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A Lesson to the Proud

Spurgeon 6Now, one or two lessons. A lesson to the proud. Come down, proud heard, come down! Mercy runneth in valleys, but it goeth not to the mountain top. Come down, come down, lofty spirit! The lofty city, he layeth it low even to the ground, and then he buildeth it up. Again, a lesson to thee poor despairing soul: I am glad to see thee in God’s house this morning; it is a good sign. I care not what you came for. You heard there was a strange kind of man that preached here, perhaps. Never mind about that. You are all quite as strange as he is. It is necessary that there should be strange men to gather in other strange men. Now, I have a mass of people here; and if I might use a figure, I should compare you to A great heap of ashes, mingled with which are a few steel filings. Now, my sermon if it be attended with divine grace, will be a sort of magnet: it will not attract any of the ashesthey will keep just where they are-but it will draw out the steel filings. I have got a Zaccheus there; there is a Mary up there, a John down there, a Sarah, or a William, or a Thomas, there-God’s chosen ones-they are steel filings in the congregation of ashes, and my gospel, the gospel of the blessed God, like a great magnet, draws them out of the heap. There they come, there they come. Why? because there was a magnetic power between the gospel and their hearts. Ah! poor sinner, come to Jesus, believe his love, trust his mercy. If thou hast a desire to come, if thou art forcing thy way through the ashes to get to Christ, then it is because Christ is calling thee. Oh! all of you who know yourselves to be sinners-every man, woman, and child of you yea, ye little children (for God has given me some of you to be my wages), do you feel yourselves sinners? then believe on Jesus and be saved. You have come here from curiosity, many of you. Oh! That you might be met with and saved. I am distressed for you lest you should sink into hell-fire. Oh! listen to Christ while he speaks to you. Christ says, “Come down,” this morning Go home and humble yourselves in the sight of God: go and confess your iniquities that you have sinned against him; go home and tell him that you are a wretch, undone without his sovereign grace; and then look to him, for rest assured he has first looked to you. You say, “Sir, oh! I am willing enough to be saved, but I am afraid he is not willing.” Stay! stay! no more of that! Do you know that is part blasphemy-not quite. If you were not ignorant, I would tell you that it was part blasphemy. You cannot look to Christ before he has looked to you. If you are willing to be saved, he gave you that will. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and be baptized, and thou shalt be saved. I trust the Holy Spirit is calling you. Young man up there, young man in the window, make haste! come down! Old man, sitting in these pews, come down. Merchant in yonder aisle, make haste. Matron and youth, not knowing Christ, oh, may he look at you. Old grandmother, hear the gracious call; and thou, young lad, Christ may be looking at thee-I trust he is -and saying to thee, “Make haste, and come down, for today I must abide at thy house.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856

Effectual Calling is an Abiding Call

February 29, 2016 Leave a comment

Spurgeon 6Again, it was not only an affectionate call, but it was an abiding call. To-day I must abide at thy house.” A common call is like this “To-day I shall walk in at thy house at one door, and out at the other.” The common call which is given by the gospel to all men is a call which operates upon them for a time, and then it is all over; but the saving call is an abiding call. When Christ speaks, he does not say, “Make haste, Zaccheus, and come down, for I am just coming to look in;” but “I must abide in thy house; I am coming to sit down to eat and drink with thee; I am coming to have a meal with thee; to-day I must abide in thy house.” “Ah!” says one, “you cannot tell how many times I have been impressed, sir, I have often had a series of solemn convictions, and I thought I really was saved, but it all died away; like a dream, when one awaketh, all hath vanished that he dreamed, so was it with me.” Ah! but poor soul, do not despair. Dost thou feel the strivings of Almighty grace within thine heart bidding thee repent to-day? If thou dost, it will be an abiding call. If it is Jesus at work in thy soul, he will come and tarry in thine heart, and consecrate thee for his own for ever. He says, “I will come and dwell with thee, and that for ever. I will come and say,

Here I will make my settled rest,
No more will go and come;
No more a stranger or a guest,
But master of this home.”

“Oh!” say you, “that is what I want; I want an abiding call, something that will last; I do not want a religion that will wash out, but a fast-color religion.” Well, that is the kind of call Christ gives. His ministers cannot give it; but when Christ speaks, he speaks with power, and says, “Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856

Effectual Calling is a Hastening Call

Spurgeon 6Thirdly, it is a hastening call. “Zaccheus, make haste.” The sinner, when he is called by the ordinary ministry, replies, “To-morrow.” He hears a telling sermon, and he says, “I will turn to God by-and bye.” The tears roll down his cheek, but they are wiped away. Some goodness appears, but like the cloud of the morning it is dissipated by the sun of temptation. He says, “I solemnly vow from this time to be a reformed man. After I have once more indulged in my darling sin, I will renounce my lusts, and decide for God.” Ah! that is only a minister’s call, and is good for nothing. Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions. These good intentions are begotten by general calls. The road to perdition is laid all over with branches of the trees whereon men are sitting, for they often pull down branches from the trees but they do not come down themselves. The straw laid down before a sick man’s door causes the wheels to roll more noiselessly. So there be some who strew their path with promises of repentance, and so go more easily and noiselessly down to perdition. But God’s call is not a call for tomorrow. “To-day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts: as in the provocation, when your fathers tempted me “God’s grace always comes with despatch; and if thou art drawn by God, thou wilt run after God, and not be talking about delays. To-morrow-it is not written in the almanack of time. To-morrow-it is in Satan’s calendar, and nowhere else. To-morrow-it is a rock whitened by the bones of mariners who have been wrecked upon it; it is the wrecker’s light gleaming on the shore, luring poor ships to destruction. To morrow-it is the idiot’s cup which he fableth to lie at the foot of the rainbow, but which none hath ever found. To-morrow- it is the floating island of Loch Lomond, which none hath ever seen. To-morrow-it is a dream. To-morrow-it is a delusion. To-morrow, ay, to-morrow you may lift up your eyes in hell, being in torments. Yonder clock saith “to day;” thy pulse whispereth “to-day;” I hear my hears speak as it beats, and it says, “to-day; “everything crieth “to-day;” and the Holy Ghost is in union with these things, and saith, “Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.” Sinners, are you inclined now to seek the Savior? are you breathing a prayer now? are you saying, “Now or never! I must be saved now?” If you are, then I hope it is an effectual call, for Christ, when he giveth an effectual call, says, “Zaccheus, make haste.”

