Flower

Archive for the ‘Jesus Christ’ Category

Morning Star

“This morning early I had awakened and looked out. It was about four o’clock. The morning star was shining directly before our window in a bright sky. One part of the window was misty with frost, the other clear, and through the clear part the star shone most beautifully. I thought of Christ’s words, ‘the bright and morning star’ (Rev 22:16). Christ is all this to me in this world till the day break. I fell asleep, and when I next awoke the sun was shining through my room. Shall it not be thus at the resurrection? Our shadowy views of Christ are past, and now He is the Sun of righteousness.” September 18, 1849

“We were reading this morning, Joshua 5; the manna ceased only when they really had crossed the Jordan, and as for the cloudy pillar no notice is taken of its ceasing excepting this, The Lord says: ‘As Captain of the host am I now come.’ It was as much as saying: ‘I have hitherto led you through the wilderness in the cloud, but now the end of that is come, and so I appear as Captain of the host, leading you all into the land.’

Some day it shall be thus with us. We shall suddenly find Bibles, and ordinances, and living by faith (our manna) all ceasing, for sight has come and the realities of the unseen glory, and we shall find our God and Guide suddenly present to us in the Person of the Savior, ‘Whom not having seen we loved.’” May 28, 1892

Excerpts from Andrew A Bonar’s diary – Heavenly Springs, Banner of Truth Publishing

 

In Evil Long I Took Delight

by John Newton

 

In evil long I took delight,

Unawed by shame or fear;

Till a new object struck my sight,

And stopped my wild career.

 

I saw one hanging on a tree,

In agonies and blood;

Who fixed his languid eyes on me,

As near his cross I stood.

 

Sure, never till my latest breath,

Can I forget that look;

It seemed to charge me with his death,

Though not a word he spoke.

 

My conscience felt, and owned the guilt,

And plunged me in despair;

I saw my sins his blood had spilt,

And helped to nail him there.

 

Alas! I knew not what I did,

But now my tears are vain;

Where shall my trembling soul be hid?

For I the LORD have slain.

 

A second look he gave, which said,

I freely all forgive;

This blood is for thy ransom paid,

I die, that thou may’st live.”

 

Thus, while his death my sin displays,

In all its blackest hue;

(Such is the mystery of grace)

It seals my pardon too.

 

With pleasing grief and mournful joy,

My spirit now is filled;

That I should such a life destroy,

Yet live by him I killed.

 

“John ‘Rabbi’ Duncan on the Law and Holiness”

‘But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.’ (1 Peter 1:15-16)

The holiness that is in God, ah! It is too high for us to rehearse; but to this we may look — to this infinite, spotless, moral excellence and beauty, the moral character of God. It is exhibited in the law, for the law is holy. We speak of the moral law; we call it law, and such it is, because it is the expression of the divine will, of our lawful, our only supreme governor and Lord; but it is moral, as it exhibits His own character — as not exhibiting only His will but His character. It is law, because of the authority that is in it; it is moral, because of this perfection of divine holiness. So then you are called to have conformity to that in which the moral excellence of the divine nature consists, holiness …

‘Be ye holy; for I am holy.’ What higher motive! What nobler end! Satan told a lie — ‘Ye shall be as gods’; but this is the true saying of God: “When He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

‘Rabbi’ Duncan, Rich Gleanings after the Vintage (Glasgow:Free Presbyterian Publications, 1984), pp. 226-227,

 

God to Enjoy

“God to enjoy“

Many today, in a silly, compulsive wish to know, ask what kind of glory believers will have in paradise, whether they will stand or be seated or move about, whether they may still enjoy the created things of earth, to what point and to what end. In short, they love to indulge in useless speculations, to pass through every room in paradise in the hope of seeing what goes on there, but they have no desire to draw near to paradise themselves! We, on the other hand, are already on our way. So let us continue on, as long as we are in this world, and when we have reached our inheritance, then we will know what heaven is like. Suppose a man wanted to buy a house thirty miles away, and promptly sat down and said, ‘Well now, I’d like to know what the house is made of, how commodious it is, and how it is situated.’ If, for all that, he refused to visit the house, how laughable it would be! So we must all learn to grow stronger in our knowledge of God, so that that we might worship him purely, place our confidence in him, and call on him in every necessity. And when we have profited by being trained up in these things, we will finally understand what God’s promise of blessedness and joy really means and how far it extends. At present, to be sure, the manner of God’s working is unknown to us, since Scripture declares that the mind cannot conceive what God has prepared for us.

