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Archive for May, 2012

The Chief Way to Attain Wisdom

The chief means for attaining wisdom, and suitable gifts for the ministry, are the holy Scriptures, and prayer. The one is the fountain of living water, the other the bucket with which we are to draw. And I believe you will find, by observation, that the man who is most frequent and fervent in prayer, and most devoted to the word of God, will shine and flourish above his fellows. Next to these, and derived from them, is meditation. By this, I do not mean a stated exercise upon some one particular subject, so much as a disposition of mind to observe carefully what passes within us and around us, what we see, hear, and feel, and to apply all for the illustration and confirmation of the written word to us. In the use of these means, and an humble dependence upon the Lord in all the changing dispensations we pass through our spiritual experience will enlarge: and this experience is the proper fund of our ministerial capacity, so far as it may be considered inherent in us: Pro_16:23; Mat_13:52; 1Jo_66 1:3.

These means are of universal importance. The wisest can do nothing without them, the weakest shall not use them in vain. There are likewise subordinate means, which may be healthful, and should in general be attended to: yet they ought not, I apprehend, to be considered as a sine qua non in a minister’s call and fitness. The first preachers had them not, and some in the present day are enabled to do well without them. Under this head, I principally intend all that comes under the usual denomination of literature. A competent acquaintance with the learned languages, history, natural philosophy, &c. is very desirable. If these things are held in a proper subservience, if they do not engross too much of our time, nor add fuel to the fire of that self-importance which is our great snare; they may contribute to increase and enlarge our ideas, and facilitate our expressing ourselves with propriety. But these attainments (like riches) are attended with their peculiar temptations; and unless they are under the regulation of a sound judgment, and a spiritual frame of mind, will prove (like Saul’s armor to David) rather cumbersome than useful in preaching. The sermons of preachers thus qualified are often more ingenious than edifying, and rather set off the man, than commend the Gospel of Christ.

As you desire my advice with respect to your future studies, I shall comply without hesitation or ceremony. The original Scriptures well deserve your pains, and will richly repay them. There is doubtless a beauty, fulness, and spirit, in the originals, which the best translations do not always express. When a word or phrase admits of various senses, the translators can only preserve one; and it is not to be supposed, unless they were perfectly under the influence of the same infallible Spirit, that they should always prefer the best. Only be upon your guard lest you should be tempted to think, that, because you are master of the grammatical construction, and can tell the several acceptation’s of the words in the best authors, you are therefore and thereby master of the spiritual sense likewise. This you must derive from your experimental knowledge, and the influence and teaching of the Spirit of God.

Another thing which will much assist you, in composing and speaking properly and acceptably, is logic. This will teach you what properly belongs to your subject, and what may be best suppressed; and likewise, to explain, divide, enumerate, and range your ideas to advantage. A lax, immethodical, disproportionate manner, is to be avoided. Yet beware of the contrary extreme. An affected starchiness and over-accuracy will fetter you, will make your discourses lean and dry, preclude an useful variety, and savor more of the school-lamp, than of that heavenly fire which alone can make our meditations efficacious, and profitable either to ourselves or our hearers. The proper medium can hardly be taught by rule; experience, observation, and prayer, are the best guides.

John Newton-Letter 2 Extract of a Letter to a Student in Divinity.

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Pardon and Justification

I think it is not needful that I should say that the, pardon of sin must always be the effect of grace. That statement is self-evident. It cannot be due to any man that he should have his sins pardoned, for sin that deserves a pardon is no sin; it cannot be due to any man that God should make him righteous, he being himself unrighteous; that must be a spontaneous action on God’s part, flowing from his pure bounty and love. No man can claim forgiveness, it were sacrilege to suggest that he could. Pardon and justification, then, must be freely given us by God’s grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

Charles H. Spurgeon–Sermon No. 958 “Dei Gratia”

All of Grace—How May faith be Illustrated?

Chapter eight

How May Faith be Illustrated?