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856

Effectual Calling is a Personal Call

February 1, 2016 2 comments

SpurgeonNext it was a personal call. There were boys in the tree as well as Zaccheus but there was no mistake about the person who was called. It was, “Zaccheus, make haste and come down.” There are other calls mentioned in Scripture. It is said especially, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” Now that is not the effectual call which is intended by the apostle, when he said, “Whom he called, them he also justified.” That is a general call which many men, yea, all men reject, unless there come after it the personal, particular call, which makes us Christians. You will bear me witness that it was a personal call that brought you to the Savior. It was some sermon which led you to feel that you were, no doubt, the person intended. The text, perhaps, was “Thou, God, seest me;” and the minister laid particular stress on the word “me,” so that you thought God’s eye was fixed upon you; and ere the sermon was concluded, you thought you saw God open the books to condemn you, and your heart whispered, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord.” You might have been perched in the window, or stood packed in the aisle; but you had a solemn conviction that the sermon was preached to you, and not to other people. God does not call his people in shoals but in units. “Jesus saith unto her, Mary; and she turned and said unto him Rabboni, which is to say, Master.” Jesus seeth Peter and John fishing by the lake and he saith unto them, “Follow me.” He seeth Matthew sitting at the table at the receipt of custom, and he saith unto him, “Arise, and follow me,” and Matthew did so. When the Holy Ghost comes home to a man. God’s arrow goes into his heart: it does not graze his helmet, or make some little mark upon his armor, but it penetrates between the joints of the harness, entering the marrow of the soul. Have you felt, dear friends, that personal call? Do you remember when a voice said, “Arise, he calleth thee.” Can you look back to some time when you said, “My Lord, my God?” when you knew the Spirit was striving with you, and you said, Lord, I come to thee, for I know that thou callest me.” I might call the whole of you through out eternity, but if God call one, there will be more effect through his personal call of one than my general call of multitudes.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856

Zaccheus and effectual calling

January 18, 2016 1 comment

CharlesSpurgeon“When Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zaccheus, make haste and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house.”-Luke 19:5.

NOTWITHSTANDING our firm belief that you are in the main well instructed in the doctrines of the everlasting gospel, we are continually reminded in our conversation with young converts, how absolutely necessary it is to repeat our former lessons, and repeatedly assert and prove over and over again those doctrines which lie at the basis of our holy religion. Our friends, therefore, who have many years ago been taught the great doctrine of effectual calling, will believe that whilst I preach very simply this morning, the sermon is intended for those who are young in the fear of the Lord, that they may better understand this great starting point of God in the heart, the effectual calling of men by the Holy Spirit. I shall use the case of Zaccheus as a great illustration of the doctrine of effectual calling. You will remember the story. Zaccheus had a curiosity to see the wonderful man Jesus Christ, who was turning the world upside down, and causing an immense excitement in the minds of men. We sometimes find fault with curiosity and say it is sinful to come to the house of God from that motive; I am not quite sure that we should hazard such an assertion. The motive is not sinful, though certainly it is not virtuous; yet it has often been proved that curiosity is one of the best allies of grace. Zaccheus, moved by this motive, desired to see Christ; but there were two obstacles in the way: first, there was such a crowd of people that he could not get near the Savior; and again, he was so exceedingly short in stature that there was no hope of his reaching over people’s heads to catch a glimpse of him.

What did he do? He did as the boys were doing-for the boys of old times were no doubt just like the boys of the present age, and were perched up in the boughs of the tree to look at Jesus as be passed along. Elderly man though he is, Zaccheus jumps up, and there he sits among the children. The boys are too much afraid of that stern old publican whom their fathers dreaded, to push him down or cause him any inconvenience. See him there. With what anxiety he is peeping down to see which is Christ-for the Savior had no pompous distinction; no beadle is walking before him with a silver mace; he did not hold a golden crozier in his hand: he had no pontificial dress; in fact, he was just dressed like those around him. He had a coat like that of a common peasant, made of one piece from top to bottom; and Zaccheus could scarcely distinguish him. However, before he has caught a sight of Christ, Christ has fixed his eye upon him, and standing under the tree, he looks up, and says “Zaccheus, make haste, and come down; for today I must abide at thy house.” Down come. Zaccheus; Christ goes to his house; Zaccheus becomes Christ’s follower, and enters into the kingdom of heaven.

Charles H. Spurgeon- Effectual Calling-A Sermon Delivered on Sabbath Morning, March 30, 1856

Parable of the Sower: The first and second hearer explained

Arthur PinkThe first is the “wayside” hearer, whose heart is entirely unreceptive—as the highway is beaten down and hardened by the traffic of the world. The seed penetrates not such ground, and “the fowls of the air” catch it away. Christ explained this as being a picture of one who “understandeth not the word” (though it be his duty to take pains and do so—1 Corinthians 8:2), and the wicked one takes away the Word out of his heart—Luke 8 adds “lest they believe and be saved.” The second is the “stony-ground” hearer—i.e., ground with a rock foundation over which lies but a thin layer of soil. Since there be no depth of earth the seed obtained no root, and the scorching sun caused it soon to wither away. This is a representation of the superficial hearer, whose emotions are stirred, but who lacks any searching of conscience and deep convictions. He receives the Word with a natural “joy,” but (Matthew’s account) “when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” These are they who have no root in themselves, and consequently (as Luke’s account informs us) “for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.” Theirs is naught but a temporary and evanescent faith, as we much fear is the case with the great majority of the “converts” from special missions and “evangelistic campaigns.”

Arthur W. Pink-Interpretation of the Scriptures

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2-Chapter 8-Sanctification

CHAPTER 8-SANCTIFICATION

If any defense is needed for writing on the subjects we are dealing with in this present series of articles, it is sufficient to say that they deal with men’s relation to God. The secularist is apt to complain that such articles are not practical and profitable, inasmuch as they do not bear directly on politics, economics, and other social sciences. It might be argued that we are making no contribution towards solving the problems now perplexing the statesmen of the world. Human relations, whether on the individual or collective level, are generally accepted as of much importance, and this we do not deny or ignore. Great industries have their public relations agencies. Governments have their agencies which deal with domestic and foreign relations. And since every man must have dealings with God, the Creator and Lawgiver, to have right relations with Him is of supreme importance. To ignore or deny this is to take a fatal attitude. Every man must undergo a change of attitude towards God or suffer eternal and fatal consequences.

