29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
4 Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,
5 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.
6 Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child.
7 But the Lord said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee, and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak.
8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord.
9 Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.
And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.
2 And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.
3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.
6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar:
7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.
8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
16 But when he was strong, his heart was lifted up to his destruction: for he transgressed against the Lord his God, and went into the temple of the Lord to burn incense upon the altar of incense.
17 And Azariah the priest went in after him, and with him fourscore priests of the Lord, that were valiant men:
18 And they withstood Uzziah the king, and said unto him, It appertaineth not unto thee, Uzziah, to burn incense unto the Lord, but to the priests the sons of Aaron, that are consecrated to burn incense: go out of the sanctuary; for thou hast trespassed; neither shall it be for thine honour from the Lord God.
19 Then Uzziah was wroth, and had a censer in his hand to burn incense: and while he was wroth with the priests, the leprosy even rose up in his forehead before the priests in the house of the Lord, from beside the incense altar.
20 And Azariah the chief priest, and all the priests, looked upon him, and, behold, he was leprous in his forehead, and they thrust him out from thence; yea, himself hasted also to go out, because the Lord had smitten him.
27 But when I speak with thee, I will open thy mouth, and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear: for they are a rebellious house.
11 Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.
12 For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the Lord will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your reward.
8 And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord God fell there upon me.
2 Then I beheld, and lo a likeness as the appearance of fire: from the appearance of his loins even downward, fire; and from his loins even upward, as the appearance of brightness, as the colour of amber.
3 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.
4 And, behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, according to the vision that I saw in the plain.
5 Then said he unto me, Son of man, lift up thine eyes now the way toward the north. So I lifted up mine eyes the way toward the north, and behold northward at the gate of the altar this image of jealousy in the entry.
6 He said furthermore unto me, Son of man, seest thou what they do? even the great abominations that the house of Israel committeth here, that I should go far off from my sanctuary? but turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations.
7 And he brought me to the door of the court; and when I looked, behold a hole in the wall.
8 Then said he unto me, Son of man, dig now in the wall: and when I had digged in the wall, behold a door.
9 And he said unto me, Go in, and behold the wicked abominations that they do here.
10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about.
11 And there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan, with every man his censer in his hand; and a thick cloud of incense went up.
12 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, the Lord seeth us not; the Lord hath forsaken the earth.
13 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
14 Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the Lord‘s house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.
15 Then said he unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? turn thee yet again, and thou shalt see greater abominations than these.
16 And he brought me into the inner court of the Lord‘s house, and, behold, at the door of the temple of the Lord, between the porch and the altar, were about five and twenty men, with their backs toward the temple of the Lord, and their faces toward the east; and they worshipped the sun toward the east.
17 Then he said unto me, Hast thou seen this, O son of man? Is it a light thing to the house of Judah that they commit the abominations which they commit here? for they have filled the land with violence, and have returned to provoke me to anger: and, lo, they put the branch to their nose.
18 Therefore will I also deal in fury: mine eye shall not spare, neither will I have pity: and though they cry in mine ears with a loud voice, yet will I not hear them
None shall make you afraid. Lev 26:6
But we are afraid, often very greatly so. How can we be secured from the dread of men and things which so easily besets us?
We must be absolutely right with God. – To walk in God’s statutes, and keep His commandments, was the first condition of Israel’s immunity from fear. When we know that there is no cause of controversy between us and God, we feel able to count confidently on His protection and deliverance.. ,’Perfect love casteth out fear.”
We must count on God’s faithfulness. – He has put us where we are, and we dare not think He will withdraw from us, as Joab did from Uriah. We are His partners, summoned to cooperate with Him: will He allow us to incur responsibilities in His name, and then leave the burden on our unassisted resources? Fear will yield before a clear sense of God’s might; but it is still more likely to yield before a deep sense of God’s perfect faithfulness.
We must rely on the environment of angel keepers. – When David, during his flight before Absalom, slept in the open, he believed that the Angel of the Lord encamped around him. More are they which are for us than those that be against us. The mountain is full of horses and chariots of fire. Lord, open our eyes that we may see!
We must believe that our enemies are less formidable than they seem. – They surround us with their bluster and threatenings, they come against us in embattled array; but if we dare to go forward and do the right thing in the sight of God, they will vanish like a puff of smoke. “For, lo, the kings assembled themselves.
They were arrayed, they were dismayed, they hasted away.”
For do I now persuade men, or God?
With the same vehemence Paul continues: ‘You Galatians ought to be able to tell from my preaching and from the many afflictions which I have endured, whether I serve men or God. Everybody can see that my preaching has stirred up persecution against me everywhere, and has earned for me the cruel hatred of my own people, in fact the hatred of all men. This should convince you that by my preaching I do not seek the favor and praise of men, but the glory of God.’
No man can say that we are seeking the favor and praise of men with our doctrine. We teach that all men are naturally depraved. We condemn man’s free will, his strength, wisdom, and righteousness. We say that we obtain grace by the free mercy of God alone for Christ’s sake. This is no preaching to please men. This sort of preaching procures for us the hatred and disfavor of the world, persecutions, excommunications, murders, and curses.
‘Can’t you see that I seek no man’s favor by my doctrine?’ asks Paul. ‘If I were anxious for the favor of men I would flatter them. But what do I do? I condemn their works. I teach things only that I have been commanded to teach from above. For that I bring down upon my head the wrath of Jews and Gentiles. My doctrine must be right. It must be divine. Any other doctrine cannot be better than mine. Any other doctrine must be false and wicked.’
With Paul we boldly pronounce a curse upon every doctrine that does not agree with ours. We do not preach for the praise of men, or the favor of princes. We preach for the favor of God alone whose grace and mercy we proclaim. Whosoever teaches a gospel contrary to ours, or different from ours, let us be bold to say that he is sent of the devil.
Christians who float will drift off course — this is a sobering warning from 2 Peter 1:5–11. I’ll read the text to begin today’s episode. Peter writes:
60 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
2 For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.
3 And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
4 Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side.
5 Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
6 The multitude of camels shall cover thee, the dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; all they from Sheba shall come: they shall bring gold and incense; and they shall shew forth the praises of the Lord.
7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together unto thee, the rams of Nebaioth shall minister unto thee: they shall come up with acceptance on mine altar, and I will glorify the house of my glory.
8 Who are these that fly as a cloud, and as the doves to their windows?
9 Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring thy sons from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God, and to the Holy One of Israel, because he hath glorified thee.
10 And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee.
11 Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought.
12 For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted.
13 The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious.
14 The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee; The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
15 Whereas thou has been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee, I will make thee an eternal excellency, a joy of many generations.
16 Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breast of kings: and thou shalt know that I the Lord am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer, the mighty One of Jacob.
17 For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver, and for wood brass, and for stones iron: I will also make thy officers peace, and thine exactors righteousness.
18 Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy walls Salvation, and thy gates Praise.
19 The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.
20 Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.
21 Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.
22 A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time.
Inferior Misgivings About Jesus
‘Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with.’
“I am impressed with the wonder of what God says, but He cannot expect me really to live it out in the details of my life!” When it comes to facing Jesus Christ on His own merits, our attitude is one of pious superiority – Your ideals are high and they impress us, but in touch with actual things, it cannot be done. Each of us thinks about Jesus in this way in some particular. These misgivings about Jesus start from the amused questions put to us when we talk of our transactions with God – Where are you going to get your money from? How are you going to be looked after? Or they start from ourselves when we tell Jesus that our case is a bit too hard for Him. It is all very well to say “Trust in the Lord,” but a man must live, and Jesus has nothing to draw with – nothing whereby to give us these things. Beware of the pious fraud in you which says – I have no misgivings about Jesus, only about myself. None of us ever had misgivings about ourselves; we know exactly what we cannot do, but we do have misgivings about Jesus. We are rather hurt at the idea that He can do what we cannot.
My misgivings arise from the fact that I ransack my own person to find out how He will he able to do it. My questions spring from the depths of my own inferiority. If I detect these misgivings in myself, let me bring them to the light and confess them – “Lord, I have had misgivings about Thee, I have not believed in Thy wits apart from my own; I have not believed in Thine almighty power apart from my finite understanding of it.”
A SACRED GIFT OF SEEING
By A.W. Tozer
As God created us, we all have to some degree the power to imagine. That imagination is of great value in the service of God may be denied by some persons who have erroneously confused the word “imagination” with the word “imaginary.” The gospel of Jesus Christ has no truck with things imaginary.
The most realistic book in the world is the Bible. God is real. Men are real and so is sin and so are death and hell! The presence of God is not imaginary; neither is prayer the indulgence of a delightful fancy. The value of the cleansed imagination in the sphere of religion lies in its power to perceive in natural things shadows of things spiritual. A purified and Spirit-controlled imagination is the sacred gift of seeing; the ability to peer beyond the veil and gaze with astonished wonder upon the beauties and mysteries of things holy and eternal. The stodgy pedestrian mind does no credit to Christianity!
The Living God (1961)
One of the supreme distinguishing titles by which God is known in the Bible is “The Living God”. This title not only distinguishes Him in a general way from the dead gods of the heathen, indeed it does, but it relates Him in a practical way to many aspects of human life. There are gods many in this world; philosophic, aesthetic, artistic, idealistic, deistic, etc., which, if they have any value at all, never – at best – reach beyond the psychological, that is, the auto-suggestive effect.
