En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

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Posts Tagged ‘challenge’

-Fierce Warriors in the Hands of God!

Posted by Scott on January 5, 2008

“Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth”
–Psalm 127:4

You may be thinking right now that I am crazy for using Spartan Warrior within Christianity, but read the entire piece before passing judgment.  Spartan Warriors were fierce fighters.  They would fight to the death for their family, king, and kingdom.  They were ruthless and unconventional in their process and training.  However, my research on Spartan Warriors turned up better qualities for these fighters that many of us as Christian men need to pay attention to. These warriors were trained from the very young age of 7 to be fierce in battle.  The meaning of Spartan is to be “totally devoted to one cause, self-deprived or stripped down to nothing, but the bare essentials, undoubting and courageous”.  They were trained to give their lives without hesitation.  These warriors did not think anything about danger and always expected to win or die trying to win.  These were dreaded men in battle. 

 Gentlemen, I am here to inform you that if you did not know this before now, we are in the battle of our lives and the lives of our families…time to wake-up!  I am afraid that unless we as Christian fathers do not began to train our young men to be like these Spartan Warriors, the future looks very dim.  We need to be training up our boys to be fierce when in battle and this battle takes place daily.  Young men that will not back down from authority that makes rulings in direct conflict with the scriptures.  We need young men that do not mind being ridiculed when they stand up for the under-dog or under-privileged or as they share the gospel to a neighbor or friend.  In some cases this may mean taking up arms to defend our nation and our families from the enemies abroad or even within our midst.  On a daily basis, we need to equip these young fighters with the Truth of God’s Holy Word above all else… God’s Holy Word is not found in the Koran! 

Within the pages of the Bible are many fierce warriors who fought bravely like King David as one example.  The Lord helped him fight with full control of himself and bravely.  David fought mightily with the hand of God on his life…”And David became greater and greater, for the Lord God of hosts was with him.”  2 Samuel 5:10 (NAS)  He as a warrior for the Kingdom of God and Spartan Warriors in ancient Greece were courageous and self-sacrificing.  The crusade I am speaking of today is for the minds and hearts of our young people.  Many Christians have already given up this crusade long ago and have decided to just blend in with the rest of the world in order to have peace.  They may go to church and bible study, but nothing  is different in their lives or the lives of their kids.  We have bought into the society belief that we can be immersed in the life style of the world and still maintain an effective evangelical witness. 

 Titus 2:12(NIV) says, “It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”  In John 15:9(NIV)  it states, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”   

Just hoping our kids will turn out alright is not the answer.  Our adversary, Satan, would like nothing else than for parents to take this approach.  Of course by the grace of God some do turn out alright and frankly that is how we all turn out alright. However, these kids are placed in our hands for a short time for training and preparation for the future and we do not want to let them down if at all possible.  The battle for the heart and mind of our children today include homosexuality, pornography, drunkenness, illegal drug usage, over eating, moral relativism, unfaithfulness, theft, lying, and so on.  This corruptness is being taught in nearly every public forum and institution in America as being “right”.  Our children are being taught that there is no sin and there is no right or wrong.  Their cry is that we all need to be more tolerant of each other.  They are taught that Adam can marry Robert and Eve can marry Laura and it is “ok”.  The truth is that homosexuality is sin and it is not “ok”.  This sin is as forgivable as over eating, as is drunkenness and so on. Glory to God that they are forgivable, but I do not want this deviant trash taught to my children and grandchildren as being “ok”.  Pornography is down played as just a natural thing that men and women desire and it is “ok”.  Christian men are not immune to this.  Men it is not “ok” even in the privacy of your own home.  What we put in our minds has a direct impact on what comes out of our life each day.  Much of the violence against women today stems from pornography.  If this kind of trash goes into the mind then I can guarantee you that vile trash will come out in some form of your life.  Drunkenness is very accepted these days as well, although it is nothing new to the ages.  Drunkenness is mind altering and you will do and say things that will not honor God in any way and will bring shame upon your family. 

Psalm 23:33 says about too much wine, “Your eyes will see strange things, and your mind will utter perverse things.” 

God has always spoken out against drunkenness in His Word.  I said here, “drunkenness”, not a glass of wine at dinner…I just wanted to clarify that.  A trendy activity nowadays is to go to church on Sunday and raise your hands and sing in what is perceived to be praising and worshipping God.  Then the rest of the week live as you wish and on the weekend get stumbling drunk with your buddies and come to church on Sunday to be holy again.  Is this truly grace in action?  What a mockery to the glory of Jesus Christ!  Does this show a deep love for our Savior?  Does raising our hands to the “bouncy” music in the churches today that stirs up the emotions really make us spiritual and holy?  I am not attacking praise worship music entirely, but in observing the true impact of this movement that has forgotten the testimony of the hymns of old, I have witnessed people actually growing more vile in their lives rather than a closeness to the Lord as the music stirs up emotions rather than a deep seeded devotion to worshipping Christ in the music and message of the pastor. 

Men, take a hard look into your heart….is that burning desire to know Jesus and love Jesus really there?  What is your reason for going to church or reading your Bible?  Another hot trend within the world today is embracing the Muslim or Hindu or Buddhism religion as another way to heaven…that we should be tolerant.  We are told that there are many ways to God. 

 Matthew 7:13-14 speaks of those broad roads and narrow gates, “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it.” 

We are taught to believe they should have equal access to the minds of our children, our culture, and we should move over for their ways and embrace their teachings.  I will make this statement as clear as I can, men, NO ONE has the right to access the mind and heart of my children other than God Himself.  God gave those children to me and my wife to love, nurture, train and protect.  The liberal left does not have the right to them, the Communist left wingers do not have a right to them, the Muslims, Hindu’s, or Buddhist do not have rights to them, the homosexuals do not have rights to them or the legalist within the church today do not have the rights to them, or any other kind of evil that permeates this dark world we live in today.  If I sound a bit combative in this, I am combative.  This is no powder puff football game we are in, people. 

