Archive

Archive for April, 2012

Serving Christ in the freedom of forgiveness – JC Ryle

April 26, 2012 Comments off

None, generally speaking, do so much for Christ on earth as those who enjoy the fullest confidence of a free entrance into heaven. That sounds wonderful, I dare say, but it is true.

A believer who lacks an assured hope will spend much of his time in inward searchings of heart about his own state. Like a nervous, hypochondriacal person, he will be full of his own ailments, his own doubtings and questionings, his own conflicts and corruptions. In short, you will often find he is so taken up with this internal warfare that he has little leisure for other things, little time to work for God.

Now a believer, who has, like Paul, an assured hope, is free from these harassing distractions. He does not vex his soul with doubts about his own pardon and acceptance. He looks at the everlasting covenant sealed with blood, at the finished work and neverbroken word of his Lord and Saviour, and therefore counts his salvation a settled thing. And thus he is able to give an undivided attention to the work of the Lord, and so in the long run to do more.

Take, for an illustration of this, two English emigrants, and suppose them set down side by side in New Zealand or Australia. Give each of them a piece of land to clear and cultivate. Let the portions allotted to them be the same both in quantity and quality. Secure that land to them by every needful legal instrument; let it be conveyed as freehold to them and theirs for ever; let the conveyance be publicly registered, and the property made sure to them by every deed and security that man’s ingenuity can devise.

Suppose, then, that one of them shall set to work to bring his land into cultivation, and labour at it day after day without intermission or cessation.

Suppose, in the meanwhile, that the other shall be continually leaving his work, and going repeatedly to the public registry to ask whether the land really is his own, whether there is not some mistake, whether, after all, there is not some flaw in the legal instruments which conveyed it to him.

The one shall never doubt his title, but just work diligently on. The other shall hardly ever feel sure of his title, and spend half his time in going to Sydney, or Melbourne, or Auckland with needless inquiries about it.

Which, now, of these two men will have made most progress in a year’s time? Who will have done the most for his land, got the greatest breadth of soil under tillage, have the best crops to show, be altogether the most prosperous?

Reader, you know as well as I do. I need not supply an answer. There can only be one reply. Undivided attention will always attain the greatest success.

It is much the same in the matter of our title to “mansions in the skies.” None will do so much for the Lord who bought him as the believer who sees his title clear, and is not distracted by unbelieving hesitations. The joy of the Lord will be that man’s strength. “Restore unto me,” says David, “the joy of Thy salvation; then will I teach transgressors Thy ways.” (Ps. 51:12-13)

Source: Assurance, by JC Ryle

Categories: Assurance Tags: , ,

Seeing ourselves in the thief on the cross – Arthur Pink

April 25, 2012 Comments off

“Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God. The thieves also, which were crucified with him, cast the same in his teeth.” — Matthew 27:41-44

Terrible indeed was the condition and action of this robber. On the very brink of eternity he unites with the enemies of Christ in the awful sin of mocking him. This was unparalleled turpitude. Think of it – a man in his dying hour deriding the suffering Saviour! O what a demonstration of human depravity and of the native enmity of the carnal mind against God! And reader, by nature there is the same depravity inhering within you, and unless a miracle of divine grace has been wrought upon you there is the same enmity against God and his Christ present in your heart. You may not think so, you may not feel so, you may not believe so. But that does not alter the fact. The word of him who cannot lie declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). That is a statement of universal application. It describes what every human heart is by natural birth. And again the same scripture of truth declares, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). This, too, diagnoses the state of every descendant of Adam. “For there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:22-23). Unspeakably solemn is this: yet it needs to be pressed. It is not until our desperate condition is realized that we discover our need of a divine Saviour. It is not until we are brought to see our total corruption and unsoundness that we shall hasten to the great physician. It is not until we find in this dying thief a portrayal of ourselves that we shall join in saying, “Lord, remember me“.

We have to be abased before we can be exalted. We have to be stripped of the filthy rags of our self-righteousness before we are ready for the garments of salvation. We have to come to God as beggars, empty-handed, before we can receive the gift of eternal life. We have to take the place of lost sinners before him if we would be saved. Yes, we have to acknowledge ourselves as thieves before we can have a place in the family of God. “But,” you say, “I am no thief! I acknowledge I am not all I ought to be. I am not perfect. In fact,! will go so far as to admit I am a sinner. But I cannot allow that this thief represents my state and condition.” Ah, friend, your case is far worse than you suppose. You are a thief, and that of the worst type. You have robbed God! Suppose that a firm in the East appointed an agent to represent them in the West, and that every month they forwarded to him his salary. But suppose also at the end of the year his employers discovered that though the agent had been cashing the cheques they sent him, nevertheless, he had served another firm all that time. Would not that agent be a thief? Yet this is precisely the situation and state of every sinner. He has been sent into this world by God, and God has endowed him with talents and the capacity to use and improve them. God has blessed him with health and strength; he has supplied his every need, and provided innumerable opportunities to serve and glorify him. But with what result? The very things God has given him have been misappropriated. The sinner has served another master, even Satan. He dissipates his strength and wastes his time in the pleasures of sin. He has robbed God. Unsaved reader, in the sight of Heaven your condition is as desperate and your heart is as wicked as that of the thief. See in him a picture of yourself. . .