We have only to look at the varied context of the occurrence of the title – The Living God – to see the uniqueness, the difference, and the livingness of the God who is our God, and is the only wise and true God (John 17:3; Rom. 16:27).
1. HE IS THE GOD WHO SPEAKS (Deut. 5:26)
“For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire…?”
This is the most outstanding feature of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. Everywhere, in almost every book – the exceptions are very few – the God of the Bible is a God who speaks. Indeed, it is largely a record of what God has actually said – “…by divers portions and in divers manners” (Heb. 1:1). Supremely, comprehensively, and finally God has spoken in His Son, and in His Son again and again by His Spirit to this very time, God is known to speak as personally and intimately as any one human person could speak to another, and with greater effect. This God speaks livingly and powerfully, and unnumbered men and women can testify to the fact that He has spoken – actually spoken – to them.
2. HE IS THE GOD WHO GIVES EVIDENCE OF HIS PRESENCE (Joshua 3:10-17).
“And Joshua said, Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you…”
In this piece of history, the evidence of the presence of the Living God was His making a dry passage in and through a river inundating all its banks, and a great host of many thousands of people quietly marching through its deep bed at such a time with dry feet. Moreover, five strong and terrible nations were successively and irresistibly subdued and destroyed, not by the natural or trained superiority of this people, but by the presence and power of the Living God enabling them. This is history. But how many impossible situations have been negotiated by the power of God in the lives of His people and the experience of His Church in all ages because they trusted in the Living God!
3. HE IS THE GOD WHO CONTROLS THE FORCES OF THE UNIVERSE (Jeremiah 10:10).
“But the Lord is the true God, He is the living God… at His wrath the earth trembleth…”
Here, the context relates to cosmic and terrestrial upheavals and preservations attributed to the Living God, or to the voice of the Living God. God speaks in phenomena. God can be known in tempests and in the quelling of them, whether they be in nature, in nations, or in personal human affairs and experiences. What a record could be written by many, such as missionaries in wild and dangerous places, of the hand of God in both raising ‘stormy winds’ and quelling them in the interests of His Name and testimony!
4. HE IS THE GOD WHO DELIVERS HIS SERVANTS AT HIS WILL (Daniel 6:26).
“I make a decree, that in all my dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for He is the living God, and stedfast for ever…”
This was said, as is seen, when God had closed the mouths of the lions and delivered Daniel from them right in their den.
This Living God is the God who delivers when He chooses, and miraculously so. The people of God have known not a few dens of lions, both in number and variety, and their history is strewn with miracles of deliverance. There are many books written of these deliverances, and the facts are unassailable. “He is the living God, and stedfast for ever”, and although that was said by a very fickle and inconsistent king, he at least spoke the truth then.
EVENING THOUGHTS, or
DAILY WALKING WITH GOD
Octavius Winslow, 1858
“Let my prayer be set forth before you as
incense; and the lifting up of my hands
as the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2
“It is God that justifies.” Rom. 8:33
IT would appear that there are two links in this marvelous chain—the purpose of God, and its final consummation; both so remote and invisible, as to bring the mind to a calm, unquestioning belief in certain doctrines of God’s word, which may more properly belong to the “deep things of God.” But while the two extremes of this chain of truths must for the present be left invisibly locked in God’s hand; there are certain intermediate and visible links, upon which if the perplexed and inquiring reader lay hold, he shall be saved, though all the rest remains wrapped in the profoundest mystery—like its Divine Author, dwelling in lone and unapproachable grandeur.
It is not essential to our salvation that we lift the veil of that awful mystery, and penetrate the depths of a past predestination, and a future glory; but it is essential to our salvation that we are called of God, and that by God we are justified. We may arrive at heaven without fathoming the awful profound of the one extreme, and with but twilight views of the magnificence spreading over all the other; but we cannot get to heaven without the Spirit’s grace and Christ’s righteousness. Grasp in faith, and receive into your heart, these two central and essential truths, and they will by and by lift you into a sunnier region, where all the rest will stand forth, clear and transparent, bathed in the noontide splendor of heaven’s own glory.
“It is God that justifies.” We believe that by many this cardinal doctrine of God’s justification is but imperfectly understood, and but indistinctly seen in its results. The lofty position of security in which it places the believer, the liberty, peace, and hope, into which it brings him, are points dim and obscure in the spiritual vision of many. We also believe that much of the weak, sickly Christianity of numbers is traceable, in a great measure, to the crude and gloomy conceptions they form of God, produced by not clearly seeing the interest which he felt, and the initiatory part which he took, in the great matter of our justification. Let our faith but trace the act of our justification to God, and we have placed ourselves upon a vantage-ground of the boldest defiance to all our enemies. Survey the truth in this light for a moment. Against whom have you sinned? Adopting David’s confession, you exclaim, “Against You, You only, have I sinned.” Having sinned against God, from God, then, you looked for the condemnation. You had violated His law, and from the lips of the Lawgiver you waited the sentence. When, lo! He declares Himself on your side.
Descending as from His tribunal, He comes and stands in your place, and avows Himself your Justifier. “It is God that justifies.” Upon you, a culprit, trembling at His bar, He throws His own righteousness, “which is unto all, and upon all those who believe;” and from that moment you are justified. Shall we, then, be indifferent to the part the Father took in the great question of our acceptance? Shall we cherish the shy and suspicious thought of God, as if He looked coldly at us, and felt that in pleading for His mercy, we were infringing upon His righteousness? Oh, no! Away with such thoughts of God! He it is who pronounces the act of your acquittal, and from His lips sound the glorious words, “No condemnation!” “It is God that justifies.”
The Trees of the Lord’s Planting
Reading: Ezek. 47:6-12; Psa. 1:3; Luke 6:44; Rev. 22:1-3; Rom. 8:6-7.
Going back to Ezekiel 47 as our foundation passage, it hardly needs to be said that in the Scriptures trees are people; they are symbols of men. There are very many passages, of course, which make that perfectly clear and sure. Psalm 1:3 is conclusive. In the bringing of the wood for the boards of the tabernacle it is again self-evident that trees are men who form a habitation for God in a collective way. The Lord spoke about trees (as we have read) as men, known by their fruit.
Now in Ezekiel 47 it is fairly clear that this is a prophecy which had its fulfilment in the first instance at Pentecost; that is, what is in this chapter is what came in on the day of Pentecost and with Pentecost, and characterises this dispensation. It will have another and fuller fulfilment when the time marked by Rev. 22 is reached. The river again proceeds out from the Throne of God and of the Lamb, the river of water of Life. But for the moment it is this present application and fulfilment of the prophecy which engages us, this dispensation is characterised by this. A river began to flow on the day of Pentecost out from the sanctuary by the way of the altar, and on its course living witnesses were rooted to continue as a line of testimony right down the whole course of that river of Life – on either side of the river, on each bank, a tree and another corresponding, two and two, so to speak – it is this full testimony. “He sent them two and two” (Luke 10:1). “If two of you shall agree… ” (Matt. 18:19) and so on. It is the Lord’s means of testimony down the whole course of the Holy Spirit’s movement through the dispensation – living witnesses.
A Living Organism
First of all, we must remind ourselves and be very clear on one simple and well-known fact that is well-known as a truth: that a tree is a living organism. It is not a machine, it is not an institution, it is not an office or an official thing, it is not an organised movement, it is not a fixed system. It is a living organism whose life is in itself and which is itself livingly reproductive by reason of its very life-energy. It is a living organism. That is the Lord’s conception of His testimony through this dispensation – living people planted into His very Life and standing as His witnesses right down the dispensation – witnesses to Him as their Life, to Christ the Life. The life of this organism is His Life; the water is the water of Life; the fruit is the fruit of Life; the leaves of healing are the leaves of Life, and there is no other effective ministry in this dispensation. It is not taking up things as teachings and doctrines and giving them out. It is not taking up work as a form of activity. It is expressing a Life, manifesting a Life, giving effect to the Life, or the Life giving effect to itself; having a means for its expression. That is the Lord’s idea for the whole of this dispensation, and we can see how effective and how fruitful, how mighty and how sufficient that is by looking at the first days of the process of that Life from the sanctuary. It was only when Life was supplanted by men’s institutions that things changed, and wherever and whenever that has been the case, men have sooner or later become conscious of a lack, of a need which cannot be met in any other way than by this Life of the Spirit, the Spirit of God.
Now, we may know that very well, it may be nothing new to us, but we here are concerned with the matter of our life’s meaning and significance on the earth for God; what is to be the result of our being here in a positive way for God. We may be thinking about service, about ministry, about work, about our usefulness to the Lord. Do not let us fail to recognise this and to get it well rooted in us and to have it always in our consciousness, that all ministry, all testimony, all witness, all service according to God’s mind in this dispensation is this: that God has His trees planted by the river of water, that they are there rooted in His Life, and that their business is, as a living organism, to express the nature, the power, the value, the potentialities of His divine Life, so that the Christian life and Christian service resolves itself into one thing, all questions about serving the Lord are resolved into this one thing: the measure of His Life coming into us and going out through us. That means that the whole of this life here on this earth is a question of how much of death is overcome by the triumph of His Life, and that, of course, resolves itself into what we have so often called ‘the battle for Life’. It is not only the battle to live, to have the spiritual life preserved. It is the battle for the testimony of Life.