So, I am declaring today that we must start raising our sons ,as the Spartan Warriors of the 21st century, that will carry on these truths that are in God’s Word and do it unashamedly.  We need a crusade where young men will give their lives so that our future generations can survive without having to bow to the vile images that are so prevalent in our culture today or be subject to the horrific views and taunting by the homosexual leftist agenda.  A desire must exist for young men to train themselves to be satisfied with only the bare essentials as Spartan Warriors were disciplined to be and not raised under pampered lives like so many of the Christian and worldly kids of today.  These young men need training to buffet their bodies and keep their actions under control regarding women, children, money, alcohol, politics, and the things of this world.  Our world is groaning for young men who have a deep seeded desire to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

   Can we train up young men that will carry as their motto, “Give me Christ and Christ alone”?  We long for young men who are willing to die for the cause of Christ.  This does not come naturally…it comes as we battle forward immersing ourselves in God’s word and let Him develop in our hearts and minds a “biblical world view”.  God is sovereign!  He has never moved or changed His mind.  He is not surprised by the darkness that envelops the world we live in today.  He created this universe and every living or non-living being in it.  He is not bashful about war, battle, death or even love.  So, our challenge today as fathers of sons is to bring up a new generation of young men that will fit the image of God, like a warrior for truth, justice and become a loving family man.  Steve Farrar put it very plainly with this quote from his book, “Standing Tall”:

“Gentlemen, we are raising our kids in this sewer of moral relativism.

If your kids buy into this philosophy, it will ruin their lives.

Here’s the deal, guys.  Our kids won’t know anything unless they see it in our lives.  Our kids won’t know that there are moral absolutes unless they absolutely see those truths lived out in our lives.”

-Steve Farrar, “Standing Tall” 1994

 

This is what I am talking about.  The training is about walking and talking God’s truth daily.  It does not mean we are perfect, but that we are able to show our weaknesses as well as our strengths.  We need to show our kids that God creates strength from our weaknesses.  There is a loud voice trying to wake up our countries Christian fathers.  I am afraid though we have ear plugs in or are ignoring this loud call.

“The Christian world is in a deep sleep. 

Nothing but a loud voice can waken them out of it.”

-George Whitefield, 1739

 

Guys, I cannot tell you what to do or how to raise your kids.  I cannot make you do anything you are not entirely willing to do from your heart.  This is not a legalistic set of rules or point of view even though it is my opinion.  I abhor legalism in all of its form when it comes to the scriptures and the life God would have each of us live.  However, I am simply challenging you to rethink how you are training your children, especially the boys and how you are living as an example for them today.  Is it with sacrifice or from a life of pure luxury?  At the age of 7, are you training warriors to do battle for their future wives, children, countrymen, and ancestry or just over educated athletes in hopes of landing that multi-million dollar contract so they can buy more boats, larger houses, more jewelry and filthier women?  What is their view of supporting the ministries that abound in their area today?  Do they have a worldly view or a biblical world view?  Can you see a servant’s heart or a future adult that will be demanding and hard to live with?  Think about what is important in this life that enhances your eternal life and the eternal life of others.  Out of your actions and training which of those give glory to the Lord?  Does baseball, football, basketball, the finest schools, dances, an exotic vacation, or other activities like these have an eternal purpose?  They could have, but just think for a moment how it is coming across to the kids.  Does giving them every single toy they ask for prepare them for the battles ahead in life?  Does saying yes to their every plea really give them a proper outlook on the future?  Does taking their side in every argument truly help them in preparation for debating the liberal left wing of this world?  Do they see you react to a problem with prayer and digging into your Bible or do they observe you speaking harshly of that person or problem and vow your revenge? 

Men, I am not bringing this message from an attitude of having all the answers or that I always do it right, because that would be a bold face lie.  I battle the same sins and problems you do.  I battle the same pride and ego that every man fights.  But the truth is what it is, guys.  I cannot speak totally from example, but simply from God’s truth.  We need fighters, warriors, kids that grow up knowing the Bible and believing that the Bible is completely true as the inspired word of God and fall in love with their Lord Jesus Christ.  Our world can stand young men that will be devoted to their wives, children, and country and see them as a blessing upon their lives rather than a curse. 

 Today, I encourage you to pray sincerely about all that you have read here.  Reach down deep into the pit of your heart to find that which God placed in your heart years ago.  Lift up your family, co-workers, in-laws, and enemies in prayer.  Dress down spiritually and put it all on the table, guys.  Leave it with the Lord…all of it…the hurt, the pain, the tears, the stress, the financial problems, sexual problems, weaknesses, family problems…all of it.  Leave nothing behind to carry on with you.  Then take a long deep breath and set there for a while in silence to listen to hear if God will speak to you.  It may take Him days, weeks, months or years to speak, but He will speak to you.  See if He speaks, not audibly, but spiritually, through His word, through His people, and through the circumstances.  It is better to not move a muscle until you hear God speak then to do anything that would be in direct disobedience to His calling upon your life. 

“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.

The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things; and the God of peace shall be with you.”    Philippians 4:8-9 (NAS)

 

Guys think on a few questions this very day:

-Would the Lord have you change anything about your life, the treatment of your wife and children and then the training of your children?

-What change can you make today that would be positively noticeable to your family when you got home from work that would inspire them to want to follow you and serve the Lord more? 

What changes would bring glory to Christ today?

-Do you have a servant’s heart like Christ or is pride and ego in the way?

-Why do you go to church, bible studies, and other “religious” functions?

-What kind of men do you hang around with everyday?

-Most importantly, do you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ or are you just playing church or religion because it is the cultural thing to do? 

This is serious guys…your life and the lives of our children and grand-children depend on the decisions we make today….tomorrow may be too late.

Scott Bailey 2007 ©  

*Disclaimer:  In no way am I against sports, athletes, vacations, or money.  Joe Lewis, the late great boxer, once said that “no, money isn’t everything, but it sure ranks right up there with air…try to live without for a day.”  Each of us have a God given purpose in life and is according to what God’s desire for our lives are and we should be obedient to Him in that purpose if we want to live a successful life.  That could mean a pro baseball career for example or using your income to provide for families in need that live around you.  So, please reread this with an open heart and mind and look at it from God’s side as to what He might be seeing in us right now.  He wants us to be completely devoted to Him in all things and my heart felt belief is that we have missed this as dads on nearly all accounts…I am as convicted of this in my heart as anyone else. 