. . .Here we see that man has to come to the end of himself before he can be saved.

Above we have contemplated this dying robber as a representative sinner, a sample specimen of what all men are by nature and practice – by nature at enmity against God and his Christ; by practice robbers of God, misusing what he has given us and failing to render what is due him. We are now to see that this crucified robber was also a representative case in his conversion. And at this point we shall dwell simply upon his helplessness.

To see ourselves as lost sinners is not sufficient. To learn that we are corrupt and depraved by nature and sinful transgressors by practice is the first important lesson. The next is to learn that we are utterly undone, and that we can do nothing whatever to help ourselves. To discover that our condition is so desperate that it is entirely beyond human repair, is the second step toward salvation – looking at it from the human side. But if man is slow to learn that he is a lost sinner and unfit for the presence of a holy God, he is slower still to recognize that he can do nothing towards his salvation, and is unable to work any improvement in himself so as to be fit for God. Yet, it is not until we realize that we are “without strength” (Rom. 5:6), that we are “impotent” (John 5:3), that it is not by works of righteousness which we do, but by his mercy God saves us (Titus 3:5), not until then shall we despair of ourselves, and look outside of ourselves to the one who can save us.

The great scripture type of sin is leprosy, and for leprosy man can devise no cure. God alone can deal with this dreadful disease. So it is with sin. But, as we have said, man is slow to learn his lesson. He is like the prodigal son, who when he had squandered his substance in the far country in riotous living and began to be “in want”, instead of returning to the father straightaway, he “went and joined himself to a citizen of that country” (Luke 15:15) and went to the fields to feed swine; in other words he went to work. Likewise the sinner who has been aroused to his need, instead of going at once to Christ, he tries to work himself into God’s favour. But he will fare no better than the prodigal – the husks of the swine will be his only portion. Or again, like the woman bowed down with her infirmity for many long years. She tried many physicians before she sought the great physician: so the awakened sinner seeks relief and peace in first one thing and then another, until he completes the weary round of religious performances, and ends by being “nothing bettered, but rather grows worse” (Mark 5:26). No, it is not until that woman had “spent all she had” that she sought Christ: and it is not until the sinner comes to the end of his own resources that he will betake himself to the Saviour.

Before any sinner can be saved he must come to the place of realized weakness. This is what the conversion of the dying thief shows us. What could he do? He could not walk in the paths of righteousness for there was a nail through either foot. He could not perform any good works for there was a nail through either hand. He could not turn over a new leaf and live a better life for he was dying. And, my reader, those hands of yours which are so ready for self-righteous acting, and those feet of yours which are so swift to run in the way of legal obedience, must be nailed to the cross. The sinner has to be cut off from his own workings and be made willing to be saved by Christ. A realization of your sinful condition, of your lost condition, of your helpless condition, is nothing more or less than old-fashioned conviction of sin, and this is the sole prerequisite for coming to Christ for salvation, for Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

– A.W. Pink (1886-1952)