In the meantime, it is enough to know that the Lord Jesus Christ forbids his disciples to practice craftiness and to seek more light than is permissible. For by such means we appear wiser than we are, deceiving some and cheating others. We may not perhaps succeed as the world counts success, for we behave with integrity. We may let many opportunities for gain pass us by. We will willingly accept loss if by our actions we resist offending God. Since, then we are people of peaceable spirit, and have neither wit nor skill to fish in troubled waters, we are bound to lose out. We know, however, that while the world may condemn us, we have a recompense which fully satisfies: we will have God to enjoy.

—John Calvin, Sermons on the Beatitudes (Banner of Truth Trust, 2006), 51–52.

Sanctification

Who accomplishes sanctification? This would seem to be the work of God’s Spirit. We read in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, “May the God of peace himself sanctify you wholly.” Again, in 2 Corinthians 3:18-19, “And we all with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” There are scores of such references. People who emphasize these Scriptures speak of “letting go” of ourselves and “letting God” do the work of sanctification in us.

But there are other verses that speak of our role in sanctification. We are told, “Walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). “Be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1). “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Eph. 6:11). People who emphasize these verses speak of our obligation to use these “means of grace” available to us.

Which of these is right and which is wrong? If we mean by “letting go” that we may therefore abandon Bible study, prayer, Christian fellowship and the worship of God and still expect to grow in the Christian life just because we have “let go,” we are greatly mistaken. We will stagnate in the Christian life and drift away from Christian circles. But we are also wrong if we think that by making use of these means we can automatically achieve our own sanctification. The correct understanding is a combination of the two, working as fully and consistently as possible: God working in us and we being as diligent and obedient as possible in these areas.

If there was ever a point to stop and merely rejoice in the wonders of what God is doing in Christ, to sit back and let God work, it is certainly after the hymn of praise to Christ found in Philippians 2:5-11. But Paul does not allow us to do this. Instead he immediately applies the doctrine saying, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12-13). He does not mean, “Work for your salvation.” He means, “Since you are saved, since God has already entered your life in the person and power of his Holy Spirit and is at work within you conforming you to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ-because of these things you are now to work as hard as you can to express the fullness of this great reality in your conduct. Nevertheless, as you do this, it is God who does the working.”

Peter said the same thing. “[God's] divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness …. ” It is all of God. Nevertheless, Peter continues, “For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love” (2 Pet. 1:3, 5-7).

John White concludes correctly, “Let there be no misunderstanding. Without God’s Spirit within, our efforts are futile. No good thing could spring from our corrupt and sinful hearts. But we have been redeemed and we have been sanctified. We have been set apart for God’s use. Let us then agree with God in the matter. … Let us assume the whole armor of God and by miraculous strength declare war on all that is evil within and without.” This is not optional. We are commanded to do this, and there is no point in our Christian lives when we are more conscious of the power of God’s Spirit within than when we obey. We can hardly expect to grow spiritually if we will not use that spiritual food and drink which God puts at our disposal.

James Montgomery Boice, Foundations of the Christian Faith pg.63-66.

 

Union with Christ

Gadsby Hymnal # 405 L.M. J. Kent
Exulting in Eternal Union with Jesus. John 17. 21-23

1 ’Twixt Jesus and the chosen race,
Subsists a bond of sovereign grace,
That hell, with its infernal train,
Shall ne’er dissolve nor rend in twain!

2 This sacred bond shall never break,
Though earth should to her centre shake;
Rest, doubting saint, assured of this,
For God has pledged his holiness.

3 [He swore but once; the deed was done;
’Twas settled by the great Three-One;
Christ was appointed to redeem
All that his Father loved in him.]

