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The Wednesday Word: Is Jesus enough for your Reward? Part 1

We often think that Jesus must have had it reasonably easy. Apart from having to go through the few hours of the cross, He had a pretty agreeable time of it —-didn’t He? After all, there He was walking about the place as ‘God incognito’; the all-powerful one cleverly disguised as a man. How hard could that be?

So just how difficult could His life have been? Was His 33 years here a relatively good and pleasant experience?

Actually, humanly speaking, it was not. In some ways, it was pretty awful!

Let’s look for example at His early life. I’m sure you have often heard it said that we know almost nothing of those years, but this is not strictly the case. We know, for example, that by age 12 He knew His will was set apart to do that of His Father (Luke 2:49). But is there any more information available about those early days?

Yes, there is. Take for example the Psalms. Many of them contain the prayers of Jesus. They may have been spoken and cried prophetically by others, nevertheless, many of them were the expressions of Christ’s heart. Part of Psalm 69, for instance, prophetically gives us insight into what it was going to be like for Jesus growing up in Nazareth and it was ghastly! Verse 7 reads,

“Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.”

Many think this is a direct reference to the rejection He would get from some people because of the Virgin Birth. Consider this, when He was born, He was born to a virgin. Joseph was not His Father, God was! He was the Son of God, not the Son of Joseph! Can you imagine bearing that stigma? “God is your Father? —a likely story!” From His earliest days, He always carried the stigma of being bastard-born. This may be no big deal today, but in those days, it was pretty dreadful. Not all of His day despised bastards, but many did.

Someone has said, “God made the countryside, man made the cities, but the Devil made the small towns.” That’s more truth than poetry. I grew up in a small village in Northern Ireland and can testify that it seemed as though everyone knew everyone else’s business. I knew who many the children were who were born out of wedlock. We all knew! So, I can well believe that the ‘upstanding’ parents of Nazareth warned their children, “Don’t have anything to do with that Jesus one, he’s from bad stock. Joseph didn’t marry his mother till after he was born.”

Then we read,

“I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother’s children” (Psalm 69:8).

The truth is this, His brothers and sisters didn’t like Him. He was always going on about that ‘God stuff.’ And besides that, they knew He was different and yes, they’d heard the stories and yes they’d heard that there was a claim that God was His real Father. They didn’t much care for Him. Rejection started within His own house. He was a stranger and an alien in His own home. It was, in fact, not till after the resurrection that any of them became His followers.

So, what was He like to be around? We get the answer in the next verse, verse 9; “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up, and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.”

The reason I bring all that up is to emphasize that that kind of suffering is all in the past. For Him, earthly life with all its rejections and shunning has gone forever, He has entered His well-earned rest. He has gone

From humiliation to glorification;

From degradation to exaltation;

From the curse to the crown;

From the place of horror to the place of honour;

From the gruesome tree to the glorious throne;

From receiving wrath to receiving worship.

As His follower, life may be tough right now. You love Him and have taken a stand for Him and it has brought you nothing but trouble. But don’t lose heart, your reward is yet to come. Do not become weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9). As Paul says, our light affliction is but for a moment. Fix your eyes upon Jesus for there’s an eternal weight of glory just up ahead (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

We will continue this thought next time (DV)

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: Gospel Trouble!

December 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Someone once said that the Christian life is easy. I disagree! As far as I can see, only the easy parts are easy. The hard parts are hard, very hard.

Along with the joy and peace in believing comes trouble.

Have you ever noticed just how much trouble Jesus caused? Consider Paul. He was doing very well thank you until he was enlisted by the Nazarene. I think I can hear some of his former friends, saying, “That guy Saul really blew it! He was one of the most privileged men in Israel till he went astray following that Jesus fellow. What good did it do him? Kicked out of Synagogues, whipped and beaten, stoned and left for dead! All he got was trouble.”

Jesus, Himself, was always surrounded by trouble. Even at His birth, there was trouble. Remember how the Wise Men came looking for the newborn King and all Jerusalem was ‘troubled’ (Matt 2:3). Now, why in the name of thunder would the birth of a baby trouble an entire city? The new King had arrived but rather than being excited or filled with rejoicing— the citizens of Jerusalem were troubled. What a strange brew—- an entire city troubled by a baby!

