Archive

Archive for June, 2012

Similarities between Israel and the Church Point 1

There are several important points, however, in which the undertakings are similar. The following have occurred to me, as the most remarkable:

The ultimate object of the one was to overturn the kingdom of Satan, and to establish the knowledge and worship of the true God: and the same is true of the other. The world, at that time, not a nation exempted, was under the dominion of Satan, enveloped in idolatry, and the abominations which always accompany it; so that, if God had not selected a people for himself, and, after having taught them to fear and obey him, given them a possession among the nations, he had had no people nor name nor worship upon the face of the earth. And what is the state of mankind at present? Not altogether so deplorable: but, whatever difference there may be, it is owing to that divine revelation which God communicated to Israel, and, by them, to the Gentile nations. In Heathen countries, the god of this world reigns uncontrolled. The children of men, from generation to generation, are led captive by him at his will. Much the same may be said of those countries which are overspread by Mahometanism. Nor is it materially otherwise where the corruptions of Popery maintain their sway. And even in our own country, where the scriptures are read in the native language, there are but few who pay any serious attention to them. Is it not evident, to an impartial spectator, that the great body of the people are practical Atheists, living without hope, and without God in the world? The number of worshippers, including even the laxest and most inattentive, in all our cities, and, I fear, in most of our towns and villages, is few, when compared with those who attend upon no worship at all. In the earlier times of the Reformation, whatever defects might exist with respect to church-government and discipline, the doctrine of salvation by the cross of Christ was much more generally preached and believed than at present. Since the great principles of evangelical truth (alike clearly stated in the Articles of the Established Church and in the catechisms and confessions of Dissenters) have been relinquished, and a species of heathen morality substituted in their place, the nation has been almost heathenized. If the Lord had not justify us a seed of faithful men, some in the Establishment and some out of it, whose object it has been to propagate the common salvation, and to inculcate the holy practice which becomes it, surely we had, ere now, been as Sodom. Or it, like a certain great nation near home, we had revoked the laws in favour of religious liberty, and massacred, silenced, or banished the faithful witnesses of Christ, surely, like the, we had been lost in the gulf of Infidelity.

Rev. Andrew Fuller-God’s Approbation of our Labours Necessary to the Hope of Success-Preached May 6, 1801

Another Definition of Providence

Or, take this definition:Providenceis that continuous, effective, all-comprehensive agency of God by which He makes all the events of the moral and physical universe to fulfill the design with which He created the universe.

Let us consider that definition a moment. It is expressed in somewhat different terms from the other, but the idea is the same – that having made a world, He governs it, superintends it, not by an intermittent agency, but by a continuous agency; not by a slight agency, but by an effective agency; not by a partial agency, but by an all comprehensive agency. I mean that the agency is just as comprehensive as the universe is.

To get still nearer to what I mean by all-comprehensiveness, that it is not only an agency over classes, but equally over the individuals in the classes; that it is not merely an agency over the whole of a world, but over all of its parts; that it is not merely a general Providence, but that it is a particular Providence; that it takes cognizance of everything; that it is just as essential to the idea of Providence to believe that the very hairs of your heads are numbered, and that it is just as essential to believe that not a sparrow can fall to the ground without our heavenly Father knowing it, as to believe that not a world could be blotted out.

I mean that it is a continuous, effective, all-comprehensive, divine agency. That it is so in the sense of administering a kingdom; a kingdom implying a personal king; a kingdom implying jurisdiction, implying government; that the kingdom of God is supreme, that it is over all other kingdoms; that all other kingdoms must be subordinated to the kingdom of God; that the issue will be just what this definition expresses: That it is the continuous, effective, all-comprehensive, divine agency which makes all events in the physical and moral universe fulfill the original design with which He created that universe.

