En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Archive for the ‘Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones’ Category

Why does God…? Why doesn’t He…?

Posted by Scott on March 4, 2008

  by Martyn Lloyd-Jones  

 

March 3
Why does God … ? Why doesn’t He … ?
     Let us follow [Habbakuk] as he applies this method* to the two major problems that troubled him….
     (a) God is eternal. After stating his difficulty the prophet declares, ‘Art thou not from everlasting?’ (1:12). You see, he is laying down a proposition. He is forgetting for a moment the immediate problem, and asking himself what it was he was sure of about God…. He had just said (1:11) that the Chaldeans, flushed with success, imputed their power to their god; and … he began to think, ‘Their god—what is their god? Just something they have made themselves (cf. Isaiah 46). God … the everlasting God … is not like the gods whom men worship . . . He is God from eternity to eternity … He has preceded history; He has created history. His throne is above the world and outside time. He reigns in eternity, the everlasting God.’
     (b) God is self-existent … the eternal I AM…. The name ‘I AM that I AM’ means, ‘I am the Absolute, the self-existent One’. Here is a second vital principle. God is not in any sense dependent upon anything that happens in the world…. Not only is He not dependent upon the world, but He need never have created it had He not willed to do so. The tremendous truth concerning the Trinity is that an eternally self-existent life resides in the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here again is wonderful reassurance…. The problem begins to fade.
     (c) God is holy … utterly, absolutely righteous and holy, ‘a consuming fire’. ‘God is light and in him is no darkness at all.’ And the moment you consider Scriptures like that you are forced to ask, ‘Can the Lord of the earth do that which is unrighteous?’ Such a thing is unthinkable.
     (d) God is almighty … The God who created the whole world out of nothing, who said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light, has absolute power; He has illimitable might. He is ‘ The Rock’.

(continued on March 4)

*December 20, pp. 25-28.

From Fear to Faith, pp. 28-30

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The Life and Ministry of Dr. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones!

Posted by Scott on March 4, 2008

Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones:

His Life and Ministry  

by Sir Fred Catherwood  

With the death of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, a great pillar of the 20th century evangelical church has been removed. A pillar, however, is too static a metaphor to describe such a figure, for his spiritual and intellectual leadership created a new dynamic which owed little to the church he entered in the mid-twenties. By the fifties its full impact had been felt; by then there were ministers not only in Britain but around the world, who understood and preached a full-blooded gospel. That gospel once more rested fairly and squarely on the framework of reformation theology, based on the sure foundation of apostolic and biblical authority, and irradiated by the example of 18th century evangelism.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones was brought up in Welsh Calvinistic Methodism, first as a boy in Wales and then as a teenager and student in London, when the Charing Cross Chapel, which his family attended, was living on the left-over emotion of the Welsh revival. There was little doctrine to counter the rising trend of liberalism or to bring out the distinction between church-goers and true Christians. The three Lloyd-Jones boys enjoyed intellectual debate, but each was more committed to his career than to his professed faith.

Martyn’s career was medicine. He went from school to Barts, one of the great London teaching hospitals, and was brilliantly successful. He succeeded in his exams so young that he had to wait to take his MD, by which time he was already chief clinical assistant to Sir Thomas Horder, one of the best and most famous doctors of the day. By the age of 26 he also had his MRCP and was well up the rungs of the Harley Street ladder, with a brilliant and lucrative career in front of him. Then something happened.

Slowly, reading for himself, his mind was gripped by the Christian gospel, its compelling power and its balanced logic, like the majestic self-supporting arches of a great cathedral. He had no dramatic crisis of conversion, but there came a point when he had committed himself entirely to the Christian gospel. After that, as he sat in the consulting room, listening to the symptoms of those who came to see him, he realised that what so many of his patients needed was not ordinary medicine, but the gospel he had discovered for himself. He could deal with the symptoms, but the worry, the tension, the obsessions could only be dealt with by the power of Christian conversion. Increasingly he felt that the best way to use his life and talents was to preach that gospel.

At the same time he faced another crisis. He wanted to marry Bethan Phillips, who attended Charing Cross with her parents and two brothers. Her father was a well-known eye specialist and Bethan was about to qualify as a doctor at University College Hospital. After what had been a long courtship he told her that he wanted to give up Harley Street and become, a Minister. After a year in which God clearly guided her too, they married and in 1927, after their honeymoon in Torquay, they moved in to their first home, a small manse in Aberavon, beside Port Talbot.

The dramatic move of the young Harley Street specialist and his new bride could hardly fail to attract attention and the press descended on them. Mrs. Lloyd-Jones once turned a reporter away at the front door with ‘no comment’ and was horrified to read the headline next day ‘ “My husband is a wonderful man” says Mrs. Lloyd-Jones.’

The press description of the solidly built two storey Manse as a ‘dock-side cottage’ did not go down very well with the office bearers. The local doctors were not too happy with the new arrival either. They felt certain that he had come to show them up and poach their patients. It could all have gone sour. But it didn’t.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones was not another young minister fresh out of a liberal theological college, trimming his message to contemporary opinion and the prejudices of his congregation. He was determined to preach the message with the crystal clarity in which it had come to him. That was too much for some of the congregation and they left. But in their place – slowly at first- there came increasing numbers who were gripped by the truth, the working class of South Wales. The message brought them and the power of the Holy Spirit converted them. There were no dramatic appeals, just a young man with the clear message of God’s justice and his love, which brought one hard case after another to repentance and conversion.

He was not able to throw off his medical career entirely. In the South Wales of Cronin’s The Citadel his brilliant diagnostic skill was in short supply. After a few years during which he was deliberately ignored by the local medical fraternity, he was called to a case which defied diagnosis. He knew exactly the nature of the obscure disease, from which the patient would apparently recover and then die. His prognosis was borne out exactly and the general practitioner said: ‘I should go down on my knees to ask your forgiveness for what I’ve said about you.’ After that it was difficult to keep down the medical calls on his time.

The church in Aberavon grew with the steady stream of conversions. Notorious drunkards became glorious Christians and working men and women came to the Bible classes which he and his wife conducted to learn the doctrines of their new-found faith. And around South Wales, other churches, often starved of sound teaching and of preaching which dealt with the world as it was in the depth of the great slump, invited him to their pulpits. His reputation grew across the Principality – and outside.

The evangelical with perhaps the greatest national standing in the thirties was G. Campbell Morgan, Minister of Westminster Chapel. When he heard Martyn Lloyd-Jones, he wanted to have him as his colleague and successor in 1938. But it was not so easy, for there was also a proposal that he be appointed Principal of the Theological College at Bala; and the call of Wales and of training a new generation of ministers for Wales was strong. In the end the call from Westminster Chapel prevailed and the Lloyd-Jones family with their daughters, Elizabeth and Ann, were finally committed to London in April 1939. He had begun his ministry there, on a temporary basis, in September 1938.

Campbell Morgan personified the evangelical tradition after Spurgeon. He was an Arminian and his Bible exposition, though famous, did not deal in the great doctrines of the Reformation. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was in the tradition of Spurgeon, Whitefield, the Puritans and the Reformers. Yet the two men respected each other’s positions and talents and their brief partnership, until Campbell Morgan died at the end of the war, was entirely happy.

September 1938 saw the Munich crisis and a very uncertain future for the new ministry. For the next year the family lived with the Doctor’s widowed mother in Vincent Square and, when the war finally came, they moved to Haslemere in Surrey. But the services at Westminster Chapel went on, apart from a brief time in the Livingstone Hall, until in 1944 a flying bomb exploded on the Guards Chapel a few hundred yards away, covering the Westminster Chapel preacher and congregation in fine white dust. One member of the congregation opened her eyes after the bang, saw everyone covered in white and decided that she must be in heaven!

For the next year the services were again in the Livingstone Hall nearby. Meantime the Doctor had become sole minister and had moved into a manse in Ealing just as the flying bombs started to rain on London. But he, his family and the Chapel were spared. He had been given an assurance by God that the Chapel would not be destroyed.

London, the great metropolis, is a sink for provincial reputations. Great Scottish orators have come to nothing in the face of sharp London audiences. The bombing, the flying bombs and the difficulties of travel hit central London churches and the new minister’s style and message were not that of Dr. Campbell Morgan. But Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s preaching met a need and his reputation spread. For everyone who left the Chapel, someone else arrived, so that by the end of the war he had a firmly settled congregation and a well established position.

In his approach to the work of the pulpit Dr. Lloyd-Jones did not follow Spurgeon. He believed in working steadily through a book of the Bible, taking a verse or part of a verse at a time, showing what it taught, how that fitted into teaching on the subject elsewhere in the Bible, how the whole teaching was relevant to the problems of our own day and how the Christian position contrasted with currently fashionable views.

He kept himself in the background and tried to show his congregation the mind and word of God, letting the message of the Bible speak for itself. His expository preaching aimed both to let God speak as directly as possible to the man in the pew with the full weight of divine authority and also to minimise the intervention of the preacher and the watering-down of the direct and authoritative message by human intrusion and diversion. 

His style was that of sharp clinical diagnosis, analysing the worldly view, showing its futility in dealing with the power and persistence of evil, and contrasting the Christian view, its logic, its realism and its power. He had the ability to clothe his clinical analysis with vivid and gripping language, so that it stayed in the mind. He could be scathing about the follies of the world and give a contrasting vision of the wisdom and power of God in a way which brought strong reaction from his audience. People would walk out, determined never to come again; yet, despite themselves, they would be back in the pew the next Sunday until, no longer able to resist the message, they became Christians.

After the war, the congregations grew quickly. In 1947 the balconies were opened and from 1948 until 1968 when he retired, the congregation averaged perhaps 1500 on Sunday mornings and 2000 on Sunday nights.

Discussion classes

On Friday nights, he continued his Aberavon practice of discussion classes; using the Socratic method, he made the members of the class work through the logic of their own confident assertions. He would try to bring out contrasting views, matching the proponents against each other, putting the objections and solutions no one had thought of, until finally he led the class to a conclusion with which few of them could by then disagree. He would himself confront the few who could stand it, leading them inexorably down their own false trail to the precipice at the bottom! Afterwards he would apologise and say: ‘I know that a lot of people hold the view you put, and I cannot be as brutal with them in public as I have been with you, but I know you are big enough to take it!’ In the early fifties the Friday night discussion had become too big and there was a demand for a straight Bible study, so in 1953 the Friday night Bible studies took over for a much larger audience in the main church. He began with a series on Biblical doctrine and then commenced the long study on Paul’s letter to the Romans which was subsequently published in book form.

At the beginning of the war Dr. Lloyd-Jones had become President of the Inter-Varsity Fellowship of Evangelical Unions and was deeply involved in advising and guiding their founder and General Secretary, Dr. Douglas Johnson. In 1939 and then after the war, he and Douglas Johnson met with the leaders of the movements of other countries and formed the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students.

Both the British and the International movements have since grown greatly and both owe a great deal to his formative influence. He encouraged them to add to their pietism and evangelism a strong backbone of sound doctrinal teaching. To those who argued that ‘intellectualism’ detracted from evangelistic zeal, he pointed out that a sound basis of belief was the only sure foundation for evangelism. This change of emphasis was enormously important in the battle for the minds of students and in ensuring that IVF was not a passing student enthusiasm.

Utterly unimpressed

But Martyn Lloyd-Jones also made sure that IVF conceded nothing to the liberal wing of the church. He took the view of Francis Bacon, the founding father of modern science, that science was about secondary causes and that men had no business to believe that they could enquire into the great primary cause beyond what God had himself revealed.

He was utterly unimpressed by the theory of evolution well before scientists themselves had begun to express doubts. For that reason, he saw no need for a theory of ‘creative evolution’. Theology came first. What were we taught about the Creator in his own revelation to us? Theology must guide our attitude to science, not the other way round. As a distinguished physician, trained in medical science, and also a theologian, he could understand both theology and science and his views carried weight. The IVF increased in strength, while in course of time the once strong Student Christian Movement, with its liberal views, faded from sight.

It was not long before this powerful leadership produced a group of young ministers and theologians and a regular forum for discussion. This was the Puritan Conference, which met regularly every December under his chairmanship. In its early days some Anglicans were among the leading figures, as was lain Murray. There was a strong feeling for the need to go back to the theological foundations of the Protestant tradition, to the period when a hundred years after the Reformation, its theological implications had been worked out. Papers were read and discussed and Dr. Lloyd-Jones chaired the meetings with skill and authority. The proceedings were good-humoured, but no one was allowed to get away with slipshod thinking or to make theological slips.

The conference influenced scores of young ministers each year and established a tough theological position in face of the rise of situational ethics and the general repudiation of authority by the clerical establishment in the fifties and sixties. The ‘Banner of Truth’ publishing house and The Evangelical Magazine were both started with help and encouragement from Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who also powerfully backed the work of the Evangelical Library.

On a pastoral level, he led a monthly ministers’ fraternal since the early forties, when pastors discussed all the problems they faced both within the church and in its outreach. Here his ever widening experience, his profound wisdom and his down-to-earth common sense helped many a young minister with apparently unique and insoluble difficulties.

A strong character and a strong leader cannot avoid controversy. Believing, as he did, in the power of the Holy Spirit to convict and convert, he was profoundly opposed to the tradition which had grown up since Moody and Sankey of large meetings with soft music and emotional appeals for conversion. Though he never made any public criticism of particular evangelists, he never took part in or supported the large crusades. Billy Graham came to see him at the Chapel in the fifties, but though he never criticised the Graham crusades, he would not support them either.

However, it was in his relations with the Church of England that the most serious controversy came. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was a strong believer in evangelical unity. He did not believe that denominational barriers should separate those who had a true faith in common. And, as the ecumenical movement gathered impetus and the liberal wing in the churches made greater and greater concessions to the currents of worldly opinion, he came to believe that the right answer was for the evangelicals to leave the compromised denominations and form their own grouping. He had no illusions about the possible ultimate fate of new church groupings. They might, in their own time, go astray. But he maintained that each of us had to do the best for our own generation, regardless of what might come later, and that the ecumenical movement put those who stood for the long line of truly Christian theology and practice in an impossible position.

The crisis came in a meeting chaired by the Rev. John Stott, leader of the evangelical wing of the Church of England. Martyn Lloyd-Jones made an immensely powerful appeal to his large audience to come out of the compromised denominations. The meeting was a watershed. The evangelical Anglicans went one way and evangelicals in the nonconformist churches went the other. When the Congregational Union merged with the English Presbyterian Church, Westminster Chapel left the Congregational Union and joined the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches. Many evangelical ministers in the Baptist Union and the Methodist church left those bodies some with and some without their congregations.

The British Evangelical Council linked the FIEC and other small evangelical denominations. These churches have held their own in face of the secularist trend, while the traditional nonconformist churches have gone into steep decline. On the Anglican side, some evangelical theologians took a leading part in attempting to find accommodation between the Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic and Liberal wings and, most regretfully, the Puritan Conference to which they had initially contributed, was disbanded. In its place, those who took the same view of the ecumenical movement as Dr. Lloyd-Jones, formed the Westminster Conference, which he continued to chair and lead with vigour. This avoided the issue becoming a continual grumbling controversy between the majority opposed to the ecumenical movement and the minority who believed in remaining in the ecumenically-linked denominations.

He had always pointed to the combination in the Welsh Calvinistic Methodists of the doctrine of the Calvinists and the enthusiasm of the Methodists. In the sixties, he became anxious lest the newly recovered emphasis on sound reformed doctrine should turn into an arid doctrinaire hardness. To counteract this danger he began in his teaching to emphasise the importance of experience. He spoke much of the necessity for experimental knowledge of the Holy Spirit, of full assurance by the Spirit, and of the truth that God deals immediately and directly with his children – often illustrating these things from church history.

 Early in 1968, in his 68th year, Dr. Lloyd-Jones had a major operation and, though he recovered fully, he decided that the time had come after 30 years at Westminster to retire as minister. His ministry had, on any reckoning, been greatly blessed by God. There had been a steady stream of conversions, many remarkable and, above all, a wide variety of people from all walks of life had been taught the breadth and depth of Christian doctrine.

At the Chapel were soldiers from the nearby Wellington Barracks, workers from west-end hotels and restaurants, nurses from the big hospitals, the ‘Antioch club’ of actors and actresses from west-end theatres, civil servants junior and senior from Whitehall, and chronically unemployed coming in from the Salvation Army hostel. His last sermon, on June 8 1980 was preached in the church of a minister who had come to the Chapel as a newly-converted building labourer, as tough and sharp a young Cockney as you could find. Dr. Oliver Barclay, Douglas Johnson’s successor and General Secretary of IVF (now UCCF), used to attend the Chapel and also his successor Dr. Robin Wells.

The church was always full of students, especially overseas students, among which was the now President Moi of Kenya. The Chinese Church used to attend in the morning and many Plymouth Brethren in the evening. When the Exclusive Brethren split up, many who lived in London came to Westminster Chapel. And, of course, there were many professional workers, teachers, lawyers, accountants and perhaps more than a fair share of those who had some mental deficiency. Young and old, rich and poor, men and women, bright and dull, all seemed to come in equal measure to hear the Christian message put with a power and authority not often matched.

All kinds and conditions of people came to see him in the vestry afterwards, where he would spend hours patiently listening and wisely advising. One of them has written: ‘I have a lovely memory of going to him in deep personal need, yet very afraid of his formidable public manner. His gentleness and winsome kindliness, coupled with such straight simple advice, won my heart. His brain and brilliance as a preacher earned respect and admiration; that other gentler side, shown to me in private, made one love him.’

In the 12 years after his retirement he continued both the Fraternal and the Westminster Conference and gave a great deal of his time to counselling other ministers, answering letters and talking endlessly on the telephone. Freed from the rigid routine of Sundays at Westminster he was then able to add to the outside engagements he had taken as a minister, especially by taking weekends at small and remote causes, which he loved to encourage.