May God bless you as you go out each day to provide for your family and as you work hard to make that much needed time to spend with your wife and children.

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Single Dads Raising Daughters!

Posted by Scott on November 20, 2007

Single Dads Raising Daughters

For a single dad, raising a daughter can feel like treading on foreign soil.

by Keith Wooden

Our two doors close in staccato beats with just an eight-note separation. It’s all part of the routine as my daughter transfers her belongings from one house to the other for the week’s stay with me.

Here’s my challenge: My daughter needs a dad who will span the cosmic gulf between female and male — without appearing to be extraterrestrial. Your daughter does, too. Our task is simple: Find the vehicle necessary to make the trip from our world to theirs.

Simple, huh? So how can single fathers raising daughters do that?

Find mentors

Men need the contribution of women to nurture our daughters and connect with them. I have curled my daughter’s hair and bought her feminine hygiene products, but I am still a man. My daughter needs a woman to show her how to be a woman.

The first female in your daughter’s life is still her biological mother. Support their relationship through your words and actions. Don’t play custody games or speak in anger.

If your daughter’s mom isn’t available, find someone — or several someones — who can become your daughter’s surrogate mom(s).

Build communication

How well do you and your daughter communicate? Cash in your “mister-fix-it” tool kit, and buy into open questions and empathetic responses. Open questions cannot be answered with yes or no and always extend conversation. Empathetic responses — such as “how did that make you feel?” — expose the heart behind the answers.

Dare to dream

Dreaming together opens a panorama of new horizons. Have you ever heard about her dreams about the future? What color will her prom dress be? What is her idea of the ideal man? Do you speak of her future? Will she make a great mother, or doctor, or lawyer or decorator?

Dreams are the packages of the heart. When you open your daughter’s dreams, you open her heart. You must never say, “That’s impossible,” or “That’s silly.” If you do, you will never hold her heart so close again. Dreams are the wings of her future.

Woman in the making

She is in your home and life for a season, then you’ll hear, “There’s a boy outside. His name is Jim. He wants to know if I can play with him … dance with him … marry him. Can I, Daddy? Can I?”

Is this the end you had in mind? Take a long look into your little girl’s eyes. Can you see it? There is something inexorable taking place. She is becoming a woman.

A few months ago my 13-year-old went to a school social. She danced with a young man, and when it was over, he kissed her. Mind you, I was not told this by my daughter, but rather heard it through the teenage grapevine. I approached my daughter.

“Whitney, I heard you kissed a boy.”

“ No I didn’t, Dad. He kissed me.”

“ He kissed, you kissed. The point is your lips touched.”

“No! It is important. He kissed me!”

“Well, why didn’t you slap him or duck or something?

“Well, Dad, because I kinda liked it.”

Did you hear that sound? That’s a dad’s sigh as he’s watching his little girl grow up. I’ll get over it. Just give me seven more years. But I really don’t mind as much as I protest. I think I’ve seen in my mind’s eye the woman she will become, and I can’t wait to meet her. There are just two things I long to hear: One at eternity’s portal: “Well done, My good and faithful servant.” And the other at the head of an aisle: “Thanks, Daddy, I love you.”

Focus on the Family 2007

-Scott Bailey 2007

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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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Stephen Charnock: Salvation Must Be Supernatural!

Posted by Scott on November 4, 2007

Why Salvation Must Be Supernatural

by Stephen Charnock


The insufficiency of nature to such a work as conversion is, shows that men may not fall down and idolize their own wit and power. A change from acts of sin to moral duties may be done by a natural strength and the power of natural conscience: for the very same motives which led to sin, as education, interest, profit, may, upon a change of circumstances, guide men to an outward morality; but a change to the contrary grace is supernatural.

Two things are certain in nature. (1.) Natural inclinations never change, but by some superior virtue. A loadstone will not cease to draw iron, while that attractive quality remains in it. The wolf can never love the lamb, nor the lamb the wolf; nothing but must act suitably to its nature. Water cannot but moisten, fire cannot but burn. So likewise the corrupt nature of man being possessed with an invincible contrariety and enmity to God, will never suffer him to comply with God. And the inclinations of a sinner to sin being more strengthened by the frequency of sinful acts, have as great a power over him, and as natural to him, as any qualities are to natural agents: and being stronger than any sympathies in the world, cannot by a man’s own power, or the power of any other nature equal to it, be turned into a contrary channel.

(2.) Nothing can act beyond its own principle and nature. Nothing in the world can raise itself to a higher rank of being than that which nature has placed it in; a spark cannot make itself a star, though it mount a little up to heaven; nor a plant endue itself with sense, nor a beast adorn itself with reason; nor a man make himself an angel. Thorns cannot bring forth grapes, nor thistles produce figs because such fruits are above the nature of those plants. So neither can our corrupt nature bring forth grace, which is a fruit above it. Effectus non excedit virtutem suae causae [the effect cannot exceed the power of its cause]: grace is more excellent than nature, therefore cannot be the fruit of nature. It is Christ’s conclusion, “How can you, being evil, speak good things?” Matt. 12:33, 34. Not so much as the buds and blossoms of words, much less the fruit of actions. They can no more change their natures, than a viper can do away with his poison. Now though this I have said be true, yet there is nothing man does more affect in the world than a self-sufficiency, and an independence from any other power but his own. This attitude is as much riveted in his nature, as any other false principle whatsoever. For man does derive it from his first parents, as the prime legacy bequeathed to his nature: for it was the first thing uncovered in man at his fall; he would be as God, independent from him. Now God, to cross this principle, allows his elect, like Lazarus, to lie in the grave till they stink, that there may be no excuse to ascribe their resurrection to their own power. If a putrefied rotten carcass should be brought to life, it could never be thought that it inspired itself with that active principle. God lets men run on so far in sin, that they do unman themselves, that he may proclaim to all the world, that we are unable to do anything of ourselves towards our recovery, without a superior principle. The evidence of which will appear if we consider,

1. Man’s subjection under sin. He is “sold under sin,” Rom. 7:14, and brought “into captivity to the law of sin,” ver. 23. “Law of sin:” that sin seems to have a legal authority over him; and man is not only a slave to one sin, but many, Tit. 3:3, “serving divers lusts.” Now when a man is sold under the power of a thousand lusts, every one of which has an absolute tyranny over him, and rules him as a sovereign by a law; when a man is thus bound by a thousand laws, a thousand cords and fetters, and carried whither his lords please, against the dictates of his own conscience and force of natural light; can any man imagine that his own power can rescue him from the strength of these masters that claim such a right to him, and keep such a force upon him, and have so often baffled his own strength, when he attempted to turn against them?