B. H. Carroll—The Providence of God

Thinking of the Godhead Refreshes the Soul

Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound, in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief- and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul, so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Immutability of God- A Sermon January 7, 1855

All of Grace—How Repentance is Given

Chapter Fifteen

How Repentance is Given

TO RETURN to the grand text:

“Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance toIsrael, and forgiveness of sins.”

Our Lord Jesus Christ has gone up that grace may come down. His glory is employed to give greater currency to His grace. The Lord has not taken a step upward except with the design of bearing believing sinners upward with Him. He is exalted to give repentance; and this we shall see if we remember a few great truths.

The work which our Lord Jesus has done has made repentance possible, available, and acceptable. The law makes no mention of repentance, but says plainly, “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” If the Lord Jesus had not died and risen again and gone unto the Father, what would your repenting or mine be worth? We might feel remorse with its horrors, but never repentance with its hopes. Repentance, as a natural feeling, is a common duty deserving no great praise: indeed, it is so generally mingled with a selfish fear of punishment, that the kindliest estimate makes but little of it. Had not Jesus interposed and wrought out a wealth of merit, our tears of repentance would have been so much water spilled upon the ground. Jesus is exalted on high, that through the virtue of His intercession repentance may have a place before God. In this respect He gives us repentance, because He puts repentance into a position of acceptance, which otherwise it could never have occupied.

When Jesus was exalted on high, the Spirit of God was poured out to work in us all needful graces. The Holy Ghost creates repentance in us by supernaturally renewing our nature, and taking away the heart of stone out of our flesh. Oh, sit not down straining those eyes of yours to fetch out impossible tears! Repentance comes not from unwilling nature, but from free and sovereign grace. Get not to your chamber to smite your breast in order to fetch from a heart of stone feelings which are not there. But go toCalvary and see how Jesus died. Look upward to the hills whence comes your help. The Holy Ghost has come on purpose that He may overshadow men’s spirits and breed repentance within them, even as once He brooded over chaos and brought forth order. Breathe your prayer to Him, “Blessed Spirit, dwell with me. Make me tender and lowly of heart, that I may hate sin and unfeignedly repent of it.” He will hear your cry and answer you.

Remember, too, that when our Lord Jesus was exalted, He not only gave us repentance by sending forth the Holy Spirit, but by consecrating all the works of nature and of providence to the great ends of our salvation, so that any one of them may call us to repentance, whether it crow like Peter’s cock, or shake the prison like the jailer’s earthquake. From the right hand of God our Lord Jesus rules all things here below, and makes them work together for the salvation of His redeemed. He uses both bitters and sweets, trials a holy frame of mind to steal over you when you least look for it. Be sure of this, that He who is gone into His glory, raised into all the splendor and majesty of God, has abundant ways of working repentance in those to whom He grants forgiveness. He is even now waiting to give repentance to you. Ask Him for it at once.

Observe with much comfort that the Lord Jesus Christ gives this repentance to the most unlikely people in the world. He is exalted to give repentance to Israel. To Israel! In the days when the apostles thus spoke, Israel was the nation which had most grossly sinned against light and love, by daring to say, “His blood be on us and on our children.” Yet Jesus is exalted to give them repentance! What a marvel of grace! If you have been brought up in the brightest of Christian light, and yet have rejected it, there is still hope. If you have sinned againstIsrael of old, softening may yet come to you, since Jesus is exalted, and clothed with boundless power. For those who went the furthest in iniquity, and sinned with special aggravation, the Lord Jesus is exalted to give to them repentance and forgiveness of sins. Happy am I to have so full a gospel to proclaim! Happy are you to be allowed to read it!