4 Hail, sacred union, firm and strong!
How great the grace! how sweet the song!
That worms of earth should ever be
One with incarnate Deity!

5 [One in the tomb; one when he rose;
One when he triumphed o’er his foes;
One when in heaven he took his seat,
While seraphs sang all hell’s defeat.]

6 This sacred tie forbids their fears,
For all he is or has is theirs;
With him, their Head, they stand or fall –
Their Life, their Surety, and their All.

7 [The sinner’s Peace, the Daysman he,
Whose blood should set his people free;
On them his fond affections ran,
Before creation-work began.]

8 Blessed be the wisdom and the grace,
The eternal love and faithfulness,
That’s in the gospel-scheme revealed,
And is by God the Spirit sealed.

Intercession of Christ

The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7.23-25)

Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. (Romans 8.34)

“It is a consoling thought that Christ is praying for us, even when we are negligent in our prayer life; that He is presenting to the Father those spiritual needs which were not present to our minds and which we often neglect to include in our prayers; and that He prays for our protection against the dangers of which we are not even conscious, and against the enemies which threaten us, though we do not notice it. He is praying that our faith may not cease, and that we may come out victoriously in the end. (Berkhoff, Systematic Theology p. 403)

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me. (Robert Murray M’Cheyne p. 179)

How can these blessed realities but drive us close to the Savior, even to his chest like the Apostle John? He is more committed to his sheep than his sheep are to him. We lag and linger but he is praying while we slumber. The truth of Jesus’ ceaseless, fervent, impassioned, hearty, and successful intercession on my behalf calibrates my wayward heart afresh to the glories of Christ and drops fresh dew from heaven on my earth scorched lips.
__________________________________________________________________________
Pastor Erik Raymond – http://www.irishcalvinist.com/

God is Love

“God is love” (1 John 4:8). His eternal nature is love. But what do we see in the world? “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all godlessness and wickedness of men” (Romans 1:18). The world is filled with evidence of his anger and displeasure, so how can we know and see the glory of the God who is love? “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).

Here we can feast the eyes of faith on the loveliness of Christ. The Father gave this glory to him: that with his blood he would write in large letters that God is love. For our sake alone, under no compulsion than his affection for us, he took on our flesh. He gladly despised shame and humiliation that he didn’t deserve. He bared his back for the whip, bowed his head for a miserable crown, and stretched out his hands to receive the nails. All this for us. All this in love. And all this so that “in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:18). Do you see how excellent, how beautiful, how glorious and desirable he is? in him we have the most joyful sight of God that any creature can see. Any notion of God’s love that we glean from nature or the works of providence is precious; still, we cant know from them that God is love. In declaring that God is love, Christ is supreme.

Lundgaard, K. Through the Looking Glass.
P&R Publishing. Phillipsburg, NJ 2000

God’s Provision for Our Weakness

… suppose I desired more power over my besetting sins; suppose I desired more power against certain temptations, suppose I desired more wisdom, or grace, or anything else that I may need in my service among the saints, or in my service towards the unconverted: what have I to do but to make use of my being in fellowship with the Father and with the Son? Just as, for instance, an old faithful clerk, who is this day taken into partnership by an immensely rich firm, though himself altogether without property, would not be discouraged by reason of a large payment having to be made by the firm within three days, though he himself has no money at all of his own, but would comfort himself with the immense riches possessed by those who so generously have just taken him into partnership: so should we, the children of God and servants of Jesus Christ, comfort ourselves by being in fellowship, or partnership, with the Father, and with the Son, though we have no power of our own against our besetting sins; though we cannot withstand temptations, which are before us, in our own strength; and though we have neither sufficient grace nor wisdom for our service among the saints, or towards the unconverted. All we have to do is, to draw upon our partner, the living God. By prayer and faith we may obtain all needful temporal and spiritual help and blessings. In all simplicity have we to tell out our heart before God, and then we have to believe that he will give to us according to our need.