TO MAKE THE MATTER Of faith clearer still, I will give you a few illustrations. Though the Holy Spirit alone can make my reader see, it is my duty and my joy to furnish all the light I can, and to pray the divine Lord to open blind eyes. Oh that my reader would pray the same prayer for himself!

The faith which saves has its analogies in the human frame.

It is the eye which looks. By the eye we bring into the mind that which is far away; we can bring the sun and the far-off stars into the mind by a glance of the eye. So by trust we bring the Lord Jesus near to us; and though He be far away in Heaven, He enters into our heart. Only look to Jesus; for the hymn is strictly true —

 

There is life in a look at the Crucified One,

There is life at this moment for thee.

 

Faith is the hand which grasps. When our hand takes hold of anything for itself, it does precisely what faith does when it appropriates Christ and the blessings of His redemption. Faith says, “Jesus is mine.” Faith hears of the pardoning blood, and cries, “I accept it to pardon me.” Faith calls the legacies of the dying Jesus her own; and they are her own, for faith is Christ’s heir; He has given Himself and all that He has to faith. Take, O friend, that which grace has provided for thee. You will not be a thief, for you have a divine permit: “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” He who may have a treasure simply by his grasping it will be foolish indeed if he remains poor.

Faith is the mouth which feeds upon Christ. Before food can nourish us, it must be received into us. This is a simple matter — this eating and drinking. We willingly receive into the mouth that which is our food, and then we consent that it should pass down into our inward parts, wherein it is taken up and absorbed into our bodily frame. Paul says, in his Epistle to the Romans, in the tenth chapter, “The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth.” Now then, all that is to be done is to swallow it, to suffer it to go down into the soul. Oh that men had an appetite! For he who is hungry and sees meat before him does not need to be taught how to eat. “Give me,” said one, “a knife and a fork and a chance.” He was fully prepared to do the rest. Truly, a heart which hungers and thirsts after Christ has but to know that He is freely given, and at once it will receive Him. If my reader is in such a case, let him not hesitate to receive Jesus; for he may be sure that he will never be blamed for doing so: for unto “as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God.” He never repulses one, but He authorizes all who come to remain sons for ever.

The pursuits of life illustrate faith in many ways. The farmer buries good seed in the earth, and expects it not only to live but to be multiplied. He has faith in the covenant arrangement, that “seed-time and harvest shall not cease,” and he is rewarded for his faith.

The merchant places his money in the care of a banker, and trusts altogether to the honesty and soundness of the bank. He entrusts his capital to another’s hands, and feels far more at ease than if he had the solid gold locked up in an iron safe.

The sailor trusts himself to the sea. When he swims he takes his foot from the bottom and rests upon the buoyant ocean. He could not swim if he did not wholly cast himself upon the water.

The goldsmith puts precious metal into the fire which seems eager to consume it, but he receives it back again from the furnace purified by the heat.

You cannot turn anywhere in life without seeing faith in operation between man and man, or between man and natural law. Now, just as we trust in daily life, even so are we to trust in God as He is revealed in Christ Jesus.

Faith exists in different persons in various degrees, according to the amount of their knowledge or growth in grace. Sometimes faith is little more than a simple clinging to Christ; a sense of dependence and a willingness so to depend. When you are down at the seaside you will see limpets sticking to the rock. You walk with a soft tread up to the rock; you strike the mollusk a rapid blow with your walking-stick and off he comes. Try the next limpet in that way. You have given him warning; he heard the blow with which you struck his neighbor, and he clings with all his might. You will never get him off; not you! Strike, and strike again, but you may as soon break the rock. Our little friend, the limpet, does not know much, but he clings. He is not acquainted with the geological formation of the rock, but he clings. He can cling, and he has found something to cling to: this is all his stock of knowledge, and he uses it for his security and salvation. It is the limpet’s life to cling to the rock, and it is the sinner’s life to cling to Jesus. Thousands of God’s people have no more faith than this; they know enough to cling to Jesus with all their heart and soul, and this suffices for present peace and eternal safety. Jesus Christ is to them a Savior strong and mighty, a Rock immovable and immutable; they cling to him for dear life, and this clinging saves them. Reader, cannot you cling? Do so at once.

