Grace Gems for January 2009
The happy man
(Lachlan MacKenzie, "The Happy Man")
The happy man was born in the city of Regeneration
in the parish of Repentance unto Life. He has a large
estate in the county of Christian Contentment.
He was educated at the School of Obedience
—and often does jobs of Self-denial.
He wears the garment of Humility, and has
another suit to put on when he goes to Court,
called the Robe of Christ's Righteousness.
He is necessitated to travel through the world on
his way to heaven—but he walks through it as fast
as he can. All his business along the way—is to
make himself and others happy. He often walks
in the valley of Self-Abasement, and sometimes
climbs the mountains of Heavenly-mindedness.
He breakfasts every morning on Spiritual Prayer,
and sups every evening on the same. He has food
to eat, which the world knows nothing of—and his
drink is the sincere milk of the Word of God.
Thus happy he lives—and happy he dies.
Happy is he who has . . .
Gospel submission in his will,
the love of God in his affections,
true peace in his conscience,
sincere Divinity in his breast,
the Redeemer's yoke on his neck,
the vain world under his feet, and
a crown of glory over his head!
Happy is the life of that man who . . .
watches his heart,
guards his senses,
redeems his time,
loves Christ, and
longs for glory!
"Happy is the man who does not walk in the
counsel of the wicked, or stand in the way of
sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. But his
delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his
law he meditates day and night. He is like a
tree planted by streams of water, which yields
its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers." Psalm 1:1-3
~ ~ ~ ~
What tears can quench that fire?
Sin has . . .
the devil for its father,
shame for its companion,
and death for its wages!
See the evil effects of sin!
Sin has corrupted us. As poison corrupts
the blood—so sin corrupts the soul.
Sin has degraded us of our honor. God made us
in His own image—but sin has made us like devils!
"You are of your father the Devil—and you want
to carry out your father's desires!" John 8:44.
Sin disquiets the peace of the soul. "There is no
peace, for the wicked." Isaiah 57:21. Whatever
defiles—disturbs. Sin creates fears—and there is
"torment in fear." Sin makes sad convulsions in
the conscience. Judas was so terrified with guilt
and horror—that he hanged himself, to quiet his
conscience. In order to ease his conscience—he
threw himself into hell!
Sin produces all temporal evil. Sin is the Trojan
Horse, which has sword, and famine and pestilence,
in its belly. Sin is a coal, which not only blackens—
but burns. Sin creates all our troubles; it puts gravel
into our bread, and wormwood in our cup. Sin . . .
rots the name,
consumes the estate,
buries loved ones.
Sin unrepented of, brings final damnation. The canker
which breeds in the rose—is the cause of its perishing.
Just so, the corruptions which breed in men's souls—are
the cause of their damning. Sin's pleasure will turn to
sorrow at last. Like the book the prophet ate—sin is
sweet in the mouth—but bitter in the belly. Sin brings
the wrath of God! What tears can quench that fire?
~ ~ ~ ~
The sorrow of the world
(Arthur Pink, "Worldly Sorrow")
"The sorrow of the world works death."
2 Corinthians 7:10
Just as surely as happiness is the attendant of
holiness—so misery is the certain result of sin.
The sorrow of the world is not occasioned
by mourning over sin as sin—but over the
retribution which sin brings.
The sorrow of the world does not arise from
just views of sin, nor does it proceed from any
concern that God has been offended. It does
not lead the soul to God in true penitence, nor
to turn to Him for consolation.
When the worldling's dream of earthly happiness
has been dispelled by misfortune—he feeds only
on the sour bread of self-pity and unblessed woe.
The sorrow of the world debilitates the body,
disturbs peace, impairs the mind, and breaks the
spirit. There is no contrite seeking unto God on
the part of the suffering one—but only a fretting
and murmuring against Him.
"Men gnawed their tongues in agony and cursed
the God of heaven because of their pains and
their sores—but they refused to repent of what
they had done." Revelation 16:10-11
~ ~ ~ ~
These forty years in the wilderness
(Arthur Pink, "Last Things Last")
"You shall remember how the Lord your God
has led you on the entire journey, these forty
years in the wilderness—so that He might
humble you and test you to know what was
in your heart, whether or not you would
keep His commands." Deuteronomy 8:2
This verse calls for a solemn review of our
life—how far we have redeemed the time
—or to what extent we have trifled it away.
We should be humbled at the recollection of
how frequently we grumbled—because His way
was not the one we desired. We should judge
ourselves unsparingly—because we so often
lagged behind, and sought to turn aside into
forbidden bypaths. We should ponder the
amazing grace of God in condescending to
lead us across this trackless desert; and think,
too, of His infinite forbearance in continuing to
lead us—who are so ungrateful and intractable.
We should praise Him for having kept us in the
Narrow Way—which we would have certainly
forsaken—had we been left to follow the bent
of our own evil lusts. And we also should return
fervent thanks—that we are now a year's march
nearer to our Heavenly Home.
~ ~ ~ ~
Piety at home
(Arthur Pink, "First Things First")
"Let them first learn—to show piety
at home." 1 Timothy 5:4
The Christian is first to manifest godliness
in the family circle. We would especially
press this upon the attention of those
who are so anxious to engage in what
they term "service for the Lord."
The "service" which God requires from all
of His people—is not a running about here
and there, asking impertinent questions of
total strangers and prattling to them about
Divine things—but to be in subjection to
Himself, and to walk obediently to His Word.
