surety steps in to release him by paying the debt. So all sinners are debtors to God, owing a debt of perfect obedience to the holy law of God, and have not the wherewithal to pay, and our debts run very high. We are disobedient, miserable offenders, poor debtors; and unless the Surety steps in, the Days-man between the offender and offended Majesty, Justice binds the sinner over to punishment. And when the Holy Ghost, as the light of life, shines into the sinner’s understanding, that he may behold the dread commands which he is unable to answer, and God’s holy law which he has broken, the danger he is exposed to and punishment due to him, he is pricked in his reins; which makes him tremble, and his heart is wounded within him (Acts 2:87; Psa. 109:22; Isa. 66:2-5). But no hardened sinner trembles, though devils believe and tremble, they do not confess their sin to God, nor cry for mercy; but when the arrows of the almighty stick fast in a sinner’s conscience, he quickly feels the poison drink up his spirits; because life is given, and the light shines in to discover his deplorable state of soul-poverty. So, we see life and light are the cause of trembling. Those tremblers, sore broken and wounded in spirit, are the very persons to whom the promises are made in Christ Jesus. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart. O God, Thou wilt not despise.” “The Lord is nigh unto them that are of broken heart, and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” Those promises often encourage the poor to beg for mercy: “Forgive us our debts;” “Forgive all my sins.” The Jews were the fifty-pence debtors, and we poor Gentiles the five hundred. “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.”

Secondly. A man that is hungry, and hath not bread to eat, must be a poor man; and the prodigal was one, “I perish with hunger.” But he could not rest or remain there, for he was hunger-bitten, real necessity drove him forth: “I will arise and go to my father.” Although he was a great way off, yet he confessed his unworthiness; and we see that he not only received bread and unexpected bounty at his father’s table, but was also clothed, shod, and orna­mented. And that person whom God hath quickened by the gift of eternal life hath an appetite for heavenly food for his soul, and cannot live satisfied without Christ in his heart by faith. This is “the true bread,” of which if a man eat he shall live forever; nor is there any motion of life in a quickened soul without it. We know corporeal bread among us is called the staff of life; and for this the poor must beg; and the blessing is already upon them that hunger and thirst after righteousness: “Blessed are they that do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” “Behold my servants shall eat.” (Isa. 65:13).

Thirdly. A poor man is one compelled to beg or starve, therefore, obliged to ask, seek, and knock, importuning much. And thus it is with every spiritually-poor soul; it cannot cease begging. It is true, some do relax until necessity pinches them again, and fearing they shall die by the worm, the guilty conscience gnawing them under the influence of the Spirit of life, will keep them begging, until God gives them Christ Jesus, the Bread of heaven, believing they must starve and perish in hell to all eternity without it. But Christ stands forth, saying, “I am the true bread”, and He commands the hungry: “Ask, and ye shall receive; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Fourthly. He is a poor man that hath no clothes to cover himself. And so is every unconverted soul under heaven, through the Fall. His soul is naked before God (Gen 3:7). It is plain the bodies of Adam and Eve were naked before; but there was no sin to make them ashamed. And all men are naked and bare, God knows, and He will make us to know it too; and as our first parents sewed fig leaves together, so we will weave spiders’ webs, but they shall not become garments. Therefore, this useless labor of sewing, patching, and weaving has to be laid aside, while God’s counsel stands; but if not, you will he found naked at last, and your shame appear at the judgment. The righteous, in their own eyes, are disobedient; and remain naked in the sight of God, whether they know it or not. And the wise in their own conceit are ignorant before God, and submit not to Him: “For they, being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.”

Fifthly. We call a man poor, having nothing of his own; not a stick, as we say, hath he belonging to him; or as Job (1:21), he has lost all. And every sinner, convinced of sin by the Spirit of God, will be taught, sooner or later, that he is insolvent. He lost all in Adam; he hath no bed to rest upon, though he is weary; all his supposed goods are become dung, dross and death. Hear Paul speak in faith: “I count all things but dung and dross, that I may win Christ,” the chief good, for that which I thought was unto life, I found unto death. There is much soul-travail, labour, crying, and praying attends it; and being weary and heavy-laden in soul, we want rest, but having lost all the goods, we have no bed of our own to rest upon, so all the poor in spirit run to Christ Jesus, in whom all goods are treasured up. The graces of the Spirit,—these are the best goods I ever saw or had possession of; such as light, life, filial fear; faith, hope, love, gratitude, humility, meekness, patience, knowledge, temperance; brotherly-kindness, peace, rest, joy and praise. And my blessed Saviour, Jesus Christ, is the substance of the whole. In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and ful­lness of grace. He is the resting-place, our bed, our rest. He gives Himself, and we find rest in Him. “Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls; for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” “For we which have believed do enter into rest.” Do rest, believing in Christ. And the Lord Himself chooses Zion for His rest: “Arise, 0 Lord, into thy rest; for the Lord hath chosen Zion; He hath desired it for His habitation. This is My rest forever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it.” (Psalm 132). Here are provisions and all necessary goods laid up at our gates.