After much protest, he began to do some television. When Joan Bakewell on late evening TV said that she was surprised that anyone listened today to such old-fashioned views, he said, ‘They may be old-fashioned, but they can still fill the Free Trade Hall in Manchester. Tell me a modern politician who can do that.’ Wherever he went, he filled the halls and churches.

He believed that, even in a secular age, people respond to the uncompromising truth, – a view which was confirmed as he saw the liberal churches emptying and the evangelicals maintaining their cause. He travelled to Europe and the United States again, but refused new and return invitations to other countries.

Perhaps the most lasting result of these years was in the time it gave him to turn his sermons into book form. He had already published a number of small books such as Why does God allow war? and Spiritual Depression, which was a best-seller. The first of the bigger books had been the two volumes of Studies in the Sermon on the Mount. Now he set out to publish two series, on Ephesians and on Romans, bringing out one or two books a year.

Although sermons are notoriously unpublishable today, all the volumes in these series sell well throughout the English-speaking world, showing that there is a real demand for reasoned, analytical and applied Bible exposition. He had many letters from all corners of the earth. One day, for example, he was visited by the Rev. Chuck Smith of Calvary Church, Costa Mesa, California, who told him that the books had transformed his preaching. He had once driven himself into mental breakdown trying to use his personality to put over the message. Since then he had let the Bible speak for itself and said that both his ministry and his own health had benefited enormously. What he did not say was that his Sunday morning congregation was then up to 24,000!
Martyn Lloyd-Jones had a very happy home, which was open every Christmas to those members of the church who had nowhere else to go. Before Christmas the carollers from the church came to the manse after their rounds and the conclusion of the evening was a fiercely fought table tennis match between the minister and his wife, spurred on by the cheers of the party. In retirement he used to take his older grandchildren on in argument. They were like young cubs going for an old lion, daring where no one else would dare, thrown back by a growl, but bounding in again at once.

In 1979 illness returned and he had to cancel all his engagements. He was even-minded about the prospect of preaching again. He had seen too many men going on well after they should have stopped. In the spring of 1980 he was able to start again, but a visit to the Charing Cross Hospital in May revealed that his illness demanded more stringent treatment which kept him from preaching. Between wearing sessions in hospital, which he faced with courage and dignity, he carried on working on his manuscripts and giving advice to ministers, but by Christmas he was too weak for this. To the end, however, he was able to spend time with his biographer (his former assistant, lain Murray).

Towards the end of February 1981, with great peace and assured hope, he believed that his earthly work was done. To his immediate family he said: ‘Don’t pray for healing, don’t try to hold me back from the glory.’ On March 1st, St. David’s Day and the Lord’s Day – he passed on to the glory on which he had so often preached to meet the Saviour he had so faithfully proclaimed.

{short description of image} This material originally appeared in the Christian monthly newspaper, the Evangelical Times

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What Mean These Stones?

Posted by Scott on November 5, 2007

‘What mean these stones?’

(Joshua 4.21)

by: Dr D MARTYN LLOYD-JONES

Words spoken at the dedication of a church building. I would like to call your attention, on this occasion, to the words that are to be found in the book of Joshua, in chapter 4, beginning to read at verse 21 and going on to the end of the chapter. ‘And he spoke to the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then you shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until you were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us, until we were gone over. That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you might fear the Lord your God for ever.’

Now these words come in this chapter which, of course, is a very important and vital chapter in the history of the children of Israel. You remember how the children of Israel had had to go down to Egypt because of a famine that had arisen in their land and they had dwelt there. For a while they had been very prosperous. But times had changed and they had become slaves in the land of Egypt and were completely helpless.

But God had raised a man called Moses and he had led them out of the bondage and the captivity. It was a very precarious enterprise because they were soon face to face with the Red Sea. They had to cross it and they could not do so. There was the Red Sea before them and the armies of Pharaoh behind them, and the situation seemed not only desperate but impossible. And God worked a miracle. He divided the Red Sea, as we are reminded here, and the children of Israel crossed on dry land. But the moment that Pharaoh, his hosts and chariots and horses, tried to do the same, the waters closed in again and they were all drowned and finally discomfited.

Then God had led these people for forty years through a wilderness, and had fed them in a miraculous manner, by giving them the manna. And now here comes in many ways the climactic point. They are on the verge of entering Canaan, the chosen land, but they have got to cross the river of Jordan and it seems to have been in flood at this particular time. But God again worked a miracle. He divided the river Jordan exactly as he had divided the Red Sea and the people were able to cross over on dry land and enter into the Promised Land.

But God did a very interesting thing here. He commanded Joshua to call out twelve leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. He was to command these men, each one of them, to pick up a stone from the middle of the bed of the river Jordan, and each man was to carry this stone on his shoulder into the new land, Canaan. Then they were to set up these stones as pillars outside a place called Gilgal. And this was done.

In the verses I am going to consider with you we are given the reason why this was to be done. The reason why these men were to take up a stone each and why these twelve stones were to be set up outside Gilgal. The reason is this. It was to be done because ‘when your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then you shall let your children know, saying, Israel come over this Jordan’ (which was quite near there) ‘on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until you were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us, until we were gone over.’ Why? ‘That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty, that you might fear the Lord your God for ever.’

Well now I feel that this is an appropriate incident in the life and the story of the children of Israel for us to consider on this interesting occasion. Here is a new building, and people will be walking round here and passing by and in a few days probably and in the years to come people will stand outside and look at the building and at the notice board and they will say, ‘What is this? What is this building? What does it mean? What is it about?’ There are many buildings in Emgland, and there are many new buildings that have been put up in England in these last years. And people pass by and they look and they say ‘Well, what is this for?’ One is called a Masonic Lodge, another is called an Institute, and so on. But here is this building, this new building, and they will ask the question, ‘What mean these stones? What is the message of this building?’ If any of you who are members here should be asked by somebody passing by ‘What mean these stones?’, what is to be the answer?

Well I suggest that the answers are these, and they are all here. I am not going to import any. I am simply going to expound what we are told in these verses. For I believe that what we are told here is exactly what we should be saying in reply to the same question that is put to us at this present time. What does this building represent?

Well, the first answer is exactly like those stones outside Gilgal, they point to history, to certain historical events and happenings. And this, I sometimes think, is perhaps one of the most important things of which we need to remind ourselves at the present time. Our Christian faith is based entirely upon history. This is where the Christian faith differs from everything else that is being offered to men and women in the midst of our modern troubles.

Let me put it to you like this. Christianity is not a philosophy. What is a philosophy? Well, a philosophy is made up of ideas put forward by men, in an attempt to try to understand life and our problems and how to deal with them and how to solve them. It is a matter of ideas, of thoughts and of teachings. My point is that while there is obviously a teaching and a doctrine which is a vital part of Christianity, that is not the first thing. What differentiates this is that it is first and foremost a record of historical events and historical facts.

What mean these stones outside Gilgal? All that they mean is that certain things happened to these people – history. Let us be clear about this. There are so many people today who talk about the Christian attitude towards war and peace, a Christian attitude towards education, a Christian attitude towards art, drama and literature. Now all that tends to turn it into a philosophy, into a teaching, into a theory, into a point of view. But that is really not to be true to our position. So Christianity, we must remember, is not one of a number of theories and ideas and philosophies with respect to life. It is quite unique because it is teaching which is based on history.

I can go further and I can say this. That this is the thing that differentiates the Christian faith from religion, from any kind of religion. You take these religions that people, some of them, are turning to at the present time. Buddhism or Confucianism or Hinduism, or any one of these ‘isms’. What are they? Well, they are all something invented by men. They are all teachings. They involve a kind of worship, but they are not based upon facts and upon events. They are all based upon ideas – and they are ideas that are supposed to lead you and to help you to arrive at the particular deity that you want to worship.

Now here again, you see, our Christian faith is entirely different. It calls attention to facts. And that is why this building in a sense is going to do exactly the same as the bread and the wine do in a communion service. They again are calling attention to facts. So, we must start with this all important matter, this principle, and realise that it is vital to our whole situation. The uniqueness of the Christian faith depends upon a series of historical facts and events and the teaching which results from them.

But let me hurry to the second point, which is this. These facts, these events, on which our whole position is based, are not the result of man’s action but God’s action. You see, the stones outside Gilgal are not to call attention to anything the children of Israel did. They are to call attention to what God did with the children of Israel. They are memorials – pointing people, reminding people, of actions, events, historical happenings, which have been produced by Almighty God. The whole emphasis is upon that.

And so, you see, we need to be reminded of this and we need to remind others of this. People still persist in thinking that you can make yourself a Christian, and that it is as the result of certain good actions and deeds that you have done that you become a Christian. That if a man is going to arrive in Heaven, well, it is going to be the result of the life he has lived and what he has done.

This, of course, is the great characteristic of the age in which we live. It not only forgets and does not believe in God – it does not believe in the supernatural at all. The whole emphasis is upon man and the achievements of man. We are glorying in what man does scientifically. Putting people on the moon, these wonderful discoveries. Man, great man!-and what man has done!

That is the whole trouble with the world today, is it not? That it is only interested in man and interested in what man has done and what man is doing and what man can do and what man, we hope, is going to do. The whole emphasis is upon man and his actions. The uniqueness of our position, the unique message of this building, is this, that though men have erected this building, what it is pointing to is what God has done, what the Almighty has done, not man. It is a record of the activities of God. So the Bible, you see, starts by saying ‘In the beginning, God’. Not ‘In the beginning, man’ but ‘In the beginning, God’. And the Bible is really nothing but a great record of what God has done. So this building is to point to that.

And you see this building can be a very powerful evangelistic force, therefore, if we only give the right answer to the questions. When the man or the boy asks outside, ‘What is the meaning of this building? What mean these stones?’ ‘Ah’, you say, ‘this is a monument to what God has done!’ The activity of God, in the midst of this evil present world, as in the past!

But let us go further. Let us go on, let us analyse what we are told in our statement. It is a record in particular of God’s redemptive acts. Not only His acts in general. It does, as I have just quoted, it does tell you about creation, but you know the real theme of the Bible is not creation, it is redemption! You have the preliminary account, of course, of creation and the Fall, as I am going to show you, in order, in a sense, that you might know why redemption has ever become necessary. The glory of the message in this book, and what this building is going to proclaim, is God’s acts of redemption, deliverance and of salvation.

That is what we are told here. ‘Israel came over this Jordan on dry land. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over.’

What does it mean? Well, as I told you in my brief synopsis at the beginning, it is the story of the deliverance and the redemption of the children of Israel from the bondage of the captivity of Egypt. It is customary, and rightly so, for us to regard that story as a kind of picture and a fore-shadowing of the great redemption in Christ Jesus. You remember the essence of that story. Here, as I say, were these children of Israel. They had become slaves. They were suffering under a cruel bondage. The cruel taskmasters with their whips were whipping them, getting them to produce more and more bricks without providing the straw that was necessary. It was a sad, it was a sorry condition. They were helpless and they were hopeless, they could do nothing at all.

They were under a very powerful monarch, the Pharaoh, with all his chariots and his horses and his military men and all their great culture. Here were these poor people, the children of Israel, completely helpless, absolutely hopeless. But the story is that God intervened. God did something. What He did was to deliver them and to bring them out of that and to take them through the Red Sea and the Jordan and to put them in the land of promise, the land flowing with milk and honey.

Now then, that is what these stones are saying outside Gilgal, and you and I must make clear that people understand that that is what this building is announcing. This building is a proclamation of the fact that God has acted and intervened in this world in the salvation of men and women.

But we do not merely make a statement. We have got to start by saying why has God done this? Why was it ever necessary that it should be done at all? It is no use just going to people and saying ‘Jesus loves you. Jesus saves you.’ They do not know that they need to be saved. The Bible is very careful to tell us this. You know how the children of Israel had got into their miserable condition of bondage and of captivity, and it is our business to tell the modern man why he is in such grievous trouble. Why his world is tormented this afternoon. Why we are in a state of great crisis. What is it due to?

Well, our answer is that all this is due to the fact that men and women are the slaves of the Devil, that they are being governed and controlled by ‘the god of this world’, ‘the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience.’

How have they ever got into this condition? For this is their condition. Men and women are not free. They talk about freedom. Never have they been such slaves! Slaves to the newspapers. Slaves to the television. Slaves to the radio. Slaves to the thing to do. Slaves to advertising. Like sheep all doing the same thing. That is sheer slavery!

Well how did they ever get into that condition? The history gives us the answer. It was because man, whom God had created in His own image and likeness, in his folly, in his arrogance and pride, rebelled against God and wanted to be equal with God, and thereby fell and put himself in bondage to Satan. He listened to the suggestion and the temptation of Satan and so he became the slave of Satan. The whole of humanity is born in sin and shapen in iniquity. This has been the sad story of the human race, conscious of some strange bondage, anxious to get out of it but never able to do so. The whole world is in slavery to the Devil and sin. The world, the flesh and the Devil!

We must tell them further that we, by nature, are all as helpless as the children of Israel were in their physical bondage in Egypt. No man can conquer the Devil. Our Lord describes him as ‘the strong man armed who keepes his goods at peace’! Men have tried to liberate themselves from the Devil. Men try to put an end to bad habits and practises. You can make your New Year resolutions but you cannot keep them. We are weak. None of us can do this. The law was given to the children of Israel but they could not keep it. The law could not do what it should because it was weak in the flesh. Try as it will mankind cannot emancipate itself. Oh the tragedy of the last hundred years when people in their folly thought that education would set us free, that emancipation was to be found in greater knowledge and greater travel facilities and so on. But it has all proved to be useless. The slavery and the bondage are as great this afternoon as they have ever been!

Well, now, here is a world in an apparently hopeless condition. Governed by what? Greed and envy and jealousy. We are seeing it today! It is true of everybody. It is not true of one class of society only. There are politicians who would have us believe that it is only the working man and woman who are greedy and want more money. The others at the other end are equally guilty! They all love money. The millionaire loves money. The man who would like to be a millionaire loves money also! And the whole trouble is that we are in bondage to sin and to Satan. We are slaves to the lusts and the passions of the flesh and of the mind and we cannot set ourselves free!

What is this building for, what is it announcing? The message of this building is this, that God has done something about this bondage of ours, exactly as he did with the physical bondage of the children of Israel of old. This is Christianity. God’s acts of redemption. God’s eruptions into time. God coming in and delivering us there amongst the fleshpots of Egypt and in the utter hopelessness of our spiritual despair. And this is the great message, of course, and the great record of the Bible, as I have said.

Let me just note to you some of these great acts of God. What mean these stones? Oh, what these stones mean is this, that God brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry land. He has brought them through this Jordan on dry land. God has done it. The facts!

What are the facts of God’s redemption in a spiritual sense? Well, the first of course, happened in the garden of Eden itself. The woman and the man have listened to the subtle temptation of the devil and they have acted and they have rebelled, and at once they know that they are wrong. Then they suddenly hear the voice of the Lord God in the garden in the cool of the day. And He called out to them ‘Adam, where are you?’ God has come down to man in his folly, his shame, his misery, his bondage. God has come down. He did not leave it there. He did not say ‘Very well, carry on. Let things go on as they are!’ They would have festered to putrefaction! God came down!

Why did He come down? Well He came down, not only to tell them the punishment He was going to mete out upon their sin and their folly. He came down to tell them that He had got a plan of redemption for the whole race. There was not only going to be warfare and strife between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. The great promise, the Protevangel, the first intimation of God’s salvation, ‘the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head.’ God came down. He came into history to make the declaration. Now that is the first one. I am only going to pick out some of the most striking ones.

Do you remember the history of the flood? That is fact. That is history. The ancient world had got into such a state that God said there is nothing to be done but to judge it. And the whole world was condemned and destroyed apart from eight souls, one family. God condemned, destroyed. Then God gave a new start, a new beginning in this great story. And on it goes. Think then of what happened at the Tower of Babel. When men thought again they were going to be equal with God and they could arrive in heaven, God shattered it all and confused their languages, and the whole world was in a state of confusion.

But God again did an amazing thing. He acted, He intervened. He took hold of a man whose name was Abram, who lived in Ur of the Chaldees and who was a pagan. He took hold of this man and He said ‘I am going to turn you into a nation. I am going to make my own people out of you and you are going to represent Me. You are going to bear a message and ultimately through you and your seed, all the nations of the world are going to be blessed!’ God intervening! This is salvation. This is Christianity. God is now going to form a nation, so that through this nation He can teach all other nations, and condemn them, and eventually offer them His great salvation. So it is again, you see, an act and an action of God. This is Christianity, not some vague philosophy or some ideas or some attitude, but God coming down and coming in. I am simply picking out the salient features.

The children of Israel came into being – God’s people. They were different from every other nation. But as I have reminded you, in their folly they did not appreciate that. They wanted to be like the others, and they became like the others. The result of that was that God not only abandoned them, but He raised an enemy to conquer them and they were carried away as captives to Babylon. There they are again in utter and complete helplessness and hopelessness and bondage-slaves in Babylon. You would have thought that that was the end of them, and it would have been, were it not that God acts. God delivered them. He brought back a remnant. It is the action of God once more. Then He raised those great prophets to encourage them and to tell them that a great Deliverer was going to come.

God sent them. These men did not have a sudden idea. The prophets were not philosophers. They did not suddenly have a brilliant theory. God gave them a message, ‘the burden of the LORD came to me.’ This is what they all say. It is God acting, and it leads up, of course, to that amazing man, John the Baptist. Do you remember the way in which the Bible introduces John the Baptist, emphasising the point I made at the beginning, that we are dealing with history, my friends? This is how John the Baptist is introduced: ‘In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar…’

This is not a theory, this is not a story, this is not a fairy-tale or a romance. It is something that happened in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, ‘…Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea…,’ and you get all these other men, tetrarchs in Galilee, Ituræa and Trachonitis, ‘…the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.’ God spoke. It is God acting. He gave that man that message. He was the great fore-runner.