The proper presentation of any Bible doctrine lies largely in correct definition of terms. Much of the false teaching so rampant today began with incorrect definitions of Bible words. This is particularly true with regard to the doctrine of sanctification. If we accept the definition of the word as given by the so-called holiness sects, then we will have to accept their teaching on the subject.

In getting at the true meaning of Bible words, we must remember that human dictionaries do not determine, but merely register the meaning of words according to their current usage. This explains why Webster and others define baptism as the act of dipping, pouring, or sprinkling. These men did not profess to be theologians, and their definitions merely reflect the opinions of recognized theologians whose opinions differ. It was observed that some denominations dip or immerse and call their act baptism, while others pour or sprinkle and call their act baptism; and so baptism is defined as being any one of these acts. Bible doctrines cannot be settled by the human dictionaries. We must get our definitions of Bible words from the Bible itself. We shall observe:

SOME INADEQUATE AND ERRONEOUS VIEWS OF SANCTIFICATION

1. The view that sanctification is merely a progressive work of grace in the soul. This is only a partial explanation of the doctrine. It covers only one aspect of the doctrine. It ignores the objective side of sanctification, and makes it only a subjective experience in which the believer grows in grace. Sanctification is both objective and subjective, positional as well as experiential.

2. The view that sanctification is a blessing for only a few sample saints, the mark of an advanced and mature Christian. This view distinguishes between the ordinary Christian and those who are more pious and godly. But the fact is that every born again person is a saint. All the saved are sanctified. Sanctification like justification is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (#Ac 26:18). Paul wrote to the carnal believers at Corinth and addressed them as saints, that is, sanctified persons.

3. The idea that sanctification is a second work of grace in which sin is eradicated from the soul. This makes sanctification subsequent to justification, a blessing which may be lost unless the second blessing of sanctification is received. This would break the Scripture which says that the justified are (in the purpose of God) already glorified: “Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (#Ro 8:30).

4. The Romanist view that nobody is sanctified until after death when the church, by a tedious and painful ceremony, canonizes the person on the ground of personal merit. According to this view there are no living saints. In reply, it is sufficient to say that Paul wrote to living people and addressed them as saints.

THE BIBLE TEACHING

Let us bear in mind that the words saint, sanctuary, holiness, and sanctification are from the same root word, which means “to set apart,” or “to cause to pass over”. By comparing #Ex 13:2 with #Ex 13:12 we get the Bible meaning of the word sanctify. In #Ex 13:2 God says, “Sanctify unto me all the first-born, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.” In verse 12, the command is repeated but instead of the word sanctify, the words “set apart” (margin: “Cause to pass over”) are used. The thought is that of separating from and setting apart to, or causing to pass over to. The first-born Israelite was separated from the other children in the home and considered as the peculiar possession of the Lord on the ground that the death angel passed over the house, sparing him the fate of the first-born Egyptian.

There is no moral element implied in the word sanctification, and so it is used of things as well as of persons. We find that vessels, and beasts, and a mountain (things without moral value) are said to be sanctified. They were simply separated from one use and set apart to another use. Isaiah speaks of idolators as sanctifying themselves, which means that they separated themselves from the true congregation of Israel to engage in idolatrous worship. “They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine’s flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD” (#Isa 66:17).

Nor does the word sanctification imply any internal change in the thing or person sanctified. Mt. Sinai was sanctified “And Moses said unto the LORD, The people cannot come up to mount Sinai: for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount, and sanctify it” (#Ex 19:23), but there was no internal change; the soil and minerals remained the same as before. Jeremiah was sanctified before he was born. “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations” (#Jer 1:5), which precludes the idea of any internal change. Our Lord was sanctified “Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?” (#Joh 10:36); “And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth” (#Joh 17:19), and this does away with the idea of eradication of a sinful nature in sanctification, for He was ever the sinless One.

SANCTIFICATION OF PERSONS

The sanctification of persons does involve the question of morals because men are moral beings. And there is one aspect of sanctification which, when completed, will be the eradication of sinful nature and will consist of personal holiness. The various aspects of sanctification should not be confounded but clearly distinguished. The Bible speaks of sanctification by the blood of Christ, by the Holy Spirit, by the word of God, and by the Father.

SANCTIFICATION BY THE BLOOD

In #Heb 10:10 “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” , we are told that our sanctification is by the will of God through the offering of the body of Christ once for all. The same truth is given us in #Heb 13:12: “Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.” We note three things about this aspect of sanctification.

1. It is positional or objective. The above Scriptures express what the believer is before God by virtue of the blood of Christ. This is imputed holiness, for Christ is “made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (#1Co 1:30). It is as Scriptural to speak of imputed righteousness.

2. It is eternal. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (#Heb 10:14). In Christ the believer is holy forever; in Christ he is eternally perfect.

3. It is absolute. In Christ we are absolutely holy-we are as holy as He is holy. This aspect of sanctification is not gradual and relative, but absolute and eternal. If Christ is our holiness, then we are as holy as He is. How precious this makes the blood of Christ to the believer!

SANCTIFICATION BY THE HOLY SPIRIT

This is internal and experiential in which the believer is separated from the world and set apart as belonging to God. Paul thanks God for the Thessalonians “because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” (#2Th 2:13). Peter writes to those who are the “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (#1Pe 1:2).

Salvation in the sense of conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the initial work of grace and not a second blessing. And it is to be followed by blessing after blessing. Paul expresses confidence “that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (#Php 1:6). The Holy Spirit convicts of sin and leads one to faith in Christ. And he keeps in faith those begotten unto faith. There are no abandoned projects in the economy of grace.

SANCTIFICATION BY THE WORD

This is personal and practical sanctification and has to do with our daily walk, or every day life. In praying for His disciples, our Lord said, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (#Joh 17:17). The word of God has a separating influence on the life of the believer. If the word has a large place in our life, sin will have a proportionately small place. An increased desire for the word will mean a decreased desire for the world. Sin will keep us from the word or the word will keep us from sin. A woman was complimenting her friend on her knowledge of the Bible. She said, “I would give all the world for your knowledge of the Scriptures.” “Well,” said the friend, “that is exactly what it cost me.”