Faith is seen when one man relies upon another from a knowledge of the superiority of the other. This is a higher faith; the faith which knows the reason for its dependence, and acts upon it. I do not think the limpet knows much about the rock: but as faith grows it becomes more and more intelligent. A blind man trusts himself with his guide because he knows that his friend can see, and, trusting, he walks where his guide conducts him. If the poor man is born blind he does not know what sight is; but he knows that there is such a thing as sight, and that it is possessed by his friend and therefore he freely puts his hand into the hand of the seeing one, and follows his leadership. “We walk by faith, not by sight.” “Blessed are they which have not seen, and yet have believed.” This is as good an image of faith as well can be; we know that Jesus has about Him merit, and power, and blessing, which we do not possess, and therefore we gladly trust ourselves to Him to be to us what we cannot be to ourselves. We trust Him as the blind man trusts his guide. He never betrays our confidence; but He “is made of God unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.”

Every boy that goes to school has to exert faith while learning. His schoolmaster teaches him geography, and instructs him as to the form of the earth, and the existence of certain great cities and empires. The boy does not himself know that these things are true, except that he believes his teacher, and the books put into his hands. That is what you will have to do with Christ, if you are to be saved; you must simply know because He tells you, believe because He assures you it is even so, and trust yourself with Him because He promises you that salvation will be the result. Almost all that you and I know has come to us by faith. A scientific discovery has been made, and we are sure of it. On what grounds do we believe it? On the authority of certain well-known men of learning, whose reputations are established. We have never made or seen their experiments, but we believe their witness. You must do the like with regard to Jesus: because He teaches you certain truths you are to be His disciple, and believe His words; because He has performed certain acts you are to be His client, and trust yourself with Him. He is infinitely superior to you, and presents himself to your confidence as your Master and Lord. If you will receive Him and His words you shall be saved.

Another and a higher form of faith is that faith which grows out of love. Why does a boy trust his father? The reason why the child trusts his father is because he loves him. Blessed and happy are they who have a sweet faith in Jesus, intertwined with deep affection for Him, for this is a restful confidence. These lovers of Jesus are charmed with His character, and delighted with His mission, they are carried away by the lovingkindness that He has manifested, and therefore they cannot help trusting Him, because they so much admire, revere, and love Him.

The way of loving trust in the Savior may thus be illustrated. A lady is the wife of the most eminent physician of the day. She is seized with a dangerous illness, and is smitten down by its power; yet she is wonderfully calm and quiet, for her husband has made this disease his special study, and has healed thousands who were similarly afflicted. She is not in the least troubled, for she feels perfectly safe in the hands of one so dear to her, and in whom skill and love are blended in their highest forms. Her faith is reasonable and natural; her husband, from every point of view, deserves it of her. This is the kind of faith which the happiest of believers exercise toward Christ. There is no physician like Him, none can save as He can; we love Him, and He loves us, and therefore we put ourselves into His hands, accept whatever He prescribes, and do whatever He bids. We feel that nothing can be wrongly ordered while He is the director of our affairs; for He loves us too well to let us perish, or suffer a single needless pang.

Faith is the root of obedience, and this may be clearly seen in the affairs of life. When a captain trusts a pilot to steer his vessel into port he manages the vessel according to his direction. When a traveler trusts a guide to conduct him over a difficult pass, he follows the track which his guide points out. When a patient believes in a physician, he carefully follows his prescriptions and directions. Faith which refuses to obey the commands of the Savior is a mere pretense, and will never save the soul. We trust Jesus to save us; He gives us directions as to the way of salvation; we follow those directions and are saved. Let not my reader forget this. Trust Jesus, and prove your trust by doing whatever He bids you.

