Monday, October 24, 2016

The boy who came back from heaven recants

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A poor beast that is going homeward, goes cheerfully!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883) 

A poor beast that is going homeward, goes cheerfully! See how the horse pricks up his ears and quickens his pace when you turn his head to his stable. Even the dull donkey does the same. 

Much more then should Christians feel the attractions of their heavenly home! 

Courage, brothers and sisters; we, too, are homeward bound! Every hour brings us nearer to the many mansions! Our way is toward the Father's house on high, therefore let us rejoice at every step we take!

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. In my Father's house are many mansions. I am going there to prepare a place for you!" John 14:1-2

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


(William Nicholson, 1862)

"He gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age!" Galatians 1:4 

The sacrifice of Christ was voluntary--it must therefore have been prompted by infinite love. Redeeming love should be the favorite topic of the Christian's constant meditation.

I. Note His marvelous act: "He gave Himself!"
He came into the world which abhorred Him, disowned Him, and murdered Him!

He gave Himself to all the privations and sorrows of human life.

He gave Himself to obscurity and indigence. He was born in a stable--and had nowhere to lay His head.

He gave Himself to scorn and infamy. He was denounced . . .
  as a glutton,
  as a drunkard,
  as insane,
  as a demoniac,
  as a traitor!
"Scorn has broken My heart and has left Me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none; for comforters, but I found none!" Psalm 69:20

He gave Himself to pain and anguish. "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering!" Isaiah 53:3. Behold His agony . . .
  at Gabbatha,
  at Gethsemane,
  and at Golgotha!

He gave Himself to an ignominious and painful death. "He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed!" Isaiah 53:5

He died the just for the unjust.

II. Note the purpose for which He gave Himself: "For our sins!"
Man is a sinner--he has transgressed the Divine law, and rendered himself accursed. Christ died to save helpless, ruined man.

He gave Himself to deliver us from . . .
  sin's curse, Galatians 3:13,
  sin's defilement, Ephesians 5:25-27; Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 1:9
  sin's dominion, Romans 6:14,
  the effects of sin in this world and in eternity.
The believer now has peace, joy, hope, and triumph.

III. Note the Design of Christ's offering: "That He might deliver us from this present evil world!"

Not totally to remove us out of the world, but to deliver us from its evil practices--from its maxims and philosophies.

To deliver us from the condemnation to which the world will be subjected.

To deliver us from attachment to this fleeting world, "For this is not your resting place, because it is defiled, it is ruined, beyond all remedy!" Micah 2:10

To influence us to look higher, accounting ourselves as "strangers and pilgrims" on earth; declaring plainly that we are "seeking a better country, that is a heavenly one!"

To deliver us when we die, from this poor world's . . .
  sinful beings--
and to introduce us to a purer, brighter, happier world than this, where we shall reside forever!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

A Letter to a Friend from John Newton

John Newton's Letters
The furnace of affliction
September 27, 1777.
My dear Friend,
I could not, at such a time as this, refrain from writing; and glad would I be, if the Lord may help me to drop a suitable word, and accompany it with a blessing to you in the reading.
I am glad to be assured (though I expected no less) that your sick wife happily feels herself safe in the Lord's hand, and under the care of the good Shepherd and Savior, to whom she has often committed herself; and finds him faithful to his promise, giving her strength in her soul according to her day, and enabling her quietly to submit to his holy, wise, and gracious will. And it is my prayer, that he may strengthen you likewise, and reveal his own all-sufficiency so clearly and powerfully to your heart, that you may not be afraid of any event--but cheerfully rely upon him, to be all that to you, in every circumstance and change, which his promise warrants you to expect.
I am willing to hope, that this is but a short season of concern, appointed for the exercise of your faith and patience, and to give you, in his good time, a signal proof of his power and goodness in answering prayer. He sometimes brings us into such a situation, when creature help is utterly unavailing, that we may afterwards be more clearly sensible of his interposition. Then we experimentally learn the vanity of all things here below, and are brought to a more immediate and absolute dependence upon himself. We have need of having these lessons frequently inculcated upon us; but when his end is answered, how often, after he has caused grief, does he show his great compassion, and save us from our fears by an outstretched arm, and with such a seasonable and almost unexpected relief, as constrains us to cry out, "What has God wrought!" and "Who is a God like unto you!" Such, I hope, will be the issue of your present trial, and that He who gave her to you at first, will restore her to you again.
You are in the furnace of affliction; but the Lord is sitting by it as a refiner of silver, to moderate the fire, and manage the process, so that you shall lose nothing but dross, and be brought forth as refined gold, to praise his name. Apparent difficulties, however great, are nothing to him. If He speaks--it is done; for to God the Lord belong the issues of life and death. Should his pleasure be otherwise, and should he call your dear partner to a state of glory before you--still I know he is able to support you. What he does, however painful to the flesh, must be right, because He does it. Having bought us with his blood, and saved our souls from hell, he has every kind of right to dispose of us and ours--as he pleases. And this we are sure of, he will not lay so much upon us--as he freely endured for us; and he can make us amends for all we suffer, and for all we lose--by the light of his countenance. A few years will set all to rights; and those who love him and are beloved by him, though they may suffer as others, shall not sorrow as others; for the Lord will be with them here--and he will soon have them with him! There, all tears shall be wiped from their eyes!
Perhaps I know as well how to calculate the pain of such a separation, as anyone who has not actually experienced it. Many a time the desire of my eyes has been threatened, many a time my heart has been brought low; but from what I have known at such seasons, I have reason to hope, that, had it been his pleasure to bring upon me the thing that I feared, his everlasting arm would have upheld me from sinking under the stroke. As ministers, we are called to comfort the Lord's afflicted people, and to tell them the knowledge of his love is a cordial able to keep the soul alive under the sharpest trials. We must not wonder that he sometimes puts us in a way of showing that we do not deal in unfelt truths--but that we find ourselves that solid consolation in the Gospel, which we encourage others to expect from it. You have now such an occasion of glorifying the Lord; I pray he may enable you to improve it, and that all around you may see that he is with you, and that his good Word is the support and anchor of your soul. Then I am sure, if it upon the whole it is best for you--that he will give you the desire of your heart, and you shall yet live to praise him together.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why are we here? What is our purpose?