The hearts of the children ofIsraelhad grown hard as an adamant stone. Luther used to think it impossible to convert a Jew. We are far from agreeing with him, and yet we must admit that the seed ofIsraelhave been exceedingly obstinate in their rejection of the Savior during these many centuries. Truly did the Lord say, “Israel would none of me.” “He came to his own and his own received him not.” Yet on behalf ofIsraelour Lord Jesus is exalted for the giving of repentance and remission. Probably my reader is a Gentile; but yet he may have a very stubborn heart, which has stood out against the Lord Jesus for many years; and yet in him our Lord can work repentance. It may be that you will yet feel compelled to write as William Hone did when he yielded to divine love. He was the author of those most entertaining volumes called the “Everyday Book,” but he was once a stout-hearted infidel. When subdued by sovereign grace, he wrote:

 

The proudest heart that ever beat

Hath been subdued in me;

The wildest will that ever rose

To scorn Thy cause and aid Thy foes

Is quell’d my Lord, by Thee.

Thy will, and not my will be done,

My heart be ever Thine;

Confessing Thee the mighty Word,

My Savior Christ, my God, my Lord,

Thy cross shall be my sign.

 

The Lord can give repentance to the most unlikely, turning lions into lambs, and ravens into doves. Let us look to Him that this great change may be wrought in us. Assuredly the contemplation of the death of Christ is one of the surest and speediest methods of gaining repentance. Do not sit down and try to pump up repentance from the dry well of corrupt nature. It is contrary to the laws of mind to suppose that you can force your soul into that gracious state. Take your heart in prayer to Him who understands it, and say, “Lord, cleanse it. Lord, renew it. Lord, work repentance in it.” The more you try to produce penitent emotions in yourself, the more you will be disappointed; but if you believingly think of Jesus dying for you, repentance will burst forth. Meditate on the Lord’s shedding His heart’s blood out of love to you. Set before your mind’s eye the agony and bloody sweat, the cross and passion; and, as you do this, He who was the bearer of all this grief will look at you, and with that look He will do for you what He did for Peter, so that you also will go out and weep bitterly. He who died for you can, by His gracious Spirit, make you die to sin; and He who has gone into glory on your behalf can draw your soul after Him, away from evil, and toward holiness.

I shall be content if I leave this one thought with you; look not beneath the ice to find fire, neither hope in your own natural heart to find repentance. Look to the Living One for life. Look to Jesus for all you need betweenHell Gateand Heaven Gate. Never seek elsewhere for any part of that which Jesus loves to bestow; but remember,

CHRIST IS ALL.

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 June 25 at 8:00 AM. Central Standard Time.

Chapter XII : Of Adoption

1. All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in, and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the Grace (a) of Adoption; by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the Liberties, and (b) Priveledges of Children of God; have his (c) name put upon them, (d) receive the Spirit of Adoption, (e) have access to the throne of Grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, are (f) pitied, (g) protected, (i) provided for, and (k) chastened by him, as by a Father; yet never (l) cast off; but sealed (m) to the day of Redemption, and inherit the promises, (n) as heirs, of everlasting Salvation.

a Eph. 1.5. Gal. 4.4,5.

b Joh. 1.12 Rom. 8.17

c 2 Cor. 6.18. Rev. 3.12.

d Rom. 8.15.

e Gal. 4.6. Eph. 2.18

f Ps. 103.13.

g Prov. 14 26.

i 1 Pet. 5.7.

k Heb. 12.6.

l Is. 54.8,9. Lam. 3.31.

m Eph. 4.30.

n Heb. 1.14. ch. 6.12.

The 1677/89 London Baptist Confession

God Reproves Sinners through His Providences

God also reproves sinners by his providences. He sends his judgments abroad in the earth that the inhabitants may learn righteousness. By the pains we feel, we are admonished that we are sinners; and warned to flee from the wrath to come.