2. Man’s affection to them. He does not only serve them, but he serves them, and every one of them, with delight and pleasure; Tit. 3:3. They were all pleasures, as well as lusts; friends as well as lords. Will any man leave his sensual delights and such sins that please and flatter his flesh? Will a man ever endeavour to run away from those lords which he serves with affection? having as much delight in being bound a slave to these lusts, as the devil has in binding him. Therefore when you see a man cast away his pleasures, deprive himself of those comfortable things to which his soul was once knit, and walk in paths contrary to corrupt nature, you may search for the cause anywhere, rather than in nature itself. No piece of dirty, muddy clay can form itself into a neat and handsome vessel; no plain piece of timber can fit itself for the building, much less a crooked one. Nor a man that is born blind, give himself sight.

God deals with men in this case as he did with Abraham. He would not give Isaac while Sarah’s womb, in a natural probability, might have borne him; but when her womb was dead, and age had taken away all natural strength of conception, then God gives him; that it might appear that he was not a child of nature, but a child of promise.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Richard Baxter: Advice on Reading!

Posted by Scott on November 3, 2007

Advice On Reading

by Richard Baxter (1615-1691)

“Make careful choice of the books which you read: let the holy scriptures ever have the pre-eminence, and, next to them, those solid, lively, heavenly treatises which best expound and apply the scriptures, and next, credible histories, especially of the Church . . . but take heed of false teachers who would corrupt your understandings.”

1. As there is a more excellent appearance of the Spirit of God in the holy scripture, than in any other book whatever, so it has more power and fitness to convey the Spirit, and make us spiritual, by imprinting itself upon our hearts. As there is more of God in it, so it will acquaint us more with God, and bring us nearer Him, and make the reader more reverent, serious and divine. Let scripture be first and most in your hearts and hands and other books be used as subservient to it. The endeavours of the devil and papists to keep it from you, doth shew that it is most necessary and desirable to you.

2. The writings of divines are nothing else but a preaching of the gospel to the eye, as the voice preaches it to the ear. Vocal preaching has the pre-eminence in moving the affections, and being diversified according to the state of the congregation which attend it: this way the milk comes warmest from the breast. But books have the advantage in many other respects: you may read an able preacher when you have but a average one to hear. Every congregation cannot hear the most judicious or powerful preachers: but every single person may read the books of the most powerful and judicious; preachers may be silenced or banished, when books may be at hand: books may be kept at a smaller charge than preachers: we may choose books which treat of that, very subject which we desire to hear of; but we cannot choose what subject the preacher shall treat of. Books we may have at hand every day. and hour; when we can have sermons but seldom, and at set times. If sermons be forgotten, they are gone; but a book we may read over and over, till we remember it: and if we forget it, may again peruse it at our pleasure, or at our leisure. So that good books are a very great mercy to the world: the Holy Ghost chose the way of writing, to preserve His doctrine and laws to the ‘Church, as knowing how easy and sure a way it is of keeping it safe to all generations, in comparison of mere verbal traditions.

3. You have need of a judicious teacher at hand, to direct you what books to use or to refuse: for among good books there are some very good that are sound and lively; and some good, but mediocre, and weak and somewhat dull; and some are very good in part, but have mixtures of error, or else of incautious, injudicious expressions, fitter to puzzle than edify the weak.

 

Baxter’s Guide To The Value Of A Book

While reading ask oneself:

1. Could I spend this time no better?

2. Are there better books that would edify me more?

3. Are the lovers of such a book as this the greatest lovers of the Book of God and of a holy life?

4. Does this book increase my love to the Word of God, kill my sin, and prepare me for the life to come?

[Reprinted with permission from the Banner of Truth, Issue 11, June, 1958, p.1]

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Hugh Binning: Predestination (II)

Posted by Scott on November 3, 2007

Of Predestination (II)

by Hugh Binning

What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction.” — Rom. 9:22.

“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” –– Eph. 1:11.

We are now upon a high subject; high indeed for an eminent apostle, much more above our reach. The very consideration of God’s infinite wisdom might alone suffice to restrain our limited thoughts, and serve to sober our minds with the challenge of our own ignorance and darkness; yet the vain and wicked mind of man will needs quarrel with God, and enter the lists of disputation with him, about his righteousness and wisdom in the counsel of election and reprobation: ‘But, O man, who art thou that repliest against God,’ or disputest? ver. 20. This is a thing not to be disputed, but believed; and if ye will believe no more than ye can comprehend by sense or reason, then ye give his majesty no more credit than to weak mortal man. Whatever secret thoughts do rise up in thy heart when thou hearest of God’s foreordaining men to eternal life, without previous foresight or consideration of their doings, and preparing men to eternal wrath, for the praise of his justice, without previous consideration of their deservings, and passing a definitive sentence upon the end of all men, before they do either good or evil; whenever any secret surmises rise in thy heart against this, learn to answer thus; enter not the lists of disputation with corrupt reason, but put in this bridle of the fear of God’s greatness, and the consciousness of thy own baseness, and labour to restrain thy undaunted and wild mind by it. Ponder that well, who thou art who disputest; who God is, against whom thou disputest — and if thou have spoken once, thou wilt speak no more — what thou art, who is as clay formed out of nothing; what he is, who is the former; and hath not the potter power over the clay? Consider but how great wickedness it is so much as to question him, or ask an account of his matters. After you have found his will to be the cause of all things, then to inquire farther into a cause of his will, which is alone the self-rule of righteousness, is to seek something above his will, and to reduce his majesty into the order of creatures. It is most abominable usurpation and sacrilege, for it both robs him of his royal prerogative, and instates the base footstool into his throne; but know, that certainly God will overcome when he is judged, Psal. 50:6. If thou judge him, he will condemn thee; if thou assail his absolute and holy decrees, he will hold thee fast bound by them to thy condemnation; he needs no other defence but to call out thy own conscience against thee, and bind thee over to destruction. Therefore, as one saith well, “Let the rashness of men be restrained from seeking that which is not, lest peradventure they find that which is.” Seek not a reason of his purposes, lest peradventure thou find thy own death and damnation infolded in them.