Sanctification by the word is also progressive. We make progress in personal holiness by feeding on the word: “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (#1Pe 2:2). When we consider how little the average Christian feeds his soul on the word of God, we are not surprised to find them dwarfed spiritually-Christians who never grow up to maturity. Sanctification is a divine work and a human obligation. The believer has not strength of his own for godly living, and to think otherwise is highly presumptuous and reveals a spirit of self-righteousness. On the other hand, to deny the obligation to holy living is to justify sinful living.

There is a close analogy between good health in the physical and good health in the spiritual sense, or between good health in a man considered as a physical being and as a moral being. There are three things essential in each case.

1. There must be wholesome food. Physical health may be impaired by what one eats. We have pure food laws for our protection. But in spite of this many people make of their stomachs a sort of garbage can for harmful foods. And we need to know how to eat as well as what to eat. Many would have better health physically if they would masticate what they eat. They may be said to bolt their food. They do not use their teeth, but try to make their stomachs do what the teeth were given to do. Now there must be wholesome food for the soul if the Christian is to have good health. The Christian’s food is what he puts into his mind-it is what he reads and hears and looks at. There is a lot of mental food dished out to Christians that impairs their spiritual health. The believer needs to shun the lustful, trashy, filthy literature, constantly pouring off the presses in shocking abundance, as he would shun poison for the body. The proper food for the Christian is the Bible and such books and magazines as are true to the Bible.

2. Another essential to good health is proper exercise. And the best exercise is that which uses all the members of the body. Every member of the body has its own muscles for it was intended to be used, and if not used the muscles will become weak and flabby. Put your arm in a sling and keep it there month after month-never give it any exercise-never use it—-and after a while you can’t use it. Put your well leg in a cast and keep it there six months, and you can no more walk than fly.

Now spiritual exercise is just as essential to the health of the soul as physical exercise is to the body. Spiritual muscles can also become weak and flabby. The strength we get from spiritual manna must be used. We must exercise our spiritual gifts by doing good. We are created in Christ Jesus for the purpose of doing good works. There is much for Christians to do, and we are exhorted by Paul to be rich in good works. The lost are to be witnessed to, the sick are to be visited, and the afflicted are to be comforted. To talk of Christ to others will make Him more precious to our own hearts. Witnessing to others about Christ is the best tonic for a run-down feeling spiritually. We may lift ourselves out of the doldrums by giving somebody else a lift. We save our lives by losing our lives for Christ’s sake in the service of others.

3. A third essential to good health is the right kind of atmosphere. We must have oxygen if we are to breathe. Mrs. Cole cannot have normal health in Florida. The altitude is too low and the air is too damp and heavy. And on Frisco Peak in Arizona, the altitude is too high and the air is too light—-not enough oxygen for her. The climate and atmosphere has to be considered in the matter of physical health.

Now for the spiritual health we must breathe the right atmosphere-we must have the proper environment. And this has to do with our associations. We are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” (#Eph 5:11). Bad company will ruin good character “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (#1Co 15:33). The blessed man does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, that is, he does not follow the advice of those who hate God. He does not stand in the way of sinners, which means that he is not a joint partaker of their ways. He does not sit in the seat of the scornful, that is, the blessed man has no part with those who mock at holy things.

The believer is in the world, but he is not of the world. He must not shun physical contact with the world, but must have no moral fellowship with its ways.

Complete personal sanctification in the sense of sinless perfection is a goal to be striven for and not a reality to be boasted of. Regeneration has been called the crisis of the disease of sin, and sanctification the progress of convalescence. To live in the truth of the glorious doctrine of sanctification will keep the believer humble, happy, hopeful, and helpful on his journey to glory. “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (#1Th 5:23,24).

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 2-Part 2

At what time and in what order the angels were created is inexpedient to inquire

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015The angels created by God. At what time and in what order it is inexpedient to inquire. The garrulity of the Pseudo-Dionysius.

4. Angels being the ministers appointed to execute the commands of God, must, of course, be admitted to be his creatures, but to stir up questions concerning the time or order in which they were created, (see Lombard, lib. 2 dist. 2, sqq.,) bespeaks more perverseness than industry. Moses relates that the heavens and the earth were finished, with all their host; what avails it anxiously to inquire at what time other more hidden celestial hosts than the stars and planets also began to be? Not to dwell on this, let us here remember that on the whole subject of religion one rule of modesty and soberness is to be observed, and it is this, in obscure matters not to speak or think, or even long to know, more than the Word of God has delivered. A second rule is, that in reading the Scriptures we should constantly direct our inquiries and meditations to those things which tend to edification, not indulge in curiosity, or in studying things of no use. And since the Lord has been pleased to instruct us, not in frivolous questions, but in solid piety, in the fear of his name, in true faith, and the duties of holiness, let us rest satisfied with such knowledge. Wherefore, if we would be duly wise, we must renounce those vain babblings of idle men, concerning the nature, ranks, and number of angels, without any authority from the Word of God. I know that many fasten on these topics more eagerly, and take greater pleasure in them than in those relating to daily practice. But if we decline not to be the disciples of Christ, let us not decline to follow the method which he has prescribed. In this way, being contented with him for our master, we will not only refrain from, but even feel averse to, superfluous speculations which he discourages. None can deny that Dionysus (whoever he may have been) has many shrewd and subtle disquisitions in his Celestial Hierarchy, but on looking at them more closely, every one must see that they are merely idle talk. The duty of a Theologian, however, is not to tickle the ear, but confirm the conscience, by teaching what is true, certain, and useful. When you read the work of Dionysus, you would think that the man had come down from heaven, and was relating, not what he had learned, but what he had actually seen. Paul, however, though he was carried to the third heaven, so far from delivering any thing of the kind, positively declares, that it was not lawful for man to speak the secrets which he had seen. Bidding adieu, therefore, to that nugatory wisdom, let us endeavor to ascertain from the simple doctrine of Scripture what it is the Lord’s pleasure that we should know concerning angels.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 14-Henry Beveridge Translation

C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers-Prayer 25

February 5, 2015 2 comments

THE WASHING OF WATER BY THE WORD.

