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    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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He Rose Again!

J.C.-RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Reader, beware of regarding the Lord Jesus Christ only as one that is dead. Here, I believe, many greatly err. They think much of His death, and it is right that they should do so. But we ought not to stop short there. We ought to remember that He not only died and went to the grave, but that He rose again, and ascended up on high, leading captivity captive. We ought to remember that He is now sitting on the right hand of God, to do a work as real, as true, as important to our souls, as the work which He did when He shed His blood. Christ lives, and is not dead. He lives as truly as any one of ourselves. Christ sees us, hears us, knows us, and is acting as a Priest in heaven on behalf of His believing people. The thought of His life ought to have as great and important a place in our souls as the thought of His death upon the cross.

False Believers and the Truth

There are many in our churches who think themselves saved and indeed they are. There are also many in the church who believe themselves saved and are not. You may be surprised to find out who is really following a false idea of Christianity in your own church. This is why teaching the absolute truth of God’s Word is so important. John Calvin gives us an example:

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

Hymeneus and Philetus were not obscure men; for St. Paul makes mention of them, although they were afar off, Timothy being at this time in Ephesus. It is therefore evident that they were famous men. They had been for some time in great reputation, as chief pillars in the church. But we see how far they fell; even to renounce everlasting salvation which was purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. If we look not for the resurrection, of what use is it for us to teach that there is a redeemer who hath saved us from the slavery of death? Of what use will the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ be to us, unless we wait for the fruit that is promised us in the latter day, at His coming?

Notwithstanding these men had been for a season of the number of the faithful, yet they fell, as it were, into the bottomless gulf of hell. Thus God declares His vengeance toward them that abuse His gospel. It seems that these men were drunken with foolish ambition: they sought nothing but renown; they disguised the simplicity of the Word of God, and endeavored to show themselves greater than others. But God esteems His Word far higher than He doth man; for if men cast it down and make a mock of it, He will not hold them guiltless. Thus we see that those who were like angels have become very devils: they are blinded, and yet they would become great doctors.

The ability of these persons, of whom St. Paul speaks, were not of the common sort; they were not idiots, but of high standing in all the churches: and yet they are fallen into such blindness that they deny the resurrection of the dead: that is, they renounce the chief article of our religion and deprive themselves of all hope of salvation. How is this possible! It seemeth strange that men who were able to teach others should come to such gross and beastly ignorance. Thus we see how God revengeth scoffers and scorners that abuse His Word. It cannot be but He must cast them off into a state of reprobation; that they may never be able to discern any more, and become utterly void of all reason.

Therefore, if at this day, we see men become beastly, after having known the truth of God, and become void of reason, we must know that God will thereby magnify His Word, and cause us to feel the majesty thereof. And why so? Because He punished the contempt of it by giving such persons to the devil, and giving him full liberty over them. Therefore we must not be offended when we see those who have tasted the gospel [heard the Word – but never born again], revolt from the obedience of God; but let it rather be a confirmation of our faith: for God shows us plainly that His Word is of such importance that He cannot in any wise have men abuse it, nor take it in vain, neither disguise or profane it.

We must learn to take heed, and walk fearfully and carefully. Let us view these things as a looking-glass set before our eyes, that we may see those who seemed to be passing for good Christians, fallen; having in themselves nothing but wickedness, using detestable speeches, having nothing but filthiness in all their lives. Seeing God hath placed these things before us, let us take warning thereby, and awake and walk in the simplicity of the gospel, that we may not become a prey to Satan. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

Fallen Saints?

In the following article, John Calvin is not talking about saved Christians losing their salvation. He reminds us here that there are “cultural” or false Christians who have attached themselves to the church of Christ, but who have truly never been saved. Calvin writes that they may even aspire to leadership in the church:

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

After St. Paul hath named these two individuals [Hymeneus and Philetus], he informs us that they turned away from the faith, insomuch that they said the resurrection was passed. So we see their fall was horrible. Hymeneus and Philetus were not obscure men; for St. Paul makes mention of them, although they were afar off, Timothy being at this time in Ephesus. It is therefore evident that they were famous men. They had been for some time in great reputation, as chief pillars in the church. But we see how far they fell; even to renounce everlasting salvation which was purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. If we look not for the resurrection, of what use is it for us to teach that there is a redeemer who hath saved us from the slavery of death? Of what use will the death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ be to us, unless we wait for the fruit that is promised us in the latter day, at His coming?