Sixthly. We call him a poor man who hath no house, or home, or dwelling-place; he wanders about, destitute and afflicted. So do we in a spiritually-poor condition: “They wandered in a wilderness, in a so1itary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them forth by a right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.” And this is where they shall find a sure dwelling, doing His commandments: “And he that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him: and hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us”. “He that eateth My flesh, and drinketh My blood, dwelleth in Me, and I in him.” “The Most High thy habitation, neither shall any plague come near thy dwell­ing.” Thus we see a little of the habitation or dwelling for the souls of believers; and there is a dwelling place or home for their bodies until the morning of the resurrection. The grave is to be a bed, or resting-place: “For I know that Thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living” (Job 30:23). “Man goeth to his long home” (Ecc. 12:5). “There the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest” (Job 3:17). And we have a comfortable hope of the glory of God: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens”. Christ is the sure house, the dwelling-place: “Now he that hath wrought for us the self-same thing is God, Who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit”.

Thus we have seen a little of the poor, and the riches treasured up in Christ for them, in time and to eternity. But there are many poor, yet they do not feel their need. And this may be seen in the Revelation 3:17: “Thou sayest, I am rich”, etc. Here we see the Laodiceans boasted of their works and goods, although they were destitute of every real good. But he that hath his eyes anointed to see himself, and is quickened to feel his need, acts like a poor honest trades­man who examines his book and finds himself in debt, and he cannot see any prospect of being capable of paying them; therefore he frets, and cannot rest, day or night. So the spiritually-poor and needy soul cannot rest satisfied, day or night. He hath no rest in his bones, because of his sins, or debts, they are as a sore that runneth and ceaseth not. He cries out, “I am poor and needy; forgive all my sins.” Such as those feel their need; and to such the promises are made: “The needy shall not always be forgotten; the expectation of the poor shall not perish forever”. See also Psalm 12:5, 35:10, 72:12-14, 103:7. This encourages the soul to go on praying, “Defend the poor and fatherless; deliver the poor and needy”. “He raiseth the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill.”We have seen the poor and needy man who seeks water, and there is none, and his tongue faileth for thirst. But what is the cause of this thirst; how does the tongue fail? And-what is the water?
First. We know, literally, that hard labour, much travelling in a dry land, and heat therewith, cause thirst. And so it is spiritually: Hard labour of mind, and sore labour of soul under God’s fiery law, and the heat of our corruptions, set on fire of hell, and God’s wrath revealed in the law,---this drinks up the spirit. God’s word appears against us. This con­sumes our spirits. “Is not My word like a fire?” Yes, and causes heat, a thirsting or earnest desire for the water of life, “but there is none”. Here we see a little of what causes thirst in some that never did enjoy the water of life, and others that have enjoyed it, yet again they thirst after the same; in fiery trials their tongues cleaving to the roof of their mouth (Lam. 4:4). And for the tongue to fail for thirst is when there is no moisture; so that a person cannot articulate, or speak clearly: “My tongue cleaveth to my jaws.” 0, my blessed Saviour! What is my thirst compared with Thine? Though I am so often troubled that I cannot speak, “my soul thirsteth for Thee, my flesh longeth for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.” Hungry and thirsty, their souls fainted in them.” Samson, even after he slew a thousand men, was afraid he should die with thirst (Judg. 15). And so it is, spiritually, with Gods thirsty seekers, but God satiated Samson, and so he will sat­iate all thirsty souls that seek water from Him. He hath Sm­itten the rock, and the water will flow out in His time. “I the Lord will hear them crying and sighing, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.” This encourages hope to look out, to watch, and wait. There is an appointed time to favour Zion.

But what is this water? We may take it in six views. For, literally, man cannot live without water; no more can the quickened soul live without this water of life.

1. The Lord is a fountain of living waters. See Jer. 2:1, Joel 3:16, Psalm 36:9, Rev. 22:1. This water is to cool, to satiate, cleanse and revive all such as feel their need.

2. Christ is the well of salvation. All fullness is in Him, and faith is the bucket and rope. “Therefore, with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”

3. Life is in this water, yea, the water of life: “Let him take the water of life freely.” This water runs among the valleys, among the little ones, to satiate their sorrowful souls, replenish the weary, and revive the drooping. This is the Water.