Paul mentions two objections of carnal and fleshly wisdom against this doctrine of election and reprobation, which indeed contain the sum of all that is vented and invented even to this day, to defile the spotless truth of God. All the whisperings of men tend to one of these two, — either to justify themselves, or to accuse God of unrighteousness; and shall any do it and be guiltless? I confess, some oppose this doctrine, not so much out of an intention of accusing God, as out of a preposterous and ignorant zeal for God; even as Job’s friends did speak much for God. Nay, but it was not well spoken, they did but speak wickedly for him. Some speak much to the defence of his righteousness and holiness, and, under pretence of that plea, make it inconsistent with these to fore-ordain to life or death without the foresight of their carriage; but shall they speak wickedly for God, or will he accept their person? He who looks into the secrets of the heart, knows the source and foundation of such defences and apologies for his holiness to be partly self-love, partly narrow and limited thoughts of him, drawing him down to the determinations of his own greatest enemy, carnal reason. Since men will ascribe to him no righteousness, but such an one of their own shaping, and conformed to their own model, do they not indeed rob him of his holiness and righteousness?

I find two or three objections which may be reduced to this head. First, it seems unrighteousness with God, to predestinate men to eternal death, without their own evil deserving, or any forethought of it, — that before any man had a being, God should have been in his counsel fitting so many to destruction. Is it not a strange mocking of the creatures, to punish them for that sin and corruption, unto which by his eternal counsel they were fore-ordained? This is even that which Paul objects to himself, ‘Is there unrighteousness with God?’ Is it not unrighteousness to hate Esau before he deserves it? Is he not unrighteous, to adjudge him to death before he do evil? ver. 14. Let Paul answer for us, ‘God forbid!’ Why, there needs no more answer, but all thoughts or words which may in the least reflect upon his holiness are abomination. Though we could not tell how it is righteous and holy with him to do it, yet this we must hold, that it is. It is his own property to comprehend the reason of his counsels; it is our duty to believe what he reveals of them, without farther inquiry. He tells us, that thus it is clearly in this chapter; this far then we must believe. He tells us not how it is; then farther we should not desire to learn. God, in keeping silence of that, may put us to silence, and make us conceive that there is a depth to be admired, not sounded. Yet he goeth a little farther, and indeed as high as can be, to God’s will — ‘He hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will he hardeneth.’ Now, further he cannot go, for there is nothing above this. We may descend from this, but we cannot ascend, or rise above it. But is this any answer to the argument? A sophister could press it further, and take advantage from that very ground — What! Is not this to establish a mere tyranny in the Lord; that he doeth all things of mere will and pleasure, distributes rewards and punishments without previous consideration of men’s carriage? But here we must stand, and go no farther than the scriptures walk with us. Whatever reasons or causes may be assigned, yet certainly we must at length come up hither. All things are, because he so willed; and why willed we should not ask a reason, because his will is supreme reason, and the very self-rule of all righteousness. Therefore if we once know his will, we should presently conclude that it is most righteous and holy. If that evasion of the foreknowledge of men’s sins and impenitency had been found solid, certainly Paul would have answered so, and not have had his refuge to the absolute will and pleasure of God, which seem to perplex it more. But he knew well that there could nothing of that kind, whether good or evil, either actually be without his will or be to come without the determination of the same will, and so could not be foreseen without the counsel of his will upon it; and therefore it had been but a poor shift to have refuge to that starting-hole of foreknowledge, out of which he must presently flee to the will and pleasure of God, and so he betakes him straightway to that he must hold at, and opposes that will to man’s doings. ‘It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.’ If he had meant only that Jacob and Esau had actually done neither good or evil, he needed not return to the sanctuary of God’s will, for still it might be said, it is of him that runs and wills and not of God’s will as the first original; because their good and evil foreseen did move him to such love and hatred. It is all alike of works of men, whether these works be present or to come: therefore I would advise every one of you, whatever ye conceive of his judgment or mercy, if he have showed mercy to you, O then rest not in thyself, but arise and ascend till thou come to the height of his eternal free purpose! And if thou conceive thy sin, and misery, and judgment, thou mayest go up also to his holy counsels, for the glory of his name, and silence thyself with them. But it shall be most expedient for thee in the thought of thy miseries, to return always within, and search the corruption of thy nature, which may alone make thee hateful enough to God. If thou search thy own conscience, it will stop thy mouth, and make thee guilty before God. Let not the thought of his eternal counsels diminish the conviction of thy guilt, or the hatred of thyself for sin and corruption; but dwell more constantly upon this, because thou art called and commanded so to do. One thing remains fixed, — though he hath fore-ordained man to death, yet none shall be damned till his conscience be forced to say, that he is worthy of it a thousand times.