To talk to other people about Christ, is far
easier than the task which He has assigned
to His people—to deny self, take up our cross,
follow Him, and to show piety at home. For
if there is no piety in our home life—then all
our seeming piety in the Church, and before
the world—is but hypocrisy and self-deceit!
~ ~ ~ ~
A living, loving, personal Savior
(J. R. Miller, "Counsel and Help" 1907)
We are in the habit of saying that Christ saved
us by dying for us on the Cross. In an important
sense this is true. We never could have been
saved—if He had not died for us.
But we are actually saved by our relation to a
living, loving, personal Savior—into whose
hands we commit all the interests of our lives;
and who becomes our Friend, our Helper, our
Keeper, our Burden bearer—our all in all.
Christian faith is not merely laying our sins on
the Lamb of God, and trusting to His one great
sacrifice; it is the laying of ourselves on the living,
loving heart of one whose friendship becomes
thenceforward the sweetest joy of our lives!
"The life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith
in the Son of God, who loved me and gave
Himself for me!" Galatians 2:20
~ ~ ~ ~
The God of all comfort
(J. R. Miller, "Ministry of Comfort" 1898)
"The Father of compassion—and the God
of all comfort." 2 Corinthians 1:3
There is a blessing in true human sympathy.
God sends our friends to us, to bring us little
measures of His own love—little cupfuls of His
grace. But He Himself is the only true comforter.
His love alone—is great enough to fill our heart,
and His hand alone—has skill to bind up our
However deep the sorrow may be—if we creep
into God's bosom, and nestle there like a tired
child in the mother's arms—God's love will
enfold and embrace us, and flow into our
heart—and we shall be comforted, satisfied.
"As a mother comforts her child—so will
I comfort you." Isaiah 66:13
~ ~ ~ ~
The Christian's heaviest burden
(Arthur Pink, "An Honest Heart")
"Behold, I am vile!" Job 40:4
Sin is the Christian's heaviest
burden—and his greatest grief.
"We are lying if we say we have fellowship
with God—but go on living in darkness."
1 John 1:6
Repentance is not only a sorrowing for
sin—but also a turning away from it;
the throwing down of the weapons of
our warfare against God.
If we truly love God, we will . . .
forsake our sins,
abandon our idols
and mortify our lusts.
An honest soul cannot do otherwise;
anything short of that would be hypocrisy.
The upright man is the one who "fears
God—and turns away from evil." Job 1:8
~ ~ ~ ~
All that can possibly want!
(Octavius Winslow, "The Witness of the Spirit")
"From the fullness of His grace—we have all
received one blessing after another." John 1:16
Child of God, all that can possibly want
is treasured up in Christ! You have . . .
no cross—but Christ can bear it,
no sorrow—but Christ can alleviate it,
no corruption—but Christ can subdue it,
no guilt—but Christ can remove it,
no sin—but Christ can pardon it,
no need—but Christ can supply it!
Lift up your heads, you who are poor, needy
and disconsolate! Lift up your heads, and
rejoice that Christ is ALL to you!
All you need in this valley of tears.
All you will need in the deepest sorrow.
All you need under the heaviest affliction.
All you need in sickness.
All you will need in the hour of death.
All you will need in the day of judgment.
Indeed, Christ is IN ALL too.
He is in all your salvation.
He is in all your mercies
He is in all your trials.
He is in all your consolations.
He is in all your afflictions.
What more can you want?
What more do you desire?
A Father who loves you as the apple of His eye!
A full Savior to whom to go, moment by moment!
"Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with
confidence—so that we may receive mercy and find
grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16
~ ~ ~ ~We shall be sure to find something to annoy us!
(John MacDuff, "The Christian's Pathway" 1858)
"But godliness with contentment is great gain."
1 Timothy 6:6
The believer is frequently exhorted to cultivate
contentment, and there are many considerations
by which the duty may be enforced.
One thing is very evident—that there is no condition
in the present world, which is free from trouble! Let
us pitch our tent wherever we may—we shall be
sure to find something to annoy us! And if there
is no situation without some inconvenience—had we
not better make up our minds to be satisfied with
that condition in which we are now placed?
We are too much in the habit of judging by outward
appearances. But things are often very different in
reality—to what they appear to be.
If we judge according to appearance, we shall be led to
regard the most prosperous—as the happiest individuals.
But we are assured by universal experience—that to be
great is one thing, and that to be truly happy is altogether
another thing! Under the glittering robes of the proudest
nobilities—there are hearts pierced with anguish, and
wrung with grief! In splendid palaces—there are many
broken hearts to be found. To sit upon thrones may
seem to be something very fascinating; but, "uneasy lies
the head—which wears a crown!" This is a truth which
receives fresh confirmation, from every passing year.
Let us not then, regard those who occupy the high places
of the earth, with feelings of envy. Instead of envying them
—it befits us rather to pity them and pray for them!
Reader, learn to distinguish between things that differ;
and be well assured that things as they appear outwardly,
and as they really are—do often differ, and that very
substantially! Such knowledge will tend, under God's
blessing—to make you more contented with your
present lot, notwithstanding its trials and privations.
It is not unusual—to be exposed to things which are
grievous and hard to be borne. This is not some strange
thing which is happening to us alone. Let us lay aside,
therefore, all murmurings and complainings—and ever
remember that God's arrangements are the wisest
and the best!