A notable form of faith arises out of assured knowledge; this comes of growth in grace, and is the faith which believes Christ because it knows Him, and trusts Him because it has proved Him to be infallibly faithful. An old Christian was in the habit of writing T and P in the margin of her Bible whenever she had tried and proved a promise. How easy it is to trust a tried and proved Savior! You cannot do this as yet, but you will do so. Everything must have a beginning. You will rise to strong faith in due time. This matured faith asks not for signs and tokens, but bravely believes. Look at the faith of the master mariner — I have often wondered at it. He looses his cable, he steams away from the land. For days, weeks, or even months, he never sees sail or shore; yet on he goes day and night without fear, till one morning he finds himself exactly opposite to the desired haven toward which he has been steering. How has he found his way over the trackless deep? He has trusted in his compass, his nautical almanac, his glass, and the heavenly bodies; and obeying their guidance, without sighting land, he has steered so accurately that he has not to change a point to enter into port. It is a wonderful thing — that sailing or steaming without sight. Spiritually it is a blessed thing to leave altogether the shores of sight and feeling, and to say, “Good-by” to inward feelings, cheering providences, signs, tokens, and so forth. It is glorious to be far out on the ocean of divine love, believing in God, and steering for Heaven straight away by the direction of the Word of God. “Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”; to them shall be administered an abundant entrance at the last, and a safe voyage on the way. Will not my reader put his trust in God in Christ Jesus. There I rest with joyous confidence. Brother, come with me, and believe our Father and our Savior. Come at once.

Charles H. Spurgeon—All of Grace

Follow along as we read this short but marvelous book. Download your copy here. Next chapter will go out Monday May 28 at 8:00 AM. Central Standard Time.

Chapter VIII : Of Christ the Mediator

1. It pleased God in his eternal purpose, to chuse and ordain the Lord Jesus his only begotten Son, according to the Covenant made between them both, (a) to be the Mediator between God and Man; the (b) Prophet, (c) Priest and (d) King; Head and Saviour of his Church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world: Unto whom he did from all Eternity (e) give a people to be his seed, and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.

a Is. 42.1. 1 Pet. 1.19,20.

b Act. 3.22.

c Heb. 5.5,6.

d Ps. 2.6, Luk. 1.33 Eph. 1.23 Heb. 1.2. Act. 17.31

e Is. 53.10. Joh. 17.6. Rom.8:30.

2. The Son of God, the second Person in the Holy Trinity, being very and eternal God, the brightness of the Fathers glory, of one substance and equal with him: who made the World, who upholdeth and governeth all things he hath made: did when the fullness of time was come take unto him (f) mans nature, with all the Essential properties, and common infirmities thereof, (g) yet without sin: being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Womb of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Spirit coming down upon her, and the power of the most High overshadowing her, (h) and so was made of a Woman, of the Tribe of Judah, of the Seed of Abraham, and David according to the Scriptures: So that two whole, perfect, and distinct natures, were inseparably joined together in one Person: without conversion, composition, or confusion: which Person is very God, and very Man; yet one (i) Christ, the only Mediator between God and Man.

f Joh. 1.1.14. Gal. 4.4.

g Rom. 8.3. Heb. 2.14.16,17. ch. 4.15.

h Luk. 1.27,31.35.

i Rom. 9.5. 1 Tim. 2.5.

3. The Lord Jesus in his humane nature thus united to the divine, in the Person of the Son, was sanctified, & anointed (k) with the Holy Spirit, above measure; having in him (l) all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; in whom it pleased the Father that (m) all fullness should dwell: To the end that being (n) holy, harmless, undefiled, and full (o) of Grace, and Truth, he might be throughly furnished to execute the office of a Mediator, and (p) Surety; which office he took not upon himself, but was thereunto (q) called by his Father; who also put (r) all power and judgement in his hand, and gave him Commandement to execute the same.

k Ps. 45.7. Act. 10.38 Joh. 3.34.

l Col. 2.3.

m Col. 1.19.

n Heb. 7.26.

o Joh. 1.14.

p Heb. 7.22.

q Heb. 5.5.

r Joh. 5.22.27. Mat. 28.18. Act. 2.36.

