• Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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  • February 2023
    M T W T F S S
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Do Not Try to Save Yourself!

Charles H. Spurgeon by Ron AdairWhat reason have you that you would think that you can suddenly change the inclination of your heart and actions, and become a new man? The odds are surely a million to one and greater that as you sinned before you will sin again. Charles H. Spurgeon writes:

If you think about it, God’s value of heaven and yours are very different things. His salvation, when he set a price upon it, was to be brought to men only through the death of his Son. But you think that your good works can win the heaven which Jesus Christ, the Son of God, procured at the cost of his own blood! Do you dare to put your miserable life in comparison with the life of God’s obedient Son, who gave himself even to death? Does it not strike you that you are insulting God? If there is a way to heaven by works, why did he put his dear Son to all that pain and grief? Why the scenes of Gethsemane? Why the tragedy on Golgotha, when the thing could be done so easily another way? You insult the wisdom of God and the love of God.

There is no attribute of God which self-righteousness does not impugn. It debases the eternal perfections which the blessed Savior magnified, in order to exalt the pretensions of the creature which the Almighty spurns as vain and worthless. The trader may barter his gold for your trinkets and glass beads, but if you give all that you have to God it would be utterly rejected. He will bestow the milk and the honey of his mercy without money and without price, but if you come to him trying to bargain for it, it is all over for you; God will not give you choice provisions of his love that you do not know how to appreciate.

The great things you propose to do, these works of yours, what comparison do they bear to the blessing which you hope to obtain? I suppose by these works you hope to obtain the favor of God and procure a place in heaven. What is it, then you propose to offer? What could you bring to God? Would you bring him rivers of oil, or the fat of ten thousand animals? Count up all the treasures that lie beneath the surface of the earth; if you brought them all, what would they be to God? If you could pile up all the gold reaching from the depths of the earth to the highest heavens, what would it be to him? How could all this enrich his coffers or buy your salvation? Can he be affected by anything you do to augment the sum of his happiness, or to increase the glory of his kingdom? If he were hungry he would not tell you. “The cattle upon ten thousand hills are mine,” he says (Psa 50:10). Your goodness may please your fellow-creatures, and your charity may make them grateful, but will God owe anything to you for your gifts, or be in debt to you for your influence? Absurd questions! When you have done everything, what will you be but a poor, unworthy, unprofitable servant? You will not have done what you ought; much less will there be any balance in your favor to make atonement for sin, or to purchase for you an inheritance in the realms of light. (Advice for Seekers)

Bought with a Price!

Charles H. Spurgeon:

If I had the power to do it, how would I seek to refresh in your souls a sense of the fact that you are “bought with a price.”

There in the midnight hour, amidst the olives of Gethsemane, kneels Immanuel the Son of God; he groans, he pleads in prayer, he wrestles; see the beady drops stand on his brow, drops of sweat, but not of such sweat as pours from men when they earn the bread of life, but the sweat of him who is procuring life itself for us. It is blood, it is crimson blood; great gouts of it are falling to the ground.

O soul, your Savior speaks to you from out Gethsemane at this hour, and he says: “Here and thus I bought you with a price.”

Come, stand and view him in the agony of the olive garden, and understand at what a cost he procured your deliverance. Track him in all his path of shame and sorrow until you see him on the Pavement; mark how they bind his hands and fasten him to the whipping-post; see, they bring the scourges and the cruel Roman whips; they tear his flesh; the ploughers make deep furrows on his blessed body, and the blood gushes forth in streams, while rivulets from his temples, where the crown of thorns has pierced them, join to swell the purple stream. From beneath the scourges he speaks to you with accents soft and low, and he says, “My child, it is here and thus I bought you with a price.”

But see him on the cross itself when the consummation of all has come; his hands and feet are fountains of blood, his soul is full of anguish even to heartbreak; and there, before the soldier pierces his side with a spear, bowing down he whispers to you and to me, “It was here and thus, I bought you with a price.”

O by Gethsemane, by Gabbatha, by Golgotha, by every sacred name collected with the passion of our Lord, by sponge and vinegar, and nail and spear, and everything that helped the pang and increased the anguish of his death, I conjure you, my beloved brethren, to remember that you were “bought with a price,” and “are not your own.”

I push you to this; you either were or were not so bought; if you were, it is the grand fact of your life; if you were, it is the greatest fact that ever will occur to you: let it operate upon you, let it dominate your entire nature, let it govern your body, your soul, your spirit, and from this day let it be said of you not only that you are a man, a man of good morals and respectable conduct, but this, above all things, that you are a man filled with love to him who bought you, a man who lives for Christ, and knows no other passion.