Notwithstanding these men had been for a season of the number of the faithful, yet they fell, as it were, into the bottomless gulf of hell. Thus God declared His vengeance toward them that abuse His gospel. It seems that these men were drunken with foolish ambition: they sought nothing but renown; they disguised the simplicity of the Word of God, and endeavored to show themselves greater than others. But God esteems His Word far higher than He doth man; for if men cast it down and make a mock of it, He will not hold them guiltless. Thus we see that those who were like angels have become very devils: they are blinded, and yet they would become great doctors.

The ability of these persons, of whom St. Paul speaks, were not of the common sort; they were not idiots, but of high standing in all the churches: and yet they are fallen into such blindness that they deny the resurrection of the dead: that is, they renounce the chief article of our religion and deprive themselves of all hope of salvation. How is this possible? It seems strange that men who were able to teach others should come to such gross and beastly ignorance. Thus we see how God revengeth scoffers and scorners that abuse His Word. It cannot be but He must cast them off into a state of reprobation; that they may never be able to discern any more, and become utterly void of all reason.

Therefore, if at this day, we see men become beastly, after having known the truth of God, and become void of reason, we must know that God will thereby magnify His Word, and cause us to feel the majesty thereof. And why so? Because He punished the contempt of it by giving such persons to the devil, and giving him full liberty over them. Therefore we must not be offended when we see those who have tasted the gospel, revolt from the obedience of God; but let it rather be a confirmation of our faith: for God shows us plainly that His Word is of such importance that He cannot in any wise have men abuse it, nor take it in vain, neither disguise or profane it.

We must learn to take heed, and walk fearfully and carefully. Let us view these things as a looking-glass set before our eyes, that we may see those who seemed to be passing for good Christians, fallen; having in themselves nothing but wickedness, using detestable speeches, having nothing but filthiness in all their lives. Seeing God hath placed these things before us, let us take warning thereby, and awake and walk in the simplicity of the gospel that we may not become a prey to Satan. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

It is Good to be Reminded

J. C. Ryle was one of the best preachers of his time. He is one of my favorites as well. His books are excellent. Here he writes why our boasting should be in Christ alone:

“Far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14

Let me show why all Christians ought to boast in the cross of Christ.

I feel that I must say something on this point, because of the ignorance that prevails about it. I suspect that many see no peculiar glory and beauty in the subject of Christ’s cross. On the contrary, they think it painful, humbling, and degrading. They do not see much profit in the story of His death and sufferings. They rather turn from it as an unpleasant thing.

Now I believe that such people are quite wrong. I cannot hold with them. I believe it is an excellent thing for us all to be continually dwelling on the cross of Christ. It is a good thing to be often reminded how Jesus was betrayed into the hands of wicked men—how they condemned Him with most unjust judgment—how they spit on Him, scourged Him, beat Him, and crowned Him with thorns—how they led Him forth as a lamb to the slaughter, without His murmuring or resisting—how they drove the nails through His hands and feet, and set Him up on Calvary between two thieves—how they pierced His side with a spear, mocked Him in His sufferings, and let Him hang there naked and bleeding until He died. Of all these things, I say, it is good to be reminded. . . .