4. This office the Lord Jesus did most (s) willingly undertake, which that he might discharge he was made under the Law, (t) and did perfectly fulfill it, and underwent the (u) punishment due to us, which we should have born and suffered, being made (x) Sin and a Curse for us: enduring most grievous sorrows (y) in his Soul; and most painful sufferings in his body; was crucified, and died, and remained in the state of the dead; yet saw no (z) corruption: on the (a) third day he arose from the dead, with the same (b) body in which he suffered; with which he also (c) ascended into heaven: and there sitteth at the right hand of his Father, (d) making intercession; and shall (e) return to judge Men and Angels, at the end of the World.

s Ps. 40.7,8. Heb. 10.5-11. Joh. 10.18.

t Gal. 4 4. Mat. 3.15.

u Gal. 3.13. Isa. 53.6. 1 Pet. 3.18.

x 2 Cor. 5 21.

y Mat. 26.37,38. Luk. 22.44. Mat. 27.46.

z Act. 13.37.

a 1 Cor. 15.3,4.

b Joh. 20.25.27.

c Mark 16 19. Act. 1.9,10,11.

d Rom. 8.34. Heb. 9.24

e Act. 10.42. Rom. 14.9,10. Act. 1.10. [It appears that the reference to Act_1:10 in the original manuscript is an error. Most modern editions have Act_1:11, which seems more relevant.]

5. The Lord Jesus by his perfect obedience and sacrifice of himself, which he through the Eternal Spirit once offered up unto God, (f) hath fully satisfied the Justice of God, procured reconciliation, and purchased an Everlasting inheritance in the Kingdom of Heaven, (g) for all those whom the Father hath given unto him.

f  Heb. 9.14. ch. 10.14.Rom. 3.25,26.

g Joh. 17.2. Heb. 9.15.

6. Although the price of Redemption was not actually paid by Christ, till after his Incarnation, (*) yet the vertue, efficacy, and benefit thereof were communicated to the Elect in all ages successively, from the beginning of the World, in and by those Promises, Types, and Sacrifices, wherein he was revealed, and signified to be the Seed of the Woman, which should bruise the Serpents head; (h) and the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World: (i) Being the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

* 1 Cor. 4.10. Heb. 4.2. 1 Pet. 1.10,11.

h Rev. 13.8.

i Heb. 13.8.

7. Christ in the work of Mediation acteth according to both natures, by each nature doing that which is proper to it self; yet by reason of the Unity of the Person, that which is proper to one nature, is sometimes in Scripture attributed to the Person (k) denominated by the other nature.

k Joh. 3.13. Act. 20.28.

8. To all those for whom Christ hath obtained eternal redemption, he doth certainly, and effectually (l) apply, and communicate the same; making intercession for them, uniting them to himself by his spirit, (m) revealing unto them, in and by the word, the mystery of salvation; perswading them to believe, and obey; (n) governing their hearts by his word and spirit, and (o) overcoming all their enemies by his Almighty power, and wisdom; in such manner, and wayes as are most consonant to his wonderful, and (p) unsearchable dispensation; and all of free, and absolute Grace, without any condition foreseen in them, to procure it.

l Joh. 6.37. ch. 10.15.16. & ch. 17.9.Rom. 5.10.

m Joh. 17.6, Eph. 1.9. 1 Joh. 5.20.

n Rom. 8.9.14.

o Ps. 110.1. 1 Cor. 15.25,26.

p Joh. 3.8 Eph. 1.8.

9. This office of Mediator between God and Man, is proper (q) onely to Christ, who is the Prophet, Priest, and King of the Church of God; and may not be either in whole, or any part thereof transfer’d from him to any other.

q 1 Tim. 2.5.

10. This number and order of Offices is necessary; for in respect of our (r) ignorance, we stand in need of his prophetical Office; and in respect of our alienation from God, (s) and imperfection of the best of our services, we need his Priestly office, to reconcile us, and present us acceptable unto God: and in respect o our averseness, and utter inability to return to God, and for our rescue, and security from our spiritual adversaries, we need his Kingly office, (t) to convince, subdue, draw, uphold, deliver, and preserve us to his Heavenly Kingdome.

r Joh. 1.18.

s Col. 1.21. Gal. 5.17.

t Joh. 16.8. Ps. 110.3 Luk. 1.74.75.