JEHOVAH, our God, Thou lovest Thy people, Thou hast placed all the saints in the hand of Jesus, and Thou hast given Jesus to be to them a leader, a commander and a husband; and we know that Thou delightest to hear us cry on the behalf of Thy Church for Thou carest for Him, and Thou art ready to grant to Him according to the covenant provisions which Thou hast laid up in store for Christ Jesus. Therefore would we begin this prayer by entreating Thee to behold and visit the vine and the vineyard which Thy right hand hath planted. Look upon Zion the city of our solemnities; look upon those whom Thou hast chosen from before the foundation of the world, whom Christ hath redeemed with blood, whose hearts He has won and holds, and who are His own though they be in the world.

Holy Father, keep Thy people, we beseech Thee, for Jesus’ sake Though they are in the world let them not be of it, but may there be a marked distinction between them and the rest of mankind. Even as their Lord was holy, harmless and undefiled, and separate from sinners, so may it be with believers in Christ. May they follow Him and may they not know the voice of strangers, but come out from the rest that they may follow Him without the camp.

We cry to Thee for the preservation of Thy Church in the world, and especially for her purity. O, Father, keep us, we beseech Thee with all keeping, that the evil one touch us not. We shall be tempted, but let him not prevail against us. In a thousand ways he will lay snares for our feet; but, oh! deliver us as a bird from the snare of the fowler. May the snare be broken that we may escape. Let not Thy Church suffer dishonor at any time, but may her garments be always white. Let not such as come in among her that are not of her utterly despoil her. O, Christ, as Thou didst groan concerning Judas, so may Thy children cry to Thee concerning any that have fallen aside into crooked ways, lest the cause of Christ in the earth should be dishonored. O, God, cover, we beseech Thee, with Thy feathers, all the people of Christ, and keep Thy Church even until He shall come Who, having loved His own that were in the world, loveth them even to the end.

We would ask just now that we may be washed as to our feet; we trust Thou hast bathed us once for all in the sin-removing fountain. Thou hast also washed us in the waters of regeneration and given us the renewing of our minds, through Jesus Christ; but O for daily cleansing. Dost Thou see any fault in us? Ah! we know that Thou dost. Wash us that we may be clean. Are we deficient in any virtue? Oh! supply it that we may exhibit a perfect character to the glory of Him who has made us anew in Christ Jesus Or is there something that would be good if not carried to excess? Be pleased to modify it lest one virtue should slaughter another, and we should not be the image of Christ completely.

O Lord and Master, Thou who didst wash Thy disciples’ feet of old, still be very patient toward us, very condescending towards our provoking faults, and go on with us, we pray Thee, till Thy great work shall be completed and we shall be brethren of the First Born, like unto Him. Gracious Master, we wish to, conquer self in every respect; we desire to live for the glory of God and the good of our fellow men; we would have it true of us as of our Master, “He saved others, Himself He cannot save.” Wilt Thou enable us especially to overcome the body with all its affections and lusts; may the flesh be kept under; let no appetite of any kind of the grosser sort prevail against our manhood, lest we be dishonored and unclean. And let not even the most refined power of the natural mind be permitted to come so forward as to mar the dominion of the Spirit of God within us.

Oh! help us not to be so easily moved even by pain, may we have much patience, and let not the prospect of death ever cause us any fear, but may the spirit get so much the mastery of the body that we know nothing can hurt the true man. The inner newborn cannot be smitten, nor is it to die; it is holy, incorruptible, and liveth and abideth for ever in the life that is in Christ Jesus.

Oh! for a complete conquest of self. Especially render us insensible to praise, lest we be too sensitive to censure. Let us reckon that to have the approbation of God and of our own conscience is quite enough; and may we be content, gracious God, to bear the caviling of unreasonable men; yea, and to bear the misrepresentations of our own brethren. Those that we love, if they love not us, yet may we love them none the less, and if by mistake they misjudge us, let us have no hard feelings towards them, and God grant we may never misjudge one another. Doth not our Judge stand at the bar? Oh! keep us like little children who do not know, but expect to know hereafter, and are content to believe things which they do. Not understand. Lord keep us humble, dependent, yet serenely joyful. May we be calm and quiet even as a weaned child, yet may we be earnest and active.

O Savior, make us like Thyself. We wish not so much to do as to be. If Thou wilt make us to be right we shall do right. We find how often we have to put a constraint upon ourselves to be right, but, oh! that we were like Thee, Jesus, so that we had but to act out ourselves, to act out perfect holiness. We shall never rest till this is the case, till Thou hast made us ourselves to be inwardly holy, and then words and actions must be holy as a matter of course. Now, here we are, Lord, and we belong to Thee. Oh! It is because we are Thine own that we have hope. Thou wilt make us worthy of Thee. Thy possession of us is our hope of perfection. Thou dost wash our feet because we are Thine own. Oh! how sweet is the mercy which first took us to its heart and made us all its own. and now continues to deal tenderly with us, that being Christ’s own we may have that of Christ within us which all may see proves us to be Christ’s own!

Now we would bring before Thee all Thy saints and ask Thee to attend to their trials and troubles. Some we know are afflicted in person, others are afflicted in their dear friends, some are afflicted in their temporal estate and are brought into sore distress. Lord, we do not know the trials of all Thy people, but Thou dost, for Thou are the Head, and the pains of all the members are centered in Thee. Help all Thy people even to the end.

Now we pray Thee to grant us the blessing which we have already sought, and let it come upon all the churches of our beloved country. May the Lord revive true and undefiled religion here and in all the other lands where Christ is known and preached, and let the day come when heathendom shall become converted, when the crescent of Mohammed shall wane into eternal night, and when she that sitteth on the Seven Hills and exalteth herself in the place of God shall be cast down to sink like a millstone in the flood.

Let the blessed Gospel of the eternal God prevail, let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Oh! That we may live to see that day. The Lord bless our country; have pity upon it. God bless the Sovereign with every mercy and blessing. Grant that there may be in Thine infinite wisdom a change in the state of trade and commerce, that there may be less complaint and distress. Oh! let the people see Thy hand, and understand why it is laid upon them, that they may turn from wrongdoing and seek righteousness and follow after peace. Then shall the blessing return. The Lord hear us as in secret we often cry to Thee on behalf of this misled land. The Lord deliver it, and lift up the light of His countenance upon it yet again, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

C. H. Spurgeon’s Prayers

Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1-Chapter 5-The Word of God

January 2, 2015 1 comment

CHAPTER 5-THE WORD OF GOD (THE HOLY SCRIPTURES)

Christianity is the religion of a Book. Without this Book Christianity cannot be perpetuated. Wherever this Book has not gone there is no evidence of anything Christian. Salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ, and people cannot believe in Him of whom they have not heard: “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (#Ro 10:14). And we are shut up to this Book for news about Jesus Christ. This Book is the Bible, and, in its original, is God’s word to us today. Efface the teachings of the Bible from human thought and Christianity passes into oblivion. The Bible is an infallible Book, sufficient and authoritative in all matters of religious faith and practice: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (#2Ti 3:16,17).