4. Peace we are to find in it: “For thus saith the Lord, behold, I will extend peace to her like a river; and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream.” “He hath ordained peace for us.” “Peace be unto you.”

5. By this water we are to understand the consolations of the Spirit, coming to us through Jesus Christ; “He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive.” The true church: “I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment. Lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day (Isaiah 27:3).” Also see Isa. 58, 35:6, 55:1. Here is water to wash the feet, strengthen the ankles, confirm the feeble knees, strengthen the loins, and at last, to swim over Jordan, to the fullness of God’s pleasure in Jesus Christ reserved for us. Blessed be our God for the waters of the sanctuary here by the way, —the waters of life (Ezek 47).

We have seen a little of the text, how the tongue faileth for thirst, and the waters reserved until the appointed time to be enjoyed, both in time and to all eternity. But while we are in this tabernacle there will be groaning, sighing, thirsting and panting after this same water; but thirst no more after any other, for they have proved bitter. “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so my soul panteth after thee, 0 God.” And when the thirsty soul finds his tongue fail, then his words are swallowed up of much grief, and sometimes he falls down before God in his trouble, and weeps it out, desiring to show before God his trouble by word, but is not able: “I am so troubled I cannot speak.” And if we cannot write it out, nevertheless he that searcheth it out knoweth the mind of the Spirit, and hears the desires of the heart: “Wherfore criest thou unto Me? Bid the children of Israel to go forward”. And we, having a sip of the brook by the way, are strengthened to go forward through all troubles, through Christ’s groanings and pantings for our salvation; and it will be a glorious sight for us when He comes in all His glory. There will be an end of our thirst­ing when we pass over the river Jordan, and arrive in heaven our home, to rest on our bed in our Father’s house, our dwelling, yea, our house, in an everlasting kingdom. So at last: “the poor heareth not rebuke”.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” We have grace here, and a comfortable hope of glory, and, as it is written, “Then shall I be satisfied, when I awake up in Thy likeness.” “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters; and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” Hallelujah! Salvation, and glory, and power unto the Lord our God.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

"IF GOD BE FOR US, WHO CAN BE AGAINST US"


“...If God be For Us, Who Can Be Against Us?”
(Romans 8:31)

This part of the verse in Romans 8:31 crosses my mind more frequently, I suppose, than most other Scriptures. It is a pleasant theme for meditation. From whence this loving kindness commenced, is a surprising and pleasant source of meditation.

In my youth, I, and every one I knew put great emphasis upon John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave” (and we erroneously thought this meant “offered”) “His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in” (and we thought this meant “upon,” or “about”) Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

We did not err in believing that upon faith in Christ, the believer had received a life that would thereafter last forever. We still believe that, and the text so teaches. We did not, for a long time, understand that anything that was “given” of necessity was something “received;” and anything that is “offered” to someone could be either “accepted” or “rejected.”

It takes very little reflection upon John 3:16 to see what a massive difference there is in what it teaches and what we foolishly believed. In fact, it was even years later before the word “world” in the text took on another meaning as to the object of God’s delightful care. But when we found, and reflected upon 1 John 5:19, “And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness,” and are exhorted to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” and read the Savior’s intercession to His Father in John 17: “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given” (and we used to add in our thought process that the next word was “to,” when it isn’t there!) “Me; for they are Thine, and all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine; and I am glorified in them.”

When these texts came into harmony, John 3:16 smoothly fit with the Biblical doctrine of unconditional election for the first time; and John 3:16 was understood consistently with the finished work of Christ in His atonement, for “My Sheep,” of whom He said, “I lay down my life.” Hence the “world” in John 3:16 was much more narrow than the “whole world” in 1 John 5:19 cited above.

There is, obviously, a difference between things that have a commencement in time and last “for ever,” or “everlasting;” and things that do not have a commencement at all, and yet exists.

We have no problem believing that God is “eternal.” The very first introduction of things “eternal” was in Deuteronomy 33:27, and refers to God. “The eternal God is thy refuge.”

Did God have a beginning?

Of course not. He is “eternal.”

Is God alive?

Of course He is. Even before God is introduced as “eternal,” He is introduced as “the living God.” Deuteronomy 5:26, “For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?”

While John 3:16 played an important part in our growing comprehension of God’s ever lasting love to the world of His elect people, or His body, the church; John 3:15 came first in order and we had, for some unknown reason, overlooked it. It reads, “That whosoever believeth in” (not, “about” or “upon”) “Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Why did we not notice that?