But that is entirely eclipsed by something else. ‘When the fullness of the time was come, God…’ -it is always God – ‘God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.’ We are not here to say what man has arrived at in his thinking and theorising, as to how we can serve God and please Him. It is the exact opposite. It is God seeking lost men. It is God bringing and putting into operation His plan of redemption and of salvation. And here is the supreme act. He sends His own Son into the world ‘in the fullness of the time.’ It was all predetermined, but it has arrived. God so loved the world that He gave – He sent into it – His only begotten Son. I must not keep you, my friends, but I am so anxious that we should realise that our whole position depends on these facts. It is not a teaching. It is facts, primarily, historical events, which inevitably have their teaching.

So you must go through all the facts about our Lord. When a man asks what is the meaning of this building, what is the meaning of the word ‘Evangelical’? Ah, you say this is the only hope of the world today! It is all about that man called Jesus of Nazareth. Do you know who He was? This was the only begotten Son of God. This was the perfect likeness and image of God, the eternal Father. This was God’s own Son. This is the most amazing thing that has ever happened in the whole course of human history, that God has been manifest in the flesh and has dwelt among us. This is fact. That is why you call this 1979. It is a fact. And the facts of His perfect life, His miracles, His teaching. Yes, but above all the fact of the Cross. The event that took place on a hill called Calvary. What is that?

‘Ah,’ says the world, ‘that was the death of a pacifist, wasn’t it? He was a pure man and He didn’t believe in war, or in force, or in strife. The world did not understand Him, as they had not understood Socrates, as they never understand their own greatest men. And they put Him to death. The death of a great pacifist or a great teacher. ‘

No, no! ‘God has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.’ What was happening? ‘God has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.’ It was God acting on Calvary. It was men with their hands who actually nailed Him, but He did not die because of that! It was God. He was ‘the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world’. It was God smiting Him instead of us. It was God reconciling the world to Himself. It is God acting on Calvary – as He acts everywhere. Ah, but He died and they took down His body and they buried it in a grave. And it would have been the end of the story, but for one thing. God raised Him from the dead! God raised Him! Then He ascended into Heaven and took His seat at the right hand in the Glory everlasting.

Well, now, these you see are the facts to which this building is to bear witness. That is its purpose – to tell men and women that this has happened, and why it has happened. It is a part of God’s way of delivering us and of saving us and of giving us a new life. But you know, it did not stop even there.

There was a great event on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. And we must not forget this. The Christian Church in a sense was inaugurated on the day of Pentecost. What happened then? Well, here were these men. They had got the message, and they knew who He was. God sent the Spirit on them! They had met together to pray; that was what they could do. But, you know, we are here this afternoon because of this. While these men were praying and were waiting, suddenly, there was the sound of a mighty, rushing wind! What is this? Oh, it is God! It is the Spirit coming. God has shed forth His Spirit, sent forth His mighty power. He had promised to do so and He does so. And so the Spirit came down on the Church and these simple ignorant men were enabled to preach with authority and power. Three thousand converted in one day, on the day of Pentecost, and added to the church. The joyful story of the early Christian Church!

It did not stop at that. They got into difficulties. God came in, intervened, and the miracles follow – the miraculous escapes from prisons and various other places. And the whole thing is alive with the activity of God. ‘The Acts of the Apostles’, we say. In a sense it is right, but I agree with the man who suggested that that book should be called ‘The Acts of the Holy Spirit’! The Spirit came on Peter and he spoke, and with authority. The Spirit came on Paul and he healed a man. It is the action of God.

We do not stop even at the end of the New Testament canon. Do you know why we are here this afternoon? I can tell you. It is entirely due to the activity of God. The church, like the children of Israel of old, constantly goes astray. They forget their origin; they forget their message. They even deny it! They want to become like the world and we have known that in this century. Churches having whist drives and dances and wanting to be like clubs and institutions. And the church would long ago have ceased to exist were it not for one thing. What is that? The interventions of God in history in what we call revivals.

Look at it! The Protestant Reformation! Suddenly into the midst of the chaos and deadness God comes, raises up a Martin Luther, and many others. This is how the cause has been kept going and I say that is why we are here this afternoon. It is this series of interventions of God. He has come in and He has carried on these great acts of redemption. And so we find ourselves here this afternoon. That is what these stones are saying. That is the message of this building.

But let me say just a word about the character of these acts of God. It is emphasised here. They are the acts of God. ‘The wonderful works of God’ that the Apostles were speaking about on the day of Pentecost. And the people could hear them in their various languages. But think of the character of the acts, – and here this is emphasised, – miraculous, supernatural.

What mean these stones? The answer is ‘Israel came over this Jordan on dry land’. What? Can you come over a river on dry land? Israel, came through the Red Sea on dry land? Impossible! Yes, with men. But it happened! Why? Because it was a miracle. The acts of God are supernatural and they are miraculous acts. These were phenomena and we are to tell people that our faith is based upon phenomena and it is a phenomenon in and of itself.

What does this mean? Well, we have got to tell people this quite plainly. Our position as Christians differs from that of everybody else. Your politician, he addresses a company of people, and he puts his programme before them and he appeals to their reason and asks them to vote for it. He has demonstrated it. He has shown it to them and they are capable of understanding and following the argument, and they vote for him.

We have got to start by telling people that our message is such that they cannot understand it! It is entirely different from everything that is confronting mankind this afternoon. It is a spiritual message, a supernatural message. We say to them, Look here, you won’t understand this. A great man called Nicodemus thought he could understand it and he went to see our Lord to have an explanation of it. The Lord answered him at once, and said, ‘ Verily, verily, I say to you’ – though you are a great teacher of Israel. ‘Verily, verily, I say to you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ All you have got is useless. ‘…That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I say unto you, You must be born again.’

Do not be surprised at this! Why? Well here is the answer, ‘The wind blows where it wills, and you hear its sound, but cannot tell whence it comes, and whither it goes. So is every one that is born of the Spirit.’ The whole thing is miraculous. It is supernatural. It is God intervening. It is not man striving, it is God coming down. It is not human ingenuity, it is divine wisdom. And ‘the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.’ We have got to tell people this. It is a supernatural, it is a miraculous message. It is God acting, above nature, not contradicting it, acting above it and showing His lordship over it.

And this is true of the whole story of the church. You see the people of Israel, the nation of Israel, it was a miracle nation. Israel was unlike every other nation. It had been created out of one man. That was not true of any other nation. Their whole history is miraculous and supernatural. So is the life of our Lord. So is the origin of the Church. So is the continuation of the church, as I have been showing you, and so is the case with everyone of us who is truly Christian.

You can take up religion. You cannot take up Christianity. It takes you up. It apprehends us, as Paul tells the Philippians. He was apprehended, arrested. God, in Christ, intervened in his life on the road to Damascus. He would never have understood it. He was opposed to it. But something was done to him. He was made a new man. He was a miracle. Every Christian is a miracle.

And so that is what this building is to proclaim. Not only the acts and the works of God, but their character – that they are miraculous and supernatural. And this comes out again in those revivals to which I have been referring. Every Christian is a phenomenon. And every revival is a great phenomenon. You cannot explain it. You cannot understand it. People have tried to do so, but they cannot do so. William Sargeant thought he could do it, but he could not – he completely failed. He does not understand this. He says it is a sort of conditioned reflex. You do this and that will happen. It is not so.

I have known many men who acting on that principle thought they could produce revival, by having all nights of prayer or something else. Poor fellows, they have died exhausted and the revival has not come! No, it is God alone who can do it, and it is miraculous and it is supernatural. It is a phenomenon. It is something that amazes men and causes them to cry out as those people did on the day of Pentecost – ‘What is this? What is this?’ They asked that question there as these people ask the questions about the stones outside Gilgal – and as they should ask about this building.

Very well, this brings me to my last point, which is this. What then is all this to convey to people? What is the message that this building is to convey, the answer that we give to them to the question , ‘What mean these stones’? And do you know it is all summarised here in a very terrifying manner – ‘that all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord that it is mighty.’ And that you children of Israel, Christian people, ‘might fear the Lord your God for ever’.

What is this building proclaiming here? Well, I think we have got to put it first – it is proclaiming judgment. It is to remind this godless generation that God still is and that this world is His, not ours. And to tell them that it is under judgment. Well, you say, where is that in your text? Oh, I can tell you. Go back to the incident at the Red Sea which is emphasised here. Pharaoh and his people had been maltreating the children of Israel and they had all power. And who were these people, these nobodies? But suddenly these nobodies are led out by this man Moses. Here they are at Pi-hahiroth and Baal-zephon, one each side of them – the hosts of Pharaoh behind them, the Red sea in front of them. God divides the Red sea and in they go and through. And Pharaoh in his confidence said to himself, ‘What they can do, I can do.’ He thought he was only dealing with men, and he did not listen to their warnings, the warnings of Moses about this Almighty God. They went boldly into the sea. And what happened to them! They were all destroyed. The judgment of God!

The deliverance of the children of Israel miraculously through the Red Sea is not only indicative of God’s power to save. It is equally indicative of God’s power to judge and to condemn. And the whole world is under His judgment at this moment. We are here to tell the people to ‘flee from the wrath to come’. We are here to tell them that judgment is abroad in the land. That is why everything is breaking down and is failing, approximating to the condition before the Flood, when God intervened in the Flood and in destruction. Judgment! God is again saying this.

‘You are going to be asked’, said Joshua, ‘what mean these stones?’ Well, tell them, tell those children that God manifested the glory of His power on Pharaoh and his hosts. And he will do the same to any who are opposed to His people, and opposed to Him – the evil of simply waiting for the day of destruction. There are many reserved in chains of darkness waiting for the great day when the Son of God will come again and judge the whole world in righteousness. The hand of the Lord – and it is a mighty hand, and nobody can withstand it. Nobody can avoid death. Nobody can avoid the judgment that is to follow. Tell people when they ask ‘What is the meaning of this?’, say, ‘This is announcing the judgment that is about to come on the whole world’. Judgment.

But, thank God, there is another element here. ‘That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the Lord, that it is mighty.’ Thank God it is, and because salvation depends on God, there is power sufficient to save anybody. ‘I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ’, says Paul. Why? ‘It is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.’ You see before you can be a philosopher, you must have some brains, because before you can derive benefit from Plato, Socrates etc., you have got to have the capacity to follow them. The glory of this salvation is this, it depends upon the power of God. Not on our power, not on our understanding, not on our goodness. Not on anything in us. It is the power of God.

So what if a poor fellow, drunk, stands outside this building, and asks one of you members of this church, ‘What is the meaning of this building? What does it mean?’ You can say to him, ‘My friend, it means this, that there is a power that can deliver you from the slavery of drink. There is a power that can make you not only a new man, a sober man. It can turn you into a saint.’ That is the message! That it is the power of God! That when education and culture and all medicine and everything else fail to deal with your alcoholics and your drug addicts and things which are even worse, God can do it! He has been doing it through the centuries. He is still doing it. So you tell them ‘Believe in this God! Come to Him!’

The power of God! This is what it is proclaiming! ‘The hand of the Lord, that it is mighty!’ So we have got a gospel that we can offer to all and sundry. It is not a place for respectable, nice people only. The vilest sinner can come in. We can say to him:

‘E’er since by faith, I saw the stream, Your flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme, And shall be till I die.
The dying thief rejoiced to see, That fountain in his day,
And there may I, though vile as he, Wash all my sins away.’We preach a hope to all, in a hopeless world, as it is this afternoon.

And the last note is this. The certainty of the completeness of God’s plan and purpose. All these actions and activities of God, of course, have been the carrying out of a great plan and purpose which He determined before He had even created the world. And this is but the record of how He has been carrying it out in parts and portions throughout the centuries. But He is going to finish it. It is going to be complete.

But you say is there any hope for Christianity, with militant communism and atheism and the materialism and the humanism, and all the learning of today. And all these things that keep people from churches today. Is there any future? Are these people here mad to put up this building? The answer is – if it were their activities it would be sheer madness and a tragic waste of money. But they are here because it is God’s work, and God’s work no-one can frustrate, no-one can spoil. God is Almighty. ‘The hand of the Lord it is mighty!’ The moment He arises He will blow upon men’s aristocracy, humanism, every ‘ism’, and they will just vanish out of sight. They will pass away. There will be nothing left with God. The God who has acted, as the history tells us, and has worked miracles, and has done the impossible, and has destroyed the Pharaohs and every other enemy, He will destroy every enemy. As certain as we are here this afternoon, the day is coming when:

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom stretch from shore to shore, Till moons shall wax and wane no more.Christian people lift up your heads, lift up your hearts, lift up your voices. Rejoice in the Lord God Almighty, and in His mighty, almighty hand. That is the message of this building.

So that whenever anybody asks you, ‘What is this? What does it mean?’ That is what you will say. It is God – what He has done – what He is doing – and what He is going to do.

Do you know Him? Have you submitted and fallen under His almighty hand, to escape judgment and to receive His great salvation?

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Only One Way!

Posted by Scott on November 4, 2007

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

 

Ephesians 6:10, 11 “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
 

We come now to the detailed consideration and analysis of this most important statement: ‘Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.’ The Apostle is exhorting these Ephesians to realize something of the nature of the battle in which we are all inevitably engaged as the result of being Christians. Indeed this battle exists whether we are Christians or not. The teaching of the Bible throughout is that this world in which we live is a battle-ground, is a place in which we literally have to fight for our souls, to fight for our eternal welfare.

The Apostle gives these Ephesians some very specific instruction with regard to the nature of that battle, and as to the only way in which it can be waged successfully. Clearly the exhortation is primarily for Christian people; his whole argument is based upon that consideration. At the same time, however, it has a message for everyone; for it is true to say that this is a conflict which affects all persons whether they realize it or not. Those who are not Christian do not understand their own world at this present time; they cannot understand why it is as it is, and why various things are happening. So while we are looking at the Apostle’s instruction with regard to the way to fight this great battle, we shall, incidentally, be seeing the exposure of the complete failure of all who are not Christian even to understand their problem, and still more their failure to deal with it in an adequate and successful manner. In other words, we are confronted here with the Apostle’s teaching as to the way in which we can fight successfully the forces that are arrayed against our souls and their highest and best interests.

Perhaps the best way to approach this subject, and to put it into its modern setting in order that we may realize the relevance of all this to life as it is today, would be for me to quote some words which I read in a newspaper recently. A certain senior lecturer in education in a college in Great Britain said this: ‘The Church should take a firmer lead in moral matters; woolly generalizations must go. The Church must give answers to real modern problems, including sex. While the religious basis offers the best prospect of success it should never be regarded as the only way to teach morality, otherwise we would become narrow-minded.’ This is a very typical statement of the attitude of so many in the world at the present time to the problem which is dealt with here by the Apostle Paul. I refrain from making certain obvious comments upon it, for I am interested in it simply because I think it will help us to understand the Apostle’s teaching. Setting detailed considerations aside for the moment, we shall consider the Apostle’s teaching in general as it gives an answer to this kind of statement. The lecturer uses the word ‘woolly’ – he does not want ‘woolly generalizations’. Yet, poor man, his own statement is nothing but a woolly generalization! However, let us ignore that. It is one of the typical modern clichés – ‘The Church must do this and not do that; it is about time the Church . . .’ We are all familiar with such remarks.

Statements of this type are invariably based on an ignorance of what the Church is, and what is the nature of her teaching. In the Ephesian passage before us, the Apostle is really saying that what he is teaching is the only way to deal with the problem of conflict. The lecturer says that ‘while religion offers the best prospect of success, it should never be regarded as the only way to teach morality, otherwise we would become narrow-minded’. The Apostle, on the other hand, specifically and openly says that the way he propounds is the only way to victory. That is why there is such a note of urgency in his teaching, and why, as I have said, it is a kind of trumpet-call: ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God.’ If you fail to do this you are defeated, you are already finished before you start. The Apostle’s is the only way. We make no apology for saying so. We are not at all afraid of this charge of ‘narrow-mindedness’. When you know that to take a certain course is the only cure for a disease, that it is specific, that it cures it to a certainty, and that nothing else can do so, you do not regard it as being narrow-minded to use that remedy and to refuse to waste time with other remedies. That is not being narrow-minded, it is just being sensible and sane and rational.

Every kind of specialization is in this sense narrow. We are living in an age of specialization; but I have never heard anyone suggesting that an atomic scientist is narrow-minded because he gives the whole of his time to the science of the atom. Of course not! That is just common sense, that is wisdom; it is to concentrate on what matters, what is powerful, what really does yield results.

But let me state my thesis positively. The claim of the Christian faith quite openly and specifically is that it – and it alone – can deal with this problem. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not one of a number of theories and teachings and philosophies confronting the world. It is unique, it stands absolutely alone. The Bible is not one book among many books. It is God’s Book, it is a unique Book, it is the Book, standing apart from all the others. We must emphasize this because it is the whole basis of the Christian faith. The Church is not one of a number of institutions; she claims to be quite unique as an institution; she says she is the body of Christ. We speak because we have a revelation. The Bible does not provide us with a theory, a speculation, an attempt to arrive at truth. The position of all the men who wrote the books of the Bible is akin to what the Apostle says about himself in the third chapter of this Epistle to the Ephesians: ‘For this cause, I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery’.

The Apostle does not address the Ephesians saying: ‘Listen, many people have been offering you advice and teaching; well, I have studied a great deal also, and I have come to this conclusion; so this is what I suggest.’ That is not the case at all! He says, ‘a revelation was given to me’. It is not a message devised by Paul; it was given to him by the Lord Himself, the Lord of Glory, on the road to Damascus. He apprehended him and arrested him and said, ‘I am going to send you as a minister and a witness to the people and to the Gentiles’ (Acts 26:16-18). Divine communication is the whole basis of the Christian faith. It is therefore foolish to regard that faith as one amongst many. No, as the Apostle Peter stated it once and for ever at the very beginning of the Church when he and John had been arrested and were arraigned before the authorities in Jerusalem, ‘There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). None other! There is not even a second! He is the only One, and He is enough; you do not need any addition. This and this alone! And that note is found in everything the Apostle says. That is why he is so urgent, so insistent as he presses his message upon them. This is the only hope. Were it not for this there would be nothing at all. It is a dogmatic pronouncement; and anyone who apologizes for his Christianity, or tries to accommodate it, or to say that it is the best amongst a number, is virtually denying the most essential point in the Christian position.