“Bring me the Book!” cried Sir Walter Scott on his death bed. “What Book?” he was asked. And this genius of the Scottish people replied, “There is but one Book; bring me the Bible!” When Queen Victoria was asked the secret of England’s greatness, she took down a copy of the scriptures and said, “This Book explains the power of Great Britain.”

SCRIPTURE VS. TRADITION

The word for Scripture in the Greek is “graphe” and means “a writing,” or “anything written.” The expression “holy scriptures” occurs only twice in the New Testament: “(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)”(#Ro 1:2); “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (#2Ti 3:15); but wherever the Scriptures are referred to, the Divine writings are meant. The usual reference is to the Old Testament writings, but Peter speaks of Paul’s epistles as Scripture: “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (#2Pe 3:16).

The Scriptures of our Lord’s day were the writings of the Old Testament. The Bible of that time was the Septuagint, which was the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament. To our Lord and the apostles the Old Testament was the word of God. This was the Book Christ challenged the Jews to search: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (#Joh 5:39). This was the Book He meant when He said “If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;” (#Joh 10:35). This was the Book the Bereans searched to see if what Paul preached was true. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (#Ac 17:11).

Our Savior charged that the “traditions of men” were against the Scriptures. The Scriptures were the verbally inspired writings of God; the traditions of men were the teachings handed down by the Jewish elders. When the scribes and Pharisees charged Jesus with transgressing “the traditions of the elders,” He turned on them with this question: “Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? (#Mt 15:2,3). Before Saul of Tarsus became a believer in Jesus Christ: He was “exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers” (#Ga 1:14). But when he became a believer he renounced the traditions and turned to the Scriptures. There are many traditions which need to be given up today, things handed down that are contrary to Scripture.

REVELATION AND INSPIRATION

These two words must not be confused. The word of God came to the prophets; that was revelation. Inspiration is the method by which the word came through them to us. It is by inspiration that the revelation to them became a revelation to us. Without inspiration we would have no revelation, for the word of God does not come today as it came to men of old. This inspiration has given us a written revelation. God’s word which we have today is in the form or nature of a Book, the Bible.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (#2Ti 3:16). This does not say the prophets were inspired; inspiration has to do with the words; the words of scripture came from God; they were God breathed. It is not our purpose to enter the controversy about theories of inspiration, except to say that we believe in the verbal inspiration of the scriptures, which means that the very words were selected by God, and the men spake as they were borne along by the Holy Spirit. They were not given conceptions or ideas of truth; they were given words of truth and directed by the Spirit to put those words of truth in writing.

The human element in the production of the Bible is fully recognized, the Book came to us through human agency, but the human element was not allowed to hazard the accuracy or infallibility of the Book. The Bible is as accurate and infallible as if God had written it without the human agent. “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (#2Pe 1:21).

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (#Heb 1:1). The Old Testament is the Divine record of what God said at different times and in different ways to Israel through their prophets. The New Testament is the Divine record of God speaking in the Son. The comparison between the prophets and Christ is to point a contrast. God was using the prophets to give His word to Israel; but in Christ it was God Himself speaking. The prophets were many; the Son is one. The prophets were servants; the Son is the Lord. The prophets were temporary; the Son abideth for ever. The prophets spoke the word; Christ is the Word.

The Bible is in two editions, commonly called the Old and the New Testaments. They are not two but one book. The Old Testament is the New enfolded; the New Testament is the Old unfolded. In the Old Testament the New is concealed; in the New Testament the Old is revealed. The Old is patent in the New; the New is latent in the Old. The Old is prediction; the New is fulfillment. The two Testaments have the same Author: God; they have the same subject: Christ. The crimson thread runs through the whole Bible. You can begin anywhere and, preach Jesus. In both Testaments it is recorded that the Lord said: “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me” (#Ps 40:7); “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (#Heb 10:7). And in #Re 19:10: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Martin Luther quaintly compared the two testaments to the two men who brought the branch with the cluster of grapes from the promised land. They were both bearing the same fruit; but the one in front did not see it, but knew what he was carrying. The other saw both the fruit and the man who was helping him. The prophets who came before Jesus testified of Him, although they did not see Him; and we who live since He came, see both Him and them.

ARGUMENTS THAT THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD

1. There is a presumption in its favor. Man needs a revelation from God, and if the Bible is not this revelation we have none. To be sure there are the sacred books of other religions, but they are like the gods they witness to, and are obviously not the revelation of the true and living God. Man needs the kind of revelation we have in the Bible. There is a revelation of God in nature, but this revelation is inadequate; it does not cover enough subjects. Nature reveals His eternal power and Deity, but has nothing to say about His moral qualities. Nature tells us there is a God, but it does not tell us what He is. A savage on an island far removed from civilization, finding a watch, might reach the conclusion that it was made by man, but he could not, by examining the watch, learn anything about the character of the maker. And man cannot learn the character of the Creator through the study of geology, biology, and astronomy. The Bible makes no effort to prove the existence of God, but it goes to great lengths in telling us what God is. He is revealed in His mode of existence and in His many moral perfections.

Man is in darkness about himself. He needs a written revelation to tell him what he is, whence he came, and, whither he is bound. The Bible answers every question concerning the eternal welfare of the human soul. It convicts every man of sin and tells him how to be saved. Yes, there is a presumption in favor of the Bible. Man needs a revelation; God is able to give it, and the Bible is the kind of revelation man needs. The Bible satisfies the thirsty soul.

2. The Bible claims to be the Word of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (#Joh 1:1). If the Bible is not what it claims to be it is a bad book. It is utterly inconsistent to extol the Bible as a good book, and at the same time deny its infallibility. All through the Bible runs the expression, “Thus saith the Lord.” This expression or its equivalent is used fully two thousand times in the Old Testament.