But, why were they troubled? Maybe they were troubled because they knew that Herod wouldn’t take this news well …and ‘if the King ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!’ On the other hand, maybe they really understood that this baby was their rightful King…a King who demanded allegiance and loyalty. A King who expected all! Maybe they felt they would be better off with Herod and the Romans. Whoever he was, this baby was trouble!

Jesus always causes trouble! He leads us to life by means of death….that’s troubling, especially when we are so committed to our own plans, goals and ambitions.

Christ speaks to us in grace, looks at us in grace, thinks of us in grace and promises us gracious rest, but this grace comes wrapped in a cross that brings us to an end of our noble efforts to impress God …..that’s troubling.

What a strange Saviour He really is! He comes promising peace but at the same time brings a sword (Matthew 10:34). Swords speak of trouble!

But those ancient Wise Men saw nothing in Him to trouble them. They wanted to worship Him. They were prepared to take Him for who He was…the King and Sovereign of their existence.

We will either be troubled by Him or we will worship Him. But, even when we worship Him, we will not be free from trouble. Yet, somehow, in trouble, we learn that even in the midst of that which seems wrong and not according to the script of a good writer, He who was born in Bethlehem is really in charge. In the darkness of pain, we can come to a place where we can thank God for the grace of trouble! The truth is, our only hope is to be troubled by Jesus. We need Christ to trouble us. We need to be troubled about our self-righteousness self- sufficiency in order that we can trust in Christ’s righteousness and sufficiency alone.

And that’s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com

Free Ebook: Seasonable Counsel or, Advice To Sufferers

October 19, 2015 2 comments

seasonableby John Bunyan

in ePub, .mobi & .pdf fomats

THIS valuable treatise was first published in a pocket volume in 1684, and has only been reprinted in Whitfield’s edition of Bunyan’s works, 2 vols. folio, 1767.

No man could have been better qualified to give advice to sufferers for righteousness’ sake, than John Bunyan: and this work is exclusively devoted to that object. Shut up in a noisome jail, under the iron hand of persecution, for nearly thirteen years, in the constant fear of being hanged as a malefactor, for refusing conformity to the national liturgy, he well knew what sufferings were, and equally well did he know the sources of consolation. It was wisely ordered by Divine Providence, that before the king pardoned him, he had a legal return under the hand and seal of the sheriff of Bedfordshire, certifying the reasons of this frightful imprisonment. This is entered in the minutes of the Privy Council on the 8th and 15th of May, 1672; and it proves that he was thus cruelly punished for “being at conventicles for nonconformity” and for no other cause. In this “Advice” we find his opinion on the origin of persecution—the instruments—the motives—its cruelty—with cautions, counsels, and support to the persecuted. He considers persecution a strange anomaly,—”The reason is that Christianity is a harmless thing—that be it never so openly professed it hurts no man.”

Simple-hearted, honest John, thou dreamest. What wouldest thou have thought of a system by which all would have been taught to tag their laces and mend their own pots and kettles? What would have become of thy trade as a brazier? Christianity teaches all mankind not to trust in those empirics who profess to cure souls for Peter’s pence, tithes, mortuaries, and profits; but to go by themselves to the Great Physician, and he will pour in his wine and oil, his infallible remedies for a sin-sick soul, without money and without price. To Bunyan this was not only harmless to others, but the most boundless mercy that God could bestow upon man. What could be more destructive to the hierarchy of popes, cardinals, and papal nuncios of the Latin, with the patriarchs, archimandrites, and papas of the Greek churches? A system by which all their services are dispensed with, and priestly and prelatic pride is leveled with the dust. Can we wonder that those who preached the holy, humbling, self-denying doctrines of the cross, were persecuted to the death? Bunyan’s opinion is, that Satan is the author of persecution, by which he intended to root out Christianity. The whirlwind and the tempest drives away those who are not rooted and grounded in the faith, some of whom may have stood like stately cedars until the trying time of trial came. But the humble Christian in such a season takes deeper root—a stronger grasp. Faith, his anchor, is sure and steadfast; it enters eternity and heaven, where Satan can find no entrance to disturb its hold. In persecution, men are but the devil’s tools, and little think that they are doing his drudgery.