We must not stop, however, at a mere dogmatic assertion, but must proceed to demonstrate it. I suggest that if you take the evidence of history you will be driven to the conclusion that it is the only way. Go back, review the history of the centuries as far as it is known, look at secular history-books, take history as it is recorded in the pages of the Old Testament, and you will find beyond any doubt or question that the asseveration of the Apostle is fully and completely substantiated.

You find it in miniature, as it were, in the story of the children of Israel themselves. Their story is that whenever they were true to God, and worshipped Him, and obeyed His commandments, all went well with them; they were a pattern and an example to the nations, and highly successful; but every time they turned away from God and looked at the idols of other nations, or took up their religion or their philosophies, everything went wrong with them. It is the principle that emerges as you read through the pages of the Old Testament.

But the most impressive statement of all, the perfect summary of this entire argument, is provided by the Apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Romans, beginning at verse eighteen and going on to the end of the first chapter. He says that as nations and peoples in supposed ‘wisdom’ have turned their backs upon God the Creator, they have always become fools – ‘Imagining themselves to be wise, they became fools’. Then he proceeds to give an account of their terrible moral degradation, the perversions and obscenities into which they fell. ‘Ah,’ says our modern lecturer, ‘the Church must speak specifically about sex . . .’ Very well, the Church does so! If you want to know what she has to say, read the second half of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and you will find an account of all the modern perversions, all the foulnesses that are disgracing life at the present time. They have occurred many times before. But when has that happened? It is always when man in his supposed wisdom has turned from the Creator and has given his worship to the creature. The whole history of the human race substantiates what the Apostle claims. Before Christ ever came into the world everything else had had its opportunity. The Greek philosophers had flourished, the greatest of them had already taught their beliefs. But they could not deal with the problem of sin; their teaching was not adequate and had already failed. There was also the great Roman Empire with its system of law; but there was a canker at the very heart of the Empire; and it finally collapsed, not because of the superior prowess of the Goths and the Vandals and the Barbarians, but because of the moral rot at its very heart. That was the cause of the ‘Decline and Fall’ of the great Roman Empire, as is admitted by all. In other words, history substantiates the Apostle’s teaching.

But, unfortunately, modern history, contemporary history, proves my thesis also. This is where we see the relevance of this teaching. And how up-to-date it is! how it speaks to us at this present time! We have read in our newspapers during the last week statements such as that of the Medical Officer of Health for the City of Edinburgh, and of various other Medical Officers of Health who have been giving their annual reports. ‘The Church,’ says the lecturer I have quoted, ‘must supply an answer to the problem of sex.’ What the Medical Officers of Health are reporting is that there is an appalling increase in venereal diseases and especially amongst adolescents and juveniles. Such is the problem confronting us. This moral problem has become the most acute and the most urgent – there is a serious breakdown of morality.

They tell us that we are confronted by an amoral generation, by people who do not seem to have a moral sense at all! But let us not forget that this situation must be considered in the light of the exceptional educational facilities and opportunities and advantages which have been available since 1870. This man who tells us that religion is not the only solution is a lecturer on education, and there has been an abundance of such lecturers and lectures since 1870. And yet here is our great problem – immorality and vice and evil! The world has multiplied its institutions for dealing with the moral and social problems in this present century more than ever before. Clubs, institutions, cultural agencies, have been multiplying one on top of another. Never has the government of any country spent so much in an attempt to deal with moral and social problems as has been done in this country in the present century. And yet here are these men saying one after another that moral standards are deteriorating almost hourly, week by week, and that the problem is becoming appallingly difficult of solution. They are asking what can be done? The lecturer in question says that things have come to such a pass that the Church must do something, the Church must begin to speak. But then he spoils it all by telling the Church what she is to say; and what he says, as I shall show, is completely wrong!

What then is the position? It is as religion has declined in this century that the moral problem has become more acute. Let us remember that we have two lots of statistics. There are the statistics of the Medical Officers of Health, proving that all these terrible problems and diseases are on the increase. But there are other statistics, church statistics. The number of church members is going down year by year; the number of adherents is declining; the number of Sunday School scholars grows less and less. The two things go together. As religion has gone down all these other things have gone up. I am simply saying all this to justify the assertion of the New Testament that its teaching is the only way, and that there is none other. The modern situation is proving it before our eyes, and yet our education lecturer says that Bible teaching must not be the only teaching. He says that ‘perhaps it will give the best hope of success’, but would be ‘narrow-minded’ if we said that this is the only answer and solution. Well, let him mention the others! What has he got to mention? Education? We have tried it. Let him mention various clubs. We have tried them also, and cultural agencies. We are still trying them all. How foolish, how ridiculous, to utter these general clichés and not face the facts!

But there is a further reason why this is inevitably the truth; it is because of the nature of the fight in which we are engaged. The whole of past history proves it, the modern position proves it. But apart from that the nature of the fight itself makes this proposition inevitably true. How? Man’s own nature makes a warfare absolutely certain. The fatal mistake made constantly about man is to regard him only as a mind and an intellect; and therefore, the whole basis of secular teaching is that all you need do is to tell men about the evil nature of certain things, and the evil consequences of doing them, and then they will stop doing them. Conversely, if you tell them to do certain things because they are right and good and true and noble, they will jump at them and do them. What ignorance of human nature!

I am not alone in speaking thus. I was interested recently to read a review of part of the autobiography of a well-known sceptical, irreligious, modern writer, Leonard Woolf. The review was written by another literary sceptic, Kingsley Martin. But the reviewer, at any rate, had reached the conclusion that the trouble with this whole school to which Leonard Woolf belongs is just this, that they will not see that man in the main is irrational. He used what seemed to me to be a very good illustration. ‘What Leonard Woolf and all his companions, such as Bertrand Russell and others, have always failed to grasp is this,’ he said, ‘that man is a kind of iceberg.’ Standing up above the water is a certain amount, about a third perhaps, which may look very white, but underneath are two-thirds out of sight in the depth, in the darkness. Writers like Leonard Woolf, says Kingsley Martin, do not realize that man is mainly irrational. What he means, of course, is that man is not governed by his mind, his intellect; his understanding, but by desires, impulses, and instincts, by what the psychologists call ‘drives’. These are the things that control and master a man; and the problem which is confronting the world in the present era is that of these instinctive ‘drives’.

All this can be seen on the national and international plane as well as in the case of the individual; and that is what makes all optimistic statements about some world organization that is going to banish war so childishly ridiculous. Nations, like individuals, are not governed by common sense. If the world were governed by common sense there would never be a war. War is sheer madness, from every standpoint. It is a waste of money, it is a waste of life, it is a childish way of settling a dispute and a problem. How can you settle a problem of government or any other problem by just killing one another? I repeat, war is sheer madness; there is nothing to be said for it. Why then do the nations fight and prepare for war ? The answer is that they are not governed by their minds and intellects but by the two-thirds that is underneath the surface, the part of the iceberg that you do not see – greed, avarice, national pride, the desire to possess and to become greater than others. These are the things that ever cause wars. ‘Whence come wars among you?’ asks James. ‘Come they not hence, even of your lusts, that war within your members ?’ (James 4:1). That is true of the individual as well as of nations; and because it is true it follows that nothing but that which can deal with this hidden powerful two-thirds can really provide a remedy for the situation. It is the claim of the Gospel that it, and it alone, can do so. Nothing else can.

In the next place consider the enemy that stands against us. ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ ‘Take unto you the whole armour of God,’ says Paul, ‘that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.’ Put up all your moral schemes and teachings against the wiles of the devil and he smiles at you in contempt. Of course! How utterly inadequate it all is! We shall elaborate that later.

Furthermore, consider the standard to which we are asked to attain. Christianity not merely tells us to be nice and good and clean and moral. A Christian is not simply a nice respectable person. It is because so many have thought that mere respectability is Christianity that they have left the Church. They say that. such a result can be achieved outside the Church, and point to the nice, good, moral people who are not Christians. And that is a perfectly fair argument. But the answer to it is that that is not Christianity. A Christian is not merely a person who does not do this, that, or the other. A Christian is positive. He is called to ‘hunger and thirst after righteousness’; to be ‘pure in heart’; to be ‘perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect’. That is Christianity! To be like Christ, to live as He lived! And the moment you consider the standard you see how utterly impossible and inadequate are all these other suggestions that are being put forward. We can, therefore, sum it all up by asserting openly, frankly, avowedly, and unashamedly, as the Apostle does here by implication, that this, and this alone, is the only way of victory and of triumph. It was because this is so that the Son of God came into the world. If anything else could have sufficed He would never have come. There would never have been an Incarnation, still less a death upon the Cross, were it not that this is true. ‘The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.’ This is the beginning and foundation and basis of the Christian position. Christ came because, in a sense, He had to come if there was to be any salvation at all. He came because man had completely failed.

O loving wisdom of our God,
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.

It was and is the only way, there is no other. Let the world in its supposed wisdom call it ‘narrow-minded’. As long as it does so it will continue to degenerate morally and ethically, and fester in its own iniquity. The Christian way is the only way.

But let us consider a second general point. It is obvious from the statement of the lecturer which we have been considering that Christianity is capable of being misunderstood and this, unfortunately, is something that has kept recurring throughout the centuries. There has been nothing so tragic as the misunderstanding of Christianity and the Christian message. There are people like this lecturer in education who are very ready to say, ‘The Church must make her contribution. Christianity, perhaps, is the best hope we have got. It is not our only hope, but perhaps it is one that is most likely to lead to results, so the Church must play her part.’ Governments are very ready to say this in times of crises. When the problem gets out of hand they ask, ‘Well now, what has the Church to say?’ And they expect the Church to make some general statements which will improve the moral tone of society. The Church must play its part! Yes, but this attitude betrays, as I say, a complete ignorance as to what the message of the Church really is.

There have been two main misunderstandings in this particular context. The first is that Christianity and its message is nothing but a teaching that we ourselves have to apply. This lies at the root of the misunderstanding of the lecturer whose statement we are examining. It is a very old fallacy. It was the real trouble at the beginning of the eighteenth century before the great Evangelical Awakening took place. It was the over-all fallacy of the men who were called Deists, and others. They said that God had created the world like a watchmaker winding-up a watch and then had no further concern with it, except that He had given it a certain moral teaching. So they merely equated Christianity with a teaching and morality which tell people to live a good life. Thomas Arnold, headmaster of Rugby in the nineteenth century, was guilty of exactly the same fallacy: that was his teaching also. It is sometimes known as ‘Public School religion’ and teaches that Christianity is that which makes you ‘a good little gentleman’. You refrain from certain things and you do certain other things. It is just moral, ethical teaching.

Now this is a tragic misunderstanding of the whole position, for it regarded Christianity merely as one teaching among a number of other teachings, for example, those of Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Seneca, and others who supplied high, idealistic, moral teaching. Christianity is but another, and perhaps the best of them all; so let us give great attention to it. And do not forget that the late Mr Gandhi of recent date held a very exalted and noble teaching; and there are various others. They add to their list of great teachers the name of ‘Jesus’, as they call Him, and He generally comes somewhere about the centre. Some rise superior to Him, others are esteemed His inferiors. But such thinking and talking simply reduces Christianity to nothing but a moral, ethical teaching – just a variant of the theme of ‘Goodness, Beauty and Truth’ to which we are to aspire. It is because such multitudes of people, especially in the present century, regard that as Christianity that the Church is as she is.

Such was the teaching of the theological school called Modernism or Liberalism which came in about the middle of the last century in this country. Its theme was ‘the Jesus of history’. They took out miracles, indeed the entire supernatural element, and the substitutionary atonement. What is Jesus? ‘Ah,’ they said, ‘Jesus is the greatest religious teacher the world has ever known. Listen to His teaching, emulate His example, follow Him; and if you do so you will be a good Christian. Do not bother about doctrines, they are not important; it is Jesus’ teaching that matters.’

So Christianity has been reduced to a moral and an ethical code and teaching. That leads inevitably to failure and to disaster, for it leaves the whole business to us as individuals. I have got to admire the teaching, next I am required to accept it, and then I have to proceed to put it into practice. It is left entirely to me. ‘Ah but,’ they say, ‘look to the example of Jesus.’ Example of Jesus? I know of nothing that is so discouraging as the example of Jesus! As I look at His moral stature, at His absolute perfection, as I see Him walking through this world without sin, I feel that I am already condemned and hopeless. Imitation of Christ? It is the greatest nonsense that has ever been uttered! Imitation of Christ? I who cannot satisfy myself and my own demands, and other people still less – am I to imitate Christ? The saints make me feel ashamed of myself. I read of men like George Whitefield and others, and I feel that I have not yet started. And yet I am told to take this ethical teaching of the Sermon on the Mount, this idealistic social teaching, and to put this into practice! ‘It is so marvellous,’ they say, ‘it will stimulate you; look at Him and follow Him!’

It is not surprising that failure has resulted, and that people have left the Christian Church; it is not surprising that we are faced with a moral collapse in this country, and in all the countries, at the present time; for the non-Christian ethical teaching leaves it all to me, strengthless and powerless though I am. I am like the Apostle Paul by nature and I say, ‘Alas, with my mind I see what is right, but I find another law in my members dragging me down. With my mind I receive and accept and admire the law of God, but there is this other law, this other thing, working within me, and making me captive to the law of sin and death which is within me’ (cf. Romans 7:14-25). There is this third of the iceberg, as it were, above water and it is looking at the sun; but I am aware of the other two-thirds that is dragging me down to the depths and the darkness. ‘O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me ?’ That is the inevitable position. If Christianity is but a moral ethical teaching it is as useless as all the others. The ‘Christian’ way has always been proved to be useless when it is reduced to such a level.

But Christianity is no mere code of ethics. Our educationalists cannot just turn to us and say, ‘Well now, come along, you representatives of the Christian Church. Do not be narrow-minded, but give us your help, give us your teaching, we want to know what you think about sex, and many other factors in life.’ I answer that what is needed is not what I think about sex, but a power that will deliver a man from being mastered and controlled by it. There is ample knowledge about sex. Alas, people today know far too much about sex; they know much more than their forefathers knew. They are reading books about it – novels, text-books, and so on – and the more they read the worse they get. Their reading only serves to aggravate the problem. It is not knowledge we need; it is power. And that is where your moral ethical systems break down and fail completely. They have no power to offer, none at all. We must beware, therefore, of reducing Christianity to a mere moral, ethical teaching. God forbid that anybody should still be held in that ignorance and blindness! All that teaching has been tried very thoroughly for a hundred years and more, and it has failed completely, both in the case of the individual, and also in the national and international realms.

But I must say a word about the other misunderstanding. Here, again, is an interesting and fascinating story. There have been those who have said, ‘No, it is not just enough to hold this teaching before men and to tell them to get on with it, because the forces against us are too great. We are up against the world and the flesh and the devil. There is all that I am conscious of within myself, and then as I walk about the streets and see the hoardings and the placards and read newspapers, sin is insinuating itself and tempting me. I see it everywhere around me, in advertisements, in dress, and in all that characterizes the life of a great city like London. How can I fight against all this? ‘No,’ they say, ‘there is only one thing to do. If a man is to save his soul and to live a good and pure life he has got to get away from all this, he has got to segregate himself.’

In other words, the second great misunderstanding of the Christian teaching is that which we can sum up under the whole notion of monasticism. Here is a wonderful story. There is something about the people who started the monastic idea which calls forth one’s admiration. At any rate they were men who were serious and concerned about their souls and their lives and their daily living. This was the biggest thing in life to them; so much so that they would give up a profession, they would give up home, they would give up all that had been dear to them and retire into a monastery, there to live what they called the ‘religious’ life. The idea was that the only way in which you could fight this battle was to get away from the enemy as much as possible. Now in that principle, as I shall explain, there is something which is right and true. The Apostle Paul, addressing the Romans in chapter 13 of his Epistle, says, ‘Make no provision for the flesh’. It would be good for all of us if we spent less time reading our newspapers, kept our eyes straight ahead as we walked the streets of London, did not look at certain things, and did not go to certain places. So far, so good! But certain people carried that further; they said that you must get right out of the world. You must concentrate on this alone, you must give up ordinary life and living, and isolate yourself; you must go into a monastery, or become a hermit on top of a mountain, or get away into some cell somewhere; that being the only way of escape. And they did not stop even at that. They said that you have to keep down the body; so you have to fast twice, perhaps three times a week. You have to do other things also, perhaps put on a camel-hair shirt, and in various ways knock down this body of yours and insult it as much as you can. They indulged in what were called ‘flagellations’; they would beat their bodies, scarify their flesh, all in an attempt to overcome these powers that are against us in this great fight of which Paul is speaking. The best description of all this that I have ever read is to be found in a book called The Vision of God, the Bampton Lectures delivered about 1928 by Kenneth E. Kirk. There you will find an account of how this idea came in, and at a very early period in the history of the church. And that same school of thought has persisted ever since.

But that is not Christianity, and for the following reasons. Though you leave the world and all its prospects, and go and live as a monk or a hermit in a cell; though you have left the world, you have not left yourself – the two-thirds submerged part of the iceberg is still with you! You do not leave your sinful nature outside the monastery. Evil imaginations and thoughts are with you still; you cannot get rid of them. Wherever you go they go; yourself, your nature, this part that drags you down will be with you in the cell exactly as it was on the streets of London. Not only so, the evil powers are also there as much as they were when you were living your life amongst other people. ‘We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’ Stone walls do not keep them out, iron bars do not keep them out, locked doors do not keep them out; wherever you are they will be there. They are spiritual, they are unseen, they can penetrate everywhere, and they are with you in your cell. You cannot get rid of them. And for these reasons the great system of monasticism finally broke down completely.