People seem to forget that all Christ’s sufferings on the cross were fore-ordained. They did not come on Him by chance or accident—they were all planned, counseled, and determined from all eternity. The cross was foreseen in all the provisions of the everlasting Trinity for the salvation of sinners. In the purposes of God the cross was set up from everlasting. . . Infinite wisdom planned that redemption should be by the cross. Infinite wisdom brought Jesus to the cross in due time. He was crucified “by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” (Acts 2:23)

People seem to forget that all Christ’s sufferings on the cross were necessary for man’s salvation. He had to bear our sins, if ever they were to be borne at all. With His stripes alone could we be healed. This was the one payment of our debt that God would accept—this was the great sacrifice on which our eternal life depended. If Christ had not gone to the cross and suffered in our stead, the just for the unjust, there would not have been a spark of hope for us. There would have been a mighty gulf between ourselves and God, which no man ever could have passed. (“The Cross of Christ”)

A Prayer by Archibald Alexander

From Archibald Alexander’s Thoughts on Religious Experience:

“O most merciful God! I rejoice that thou dost reign over the universe with a sovereign sway, so that thou dost according to thy will, in the armies of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. Thou art the Maker of my body, and the Father of my spirit, and thou hast a perfect right to dispose of me, in that manner which will most effectually promote thy glory: and I know whatever thou dost is right, and wise, and just, and good….Grant, gracious God! that the rich blessings of the new covenant may be freely bestowed on thy unworthy servant….And now, righteous Lord God Almighty, I would not attempt to conceal any of my actual transgressions, however vile and shameful they are; but would penitently confess them before thee; and would plead in my defense nothing but the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died the just for the unjust, to bring us near to God….And grant, O Lord! that as long as I am in the body, I may make it my constant study and chief aim to glorify thy name, both with soul and body, which are no longer mine but thine; for I am ‘bought with a price’—not with silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Enable me to let my light so shine that others seeing my good works shall glorify thy name. O! make use of me as an humble instrument of advancing thy kingdom on earth, and promoting the salvation of immortal souls….And when my spirit leaves this clay tenement, Lord Jesus receive it! Send some of the blessed angels to convoy my inexperienced soul to the mansion which thy love has prepared. And O! let me be so situated, though in the lowest rank, that I may behold thy glory. May I have an abundant entrance administered unto me into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; for whose sake and in whose name, I ask these things. Amen.”

The Place of Mercy

Do people really care for God’s mercy or comfort, when they continue to live in sin? Even so, God has devised a means by which justice can be satisfied, and mercy triumphant. Jesus Christ was sacrificed to Divine Justice and it was accepted as the punishment due to all His people. Andrew Bonar explains this in the context of the “mercy seat”:

“It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17: 11).

“There I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat” (Exod. 25: 22).

[T]he place where mercy can be found, is the place where the blood is. No other place, O sinner, in the wide world for you! But to that place you may come; nay, must come, if you would escape the wrath of God.

You must come as a sinner. You must come with nothing but sin. On the Day of Atonement, the priest in Israel who came forward to the mercy-seat laid down nothing but sin on that blood-sprinkled lid. He showed a sinner’s way of coming to the Lord; and yet he brought nothing what-ever but sin, to be laid down there. So the sinner, in coming to the mercy-seat, brings nothing but sin. He confesses the sin he was born with: “Behold! I was shapen in iniquity”; and lays it down on the sprinkled blood. He confesses his inheritance of corruption from Adam, and lays it down on that mercy-seat. He confesses his own personal sins, in their various forms, aspects, aggravations; the sins of his life and lips, as far as memory can remember, and lays them down upon the sprinkled blood. . . .

At length it is done. But what does it discover? He has laid down his whole soul there his very self; but in all this there has been nothing but sin for him to leave there! No holiness is laid down on that blood, for it is from all sin that the blood cleanses.

You come, therefore, wholly as a sinner. Nothing can be more deeply solemnizing than this. To have such a burden to lay down there to have nothing else than a burden of this kind, and to lay all this on the Lord Jesus Christ! How humbling, how fitted to lay the sinner in the dust, is the view this gives of his utter guilt and vileness! And yet nothing is more inviting, for it is with sin he comes, and as a sinner; and the Lord Jesus meets the sin and the sinner. Is there, then, any room for delay? Any ground for excuse for hesitating to come at once? (“The Mercy Seat”)

What Do You Think About The Cross of Christ?

J. C. Ryle reminds us in the sermon excerpt below to be careful of placing our trust in anything but the cross of Christ:

“Far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

What do we think and feel about the cross of Christ? We live in a Christian land. We probably attend the worship of a Christian church. We have, most of us, been baptized in the name of Christ. We profess and call ourselves Christians. All this is well—it is more than can be said of millions in the world. But what do we think and feel about the cross of Christ?