~ ~ ~ ~
(J. C. Ryle)
The work of the Holy Spirit, though mysterious,
will always be known by the fruits He produces
in the character and conduct of those in whom
He dwells. The presence of the Spirit is like . . .
light which can be seen,
fire which can be felt, and
wind which causes noticeable results.
Where there are no fruits of the Spirit—there
is no presence of the Spirit. Those fruits, I
need not tell you, are always the same:
conviction of sin,
lively faith in Christ, and
holiness of heart and life.
I am afraid there are myriads of professing
Christians throughout the land, who really
know nothing about the Holy Spirit. They
seem to think that as baptized members of
a great ecclesiastical corporation—that they
possess the Spirit. But of the work of the
Spirit on their own individual hearts—of
conversion, repentance, and faith—they
know nothing at all. They are spiritually
asleep and dead—and unless they awake,
are in great danger!
~ ~ ~ ~
Christ, by His death
(Thomas Brooks, "The Golden Key to Open Hidden Treasures")
"He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree." 1 Peter 2:24
Certainly the whole punishment of body and soul which was
due unto us—Christ our Redeemer suffered. Our blessed Savior
bore all the sins of the elect. He suffered the whole punishment
which was due unto us—which we would have endured, if He had
not atoned for our sins. He felt the anguish of soul, and horror
of God's wrath—and in soul, experienced the torments of hell
for us—and sustained them and vanquished them!
All the pains, torments, curse, and wrath which were due to
the elect—fell on Christ, until divine justice was fully satisfied.
Though Christ did not suffer eternal death for sinners—yet He
suffered that which was equivalent, and therefore the justice
of God is wholly appeased by His death. Christ's infinite
excellency and glory, made His short sufferings to be of
infinite worth, and equivalent to our everlasting sufferings.
Jesus suffered that which was necessary for our redemption,
namely—that torment of hell which we had deserved, and
which the justice of God required that He should endure for
our redemption. He endured that bitter pain which we
deserved to suffer eternally.
Christ, by His death . . .
satisfied divine justice,
pacified divine wrath,
brought in an everlasting righteousness, and
accomplished the eternal salvation of His people!
~ ~ ~ ~
The Scriptures are sufficient
(Thomas Brooks, "A Word in Season to Suffering Saints")
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness—so
that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for
every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17
The Scriptures are sufficient . . .
to inform the ignorant,
to confute the erroneous,
to reform the wicked, and
to guide and direct, support and comfort—the godly.
Here a lamb may wade—and here an elephant may swim!
Here is milk for babes—and meat for strong men!
Here is . . .
comfort for the afflicted, and
support for the tempted, and
ease for the troubled, and
light for the clouded, and
enlargement for the straitened, etc.
how full of light,
how full of life,
how full of love,
how full of sweetness,
how full of goodness,
how full of righteousness,
how full of holiness, etc.,
is every chapter, and every verse in every
chapter, yes, and every line in every verse!
No human writings are comparable to Scripture:
1. for antiquity;
2. for rarity;
3. for variety;
4. for brevity;
5. for plainness;
6. for harmony;
7. for verity.
All which should greatly encourage Christians, to a
serious perusal of them. "Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long!" Psalm 119:97
~ ~ ~ ~
We hold and teach
(J. C. Ryle)
"All Scripture is inspired by God and is
profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for
correcting, for training in righteousness,
so that the man of God may be complete,
equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16-17
(1) We hold and teach—that the Bible is the
only rule of faith and practice; and it alone
is able to make a man wise unto salvation.
(2) We hold and teach—that we are accounted
righteous before God—only for the merit of our
Lord Jesus Christ, by faith—and not for our own
works and deservings. We maintain that in the
matter of our justification, our own goodness
and holiness have nothing whatever to do.
(3) We hold and teach—that good works, which
follow after justification, spring necessarily out
of a true and living faith. We maintain that a
living faith may be as evidently discerned, by
the good works which spring from it—as a tree
is discerned by its fruit; and that, consequently,
the man in whom no good works and holiness
can be seen—is not yet a converted man.
(4) We hold and teach—that repentance, faith,
holiness of heart and life, justification, conversion,
union with Christ, and the indwelling of the Holy
Spirit—are the primary and principal things in true
religion. We maintain that other points of doctrine,
however important and valuable in their due place,
are by comparison, things of secondary importance.
"Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out
of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with
great patience and careful instruction." 2 Tim. 4:2
~ ~ ~ ~
His people's scars and warts
"I will not remember your sins." Isaiah 43:25
Caesar was painted with his finger upon his
scar, his wart. God puts His fingers upon all
His people's scars and warts—upon all their
weaknesses and infirmities, that nothing can
be seen but what is fair and lovely. "You are
so beautiful, My beloved; there is no flaw in
you!" Song of Solomon 4:7
"I will never again remember their sins and
lawless deeds." Hebrews 10:17
The meaning is, "I will fully forgive their sins;
I will never more mention them; I will never
more take notice of them; they shall never
more hear of them from Me!"
"I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember
their sin no more." Jeremiah 31:34
Though God has an iron memory to remember
the sins of the wicked—yet He has no memory
to remember the sins of the godly!
"I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and
their sins and their iniquities will I remember no
more." Hebrews 8:12
~ ~ ~ ~
He who has deserved a hanging
("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod"
or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes"
by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)
"The Lord disciplines the one He loves, and
punishes every son whom He receives."