The whole matter can be summed up in the story of one person, Martin Luther. What exactly did Luther discover? He was a monk there in his cell, fasting, sweating, praying, trying to get rid of the body, trying to get rid of this problem, trying to conquer these spiritual enemies. But the more he tried the nearer he seemed to be to complete failure and utter hopelessness. And at last he saw it! His monastic ideas were a travesty of Christianity; they were not Christianity at all. Christianity was something essentially different. He saw that you could be a Christian in the midst of the world, you could be a Christian ‘sweeping a floor’, as he puts it. You need not be a coenobite, you need not take vows of chastity and remain unmarried, in order to be a preacher. No, as a married man you are as eligible as a man who renounces sex. He suddenly saw that the monastic way was not God’s way, and that was the beginning of the great Protestant Reformation. Thank God that that which Luther had to unlearn is not the Christian teaching, for the logical end of the monastic argument is that you cannot be a true Christian and still live in the world. Of course the Roman Church did not teach that, but divided Christians into ‘religious’ and ‘laity’, and taught that the latter could be helped by borrowing from the over-plus of righteousness of the former – the utterly unscriptural doctrine of supererogation. You see how essentially different that is from the New Testament teaching. Here were ordinary people, servants, slaves, husbands, wives, parents, children. The Apostle does not say to them, ‘Off, all of you, into a monastery; get away somewhere from the world.’ Not at all! Thank God it is not that! That would be a gospel for wealthy people alone. And not only so; there would be no Christian witness and testimony in the world.

What a denial it is, ultimately, of the glory of the Christian faith! What is the Christian method? I end with a text. It is not, ‘Set about imitating Christ, adopt His moral ethical teaching, and try to put it into practice’. It is not, ‘Get away and become a monk or a hermit’. But just where you are in the midst of the world, with evil and sin rampant round and about you, and everybody and everything doing all they can to discourage you and to drag you down, just as and where you are, ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand the wiles of the devil.’ It is not retreat, it is not escape, it is not attempting something that is impossible. No, it is this supernatural, miraculous Gospel that enables us to be ‘more than conquerors’ over everything that is set against us.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones 

-Scott Bailey 2007

 

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Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones: Are You Preaching the Gospel?

Posted by Scott on November 4, 2007

 

ARE YOU PREACHING THE GOSPEL?Martyn Lloyd-Jones


It is true that where sin abounded grace has much more abounded; well then, “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound yet further?” The true preaching of the gospel of salvation by grace alone always leads to the possibility of this charge being brought against it. There is no better test as to whether a man is really preaching the New Testament gospel than this, that some people might misunderstand it and mis-interpret it that it really amounts to this: that because you are saved by grace alone, it does not really matter at all WHAT you do, you can go on sinning all you like because it will redound all the more to the glory of grace. That is a very good test of gospel preaching. If my preaching of the gospel does not expose it to that misunderstanding, then it is not the gospel. Let me show you what I mean. If a man preaches justification by works, no one would ever raise the question. If he says, “If you want to go to heaven, you must stop committing sins, live a life filled with good works, and keep this up regularly and constantly until the end, then you will be a Christian and go to heaven when you die.” Obviously, no one will accuse a man who preached like this of saying, “Let us continue in sin that grace may abound.” But every preacher who preached the gospel has been accused of this! They have all been accused of “antinomianism.” I would say to all preachers: IF YOUR PREACHING OF SALVATION HAS NOT BEEN MISUNDERSTOOD IN THAT WAY, THEN YOU HAD BETTER EXAMINE YOUR SERMONS AGAIN, and you had better make sure that you really ARE preaching the salvation that is proclaimed in the New Testament to the ungodly, the sinner, to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, to those who are the enemies of God. There is a kind of dangerous element about the true presentation of the doctrine of salvation.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Knowledge: False and True-A Warning Against Dead Orthodoxy!

Posted by Scott on November 4, 2007

by Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

A Study of 1 Corinthians 8:1-3

The dangers confronting Christian people are not uniform and always the same. There are different types of personality and different emphases in the life of the Christian church and in the gospel. We who gather here are very well aware of the particular dangers that confront the actvist—that type of person who is so common amongst us in evangelical circles—the man who lives on his energy and on what he does, who is always busy, organizing meetings and attending them etc. and who says that you must always be doing something. We have realized very clearly the terrible danger that is inherent in that kind of activism, and we are never tired of protesting against it and of showing the danger of an almost exclusive emphasis on life, living and activity at the expense of doctrine, understanding and growth in knowledge. But while we see that so clearly, there is a real possibility of our being unaware of the entirely different type of danger that confronts us, and which is something that applies to a different kind of individual. The first thing we always have to do is to know ourselves, to note the particular group to which we belong, and to realize that there are dangers inherent in every type and in every group. To come immediately to the point, there can be no question at all, it seems to me, that the peculiar danger that threatens those of us who meet anually in this Conference, is the danger of pride of intellect and pride of knowledge…

I propose, therefore, to consider this whole subject with you, and I do so in terms of what we find in 1 Corinthians 8:1-3:

‘Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he kn wet anything, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. But if any man love God the same is known of him.’

I want to consider this with you, in order that we may apply it to ourselves. We need take no time in dealing with the particular context and the state of affairs in the church at Corinth. The Apostle is dealing here with the question of the meats offered to idols because it was a cause of division in the church. There were the more enlightened, the stronger brethren, and there were the weak brethren. They did not see alike on this matter. The strong brother said that there was no such thing as another God, that there was but one God. Everybody should know that, any man who knows anything at all knows that; therefore the idea that you should not eat meat offered to idol s was just nonsense, and was virtually going back to idolatry. A Christian was free to eat any meat he liked. Some them went so far as to say that, if asked, they could even go to the heathen festivals. ‘Why not,’ they asked, ‘as “these gods” are really non–existent?’ So they went. And thus they were becoming a stumbling–block to the weaker brethren, whom they despised, of their weakness of intellect and grasp and understanding. There was grievous trouble in the church of Corinth because of this conflict between the enlightened men of knowledge, and those who were weaker and lacking in knowledge.

The exact context is most interesting. But we are concerned with the way, the most interesting way, in which the apostle deals with it. As is his custom he does not deal with the thing just in and of itself and directly; he lifts it up; he finds a great principle. And the principle he finds is this whole question of knowledge. The real trouble in Corinth, in a sense, was not at all the question of meats offered to idols, but simply men’s view of their own knowledge. So he discusses the matter primarily in terms of their attitude towards knowledge. Our theme therefore, and the principle which we extract from our text, is the danger of a false view of knowledge.

To be accurate in our exegesis let me indicate that the ‘knowledge’ Paul speaks of here is not the same as that referred to in 1 Timothy 6:20, where he talks about some who have gone astray and made shipwreck of the faith because of—as it is translated there—‘science falsely so-called’. ‘Science’ there means knowledge, ‘Knowledge falsely so-called’. But that is not the same ‘knowledge’ as we have here in 1 Corinthians 8. There, the problem has reference to a kind of mystical knowledge, and to people claiming that they were receiving some direct knowledge by inspiration; it was the danger of a false mysticism. But here, it is ‘knowledge’ in the sense in which we normally use the term and in which, certainly, it applies to us who are members of this Conference.

There is no need, of course to emphasize the fact that knowledge is all important. We can never know too much. Knowledge is essential, doctrine is vital. The Bible is full of doctrine, and the New Testament particularly so. The epistles are mighty, glorious expositions of doctrine and of truth. The Apostles not only preached the truth but they emphasized the all–importance of a knowledge of the truth. Ultimately most of the troubles in the church, according to the teaching of the epistles, stem somewhere or another from a lack of knowledge and of understanding. Knowledge, therefore, is in and of itself absolutely essential; indeed we must give it priority and see to it that it always comes first. We were reminded of that in the paper which gave an exposition of Dr. John Owen’s teaching on the question of apostasy. Truth came first, you remember, then godliness, and then worship. We are all agreed about that. It is no problem to us. But and this is where our theme comes in—it is possible for us to develop a false notion of knowledge. It is possible for this gift of knowIedge and understanding, which is in many ways God’s most precious gift to us next to the gift of his Son and our salvation, to become a snare to us and a very real danger in our spiritual life. Such was the position in Corinth. It is good for us therefore at the end of this Conference, in which we have been spending so many hours in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding—it is good for us that we should face this possible danger which may be confronting us. I suggest the following treatment of the subject.

The Causes of a False View of Knowledge

First, we must consider the causes of this false view of knowledge. We cannot go into these in detail, but we may divide them into general and particular. Obviously at the back of everything is the adversary. The devil having failed to keep us out of the faith and in a state of ignorance and darkness of the mind, and having seen that we have discovered the danger of a busy activism that may be nothing but a man revolving round himself, suddenly completely changes his tactics. Transforming himself into an angel of light, he drives us to such an extreme in this matter of knowledge as eventually to ensnare us quite as successfully as he ensnares the activist. In other words we are back to a phenomenon with which we are all so familiar—the danger of going violently from one extreme to the other, the danger of over–correction. It seems to be the besetting sin of mankind and one of the most terrible results of the Fall, that there is no thing so difficult as to maintain a balance. In correcting one thing we go to such an extreme as to find ourselves in an equally dangerous position. We are always confronted by the devil, who is ever ready to take the best things and turn them into his own instruments of unrighteousness and to produce the shipwreck of our souls.

A second general cause is, as a well–known proverb reminds us, ‘a little learning’. ‘A little learning is a dangerous thing’. That does not mean, of course, that there is no danger in much knowledge. There is. But I am not sure that in this respect there is not a greater danger in a little, because it always means that the element of the tyro or novice who imagines that his litt1e knowledge is all knowledge comes in. Is it not notorious that first–year students always know much more than final–year students? I leave it at that—the danger that arises from a little learning. But we must give more attention to the third cause which may be a little more controversial. To me, there is a very special danger at this point and in this matter which we are discussing, in reading as against preaching. Perhaps in the age in which we live this is one of the greatest dangers of all. I am asserting that reading is much more dangerous than listening to preaching, and I suggest that a very real danger arises in this connection if a man just spends his time reading and does not come under the power of preaching. What do I mean? I mean something like this. While a man is reading a book there is a sense in which he is in entire control. It depends partly on the book, I know, and if it is beginning to make him feel uncomfortable he can shut it up and go for a walk and—he can do many things. But you cannot do all that when listening to preaching. Of course, you may be rude enough to get up and go out, and some people do so, but on the whole that is not the custom.

Preaching in a sense, therefore, safeguards us from these peculiar dangers that arise from reading only, provided of course that it is true preaching. For when a man is listening to true preaching he comes under the ‘power’ of the truth in a way that he does not when he is only reading. You may or may not like Phillips Brooks’ definition of preaching as ‘truth mediated through personality’, but there is a great deal to be said for it; and the Scriptures give us many illustrations of that. God does use the human personality. Not only that, a preacher not only expounds but also applies the Scriptures, and thereby makes sure that application takes place. When a man reads a book, however, he may never come to application. He can decide to shut the book and stop whenever he likes; there is no insistence on the application. I fear that in this present age, when people are tending to listen less and less to preaching, and preaching becomes shorter and shorter, and our reliance upon reading becomes correspondingly greater, we are therefore more exposed to the danger than our forefathers were. I am not of course denouncing reading, and saying that there should be a ban on all publications! Of course not! I am simply trying to show the dangerous tendency that arises, and asserting the priority and primacy, and the superiority of preaching. We need to be brought under the power of the truth. We do not like that, but it is the business of the preacher to do that, and if he fails to do so, he is a very poor preacher. We always try to evade these conclusions and applications, but the preacher brings them home. He holds us, and makes us face them, and therefore he safeguards us against certain dangers. An age which attaches greater importance to reading than to the preaching of the Word is already in a dangerous position.

But let us pass to particular causes. One is, to take a purely theoretical and academic interest in truth and knowledge, to make knowledge an end in and of itself—the purely theoretical and accademic approach. This is an obvious and well–known danger. I therefore take the general principle for granted, and mention only certain particular illustrations of it here.

I have always felt that it is wrong to hold examinations on Scriptural knowledge, for the reason that it tends to develop this theoretical interest in it. It makes a subject of it, something which you have to learn in order to pass your examination or to get a certain number of marks. It may not happen, I grant, but I am suggesting that the moment you have an examination you have already started this tendency to regard biblical knowledge as a subject in and of itself, like any other subject. I remember lecturing at a certain conference in America in 1932. The conference had been started by a saintly bishop in 1874 for religious people, but it had degenerated, not so much in numbers but in its theology and approach to truth. I found there that the great claim for this conference (and this is how it was advertised) was that it taught any subject in which anybody could be conceivably interested. I also found that item number sixteen on the list of advertised subjects was ‘Religion’. There is an example of this purely academic and theoretical interest in truth you take it up as a subject: chemistry, history, art, religion, theology—knowledge about these matters. And if you have an examination in addition, the whole thing is greatly aggravated.

It is also, and I say this with very real regret, one of the dangers inherent in a study of religious history. I have known three men who have been expert historians on the history of Christianity, the history of the church, and the history of its great men and movements. They have given their whole lives to this, and all three were particularly interested in the 18th century. But what has always amazed me is that though they spent their lives in reading about those glorious revivals of religion and those mighty men of God, it had not touched them at all. To them it was just a subject, a matter of academic and historical interest. They knew all the details, but as for the spirit of the thing, it was as if they had never read about it at all. That, I suggest, is a danger that is always inherent in the historical approach, and is an illustration of this purely theoretical approach.

The same thing can apply also even in the process of studying theology. It can become just a subject set for an examination, or a subject essential to obtaining a certain degree or diploma. And the very fact that this is the system may result in a man viewing the knowledge of God entirely in this way. But even without examinations this is still a possibility. A man can take a purely academic and theoretical interest in theology. I have known many such men. They happen to have had that as their hobby, whereas others turned to crossword puzzles. It was essentially the same approach—there was no question about that at all. It was purely theoretical, and thus it had become this false type of ‘knowledge’. Are we entirely free from this danger?

The second particular cause is that we approach truth purely in terms of intellect—intellect only. There is nothing so dangerous as to isolate the intellect. We are all agreed about the priority of intellect. But there is all the difference in the world between our asserting its priority and talking only about intellect and regarding man as if he were nothing but an intellect. There is nothing that is so calculated to lead a man directly to this ‘false knowledge’, about which the Apostle is speaking, as a purely intellectual interest in truth, in which the heart is never engaged at all and the power of the truth is not felt, indeed in which feeling does not enter at all. The man is merely concerned to absorb knowledge with his mind. And it is precisely the same when the will is not engaged. If the interest does not lead to any action, or move the ill, it is equally bad. We need not stay with this. The text for all this is, of course, Romans 6:17: ‘But God be thanked’, says the Apostle, ‘that ye have obeyed’—will!—‘from the heart’—heart!—‘the form of (sound) doctrine delivered to you’— to the mind. There you have them together. If you isolate the intellect and leave out the heart and the will, it is certain that you will end in this position of having a false view of knowledge, and indeed as I want to show, with false ‘knowledge’ also. To vary the expression, this danger is one of knowing ‘about’ a subject rather than knowing it! What a vital distinction this is. What a difference there is between preaching about the gospel and preaching the gospel! It is possible to preach round the gospel and say things about it without ever presenting it. That is quite useless—indeed it can be very dangerous. It may be true of us that we know ‘about’ these things, but do not really know them. And this, of course, becomes all–important when we realize that the whole end and object of theology is to know God! A Person! Not a collection of abstract truths, nor a number of philosophical propositions, but God! A Person! To knowHim!—‘the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent!’ There we have what I would regard as the main causes of this trouble…

The Signs and Indications of the Condition of False Knowledge

We come now to the second general heading, the signs and indicaions of this condition. There are certain general signs of this possession of a false knowledge and a false view of knowledge. For instance in such cases, there is always a lack of balance. it is the bit of knowledge that the man happens to have that he is always interested in, and he knows nothing else. So there is lack of balance at once. He has been suddenly attracted by a type or aspect of knowledge, and goes after it. He acquaints himself with this; but he knows nothing else and is lop–sided and lacking in balance. That in turn expresses itself in the use of slogans, cliches, tabloid expressions and phrases which always characterizes this condition. These phrases keep tripping off the tongue; the same catch phrases and slogans always. That is unfailingly indicative of a little knowledge, a lack of true knowledge, and above all of this lack of balance of knowledge.

The Apostle uses the term ‘puffed up’—’Knowledge puffeth up’. What an expression! What does he mean? he is describing a proud man, is he not? Here is a man who thinks he really ‘knows it all’; he is not like those other people, he knows; he is a man of knowledge and understanding. He knows it all! He is not like those others who never read; he is a great reader. And, of course, as a result of this he has arrived, and he is proud of it. ‘Puffed up!’ How do we know that he is proud of his knowledge? Well, he is always parading it. The heavy, important, Puritan gate! The way of speaking and so on! That is a part of the parading that is inevitably one of the manifestations of being ‘puffed up’. How difficult it is to stand erect with all this great weight of knowledge!

It manifests itself also in an impatience of any restraint and any correction; and still more in an impatience with any opposing view. It is intolerant of anything else. It ‘knows’, and nothing else must even be suggested. No opposing view has a right to exist, and must not even be considered. In other words it is a part of this bein g ‘puffed up’. It means ‘arrogance’. The Apostle James knew certain people of th is type, and so he says says, ‘Be not many masters, my brethren’ (James 3: 1). What a terrible thing it must be to have a church with nothing but masters in it. All are authorities, all know everything and ‘all about it’. ‘Be not many masters, my brethren’. But there is always this tendency to feel that you do know, and understand, and, of course, to let it be known. So men arrogate unto themselves positions—and thereby betray themselves.