I want to examine what one of the greatest Christians who ever lived, thought of the cross of Christ. He has written down his opinion—he has given his judgment in words that cannot be mistaken. The man I mean is the Apostle Paul. The place where you will find his opinion, is in the letter which the Holy Spirit inspired him to write to the Galatians. The words in which his judgment is set down, are these, “But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Now what did Paul mean by saying this? He meant to declare strongly, that he trusted in nothing but “Jesus Christ crucified” for the pardon of his sins and the salvation of his soul. Let others, if they would, look elsewhere for salvation; let others, if they were so disposed, trust in other things for pardon and peace—for his part the apostle was determined to rest on nothing, lean on nothing, build his hope on nothing, place confidence in nothing, boast in nothing, “except in the cross of Jesus Christ.”. . .

A man must be right on this subject, or he is lost forever. Heaven or hell, happiness or misery, life or death, blessing or cursing in the last day—all hinges on the answer to this question, “What do you think about the cross of Christ?”

Who is there among the readers of this paper that trusts in any goodness of his own? Who is there that is resting on his own amendments—his own morality—his own churchmanship—his own works and performances of any kind whatever? Who is there that is leaning the weight of his soul on anything whatever of his own, in the smallest possible degree? Learn, I say, that you are very unlike the apostle Paul. Learn that your religion is not apostolic religion.

Who is there among the readers of this paper that trusts in his religious profession for salvation? Who is there that is valuing himself on his baptism, or his attendance at the Lord’s table—his church-going on Sundays, or his daily services during the week—and saying to himself, “What more do I lack?” Learn, I say, this day, that you are very unlike Paul. Your Christianity is not the Christianity of the New Testament. Paul would not boast in anything but “the cross.” Neither ought you.

Oh, let us beware of self-righteousness! Open sin kills its thousands of souls. Self-righteousness kills its tens of thousands! Go and study humility with the great apostle of the Gentiles. Go and sit with Paul at the foot of the cross. Give up your secret pride. Cast away your vain ideas of your own goodness. Be thankful if you have grace—but never boast in it for a moment. Work for God and Christ, with heart and soul and mind and strength—but never dream for a second of placing confidence in any work of your own.

Once more I say, let us beware of self-righteousness in every possible shape and form. Some people get as much harm from their fancied virtues as others do from their sins. Rest not, rest not until your heart beats in tune with Paul’s. Rest not until you can say with him, “far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!”

Jesus Christ crucified was the joy and delight, the comfort and the peace, the hope and the confidence, the foundation and the resting-place, the ark and the refuge, the food and the medicine of Paul’s soul. He did not think of what he had done himself, and suffered himself. He did not meditate on his own goodness, and his own righteousness. He loved to think of what Christ had done, and Christ had suffered—of the death of Christ, the righteousness of Christ, the atonement of Christ, the blood of Christ, the finished work of Christ. In this he did boast. This was the sun of his soul. (“The Cross of Christ”)

Absolved Only Through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ

Quoting John Calvin

[I]n order to have an abiding place in the church, we need the Lord Jesus Christ as our foundation. There are many who claim to be children of God who have never been born again through that good seed which enlightens, and brings acceptance with God, who then acknowledges us as his children. We must hold fast to the pure doctrine of the gospel if we desire to be truly united to the Lord Jesus Christ. He, as our Head and our Mediator, unites us to God the Father. We have already spoken about the reason why Paul mentions both the servile and the free offspring. He tells us that those who seek justification through their own good deeds are severing themselves from the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. For they are binding themselves to perform that which is impossible, that is, to satisfy God by keeping his commandments. Whereas, we are so full of weaknesses that we cannot possibly fulfill the least article of the law, let alone reach the perfection which the law requires. This is why Paul concludes that we must maintain the liberty that was purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Summary Of The Gospel

Huldrych Zwingli

Quoting Huldrych  Zwingli:

The summary of the gospel is that our Lord Jesus Christ, the true Son of God, has revealed the will of His heavenly Father to us, and with His innocence has redeemed us from death, and has reconciled us with God. Therefore, Christ is the only way to salvation for all those who have been, are, and will be.