"Why should any living man complain—when
punished for his sins?" Lamentations 3:39
He who has deserved a hanging—has no
reason to charge the judge with cruelty—if
he escapes with a whipping!
And we who have deserved a damning—have
no reason to charge God for being too severe
—if we escape with a fatherly lashing!
"God disciplines us for our good—-that we
may share in His holiness." Hebrews 12:10
~ ~ ~ ~
A jewel more worth than a world!
(Thomas Brooks, "The Hypocrite Detected")
"Redeeming the time, because the days are evil."
Time is a jewel more worth than a world!
Time is not yours to dispose of as you please; it is
a glorious talent, which men must be accountable
for—as well as any other talent. Of all talents, time
is the hardest to improve well. Ah, beloved, have
not you need to improve your time—who have
much work to do, in so short a time:
your souls to save,
a God to honor,
a Christ to exalt,
a hell to escape,
a race to run,
a crown to win,
temptations to withstand,
corruptions to conquer,
afflictions to bear,
mercies to improve, and
your generation to serve!
"Teach us to number our days aright, that we
may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12
~ ~ ~ ~
What is most needed today
(Arthur Pink, "Eternal Punishment")
It is the deepening conviction of the writer,
that what is most needed today, is a wide
proclamation of those truths which are the
least acceptable to the flesh.
What is needed today, is a scriptural setting
forth of the character of God—
His absolute sovereignty,
His ineffable holiness,
His inflexible justice,
His unchanging veracity.
What is needed today, is a scriptural setting
forth of the condition of the natural man—
his total depravity,
his spiritual insensibility,
his inveterate hostility to God,
the fact that he is "condemned already"
and that the wrath of a sin-hating God
is even now abiding upon him!
What is needed today, is a scriptural setting
forth of the alarming danger which sinners
are in—the indescribably awful doom which
awaits them, the fact that if they follow their
present course only a little further—they shall
most certainly suffer the due penalty of their
What is needed today, is a scriptural setting
forth of the nature of that dreadful punishment
which awaits the lost—
the awfulness of it,
the hopelessness of it,
the unendurableness of it,
the endlessness of it!
Excepting the Cross of Christ, nothing else
so manifests the heinousness of sin—as the
doctrine of eternal punishment.
It is just because these truths have been
withheld so much from public ministry to
the saints—that we now find so many
backboneless, sentimental, lop-sided
Christians in our assemblies!
A clearer vision of the awe-inspiring attributes
of God—would banish much of our levity and
A better understanding of our depravity by
nature—would humble us, and make us see
our deep need of using the appointed means
A facing of the alarming danger of the lost
sinner—would cause us to "consider our ways"
and make us more diligent to make our "calling
and election sure."
A realization of the unspeakable misery which
awaits the lost (and which each of us fully merited)
would immeasurably deepen our gratitude, and bring
us to thank God more fervently—that we have been
snatched as brands from the burning, and delivered
from the wrath to come! It would also make us far
more earnest in our prayers—as we supplicate God
on behalf of the unsaved.
~ ~ ~ ~
Knowledge of the original Hebrew and Greek
(Arthur Pink, "Bible Study")
"Desire the sincere milk of the Word—that you may grow thereby." 1 Peter 2:2
The Bible consists of a series of letters from the Heavenly Father, to His dear children. Then let us cherish them as such, and act accordingly. A few verses that are thoughtfully and prayerfully pondered, will advantage us far more than two or three whole chapters, merely skimmed through.
That against which we are protesting—is the God-dishonoring idea that His Word is merely a piece of literature, which may be "mastered" by a course of "study." We would warn against an undue occupation with the technical aspects of the Bible. God's blessed Word is not for dissection by the knife of cold intellectuality. It is not given for us to display our cleverness and "brilliance" upon—but to be bowed before in true humility. It is not designed for mental entertainment—but for the regulation of our daily lives!
Our motive when approaching the Word, should be to seek that which will subdue pride and bring us as supplicants to the footstool of Mercy—not to acquire that which will puff us up in our own conceit. Of what value is a knowledge of the original Hebrew and Greek—or a thorough acquaintance with the history, geography, and chronology of the Bible—if the heart is left cold and hard toward its Author!
I seriously doubt if God has called or requires us, merely to 'study' His Word. What we need to do, is FEED thereon. How much nourishment would your body derive from a study of the chemical properties of foods—or from seeking to ascertain the various sorts of soil in which they are grown—or the meaning of their Latin names? None whatever! And I am persuaded that much of the modern 'study of the Bible' is equally profitless spiritually!
By all means, "search the Scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11); slowly ponder each word in every verse. Pray constantly for the guidance and illumination of the Spirit, that He may open to you its Divine mysteries. Above all, beg God to write His Word more legibly and fully upon the tablets of your heart—that you may put the precepts into practice.
"Nourished up in the Words of Faith" (1 Timothy 4:6). God's Word is the only nutritive food for the soul! This is why the Holy Scriptures are given to us—that we may grow in love and reverence for them, and be more and more regulated by them. It is only by feeding on this Heavenly Manna, that strength is obtained for our pilgrim walk, for our warfare with sin and Satan, and for our service unto God and our fellows.
~ ~ ~ ~
(Theodore Cuyler, "Wayside Springs from the Fountain of Life" 1883)
"They will be Mine—in the day when I make up My jewels!" Malachi 3:17
Believers are Christ's jewels! They are purchased at the infinite price of His atoning blood.