Perhaps because we are creatures of time, and with such creatures of time we automatically expect everything pertaining to us to have commenced in time. Or, maybe, in the kind Providence of God, it was needful for our conceptual development of our salvation. Be that as it may, the text teaches that believers, not only will not perish, but the actual spiritual life they have is eternal – just as their God is eternal. They may justly conclude that since life begets life of like kind, then such that are born of God are given a different type of life than they have by their earthly birth - which is natural life – an eternal life, as their spiritual Sire is eternal. We surely need not urge upon the reader that this life by which they are begotten into the kingdom of God has always existed, hidden in Christ in God from eternity.

“If God be for us, who can be against us,” and hence we find the spring of that everlasting life is in eternity, and is in an eternal living union with Christ. And thus, it puts our spiritual existence IN Christ from the foundation of the world, or ever the world was. If He loved us before our development, before our earthly existence, when we were but in seed-substance in Him, then “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.” - Romans 8:33.

If it is the eternal, living God that justifies us, then “who can be against us?”

It is Christ that died!

How did the apostle argue our case before us?

“He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

What a potent argument is that!

It was the eternal, living God that offered (yes, in this case, “offered”) His own Son for us all.

If He would do such a thing as this, then what might we expect further from Him?

We would notice that text says, “How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things.”

He does not consider one as “us” outside of Christ.

How amazing is that concept “in Christ”!

Equally amazing is that concept “with Him”! And when the two concepts are considered together how overwhelming is this knot doubled tied! Thus, we gained the concept that the eternal choice of God of His own elect was settled in the personal union they had with Christ from before the foundation of the world. Now raises that question afresh: “How shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?”

Can one expect anything good from Him except they first be IN Him?

And if that is so, can they receive anything without Him?

Those two most interesting words constantly dangle and tease the understanding of the heart of a child born of God. It is with determination our minds will not settle on any such foolish thought that God chose His people in the fallen corruption of cursed flesh. That had a beginning long after the Scripture settle the commencement of divine election IN Christ – from eternity, no less!

Can we wrap our puny little minds around what all we have IN Him?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places IN Christ:” - Ephesian 1:3.

And the continuing verse gives to us the “timely” so to speak, of this enormous treasure-trove of riches: “According as He hath chosen us IN Him before the foundation of the world” – or from eternity.

Listening to objectors, I wonder if these eternally blessed individuals lay dead, lifeless, in the loins of the eternal Christ; or were they “alive” while hid away in seed-substance IN Him?

I’m now an aged man, but I yet recall my biology lessons at Miller County High School in Colquitt, Georgia under the “Hoosier” teacher, Mr. Davis: Reproductive cells of both male and female must be “living cells” to produce offspring!” As a youngster, life was a mystery, and this lesson was highly entertaining then. I never forgot it. Now, an old man – a believer in eternal vital union of Christ with His body, the Church, the mystery is yet pronounced, but there is some light which language can convey. That “eternal God” is “eternal life;” and the believer’s “life is in His Son.”

“Whosoever hath the Son hath LIFE.” And His life is eternal; hence “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

Ah, how I wish I could drive that truth home as profoundly as I see it. The ramifications are staggering!

That eternal life was always the believer’s even while undeveloped IN Christ’s seed in eternity; and that living eternal life is the very source of their birth in the spirit in regenerating grace; - the “incorruptible seed, the word of God, that liveth and abideth forever.”

While only in seed substance, they were then blessed with every spiritual blessing IN Christ. Day by day after that eternal life is conveyed to them bringing them forth into the kingdom of God each page of divine Providence makes manifest those blessings they own for being IN Him. How often I have struggled to know the will of God for me in this, or that, or another; yet my faith rests in the understanding that when my eyes close in sleep at the end of each day, God’s absolute will was done for that assigned or appointed day and every blessing in both nature and grace that was mine was experienced according to His faithful promise. Some blessings I might in nature not see as such; and even murmur under a distressing load; but in its own time, I am made to bless the Lord for even that which at the time was uncomfortable to my flesh. I am fully aware that the greatest trials in my pilgrimage have also been my greatest blessings, and I would not to this day exchange them for the pleasures of Egypt.

I illustrate just one. The sharp sound of my wife’s angry voice rings yet in my mind, as on an occasion when the car she was driving had roared loudly only a half a block from our house in Gordon, Georgia, and I asked her: “Did you turn the engine off?” “Here are the keys,” she snapped. Little did I know that God in His sovereign Providence tore that car down and stopped us from driving it to church that week-end. And that week-end, attempts were made on our lives for preaching divine unconditional election. Had we been in our car that night, the mob would likely have recognized us in the dark. The following morning, there was nothing wrong with the car, and that loud roaring never returned.