Personal Meditations On Powerful Texts
By Tim King
I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one’ (Ezek. 22:30, NASB).
What a remarkable passage we have here from the lips of the Lord! According to the text, the great sovereign King of the universe would have halted His judgment upon His people, except that He found one thing lacking–a man among the rebellious who would build up the walls and stand in the gap before Him. One such man would have stayed the destruction of the nation, but alas, there was none to be found.
The picture God used to depict the spiritual deterioration of His people was that of a city wall (the main means of defense and security for cities at that time) falling into such disrepair that great breaches had developed. In these places the people were then vulnerable to the encroachment of the enemy.
To make matters worse, at this time it was not the Chaldeans or the Amorites or the Edomites or the Philistines who had set their destructive forces against Israel, but it was God Himself. This had occurred because of the Israelites’ pride and rebellion against God. ‘They rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned Himself to become their enemy, He fought against them’ (Isa. 63:10, NASB).
The same thing had happened earlier in Israel’s history during the time they wandered in the wilderness. In fact, God killed more of His people because of their grumbling than the inhabitants of the land ever did. However, all of them would have been slain were it not for the earnest intercession of Moses on their behalf (Num. 14:11-12).
Few of us would argue that the evangelical church in North America has been characterized by pride and rebellion. Like the people of Israel in Old Testament history, we too are facing the reality of God’s opposition because of our arrogance and disobedience (James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). Yet, in all of this, where is the man who will stand in the gap in our generation?
It is certainly sobering to consider that the judgment of God may fall, not for lack of patience on His part, but for lack of prayer on ours. Brethren, build the walls by faithful preaching of the Word of God! Defend the church by standing in the breaches with holy pleadings on your lips for mercy and revival!
Love Expressed in Obedience
By A.W. Tozer
No matter what I write here, thousands of pastors will continue to call their people to prayer in the forlorn hope that God will finally relent and send revival if only His people wear themselves out in intercession. To such people God must indeed appear to be a hard taskmaster, for the years pass and the young get old and the aged die and still no help comes.
The prayer meeting room becomes a wailing wall and the lights burn long, and still the rains tarry.
Has God forgotten to be gracious? Let any reader begin to obey and he will have the answer. “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him” (John 14:21).
Isn’t that what we want after all?
The Unrivalled Power Of Prayer
‘We know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.’
We realize that we are energized by the Holy Spirit for prayer; we know what it is to pray in the Spirit; but we do not so often realize that the Holy Spirit Himself prays in us prayers which we cannot utter. When we are born again of God and are indwelt by the Spirit of God, He expresses for us the unutterable.
“He,” the Spirit in you, “maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God,” and God searches your heart not to know what your conscious prayers are, but to find out what is the prayer of the Holy Spirit.
The Spirit of God needs the nature of the believer as a shrine in which to offer His intercession. “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost.” When Jesus Christ cleansed the temple, He “would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.” The Spirit of God will not allow you to use your body for your own convenience. Jesus ruthlessly cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and said – “My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Have we recognized that our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost? If so, we must be careful to keep it undefiled for Him. We have to remember that our conscious life, though it is only a tiny bit of our personality, is to be regarded by us as a shrine of the Holy Ghost. He will look atter the unconscious part that we know nothing of; but we must see that we guard the conscious part for which we are responsible.
A Heart for God’s Testimony
That little romance – the Book of Ruth – stands as a link between the terrible spiritual tragedy – “Judges” – and God’s reaction thereto in David. “Ruth” ends with “Boaz begat Obed; and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David.” The beginning of 1 Samuel sees the terrible hang-over of “Judges” and reveals the unspeakably low state that things were in spiritually. This cannot go on, and although a long time may elapse before the glory returns, God takes the vital step that will lead to the glory. That step is taken in the heart of a woman: a woman who in every way embodies the principle of Divine Sovereignty. There is so much in likeness between Hannah’s song and the “Magnificat” of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Read them both, and you will feel that Mary has been occupied with Hannah’s “Magnificat”.
It is in the heart of this woman, Hannah, that God moves to His highest peak in the Old Testament. It is not easy in reading those early chapters of 1 Samuel to get away from the impression that Hannah had a passionate and heart-broken concern for the Lord’s testimony. They went up to the Temple from year to year and must have seen and been involved in the conditions and practices described in chapter two, verses 12-17, etc.
That Hannah should later trust her so young child to live amidst such conditions needs some explanation. We would think that such would be the very last place in which any mother who cared for her child would have him live. However, it proved to be right whatever her judgment may have been. The point is that frustration of motherhood only made that mother instinct unbearable, and led her out to God in such a way that if God undertook in such an impossible situation, God should have the fruit of her travail. The mother instinct was God’s way of moving in relation to the recovery of His testimony in glory.
In this case – and it has often been so – the masculine strength, the principle of authority and government, while being very necessary, was not enough; indeed, it would fail by itself. The need was of a mother heart of sorrow, pain, travail, and distress. It was not all personal and self-centred. It was toward the Lord, and sacrifice entered into it very deeply. It was indeed a costly way. To have that passion beaten up to breaking-point meant reproach. Hannah was laughed at, ridiculed, despised, and discredited. She was misunderstood and maligned even by the religious head of the people, Eli. Hers was a lonely path. Her husband gave her things, but he could not really help her. This was the vessel which, by such a history, God was preparing a long way ahead for His recovery of purpose.
Lest it should be thought that we are being sentimental and fanciful, let us at once say that we are not thinking in terms of male and female necessarily. The Apostle Paul combined the strength of masculine authority and government in his own person and ministry with the tenderness of motherhood. He said: “My little children, of whom I am again in travail” (Galatians 4:19). It is a disposition, a heart, a capacity for suffering and sorrow born of love.
Such is God’s need and way. There can be no loss of Divine values without suffering resulting. It is the law of travail instituted and established when man first forfeited the best that God provided. We shall look in vain for any instance of letting go of Divine values which did not result in a train of suffering. But there is that which we may call vicarious suffering; that is, an entering into God’s loss with a heart of distress, a ‘filling up of that which is lacking of the sufferings of Christ for His body’s sake, which is the church’. That is what, in figure, Hannah did.
Samuel was the birth of the prophetic spirit when there was “no open vision”. He inherited the travailing spirit of his mother. It was his unhappy lot to spend much of his life in suffering the knowledge that an alternative to God’s best had been chosen by the people, and his counsel and warning were rejected and flouted. His judgment and leadership were discounted and ignored until the inevitable troubles arose. But he did bring in the “man after God’s heart”, who in his turn shared the sorrow and suffering of God during the reign of Saul, man’s choice.
What we have desired to indicate is that to bridge the gap between spiritual declension and loss, on the one side, and God’s fullest possible purpose, on the other, God has always had to find that which Hannah so beautifully and effectively represents, that is, a vessel with a heart well-nigh broken for His testimony.
First published in “A Witness and A Testimony” magazine, Nov-Dec 1965, Vol 43-6
In keeping with T. Austin-Sparks’ wishes that what was freely received should be freely given, his writings are not copyrighted. Therefore, we ask if you choose to share them with others, please respect his wishes and offer them freely – free of changes, free of charge and free of copyright.
Jesus Right Hand of God
The same Jesus teaching and healing the multitude, sitting weary by the well-side, dying as the good Shepherd for His sheep, and seated now at the right hand of God in everlasting power and glory. When He says, “Tell My brethren, I ascend!” this is not to be defeated, exiled, forgotten, but to live for men and rule over men for ever.
. . . . The Lord delays His coming; the battle is long, and the powers of evil make desperate and repeated rallies, beating back again and again the armies of the living God when victory appeared in sight. But we lift our eyes unto the hills. We “look away to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith,”–from the Christ that was to the Christ that is, and again with restored assurance to the Christ that was and that is and that cometh. As we gaze upward to the Living One, where He sits at the right hand of the throne of God, the light of His glory returns to our eyes; the dimness passes from our vision, the despondency lifts from our hearts. There He sits,–His brow serene, His purpose sure, His power unbroken, His arm unwearied: “It is Christ Jesus that died, yea, rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makest intercession for us.”
The throne of God has not fallen; and while it stands, the dominion of Jesus is secure. . . He is the King of the ages . . . He understands the twenty-first century as perfectly as He did the first, and is mater of the situation still. . . . “Jesus is the Lord.” . . . It is the will of the Eternal “that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”
Jesus Christ is our “way” to the Father. . . As He mounts upwards–the Son of God, the man Christ Jesus–every cloud parts, every door opens, every power yields homage; all the peers of the universe–thrones, lordships, principalities, dominions–bend before Him while He ascends from rank to rank, from realm to realm; and He virtually says, “Where I pass, My human brethren, My poor earthly friends, must pass too.” The flaming sword that barred the path to Eden is put back into its sheath; the angel sentinels and heavenly warders are become “ministering spirits” to the kindred of their Lord. None can hinder, nor would wish to hinder our admittance, since He is not ashamed before His Father and the holy angels to call mankind His kindsmen.