As the pearls are only won from the depths of the sea, by the dangerous dive of the fishers—so were the pearls for Messiah's crown brought up from the miry depths of depravity, by the descent of that divine Sufferer who came to seek and to save the lost!
The luster of a gem—depends much on the polishing. This is often a sharp and a severe process. Many of God's people can recall the times when they were under the harsh file, or were pressed down to the grinding-wheel. Blessed be the affliction, however fierce—which gives new luster to the diamond! The Master spends no time upon worthless pebbles; only His jewels are polished for His crown! When these jewels are made ready for His diadem—Christ will take them home unto Himself!
"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10-11
~ ~ ~ ~
As we pass through its foul streets
(J. R. Miller, "In His Steps" 1897)
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this—to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
Holiness means separation unto God. The life which belongs to Christ—must be kept from sin. The hands which are held up in prayer—must not touch any unclean thing. The lips which speak to God, and sing His praise—must not be stained by any sinful or bitter words. The heart which is the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit—must not open to any thought or affection which would defile God's temple. The feet which Christ's pierced hands have washed—must not walk in any of sin's unhallowed paths. A Christian's life must be holy.
Unholiness is very subtle. It creeps in when we are not aware. It begins in the heart. At first it is but a thought, a moment's imagination, a passing emotion, or a desire. Hence the heart should be kept with unremitting diligence. Only pure and holy thoughts should be entertained.
It is in the thoughts, that all acts begin. All acts are first thoughts. Our thoughts build up our character, as the coral insects build up the great reefs. "As a man thinks in his heart—so is he." If we are to keep ourselves unspotted from the world, as we pass through its foul streets—we must see to it that no unholy thing is for a moment tolerated in our heart! A crime stains one's name before the world; a sinful thought or desire stains the soul in God's sight, and grieves the divine Spirit within us! "Above all else, guard your heart, for out of it are the issues of life." Proverbs 4:23
~ ~ ~ ~
Flowery talking—without strict walking
(Arthur Pink, "Christ our Exemplar")
"Leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps." 1 Peter 2:21
"Whoever claims to live in Him—must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6
If all professors forfeit their claim to a saving interest in Christ, who do not endeavor to sincerely and earnestly imitate Jesus in the holiness of His life—then how small a number of real Christians are there in the world! If flowery talking—without strict walking; if common profession—without holy practice; if Church membership—without denying self and treading the Narrow Way—were sufficient to constitute a Christian—then a large percentage of earth's population would be entitled to that name.
But if Christ owns none but those who follow the example that He has left—then His flock is indeed a little one. The vast majority of those who claim to be Christians have a name to live—but are dead (Rev. 3:1), being such as walk after the flesh, following the course of this world and yielding their members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin (Romans 6:13). The demands of Christ are too rigid for them—they prefer the Broad Road where the majority are found.
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14
~ ~ ~ ~
To help your conception of what hell is
"His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor, gathering His wheat into the barn—and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire!" Matthew 3:12
"They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth!" Matthew 13:42
"Then He will say to those on the left—Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!" Matthew 25:41
"If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell—where the fire never goes out!" Mark 9:43
"He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire!" Luke 3:17
"I am in agony in this fire!" Luke 16:24
"Those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire!" Jude 1:7
To help your conception of what hell is—imagine yourself to be cast into a fiery oven—or into the midst of a great furnace, where your pain would be as much greater than that occasioned by accidentally touching a coal of fire—as the heat is greater. Imagine also, that your body were to lie there for a quarter of an hour, full of fire, as full as a bright coal of fire, all the while full of quick sense. What horror would you feel at the entrance of such a furnace! And how long would that quarter of an hour seem to you! If it were to be measured by the hour-glass, how long would the glass seem to be running! And after you had endured it for one minute, how unbearable would it be to you—to think that you had yet to endure the other fourteen minutes!
But what would be the effect on your soul—if you knew you must lie there enduring that torment to the full—for twenty-four hours! And how much greater would be the effect—if you knew you must endure it for a whole year! And how vastly greater still—if you knew you must endure it for a thousand years! O then, how would your heart sink, if you thought, if you knew—that you must bear it forever and ever! That there would be no end—that after millions of millions of ages, your torment would be no nearer to an end, than it ever was; and that you would never, never be delivered!
But your torment in Hell will be immeasurably greater than this illustration represents! How then will the heart of a poor creature sink under it! How utterly inexpressible and inconceivable, must the sinking of the soul be in such a case!
"If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire!" Revelation 20:15
"Such, in brief, is the portion awaiting the lost—
eternal separation from the Fount of all goodness;
torment of soul and body;
endless existence in the Lake of Fire,
in association with the vilest of the vile;
every ray of hope excluded;
utterly crushed and overwhelmed by
the wrath of a sin-avenging God!"
(Arthur Pink, "Eternal Punishment")
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David's terrible sin
(Arthur Pink, "David's Terrible Sin")
"Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. " Psalm 51:1-2
Why did God permit David to fall so fearfully, and sin so grievously?
One reason may be—that we might have set before our eyes the more clearly—the solemn fact that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9). Unmistakably plain as the meaning of those words is, uttered by Him who cannot lie—yet how very slow we all are to really receive them at their face value, and acknowledge that they accurately describe the natural state of every human heart! But God has done more than make this bare statement: He has placed on record in His Word— illustrations, exemplifications, demonstrations of its verity—notably so in allowing us to see the unspeakable wickedness that still remained in the heart of David!