3. The testimony of Christ argues for the authenticity of the Bible. The Old Testament was in existence in His day, and He accepted it and quoted it as the word of God. The very book most frequently attacked by the critics (the book of Deuteronomy) was the book from which He made every quotation when tempted by Satan: “And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live” (#De 8:3); “Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah” (#De 6:16); “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name” (#De 6:13), and compare with: #Lu 4:4-12: “And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. And he brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.”

4. The uniqueness of the Bible attests its Divine origin. It is different from all other books. To drink at this fountain of Truth is to taste the difference. It is unique in its teaching about God, about creation, about man, about sin, and about salvation. It has been said that man could not have written such a book if he would, and he would not if he could. Any honest man, who knows much about the Bible, will readily admit that it cannot possibly be a human production.

5. The frankness with which this Book deals with its heroes and authors, gives abundant evidence that it is the word of God. Human biographies give only the bright and best side of a man’s life. They extol his virtues and praise his achievements, but say little or nothing about his weak points. But the characters of the Bible are painted in the colors of truth. The Bible does not whitewash.

6. The wonderful unity of the Bible is an argument for its inspiration. This is a miracle within itself. Penned on two continents, written in three languages, its composition and compilation extending through the slow progress of sixteen centuries, having about forty different authors; parts of it written in tents, palaces, dungeons, in cities and deserts; written in times of danger and in seasons of ecstatic joy; among its writers were judges, priests, kings, prophets, prime ministers, herdsmen, scribes, soldiers, physicians, and fishermen; yet in spite of these varying circumstances, conditions, and workmen, the Bible is one Book. It holds together. There is affinity one part for the other. The more this truth is pondered the more amazing is the Bible.

“Imagine forty persons of different nationalities, possessing various degrees of musical culture, visiting the organ of some great cathedral and at long intervals of time, and without any collusion whatever, striking sixty-six different notes, which when combined yielded the theme of the grandest oroatorio ever heard: would it not show that behind these forty different men there was one presiding mind, one great Tone-Master? As we listen to some great orchestra, with its immense variety of instruments playing their different parts, but producing melody and harmony, we realize that at the back of these many musicians there is the personality and genius of the composer. And when we enter the halls of the Divine Academy and listen to the heavenly choirs singing the Song of Redemption, all in perfect accord and unison, we know that it is God Himself who has written the music and put this song into their mouths” (A. W. Pink).

7. Fulfilled prophecies give testimony to the Divine origin of the Bible. Prophecy is the foretelling of events before they come to pass. This is the acid test of Divine revelation. God’s appeal to fulfilled prophecy is made all through the Bible: “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (#De 18:22); “Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together” (#Isa 41:21-23); “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (#2Pe 1:19-21). Men may make some general predictions about the future, but the Bible contains hundreds of prophecies, which have been literally fulfilled hundreds of years after they were written.

7a) Prophecies about Christ. He is the one great subject of prophecy: “And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (#Re 19:10); “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (#Heb 10:7). Micah predicted His birthplace: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (#Mic 5:2). Isaiah said his mother would be a virgin: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (#Isa 7:14). We have many things about His death predicted in #Ps 22:1-22: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in thee: they trusted, and thou didst deliver them. They cried unto thee, and were delivered: they trusted in thee, and were not confounded. But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly. Be not far from me; for trouble is near; for there is none to help. Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. But be not thou far from me, O LORD: O my strength, haste thee to help me. Deliver my soul from the sword; my darling from the power of the dog. Save me from the lion’s mouth: for thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns. I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee,” and #Isa 53:1-12: “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” And in #Ps 16:10: “For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption” we have His resurrection foretold.

7b) Prophecies about the Jews. These like the prophecies about Christ, are too many to enumerate. Frederick the Great once demanded of one of his marshals, who was a devout believer, proof of the truth of the Bible in one word. “The Jew,” was the laconic, unanswerable reply. The destruction of their royal city, Jerusalem, was foretold years in advance. “And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city” (#Mt 22:1-7 24:1,2): “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” and #Lu 21:5,6: “And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Read the account of the destruction of Jerusalem by Josephus, who was with Titus in this campaign and afterwards wrote the history of it. The wandering Jew has long been a proverb in human history, but it was a Divine prophecy a long time before.

7c) Prophecies about Babylon. “And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. It shall never be inhabited, neither shall it be dwelt in from generation to generation: neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall the shepherds make their fold there. But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there. And the wild beasts of the islands shall cry in their desolate houses, and dragons in their pleasant palaces: and her time is near to come, and her days shall not be prolonged” (#Isa 13:19-22); “For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD. I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts” (#Isa 14:22,23); “Therefore hear ye the counsel of the LORD, that he hath taken against Babylon; and his purposes, that he hath purposed against the land of the Chaldeans: Surely the least of the flock shall draw them out: surely he shall make their habitation desolate with them. At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved, and the cry is heard among the nations” (#Jer 50:45-46). Of all the cities in prophecy apart from Jerusalem, Babylon figures most prominently. Babylon is mentioned in Genesis and in Revelation. This city is Divinely threatened through Isaiah; at great length through Jeremiah, and there are further threatenings through John in the book of Revelation. It would be interesting and profitable for the student, by the use of concordance, to read all the Bible says about Babylon.

7d) One of the most interesting bits of prophecy is that concerning Josiah, the boy king of Judah, who reigned from 637-608 B.C. When Jeroboam stood by his altar at Bethel to burn incense, an unknown prophet of God came out of Judah “And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee” (#1Ki 13:2). The date of this prophecy was 975 BC. Here is the prediction of the birth, and name, and deed of a later king of Judah, which took place three and one-half centuries later. The fulfillment is recorded in #2Ki 23:15,16: “Moreover the altar that was at Bethel, and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, had made, both that altar and the high place he brake down, and burned the high place, and stamped it small to powder, and burned the grove. And as Josiah turned himself, he spied the sepulchres that were there in the mount, and sent, and took the bones out of the sepulchres, and burned them upon the altar, and polluted it, according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these words”. (#2Ki 23:15,16). The fulfillment took place 624 BC, or 351 years after the prophecy was spoken.

SOME GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE BIBLE AS A DIVINE REVELATION

1. It is a religious Book. It is not a textbook on natural science, but a revelation of moral and saving truth. It was not written to tell men how to get on here, but to tell them how to prepare for the hereafter.