The name of the ascended Jesus will be our password at the gates of Paradise and to the heaven of heavens. For the Son of God has said in our hearing,–has said it to the Most High God: “Father, I will that they whom Thou has given Me, be with Me where I am” (“The Ascension of Jesus,” Great Sermons on the Resurrection of Christ, compiled by Wilbur Smith, pp. 189-192).
Our Model Intercessor
By A.W. Tozer
Two other considerations may help us here. One is that our Lord did on at least one occasion pray for sinners. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” was a request made to God on behalf of evil men. Is it not reasonable that if Christ prayed for sinners once, He may be expected to pray for them again? Also we must remember that Jesus was a Son of man and frequently referred to Himself by that title. As such, He had and has a relationship to the whole human race. Is it thinkable that He would not pray for the race to which He belonged?
I realize that we are on holy ground right here, and common modesty would urge us to withhold any dogmatic judgments. But I believe that the question, Does our Lord pray for the unsaved? may be answered truthfully as follows: (1) As High Priest of His own redeemed people, Christ prays an efficacious prayer of intercession which avails only for those who trust Him as their Redeemer and Lord. This prayer is found in essence in John 17. (2) As Son of man and Savior, He prays for the lost world as well. Unless His prayers for the world were ascending to heaven, the judgment of God would not be withheld for a moment from the earth.
|› Foreward & Acknowledgements – With New Testament Eyes Pictures of Christ in the Old Testament A Work Of Henry Mahan Foreward WHILE it is a difficult task to comment on m …read|
|› 1 – The Fall – Genesis 3:1-21 Chapters one and two of Genesis give an account of how God brought the world into being and created man in his own image (Gen. 1:26- …read|
|› 2 – Abel’s Offering – Genesis 4:1-15 v. 1. We have been bound in our thinking by pictures and stories in children’s Bible storybooks that present a totally unrealistic v …read|
|› 3 – The Ark Of Noah – Genesis 6 & 7 In the first chapter of Genesis (Gen. 1:31) God looked over the whole creation and saw that it was GOOD. In this sixth chapter (Gen. …read|
|› 4 – Sarah and Hagar; Law and Grace – Genesis 4:21-31 There are no two things in the Bible more different than law and grace, which is nothing more than salvation by our works or salvat …read|
|› 5 – The Lord Will Provide – Genesis 22:1-14 Genesis 22 records Abraham’s greatest trial and Abraham’s greatest revelation of the gospel of Christ (John 8:56). Genesis 22 is fu …read|
|› 6 – A Bride for the Heir – Genesis 24 No picture nor type of Christ is perfect. God uses earthly stories and people to illustrate heavenly truth, and the very fact that the c …read|
|› 7 – Bethel – The House of God – Genesis 28:10-22 Blessed is the man who can read the Scriptures and find the key of knowledge–Christ Jesus! ‘Had you believed Moses, you would bel …read|
|› 8 – Peniel – The Face of God – Genesis 32:24-32 v. 24. ‘And Jacob was left alone.’ Was there ever a man more troubled, more frightened and confused, more alone than Jacob at this …read|
|› 9 – Joseph Opens the Storehouses – Genesis 41 Joseph had been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, who resented Jacob’s great love for Joseph (Gen. 37:3-4) and the dreams Josep …read|
|› 10 – Joseph and His Brothers – Genesis 42-45 God, in his wisdom, uses the natural world, creatures, and events to illustrate the spiritual world, his saving grace, and his redemp …read|
|› 11 – Shiloh – Genesis 49:8-10 Before the written word was given, God spoke to the fathers in various ways about the coming Messiah. Who can say what Abel underst …read|
|› 12 – The Passover – Exodus 12:1-13 The Lord had sent plague after plague upon the Egyptians; but each time Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not allow the Isr …read|
|› 13 – The Manna – Exodus 16:11-18, 31; John 6:28-35, 48-51 Would we be faithful ministers of the gospel of Christ? Would we be faithful teachers and preachers in our …read|
|› 14 – Water from the rock – Exodus 17:1-7; Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 10:4 The people of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of sin and pitched in Rephidim. There was no wa …read|
|› 15 – The Blood Before the Lord – Leviticus 4:1-7 All through the Scriptures we meet with the blood (Exo. 12:13; Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22; 1 Peter 1:18-19). If we have any apologies in …read|
|› 16 – The Ram of Consecration – Leviticus 8:22-24 In this chapter Aaron, the High Priest, and his sons were consecrated for the priesthood and the service of God about the taberna …read|
|› 17 – The Day of Atonement – Leviticus 16:1-22 Before Adam sinned he lived in communion with God; but after he had broken the commandment, he could have no more familiar fellow …read|
|› 18 – Caleb – The Faithful Dog – N umbers 14:1-25 This series of lessons is about Old Testament pictures of Christ. While Caleb is not what one would call a type of Christ, yet the …read|
|› 19 – The High Priest Intercedes – Numbers 16:41-50 The authority of Moses and Aaron had been questioned by Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and 250 men of renown in the congregation of Israel …read|
|› 20 – The Brazen Serpent – Numbers 21:4-9 John 3:14-18 There is no better type nor picture of Christ, our Redeemer, and the way that sinners are saved to be found in the Old …read|
|› 21 – A Prophet Like Moses – Deuteronomy 18:18-22; John 4:25-26 1. It is the clear teaching of the word of God that our Lord Jesus Christ has a three-fold office–prophet, pr …read|
|› 22 – The Cities of Refuge – Deuteronomy 19:1-10; Joshua 20:1-6 The Lord gave to Israel clear instructions for dealing with thieves, criminals, and murderers. ‘An eye for an ey …read|
|› 23 – Joshua – Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Joshua 1:1-9 The subject matter of the book of Joshua is Joshua’s, taking upon himself, by divine commission, the government o …read|
|› 24 – The Scarlet Line in the Window – Joshua 2:1-22: Joshua 6:17, 23, 25 My interest in Rahab, the harlot, and her story is enhanced by the number of times she is mentioned in scripture …read|
|› 25 – The birth of Samson – Judges 13:1-25 The preacher of the gospel of Christ will find many things about Samson which will enable him to illustrate the person and work of C …read|
|› 26 – The Kinsman Redeemer – Ruth A young minister was told by an elder of a Welsh chapel that he had preached a very poor sermon because Christ was not in his sermon. The youn …read|
|› 27 – The Song of Hannah – 1 Samuel 2:1-10 A godly man named Elkanah had two wives. One was named Hannah and the other was named Peninnah. Hannah was much loved by her husban …read|
|› 28 – Give us a King – 1 Samuel 8:1-22 Samuel, Hannah’s son (whose name means ‘asked of God’), remained with Eli, the priest and prophet of God, and ministered unto the L …read|
|› 29 – Saul’s Great Sin – 1 Samuel 13:1-14 vv. 1-2. Saul had reigned for one full year over Israel and was near the end of his second year when he chose three thousand men o …read|
|› 30 – David and Mephibosheth – 2 Samuel 9:1-13 Saul; the people’s king, had been rejected by God for disobedience and rebellion (1 Sam. 15:26); and David, a man after God’s own h …read|
|› 31 – Why God Permitted David to Fall – 2 Samuel 11 and 12 Two chapters of the word of God are given to the great sin of David in taking the wife of Uriah the Hittite and having her husba …read|
|› 32 – Comfort from God’s Covenant – 2 Samuel 23:1-5 There is something special about a man’s last words! Especially a man ‘after God’s own heart,’ a man greatly used of God, whose wor …read|
|› 33 – I Will Not Offer to God that which Cost me Nothing – 2 Samuel 24:10-24 Regardless of the circumstances found in Verse One, a condition which we find hard to explain, David sinned in numbering Israel ( …read|
|› 34 – The Queen of Sheba Comes to Solomon – 1 Kings 10:1-9 It is quite evident that the Queen of Sheba’s visit to Solomon is a picture of the sinner coming to Christ, for our Lord himself ref …read|
|› 35 – Three Examples of Faith – 1 Kings 17:8-16; 1 Kings 18:29-39; 1 Kings 20:31-32 Long ago, when the Roman Empire flourished, someone said, ‘All roads lead to Rome.’ Those who s …read|
|› 36 – Where is the Lord God of Elijah? – 2 Kings 2:1-15 Our story actually begins back in I Kings 19:15-21. The Lord revealed to Elijah that he had chosen Elisha to take his place as the p …read|
|› 37 – Empty Vessels Filled – 2 Kings 4:1-7 The most essential thing in my life is a knowledge of the Scriptures. The greatest blessing God can bestow upon me is to give to me …read|
|› 38 – Naaman, the Leper – 2 Kings 5:1-14 Read the story of Naaman, the leper, and two questions come forth. (1) Could the waters of the Jordan River cure leprosy? The answe …read|
|› 39 – Open his Eyes that He may See – 2 Kings 6:8-23 The king of Syria made war against Israel. Calling together a council of his servants, he made plans to camp in a certain place and …read|
|› 40 – Four Lepers Teach us a Lesson – 2 Kings 6:24 – 7:8 The city of Samaria had been surrounded by the Syrian army for a long time, and there was a great famine in the city so that an …read|
|› 41 – Nehushtan–A Piece of Brass – 2 Kings 18:1-8 King Hezekiah was twenty-five years old when he began to reign over Judah. He reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. Compared to t …read|
|› 42 – Bringing Back the Ark – 1 Chronicles 13:1-14; 1 Chronicles 15:11-29 The ark of the covenant was an oblong chest of acacia wood, 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inch …read|