Also, the fearful fall of David, made way for a display of the amazing grace of God, in recovering His fallen people. If we are slow to receive what Scripture teaches concerning the depravity of the human heart and the exceeding sinfulness of sin—we are equally slow to really believe what it reveals about the covenant-faithfulness of God, the efficacy of Christ's blood to cleanse the foulest stain from those for whom it was shed, and the super-abounding grace of Him who is "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort." Had David never sinned so grievously and sunken so low—he would have never known those infinite depths of mercy which are in the heart of God!
Also, had his terrible sin, his subsequent broken-hearted confession, and his pardon by God, never been placed in the Divine record—many of God's people throughout the centuries would have sunk in abject despair.
Also, thousands, from age to age, have by this solemn example of David's terrible sin, been rendered . . . .
more suspicious of themselves,
more afraid of temptation,
more dependent on the Lord,
and more fervent in prayer.
By means of David's fall—they have, themselves, been preserved from falling!
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Do not expect a smooth and easy path!
(Arthur Pink, "David's Flight")
Prosperity is often a mixed blessing, and adversity is far from being an unmixed calamity!
Alternating spiritual prosperity and adversity, is the lot of God's people on this earth. All is not unclouded sunshine with them—nor is it unrelieved gloom and storm. There is a mingling of both:
assistance from friends—and injuries from foes;
smiles from the Lord's countenance—and the hidings of His face.
By such changes, opportunities are afforded for the development and exercise of different graces, so that we may, in our measure, "know how to be abased—and how to abound . . . both to be full—and to be empty" (Phil. 4:12). But above all, that we may, amid varying circumstances, prove the unchanging faithfulness of God—and His sufficiency to supply our every need.
Ah, my reader, if you are one of God's elect—do not expect a smooth and easy path through this earthly wilderness—but be prepared for varying circumstances and drastic changes. The Christian's resting place is not in this world, for "here have we no continuing city" (Hebrews 13:14). The Christian is a "pilgrim," on a journey; he is a "soldier," called on to fight the good fight of faith. The more this is realized, the less keen will be the disappointment, when our ease is disturbed, and our outward peace harshly broken in upon.
"Many are the afflictions of the righteous," and if 'troubles' do not come to us in one form—they most certainly will in another! If we really appropriate this promise—then we shall not be so staggered when afflictions come upon us. It is written that, "it is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22), and therefore we should make up our minds to expect the same, and to "not to think it strange" (1 Peter 4:12) when we are called upon to pass through "the fiery trial." Affliction, tribulation, and fiery trial—are a times, our portion here on earth.
Changing circumstances afford opportunity for the development and exercise of different graces. Some graces are of the active and aggressive kind—while others are of a passive order, requiring quite another setting for their display. Some of the traits which mark the soldier on a battlefield, would be altogether out of place were he languishing on a bed of sickness. Both spiritual joy and godly sorrow—are equally beautiful in their season.
As there are certain vegetables, fruits, and flowers which cannot be grown in lands which are unvisited by nipping winds and biting frosts—so there are some fruits of the Spirit which are only produced in the soil of severe trials, troubles and tribulations!
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On just such husks, do the religious swine feed!
(Arthur Pink, "Take Heed What You Read")
If you value the health of your soul, cease hearing and quit reading—all that is lifeless, unctionless, and powerless. Life is too short to waste valuable time on that which does not profit. Ninety-nine out of every hundred of the religious books, booklets, and magazines now being published—are not worth the paper on which they are printed!
"Those who live according to the flesh—have their minds set on what the flesh desires," (Romans 8:5). They are charmed with . . .
witty allusions, and
On just such husks, do the religious swine feed!
Ah, it is a great thing when once the Holy Spirit teaches a soul—that it is power which is lacking from the lifeless preaching of dead professors. It is power which the renewed soul seeks—a message which has power to search his conscience, to pierce him to the quick, to write it upon his heart; a message which has power to bring him to his knees in broken-hearted confession to God; a message which has power to make him feel that he is "vile"; a message which has power to drive him to Christ, for the binding up of his wounds, for Him to pour in "oil and wine," and send him on his way rejoicing. Yes, what the renewed soul longs for (though at first he knows it not) is that Divine message which comes to him "not simply with words—but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction!" 1 Thessalonians 1:5. Sooner or later, every Christian comes to value "power," and to count as worthless, whatever lacks it.
It is by Divine power, that he is taught in his own soul, by which he is made to feel acutely his sinnership, his carnality, his beggarliness.
It is Divine power working in his heart—which draws his affections unto things above, and makes his soul pant after God "as the deer pants after the water brooks." Psalm 42:1
It is this Divine power working in him—which reveals to his burdened spirit the Throne of Grace, and causes him to implore mercy and to seek grace "to help in time of need."
It is this Divine power working in him—which makes him cry "Make me walk along the path of Your commands—for there I find delight!" Psalm 119:35
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It is better to stay at home and read God's Word
(Arthur Pink, "A Call to Separation")
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and the Devil? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols?" 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
This command is so plain, that it requires no interpreter.
Christ—and the Devil;
God's temple—and idols.
What do they have in common?