Traditions And God’s Word

John Calvin

How many people are there in this world who have continued to sit at the feet of ignorance when the Word of God was close at hand? Satan has so captured the minds of men with sinful lusts that they have become blind to the Gospel. They have replaced God’s Word with the traditions of men and have ignored the true and living God. Therefore, they have created and worshiped idols and traditions which continuously spring from the darkened mind. The following is an excerpt from a sermon of John Calvin:

Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him: being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:15-16)

It has been the case in all ages that men have despised God’s law for the sake of their own traditions. Our Lord Jesus Christ upbraided the Pharisees, when He saith, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition” (Mat. 15:3). Thus it was in former times, in the days of the prophets. Isaiah crieth out, “Wherefore the Lord said, forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvelous work and wonder; for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid” (chap. 25:13). While men occupy themselves about traditions, they pass over the things that God hath commanded in His Word.

This it is that caused Isaiah to cry out against such as set forth men’s traditions; telling them plainly that God threatened to blind the wisest of them, because they turned away from the pure rule of His Word to follow their own foolish inventions. St. Paul likewise alludes to the same thing, when he saith they have no fear of God before their eyes. Let us not deceive ourselves; for we know that God requires men to live uprightly, and to abstain from all violence, cruelty, malice, and deceit; that none of these things should appear in our life. But those that have no fear of God before their eyes, it is apparent that they are out of order, and that there is nothing but uncleanness in their whole life.

If we wish to know how our life should be regulated, let us examine the contents of the Word of God; for we cannot be sanctified by outward show and pomp, although they are so highly esteemed among men. We must call upon God in sincerity, and put our whole trust in Him; we must give up pride and presumption, and resort to Him with true lowliness of mind that we be not given to fleshly affections. We must endeavor to hold ourselves in awe, under subjection to God, and flee from gluttony, whoredom, excess, robbery, blasphemy, and other evils. Thus we see what God would have us do, in order to have our life well regulated. (“The Word our Only Rule”)

Charles H. Spurgeon On “All Things New”

The Holy Spirit has worked a new life, new feelings, and new desires into the life of every believer. People are made new and their works are new. The fruits they produce are also new. The Holy Spirit leads us to a New Covenant where Christ bears the full atonement of our sins. Here is found new life. Pray for new life to come to you on this New Year’s Day! The following excerpts are from a New Year’s sermon by Charles Spurgeon:

And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5 ESV)

I am going to talk . . . a little upon the great transformation spoken of in the text, make all things new;” and then upon the earnest call in the text to consider that transformation: “He that sat upon the throne said, ‘Behold’: attend, consider, and look to it!” “Behold, I make all things new.” Oh for a bedewing of the Holy Spirit while entering upon this theme! I would that our fleece might now be so wet as never to become dry throughout the whole year. Oh for a horn of oil to be poured on the head of the young year, anointing it for the constant service of the Lord! Briefly, then, here is one of the grandest truths that ever fell even from the lips of Jesus:—”Behold, I make all things new.”

This renewing work has been in our Lord’s hands from of old. We were under the old covenant, and our first father and federal head, Adam, had broken that covenant, and we were ruined by his fatal breach. The substance of the old covenant was on this wise,—”If thou wilt keep my command thou shalt live, and thy posterity shall live; but if thou shalt eat of the tree which I have forbidden thee, dying, thou shalt die, and all thy posterity in thee.” This is where we were found, broken in pieces, sore wounded, and even slain by the tremendous fall which destroyed both our Paradise and ourselves. We died in Adam as to spiritual life, and our death revealed itself in an inward tendency to evil which reigned in our members. . . . To-day believers are not under the covenant of “If thou doest this thou shalt live,” but under that new covenant which says, “Their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” It is not now “Do and live,” but “Live and do;” we think not of merit and reward, but of free grace producing holy practice as the result of gratitude. What law could not do, grace has accomplished.