Source

Calvin – Mat 6:25

April 21, 2012 Comments off

Mat 6:25  Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Throughout the whole of this discourse, Christ reproves that excessive anxiety, with which men torment themselves, about food and clothing, and, at the same time, applies a remedy for curing this disease. When he forbids them to be anxious, this is not to be taken literally, as if he intended to take away from his people all care. We know that men are born on the condition of having some care; and, indeed, this is not the least portion of the miseries, which the Lord has laid upon us as a punishment, in order to humble us. But immoderate care is condemned for two reasons: either because in so doing men tease and vex themselves to no purpose, by carrying their anxiety farther than is proper or than their calling demands; or because they claim more for themselves than they have a right to do, and place such a reliance on their own industry, that they neglect to call upon God. We ought to remember this promise: though unbelievers shall “rise up early, and sit up late, and eat the bread of sorrows,” yet believers will obtain, through the kindness of God, rest and sleep, (Psa_127:2.) Though the children of God are not free from toil and anxiety, yet, properly speaking, we do not say that they are anxious about life: because, through their reliance on the providence of God, they enjoy calm repose.
Hence it is easy to learn, how far we ought to be anxious about food. Each of us ought to labor, as far as his calling requires and the Lord commands; and each of us ought to be led by his own wants to call upon God. Such anxiety holds an intermediate place between indolent carelessness and the unnecessary torments by which unbelievers kill themselves. But if we give proper attention to the words of Christ, we shall find, that he does not forbid every kind of care, but only what arises from distrust. Be not anxious, says he, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink. That belongs to those who tremble for fear of poverty or hunger, as if they were to be in want of food every moment.
Mat_6:25.Is not the life of more value than food? He argues from the greater to the less. He had forbidden them to be excessively anxious about the way in which life might be supported; and he now assigns the reason. The Lord, who has given life itself, will not suffer us to want what is necessary for its support. And certainly we do no small dishonor to God, when we fail to trust that he will give us necessary food or clothing; as if he had thrown us on the earth at random. He who is fully convinced, that the Author of our life has an intimate knowledge of our condition, will entertain no doubt that he will make abundant provision for our wants. Whenever we are seized by any fear or anxiety about food, let us remember, that God will take care of the life which he gave us.

Daily Looking Away From Self to Christ — J.C. Ryle

April 21, 2012 Comments off

“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” — Hebrews 12:2 

J.C. Ryle (1816-1900)

We must surely feel that we need Almighty help every day we live, if we are true Christians.  Even when started in the narrow way of life, with pardon, grace, and a new heart, we soon find that, left to ourselves, we shall never get safe home. Every returning morning brings with it so much to be done and borne and suffered, that we are often tempted to despair.  So weak and treacherous are our hearts, so busy the devil, so persecuting and ensnaring the world, that we are sometimes half inclined to look back and return to Egypt. We are such poor, weak creatures, that we cannot do two things at once.  It seems almost impossible to do our duty in that place of life to which God has called us, and not to be absorbed in it and forget our souls.  The cares and business and occupations of life appear to drink up all our thoughts, and swallow up all our attention.  What are we to do?  Where are we to look?  How many are exercised with thoughts like these

I believe the great Scriptural remedy for all who feel such helplessness as I have faintly described, is to look upward to Christ in heaven, and to keep steadily before our eyes His intercession at the right hand of God.  Like the sailor boy who goes aloft for the first time, we must learn to look UPWARD, away from ourselves and our weakness, and upward to Christ in heaven.  We must try to realize daily that Jesus not only died for us and rose again, but that He also lives as our Advocate with the Father, and appears in heaven for us. This, surely, was the mind of St. Paul, when he said, “Being reconciled to God by the death of His Son, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. v. 10). This, again, is what he meant when he gave that confident challenge, “Who is he that condemneth ? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” (Rom. viii. 34).  This, above all, is what he had in view when he told the Hebrews, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them.” (Heb. vii. 25).

Now I venture boldly to express a doubt whether modern Christians “look to Jesus” in this point of view, and make as much as they ought of His life of intercession.  It is too often a dropped link in our latter-day Christianity. We are apt to think only of the atoning DEATH and the precious blood, and to forget the LIFE and priestly office of our great Redeemer. It ought not to be so. We miss much by this forgetfulness of the whole truth as it is in Jesus.  What a mine of daily comfort there is in the thought, that we have an Advocate with the Father, who never slumbers or sleeps, whose eye is always upon us, who is continually pleading our cause and obtaining fresh supplies of grace for us, who watches over us in every company and place, and never forgets us, though we, in going to and fro, and doing our daily business, cannot always think of Him  While we are fighting Amalek in the valley below, One greater than Moses is holding up His hands for us in heaven, and through His intercession we shall prevail.  Surely, if we have been satisfied with half the truth about Jesus hitherto, we ought to say, ‘I will live in such fashion no more.’

And here let me declare my own firm conviction, that the habit of daily looking to the intercession of Christ is one great safeguard against some modern superstitions.  If Jesus did NOT live in heaven as our merciful and faithful High Priest, I could understand a little the craving that exists in many minds for that deadly opiate, which, nowadays, usurps the name and office of spiritual medicine: I mean, habitual confession to earthly priests, and habitual absolution. But I cannot understand it when I read the Epistle to the Hebrews, and see that we have a great High Priest in heaven, who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, and who bids us pour out our hearts before Him, and come to Him for grace to help in time of need.  In short, I do not hesitate to assert, that a right view of Christ’s priestly office is the true antidote to some of the most dangerous errors of the Church of Rome.

Source

Categories: Faith Tags: ,