But still more serious is the way in which this-manifests itself in its attitude to others. That was the trouble in the church at Corinth where these men who were enlightened said, ‘We have knowledge, we know’. The Apostle’s reply was, ‘We know that we all have knowledge’. Now he was there, according to some of the commentators, repeating their own phrase, ‘We have knowledge’. The result was that their attitude to others was one of superiority. They tended to despise others, they were like the Pharisees. They did not boast so much of the good works they did as of their knowledge and their understanding. These others who did not understand, who were not clear about idols—why, they were almost beneath contempt. So they looked down upon them, were inconsiderate towards them and said they were hardly worthy to be considered at all. It may show itself like that. Or it may show itself by just ignoring these others altogether. You ignore them to such an extent that you do not even feel contemptuous toward them, because in a sense they are not there at all! You are so much up in the air and in the clouds yourself that you do not even see them. It is as if they were not there. Then another way in which it manifests itself is in feeling that these other people who are so slow to learn are a hindrance to us. Why should the preacher still be dealing with such simple matters? These men who know so much would like to go on to the great things, but the preacher is always staying there with some preliminaries. There he is, preaching evangelistic sermons every Sunday night, and on Sunday mornings he seems to be thinking that he has many people in his congregation to whom everything has to be explained in great detail. Because of that they are being held back and cannot go on to the great heights. They have long scaled the Alps, why does the preacher not take them to Mount Everest? These other people are just a nuisance and a hindrance with their slowness. Now that was the case in Corinth, and it is the case in many churches today. These men of knowledge want to go on, but they are being held back by these others whom they therefore despise. There it is, displayed in the attitude towards others.

The last sign that I am going to mention, in order that I may pass on to something else, is that in some cases this wrong view of knowledge, and this possession of what is not true knowledge, manifests itself by it’s victim just doing nothing at all; he simply enjoys his ‘knowledge’. He does not seem to be aware of the fact that there is a lost soul anywhere in the world. He spends the whole of his time in reading and if he meets people, in letting them know what he has been reading and in having discussions about Truth. There are sections of the church today, with the world as it is, which never have any contact with the world at all. You never hear of them having a single convert, they do not seem to be aware of the existence of the problems of mankind and the ravages of sin. Why not? Becausethey spend the whole of their time within that circle of theirs, dotting their i’s and crossing the t’s, arguing about their great knowledge, and displaying it to one another. They are thus completely useless and entirely cut off from any kind of activity. We may not know this in it’s extreme form; but I would ask everyone present to examine himself or herself. Have you not found that it is a very easy thing indeed to spend the whole of your time in just reading and adding to your knowledge and building up your understanding, and forgetting all about the sinful world in which you live? It is the peculiar temptation that comes to people of intellect and ability who have realized the importance of knowledge. You can spend the whole of your life in merely adding to your own knowledge or in comparing notes with others who are like yourself.

The Uselessness of False Knowledge

But let us come to the third section which is the uselessness of such supposed knowledge. Look at the way in which the Apostle puts it in the second verse: ‘if any man think that he knoweth anything.’ Well, he says, there is only one thing to say about him—’he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know’; which means pattly, that this man, who is proud of the knowledge that he thinks is his, has not really got any knowledge at all. Is this not obvious? The argument is that if this man has a true knowledge of God he simply could not be like that. So the apostle says, this man who thinks he knows, in fact ‘knows nothing yet as he ought to know’, because if he did know as he ought to know he could not possibly be behaving as he is. This does not need any demonstration; it is a sheer impossibility; he has no true knowledge. He thinks that he has a knowledge of God, but all he has is some kind of knowledge ‘about’ God; it is not a knowledge of God, otherwise he could not possibly be what he is.

Let me put it in the words of the great George Whitefield. He is talking about the Bible:

‘This is my rock, this is my foundation. It is now about thirty–five years since I have begun to read the Bible upon my pillow. I love to read this Book, but the Book is nothing but an account of the promises which it contains, and almost every word from the beginning to the end of it speaks of a spiritual dispensation, and the Holy Ghost that unites our souls to God and helps a believer to say, “My Lord and my God.” If you content you content yourselves with that—[now he means by that, the Bible itself, remember]—if you content yourselves with that, the devil will let you talk of doctrines enough. You shall turn from Arminianism to Calvinism; you shall be orthodox enough, if you will be content to live without Christ living in you (Sermon on Isaiah 60:19, ‘God a Believer’s Glory’).

Note what Whitefield says. If you just go in for that sort of theoretical intellectual knowledge, the devil will let you talk of doctrine enough; you will turn from Arminianism to Calvinism, you shall be orthodox enough, if you will be content to live without Christ living in you. Th e devil does not care at all whether you change from being an Arminian to being a Calvinist if you do not know Christ and if you do not know God. One is as bad as the other. A theoretical Calvinism is of no more value than a theoretical Arminianism—not the slightest. That is what Whitefield is saying. He therefore warns against this because he is concerned about our having the Spirit. And he goes on to say, ‘Now when yo u have got the Spirit, then you may say “God is mine”.’ His point is that any knowledge which falls short of that does not interest the devil at all, because it is not really true knowledge which is going to make a difference to y ou. That is how Whitefield puts it, who was himself a Calvinist and one of the greatest evangelists the world has ever known.

But let me adduce another reason. Why is this such a ridiculous position to be in—this feeling that we really do know and that we have knowledge, this pride in ourselves and this despising of those activities, those busy people who do not know any theology or doctrine, those people of whom we speak in a derogatory manner and whom we more or less dismiss? Why is this so utterly ridiculous? And why is it not areal knowledge at all? The answer is—because of the vastness of the knowledge! What do I mean? The knowledge about which we are speaking is a knowledge of God! All these doctrines are about God! The moment you realize that, you see how impossible it is that a man should be proud of his knowledge. The moment he realizes the endlessness, the vastness of the knowledge, he is bound to realize that he is but a pigmy, a mere beginner, a little child paddling at the edge of the ocean. He thought he was out in the great depths. Great depths! He knows nothing about them, he has been thinking in purely theoretical terms. But when you realize that all this knowledge, everything in the Bible, is meant to bring us to know God, the Everlasting and the Eternal in the Glory and the Majesty of His Being—how can a man be proud of his knowledge when he realizes that that is knowledge about which we are speaking? 0r take the way the Apostle puts it in writing to the Ephesians. He is praying for these Ephesians and he ‘bows his knees unto God the Father.’ What for? Well this, he says: ‘That they, together with all other saints, may come to know the breadth, and the length, and the depth, and the height; and to know the love of God, which passeth knowledge’ (Eph, 3: 18, 19). Think of a little man strutting about because he khows so much, because he has read the Puritans and has read theology and is not like these other people who are ignorant. ‘Puffed up!’ Poor fool, who is not aware of his ignorance—‘heknoweth nothing yet as he ought to know’. If he really had a true knowledge of God he could not be like that. The thing is a sheer impossibility. The endlessness, the vastness of it all!…

In order to emphasize this great truth I felt I could do nothing better than remind you of the experiences of certain men who knew just a little about this knowledge of which I am speaking…Charles Haddon Spurgeon…puts it like this:

All ye that think that you know and have a knowledge of the truth, may the Holy Spirit grant that we may not say a word which is not strictly verified by our experience. But I hope we can say we have had converse with the Divine Father. We have not seen Him at any time, nor have we beheld His shape. It has not been given to us, like Moses, to be put in the cleft of the rock, and to see the back parts, or the train of the invisible Jehovah. But yet we have spoken to Him, we have said to Him, “Abba, Father”. We have saluted Him in that title which came from our very heart, “Our Father, which art in Heaven”. We have had access to Him in such a way that we cannot have been deceived. We have found Him, and through the precious blood of Christ we have come even to His feet. We have ordered our cause before Him, and we have filled our mouth with arguments. Nor has the speaking been all on our side, for He has been pleased to shed abroad by His Spirit His love in our hearts. While we have felt the Spirit of adoption He, on the other hand, has showed us the lovingkindness of a tender Father. We have felt though no sound was ever heard; we have known, though no angelic messenger gave us witness, that His Spirit did bear witness with our spirit that we were born of God. We were embraced of Him—no more at a distance. We were brought nigh by the blood of Christ.” That is real true knowledge of God!….That is what we should understand by knowledge (Sermon on 1 John 1:13, September 15, 1861).

The Tests of True Knowledge

My argument is this, that when we realize that that is the knowledge to which the Bible is meant to bring us and that that is the whole end of theology and the whole purpose of all teaching concerning these matters—when we realize that that is ‘knowledge’, can we possibly feel that we have knowledge and be ‘puffed up’ and boast of ‘our knowledge’ and ‘our learning’ in these matters? The thing is a sheer impossibility.

But let us consider the tests which show whether we have this true knowledge. First and foremost, obviously, is love of God. As the Apostle puts it in verse 3 (1 Cor. 8:3): ‘If any man love God’. That, he says in effect, ‘is knowledge’. In other words, here is the argument. To know God, of necessity, is to love Him. You cannot know God wiithout loving Him’. It is impossible. Why? Because God is love, because of the glory of His Being, because God is who and what He is. If any man really knows God he will be ‘lost in wonder, love and praise’; he will love God. True knowledge always leads to a love of God. If therefore we cannot say that we love God, have we any right to claim any knowledge of God? We can have a great deal of knowledge about Him and concerning Him, we can even apprehend with our minds the full scheme of salvation, but we still may be ignorant of ‘knowledge of God’. ‘This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.’…

Secondly, another way to test knowledge is by the character it produces. ‘Knowledge puffeth up’ says the Apostle,’but charity edifieth’,—builds up? What kind of character does it build up? It is described perfectly in 1 Corinthians 13: ‘Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not, charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.’ That is the character! What are its characteristics? First and foremost, humility. Look at those men in the Bible who have had a glimpse of God. They fall down as ‘dead’. They say with Isaiah, ‘Woe is me, for I am undone!’ Proud of their knowledge and their learning and their superiority? No!—they feel they are unclean and not fit to be there at all, that they are not in a position to criticize anybody because they are so aware of their utter unworthiness. True knowledge invariably leads to humility, and also to holiness and godliness.

What about the attitude to the neighbour? It has been stated perfectly there in 1 Corinthians 13—we will love our neighbour. Our Lord Himself said that it is the second great commandment: ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself.’ And, of course, especially so if he is weak and ignorant. What if he is an Arminian? What if he does not understand doctrines of grace? How are we to treat him? Are we to despise him, are we to dismiss him as a fool, or as a nonentity or as a man who knows nothing—is that to be the attitude? Let me again quote Whfitefield to you: ‘Believers consider Christ’s property in them. He says “My sheep”. Oh, blessed be God for that little, dear, great word ”My!” We are His by eternal election, “the sheep which Thou hast given Me” says Christ. They were given by God theFather, to Christ Jesus in the covenant made between the Father and the Son from all eternity.’ What a noble, wonderful statement of the great doctrine of election, one of the doctrines of grace! But Whitefield goes on: ‘They that are not led to see this, I wish them better heads, though. I believe numbers that are against it have got better hearts. The Lord help us to bear with one another where there is an honest heart!’ There is nothing to be added to that. It is the righ t way to look at it…Oh yes, when a man has this true knowledge he must love his neighbour as himself.’

In other words, to sum it up, what is the result of true knowledge? First: it is that we rejoice in the Lord. My friends, we do not only believe in the Lord “when we know Him, we rejoice in Him. ‘Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, rejoice.’ The happiest people in the church ought to be those who know the doctrines of grace. They should not be ‘puffed up’ with their little knowledge, they should be men filled with joy because they know God and something about His love.

Likewise they should have a holy zeal for God’s Name, and resulting from that they should be filled with compassion for the lost. The greatest evangelists the world has ever known have been men who have held the doctrines of grace. Why? Because they have had the greatest knowledge of God. Did you know that this was a fact, that every single person who was involved in the beginning of the great missionary enterprise in the 1790s was what is called a Calvinist? I dislike the use of these labels and extra–biblical terms, but that is a simple fact of history. There is a notion abroad today that a man who holds these doctrines of grace is a man who does nothing, and that he does not believe in evangelism. Why is that notion abroad? Why have people got that notion? Is there something in it? If there is, it means this, that the knowledge we think we have is no knowledge at all. We have got this theoretical, useless knowledge, and it is not a knowledge of God. If a man knows God he will above all others have a zeal for the glory of God and the Name of God. He will want the whole world to come to God, he will be the most active preacher and evangelist of all. He must because his knowledge of God is greater and his compassion for the lost is greater. And, as we know, there was no man in the eighteenth century who was so active, none who laboured so indefatigably as that great George Whitefield from whom I have been quoting.

The man who has true knowledge will be full of compassion for the lost and of zeal for the glory of God. There is no need to prove this, the thing demonstrates itself. lf only we knew Him! That is why the Son came from heaven, to let the world know something about the glory of the Father. He even came into the world and died to do this. And we should know Them—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. And as we do so we shall in our little measure produce our Lord’s life and shall be patient as He was patient: ‘A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench.’ God have mercy upon us for the intolerance that often results from our false knowledge, and for the arrogance which is so often displayed. ‘Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.’ The 1owly Jesus! Let us show that we know God by not only loving God but by loving our neighbour, and especially the lost and those who are weak and feeble and who have fallen by the way, the children in the faith, the beginners, and those who are slow to learn. Let us be patient with them, even as He has been patient with us.

My last word—how are we to get this knowledge? I give you but the bare headings. Bible study! Obviously you start there. But in addition, self–examination. How vital that is! Reading the Bible is not enough. Self examination! How do you examine yourself? If you read your Bible correctly, you will soon discover. Ask yourself questions, apply what you are reading to yourself. Say: ‘This was spoken to a Pharisee, is it true of me?’ and so on. But if you want further help as regards self–examination, read the diaries of men who have truly known God. Jonathan Edwards drew up a list of questions for people to ask themselves. John Fletcher of Madeley did exactly the same thing. You can use them if you like. But however you do it, be sure that you do it. Examine yourself!

Then another thing—and I want to emphasize this—balanced reading! I am concerned about this. I know of nothing that has such a tenndency to produce false knowledge and to make men victims of this false knowledge, as reading which lacks balance. If a man reads nothing but theology, he is exposing himself to this danger. I would therefore advise that we should always balance our reading as we balance our material diet. You should not eat only one kind of food. if you eat nothing but proteins you will soon be ill. You should always have a balanced diet. That principle is equally essential here. ‘What do you mean?’ asks someone. Well, if I may say so with humility, the thing that has been of the greatest help to me has been to balance theological reading with the reading of biographies. That is the best advice I can give. I have always done this: I have always done it on holiday and I have tried to do it day by day. But on holiday in particular I used always to give my mornings to reading some theological work, but I was also careful to read some biography at night. It worked like this. Having read for three or four hours in the morning I felt before lunch that I was quite a considerable man, and that I had a great deal of knowledge which I would be able to display to others. There I was! But I remember very well when I first ‘stumbled’—and I am speaking the truth literally—when I first stumbled across Jonathan Edwards in 1918. 1 had never heard of him before but I began to read him and I soon discovered that you cannot read a page of Jonathan Edwards without feeling very small indeed. It completely corrected what had been happening in the morning. The best antidote to the poison of false knowledge is to read a biography like that of Jonathan Edwards or Whitefield or Fletcher of Madeley…How monstrous, how ridiculous how foolish it is to think that we know these things, that we have a knowledge of God simply because we have garnered a certain amount of intellectual and theoretical and academic information! ‘Grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord.’ Can we say with Spurgeon that we know what it is to be ‘embraced’ by Him? Have we ever really been there in His presence in a ‘sensible’ way—using the term ‘sensible’ as the Puritans used it? To ‘know and feel’ that God is near!

What is the value of all the knowledge we may have if we are ignorant of that! ‘Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.’ (I Cor. 13: 2). May God preserve us from this ‘false knowledge’ which is not knowledge but a counterfeit, and which is finally useless!

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones

This article is an excerpt from an article appearing in the book The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors published by Banner of Truth. This volume brings together the addresses given by Dr. Lloyd–Jones at the Puritan Studies and Westminster Conferences held in London, England between 1959 and 1978.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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A Kingdom Which Cannot Be Shaken!

Posted by Scott on November 4, 2007

 

A Kingdom which cannot be shaken

Are you surprised that we have had two world wars already in this century? Are you surprised at the piling of these horrible armaments? Are you surprised at the confusion, the collapse, of so many institutions at this present time?

[This sermon was preached by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on 24th May 1978 in Rhymney, Wales, at the induction services of David Norman Jones who now is a minister in Tasmania]

In order that we may remind one another of the ultimate object and purpose of these two gatherings today and the coming together of these two churches under the ministry of our dear friend and brother, I would call your attention to the last three verses in the portion of Scripture that has been read to us.

“And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” [Hebrews 12:27-29].

A time of grave and terrible crisis

I need not tell you that we are meeting together tonight in a time of great confusion, a time of grave and terrible crisis. Everybody is aware of this; you cannot read a paper, you cannot listen to a news bulletin without hearing of some added crisis, some new problem, some fresh tragedy. The world is in an alarming state and condition. We are truly in an age of exceptional crisis. But I want to put to you that we are not only in a time and age of crisis, we are living in a time when all of us are being tested, all of us have been sifted and examined and proved. What I mean by that is this, that the state of the world tonight is testing the outlook, the point of view, of every one of us who is in this congregation. indeed of everybody that is in the world. Everybody has got some view of life, even the most thoughtless people, people who scarcely ever think at all, they have got a kind of philosophy and their philosophy is not to think. What is the use of thinking?’ they say. So they have got their point of view, their point of view is ‘Let us eat drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die’. So I am saying that everybody’s point of view, everybody’s attitude towards life, is on trial at the moment

Questions requiring an answer

Let me show you what I mean. Take this first question: Are you surprised that the world is as it is at this moment?

Are you surprised that we have had two world wars already in this century? Are you surprised at the piling of these horrible armaments? Are you surprised at the confusion, the collapse, of so many institutions at this present time? Does it surprise you? Does it surprise you that in this sophisticated age of ours, in 1978, that the world is in such terrible trouble? I ask my question because there are many people who are very surprised at this; they are amazed at it-and for this reason, that their view of life was that the world is getting better and better. And therefore finding things getting worse and worse, they are confounded, they are surprised, they are amazed and they do not understand it.