The 1677/89LondonBaptist Confession

Who is pressing into the Kingdom?

Benjamin Cox Answered an Objection by a Pelagian to a Certain Passage

The Objection

The Law and the Prophets were until John, since that time the kingdom of God is preached and every man, &c. Luke 16:16

Answer

The words in this verse which you would have to be opened are thus commonly rendered: The kingdom of God is preached, and every man presses into it,” suppose this translation to be right and the meaning to be the same that our common expositions have held forth in this ensuing interpretation; Every man, that is to say, many men or every older and degree of men presseth into it,” that is, with willingness and forwardness receives the doctrine of the kingdom and so entering into the kingdom of God. Suppose I say that this were indeed the meaning of this place, yet it would be found to make nothing at all against us. For still it will remain true, that the Elect do this through God’s special grace. But the truth is, that this interpretation does not teach our Savior’s meaning in this place. The words should thus be rendered; “every man offereth violence unto it.” The meaning is this, “every man,” that is, the whole world of ungodly men, offered violence unto it, that is, makes a violent opposition against the kingdom of God and the preaching thereof, See Matthew 11:12, compared with verse 16-18, &c.

Benjamin Cox-Some Mistaken Scriptures Sincerely Explained, in Answer to One Infected With Some Pelagian Errors 1646.

Christ Prayers Expressed His Dependence upon the Father

Throughout His life the Lord Jesus lived by faith. Many are the proofs of this, but we can here barely mention a few of them. His prayer-life exemplifies the fact. He was engaged in prayer while being baptized (Luke3:21). He “continued all night in prayer to God” (Luke6:12) before selecting the twelve Apostles. It was “as He prayed” that “the fashion of His countenance was altered” (Luke9:29), and He was transfigured on the holy mount. His prayers expressed His dependence upon and felt need of the Father. His victory over Satan illustrated the same fact. “By the Word of Thy lips I have kept Me from the paths of the Destroyer” He declared; and then added, “Hold up My goings in Thy paths” (Psa. 17:4, 5). “He ever acted in filial dependence upon the Father, and in filial reception out of the Father’s fullness” (A. Saphir).

Christ was never actuated by what is called “common sense,” influenced by public opinion, or governed by worldly policy and prudence; instead, He was always beholding Him who is invisible, walking with God, and doing His will: “I am not alone….He that sent Me is with Me” (John 8:16, 29). The Captain of our salvation was exposed to great difficulties, anxiety of mind, dangers and troubles—typed out by the great sufferings of David before he came to the kingdom. But in all His perplexities the Lord Jesus ever betook Himself unto the protection of God: “Preserve Me, O God: for in Thee do I put My trust” (Psa. 16:1)—such was His plea. “As the living Father hath sent Me and I live by the Father, so he that eateth Me, even he shall live by Me” (John6:57). “When He suffered, He threatened not, but (by faith) committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously” (1 Peter2:23).

Arthur Pink Studies in the Scriptures Volume XI. No10 Oct. 1932

Concerning Changes to my Website and Blog

This article is just an update on everything that is going on around my website and blog. I have for several years placed ten fresh links, every other week, on my web site; that dealt with the latest Christian news, articles, ebooks, etc…and then offered a short comment on each. I really designed the web site in order to build pages that will assist someone in their study of the Reformed faith. Yet in order to build these pages I need time to find and link to some great articles. My time instead has been spent hunting ten new articles in order that I might up date my front page every other week.

I have now placed news widgets on the front page of my website and I am moving my comments to my blog. This will free me up to find material in order to finish building and adding to my website.

I have not forgotten my gospel articles for my blog, nor my apologetic articles that dealt with atheism, the resurrection of Christ, creationism versus evolution, etc…. I have just been busy trying to make this transition. Lord’s willing after Memorial Day weekend I will get back to defending the faith, along with my regular quotes and such.

I will continue to add a Mp3 of the week and an article of the week to the bottom of my website’s front page.

God bless,

Hershel Lee Harvell Jr.