Adam became a living soul when God breathed into him the breath of life: and from that time, the process of breathing is evidence that life exists. Prayer may be regarded as the breathing of the spiritual man. Sufficient proof was given that Saul of Tarsus had been converted, when the Lord said, “Behold, he prayeth.” True prayer proceeds from the Holy Spirit, imparting spiritual life, and enkindling those spiritual desires which find their vent in prayer. These desires are breathed into the bosom of God, in the exercise of filial confidence in him; and, being in accordance with the will of God, they are regarded by him with favor, and obtain answers of grace and peace.
From this view of prayer, we may see the propriety of the Apostle’s injunction: “Pray without ceasing.” The cessation of prayer would be the cessation of spiritual life. A form of words may not be incessantly used; but spiritual desires must ever have place in the heart; and the habit must ever exist, of looking to God for the fulfilment of these desires. This constant intercourse with God is the life of faith. We live with him, converse with him, and enjoy communion with him, through the Holy Spirit which dwelleth in us.
We often complain that our prayers are not answered; but it would be profitable to inquire, what those unanswered petitions were. Did we ask for wealth, power, and long life? If so, our desires were carnal, and did not proceed from the Spirit of God. We must learn to regulate our desires by the will of God, and our prayers will be sure to obtain a gracious hearing.
Sincere prayer begins with the very commencement of spiritual life. An infant’s cries express its wants, before it knows how to express them in words; and the tender mother will understand this inarticulate language. So the desires of the spiritual infant may be signified by “groanings which cannot be uttered:” but the Lord understands these groans, and knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, who maketh intercession for them. As the lamb in the bosom of the kind shepherd; as the babe on the breast of its tender mother; so the spiritual babe reposes on the bosom of eternal love; and in that bosom breathes all its desires.
Spiritual life, evidenced at first by the breathing of prayer, is afterwards indicated by spiritual growth. To be spiritual, we must not ever remain babes in religion. Paul said to the Corinthians, “I could not speak unto you, as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.” Spiritual life is progressive, and tends to make us men, strong men in Christ Jesus. The truth of God supplies the milk for babes, and the strong meat for those who have attained to greater age. We have been engaged in the study of this truth; and it will be well for us to inquire whether our spiritual life has been nourished by it, and whether we are growing in faith, and love, and every grace. Unless the truth strengthens the inner man, and gives increased vigor in the Christian life, our study of it has been in vain.
 Gen. ii. 7.
 Acts ix. 11.
 Rom. viii. 27.
 1 Thess. v. 17.
 Rom. viii. 26.
 1 Cor. iii. 1.
 1 Pet. ii. 2; Heb. v. 12.
John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology
In order to understand certain passages it is absolutely needful to recognize that there is a twofold “will” of God spoken of in the Scriptures, by which we do not mean His decretive will and His permissive will, for in the final analysis that is a distinction without a difference, for God never permits anything which is contrary to His eternal purpose. No, we refer to the very real distinction which there is between His secret and His revealed will, or, as we much prefer to express it, between His predestinating and His preceptive will. God’s secret will is His own counsels which He has divulged to no one. His revealed will is made known in His Word, and is the definer of our duty and the standard of our responsibility. The grand reason why I should follow a certain course or do a certain thing is because it is God’s will that I should do so—made known to me in the rule I am to walk by. But suppose I go contrary to His Word and disobey, have I not crossed His will? Assuredly. Then does that mean that I have thwarted His purpose? Certainly not, for that is always accomplished, notwithstanding the perversity of His creatures. God’s revealed will is never performed perfectly by any of us, but His secret or foreordinating will is never prevented by any (Psalm 135:6; Proverbs 21:30; Isaiah 46:10).
What has just been referred to above is admittedly a great deep, which no finite mind can fully fathom. Nevertheless, the distinction drawn must be made if we are not to be guilty of making the Scriptures contradict themselves. For example, such passages as the following evince the universality and invincibility of God’s will being accomplished.
“But He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (Job 23:13).
“But our God is in the heavens. He hath done whatsoever He hath pleased” (Psalm 115:3).
“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).
“For who hath resisted His will?” (Romans 9:19). On the other hand, such passages as the following have reference to the revealed or preceptive will of God which may be withstood by the creature.