O! that redemption would become the paramount influence, the lord of our soul, and dictator of our being; then were we indeed true to our obligations: short of this we are not what love and justice both demand.

He Will Hear You

Dear reader, come to Jesus just as you are. Don’t wait until you believe you are ready. All this will be His gift. Are you not a sinner? Jesus invites you to come to him. You say you are not as sorry for your sins as you ought to be? No one is. Come to Jesus, and ask that He help you to repent. If you are without faith, ask Jesus to give you faith. John A. Broadus (1827-1895) writes:

God is angry with the wicked every day; and the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination unto the Lord. You may not mock the offended majesty of God Most High; you may not dare to mock him by coming unto him in your own name, and trusting in your own righteousness. You ought to fear before him, and to tremble at the thought of coming to him thus. But you may come to Jesus – you are invited to come to him. He is the appointed mediator between God and man. Come and ask him to intercede for you. And then through him draw near to the throne of grace. Make mention of his merits, plead his atoning sacrifice, rely wholly on what he has done, and God’s anger is turned away – he will hear, he will pardon, and your soul shall live. If then you are burdened with a sense of your unworthiness, come to Jesus, and you shall not come in vain.

All that labor, with whatever toil, all that are heavy laden, with whatever burden, may take this invitation as addressed to them. “Thou callest burdened souls to Thee, And such, O Lord, am I.” Whatever it is that bears you down, the consciousness of sin, the terror of judgment, distressing doubts or manifold temptations, whatever else may torment your soul and weigh down your spirit, this invitation is for you. If you are burdened with affliction or sorrow or fearful apprehension, in short (to repeat it again and again) if you bear any burden, you are invited to Jesus. “Come unto me, all ye,” etc.

It would be natural and reasonable enough for one thus frequently and earnestly invited to come to Jesus, especially for one who is “an alien from God, and a stranger to grace,” who knows not the blessed Savior in the pardon of his sins, who has never “come boldly unto the throne of grace,” and obtained mercy and found grace to help in time of need, it would be natural enough for him to inquire now, “What is meant by coming to Jesus? Suppose I feel myself to be burdened, and want to seek relief, how shall I come to Jesus for rest?” This is the remaining subject of which I propose to speak. I shall not try to explain, for I can add nothing to that which is, in itself, plain already, but only to illustrate.

First then I say, come to him as men came when he was on earth. We sometimes hear it said, “Oh that I had lived when Jesus was sojourning among men; how would I have gone to him for peace and prayed that I might follow him whithersoever he went! What a privilege it must have been to the people of Bethany, for instance, when again and again Jesus came among them, when they might, even in their own homes, sit as Mary sat at the feet of the great and good Teacher and learn lessons of heavenly wisdom!” Yes, it was a great privilege; and it is true that the case is somewhat different now. We cannot now go sensibly to Jesus as a man, living somewhere among us. We are not now to go from one part of the country or the world to another, in order to be where the Savior is. There is no sensible coming to him now. But it is only a change from sight to faith – from a moving of the body to a moving of the thoughts and affections. It may be thought a great privation that we cannot go somewhere, as they did then, and find him. But is it not on the other hand a great privilege that we need not now go anywhere; we may always find him here? He is everywhere, and as much in one place as another. Men have often forgotten this great and consoling and gladdening truth. Many a weary pilgrimage has been made in the centuries that are past to the Holy Land, in the hope that forgiveness of sin and peace of conscience, which could not be found at home, might be found there. It is pleasant, and may do the heart good, to stand where Jesus stood, to weep where he wept on Olivet, to pray where he prayed in Gethsemane, but he is here now as well as there. Wherever one seeks him there he may be found “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Wherever there is a tear of penitence, or a sigh of godly sorrow, wherever there is earnest prayer to him or the desire to pray felt in the heart, there is Jesus to see and to hear and to answer. (“Come Unto Me”)

The Attraction to be found in Jesus

The following is by Charles H. Spurgeon:

Christ dying for sinners is the great attraction of Christianity! Since men will not come to him, the crucified Savior becomes himself the attraction to men. He casts out from himself bands of love and cords of gracious constraint, and binding these around human hearts, he draws them to himself by an invincible constraint of grace.

Sinners by nature will not come to Jesus, though his charms might even attract the blind, and arouse the dead. They will not melt, though surely such beauties might dissolve the adamant, and kindle affection in rock of ice. But Jesus has a wondrous power about him to woo and win the sons of men. Out of his heart proceed chains of gold by which he binds thousands of willing captives to himself. Many a heart has been so charmed with his love that it has run to Christ, drawn by the silken bonds of love.