The man of God declares the truth in plain terms, “No one is a Christian except he is born of God by the anointing of the Holy One.” Carnal men cannot endure this; and then “the game begins,” how such troublesome fellows may be put out of the way, and their families be robbed of their possessions to enrich the persecutors. “The holy places, vestures, gestures—the shows and outward greatness of false religion, are in danger.” Their sumptuous ceremonies, glorious ornaments, new- fashioned carriages,[1] “will fall before the simplicity and majesty of truth.” The Christian falls out with sin at home, and then with sinful ceremonies in divine worship. With him all that is not prescribed in the word of God is forbidden. Sentiments like these are a blow at the root of superstition with all its fraudful emoluments. Hence the storms of persecution which fall on the faithful followers of Christ. Antichrist declares the excellency of human inventions to supply what he considers defects in God’s system.

Such is the mad folly of the human heart! Dust and ashes find fault with a system which is the perfection of wisdom, mercy, and love. And such their infatuation, that “none must be suffered to live and breathe that refuseth conformity thereto.” Mr. Bunyan’s cautions and counsels are full of peace— “submission to the powers that be.” Pray for the persecutor— return good for his evil. He is in the hand of God, who will soon level him with the dust, and call his soul to solemn judgment. Although the sufferer’s cause is good, do not run yourself into trouble—Christ withdrew himself—Paul escaped by being lowered down the city wall in a basket. If they persecute you in one city, flee to another. “A minister can quickly pack up and carry his religion with him, and offer what he knows of his God to another people.” God is the support of his persecuted ones. “His power in holding up some, his wrath in leaving of others; his making of shrubs to stand, and his suffering of cedars to fall; his infatuating of the counsels of men, and his making of the devil to outwit himself; his giving of his presence to his people, and his leaving of his foes in the dark; his discovering the uprightness of the hearts of his sanctified ones, and laying open the hypocrisy of others, is a working of spiritual wonders in the day of his wrath, and of the whirlwind and storm.” “Alas! we have need of these bitter pills at which we so much winch and shuck.

The physician has us in hand. May God by these try and judge us as he judges his saints, that we may not be condemned with the world.” Such were the feelings of John Bunyan after his long sufferings; they are the fruits of a sanctified mind. Reader, great are our mercies—the arm of the persecutor is paralysed by the extension of the knowledge of Christ. Still we have to pass through taunts and revilings, and sometimes the loss of goods; but we are saved from those awful trials through which our pilgrim forefathers passed. May our mercies be sanctified, and may grace be bestowed upon us in rich abundance, to enable us to pity and forgive those sects who, in a bye-gone age, were the tools of Satan, and whose habitations were full of cruelty.

— GEO. OFFOR.

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR

TO THE CHRISTIAN READER

ADVICE TO SUFFERERS

FIRST—THE DUTY TO WHICH SUFFERERS ARE DIRECTED

SECOND—A DESCRIPTION OF THE PERSONS WHO ARE DIRECTED TO COMMIT THE KEEPING OF THEIR SOULS TO GOD

THE WILL OF GOD MEANS HIS LAW AND TESTAMENT

THE WILL OF GOD MEANS HIS ORDER AND DESIGNMENT

THIRD, THE GOOD EFFECT OF COMMITTING THE SOUL TO GOD’S KEEPING

 

Source [Monergism.com]

 

Through all our trials we have to see that salvation is of the Lord

October 19, 2015 1 comment

CharlesSpurgeonAnd now look forward to the future. Man! think how many enemies thou hast; how many rivers thou hast to cross, how many mountains to climb, how many dragons to fight, how many lions’ teeth to escape, how many fires to pass through, how many floods to wade. What thinkest thou man? Can thy salvation be of anything except of God! Oh! if I had not that everlasting arm to lean upon, I would cry “Death! hurl me anywhere; anywhere out of the world.” If I had not that one hope, that one trust, bury me ten thousand fathoms deep beneath creation, where my being might be forgotten! Oh! put me far away, for I am miserable if I have not God to help me all my journey through. Are you strong enough to fight with one of your enemies without your God? I trow not. A little silly maid may cast a Peter down, and cast you down too, if God do not keep you. I beseech you, remember this; I hope you know it by experience in the past; but try to remember it in the future, wherever you go, “Salvation is of the Lord.” Do not get looking at your heart, do not get examining to see whether you have anything to recommend you, but remember, “Salvation is of the Lord.” “He only is my rook and my salvation.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- God Alone the Salvation of His People-A Sermon Delivered On Sabbath Morning, May 18, 1856