 

But if we do not believe that God will help us, could we be at peace? The clerk, taken into the firm as partner, believes that the firm will meet the payment, though so large, and though in three days it is to be made, and it is this that keeps his heart quiet, though altogether poor himself. We have to believe that our infinitely rich partner, the living God, will help us in our need, and we shall not only be in peace, but we shall actually find that the help which we need will be granted to us. Let not the consciousness of your entire unworthiness keep you, dear reader, from believing what God has said concerning you. If you are indeed a believer in the Lord Jesus, then this precious privilege, of being in partnership with the Father and the Son, is yours, though you and I are entirely unworthy of it. If the consciousness of our unworthiness were to keep us from believing that God has said concerning those who depend upon and trust in the Lord Jesus for salvation, then we should find that there is not one single blessing, with which we have been blessed in the Lord Jesus, from which, on account of our unworthiness, we could derive any settled comfort or peace.

George Mueller, 1805-1898

 

Losing our First Love

There is … the very real possibility in every Christian that he will learn to live at a distance from the love of Christ. Our corruption works in us a constant tendency to withdraw from Christ into the shadows. Days and even months can go past in the experience of the Lord’s people in which they are virtual strangers to the inward enjoyment of the love of Christ in their hearts. The soul grows callous. Layers of worldliness or coldness, like coats of paint on an old door, overspread the soul till we become accustomed to feeling nothing, enjoying nothing, expecting nothing, knowing nothing of those heart-warmings which are all-important to spiritual well-being. The next step is that the believer falls into a dead formalism. Prayer is got through as mere duty and routine. The Bible is read either to keep up appearances or to salve the weak voice of conscience. But spiritual exercises are now no longer enjoyed. The soul has no relish for the things of the Spirit. The consequence is that new companions are sought who are unfriendly to heart-religion. Then corners are cut in obedience to the Word of God. Finally, offence is taken at the lives of those Christians in the fellowship who are walking with God in ‘the power of godliness’. These are now criticized by the cold Christian as ‘too narrow’, ‘too strict’, ‘carrying things too far’, ‘extremists’, ‘troublemakers’, and then, at last, ‘not really belonging to our church’ because they are ‘old fashioned’ or ‘bigoted’.

Countless believers have declined in this way. Part of the tragedy is that they have fallen into coldness while convincing themselves that they were serving God. The scholar at his books persuades himself that he is too busy to spend an hour each morning in secret devotions. The pastor feels he cannot devote time to the cultivation of his soul because he has too many letters to reply to or even sermons to prepare. The missionary cannot wait on the Lord as he used to because of the pressures of language-study, and later on still, because of deputation work in the home country.

In these crafty ways does the devil lead God’s people by a staircase which winds ever downwards. But let us recall in the midst of our busy life that we may do ourselves and the cause of God great harm by our neglect of the soul. Let us once lose the dew of our spiritual freshness and we are at once a ready prey to compromise. How have so many evils come into the church but through men’s neglecting to cultivate daily fellowship with Christ? Like the Ephesian church in the Book of Revelation, they have been busily engaged in their ‘works’ and ‘labor’ and ‘patience’ and even their zeal for orthodoxy. But in the eyes of the Saviour they have ‘left their first love’ (Rev. 2:2-4) and risk loosing the very ‘candlestick’ altogether.

We may conclude … with a concern to revive in ourselves and in our brethren far more emphasis on heart-religion. As we view the state of the churches, this is the great priority everywhere. Nothing must be permitted to weaken our cultivation of fellowship with Christ.

The overwhelming concern of the Christian’s life must surely be to live unto God, upon God and for God. What else can the familiar words mean where the apostle Paul tells us, ‘For to me to live is Christ’?

What a force for good even a handful of Christians would be who lived in near intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ! What prayers would be heard again in the earth as believers took hold of the sleeve of Christ and drew down the blessings! What power and authority for our preaching would flow out of his glorious ‘fullness’ (John 1:16)! What new life would be breathed into all our meetings if an army of …(believers) …emerged from their closets melted with gospel-love! What new levels of excitement would there be in our services if preachers came into their pulpits clothed in the garments of visible holiness! In a word, what might not be done for God if only we were not so ignorant of him!

Maurice Roberts, The Thought of God, (Edinburgh:BPC Paperbacks, 1993) pg.63-66.