|› 43 – Uzziah’s Great Transgression – 2 Chronicles 26; Isaiah 6:1-5 Our lesson begins with Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 6:1-5. v. 1. In the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord …read|
|› 44 – Four Things Learned in Trouble – Job 1:1-22 1. Job was greatly troubled, perhaps as few men in this world have been troubled. He had literally lost everything! 1. He was a man of …read|
|› 45 – How Can Man be Just With God? – Job 9:2; 15:14-16; 25:4-6 This question is asked over and over by Job and his friends. ‘How should man be just with God?’ (Job 9:2). ‘What is man t …read|
|› 46 – Three Vital Questions – Job 14:1-14 This lesson will consider chiefly three questions asked by Job which are answered only in our Lord Jesus Christ. The questions are: v. …read|
|› 47 – I Know that my Redeemer Liveth – Job 19:21-27 Suppose I took you to a fine home in the suburbs, beautifully landscaped, the mother in the kitchen preparing the evening meal, health …read|
|› 48 – Now Mine Eye Seeth Thee – Job 42:1-6 At the beginning of this lesson let us establish some things that we know. Job was a man of integrity and uprightness, and one who feare …read|
|› 49 – The Psalm of Messiah the King – Psalm 2:1-12 The subject of this Psalm is the establishment of David upon the throne of Israel, notwithstanding the opposition by his enemies. But …read|
|› 50 – God’s two great books – Psalm 19:1-14 David devoted himself to the study of God’s two great books– the book of nature (v. 1), ‘the heavens declare the glory of God;’ and …read|
|› 51 – The Psalm of the Cross – Psalm 22 Mr. Spurgeon said, ‘This Psalm may have been actually repeated word by word by our Lord when hanging on the tree. It begins with ‘My God, …read|
|› 52 – The Lord is my Shepherd – Psalm 23 Many have tried to determine when David wrote this Psalm. Was it when he was a shepherd? or when he fled from Saul? or when he was peacef …read|
|› 53 – True God – True Israel – True Redeemer – Psalm 24 The Psalm is more appreciated and best understood if it is divided into three sections: 1. The true God. (vv. 1-2) 2. The true Israel. …read|
|› 54 – Eight Great Precepts – Psalm 37 The author of this Psalm is David, the time of its writing is in his old age (v. 25), and the subject has to do with the prosperity of the …read|
|› 55 – My Hope is in Thee – Psalm 39 This is a Psalm of David. 1. A man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22). 2. A man of activity and affliction. David was …read|
|› 56 – Many, O Lord, Are Thy Wonderful Works – Psalm 40:1-10 These are the words of David, for this is a Psalm of David, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The words reveal David’s faith and experienc …read|
|› 57 – A Song of Love – Psalm 45 v. 1. From the very first words, the Psalmist leaves no doubt as to the subject of this Psalm. ‘I speak of things pertaining to the king.’ …read|
|› 58 – The Sinner’s Prayer – Psalm 51 William Plumer said, ‘This Psalm is fitly called the sinner’s guide.’ Luther said, ‘No other Psalm is oftener sung nor prayed in the churc …read|
|› 59 – My Rock and my Salvation – Psalm 62 If (by the grace of God) I can learn a two-fold lesson, my attitude will so totally change that I can never be the same again. That lesson …read|
|› 60 – Our Lord’s Sufferings for Our Sins – Psalm 69 C. H. Spurgeon said, ‘This is a Psalm of David, but if any inquire of whom speaketh the Psalmist this? of himself or some other man? I wou …read|
|› 61 – Mercy and Truth are Met Together – Psalm 85 Our Lord told the disciples, ‘All things must be fulfilled, which are written in the law of Moses, in the prophets, and in the Psalms, con …read|
|› 62 – The Victory of the Messiah – Psalm 91 Many believe this Psalm was written by Moses because the Psalm preceding it is credited to him. Others believe that David is the author an …read|
|› 63 – Bless the Lord, O my Soul – Psalm 103 A few things that are worthy of notice at the beginning of our study are: 1. Most agree that this is a Psalm of David’s latter years, …read|
|› 64 – Let the Redeemed of the Lord Say So – Psalm 107 The theme of this Psalm is thanksgiving and praise to the Lord for his goodness and his wonderful works of redemption and deliverance to …read|
|› 65 – The King-Priest – Psalm 110 No study of Christ in the Old Testament can ignore this Psalm. Note how many times vv. 1 & 4 are referred to in the New Testament (Matt. …read|
|› 66 – The Chief Cornerstone – Psalm 118:1-24 One reason why I have chosen for us to study this Psalm is because of what Martin Luther said: ‘This is my Psalm, my chosen Psalm. I …read|
|› 67 – The Observer and the Observed – Psalm 139 There is nothing more dishonoring to God nor a greater denial of the very character of God than for us, in his name, to pretend to be wha …read|
|› 68 – Praise the Lord O my Soul – Psalm 146 I am troubled that these great and meaningful words, ‘Praise the Lord,’ ‘Hallelujah,’ and ‘Blessed Jesus,’ have become mere flippant and …read|
|› 69 – Wisdom in Christ – Proverbs 8 This chapter contains the instructions of wisdom or Christ; for he is the wisdom of God, and he is made unto us wisdom (1 Cor. 1:30; 1 J …read|
|› 70 – The Conclusion of the Whole Matter – Ecclesiastes 1 & 2 The principal doctrine of these chapters is that the world and all things in it and of it are vain things. ‘The fashion of this …read|
|› 71 – Remember Now Thy Creator – Ecclesiastes 12:1-14 ‘Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear’ (Isa. 59:1). Our L …read|
|› 72 – My Beloved is Mine and I am His – Song of Solomon 2:1-17 Solomon, next to our Lord Jesus, was the greatest son of wisdom that the church of God has ever known (1 Kings 4:29- 32). G …read|
|› 73 – What is Thy Beloved more than Another Beloved? – Song of Solomon 5:9-16 v. 9. This question is put to the church of the Lord Jesus–‘O thou fairest among women’–the same title Christ gives her in …read|
|› 74 – The Lord Our Righteousness – Jeremiah 23:1-8 This scripture is so applicable to our day that it could have been written this morning. The prophet deals with four powerful and p …read|
|› 75 – The Believers Hope – Lamentations 3:1-26 Someone said, ‘God has hedged us about on the one side with his promises of mercy lest we despair, and he has hedged us about o …read|
|› 76 – From Nothing to Everything – Ezekiel 16:1-14 The great, powerful, and glorious nation of Israel (that arose to such splendor and beauty in the days of David and Solomon) starte …read|
|› 77 – Lost, Driven Away, Broken, Sick – Ezekiel 34:1-6 The Lord has been pleased to use prophets, apostles, evangelists, pastor-teachers to preach the gospel of his grace to his people th …read|
|› 78 – Can These Bones Live? – Ezekiel 37:1-14 There are at least three things taught in these verses. This scripture is a prophecy of the restoration of Israel as a nation, and …read|
|› 79 – Four Things God Taught Nebuchadnezzar – Daniel 4:28-37 Those who know the living God, who have seen a little of his glory and majesty in the face of Christ Jesus are troubled by the low o …read|
|› 80 – Thy God Will Deliver Thee – Daniel 6:1-24 Daniel (the prophet of God), who was in captivity, had interpreted the handwriting on the wall for King Belshazzar. Because of this, …read|
|› 81 – Hosea–Type of Christ – Hosea 1-3 The name ‘Hosea’ is the same with Joshua and Jesus and signified a saviour or a deliverer. Hosea was not only a faithful prophet and serv …read|
|› 82 – A Famine to be Feared – Amos 8:11-13 The nation of Israel often disobeyed God, rebelling against his law and commandments. Yet the Lord continued to send his prophets to w …read|
|› 83 – Salvation is of the Lord – Jonah 2:1-10 I do not know how much importance can be attached to this nor whether it is of any importance at all, but the word of the Lord came to …read|
|› 84 – A Fountain Opened for Mourners – Zechariah 12:10; 13:1 Charles Spurgeon (minister to London for 38 years) wrote, ‘In this scripture, first of all, there is a prophecy concerning th …read|
|› 85 – The Messenger of the Covenant – Malachi 3:1-6 The preceding chapter (Malachi 2) is filled with rebuke and judgment against both the priests and the people for their sins. The pri …read|
|› Introduction – The Master’s Blesseds A devotional study of the Beatitudes by J. R. Miller, 1905 Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and …read|
|› Chapter 1 – The Beatitude for the Poor in Spirit – “Blessed are the poor in spirit–for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3 The quest of happiness is universal. Men’s conceptions of happin …read|
|› Chapter 2 – The Beatitude for the Mourner – “Blessed are those who mourn–for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4 The house of sorrow is a strange place to look for joy! Mourners are the la …read|
|› Chapter 3 – The Beatitude of Meekness – “Blessed are the meek–for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5:5 Meekness is not an easy grace. Indeed, no grace comes easily. It is the heave …read|
|› Chapter 4 – The Beatitude of Hunger – “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness–for they shall be filled.” Matthew 5:6 We would probably say, at first thought, that …read|
|› Chapter 5 – The Beatitude for the Merciful – “Blessed are the merciful–for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7 Mercy is a shining quality. Yet, like all the qualities in this cluster of bea …read|
|› Chapter 6 – The Beatitude of Purity – “Blessed are the pure in heart–for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8 A little child was asked which of the beatitudes she would choose, if she coul …read|
|› Chapter 7 – The Beatitude of the Peacemaker – “Blessed are the peacemakers–for they shall be called the children of God.” Matthew 5:9 PEACE is one of the great words of the Bible. It shines li …read|