Asahel Nettleton-The Destruction of Hardened Sinners

 

Changed into the same Image

Not only does the Spirit give that soul to behold “the glory of the Lord” as it shines first in the “glass” of the Law, and second in the “glass” of the Gospel, but He also causes him to be “changed into the same image,” that is, He begets within him corresponding principles and affections, to the one and to the other. In other words, He brings his heart to a conformity to the Law and to a compliance with the Gospel. He causes the believer to “set to his seal” (John3:33) to the whole Truth of God. He brings him to a full acquiescence with the Law, consenting to its righteous claims upon him, and working in him a desire and determination to adopt the Law as his rule of life or standard of conduct. So too the Spirit causes him to gladly embrace the Gospel, admiring the consummate wisdom of God therein, whereby the perfect harmony of His justice and mercy are blessedly exhibited. He brings him to renounce all his own works, and rest alone on the merits of Christ for his acceptance with God.

Arthur W. Pink-Studies in the Scriptures January, 1937  The Spirit Transforming.

All of Grace—Repentance Must Go with Forgiveness

Chapter Fourteen

Repentance Must Go with Forgiveness

IT IS CLEAR from the text which we have lately quoted that repentance is bound up with the forgiveness of sins. In Acts 5:31we read that Jesus is “exalted to give repentance and forgiveness of sins.” These two blessings come from that sacred hand which once was nailed to the tree, but is now raised to glory. Repentance and forgiveness are riveted together by the eternal purpose of God. What God hath joined together let no man put asunder.

Repentance must go with remission, and you will see that it is so if you think a little upon the matter. It cannot be that pardon of sin should be given to an impenitent sinner; this were to confirm him in his evil ways, and to teach him to think little of evil. If the Lord were to say, “You love sin, and live in it, and you are going on from bad to worse, but, all the same, I forgive you,” this were to proclaim a horrible license for iniquity. The foundations of social order would be removed, and moral anarchy would follow. I cannot tell what innumerable mischiefs would certainly occur if you could divide repentance and forgiveness, and pass by the sin while the sinner remained as fond of it as ever. In the very nature of things, if we believe in the holiness of God, it must be so, that if we continue in our sin, and will not repent of it, we cannot be forgiven, but must reap the consequence of our obstinacy. According to the infinite goodness of God, we are promised that if we will forsake our sins, confessing them, and will, by faith, accept the grace which is provided in Christ Jesus, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. But, so long as God lives, there can be no promise of mercy to those who continue in their evil ways, and refuse to acknowledge their wrongdoing. Surely no rebel can expect the King to pardon his treason while he remains in open revolt. No one can be so foolish as to imagine that the Judge of all the earth will put away our sins if we refuse to put them away ourselves.

Moreover, it must be so for the completeness of divine mercy. That mercy which could forgive the sin and yet let the sinner live in it would be scant and superficial mercy. It would be unequal and deformed mercy, lame upon one of its feet, and withered as to one of its hands. Which, think you, is the greater privilege, cleansing from the guilt of sin, or deliverance from the power of sin? I will not attempt to weigh in the scales two mercies so surpassing. Neither of them could have come to us apart from the precious blood of Jesus. But it seems to me that to be delivered from the dominion of sin, to be made holy, to be made like to God, must be reckoned the greater of the two, if a comparison has to be drawn. To be forgiven is an immeasurable favor. We make this one of the first notes of our psalm of praise: “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities.” But if we could be forgiven, and then could be permitted to love sin, to riot in iniquity, and to wallow in lust, what would be the use of such a forgiveness? Might it not turn out to be a poisoned sweet, which would most effectually destroy us? To be washed, and yet to lie in the mire; to be pronounced clean, and yet to have the leprosy white on one’s brow, would be the veriest mockery of mercy. What is it to bring the man out of his sepulcher if you leave him dead? Why lead him into the light if he is still blind? We thank God, that He who forgives our iniquities also heals our diseases. He who washes us from the stains of the past also uplifts us from the foul ways of the present, and keeps us from failing in the future. We must joyfully accept both repentance and remission; they cannot be separated. The covenant heritage is one and indivisible, and must not be parceled out. To divide the work of grace would be to cut the living child in halves, and those who would permit this have no interest in it.