There is another whispering and suggestion of the wicked hearts of men against the predestination of God, which insinuates that God is an accepter of persons, and so accuses him of partial and unrighteous dealing, because he deals not equally with all men. Do ye not say this within yourselves — If he find all guilty, why does he not punish all? Why does he spare some? And if ye look upon all men in his first and primitive thought of them, as neither doing good nor evil, why does he not have mercy on all? But is thine eye evil because he is good? May he not do with his own as he pleases? Because he is merciful to some souls, shall men be displeased, and do well to be angry? Or, because he, of his own free grace, extends it, shall he be bound by a rule to do so with all? Is not he both just and merciful, and is it not meet that both be showed forth? If he punish thee, thou canst not complain, for thou deservest it; if he show mercy, why should any quarrel, for it is free and undeserved grace. By saving some, he shows his grace; by destroying others, he shows what all deserve. God is so far from being an accepter of persons according to their qualifications and conditions, that he finds nothing in any creature to cast the balance of his choice. If he did choose men for their works’ sake, or outward privileges, and refuse others for the want of these, then it might be charged on him; but he rather goes over all these, nay, he finds none of these. In his first view of men he beholds them all alike, and nothing to determine his mind to one more than another, so that his choice proceedeth wholly from within his own breast — ‘I will have mercy on whom I will.’

But then, thirdly, Our hearts object against the righteousness of God; that this fatal chain of predestination overturns all exhortations and persuasions to godliness, all care and diligence in well-doing. For thus do many profane souls conceive — If he be in one mind, who can turn him? Then, what need I pray, since he has already determined what shall be, and what shall become of me? His purpose will take effect whether I pray or pray not; my prayer will not make him change his mind; and if it be in his mind he will do it; if he hath appointed to save us, saved we shall be, live as we desire; if he hath appointed us to death, die we must, live as we can. Therefore men, in this desperate estate, throw themselves headlong into all manner of iniquity, and that with quietness and peace. Thus do many souls perish upon the stumbling-stone laid in Zion, and wrest the truths and counsels of God to their own destruction, even quite contrary to their true intent and meaning. Paul, (Eph. 1:4.) speaks another language — ‘He hath chosen us in him, — that we should be holy and without blame.’ His eternal counsel of life is so far from loosing the reins to men’s lusts, that it is the only certain foundation of holiness; it is the very spring and fountain from whence our sanctification flows by an infallible course. This chain of God’s counsels concerning us, hath also linked together the end and the means, — glory and grace, — happiness and holiness, — that there is no destroying of them. Without holiness it is impossible to see God; so that those who expect the one without any desire of, and endeavour after the other, they are upon a vain attempt to loose the links of this eternal chain. It is the only eternal choosing love of God, which separated so many souls from the common misery of men. It is that only which in time doth appear, and rise as it were from under ground, in the streams or fruits of sanctification. And if the ordinance of life stand, so shall the ordinance of fruits, John 15:16. Eph. 2:10. If he hath appointed thee to life, it is certain he has also ordained thee to fruits, and chosen thee to be holy; so that whatever soul casts by the study of this, there is too gross a brand of perdition upon its forehead. It is true, all is already determined with him, and he is incapable of any change, or ‘shadow of turning.’ Nothing then wants, but he is in one mind about it, and thy prayer cannot turn him. Yet a godly soul will pray with more confidence, because it knows that as he hath determined upon all its wants and receipts, so he hath appointed this to be the very way of obtaining what it wants. This is the way of familiarity and grace. He takes with his own to make them call; and he performs his purpose in answer to their cry. But suppose there were nothing to be expected by prayer, yet I say, that is not the thing thou shouldst look to, but what is required of thee, as thy duty, to do that simply out of regard to his majesty, though thou shouldst never profit by it. This is true obedience, to serve him for his own pleasure, though we had no expectation of advantage by it. Certainly he doth not require thy supplications for this end, to move him, and incline his affections toward thee, but rather as a testimony of thy homage and subjection to him; therefore, though they cannot make him of another mind than he is, or hasten performance before his purposed time — so that in reality they have no influence upon him — yet in praying, and praying diligently, thou declarest thy obligation to him, and respect to his majesty, which is all thou hast to look to, committing the event solely to his good pleasure.

The second objection Paul mentions, tends to justify men. ‘Why then doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?’ Since by his will he hath chained us with an inevitable necessity to sin, what can we do? Men cannot wrestle with him; why then doth he condemn and accuse them? ‘But who art thou, O man, who disputest against God?’ As if Paul had said, thou art a man, and so I am, why then lookest thou for an answer from me? Let us rather both consider whom we speak of, whom thou accusest, and whom I defend. It is God; what art thou then to charge him, or what am I so to clear him? Believing ignorance is better than presumptuous knowledge, especially in those forbidden secrets in which it is more concerning to be ignorant with faith and admiration, than to know with presumption. Dispute thou, O man, I will wonder; reply thou, I will believe! Doth it become thee, the clay, to speak so to thy Maker, ‘Why hast thou made me thus?’ Let the consideration of the absolute right and dominion of God over us, — more than any creature hath over another, yea, or over themselves, — let that restrain us, and keep us within bounds. He may do with us what he pleaseth, for his own honour and praise; but it is his will that we should leave all the blame to ourselves, and rather behold the evident cause of our destruction in our sin, which is nearer us, than to search into a secret and incomprehensible cause in God’s counsel.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Hugh Binning: Predestination (I)

Posted by Scott on November 3, 2007

Of Predestination (I)

by Hugh Binning

“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” — Eph. 1:11.

What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction; and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy which he had afore prepared unto glory.” — Rom, 9:22, 23.