|› Chapter 8 – The Beatitude of the Persecuted – “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10 Blessed means happy. It seems stra …read|
|› Chapter 1 – “After this Manner, Pray” – The Golden Gate of Prayer Devotional Studies on the Lord’s Prayer by J. R. Miller, 1900 Introduction The Lord’s Prayer is short–but every …read|
|› Chapter 2 – Our Father – The words “Our Father” stand here as the golden ‘gate’ of prayer. This is the way we must enter, as we approach God. There is no other entrance. It wa …read|
|› Chapter 3 – Who is in Heaven – There is wondrous uplift in the thought of the glory of the fatherhood to which we are introduced in Christ. Fatherhood itself means love, tender, str …read|
|› Chapter 4 – The First Note in Prayer – The order of the petitions of the Lord’s Prayer is not accidental, for it was Jesus who said, “After this manner, pray.” We should notice, therefore, …read|
|› Chapter 5 – The Hallowed Name – There is great need of the lesson of reverence. Men do not seem aware of God. Even in the holiest places of earth, there appears to be in most of us l …read|
|› Chapter 6 – May Your Kingdom Come – Already we have learned to keep back the thought of our own needs when we enter the gate of prayer, and to pray first for the hallowing of God’s name. …read|
|› Chapter 7 – How the Kingdom Comes – The answers to some prayers come at once. Even while we are speaking to God–the thing we ask for is laid in our hands. The answers to other prayers, …read|
|› Chapter 8 – May Your Will be Done – The will of God is perfect in its beauty and its goodness. It is flawless. It shines with the radiance of heaven. It is warm with divine love and tend …read|
|› Chapter 9 – As it is in Heaven – God’s will is the real pillar of cloud and fire to lead us through this world’s uncharted wilderness. But how can we know what this will for us is? Th …read|
|› Chapter 10 – My Will–or God’s Will? – “May Your will be done.” Matthew 6:11 “Not as I will–but as You will.” Matthew 26:39 What is success? What is the true aim in life? What should o …read|
|› Chapter 11 – Our Daily Bread – “Give us this day our daily bread.” Matthew 6:11 We are half-way through the Lord’s Prayer–and come now to the first request for anything for ours …read|
|› Chapter 12 – Forgive us our Debts – “Father, forgive us our debts.” Matthew 6:12 In this petition, we come to the first sad note in the Lord’s Prayer. The first three petitions, it ha …read|
|› Chapter 13 – As we Forgive – A writer says of another, “his heart was as great as the world–but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong.” This is the true ideal for …read|
|› Chapter 14 – Shrinking from Temptation – Forgiveness of sins does not take us into heaven. We must stay yet longer in this world, because our work here is not finished. We must be tempted aga …read|
|› Chapter 15 – From the Evil – We may not always be spared from testing. Though we pray “Bring us not into temptation,” our path will ofttimes lead into the field of conflict. To be …read|
The Young Ruler
One thing thou lackest. Mark 10:21
It seems to us as though Jesus never said a more startling thing to any man who came to Him than this, “One thing thou lackest.” Yet whether the “one thing” be much or little depends wholly upon what it is. Some five or six years ago, in an American city, as I stood upon the platform and gave out my first hymn in a series of meetings, I heard the weak tones of a small reed organ, notwithstanding the fact that there was a very fine organ in the building. Turning to my friend, the minister of the church, I said to him, “What is the matter with the great organ?” He replied, “Nothing.” “Why is it not being played?” I asked. “It lacks only one thing, and that is a player,” he replied.
One thing lacking! An instrument, fearfully and wonderfully made, constructed to catch the wind and transmute it into music–silent, no harmony, no symphony–why? There was one thing lacking, a master hand to sweep the keys and bring the music out. Which is a parable, helping us to see what Christ meant. “One thing thou lackest.”
In order that we may understand what this lack really was, I am going to ask you first to look carefully at this young man. I want to say three things about him. I shall say nothing about his wealth; nothing concerning his position in the nation, except incidentally, for a man’s wealth and position are nothing when you are measuring him by the standards of eternity, or looking upon him in the light of spiritual things. Let us see the man as he was in himself.
The first thing I say concerning him is that he was a man of fine natural temperament. This is revealed in his whole attitude toward Jesus Christ. That he was discerning is revealed in the fact that to Christ he said, “Good Master.”
He was also a man of courage. He was a ruler, and so belonged to a class which had been critical at the commencement of our Lord’s ministry, but now were openly against Him. Notwithstanding this fact, when this man saw goodness, he confessed it, daring to say, “Good Master.”
He was moreover, a man of humility, for when he came into the presence of Jesus he knelt. You may tell me there is nothing more in that than the Eastern method of salutation. It was not the method by which a ruler saluted a peasant, even in the East. Peasants knelt to rulers. It was as strange a thing then as it would be for a ruler to kneel in the presence of a peasant in London. Jesus was most evidently, to the seeing of His own age, a peasant. Yet here is a man, who is a wealthy ruler, who dared to kneel in His presence.
At this man, discerning, courageous, humble, Christ looked, and said, “One thing thou lackest.”
He was more than a man of fine temperament, he had a clean record. Never allow any man, be he prophet or priest or preacher, to tell you there is any value in pollution. Let no man make you believe there is no value in having a clean record. Even if you are not a Christian man, there is value in it. This man had a clean record. Jesus flashed upon him the light of six commandments from the decalogue, not the first four, which indicate the relationship which ought to exist between man and God, but the last six, which condition the relation of man to his neighbor. “Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor thy father and mother.” One light after another flashed upon the inner, hidden, secret life of the man, and he looked back into the face of Christ and said, “Master, all these things have I observed from my youth.” Now, it has been declared that this was an empty boast, that this man said to Christ a thing that was not true. I do not believe it. I believe his statement was the simple, honest truth. I belive that standing there, confronting Jesus Christ, and looking into the eyes of incarnate purity, here was a man who was able to say concerning these ancient commandments which forbid a man violating the true relationship between himself and his neighbor, “All these things have I observed from my youth.” Immediately the evangelist tells us that “Jesus looking upon him, loved him.” I do not mean to infer by that statement that if he had broken the whole six Christ would not have loved him. There is, perchance, a man in this building, hiding away from the crowd, who has broken the whole ten. Christ loves that man, and can save him if he will let Him. It is noticeable, however, that at this point the evangelist declares He loved him. I do not think you will ever find it declared that Christ loved a hypocrite or a liar. There is a sense in which he loved even them, but never in the act of hypocrisy or lying. Christ’s anger was white-hot in the presence of all lying and hypocrisy. This young man said, “Master, all these things have I observed from my youth.” He was a man of clean record.
Once again, he was a man of true aspiration. What is this question with which he comes to Christ, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Let us be careful here in order that we may catch if possible the real thought in the mind of this man. What is the meaning of this phrase, “eternal life”? We have used it constantly in the Christian Church as though it were a phrase indicating continuity of existence merely. I do not deny that this is partially the meaning of the phrase, but there is much more in it than this. Age-abiding life is what he was seeking. This is not merely life which continues; it is life which contains. It is perfectly evident that in his own soul he was conscious of a present lack. All his wealth could not purchase that something which he needed. He was a man of position, but his position could not command that which his soul was supremely seeking. It was life that he needed, more life that he was seeking. He was conscious of the infinite, and yet could not grasp it. In the midst of all the things of time and sense he heard the echoes of the eternal and spiritual. His clean record did not satisfy him. His power of discernment left him still hungry. His courage had behind it an ache and an agony. His very humility did not bring his inner soul into the realization of that for which it was perpetually asking. He wanted life, he desired to take hold of that which can satisfy the deepest in a man. He heard the call of the infinite sighing its way up through his own nature. He knew he was more than flesh. He knew he was more than that which could be fed with the things which were all about him. Life! Let us state the truth at once. This cry after life is the cry of the lost offspring of God after the Father God. He was seeking God, seeking life, and all this before Christ met him. His meeting with Christ, as we see it in the Gospel narrative, simply brings out into clear relief these facts concerning him, a man of fine temperament, a man of clean record, a man of true aspiration, and to that man Christ said, “One thing thou lackest.”