(Frank Hall)

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

Before there was a Milky Way--there was God!
Before there were galaxies, solar systems, constellations, and nebulae--there was God!
Before Mercury, Venus, and Mars were plugged into their sockets--there was God!
Before Polaris was fastened above the North Pole--there was God!
Before Orion the hunter had a belt, and Saturn had its rings--there was God; all alone, perfect and content, glorious in His solitary existence as the eternal I AM!

Before there was a sun, a moon, or an earth;
before there was grass to clothe the field, and flowers to adorn it;
before the mountains were brought forth, and the sea filled the depths;
before the eagle soared through the sky, and the fish swam through the sea;
before angels, devils, and men had their being--there was God alone!

If we would understand things aright, we must not begin with man, but with God, for He is the beginning of all things. To begin with man is folly, for man is but a creature--a production of the Creator. We must back up and begin where the Bible begins, with God!

God's people know, and have always known, what continues to baffle the minds of the scholars and scientists of our day, that "in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Through faith, God's people understand the mystery of creation.
I ask you, "Why are we here? What is our purpose? What is God's purpose?" Can we even know the answer to these questions? Indeed we can. 

The twenty four elders seated around God's throne in Heaven give us the answer in Revelation 4:10-11, "The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and for Your pleasure they exist and were created!"

You, me, angels, animals, plants, rocks, and all other things, exist and were created for one reason--the pleasure of the Creator. We were created according to His will and purpose, for His pleasure and glory. 

God did not create the Heaven and the earth arbitrarily. He created them to be the stage upon which He would perform His eternal purpose of grace, and reveal all the wonders of His goodness and mercy toward His elect. It is upon the stage of time, that God displays His eternal purpose and shows forth His glory in the salvation of chosen sinners. He created this world for the salvation of His people, that they would be recovered from their sin by His almighty grace.
"I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me. Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying: My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure!" Isaiah 46:9-10 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Christian's ambition!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"So we make it our ambition to please Him" 2 Corinthians 5:9 

"It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known" Romans 15:20 

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands" 1 Thessalonians 4:11 

Three times over in his Epistles, Paul speaks of the Christian's ambition. I may learn much from every one of his three messages.

What should be the ambition of my personal life? It should not be to be merely pardoned, nor simply permitted to escape from eternal wrath. "We make it our ambition," the apostle says, "to please Him."

What should be the ambition of my church life? It should be to further the prosperity and to enlarge the boundaries of my Lord's kingdom on earth. It should be to proclaim His Evangel, and to extend His realm, and to win some new captives and subjects for Him. "It has always been my ambition," the apostle says again, "to preach the gospel where Christ was not known."

And what should be the ambition of my social life? It should be, in my ordinary duties, in my simplest and lowliest occupations, to exhibit Christlikeness and my heavenly citizenship. If I cannot be holy at my daily work, it is scarcely worth while taking trouble to be holy at other times. "Make it your ambition," says the apostle to me once more, "to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands."

These are the apostolic ambitions. Lord, let them be mine. Towards such goals, to gain such prizes--I would lay aside every weight, and run the race with perseverance!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The thief!

(Alexander Smellie, "The Hour of Silence" 1899)

"Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." 
Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise!" 
   Luke 23:42-43 

"Twas a thief," Robert Browning writes, "who said the last kind word to Christ."

In the morning the thief was OUT of Christ:
  far from God and far from righteousness,
  the helpless captive of sin,
  the child of despair and death.

At noon the thief was IN Christ:
  remembered graciously by the Savior of the lost,
  redeemed with an everlasting redemption,
  endowed with the new heart,
  and freely and perfectly justified.

In the evening the thief was WITH Christ:
  gazing on the glories of paradise,
  safe at home with his good Shepherd and adorable Redeemer.

What a crowded and memorable day this was in his history! So much was pressed into these few hours. Such a glorious and unprecedented transition they brought,from the cruel cross--to Heaven's glory!
OUT of Christ, 
then IN Christ, 
then WITH Christ!

then grace, 
then glory!

Hopelessly lost in the far country, 
then safe under the Savior's wings, 
then beside the Lord on His glorious throne!

Are these the three stages in my spiritual biography? 

I know the first only too well. 
Am I growing more and more familiar with the second? 
Is it my joy to look forward to the third? 

"I ask not the favor given to Paul," Copernicus said, "I seek not the grace bestowed upon Peter--but I beg the mercy granted to the thief on the cross!"