Jesus is the universal attraction, the attraction to which all hearts must yield when he draws effectually by his grace. The attraction of the Crucified One has bound them to the cross forever! The gracious Spirit has moved many tender hearts first to pity, and afterwards to love the bleeding Lamb.

What a melting power there is in Gethsemane! Can you view the bloody sweat drops, as they fall upon the frozen soil, and not feel that, in some degree, invisible but irresistible cords are drawing you to Jesus? Can you see him flagellated in Pilate’s hall, every thong of the scourge tearing the flesh from his shoulders? Can you see him as they spit into his lovely face, and mar his blessed visage, and not feel as if you could fain fall down and kiss his feet, and make yourself forever his servant?

And, lastly, can you behold him hanging upon the hill of Golgotha to die – can you mark him as his soul is there overwhelmed with the wrath of God, with the bitterness of sin, and with a sense of utter desertion – can you sit down and watch him there and not be attracted to him? (“The Great Attraction” No. 775)

He Took Our Sicknesses upon Himself

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

“The chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Jesus used no other remedy in healing our sin-sickness, but that of taking our sicknesses and infirmities upon himself! This is the one great cure-all! Blessed be Jesus, that the medicine, bitter as it is, is not for us to drink, but was all drained by himself!

He took the terrible cup in Gethsemane, and drank it dry on our account! The sharp but healing cuts of the lancet are not made in our bodies, but he bore them in his own flesh! When the ploughers made deep furrows, those furrows were not upon the sinner’s shoulders, but upon the shoulders of the sinner’s Substitute!

Did you ever hear, O Earth, of such a Physician as this?

Jesus heals us by suffering himself! His pains, and sorrows, and griefs, and pangs, and torments, and anguish, and death are the only medicine by which he removes the woes of men! My friend, whatever your disease may be, this great Physician can heal you. Since he is God, there can be no limit to his infinite power; there can be no boundary to the majesty of his might. Come then with the blind eye of your understanding, come with the limping foot of your energy, come with the maimed hand of your faith, come just as you are, for he who is God can certainly heal you! The utmost length of your soul- sickness can be reached by this great Physician.

Have confidence, O poor doubting heart! Have unstaggering confidence in the Divine Healer! Blessed Son of God, how I will love you! With what gratitude will I look up to your cross and view you, while those blessed founts of health are streaming crimson floods, and while your heart is pouring forth a heavenly torrent, efficacious to wash the sinner from all his sicknesses! Come hither, all you sin-sick ones, and behold the glorious Son of God, breathing out his life upon the cross!

Come hither, you that mourn for sin, you who are palsied and diseased with iniquity! There is power, power still present in the dying Savior to heal you, whatsoever your diseases may be. The costly balm of his atonement has lost none of its power!

Jesus, the great physician, works cures very suddenly – he touches, and the deed is done at once. He works cures of all kinds – all soul diseases have been readily overcome by him. He never fails – he has not in his diary, one single case that has over-matched his mighty power. He heals effectually – the disease never again reigns when he has once dethroned it. He has no hospital for incurable souls, for there are no incurables for him. The Friend of sinners is “able to save unto the uttermost those that come unto God by him.” Cases of sin so putrid that men say, “Put them out of sight;” vice so detestable that the very mention of it makes the cheek of modesty to blush – such as these the master-hand of Emmanuel can heal!

With Jesus nothing is difficult. He can save the chief of sinners, and the vilest of the vile. Come, poor sinner, and behold him who is able to heal you of your deadly wounds; come look upon him now and live. (“The Gospel’s Healing Power” No. 720)

Rising to Dignity

Quoting Charles H. Spurgeon:

If there is one place where our Lord Jesus most fully becomes the joy and comfort of his people, it is where he plunged deepest into the depths of woe.

Come here, gracious souls, and behold the man in the garden of Gethsemane– behold his heart so brimming with love that he cannot hold it in – so full of sorrow that it must find a vent. Behold the bloody sweat as it distills from every pore of his body, and falls upon the ground.

Behold the man as they drive the nails into his hands and feet. Look up, repenting sinners, and see the sorrowful image of your suffering Lord. Mark him, as the ruby drops stand on the thorn-crown, and adorn with priceless gems the diadem of the King of Misery! Behold the man when all his bones are out of joint, and he is poured out like water and brought into the dust of death. God has forsaken him, and hell compasses him about.

Behold and see, was there ever sorrow like unto this sorrow that is done unto him? All you that pass by draw near and look upon this spectacle of grief, unique, unparalleled, a wonder to men and angels, a prodigy unmatched! Behold the Emperor of Woe who had no equal or rival in his agonies! Gaze upon him, you mourners, for if there be not consolation in a crucified Christ, there is no joy in earth or heaven.