Let us proceed at once to ask what Christ meant. What did he lack? The popular, and I had almost said, the superficial interpretation of the story declares that he lacked poverty. Nothing of the kind. If you leave your story there you have not listened to it, you have not caught the meaning of Christ’s strange question at the beginning, “Why callest thou Me good?” If when Christ told this man to sell all that he had and give to the poor. He meant that what he lacked was poverty, then there is no application to the vast majority of us. That surely is not the last word. I am not going to lose that. It has its place in the story. The fact that Christ told this man to sell all that he had and give to the poor is not to be omitted, but it is to be placed in its right relationship. What is the word of Christ to this man? “One thing thou lackest,” and then as a preliminary the Master Physician puts His hand upon the one thing that stands in his way. Christ will deal with some of you tonight, but He will not say to you, sell all that you have and give to the poor. He will say something else, put His hand upon some preliminary thing, something, which if you do not abandon you will never be able to obey Him in the ultimate and supreme command. He is moving toward the heart and center of man’s need, and it is necessary in doing so to clear out of the way the things that stand between him and the realization of his own life. What is the final word, “Come, follow Me.” That is the man’s lack. You say to me, Then do you mean to say that what the man lacked was following Christ? Yes, finally, that is what this word really means. Look at it from the standpoint, first of all, not of the Person of Christ, though there we must end, but from the standpoint of the man’s real condition. What did this man lack? He lacked a center of authority. He lacked a dominating principle in his life. He had never found his King.
Sermon 3381 – The Broken Fence
published on Thursday, November 20th 1913.
Delivered by C. H. Spurgeon
at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
“I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and to, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down, Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it and received instruction.”–Proverbs 24:30-32.
This slothful man did no hurt to his fellow-men: he was not a thief, nor a ruffian, nor a meddler in anybody else’s business. He did not trouble himself about other men’s concerns for he did not even attend to his own–it required too much exertion. He was not grossly vicious; he had not energy enough to care for that. He was one who liked to take things easily. He always let well alone, and for the matter of that, he let ill alone too, as the nettles and the thistles in his garden plainly proved. What was the use of disturbing himself? It would be all the same a hundred years hence, and so he took things just as they came. He was not a bad man, so some said of him; and yet perhaps it will be found at last that there is no worse man in the world than the man who is not good, for in some respects he is not good enough to be bad; he has not enough force of character about him to serve either God or Baal. He simply serves himself, worshipping his own ease and adoring his own comfort. Yet he always meant to be right. He was not going to sleep much longer; he would only have forty winks more and then he would be at his work and show you what he could do. One of these days he meant to be thoroughly in earnest, and make up for lost time. The time never actually came for him to begin, but it was always coming. He always meant to repent, but he went on in his sin. He meant to believe, but he died an unbeliever. He meant to be a Christian, but he lived without Christ. He halted between two opinions because he could not trouble himself to make up his mind; and so he perished of delay.
This picture of the slothful man and his garden and field overgrown with nettles and weeds represents many a man who has professed to be a Christian, but who has become slothful in the things of God. Spiritual life has withered in him. He has backslidden; he has come down from the condition of healthy spiritual energy into one of listlessness and indifference to the things of God; and while things have gone wrong within his heart and all sorts of mischiefs have come into him and grown up and seeded themselves in him, mischief is also taking place externally in his daily conduct. The stone wall which guarded his character is broken down, and he lies open to all evil. Upon this point we will now meditate. “The stone wall thereof was broken down.”
Come then, let us take a walk with Solomon and stand with him and consider and learn instruction while we look at this broken-down fence. When we have examined it, let us consider the consequences of broken-down walls; and then in the last place, let us try to rouse up this sluggard that his wall may yet be repaired. If this slothful person should be one of ourselves, may God’s infinite mercy rouse us up before this ruined wall has let in a herd of prowling vices.
I. First, let us take a look at this broken fence. You will see that in the beginning it was a very good fence, for it was a stone wall. Fields are often surrounded with wooden palings which soon decay, or with hedges which may very easily have gaps made in them; but this was a stone wall. Such walls are very usual in the East, and are also common in some of our own counties where stone is plentiful. It was a substantial protection to begin with, and well shut in the pretty little estate which had fallen into such bad hands. The man had a field for agricultural purposes and another strip of land for a vineyard or a garden. It was fertile soil, for it produced thorns and nettles in abundance, and where these flourish better things can be produced; yet the idler took no care of his property, but allowed the wall to get into bad repair and in many places to be quite broken down.
Let me mention some of the stone walls that men permit to be broken down when they backslide. In many cases sound principles were instilled in youth, but these are forgotten. What a blessing is Christian education! Our parents, both by persuasion and example, taught many of us the things that are pure and honest and of good repute. We saw in their lives how to live. They also opened the Word of God before us, and they taught us the ways of right both toward God and toward men. They prayed for us and they prayed with us till the things of God were placed round about us and shut us in as with a stone wall. We have never been able to get rid of our early impressions. Even in times of wandering, before we knew the Lord savingly, these things had a healthy power over us; we were checked when we would have done evil, we were assisted when we were struggling towards Christ. It is very sad when people permit these first principles to be shaken and to be removed like stones which fall from a boundary wall. Young persons begin at first to talk lightly of the old-fashioned ways of their parents. By-and-by it is not merely the old-fashionedness of the ways, but the ways themselves that they despise. They seek other company, and from that other company they learn nothing but evil. They seek pleasure in places which it horrifies their parents to consider. This leads to worse, and if theft do not bring their fathers’ grey hairs with sorrow to the grave, it is no virtue of theirs. I have known young men who really were Christians sadly backslide through being induced to modify, conceal, or alter those holy principles in which they were trained from their mother’s knee. It is a great calamity when professedly converted men become unfixed, unstable, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. It shows great faultiness of mind and unsoundness of heart when we can trifle with those grave and solemn truths which have been sanctified by a mother’s tears, and by a father’s earnest life. “I am thy servant,” said David, “and the son of thy handmaid”: he felt it to be a high honor, and at the same time a sacred bond which bound him to God, that he was the son of one who could be called God’s handmaid. Take care you who have had Christian training, that you do not trifle with it. “My son, keep thy father’s commandment and forsake not the law of thy mother: bind them continually upon thine heart and tie them about thy neck.”
Protection to character is also found in the fact that solid doctrines have been learned. This is a fine stone wall. Many among us have been taught the gospel of the grace of God and have learned it well, so that they are able to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. Happy are they who have a religion that is grounded upon a clear knowledge of eternal verities. A religion which is all excitement and has little instruction in it may serve for transient use, but for permanent life-purposes there must be a knowledge of those great doctrines which are fundamental to the gospel system. I tremble when I hear of a man’s giving up, one by one, the vital principles of the gospel and boasting of his liberality. I hear him say, “These are my views, but others have a right to their views also.” That is a very proper expression in reference to mere “views,” but we may not thus speak of truth itself as revealed by God; that is one and unalterable, and all are bound to receive it. It is not your view of truth, for that is a dim thing; but the very truth itself which will save you if your faith embraces it. I will readily yield my way of stating a doctrine, but not the doctrine itself. One man may put it in this way, and one in another; but the truth itself must never be given up. The spirit of the Broad School robs us of everything like certainty. I should like to ask some great men of that order whether they believe that anything is taught in the Scriptures which it would be worth while for a person to die for, and whether the martyrs were not great fools for laying down their lives for mere opinions which might be right or might be wrong. This broad-churchism is a breaking down of stone walls, and it will let in the devil and all his crew, and do infinite harm to the church of God if it be not stopped. A loose state of belief does great damage to any man’s mind.
We are not bigots, but we should be none the worse if we so lived that men called us so. I met a man the other day who was accused of bigotry, and I said, “Give me your hand, old fellow. I like to meet with bigots now and then for the fine old creatures are getting scarce, and the stuff they are made of is so good that if there were more of it, we might see a few men among us again and fewer mollusks.” Lately we have seen few men with backbone; the most have been of the jelly-fish order. I have lived in times in which I should have said, “Be liberal, and shake off all narrowness”; but now I am obliged to alter my tone and cry “Be steadfast in the truth.” The faith once delivered to the saints is now all the more attractive to me because it is called narrow, for I am weary of that breadth which comes of broken hedges. There are fixed points of truth and definite certainties of creed, and woe to you if you allow these stone walls to crumble down. I fear me that the slothful are a numerous band, and that ages to come may have to deplore the laxity which has been applauded by this negligent generation.
Another fence which is too often neglected is that of godly habits which had been formed; the sluggard allows this wall to be broken down. I will mention some valuable guards of life and character. One is the habit of secret prayer. Private prayer should be regularly offered, at least in the morning and in the evening. We cannot do without set seasons for drawing near to God. To look into the face of man without having first seen the face of God is very dangerous: to go out into the world without locking up the heart and giving God the key is to leave it open to all sorts of spiritual vagrants. At night, again, to go to your rest as the swine roll into their sty without thanking God for the mercies of the day is shameful. The evening sacrifice should be devoutly offered as surely as we have enjoyed the evening fireside: we should thus put ourselves under the wings of the Preserver of men. It may be said, “We can pray at all times.” I know we can; but I fear that those who do not pray at stated hours seldom pray at all. Those who pray in season are the most likely persons to pray at all seasons. Spiritual life does not care for a cast-iron regulation, but since life casts itself into some mold or other, I would have you careful of its external habit as well as its internal power. Never allow great gaps in the wall of your habitual private prayer.