So I put that as my first question: Are you surprised at the fact that the world is as it is at this very moment? Or, let me phrase that in a slightly different way: Are you disappointed that the world is as it is? Not only surprised but disappointed, because again there are many people in the world who are grievously disappointed at the present state of affairs. And they are disappointed for this reason, that having adopted the kind of idealistic philosophy, or view of life, which was very popular in the last century – you know that idea that believed in evolution, or progress and development, the view which said that as the result of popular education which came in 1870 and all the marvellous scientific advances and discoveries, more travel, ability to mix with other nations – they were very confident that the twentieth century was going to be the golden century, the crowning century of all the centuries! Did not Tennyson write about the coming of the parliament of men and the federation of the world, of the days when men would beat their swords into ploughshares and war would be no more? War, we were told – and they taught this, not only the poets but the philosophers and the politicians – war, they said, was due to the fact that people did not know one another. But the moment when they got to know one another as the result of the invention of the steam engine and travel and still more by the coming of the aeroplane, the moment when people got to know one another, they would never fight again, they would realise that we were all brothers. They had forgotten, you see, that Cain and Abel were brothers. They had forgotten all about that, but they were quite sure that as the result of travel and the increase of knowledge and so on and so forth, that the world was going to be paradise-and with William Blake they talked about building the new Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land. It was all going to be done by the advance of knowledge and culture, by passing Acts of Parliament and by all the ameliorations that were taking place and were going to take place in social conditions.

Christians who were shaken

Well these men were confident about this. So you see when the First World War came, they were shaken, they were surprised. It was not according to the theory-but they still held on to it. Then when the Second World War came, well they were not only surprised and disappointed, they were aghast. They could not understand it and they were utterly confounded. I can illustrate what I am saying by one man. No man believed so firmly in this idea of development and of progress than the late Mr H G Wells, the popular novelist. He was a great scientific humanist and he really believed that as the result of the advance of knowledge and of culture and of science in particular, that the world really was going to be paradise. So when the Second World War came, he wrote his last book and he gave it a very significant title, Mind At the End of Its Tether. He could not understand it. How was it possible with all our advances and developments that there should be a Second World War in this one century, before the half of the century had passed? So I ask my question to you my friend tonight, Are you disappointed that the world is as it is? Are you astonished and are you amazed at it? Or does it fit in with your philosophy and your outlook and your point of view?

Why Is The World As It is Today?

But let me ask a third question, Do you understand why the world is as it is tonight? Can you explain it? The Christian, the true Christian, is not surprised that the world is as it is and he can understand why it is as it is. Can you? This is a very vital question. You see the trouble is that people refuse to think. They just wring their hands, they say, ‘Is it not terrible!’ But they must explain it, why is it that things are as they are in spite of all our amazing advances and developments in so many realms and spheres. Can you understand it? Can you explain it? If not, there is something wrong with your point of view.

And let me put my last question, Have you any hope at all with regard to the future? Do you see any light anywhere? Is there any message of deliverance? Now I put it to you that if we claim to be thinkers at all, we are bound to face these crucial questions. Here we are in this world with these things happening. Does it tally with what we have always believed, that on which we have pinned our faith?

Now those are the questions I want to consider with you and I want to do so in the light of these verses that I have just read to you. This man was writing to a number of people who were known as Hebrew Christians; that means that they had been brought up as Jews but having heard the Christian Gospel they had left their old religion and the Temple and the ceremonial and the priesthood and they had espoused this new teaching, this new doctrine; they had become Christians. And for a while they were very happy. But then difficulties arose; they were persecuted; they were molested; they were tried grievously in many ways; and the result was that the faith of some of them was being shaken and they were beginning to look back with longing eyes to the old religion of their fathers. And this man writes to them because of that. He says, you are not going back to that! That was only the type, that was only the preliminary, that has been shaken, that has been removed, that was only temporary. Do not go back to the temporary which can be shaken-hold on to the final, the ultimate, that which can never be moved and never be shaken.

A world which will be shaken

But he goes beyond that and he reminds them, and through them he reminds us, that a day is coming when everything in this world that can be shaken is going to be shaken and that we all of us belong either to some kind of kingdom that can be shaken and removed, or we are citizens of a kingdom which cannot be shaken and which can never be moved. And in putting it like that, of course, this man is really giving us a summary of the message of the whole of the Bible from beginning to end. The Bible is a book which calls upon us all to make a decision. It tells us that there are two ways before us in this life and in this world. We can either build upon foundations which can be shaken and removed or else we can build on a foundation which can never be moved. Or its alternative is we can belong to kingdoms that can be shaken and moved or else we can be citizens of this kingdom which can never be moved. Now this is the great message of the Bible and it puts it like this, that all the trouble in the long story of the human race is due to the fact that mankind in its blindness and its folly is misled by the powers of evil, is always making the wrong choice, is holding on to things that can be shaken and rejecting the one thing that can never be shaken and never be moved. And it goes on putting this before us. It says it either has to be God or mammon. You either enter by a strait gate onto a narrow way or you go with the crowd through the wide gate and the broad way that leadeth to destruction. And right the way through it puts the two possibilities before us, shows us the folly of the wrong choice and pleads with us to accept the true, the only way that leads to peace here in this world and a hope of glory for all eternity.

Well now let me put this to you. This is the business of my friend who is going to minister here in Rhymney as well as in Crickhowell. This is the business of all of us worthy of the name of Christian ministers at all – we are here to address people in this age of collapse, this age of confusion, this age in which so many things have been shaken before our eyes, this climactic period through which we are passing. And I want to put it in terms of this biblical message. Man’s ultimate fallacy, as I have said, is that he always chooses to belong to kingdoms that can be shaken and removed. Man is very fond of building kingdoms. The history of mankind, if you like, is a history of men building kingdoms for themselves-refusing the kingdom of God and setting up their own kingdoms, which they think are going to be durable and everlasting and they have done this in many different ways.

The kingdoms of men – in all their variety – come and go

The old way, and it is still true, you find it in the Bible, you find it in secular history, the commonest of all the ways has been that man has tried is to set up military kingdoms, great military kingdoms. You have a number of them described here in the Bible. Think of a great kingdom like the kingdom of Babylon. That was an amazing kingdom, great wealth, great power, great armies and they conquered practically every country and at the head of this great kingdom of Babylon there was a man called Nebuchadnezzar. And he was such a conqueror, such a military genius, that he began to think that he was almost a god. And the people agreed with him. And he set up a great image to himself and commanded his people to bow down and worship. He really believed he was a semi-god if not a god. He had built this great kingdom, you see. But according to the Bible – and this is sheer history – it was not a kingdom that was going to last for ever, as he thought. It began to shake and we are given an account of this mighty dictator in a field one day and his nails had grown into talons and his hair was as long as the hairs of an animal and he was eating grass in a field-humbled by God. This man who had inflated himself to heaven-humbled, his kingdom shaken.

And quite soon it was conquered by another mighty kingdom that came along, called the Medo-Persian kingdom. Now this is biblical and secular history. The Medo-Persian kingdom came along and this again was a mighty kingdom, conquered Babylon, conquered others and it seemed to be invincible and everlasting and people were beginning to worship it.

It did not last very long. Another kingdom came along, the kingdom of Greece and this was an amazing kingdom. The head of this kingdom was a man whom we still know as Alexander the Great and he was of course one of the greatest military geniuses that the world has ever known. He conquered everywhere, conquered Egypt, built Alexandria, named after him; he conquered all the then known and civilised world and he set up this kingdom that really did seem to be indestructible and invincible, great in every respect. But do you know what happened? While he was yet in the thirties, he died and his kingdom was destroyed and divided up. I will never forget reading a book during the last war by a Swiss theologian, on the book of the prophet Daniel. All I remember of the book was this phrase, I have never forgotten it; it was so true, so striking. He said the man whom the world knows as Alexander the Great is known in the Bible as a he-goat. That is the biblical view of him. ‘Great’, says the world: ‘he-goat’ says God, says the Bible. And you and I now read books on the Glory that was Greece and we go and visit the ruins, the kingdom has vanished and has disappeared.

Why? Well another kingdom came up, the kingdom of Rome, the Roman Empire. And again this was one of the most astonishing phenomena that the world has ever seen. You remember how Rome again conquered all the then civilised world; but it was not only great in a military sense but in a legal sense and in every other sense. They came and conquered this country, as they conquered most other countries. Here at last there did seem to be a kingdom that could never be shaken and never removed. And the capital of course was the city of Rome. What did they call Rome? Is it not interesting, they called Rome ‘the Eternal City’? The Eternal City – not for a time – Eternal City. But you remember the story; in a few centuries barbarians, Goths and Vandals from northern Europe came down in hordes; they sacked the Eternal City and they conquered and brought to an end the great Roman Empire.

And so you see it has continued throughout ancient history. Kingdom after kingdom has come up and men have claimed for it that it is everlasting and eternal – suddenly it vanishes and disappears. But, you say, that is ancient history. All right, let us come up to modern times. I am not going to keep you in describing to you great kingdoms in Egypt, the mighty empire that was once governed by Spain and many other mighty kingdoms, mighty empires. Come nearer to our own time. Most of you can still remember a man whose name was Adolf Hitler. He came into power in 1933; what was he going to do? Well, he told us so often – heard him saying it many a time on the wireless – he said he was going to set up the Third Reich which was going to last a thousand years. The Third Reich – and Hitler dominated the world like some Colossus, striding the world like a Colossus. And when we heard he was going to speak on the wireless, we began to tremble – the word of a Hitler, this mighty man with a mighty empire to last a thousand years. How long did it last? Twelve years and Hitler and his empire vanished and disappeared.

But let us be honest, my friends, I suppose most people would say that the greatest empire the world has ever known was the British Empire and this was the empire of which our fathers boasted-that it was the empire on which the sun never set, owning a quarter of the globe. What an empire, the British Empire, on which the sun never sets! Durable, lasting, eternal! Where is it tonight, my friends? There is no such thing as the British Empire. We try to talk feebly about some British Commonwealth of nations but the empire is gone and the man who believed in it most of all, who said that he had not been appointed by destiny to preside over the dissolution of the British Empire, had to do so. The great British Empire has collapsed and vanished before our very eyes. You see the biblical message is being verified. All these kingdoms that men have erected and built up, they have all been shaken and they will all be removed. But that is only one example. This is so important I am going to give you many examples, my friend that we may see the truth of this message.

Take another empire that man has been very fond of building. What is that? Well the empire of the mind, what is called philosophy. What is philosophy? Well it is the love of wisdom – yes, but its idea is this – that what matters most of all is reason. Now you know a hundred years ago the chapels in this town and other towns were full. But then people began to say, Oh, well religion it is sob stuff. It is emotionalism! They meet together, they pull down the blinds, they do not read, they do not think, they are not aware of what is happening in the world. This is all emotionalism, folklore, fairy tale, fantasy. What we need, they said, was reason. They reject revelation, they do not believe in God-reason! We are going to govern the world by reason. And that became very popular towards the middle of the last century. It came over from Germany and it came into this country. Reason, the kingdom of reason.
What has happened to this?

Now let us face the facts – one of the greatest dangers in this world at this moment is irrationality, which means men and women refusing to think. Do you know where this irrationality has come from? It is most interesting. It started in one of the greatest universities in the United States of America – Harvard University. There was a professor there of the name of Timothy Leary. And Timothy Leary and others began to say the mistake that we have been making is that we have lived too much in the realm of reason and understanding and of mind. We have neglected sensation, we have neglected feel mg and that is where we have been fools and we have brought our world into trouble. He said, we must reason less and less, what we need is experience. How are we to get experience? Well, he said, the quickest way to get experience is take certain drugs and this present wave of drug addiction was started by Professor Timothy Leary in Harvard University in America. There is a revolt against reason. There are students in large numbers saying we must go back to the land, back to a primitive kind of life. Novelists like D H Lawrence thought exactly the same thing. There is a revolt against reason and people are out for sensation. That is why they drink and drug themselves with alcohol and other drugs. That is why they shout and dance in a rhythmical manner with their music. They stop thinking and they have a pleasant feeling. It is one of the major problems in the world at this moment. The kingdom of reason has been shaken.

Let me give you another, it comes under the same category as reason-the kingdom of science. Now I suppose that most people today who are not Christians would give as their reasons for not being Christians that they adopt the scientific attitude and the scientific point of view. They say science says so-and-so, science proves so-and-so-science, the kingdom of science. Men have been very busy erecting this now for two centuries and they were absolutely confident concerning it. You are not going to believe these stories – you must have scientific facts, something that you can really depend upon and live upon. And they were so sure about this that they used the term laws. Now when I was a student, some sixty years ago, we were taught about Newton’s laws, not Newton’s theories but Newton’s laws. Cause and effect, laws of motion, they were absolutes, they were certainties. You cannot name a single great scientist in the world tonight who believes in Newton’s laws. A man called Einstein came along and what did he introduce? Not laws, but a theory of relativity – possibility, probability. Everything is in a state of uncertainty. You see, Newton believed that matter was solid; we know by today that is not; it is energy. It is all energy, it is in constant movement. So you believe now not in certainty and in laws but in possibility and probability. And so these great kingdoms have crashed one after another.

Let me tell you another law that I used to be taught when I was a boy and a young student. We were taught what was called Dalton’s law. What was Dalton’s law? Well, Dalton’s law taught this, that the smallest particle of matter is an atom and that an atom is indivisible. Dalton’s law not his theory – it was a fact, not like this stuff that is in the Bible! No, no, Dalton’s law – smallest particle of matter, the atom and an atom is indivisible. Would to God that Dalton had been right and that the atom was indivisible! You and I have been in the world when they divided the atom, hence the atomic and the hydrogen bombs, hence the possibility of a third World War that will put an end to civilisation and perhaps to the world itself. But they were taught as laws, absolutes, certainties, kingdoms which cannot be moved. They have all been shaken in our own age and generation.

And there are many other kingdoms that I could mention. Another was of course democracy. We were told that the ultimate form of government was democracy. We had got rid of oligarchies, we must get rid of monarchies and so on-and one is in great sympathy with most of these teachings and most of these ideas. Those terrible days of tyranny, of monarchs, of Lords in this country, people with power, money – power, landowners and others. Now, they said, we must get rid of all that. What we need is democracy, government of the people and by the people. This is the ultimate in government, democracy. But somebody said, well what if people do not agree? If you give power to the people what if people do not agree, what happens then? Ah, they said, everybody will respect the rule of law; that is an absolute. Of course if they do not respect the rule of law well then there is going to be a collapse. But everybody, they said, will respect the rule of law – so democracy is going to be the ultimate in society and it is coming in the twentieth century. What of this kingdom? Do you not read constantly of these dictatorships in various parts of the world, some of them on the right, some of them on the left? Democracy is in jeopardy at this very moment, we are in danger of dictatorships in most countries of the world. Democracy as such seems to be breaking down before our eyes.

I must mention one other because it was so popular in this country, the kingdom of industry. The proud boast was not only that the British Empire was a great military empire and kingdom, its greatness really depended upon its industry and its industrial power. The first industrial nation, the great trading nation of the world, the empire of the industry and this was something on which you could bank and on which you could build. This was not the precarious life of the farmer, the agricultural man – industry, it is solid, and we built up our great industry. And we were so sure of it that if we wanted in ordinary conversation to say that something was absolutely safe and sure and certain, what we said was ‘It is as safe as the Bank of England!’ Nothing can be safer. Safe as the Bank of England, safe as the pound sterling. An empire built on the pound sterling and the Bank of England. The pound sterling, what is happening to it? Well, I gather that it is floating at the present time and that the Bank of England has had to borrow money from some sheikhs in the Middle East. Your kingdom which could never be moved, pound sterling, Bank of England, they are shaking they are collapsing-and so it is with every other kingdom.

Even the earth

Wait a minute, says some one, what about the earth round and about us? What about the Beacons, the great mountains and the valleys and the rivers, surely these are durable and certain? Are they? Let off your hydrogen bombs and they will soon have vanished. As the Bible has prophesied centuries ago, ‘the elements shall melt with a fervent heat’ (2 Peter 3:10). Even creation is not durable; everything is being shaken. Man himself who has been worshipping himself, what is he? According to scientists he is nothing but chemistry and physics, he is nothing but a bundle of sensations. All our kingdoms are collapsing before our eyes. They can all be hurt, they can all be moved and yet men bank on them. They laugh at religion, they ignore the Bible, they do not believe in God. These are the kingdoms they believe in and yet they are collapsing before our very eyes. That is the message of the Bible.

But why do they collapse? Sinfulness, finitude and judgment

But why do they collapse? Why is all that I have been saying been so true? And this man tells us. The certainty you see with all these kingdoms is that they are made. ‘And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made,’ These are man-made kingdoms and the tragedy of man is that he is too small to be a kingdom builder. Man is finite, he is limited, he is small. This is the final folly of man, that he thinks he knows everything. He thinks he can encompass the whole cosmos with his little mind. How small he is, he is finite, he is limited, he lacks the capacity to see things as a whole. He only sees little sectors of reality. Things that are made-man!

Yes, but even worse than that, according to the Bible, man is not only finite, man is also sinful-and this is what bedevils all his great efforts. Every one of us is sinful. What does that mean? It means that we are selfish. it means that we are self-centred. It means that we are subjects of jealousy and envy and malice and spite and hatred. We want things for ourselves – let the other man get on with it. This is in the heart of man, everything he touches, everything he makes therefore has got the seed of decay in it. That is why our Lord said: ‘Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal’ [Matthew 6:19-20]. But man keeps on doing this and everything collapses. Why? Moth and rust, this element of evil. You cannot trust anybody. You may think that you have got a man who will fight with you to the end-he will desert you at the very moment that you need him most of all. He is a false friend, he lets you down. You see it in the political parties and everywhere else, they all seem to be carrying a dagger in their hip pockets and they are attacking one another. No man trusts anybody, why? We are all sinners, we are all selfish, we are in no condition to build empires.