If in the ransom price of his blood there be not hope, you harps of heaven, there is no joy in you, and the right hand of God shall know no pleasures for evermore. We have only to sit more continually at the cross-foot to be less troubled with our doubts and woes. We have but to see his sorrows, and our sorrows we shall be ashamed to mention. We have but to gaze into his wounds and heal our own!

If we would live aright it must be by the contemplation of his death. If we would rise to dignity, it must be by considering his humiliation and his sorrow. (“Behold the man!”)

The Agony

I have chosen this week to share several excerpts from classic sermons to help us prepare our hearts and minds for Easter Sunday (Of course, our hearts and minds should always be fixed upon Christ.). Jonathan Edwards writes:

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

Our Lord Jesus Christ, in his original nature, was infinitely above all suffering, for he was “God over all, blessed for evermore;” but, when he became man, he was not only capable of suffering, but partook of that nature that is remarkably feeble and exposed to suffering. The human nature, on account of its weakness, is in Scripture compared to the grass of the field, which easily withers and decays. . . . It was this nature, with all its weakness and exposedness to sufferings, which Christ, who is the Lord God omnipotent, took upon him. He did not take the human nature on him in its first, most perfect and vigorous state, but in that feeble forlorn state which it is in since the fall; and therefore Christ is called “a tender plant,” and “a root out of a dry ground.” Isa. 53:2. “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” . . .

The cause of those views and apprehensions, which Christ had in his agony in the garden, was the bitter cup which he was soon after to drink on the cross. The sufferings which Christ underwent in his agony in the garden were not his greatest sufferings; though they were so very great. But his last sufferings upon the cross were his principal sufferings; and therefore they are called “the cup that he had to drink.” The sufferings of the cross, under which he was slain, are always in the Scriptures represented as the main sufferings of Christ; those in which especially “he bare our sins in his own body,” and made atonement for sin. His enduring the cross, his humbling himself, and becoming obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, is spoken of as the main thing wherein his sufferings appeared. This is the cup that Christ had set before him in his agony. It is manifest that Christ had this in view at this time, from the prayers which he then offered. According to Matthew, Christ made three prayers that evening while in the garden of Gethsemane, and all on this one subject, the bitter cup that he was to drink. Of the first, we have an account in Matt. 26:39. “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will but as thou wilt:” of the second in the 42d verse, “He went away again the second time and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass from me, except I drink it, thy will be done:” and of the third in the 44th verse, “And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.” From this it plainly appears what it was of which Christ had such terrible views and apprehensions at that time. What he thus insists on in his prayers, shows on what his mind was so deeply intent. It was his sufferings on the cross, which were to be endured the next day, when there should be darkness over all the earth and at the same time a deeper darkness over the soul of Christ, of which he had now such lively views and distressing apprehensions.

He had a lively apprehension of it impressed at that time on his mind. He had an apprehension of the cup that he was to drink before. His principal errand into the world was to drink that cup, and he therefore was never unthoughtful of it, but always bore it in his mind, and often spoke of it to his disciples. . . .

The love of any mere man or angel would doubtless have sunk under such a weight, and never would have endured such a conflict in such a bloody sweat as that of Jesus Christ. The anguish of Christ’s soul at that time was so strong as to cause that wonderful effect on his body. But his love to his enemies, poor and unworthy as they were, was stronger still. The heart of Christ at that time was full of distress, but it was fuller of love to vile worms: his sorrows abounded, but his love did much more abound. Christ’s soul was overwhelmed with a deluge of grief, but this was from a deluge of love to sinners in his heart sufficient to overflow the world, and overwhelm the highest mountains of its sins. Those great drops of blood that fell down to the ground were a manifestation of an ocean of love in Christ’s heart. (“Christ’s Agony”)

The Angelic World

Dr. Sam Storms

Quoting Sam Storms:

Jesus believed in and experienced the ministry of angels:

1. His conception was announced by an angel (Gabriel).

2. His birth was announced by angels.

3. He was tempted by a fallen angel.

4. He was ministered to by angels subsequent to the temptation.

5. His teaching is filled with references to angelic beings.

6. He experienced the ministry of angels in Gethsemane.

7. He could have appealed to twelve legions of angels (Mt. 26:53).

8. [Angels] were present at His tomb following the resurrection.

9. [Angels] were present at His ascension.

The point is that angels were an integral part of Christ’s birth, life, ministry, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension, and will accompany Him at his second advent. To deny the reality of the angelic world is to undermine the integrity of Jesus himself. (Angels, November 8, 2006, www.enjoyinggodministries.com)

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