“And that servant, which knew his Lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to His will” (Luke 12:47).
“For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). God’s secret will is His eternal and unchanging purpose concerning all things which He has made, and is brought about by means and through agencies which He has appointed to that end, and which can no more be hindered by men or devils than they can prevent the sun from shining.
Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures
It is a fact that the gospel of Jesus Christ will increase some men’s damnation at the last great day
ii. But another. It is a fact that the gospel of Jesus Christ will increase some men’s damnation at the last great day. Again, I startle at myself when I have said it; for it seems too horrible a thought for us to venture to utter-that the gospel of Christ will make hell hotter to some men than it otherwise would have been. Men would all have sunk to hell had it not been for the gospel. The grace of God reclaims “a multitude that no man can number;” it secures a countless army who shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation;” but, at the same time, it does to those who reject it, make their damnation even more dreadful. And let me tell you why.
First, because men sin against greater light; and the light we have is an excellent measure of our guilt. What a Hottentot might do without a crime, would be the greatest sin to me, because I am taught better; and what some even in London might do with impunity-set down, as it might be, as a sin by God, but not so exceeding sinful-would be to me the very height of transgression, because I have from my youth up been tutored to piety. The gospel comes upon men like the light from heaven. What a wanderer must he be who strays in the light! If he who is blind falls into the ditch we can pity him, but if a man, with the light on his eyeballs dashes himself from the precipice and loses his own soul, is not pity out of the question?
“How they deserve the deepest hell,
That slight the joys above!
What chains of vengeance must they feel,
Who laugh at sov’reign love!”
It will increase your condemnation, I tell you all, unless you find Jesus Christ to be your Savior, for to have had the light and not to walk by it, shall be the condemnation, the very essence of it. This shall be the virus of the guilt-that the “light came into the world, and the darkness comprehended it not;” for “men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds are evil.”
Again: it must increase your condemnation if you oppose the gospel. If God devises a scheme of mercy, and man rises up against it, how great must be his sin? Who shall tell the great guilt incurred by such men as Pilate, Herod, and the Jews? Oh! who shall picture out, or even faintly sketch, the doom of those who cried “Crucify him! Crucify him!” And who shall tell what place in hell shall be hot enough for the man who slanders God’s minister, who speaks against his people, who hates his truth, who would, if he could, utterly cut off the godly from the land? Ah! God help the infidel! God help the blasphemer! God save his soul: for of all men least would I choose to be that man. Think you, sirs, that God will not take account of what men have said? One man has cursed Christ; he has called him a charlatan Another has declared, (knowing that he spoke a lie) that the gospel was else. A third has proclaimed his licentious maxims, and then has pointed to God’s Word, and said, “There are worse things there!” A fourth has abused God’s ministers and held up their imperfections to ridicule. Think you God shall forget all this at the last day? When his enemies come before him, shall he take them by the hand and say, “The other day thou didst call my servant a dog, and spit on him, and for this I will give thee heaven!” Rather, if the sin has not been cancelled by the blood of Christ, will he not say, “Depart, cursed one, into the hell which thou didst scoff at; leave that heaven which thou didst despise; and learn that though thou saidst there was no God, this right arm shall teach thee eternally the lesson that there is one; for he who discovers it not by my works of benevolence shall learn it by my deeds of vengeance: therefore depart, again, I say!” It shall increase men’s hell that they have opposed God’s truth. Now, is not this a very solemn view of the gospel, that it is indeed to many “a savor of death unto death?”
Charles H. Spurgeon- The Two Effects of the Gospel- A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, May 27, 1855
by Arthur W. Pink (1886-1952)
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11. Though no sin be imputed to those that believe in Christ, nor any sin do totally or fully reign over them, or in them; yet in them the flesh lusteth against the spirit; Gal. 5:17; and in many things they all offend; James 3:2; where the Apostle speaks of offences that one believe may take notice of in another. Thus there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not, Eccles. 7:20; and if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us, I John. 1:8.
Benjamin Cox- An Appendix To A Confession Of Faith
To [Mr. Barrow, Sen.].
NIGHTINGALE LANE, June 23, ‘80.
DEAR MR. BARROW, —
I could not get back again to your meeting last night for I had to start two others and make a speech at each; and at last my legs gave in and would not carry me about any longer.