2. The Bible is an open Book. Its truths are not veiled in scientific language, but are given in the popular language of the people. If the Bible had been written in the scientific language of the first century it would have been out of date in the twentieth century. If it had been written in the language of the twentieth century nobody could have understood it until a few years ago. If written in scientific language only the scholars could understand it. The Bible was not written for scholars but for men. It is the people’s Book. It was delivered to the saints, not to the pope, or priest, or cleric. If the gospel is veiled the veil is not on the Book but on the human heart. The best qualification for understanding it is a sincere and honest and Spirit-enlightened mind.

3. The Bible is a practical Book. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable” (#2Ti 3:16). The value of the Bible is beyond human appraisal. This book came from God and takes us to God. I know it came from God because it treats the subjects beyond the human intellect. The Bible shows the way to God, and how to become righteous before his Holy law. It is a manual of life and conduct. It was not given to adorn a table, but to direct a life. Read this Book to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. As another has said, “know it in the head, store it in the heart, show it in the life, and sow it in the world.”

4. The Bible is an immortal Book. All other books die. It can be said of the Bible as was said of Christ: “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth” (#Ps 110:3). Time writes no wrinkles on the brow of the eternal Word. The Bible is the world’s best seller and at the same time the most hated of all books. Every weapon from the arsenal of hell has been used against it. All the strategists of Satan’s empire have collaborated in an effort to destroy it. But the Bible is a living and indestructible Book. It has survived the fires of pagan and papal Rome, and the sophistries of all opposing philosophers. It triumphed over the arguments of Ingersoll, the ridicule of Voltaire, and the reasonings of Tom Paine. “For ever, O Lord, Thy word is settled in heaven” (#Ps 119:89). The Bible is like the bush which Moses saw burning but not consumed, for God was in it. It is like the anvil that wears out all the hammers.

“Yes, like a solid anvil the sacred Scripture stands,
And fiercely is it beaten by unbeliever’s hands;
With noise and show of learning they make a large display,
But, like the blackemith’s hammer they wear themselves away.”

5. The Bible is an expensive Book. The cost to us is not much. We enter a book store and ask for a Bible; we lay down the price, one dollar, two dollars, or ten dollars as the case may be. But is that the cost of the Bible? God in providential mercy has made the costliest of all books cheap to us. We estimate the value of an article by the cost of producing it. The Bible is a costly Book in its human aspect. Men sank their lives in medieval monasteries to make copies of it for future generations. Then there was the cost to martyrs who laid down their lives for love of the truth when pope or pagan would try to sweep away every copy of it. The Bible also represents a cost to God. From Genesis to Revelation it is written in the blood of His Son. The Old Testament is the finger of prophecy pointing forward to Calvary; the New Testament is the finger of history pointing back to Calvary. To write the message of love we have in the Bible God broke the heart of His Son on the cross. In olden times the word of God was inscribed on parchment which was the skin of sheep and today it is written on paper. The parchment speaks of the Lamb slain that its skin might clothe and its blood might atone, and that its skin might also bear the news of gracious love to sinners. The paper made from wood crushed into pulp reminds us that the Tree of Life was cut down and crushed on Calvary, crushed and marred beyond all the sons of men, that He might bear the glad tidings of God’s love.

METAPHORS OR SYMBOLS OF THE WORD

It is both interesting and instructive to study the symbols or figures under which the Word of God is set forth.

1. It is likened to a lamp or light: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path…The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple” (#Ps 119:105,130); “For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life:” (#Pr 6:23). The word of God is to man morally what a lamp is physically. This world is in a state of moral darkness; ignorant of how to become righteous before God, but God’s word is a light shining in a dark place, and every believer delights to say, “The entrance of Thy words giveth light” (#Ps 119:130).

2. The Bible is a mirror: “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (#2Co 3:18); “But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (#Jas 1:25). This cannot be said of any other book. I look into the Bible and see myself, not as I think I am, but as I really am, guilty and ruined: “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God” (#Ro 3:19). The Bible is a mouth stopper. The least way to stop a man’s boasting is to have him look at himself in the mirror of God’s holy word.

3. The word of God is a laver or wash basin: “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (#Eph 5:26). The very Book that reveals moral dirt also provides for washing. “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (#Ps 119:9). “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you” (#Joh 15:3).

4. The Bible is represented as food: “Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food” (#Job 23:12). Every man by nature is a prodigal away from the Father’s house and perishing with hunger; in the word of God we find the gospel table ladened with soul satisfying food. There is milk for babes, and strong meat for men. There is bread for the hungry and honey for those who can take the sweets. The fat soul is the one who feeds upon the word of God.

5. The word of God is compared to a hammer: “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?” (#Jer 23:29). The best way to break stony hearts is to quote Scripture. These is no heart too hard for the word when wielded by the Spirit. It caused the hard hearted jailer to cry out, “What must I do to be saved?” (#Ac 16:30).

6. The word is called the sword of the Spirit: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” (#Eph 6:17). It is a perfect weapon with which to resist Satan. And the Holy Spirit knows how to use it in cutting the sinner to the heart and killing his self-righteousness.” For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (#Heb 4:12).

7. The word is likened to seed: “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God” (#Lu 8:11). In spiritual as in natural farming the seed must be sown. It is the commission of our Lord to sow this world down with the word of God. We must sow beside all waters, and at all seasons. “In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good” (#Ec 11:6).

“He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious
seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his
sheaves with him” (#Ps 126:6).

“Say, Christian, wouldst thou thrive
In knowledge of thy Lord?
Against no Scripture ever strive,
But tremble at His word.

“Revere the sacred page;
To injure any part
Betrays with blind and feeble rage,
A hard and haughty heart.

“If aught there dark appear,
Bewail thy want of sight;
No imperfection can be there,
For all God’s words are right.

“The Scriptures and the Lord
Bear one tremendous name;
The written and the Incarnate Word
In all things are the same.

“For Jesus is the Truth,
As well as Life and Way;
The two-edged sword that’s in His mouth
Shall all proud reasoners slay.

“Why dost thou call Him Lord,
And what He says resist?
The soul that stumbles at the Word,
Offended is at Christ.

“The thoughts of man are lies,
The Word of God is true.
To bow to that is to be wise;
Then hear, and fear, and do.”

—Joseph Hart.

 

C. D. Cole-Definitions of Doctrine-Volume 1