This is a call to godly separation. This passage gives utterance to a Divine exhortation for those belonging to Christ—to hold aloof from all intimate associations with the ungodly. It expressly forbids them entering into alliances with the unconverted. It definitely prohibits the children of God walking arm-in-arm with worldlings. It is an admonition applying to every phase and department of our lives—religious, domestic, social, commercial. And never, perhaps, was there a time when it more needed pressing on Christians, than now. The days in which we are living are marked by the spirit of compromise. On every side we behold unholy mixtures, ungodly alliances, and unequal yokes. Many professing Christians appear to be trying how near to the world they may walk—and yet go to Heaven!
To Israel, God said, "So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all My regulations and be careful to keep My laws, for I, the Lord, am your God!" (Leviticus 18:3-4) And again, "Do not live by the customs of the people whom I will expel before you. It is because they do these terrible things—that I detest them so much!" (Leviticus 20:23) It was for their disregard of these very prohibitions, that Israel brought down upon themselves such severe chastisements.
God's call to His people in Babylon is, "Come out of her, My people! Do not take part in her sins!" (Revelation 18:4) No one can be a whole-hearted follower of the Lord Jesus who is, in any way, "yoked" to His enemies!
"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers." This applies first to our religious connections. How many Christians are members of so-called "churches," where much is going on which they know is at direct variance with the Word of God—either the teaching from the pulpit, the worldly attractions used to draw the ungodly, and the worldly methods employed to finance it, or the constant receiving into its membership of those who give no evidence of having been born again. Believers in Christ who remain in such "churches" are dishonoring their Lord. Should they answer: "Practically all the churches are the same, and were we to resign, what would we do? We must go somewhere on Sundays!" Such language would show they are putting their own interests, before the glory of Christ. It is better to stay at home and read God's Word—than fellowship with that which His Word condemns!
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The evangelistic monstrosity of the day!
(Arthur Pink, "Present Day Evangelism")
Alas, alas, God's way of salvation is almost entirely unknown today, the nature of Christ's salvation is almost universally misunderstood, and the terms of His salvation misrepresented on every hand. The "Gospel" which is now being proclaimed is, in nine cases out of every ten—but a perversion of the Truth! Tens of thousands, assured they are bound for heaven—are now hastening to hell as fast as time can take them!
It is the bounden duty of every Christian, to have no dealings with the evangelistic monstrosity of the day, to withhold all moral and financial support of the same, to attend none of their meetings, to circulate none of their tracts. Those preachers who tell sinners that they may be saved without forsaking their idols, without repenting, without surrendering to the Lordship of Christ—are as erroneous and dangerous as others who insist that salvation is by works, and that heaven must be earned by our own efforts!
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New Year Prayers, from the diary of Ruth Bryan
Be pleased, dear Lord, to grant me during the present year—more of Your gracious presence, more tenderness of conscience and fear of offending You; more humility, stronger faith, and more entire devotedness to Your cause. Enable me to leave my temporal concerns entirely with You, to walk by faith, to have my treasure in heaven, and to manifest by my conduct—that I am Your disciple. Let me not grow cold or lukewarm—but may "I lay aside every weight and the sin which does so easily beset me, and may I run with patience the race set before me, looking unto Jesus. Amen."
"Here I raise my Ebenezer." Thus far the Lord has brought me. Though the past has been a year of multiplied transgressions and backslidings, I trust, through His abundant mercy, my face is still Zionward, and that my prevailing desire is to be devoted entirely to His service. Take me, dearest Lord, and form me for Your own glory. I feel much bodily weakness. Oh, that through the crevices of this frail tabernacle, I may see some of the glories of the eternal world!
Most dear and precious Christ, I had not thought to see another new-year's day—but hoped before now—to have beheld You face to face! Like him of old, who was possessed of a legion of demons, I besought that I might be with You. But for a season, You have seen good to withhold the full answer to my request. "May Your will be done!" Glorify Yourself in me, and be much, very much with me, until You shall say, "Arise, my love, and come away," to be with Me forever! I desire most humbly and unreservedly, in Your own strength, to yield to Your Divine disposal—all I have and am, and to continually lose my wish and will, in Yours. I would lay at Your feet all creatures and created good, with every seeming evil—and embrace Yourself, my Jesus, as my joy, portion, happiness, wisdom, strength, peace—yes, my all in all—for the coming year, or so much of it as I tarry upon earth; and then, as my joyful, blissful portion through eternity! Oh, lead me, Holy Comforter, more into Christ—and out of SELF! I have had much of blessing—but I long and pray for more; in Jesus' name. Enlarge my expectations more, I beg You—and more I shall receive. "Lord, increase my faith."
Precious Christ, I come with a large request for 1842: it is that You would be the "Alpha and Omega" of it. Do You not say, "Ask what I shall give you?" Yourself, Lord! You have most blessedly given Yourself to me. But I find sweet liberty to entreat more unfolding, revealing, and opening of Your glorious person, amazing work, and matchless love, than I have yet had; and more losing and treading down of SELF, too—that I may be lost in Your fullness, and forgotten and forsaken in Your soul-absorbing glories. Oh! raise me higher, draw me nearer, that I may daily die, and You live in me more manifestly. I just give myself to You, to live on You, to live in You, to live for You, more and more than heretofore, and that by the power of the Spirit resting on me. I humbly ask that mine may be a large and still-increasing portion; that, under fresh anointings, You, most lovely Jesus, may be more fully known, more loved, more served; for it is to You the Holy Spirit leads, of You He testifies.