In the creation of the world, it pleased the Lord, after all things were framed and disposed, to make one creature to rule over all; and to him he gave the most excellent nature, and privileges beyond the rest; so that it may appear that he had made all things for man, and man immediately for his own glory. As man was the chief of the works of his hands, so we may, according to the Scriptures, conceive that he was chiefly minded in the counsels of his heart. And that, as in the execution of his purpose in creating the world, man had the pre-eminence assigned unto him, and all seemed subordinate unto him; so, in the Lord’s purposes concerning the world, his purpose about man has the pre-eminence. He, indeed, has resolved to declare the glory of his name in this world; therefore the heavens and the firmament are made preachers of that glory, Psal. 19:1,2,&c. But in a special manner, his majesty’s glorious name is manifested in man, and about man. He hath set man, as it were, in the centre or midst of the creation, that all the creatures might direct or bring in their praises unto him, to be offered up in his and their name, to the Lord their Maker, by him, as the common mouth of the world; and the Lord hath chosen this creature above all the creatures, for the more solemn and glorious declaration of himself in his special properties. Therefore, we should gather our thoughts in this business, to hear from the Lord what his thoughts are towards us; for, certainly, the right understanding of his everlasting counsel touching the eternal state of man, is of singular virtue to conform us to the praise of his name, and establish us in faith and confidence. Predestination is a mystery, indeed, into which we should not curiously and boldly inquire beyond what is revealed; for then a soul must needs lose itself in that depth of wisdom, and perish in the search of unsearchableness. And thus the word speaks in Scripture of this subject, intimating to us, that it is rather to be admired than conceived; and that there ought to he some ignorance of these secrets, which, conjoined with faith and reverence, is more learned than any curious knowledge. But withal, we must open our eyes upon so much light as God reveals of these secrets, knowing that the light of the word is a saving, refreshing light, not confounding, as is his inaccessible light of secret glory. As far as it pleaseth his majesty to open his mouth, let us not close our ears, but open them also to his instruction, knowing, that as he will withhold no necessary thing for our salvation, so he will reveal nothing but what is profitable. This is the best bond of sobriety and humble wisdom, to learn what he teacheth us; but when he makes an end of teaching, to desire no more learning. It is humility to seek no more, and it is true wisdom to be content with no less.

There is much weakness in our conceiving of divine things. We shape and form them in our minds according to a mould of our own experience or invention, and cannot conceive of them as they are in themselves. If we should speak properly, there are not counsels and purposes in God, but one entire counsel and resolution concerning all things which are in time, by which he hath disposed all in their several times, seasons, conditions, and orders. But because we have many thoughts, about many things, so we cannot well conceive of God but in likeness to ourselves; and therefore, the Scripture, condescending to our weakness, speaks so. ‘How many are thy precious thoughts towards me,’ saith David; and yet, indeed, there is but one thought of him, and us, and all, which one thought is of so much virtue, that it is equivalent to an infinite number of thoughts concerning infinite objects. The Lord hath from everlasting conceived one purpose of manifesting his own glory in such several ways; and this is the head-spring of all that befalls creatures, men, and angels. But because, in the execution of this purpose, there is a certain order, and succession, and variety, therefore men do ordinarily fancy such or such a frame and order in the Lord’s mind and purpose. And as the astronomers do cut and carve in their imagination cycles, orbs, and epicycles in the heavens, because of the various and different appearances and motions of stars in them, whereas it may be, really, there is but one celestial body in which all these various lights and motions do appear, so do men fancy unto themselves an order in the Lord’s decree, according to the phenomena or appearances of his works in the world; whereas, it is one purpose and decree, which in its infinite compass comprehends all these varieties and orders together. This much we may indeed lawfully conceive of his decree, that there is an exact correspondence and suitableness between his majesty’s purpose and execution, and that he is a wise Lord, ‘wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working,’ having some great plot and design before his eyes, which he intends to effect, and which is, as it were, the great light and sun of this firmament, unto which, by that same wonderful counsel, all other things are subordinate; and so in the working it shall appear exactly as his counsel did delineate and contrive it.

There is no man so empty or shallow, but he hath some great design and purpose which he chiefly aims at; shall we not then conceive, that the Lord, who instructs every man to this discretion, and teaches him, (Isa. 28:26,) is himself wise in his counsel, and hath some grand project before him in all this fabric of the world, and the upholding of it since it was made? Certainly he hath. And if you ask what it is, the wise man will teach you in general — ‘He made all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day of evil,’ Prov. 16:4. Here, then, is his great design and purpose, — to glorify himself, — to manifest his own name to men and angels. Now, his name comprehends wisdom, goodness, power, mercy, and justice. The first three he declares in all the works of his hands. All are well done and wisely done. The excellency of the work shows the wonderful counsellor and the wise contriver. The goodness of any creature in its kind, declares the inexhausted spring of a self-being from whom it proceeds; and the bringing all these out of nothing, and upholding them, is a glorious declaration of his power. But yet, in all the works of his hands, there is nothing found to manifest his glorious mercy and justice, upon which are the flower and garland of his attributes, and unto which wisdom and power seem to be subservient. Therefore his majesty, in that one entire purpose of his own glory, resolves to manifest his wrath and his mercy upon men and angels, subjects capable of it; which two attributes are as the poles about which all the wheels of election and reprobation turn as you see in that place, Rom. 9:22, 23. Let this then be established as the end of all his works, as it is designed in his counsel, and nothing else. It is not the creature, nor any thing in the creature, which is first in his mind, but himself, and therefore of him, and for him, are all things. Here they have their rise, and thither they return, even to the ocean of God’s eternal glory, from whence all did spring.

The right establishing of this will help us to conceive aright of his counsel of predestination. It is a common cavil of carnal reason, how can the Lord reject so many persons, and fore-ordain them to destruction? It seems most contrary to his goodness and wisdom, to have such an end of eternal predestination before him, in the creating of so many, to make men for nothing, but to damn them. Here carnal reason, which is enmity to God, triumphs; but consider, I say, that this is not the Lord’s end and chief design, to destroy men. Even as it is not his majesty’s first look, or furthest reach, to give unto others eternal life; so it is not his prime intent to sink them into eternal death, as if that were his pleasure and delight. No, indeed! Neither is the creature’s happiness nor its misery that which first moves him, or is most desired of him, but himself only, and he cannot move out of himself to any business, but he must return it unto himself. Therefore the wise preacher expresses it well, ‘He made all for himself, even the wicked for the day of evil.’ It was not his great end of creating wicked men to damn them, or creating righteous men to save them, but both are for a further and higher end, — for himself and his own glory.