I thank you with all my heart, and Mrs. Barrow too. May success attend you and God’s best blessing. You have done me a great and special service and you have done it so heartily that it is a pleasure to be under obligations to you.
Is there anything for me to do by way of acknowledgment to donors? I wrote Mr. H , and Mrs. H. sends £5 for herself, and £10 for Mr. H. — . Is this a new donation? or is it a part of your list?
Yours very heartily,
C. H. SPURGEON.
Have you ever met Brother Earnest Effort? He’s a decent soul, but alas, he has not been established in the Gospel Truth. All he knows to do is ‘to do’! He makes his efforts and his heart condition the centre of his Christian life.
Without knowing it, he is brewing a lethal cocktail for himself! After continually taking stock of himself, he sees the ongoing rottenness of his very being. After all, he lives with himself. Everywhere he goes — there he is. He has tried rededicating himself to God so often that his re-dedicator has just about worn out.
He still sees his secret thoughts, and they are not good (Romans 7:18). He knows the cesspool of filth that bubbles up at the most inopportune moments (Romans 3:10). He gets deeply troubled by the continual plague of lusts and wicked thoughts that bombard him, but instead of looking to Christ for deliverance he looks for comfort and aid everywhere else.
He tries more discipline and gets up earlier to have his quiet time. He volunteers to help with the feeding program for the homeless. But still, everywhere he goes, there he is!
And Brother Earnest Effort is a member of a church. He sometimes hands out the bulletins and is on the greeting committee. His church is full of nice decent people who talk about the Christian life, but it’s a dangerous church….. in fact, it’s lethal…it does not have the Gospel on centre stage.
Brother E. Effort takes his seat each Sunday and week after week Pastor Practical Preacher gets up and teaches the folks how they can have a better life. He shares how they can be debt free; how to succeed in life; how to have a better marriage; why they should not gossip; five steps to victory, how to overcome a bad temper and the like. But Brother Earnest Effort, while he appreciates all the new information he gets each week, remains deeply anguished, troubled and untouched.
Brother Effort agrees with Pastor Preacher. He looks again at his heart and is overcomewith guilt. He says to himself, “Pastor Preacher is quite right, I shouldn’t gossip and judge; I shouldn’t get annoyed and angry with people the way I do, but after all this time I still keep falling into these things. There’s only one thing that must be the matter, I must not be saved!”
After several years of this, Brother Earnest Effort feels so condemned that he eventually drops out of Church life, separates himself from the church assembly and joins the ranks of the casualties and spiritual cripples! One of the ironies of the whole thing is, after wounding him with legalistic subjectivism, the church then condemns him because he dropped out. Pastor Preacher then says with pious voice, “He went out from us, but he was not of us; if he had been of us he would surely have remained with us.” Thus Brother E. Effort is discarded and left to wonder why it is that the Church is the only army on earth that buries their wounded!
What Brother Effort was not taught, however, was that actual guilt free victorious living can only be realized through continual exposure to the Gospel. That’s one of the reasons why the Gospel is the essential message for believers. But Brother Earnest Effort never really got to hear the Gospel because Pastor Practical Preacher pandered to the subjective cravings of his congregation.
Brother Effort, therefore, never grasped the good news that the big issue wasn’t him, but rather the Lamb!
Is the Lamb, a suitable sacrifice, —that’s the issue!
Was Jesus qualified to die?
Was He sinlessly perfect?
In the Old Testament, the High Priest examined the lamb. If the sacrificial lamb was found to be without blemish or impediment, it was reckoned as a fitting sacrifice, and the guilty party went free. The priest examined the Lamb, not the one who brought the lamb. If the lamb was accepted, then the one who brought the lamb was accepted and reckoned as innocent in virtue of the fact that the lamb would die as his substitute.
So it is with us today. Our Lamb, The Lord Jesus, has been slain and because of His shed blood, all charges against us have been dropped. The Father has examined His Son and is satisfied. His sacrifice has been accepted, and as proof of this, Christ has been raised from the dead. This is the basis of the guilt-free life! God sees your lamb, the Lord Jesus, without flaw, spot or imperfection and that, therefore, is the way He sees you. Your sins have been utterly purged by the perfect blood of your perfect High Priest and by that same perfect offering you have been perfected and sanctified.
And that’s the Gospel Truth!