I will ask you who are seeking the Lord, whether you would be satisfied with one of these mercies alone? Would it content you, my reader, if God would forgive you your sin and then allow you to be as worldly and wicked as before? Oh, no! The quickened spirit is more afraid of sin itself than of the penal results of it. The cry of your heart is not, “Who shall deliver me from punishment?” but, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? Who shall enable me to live above temptation, and to become holy, even as God is holy?” Since the unity of repentance with remission agrees with gracious desire, and since it is necessary for the completeness of salvation, and for holiness’ sake, rest you sure that it abides.

Repentance and forgiveness are joined together in the experience of all believers. There never was a person yet who did unfeignedly repent of sin with believing repentance who was not forgiven; and on the other hand, there never was a person forgiven who had not repented of his sin. I do not hesitate to say that beneath the copes of Heaven there never was, there is not, and there never will be, any case of sin being washed away, unless at the same time the heart was led to repentance and faith in Christ. Hatred of sin and a sense of pardon come together into the soul, and abide together while we live.

These two things act and react upon each other: the man who is forgiven, therefore repents; and the man who repents is also most assuredly forgiven. Remember first, that forgiveness leads to repentance. As we sing in Hart’s words:

 

Law and terrors do but harden,

All the while they work alone;

But a sense of blood-bought pardon

Soon dissolves a heart of stone.

 

When we are sure that we are forgiven, then we abhor iniquity; and I suppose that when faith grows into full assurance, so that we are certain beyond a doubt that the blood of Jesus has washed us whiter than snow, it is then that repentance reaches to its greatest height. Repentance grows as faith grows. Do not make any mistake about it; repentance is not a thing of days and weeks, a temporary penance to be over as fast as possible! No; it is the grace of a lifetime, like faith itself. God’s little children repent, and so do the young men and the fathers. Repentance is the inseparable companion of faith. All the while that we walk by faith and not by sight, the tear of repentance glitters in the eye of faith. That is not true repentance which does not come of faith in Jesus, and that is not true faith in Jesus which is not tinctured with repentance. Faith and repentance, like Siamese twins, are vitally joined together. In proportion as we believe in the forgiving love of Christ, in that proportion we repent; and in proportion as we repent of sin and hate evil, we rejoice in the fullness of the absolution which Jesus is exalted to bestow. You will never value pardon unless you feel repentance; and you will never taste the deepest draught of repentance until you know that you are pardoned. It may seem a strange thing, but so it is — the bitterness of repentance and the sweetness of pardon blend in the flavor of every gracious life, and make up an incomparable happiness.

These two covenant gifts are the mutual assurance of each other. If I know that I repent, I know that I am forgiven. How am I to know that I am forgiven except I know also that I am turned from my former sinful course? To be a believer is to be a penitent. Faith and repentance are but two spokes in the same wheel, two handles of the same plough. Repentance has been well described as a heart broken for sin, and from sin; and it may equally well be spoken of as turning and returning. It is a change of mind of the most thorough and radical sort, and it is attended with sorrow for the past, and a resolve of amendment in the future.

 

Repentance is to leave

The sins we loved before;

And show that we in earnest grieve,

By doing so no more.

 

Now, when that is the case, we may be certain that we are forgiven; for the Lord never made a heart to be broken for sin and broken from sin, without pardoning it. If, on the other hand, we are enjoying pardon, through the blood of Jesus, and are justified by faith, and have peace with God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, we know that our repentance and faith are of the right sort.

Do not regard your repentance as the cause of your remission, but as the companion of it. Do not expect to be able to repent until you see the grace of our Lord Jesus, and His readiness to blot out your sin. Keep these blessed things in their places, and view them in their relation to each other. They are the Jachin and Boaz of a saving experience; I mean that they are comparable to Solomon’s two great pillars which stood in the forefront of the house of the Lord, and formed a majestic entrance to the holy place. No man comes to God aright except he passes between the pillars of repentance and remission. Upon your heart the rainbow of covenant grace has been displayed in all its beauty when the tear-drops of repentance have been shone upon by the light of full forgiveness. Repentance of sin and faith in divine pardon are the warp and woof of the fabric of real conversion. By these tokens shall you know an Israelite indeed.