When I was told later by Primitive Baptists (heretics who preach "conditional time salvation") that God “does not have anything to do with things in this time world,” there was no way they could ever convince me of that agnosticism.

I knew better by experience, and that burned deeply into my consciousness. In truth, if I was not a believer in absoluteness of predestination the day before, by Monday morning I was a full-blown absoluter! And still unwaveringly so!

While those events were in nature, yet the application and comfort from God’s over-shadowing care I count as one of those “spiritual blessings” giving me IN Christ and appointed for me that early as one of my experiences and blessings in time. Unlike Agnostics, I am fully persuaded that Paul meant exactly what he wrote when he said, “And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” I wouldn’t have it otherwise! Many of those “all things” are the “spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” And I imagine each reader of this, however so small in the kingdom of God, can find myriads of such blessings day by day in their own sojourn.

“How shall He not WITH Him freely give us all things?” –WITH Him. Yes, that word, too, is just as profound. When the truth of divine election in Christ removed the idea that God chose His people prospectively in Adam, the golden chain of free grace begin to be unearthed – link by link. Too many scriptures refer to the “elect” of God, the “chosen” in Christ Jesus, “the called” according to His purpose, His “sheep” for whom He laid down His life, etc., to even doubt the truthfulness of this ancient and despised “Gillite” doctrine – as it was then called. And once established in our faith, an interesting concomitant viewpoint arose. If the children of God were IN Christ, either Federally or representatively, as Gill thought, or actually in seed-substance, as Beebe, Dudley, Trott and Johnson taught, or both, then there can be no argument against the elect being with Christ when and wheresoever He ever was. There is no escape to that precious conclusion. Granted, they were not yet developed as existing persons no more than they played games under the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Paradise while mother Eve knocked some fruit to the ground, but in whatsoever sense they can be said to have been chosen IN Christ, in that same sense they have always been with Christ.

We may then ask, are there Scriptures that sustain that conclusion, or at least refer to it?

I think so. The apostle raises a question in Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?” And here he clinches his argument, saying, “Therefore we are buried WITH Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection.”

Hence, being IN and WITH Him, we were actually, and/or federally baptized in water – as Jerry Mourer said, “In Jordan!” Paul extends his argument even further noticing, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified WITH Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”

This unity, or oneness of His people in and with Him gives to them a very special and important relationship that none outside of Him can ever have. “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; and if children, then heirs of God, and joint-heirs WITH Christ.” – Romans 8: 16-17.

Obviously if anyone is one with another in so intimate a union, if one is an heir, so is the other. And I know of no other ground for this “old man” of the flesh to be an heir, since “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.” It is the “new man,” or “new creature” and its union with the “old man” that gives rise to the adoption as heirs in the heavenly family by any member of the Adamic family!

I had thought for years that the scripture above spoke only of baptism in water, never considering it as the baptism by virtue of union with and in Christ. But Paul did not drop the subject never to use his arguments here again. In his own defense against some who questioned his apostleship, he again visits that argument, and writes: “For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.” - II Corinthians 13:4; and in Colossians 2:20 he says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”

There seems to me to be two senses of divine quickening mentioned in the New Testament. “It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing,” referring to the quickening of one to spiritual life or generation in God’s kingdom. But in order for the Soul of Christ to re-enter his “dead body” in His resurrection, there was a need for that dead body, which saw no corruption, to be “quickened” to life again in order to be raised up from the dead. And, it seems that Ephesians 2:5 might very well be such, and if so, Paul again relates his unity in that profound event, saying, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath (He) quickened us together WITH Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised US together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus;”

“For we are His workmanship created IN Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” - Ephesians 2:10

What shall we say to these things?

Who shall lay a charge against one of God’s elect?

Is it not true they are said to have the circumcision of Christ?

“Ye are complete IN Him, which is the Head of all principalities and power: IN whom also ye are circumcised WITH the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: (which circumcision was on the eighth day after His birth) BURIED WITH HIM in baptism, wherein also ye are RISEN with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He QUICKENED TOGETHER WITH HIM, having forgiven you all trespasses.”

With the apostle, we have come to understand that we are “dead, and our life is hid WITH Christ in God,” so that truly it is a faithful saying, “for if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him,” – II Timothy 2:11.

The greatest of all blessings one is blessed with in heavenly places IN Christ, is that eternal unity with the precious Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, and have all the riches of His grace bestowed upon one that is IN Him and WITH Him in His Headship of His body, the Church.

By Stanley Phillips