We ought never to forget this bottom of everything, this making of all things new by the fashioning of a new covenant, so that we have come out from under the bondage of the law and the ruin of the fall, and we have entered upon the liberty of Christ, into acceptance with God, and into the boundless joy of being saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation, so that we “shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end ‘. . . .

The foundation being made new, the Lord Jesus Christ has set before us a new way of life, which grows out of that covenant. The old way of life was, “If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” There they are, perfect, and holy, and just, and good; but, alas, dear friends, you and I have broken the commandments. We dare not say that we have kept the ten commands from our youth up; on the contrary, we are compelled by our consciences to confess that in spirit and in heart, if not in act, we have continually broken the law of God; and we are therefore under sin and condemnation, and there is no hope for us by the works of the law. For this reason the gospel sets before us another way, and says, “It is of faith, that it might be by grace.” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Hence we read of being “justified by faith,” and being made acceptable to God by faith. To be “justified” means being made really just: though we were guilty in ourselves we are regarded as just by virtue of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us. Thus we fell into condemnation through another, and we rise into justification through another. It is written, “By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities”; and this scripture is fulfilled in all those who believe in the Lord Jesus unto eternal life. Our path to eternal glory is the road of faith,—”The just shall live by faith.” We are “accepted in the Beloved” when we believe in him whom God has set forth to be our righteousness. “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight”; but we are “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

What a blessing it is for you and for me that Jesus has made all things new in that respect! I am glad that I have not to stand here and say, “My dear hearers, do this and do that, and you will be saved”: because you would not do as you were commanded; for your nature is weak and wicked. . . .

I trust you will accept this most gracious and suitable way of salvation. It is most glorious to God and safe to you: do not neglect so great salvation. After you have believed unto life you will go and do all manner of holy deeds as the result of your new life; but do not attempt them with the view of earning life. Prompted no longer by the servile and selfish motive of saving yourself, but by gratitude for the fact that you are saved, you will rise to virtue and true holiness. Faith has brought us into the possession of an indefeasible salvation; and now for the love we bear our Savior, we must obey him and become “zealous for good works”. . . .

A new and higher motive sways us now; for we seek not self but God. Another hand grasps the tiller and steers our ship in a new course. New desires are felt to which we were strangers in our former state. New fears are mighty within us,—holy fears which once we should have ridiculed. New hopes are in us, bright and sure, such as we did not even desire to know when we lived a mere carnal life. We are not what we were: we are new, and have begun a new career. . . .

“Oh,” says one, “I do not know what to make of myself. I have had a weary time of late. Everything seems to have gone wrong with me. My family causes me great anxiety. My business is a thorny maze. My own health is precarious. I dread this year. In fact, I dread everything.” We will not go on with that lamentation, but we will hear the cheering word,—”Behold, I make all things new.” The Lord, in answer to believing prayer, and especially in answer to a full resignation to his will is able to make all providential surroundings new for you. . . .

Oh that you would yield on this first [day] of the year to him who can make new creatures of you. God grant you may!

Lord answer our prayer now, for Jesus’ sake, for we seek the salvation of every hearer and every reader of this sermon. Amen.  (Sermon No. 1816)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Christian And The Covenant

Born in South Wales, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones trained at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and thereafter practiced as a physician. After leaving medicine in 1927, he became the minister of the Welsh Presbyterian Church in Aberavon, South Wales. In 1938 he moved to London to share the ministry of Westminster Chapel with Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, who retired in 1943. Dr. Lloyd-Jones’ ministry lasted for 30 years until he retired in 1968. While in retirement, he engaged in a wider preaching ministry and writing until his death in 1981. The following excerpt is from one of his many writings:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

A covenant was made with Noah, with Abraham, [and] with Moses. These are not the original covenant, the covenant made with the Son. They were temporary, but all these subsidiary covenants point to this great covenant. The types and ceremonial offerings and sacrifices were all pointing to Christ. ‘The law was our schoolmaster to lead us to Christ’ and His great offering. The law given to Moses does not annul the covenant made with Abraham, but that, in turn, points back to the great covenant made with the Son Himself in eternity.