But the Bible gives a third and a crowning reason for all this failure and it is this: that God blows upon it. We are living in a universe that we have not made; it is made by God. And God will not give His glory to another. He said so throughout the centuries. And when men rise up and establish their great kingdoms God allows them to go so far and then He suddenly strikes them as He did Nebuchadnezzar and down they go. ‘The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold down the truth in unrighteousness’ [Romans 1:18]. It is the law and history proves it. Whatever man may do, whatever he may strive to do – it all is shaken and it collapses and disappears. And of course not only is it the Bible that says this, the really great thinkers of every century have seen this and seen it quite clearly.

Take a man like Shakespeare; I do not think Shakespeare was a Christian but he was a great man and he was a deep thinker and he saw this truth that I am putting to you about the fact that all these kingdoms can be shaken. And he put it in those immortal words that he put into the mouth of Prospero, in The Tempest. Here they are-they had been having some kind of revels, some kind of pageantry:

‘Our revels now are ended.
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself
Yea, all which it shall inherit, shall dissolve;
And like this insubstantial pageant faded
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made of and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.’

That is Shakespeare; he had seen it, ‘the cloud capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, yea, all which it shall inherit, shall dissolve’ – and we are witnessing it. And he is absolutely right there. He is right until the last statement: ‘We are such stuff as dreams are made of and our little life is rounded with a sleep.’ He thought that death was the end and that is where he is wrong. It is not the end, it is appointed as this man says in chapter nine: ‘it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment’ [Hebrews 9:27] – God!

Another kingdom based on another word

Very well, there is the great negative message of the Bible, that man will never succeed in building a durable and a lasting and a solid kingdom. These things can all be shaken as we are witnessing it and worse is going to happen. There is one kingdom that cannot be moved, that cannot be shaken. ‘Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace’. What is this? Here we are now in our proper world. We know not what tomorrow may bring forth. What are we to do? Is there any message? Is there anything that comes anywhere to give me some understanding and a word of hope? There is. What is it, what can I bank on tonight? What should I listen to and hold on to when everything is collapsing round and about me?

This man says, it is a word, ‘this word. Yet once more, He has already
said: ‘See that ye refuse not him that speaketh’ [Hebrews 12:25]. This man’s message is this, that amidst the babel of voices in our world, there is another word-and the essence of wisdom is to listen to this word. It is the word that was spoken by Jesus Christ and which made him say: ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away’ [Matthew 24:35]. Or which the Apostle Peter quoted in these words, it is the same thing but in the graphic manner of the Apostle Peter. He tells these Christians that they have become Christians ‘by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever’ [I Peter 1:23]. Then listen: ‘For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man’ – British Empire and every other glory
- ‘all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you’ [I Peter 1:24,25]. It is the word I am preaching to you now, it is the word my friend is going to preach, the word, this word.

What is it? Why is this word durable? Why is this word better than the word of the philosophers, the scientists, the politicians, the sociologists, the educationalist? Why is this the only word I should listen to? The answer is, it is the word of the Lord; it is the word of God. My dear friends, are you not tired of the words of men? We have been bombarded with them throughout this century. The promises they have dangled before us, what has happened to them? Are we happy? Are we all at ease? Are we looking forward to a glorious future? The words of men – are you not tired of them? Our business is to invite men and women to listen to the word of God. Why? Well, because God is not a man. We are finite, we are limited, we can put up theories and suppositions and hypotheses and they are falsified and we have nothing-but God, God is from everlasting to everlasting, the great I AM. I am that I am; I am that I shall be; without beginning, without end. The God who at the beginning said, ‘Let there be light and there was light.’ The God who brought these great old mountains and everything into existence and who sustains it by the word of His power. GOD.

Frail as summer ‘s flowers we flourish,
Blows the wind and it is gone,
But while mortals rise and perish,
God endures unchanging on.
We blossom and flourish
Like leaves on the tree;
And wither and perish
But nought changeth Thee.

I have heard some great orators in this present century and we half worshipped them in our folly. And one of them promised us that the First World War was the war to end wars and he was going to give us a land fit for heroes to live in. And the second one said very much the same thing, about some broad uplands on which humanity was going to look for some promised land. The words of men-we have forgotten them, have we not; we have forgotten their words and we are forgetting the men. Like leaves on the tree, they come, they cut a great feather, but they vanish and they go
- but God endures. Unchanging God, the God who spoke to your grandfathers and great-great-grandfathers here in Rhymney, the last century and the one before it. The God of the ages, the God whose history runs through this book and who has been guiding it ever since and who erupts into it, at every moment of crisis saving the possibilities for mankind. It is the Word of God. I am not preaching my own theories, I am submitting myself to this Word. I am expounding this Word, I have not put a single theory of my own before you; it is my business and that of every preacher, not to give you some of my ideas – but to preach this Word until men want what God says about our life – and what does He say?

God the Creator

Well, this Book tells you, this is the word of God. He tells us about God, Himself. As I told you He is the creator, He is the sustainer of everything. Yes, and He made man. Man is not an accident, you know, it is an insult to say that man is a creature that has evolved from the animal. It is not true. The Bible tells me that man has a dignity that makes him the lord of creation. Why? He has been created in the image and the likeness of God. We have an animal part but God has put something of Himself into us. When He came to make man He said, ‘Let us make man in our own image and likeness.’ He gave us reason, understanding, certain faculties and propensities that none of the animals have. And man is able to look on at himself and evaluate himself. Man! Yes and he is a responsible being to God. The popular theory is, as I say, that when a man dies that is the end. He is finished with. No! No! says the Bible. Man is bigger than the universe, he has these qualities and potentialities in him. God has put them there and God holds man responsible and He is going to ask man at the end, ‘What have you done with the soul that I gave you? You may have made a lot of money, you may have garnered a lot of knowledge-what have you done with the soul that part of you that was meant to commune with Me and to be my companion? What have you done with it?’ God is going to ask us-that is the judgment.

God the rule giver

But not only that and we can be certain of this-God not only tells us that He has made us in His own image and likeness and that we are responsible beings, He has told us how to live. Here is the great problem, ‘Why is the world as it is? Why the drunkenness and the immorality and the vice and the dishonesty and the chicanery and the battling? What is the matter, what is the cause of it all? There is a simple answer according to the Bible – that man instead of living according to God’s laws, is living according to His own ideas. But God has told us how to live. Where does He tell us? In what are called the Ten Commandments – if only everybody in the world lived according to the Ten Commandments tonight, our world would be paradise! What are they? Well, we are told that we must start by all submitting to God. We are not gods, that is the trouble in the world, there are too many gods in it. Everyman is a god, everyman sets himself up; he is the authority, he is the god. ‘This is what I say’, he says and he is insubordinate. That is the folly, there is only one God and He has told us that we must live to His glory. ‘And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength …. And Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ [Mark 12:30-31]. And you will never love your neighbour as yourself until you have submitted yourself to God. Then you will see yourself as you are and you will see your neighbour as he is and you will see that you are both failures and you are both helpless and you are both hopeless – and you will love him for the first time, as you love yourself.

But then God goes on and these are the particulars-thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s ox, or his ass, or his manservant or his maidservant or his wife (Exodus 20:13-17); Those are the ten commandments – if only everybody lived according to God’s commandments! There would be no infidelity, there would be no promiscuity, there would be no separations, no divorces, no little children breaking their hearts because father and mother have gone their own selfish ways, leaving their little hearts to suffer. There would be an end to that. There would be no theft and dishonesty, there would be no drunkenness, there would be no drug addiction, there would be no atomic bombs, there would be no need of all these conferences to try and produce some precarious peace. There would be peace if only everybody in the world lived as God has told us to live. This Word is still true tonight, that is the way to live.

The Penalties which come with a Broken Law

Then He goes on to say this, that if we do not live according to His commandments – and this is an absolute certainty-if we do not live according to His commandments we shall suffer. ‘The way of transgressors is hard’ [Proverbs 13:15]. ‘There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked’ [Isaiah 57:21]. And it does not matter how wealthy this wicked man is, how learned he may be – as long as he is wicked he will never know peace. Some of the most miserable restless people in the world tonight are multi-millionaires; these wretched people you read about them in the popular newspapers who get married five, six, seven times – do they know peace, is that the life of the film-star, the pop-star, or your multimillionaire? Oh, the tragedy of these miserable people who think you can buy peace and tranquillity and happiness with money. No, No, God has said that it cannot be done. There is not peace, saith my God, to the wicked. And while the people of this world are wicked there will be wars and rumours of wars. Nations are but individuals writ large and if a man cannot live with his neighbour why do you expect a country to live with its neighbour? God has told us this. These are absolutes, my friends, you cannot get away from them. The world is proving the truth of them tonight. This is God’s Word and there is not peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

God the Judge

Then he goes on, as I have told you already, to say that everyone of us will have to stand before Him in judgment and give an account of the deeds done in the body. ‘That is terrible!’ you say. I say it is a great compliment that God thinks I am such a being that He holds me responsible and accountable and I have to stand before Him – and every one of you will have to stand before Him. And believe me your television will not help you on your deathbed, and your drugs will not help you then, and your drink will not help you then, and your money will not help you then. Your soul will be naked. ‘Naked came I out of my mother’s womb and naked shall I return thither’ [Job 1:21]. We stand stripped before God and He will ask us, ‘What have you done with that precious thing I gave you – the soul?’ There is to be a final judgment upon the whole world of men.

God’s Unshakeable Kingdom

What else does this word tell us? Well thank God it does not leave us at that. If it had left us at that every one of us would be doomed and damned to all eternity. There would be no hope for any one of us – ‘For we have all sinned, and come short of the glory of God’. ‘There is none righteous, no, not one’ [Romans 3:23,10]. Thank God I have a light here, I have a hope here. What is it? Well, it is this that while men in their folly have been vainly trying to build their durable kingdoms and empires, God has been bringing in His kingdom: ‘Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved’, God’s kingdom. This is the way to understand history-forget all about kings and princes and queens and births and marriages and deaths and pomp and ceremony and all the ritual – forget it all! Concentrate on this
what God has been doing – God has been bringing in His kingdom. Even when man failed at the beginning in the Garden of Eden, Cod came down and He gave him a promise of a kingdom. He said that there is going to be strife between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent – but the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. God is going to bring order into the disorder, He is going to undo the misery and the folly of man. He is setting up a kingdom.

The Old Testament account is just of God, as this man says in his first chapter, in diverse parts and portions. bits and pieces, bringing in His kingdom to pass. He took hold of a man whose name was Abraham, he was a pagan living in Ur of the Chaldees, and he said, Come out, lam going to turn you into a nation. And from you and your seed all the nations of the world are going to be blessed. That was the origin of the Jews; they are God’s people; while the rest of the world were living in darkness and paganism, these people were given this revelation of the only true and living God. And God said, I am going to make a people of you and I am going to add to it. And He said I am going to send the King of the kingdom into the world amongst men. ‘But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law’ [Galatians 4:4-5]. A babe was born in a stable, not in a king’s palace, in a stable in a place called Bethlehem.

Why was He born in a stable? Because there was no room for them in the inn. Everybody booked their rooms in the hostelries, in the inns and though a poor pregnant woman comes along on the verge of giving birth to a baby, nobody would vacate the room. They would not do it then, they would not do it now! They said, ‘She should have booked her room earlier! Why should I go out!’ The selfishness of mankind. So the babe was born amidst the straw in a stable and the little child was put into a manger because there was no crib. Who is this? This is God’s eternal Son. They called Him Jesus, but He is very God of very God. God has visited and redeemed His people! ‘God so loved the world’ that had rebelled against Him and spat in His face as it were. ‘God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son. that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ [John 3:16]. He is the King of the kingdom and He says so. He heals in the name of the kingdom, He invites people to come into His kingdom. ‘Come unto me’, He says, ‘all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ [Matthew 11:28]. And He has and He does and He alone can do so and the whole story of true Christianity is of this kingdom being extended. Men and women in every age and generation being added unto it. The kingdom of God is going on.

There are times like the present when it almost seems to be invisible-but it is still there and when men begin to deliver their obituary orations over the death of the Christian church, God revives her again and on she goes and thousands are added and the kingdom is going on and on and on-and it will go on until it is finally completed and the kingdoms of this world shall have become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ. (Revelation 11:15). Thank God in spite of all that is happening in this world tonight, and it is black and it is dark, but as certainly as we are here God’s purposes are ever sure and Christ is going to reign over the whole world from shore to shore and pole to pole-and nothing will be able to resist Him. It is an absolute.

I must give you another absolute – there is only one way into this kingdom of God. It is the whole message of this epistle. Only one way. What is it? It is through believing that Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God. It is by believing that He has taken our sins upon Himself and borne our punishment and thereby reconciled us to God and opened to us the gate of the kingdom, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. There is no other way. This man says, you foolish people, are you going back to your burnt offerings and sacrifices? Are you still going to believe that the blood of bulls and of goats and the ashes of an heifer can cleanse the conscience from dead works? It is impossible! There is only one, the blood of Jesus Christ His Son. There is only one way, he says in chapter 10, into the holiest of all, it is by the blood of Jesus (v.19). No church can save you. No priest can save you, the virgin Mary cannot save you, no ceremonial can save you. No, No! There is only one way of salvation, only one way to know God and to spend your eternity with Him – it is this – to believe the message concerning His Son, that the babe of Bethlehem is the eternal Son of God and that He died on the cross, not the death of a pacifist, He is the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world. God hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He has punished Him instead of us and gives us His righteousness and we are clothed in it and we are children of God and heirs of eternal bliss.

The Only Way

My friends, there is no other way; this is an incomparable gospel. Hinduism will not get you into the kingdom, Confucianism will not, Buddhism will not. These things are coming into this country; none of them will bring you into the kingdom of God. There is only one way. Christ said, I am the light of the world. I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me. There is none other name under heaven given amongst men whereby we must be saved. It is exclusive, it is God’s own Son. So the world religions are of no value. This and this alone does what it promises to do.

But I must not keep you. This man tells us that if we believe this message and become citizens of the kingdom of God, we will be surrounded by the promises of God. He tells us that God, in order to comfort Abraham, swore an oath. He swore twice over, so that by two immutable things, he might have this certain hope. And we have it, God promises to bless us because we are His children. He won’t until we are; while we rebel against Him He will not bless us. And I describe the state of the world today as being entirely due to the fact that God’s wrath is upon us. In its folly mankind began to say one hundred years ago that we could make a perfect world without God. I believe that what God is saying in this century is this, ‘You say that you can make a perfect world without me! Get on with it! Get on with it!’ and He is withdrawing His restraining influences and He has allowed us to get on with it. And what have we done? Two world wars, atomic bombs, collapse of society at the present time. Oh, my dear friends, until we believe in simplicity this message, we have no right to expect God to bless us. But you become a citizen of His kingdom and you will be surrounded with exceeding great and precious promises. He says in the next chapter, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee-and in the light of that I can say, the Lord is my helper and I will not fear what men shall do unto me. He will be with me in life, He will be with me in death, He will be with me to all eternity.

Very well, what do I do about it all? This man tells us: ‘Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace’, which means this, let us thank Him. Let us thank God that He has not abandoned the world. Why He has not I do not know – I do, it is because His Name is love! I would have abandoned this world long ago, so would you but God is love and it is His world and He has not abandoned it. He sent His only Son into it to teach us, to die for us, to rise for our justification and to lead us on by His Spirit within us. Let us thank Him; let us have grace, which means let us thank Him-and let us serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear, remembering that our God is a consuming fire.

One or the other – which?

My dear friend you are in some kingdom or other at this moment. Are you in the kingdom of God? If not, you are in one or other of the kingdoms of men. They are already collapsing before your eyes and when you come to die-and we have all got to, every one of us – the National Health Service cannot cure death, we have all got to die. My dear friends, I have got to die. I am older than most of you and I will have to die probably before you but I have got to die and give an account. Those kingdoms of men will have nothing to give you then. H G Wells, as I have quoted, admitted it. Many others have admitted it still more recently. They are getting old and they are failing and their faculties are failing. They no longer have got their good looks, their friends are dying and they are bereft and solitary and hopeless – and they have nothing.

What must I do?

Do you belong to one of those kingdoms? See the unutterable folly of doing so. The whole of history condemns it. Look at this other kingdom, all you have to do is to acknowledge your failure, to acknowledge your desperate need and just as you are without understanding it at first, just to say, ‘I believe, help Thou my unbelief’. Ask God to have mercy upon you and to give you enlightenment and understanding. Ask Him to have pity upon you and He will do so. It is a gospel for anybody-whosoever believeth, it does not postulate any great brain or great wealth or great learning or anything else. The common people heard Him gladly, I read about Jesus Christ. Why? Because He understood them, He sympathised with them, He loved them. He had come into the world, laying aside the insignia of His eternal glory, in order that He might redeem them. This is all He asks of us-and the moment you enter into this kingdom, you will be amazed at the change. Are you ready to say with me
tonight:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ Name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, His cov’nant, and His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He only is my hope and stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Do you know how I look out at life tonight, it is this: ‘Change and decay in all around I see’. I have preached in chapels in Rhymney that are no longer here, the people I knew here when I first came nearly fifty years ago, they have gone. ‘Change and decay in all around I see: Oh Thou who changest not, abide with me.’ And He will, He will be with me in life, in death and He will present me before the presence of God’s glory, with exceeding joy and I look forward to a day that is coming when out of this world and beyond it I shall see Him as He is and be made like unto Him. And I shall dwell with Him in that new heavens and new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Make certain my dear friend that you belong to the kingdom of God, which cannot be shaken, which cannot be moved.

Amen

DR D. MARTYN LLOYD-JONES

visit www.banneroftruth.org

-Scott Bailey 2007

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