I go a step farther, I believe that there is a great guardian power about family prayer, and I feel greatly distressed because I know that very many Christian families neglect it. Romanism at one time could do nothing in England because it could offer nothing but the shadow of what Christian men already had in substance. “Do you hear that bell tinkling in the morning! What is that for! …. To go to church to pray.” “Indeed,” said the Puritan, “I have no need to go there to pray. I have had my children together and we have read a passage of Scripture, and prayed, and sang the praises of God, and we have a church in our house.” Ah! there goes that bell again in the evening. What is that for? Why, it is the vesper bell. The good man answered that he had no need to trudge a mile or two for that, for his holy vespers had been said and sung around his own table, of which the big Bible was the chief ornament. They told him that there could be no service without a priest, but he replied that every godly man should be a priest in his own house. Thus have the saints defied the overtures of priestcraft, and kept the faith from generation to generation. Household devotion and the pulpit are, under God, the stone walls of Protestantism, and my prayer is that these may not be broken down.
Another fence to protect piety is found in weeknight services. I notice that when people forsake weeknight meetings, firm power of their religion evaporates. I do not speak of those lawfully detained to watch the sick, and attend to farm-work and other business, or as domestic servants and the like; there are exceptions to all rules: but I mean those who could attend if they had a mind to do so. When people say, “It is quite enough for me to be wearied with the sermons of the Sunday; I do not want to go out to prayer-meetings and lectures and so forth”–then it is clear that they have no appetite for the Word, and surely this is a bad sign. If you have a bit of wall built to protect the Sunday, and then six times the distance left without a fence, I believe that Satan’s cattle will get in and do no end of mischief.
Take care also of the stone wall of Bible reading and of speaking often one to another concerning the things of God. Associate with the godly and commune with God, and you will thus by the blessing of God’s Spirit keep up a good fence against temptations, which otherwise will get into the fields of your soul and devour all goodly fruits.
The Battle For Life
Reading: Deuteronomy 30:11-20; Hebrews 2:14-15; Revelation 1:18; Philippians 3:10.
The matter which we now have before us is the relationship of the Cross to the manifesting of life. It is very important for us to be clear as to what that relationship is. One thing is patent, and that is that life, in this Divine sense, in this spiritual sense, this life called eternal life, is only to be had as the result of the Cross of Jesus Christ. On the ground of His death and by His resurrection this eternal life is given to them that believe. We sometimes speak of this as simple faith in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus. In the reception of that life there may be no sense of battle, nor conflict; there may be no knowledge whatever of this fuller realm where the battle for life goes on. That is because, in the matter of the gift of eternal life, the Lord Jesus Himself fought the battle in His Cross, and we receive the free gift by faith’s acceptance of what He did in order that we might have the life.
That is one aspect of the Cross and the issue of life. That is to say, by the objective apprehension of the Cross we receive eternal life. All that the Lord Jesus did for us in His Cross in order that we might pass from death unto life, appropriated, apprehended by faith, results in our having life.
But there is another side. The Cross of the Lord Jesus subjectively wrought out results in our having life more abundant. His own words are: “I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly” (John 10:10). I believe that the first half of that statement relates to the simple faith-appropriation of the objective work of the Cross – what He didfor us – but the second part of the statement carries us further. Life more abundant requires that what He did for us shall be made good in us. May we put it in this way: In His Cross He dealt with our sins, and on the ground of His having so dealt with them, and of our believing in His atoning work for our sins, we receive the gift of eternal life. He also dealt with ourselves, but that is something which has to be made good progressively, and it is as we ourselves are dealt with in the power of the Cross that the way is made for that life to express itself in ever deepening fullness. The fact is that it is self which is in the way of the life and its full expression. It is the natural life which obstructs the course of the Divine life. Thus what has been done for us has to be done in us, and as it is done in us that life becomes more than a deposit, more than a simple, though glorious possession; it becomes a deepening, growing power, a fullness of expression.
A STATE OF DISORDER IN THE CREATION
Let us seek to set forth the position. In the first place there is in the creation a state of disorder with which God is not united. We can all grasp that. There is nothing very profound about it except as the fact breaks upon us, and we realize that there is this state of disorder in the creation of which we are a part, and that God is not united with that state, with the creation in that condition. It is not according to His mind. It has ceased to express His thought. It is contrary to His intention and therefore He is not linked with it.
DEATH AND SATAN POSITIVELY ASSOCIATED WITH THAT STATE
Secondly, there is a positive association of death and Satan with that state. It is not just a passive mass, in confusion, in chaos, in disorder. There are active elements in it. We might say that it is a seething mass. There are forces at work in it and those forces are not the forces of life, but of death. Death is working, and Satan is associated with that state.
A NEED ARISES
In the third place, we see that a need arises, and a need along various lines. Firstly, there must be a judicial setting aside of that creation. We mean by ‘a judicial setting aside’ that a judgment must be passed upon it, and under that judgment it must be put away out of God’s sight. It must come to the place where in its entirety it is under the Divine ban and not one part of it can come into acceptance with Him: that is, it must be judicially dealt with, and judicially set aside. That becomes necessary as a preliminary step to anything which God will do after a new order. God has dealt thus with the creation in the Cross of Christ.
Secondly, an actual and a potential destroying of that power of death and Satan must take place. Let us watch our words – an actual, and a potential, destroying of that power of death and Satan. Well, God did that in actuality in the Person of the Lord Jesus. He destroyed death and him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. In Christ it is actually done. Christ at God’s right hand represents and declares that this has been accomplished. Death is swallowed up victoriously. Satan too has been destroyed. That word ‘destroyed’, translated in the Revised Version ‘bring to naught’, does not mean what some people take it to mean. There are times, when speaking of destroying, we think of going the whole length of utterly obliterating, putting out of existence. This word does not mean that. Bringing to naught means, in the intention of God, to render utterly abortive, to render incapable of ultimate success. Do not forget that, so far as the Lord Jesus is concerned at God’s right hand, Satan is defeated. He cannot touch Him personally, and he knows it. The only way in which he can touch Him is through His members. Satan no longer has any power to touch Christ directly with death, or with any other weapon. “Through death he has destroyed him that had the power of death.” It is actually done in Christ.
We have used another word – potential. That potential destroying of death and Satan was on behalf of the saints. That is something which is secured and, though not yet fully entered into in experience, can be entered into by faith and known in a progressive way. It cannot be said that you and I at present in the entirety of our being find that death and Satan have no power. So far as we are concerned it is not an actual fact that Satan is inoperative. But this has been secured for us potentially in Christ, that we may become those who more and more experience what Christ has wrought for us, and come progressively into the good of that work which was potentially done on our behalf. In Christ, then, we see that destruction to be accomplished in actuality; in the saints, potentially.
EVENING THOUGHTS, or
DAILY WALKING WITH GOD
Octavius Winslow, 1858
“Let my prayer be set forth before you as
incense; and the lifting up of my hands
as the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2
“You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts.” James 4:3
A believer may urge a request that is in itself wrong. The mother of Zebedee’s children did so, when she asked the Lord that her two sons might sit, the one on His right hand, and the other on the left, in His kingdom. Who does not mark the self that appears in this petition? Although it was a mother’s love that prompted it, and, as such, presents a picture of inimitable beauty, and one exquisitely touching to the feelings, yet it teaches us that a parent, betrayed by his love for his child, may ask that of God which is really wrong in itself. He may ask worldly distinction, honor, influence, wealth for his child, which a godly parent should never do; and this may be a wrong request, which God, in His infinite wisdom and love, withholds. This was the petition of the mother, which our Lord saw fit to deny. Her views of the kingdom of Christ were those of earthly glory. To see her children sharing in that glory was her high ambition; which Jesus promptly but gently rebuked. Let a Christian mother ask for spiritual blessings for her children, and whatever else is needful the Lord will grant. Let converting, sanctifying, restraining grace be one and the constant petition presented at the footstool of mercy, and then she cannot ask too much, or press her suit too frequently or too fervently.
To allude to another illustration of our remark it was wrong in Job to ask the Lord that he might die. “Oh that I might have my request ” (are his words), “and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; that He would let loose His hand, and cut me off!” It was an unwise and sinful petition, which the Lord in great mercy and wisdom denied him. Truly “we know not what we should pray for as we ought.” What a mercy that there is One who knows!
A child of God may ask for a wise and good thing in a wrong way. There may be no faith in asking, and no sense of God’s freeness in bestowing. No filial approach—going as a child—as one pardoned—”accepted in the Beloved,”—as one dear to the heart of God. There may be no honoring of the Father in Himself—no honoring of Him in the Son—no honoring of the Blessed Spirit. There may be no resting upon the cross—no pleading of the atoning blood—no washing in the fountain—no humble, grateful recognition of the “new and living way” of access. There may be a want of lowliness in the mind—brokenness in the spirit—sincerity in the heart—reverence in the manner—sobriety in the words. There may be no confession of sin—no acknowledgment of past mercies—no faith in the promised blessing. How much there may be in the prayer of a dear child of God that operates as a blight upon his request, that seems to close the ear and the heart of God! But oh, to go to Him with filial confidence—sweet faith—love flowing from a broken heart—to go to Him as the people of His choice—dear to Him as the apple of His eye—viewed each moment in His Son—and who would, for the love He bears us, undeify Himself, if that would be for our real good, and His own glory. Did He not once empty Himself of His glory—did He not become poor—did He not humble Himself—did He not take upon Him human nature, all for the love He bore His people? That was approaching so near, in appearance, the cessation of Deity, that, as we gaze upon the spectacle, we wonder what another step might have produced! We seem to think He could not have gone further without ceasing to be God. Behold the broad basis, then, on which a child of God may approach Him in prayer. His love, oh how immense! it is past finding out!