Thus we begin to see why Paul says, ‘The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’. God before time, and before the world, saw our predicament and entered into this agreement with His own Son. He has taken an oath, He has signed, He has pledged Himself in a covenant. He has committed Himself. Everything is in Christ. He is our Representative. He is our Mediator. He is our Guarantor — all blessing comes in and through Him. Who can realize what all this meant to the Father, what all this meant to the Son, what all this meant to the Holy Spirit? But that is the gospel and it is only as we understand something of these things that we shall begin to praise God.

Look at the matter in this way. Here are you and I, miserable worms in this world, miserable worms with our arrogance and our pride and our appalling ignorance. We deserve nothing but to be blotted off the face of the earth. But what has happened is that before the foundation of the world this blessed God, these three blessed Persons, considered us, considered our condition, considered what would happen to us, and the consequence was that these Three Persons, God, whom man hath never seen, stooped to consider us and planned a way whereby we might be forgiven and redeemed. The Son said, I will leave this glory for a while, I will dwell in the womb of a woman, I will be born as a babe, I will become a pauper, I will suffer insult in the world, I will even allow them to nail Me to a Cross and spit in My face. He volunteered to do all that for us, and at this very moment this blessed Second Person in the Trinity is seated at the right hand of God to represent you and me. He came down to earth and did all that, and rose again, and ascended to heaven; and it was all planned ‘before the world’ for you and for me.

Do you still say that you are not interested in theology? Do you still say that you have not time to be interested in doctrine? You will never begin to praise God or worship or adore Him until you begin to realize something of what He has done for you. ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.’ We are in the covenant! (From God’s Ultimate Purpose: an Exposition of Ephesians One published by Baker Book House, 1978)

Planned From The Foundation Of The World

Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ before time and the world saw our faithlessness and entered into an agreement with His own Son. God pledged Himself in a covenant. Only Christ is our Representative and Mediator. Christ is our Guarantor — all blessing comes in and through Him. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provides further insight into this below:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

[I]n [God’s] eternal Council [He] drew up a great covenant called the covenant of grace or the covenant of redemption. Why did He do so? Let me ask a question by way of reply. Why does the Apostle say, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’? There are those who say that the answer is that He wants us to know the kind of Father God is. I agree with that. I remember an old preacher saying once that if you told certain people that God is a Father they would be terrified and alarmed. There are some people, he said, to whom the term ‘Father’ means a drunkard who spends all the family’s money and comes home drunk. That is their idea of a father; it is the only father they have ever known. So God in His kindness, and in order that we may know the kind of Father He is, says: I am the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Son is like the Father; but even that does not go far enough, there is much more than that here.

This new description of God is one of the most important statements in the New Testament. Go back to the Old Testament and you will find God described as ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’. God also speaks of Himself as ‘the God of Israel’, but now we have ‘the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’. This is in order to teach us that all the blessings that come to us come in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, and as a part of that covenant that was made between the three blessed Persons before the foundation of the world. Even the blessings that came to the Old Testament saints all came to them through the Lord Jesus Christ. Before the foundation of the world God saw what would happen to man. He saw the Fall, and man’s sin which would have to be dealt with, and there the Plan was made and an agreement was made between the Father and the Son. The Father gave a people to the Son, and the Son voluntarily made Himself responsible to God for them. He contracted to do certain things for them, and God the Father on His side contracted to do other things. God the Father said He would grant forgiveness and reconciliation and restoration and new life and a new nature to all who belonged to His Son. The condition was that the Son should come into the world and take human nature and the sin of mankind upon Himself and bear its punishment, stand for them, and suffer for them and represent them. That was the covenant, that was the agreement that was made, and it was made ‘before the foundation of the world’. God was able to tell Adam about that in the Garden of Eden when He told him that ‘the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head’. This had been planned before creation, and God began to announce it even there. (“The Everlasting Covenant”)

Charles H. Spurgeon: “I Wish You From This Day A Blessing”