Obadiah Holmes Whipped for Baptist Beliefs

September 7, 2015 Leave a comment

Obadiah HolmesThud. The whip’s three cords slammed onto the bare back of Obadiah Holmes, who stood tied to the post. Thud… Thud… Thud. Thirty times the executioner struck with all his force. It was on this day, September 5, 1651 in Boston, Massachusetts.

According to witnesses, Obadiah did not groan or scream. Instead, he preached to the crowd. When the whipping was over, he said, “You have struck me as with roses.” To observers, it was obvious that he was badly wounded. As a matter of fact, he was so hurt that he had to stay in Boston for several weeks while he recovered, and could only eat while kneeling on his elbows and knees.

Read the entire article here.

Believe the Truth

Spurgeon 3Believe the truth. Do not pretend to believe it, but believe it thoroughly. And he who does believe it, and fixes his faith first in Christ, and then in all Christ says will not be likely to let it go. Why, we do not believe religion, most of us. We pretend to believe it, but we do not believe it with all our heart and all our soul, with all our might and all our strength—-not with that “faith which is in Christ Jesus;” for if we did, come storms, come trials, like Luther of old, we should not flinch because of persecution, but stand fast in the evil day, having our faith fixed upon a rock.

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Form of Sound Words-Delivered on Sabbath, May 11, 1856

Two things that will tempt you to give up the form of sound words

SpurgeonIII. And now, very briefly, in the third place, LET ME WARN YOU OF TWO DANGERS.

One is, that you will be very much tempted to give up the form of sound words that you hold, on account of the opposition you will met with. I do not prophesy that you will have corporeal persecution, though I know there are some poor creatures here that have to endure that from ungodly husbands, and such like; but you will all of you, in some measure, if you hold the truth, meet with the persecution of the tongue. You will be laughed at: your doctrine will be held up to ridicule exhibited in a grotesque manner, you will be caricatured in all that you believe and you will be sometimes tempted to say, “No I do not believe that,” though all the while you do. Or if you do not positively say it, you will at times be led to turn a little, because the laughter you cannot stand, and the scoff of the worldly wise is rather too hard for you. Oh! my beloved, let me warn you against being thus drawn aside. “Hold fast the form of sound words” in the midst of all ridicule. But the greatest obstacle you will have is a sort of slight and cunning trying to pervert you to the belief, that your doctrine is the same with one which is just the very opposite. The enemy will try to persuade you that something he holds is quite harmless, though opposed to what you hold; and be will say, “You do not want to be broaching these things, that must bring forth controversy, there is a way of squaring your sentiments with mine.” And you know we all like to be thought so liberal! The greatest pride in the world now is to be thought liberal in sentiment; and some of us would run a hundred miles, rather than be called a bigot or an Antinomian. I beseech you, be not drawn aside by those who are so ready to subvert your faith, not by openly attacking it, but by insidiously undermining every doctrine saying, this does not signify, and that does not signify, while all the while they are trying to pull down every castle and fortress wherewith God has guarded his truth and his Church.

Charles H. Spurgeon-The Form of Sound Words-Delivered on Sabbath, May 11, 1856

The martyrdom of men whose hearts have become inflamed with the truth, prove that scripture is divine revelation

February 26, 2014 3 comments

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015The constancy of the martyrs. Conclusion. Proofs of this description only of use after the certainty of Scripture has been established in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