Oh, do make this a large, rich, full year! You being increasingly honored in me, and I increasingly lost in You, and made an increasing blessing to Your dear people. An Ebenezer for past mercies befits me; large and magnificent have been Your bestowments; bountiful and constant Your favors to me—a poor worthless nothing! "Bless the Lord, O my soul—and all that is within me, bless His holy name!"
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There are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire!
(Arthur Pink, "Present Day Evangelism")
The nature of Christ's salvation, is woefully misrepresented by the present-day "evangelist." He announces a Savior from hell—rather than a Savior from sin! And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire—who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness!
The very first thing said of Him in the New Testament is—"You shall call His name Jesus—for He shall save His people...[not "from the wrath to come," but] from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). Christ is a Savior for those realizing something of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, who feel the awful burden of it on their conscience, who loathe themselves for it, and who long to be freed from its terrible dominion. He is a Savior for no others. Were He to "save from hell" those still in love with sin, He would be a minister of sin, condoning their wickedness and siding with them against God. What an unspeakably horrible and blasphemous thing, with which to charge the Holy One!
True, as the Christian grows in grace, he has a clearer realization of what sin is—rebellion against God; and a deeper hatred of and sorrow for it. But to think that one may be saved by Christ, whose conscience has never been smitten by the Spirit, and whose heart has not been made contrite before God—is to imagine something which has no existence in the realm of fact. "It is not the healthy who need a doctor—but the sick" (Matthew 9:12). The only ones who really seek relief from the great Physician, are those who are sick of sin—who long to be delivered from its God-dishonoring works, and its soul-defiling pollutions.
As Christ's salvation is a salvation from sin—from the love of it, from its dominion, from its guilt and penalty—then it necessarily follows, that the first great task and the chief work of the evangelist, is to preach upon SIN: to define what sin (as distinct from crime) really is, to show wherein its infinite enormity consists, to trace out its manifold workings in the heart, to indicate that nothing less than eternal punishment is its desert!
Ah, preaching upon sin will not make him popular nor draw the crowds, will it? No, it will not; and knowing this, those who love the praise of men more than the approbation of God, and who value their salary above immortal souls, trim their sales accordingly!
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When they awake in hell!
(Arthur Pink, "Present Day Evangelism")
If "modern evangelism" is weighed in the balances of Holy Writ, it will be found lacking; lacking that which is vital to genuine conversion, lacking what is essential if sinners are to be shown their need of a Savior, lacking that which will produce the transformed lives of new creatures in Christ Jesus.
The "evangelism" of the day is not only superficial to the last degree—but it is radically defective. It is utterly lacking a foundation on which to base an appeal for sinners to come to Christ. There is not only a lamentable lack of proportion (the mercy of God being made far more prominent than His holiness, His love than His wrath)—but there is a fatal omission of that which God has given for the purpose of imparting a knowledge of sin. There is not only a reprehensible introducing of humorous witticisms and entertaining anecdotes—but there is a studied omission of dark background upon which alone the Gospel can effectively shine forth.
In twentieth-century evangelism, there has been a woeful ignoring of the solemn truth of the total depravity of man. There has been a complete underrating of the desperate case and condition of the sinner. Very few indeed have faced the unpalatable fact—that every man is thoroughly corrupt by nature, that he is completely unaware of his own wretchedness, blind and helpless, and dead in trespasses and sins! Because such is his case, because his heart is filled with enmity against God—it follows that no man can be saved without the special and supernatural intervention of God.
The teaching of Holy Writ on this point is unmistakable: man's plight is such that his salvation is impossible, unless God puts forth His almighty power. No stirring of the emotions by anecdotes, no regaling of the senses by music, no oratory of the preacher, no persuasive appeals—are of the slightest avail. None but the Holy Spirit can make him willing in the day of His power (Psalm 110:3). He alone can produce godly sorrow for sin, and saving faith in the Gospel. He alone can make us not love ourselves first and foremost, and bring us into subjection to the Lordship of Christ.
But serious indeed as is the above indictment, worse still is that which is being retailed by the cheap-jack evangelists of the day. The positive content of their message is nothing but a throwing of dust in the eyes of the sinner. His soul is put to sleep by the devil's opiate, ministered in a most unsuspecting form. Those who really receive the "message" which is now being given out from most of the "orthodox" pulpits and platforms today—are being fatally deceived. It is a way which seems right unto a man—but unless God sovereignly intervenes by a miracle of grace, all who follow it will surely find, that the ends thereof are the ways of death! Tens of thousands who confidently imagine that they are bound for heaven—will get a terrible disillusionment, when they awake in hell!
What is the Gospel? Is the Gospel a message of glad tidings from heaven to make God-defying rebels at ease in their wickedness? Is it given for the purpose of assuring the pleasure-crazy young people that, providing they only "believe," there is nothing for them to fear in the future? One would certainly think so, from the way in which the Gospel is presented—or rather perverted, by most of today's 'evangelists'! And the more so, when we look at the lives of their 'converts'! Surely those with any degree of spiritual discernment, must perceive that to assure such 'converts' that God loves them and His Son died for them, and that a full pardon for all their sins (past, present and future) can be obtained by simply 'accepting Christ as their personal Savior'—is but a casting of pearls before swine! Because the churches are so largely filled with these 'converts', explains why they are so unspiritual and worldly.