Charles H. Spurgeon

From the Pulpit of Charles H. Spurgeon:

I thought when I came in here that I should have a picked congregation; and so I have. You are one of them. Wherever you come from, I want you now to seek the Lord. He has brought you here, and He means to bless you. Yield yourselves to Him while His sweet Spirit pleads with you. While the heavenly wind softly blows upon you open wide every window. You have not felt that you wanted it; but that is the sure proof that you need it; for he that does not know his need of Christ, is most in need. Open wide your heart that the Spirit may teach you your need; above all, breathe the prayer that He would help you . . . to look to the Lord Jesus Christ, for “there is life in a look at the Crucified One—there is life at this moment for you.” “Oh,” you say, “if I were to begin I should not keep on.” No; if you began perhaps you would not; but if He begins with you He will keep on. The final perseverance of the saints is the result of the final perseverance of the Holy Spirit; He perseveres to bless, and we persevere in receiving the blessing. If He begins, you have begun with a divine power that fainteth not neither is weary. I wish it might so happen that . . . I, God’s servant, may have spoken to you such a word by the witness of the Holy Ghost, “From this day will I bless you”! Go away with that promise resting upon you. I would like to give a shake of the hand to every stranger . . . and say, “Brother, in the name of the Lord I wish you from this day a blessing.” Amen and amen. (“The Abiding of the Spirit the Glory of the Church”)

John Calvin On The Christian Diet

Are all foods useful to Christians or are we to continue abstaining from some as found in the Old Testament? We do not subject ourselves to the Law when it is clearly expressed in the New Testament that all meats are clean to us: that is, we may use them freely without wavering. How can this be? John Calvin informs us:

Unto the pure all things are pure; but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him: being abominable and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (Titus 1:15-16)

To be short, St. Paul informs us in this place that in these days we have liberty to eat of all kinds of meat without exception. As for the health of the body, that is not here spoken of; but the matter here set forth is that men shall not set themselves up as masters, to make laws for us contrary to the Word of God. Seeing it is so, that God putteth no difference between meats, let us so use them; and never inquire what men like, or what they think good. Notwithstanding, we must use the benefits that God hath granted us, soberly and moderately. We must remember that God hath made meats for us, not that we should fill ourselves like swine, but that we should use them for the sustenance of life: therefore, let us content ourselves with this measure, which God hath shown us by His Word.

If we have not such a store of nourishment as we would wish, let us bear our poverty patiently, and practice the doctrine of St. Paul; and know as well how to bear poverty as riches. If our Lord gives us more than we could have wished for, yet must we bridle our appetites. On the other side, if it pleases Him to cut off our morsel, and feed us but poorly, we must be content with it, and pray Him to give us patience when we have not what our appetites crave. To be short, we must have recourse to what is said in Romans 13: “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” Let us content ourselves to have what we need, and that which God knoweth to be proper for us; thus shall all things be clean to us, if we be thus cleansed.

Yet it is true that although we were ever so unclean, the meats which God hath made are good; but the matter we have to consider is the use of them. When St. Paul saith all things are clean., he meaneth not that they are so of themselves, but as relateth to those that receive them; as we have noticed before, where he saith to Timothy, all things are sanctified to us by faith and giving of thanks. God hath filled the world with such abundance that we may marvel to see what a fatherly care He hath over us: for to what end or purpose are all the riches here on earth, only to show how liberal He is toward man!

If we know not that He is our Father, and acteth the part of a nurse toward us, if we receive not at His hand that which He giveth us, insomuch that when we eat, we are convinced that it is God that nourishes us, He cannot be glorified as He deserves; neither can we eat one morsel of bread without committing sacrilege; for which we must give an account. That we may lawfully enjoy these benefits, which have been bestowed upon us, we must be resolved upon this point (as I said before), that it is God that nourishes and feedeth us.

This is the cleanness spoken of here by the apostle; when he saith, all things are clean, especially when we have such an uprightness in us that we despise not the benefits bestowed upon another, but crave our daily bread at the hand of God, being persuaded that we have no right to it, only to receive it as the mercy of God. (“The Word our Only Rule”)

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