To come back to the Scripture upon which we are meditating: both forgiveness and repentance flow from the same source, and are given by the same Savior. The Lord Jesus in His glory bestows both upon the same persons. You are neither to find the remission nor the repentance elsewhere. Jesus has both ready, and He is prepared to bestow them now, and to bestow them most freely on all who will accept them at His hands. Let it never be forgotten that Jesus gives all that is needful for our salvation. It is highly important that all seekers after mercy should remember this. Faith is as much the gift of God as is the Savior upon whom that faith relies. Repentance of sin is as truly the work of grace as the making of an atonement by which sin is blotted out. Salvation, from first to last, is of grace alone. You will not misunderstand me. It is not the Holy Spirit who repents. He has never done anything for which He should repent. If He could repent, it would not meet the case; we must ourselves repent of our own sin, or we are not saved from its power. It is not the Lord Jesus Christ who repents. What should He repent of? We ourselves repent with the full consent of every faculty of our mind. The will, the affections, the emotions, all work together most heartily in the blessed act of repentance for sin; and yet at the back of all that is our personal act, there is a secret holy influence which melts the heart, gives contrition, and produces a complete change. The Spirit of God enlightens us to see what sin is, and thus makes it loathsome in our eyes. The Spirit of God also turns us toward holiness, makes us heartily to appreciate, love, and desire it, and thus gives us the impetus by which we are led onward from stage to stage of sanctification. The Spirit of God works in us to will and to do according to God’s good pleasure. To that good Spirit let us submit ourselves at once, that He may lead us to Jesus, who will freely give us the double benediction of repentance and remission, according to the riches of His grace.

BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED”

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 Wednesday June 20 at 8:00 AM. Central Standard Time.

The Similarities and Dissimilarities of Israel and the Church

There are several points of dissimilarity, I allow, between the undertaking of the Israelites and that of Christians to disseminate the gospel; but, whatever differences there are, they are altogether in our favor. They went forth armed with the temporal sword; we with the sword of the Spirit: their commission was to destroy men’s lives; our to save their souls: cities, and fields, and vineyards, and olive-yards, were their reward; our hope, and joy, and crown, are sinners rescued from destruction, standing in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming. Finally: The people who they encountered were appointed by the Lord of the universe to utter destruction, as the just demerit of their crimes; and, though some submitted and were spared, yet the invaders were not given to hope, or directed to wait, for a change of this kind in the body of the people; but were commanded to drive them out, and take their place. It is not so with us: we live under a dispensation of mercy: go where we will, we have glad tidings of great joy to communicate. They, having no hopes of the people, might have said, We seek not you, but yours: but our hopes terminate on the people; we, therefore, can say, We seek not yours, but you.

Rev. Andrew Fuller-God’s Approbation of our Labours Necessary to the Hope of Success-PreachedMay 6, 1801

What is Providence

What is Providence? The importance of having a clear conception in our minds as to the meaning of this term is self-evident. All books on systematic theology emphasize the importance of a clear definition just here. I shall not cumber this discussion with quotations, but will freely use without other acknowledgment, anything in these books that best expresses my own views.

Briefly, then,Providence is God’s continual oversight or government of the universe He created. To enlarge somewhat, the term, Providence, expresses the divine agency in the direction, control and issue of all the events in the physical and moral universe. All of them? Yes. Does He direct every event in the physical world? Every one.

How sublime the doctrine as set forth in the 38th, 39th, 40th and 41st chapters of Job!……….He directs every event in the physical world. I do not refer simply to the events that relate to the spheres in their magnitude and in their movements. I refer to the most infinitesimal detail, minutia, that takes place in the whole physical world.

B. H. Carroll—The Providence of God