13. Again, with what confidence does it become us to subscribe to a doctrine attested and confirmed by the blood of so many saints? They, when once they had embraced it, hesitated not boldly and intrepidly, and even with great alacrity, to meet death in its defense. Being transmitted to us with such an earnest, who of us shall not receive it with firm and unshaken conviction? It is therefore no small proof of the authority of Scripture, that it was sealed with the blood of so many witnesses, especially when it is considered that in bearing testimony to the faith, they met death not with fanatical enthusiasm, (as erring spirits are sometimes wont to do,) but with a firm and constant, yet sober godly zeal. There are other reasons, neither few nor feeble, by which the dignity and majesty of the Scriptures may be not only proved to the pious, but also completely vindicated against the cavils of slanderers. These, however, cannot of themselves produce a firm faith in Scripture until our heavenly Father manifest his presence in it, and thereby secure implicit reverence for it. Then only, therefore, does Scripture suffice to give a saving knowledge of God when its certainty is founded on the inward persuasion of the Holy Spirit. Still the human testimonies which go to confirm it will not be without effect, if they are used in subordination to that chief and highest proof, as secondary helps to our weakness. But it is foolish to attempt to prove to infidels that the Scripture is the Word of God. This it cannot be known to be, except by faith. Justly, therefore, does Augustine remind us, that every man who would have any understanding in such high matters must previously possess piety and mental peace.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 8-Henry Beveridge Translation

Why did Wesley persecute Toplady?

February 24, 2014 2 comments

Why should Toplady who kept the faith and finished his course in this world with joy be the target of the shafts of Wesley’s venom? It is because he refuted on Scriptural grounds the Arminianism of Wesley, and fearlessly stood in defence of the eternal truths of free and sovereign grace. “By what spirit,” writes Toplady: “this gentleman and his deputies are guided in their discussion of controversial subjects, shall appear from a specimen of the horrible aspersions which, in ‘The Church Vindicated from Predestination,’ they venture to heap on the Almighty Himself. The recital makes one tremble; the perusal must shock every reader who is not steeled to all reverence for the Supreme Being. Wesley and Sallon are not afraid to declare that on the hypothesis of divine decrees, the justice of God is no better than the tyranny of Tiberius. That God Himself is ‘little better than Moloch.’ ‘A cruel, unwise, unjust, arbitrary, a self-willed tyrant.’ A being devoid of wisdom, justice, mercy, holiness, and truth.’ ‘A devil, yea, worse than the devil.’ Did the exorbitancies of the ancient ranters, or the impieties of any modem blasphemers, ever come up to this? … Observe, reader, that these also are the very men who are so abandoned to all sense of shame, as to charge me with blasphemy for asserting with Scripture, that God worketh all things according to the counsel of His own will, and that whatever God wills is right.”

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel

John Wesley’s persecution of Augustus Toplady Pt 1

February 3, 2014 2 comments

John Wesley, the great apostle of Arminianism in the following century, manifested the same malicious spirit of persecution against Augustus Toplady, an earnest defender in his day of the doctrines of free and sovereign grace, and author of ‘Rock of Ages Cleft for Me.’ When Toplady was thought to be on his death-bed, Wesley industriously circulated a report that Toplady had recanted the principles which it had been the business of his life to advocate. Wesley supposed Toplady to be too near the grave to contradict this foul calumny and write in his own defence. “But to the confusion of his enemies” to quote from Volume I of Toplady’s Works “strength was given him to do both. Nor did he ever appear more triumphant than when, almost with his dying breath, he made so honourable and so successful an effort to repel the attacks of calumny and maintain the cause of truth.

“On [Lord’s-day], June 14th, less than two months before his death, he came from Knightsbridge, and after a sermon by his assistant, the Rev. Dr. Illingworth, he ascended the pulpit, to the utter astonishment of his people, and delivered a very short but a very effective discourse from 2 Peter 1:13,14, Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; knowing that shortly I must put off this, my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.’

“When speaking of the abundant peace he experienced, and the joy and consolation of the Holy Ghost, of which for months past he had been a partaker, together with the persuasion that in a few days he must resign his mortal part to corruption, as a prelude to seeing the King in His beauty, the effect produced was such as may, perhaps, be conceived, but certainly cannot at all be described. His closing address was in substance the same with the following paper which was published the week after, and entitled, ‘The Rev. Mr. Toplady’s Dying Avowal of His Religious Sentiments.'”

William MacLean-Arminianism-Another Gospel