All seem to agree about this, that the great end of all the Lord’s counsels and decrees is his own glory, to be manifested on men and angels; and that this must be first in his mind; not that there is first or last with him, but to speak after the manner of men. If he had many thoughts, as we have, this would be his first thought; and in this one purpose this end is chiefly aimed at, and all other things are by the Lord’s counsel subordinate to this, as means to compass that. But as concerning the order of these means, and consequently of his majesty’s purpose about them, men, by examining his majesty according to the creature’s rules, or according to sense, bring him down far below his own infinite greatness. Some conceive that that was first, as it were, in his mind which is first done. Looking upon the execution of his purpose in the works of his power, they imagine, that as he first created man righteous, so this was his first thought concerning man, to create man for the glory of his goodness and power, without any particular determination as yet of his end. And I conceive, this is the thought of the multitude of people. They think God was disappointed in his work, when they hear he created such a glorious creature that is now become so miserable. They cannot believe that his majesty had all this sin and misery determined with him when he purposed to create him, but look upon the emergent of man’s fall into sin and misery as a surprise to his majesty; — as if he had meant another thing in creating him, and so was, upon this occasion of man’s sin, driven to a new consultation about the helping of the business, and making the best out of it that might be. Thus ‘through wisdom’ the world knows not God. They think God altogether like themselves, and so liken him to the builder of a house, who set nothing before him in doing so, but to build it after that manner for his own ends; but then being surprised with the fall and ruin of it, takes a new advisement, and builds it up again upon another and a surer foundation. But because they cannot say, that God takes any new advisements in time, but must confess that all his counsels are everlasting concerning all the works of his hands, therefore they bring in foreknowledge to smooth their irreligious conceit of God; as if the Lord, upon his purpose of creating man, had foreseen what should befall him, and so purposed to permit it to be so, that out of it he might erect some glorious fabric of mercy and justice upon the ruins of man. And that little or nothing may be left to the absolute sovereign will of God, to which the Scripture ascribes all things, they must again imagine, that upon his purpose of sending Christ to save sinners, he is yet undetermined about the particular end of particular men, but watches on the tower of foreknowledge to espy what they will do, whether men will believe on his Son or not, whether they will persevere in faith or not; and according to his observation of their doings, so he applies his own will to carve out their reward or portion of life or death. These are even the thoughts which are inbred in your breasts by nature. That which the learned call Arminianism is nothing else but the carnal reason of men’s hearts, which is enmity to God. It is that very disputation which Paul in this chapter exclaims against, ‘Who art thou, O man, that disputest?’

But certainly, all this contrivance is nothing beseeming the wisdom or sovereignty of God, but reflects upon both; upon his wisdom, that he should have thoughts of creating the most noble of his creatures, and yet be in suspense about the end of the creature, and have that in uncertainty what way his glory shall indeed be manifested by it. Is it not the first and chief thought of every wise man, what he intends and aims at in his work, and according to the measure and reach of his wisdom, so he reaches further in his end and purpose? Shall we then conceive the only wise God so far to have mistaken himself, as to do that which no wise man would do? He who is of such an infinite reach of wisdom and understanding, to fall upon the thoughts of making such an excellent creature, and yet to lie in suspense within himself about the eternal estate of it, and to be in a waiting posture what way his glory should be manifested by it; whether in a way of simple goodness only, or in a way of justice, or in a way of mercy, till he should foresee, off the tower of foreknowledge, how that creature should behave itself. Our text speaks not thus; for in the place, (Eph. 1) we have the Lord, in his eternal purpose, carving out to such and such particular persons ‘an inheritance,’ and ‘adoption of children,’ for that great end ‘of the glory of his grace,’ ver. 11, and 5, 6. And predestination falls out, not according to our carriage, but according to the purpose of him who ‘works all things’ that he works, ‘after the counsel of his own will,’ without consulting our will, And if you inquire what are these ‘all things,’ certainly we must take it simply for all things that are at all, or have any real being: his power, his hand must be in it, and that according to his own counsel, without respect had to the creature’s will, according to his own good pleasure, ver. 5,11. He had no sooner a thought of working and making man, but this purpose was in it, to make such men to the praise of his glorious grace, and to fore-ordain them to an inheritance, and others to make or fit them for destruction, as the text, Rom. 9:22, bears. Herein the great and unsearchable wisdom of God appears to be a great depth, that when he hath a thought of making such a vessel, he hath this purpose in the bosom of it, what use it shall be for, whether for honour or dishonour; and accordingly, in his counsel, he prepares it either to glory or destruction, and in time makes it fit for its use, either by sin or grace. Here is the depth that cannot be sounded by mortal men. ‘O the depth of the riches both of his wisdom and knowledge! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!’ The whole tenor of the Scriptures shows that his majesty was not surprised and taken at unawares by Adam’s fall, but that it fell out according to the determinate counsel of his will. If he knew it, and suffered it to be, certainly he permitted it, because he willed it should be so; and why may he not determine that in his holy counsel which his wisdom can disabuse to the most glorious end that can be? Why may not he decree such a fall, who out of man’s ruins can erect such a glorious throne for his grace and justice to triumph into? It is more for the glory of his infinite wisdom, to bring good, and such a good out of evil, than only to permit that good should be.

Then such doctrine is repugnant to the Lord’s absolute power and sovereignty, which is Paul’s sanctuary, whither he flies unto as a sure refuge, from the stroke or blast of carnal reason. ‘Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel to honour, and another to dishonour?’ ver. 21. Hath not the Lord more absolute dominion over us, than the potter hath over the clay, for the potter made not the clay, but the Lord hath made us of nothing? so that simply and absolutely we are his, and not our own, and so he hath an absolute right to make any use of us he pleases, without consulting our wills and deservings. Can any man quarrel him for preparing him to destruction, seeing he owes nothing to any man, but may do with his own what he pleases? What if God, willing to make known his power, and justice, and wrath, have fitted and prepared some vessels for destruction, with which in time he bears much, and forbears long, using much patience towards them, ver. 22. Can any man challenge him for it? And what if God, willing to make known the riches of his grace, have prepared some vessels to glory, shall any man’s eye be evil because he is good? ver. 23. Shall man be left to be his own disposer, and the shaper of his own fortune? Sure it was not so with Esau and Jacob: they were alike in the womb. If there was any prerogative, Esau the eldest had it, — they had done neither good nor evil. What difference was then between them to cast the balance of his will? Can you imagine any? Indeed carnal reason will say that God foreknew what they would do, and so he chose or rejected them. But, why doth not the apostle answer thus unto that objection of unrighteousness in God? ver. 14. It had been ready and plain. But rather he opposes the will and calling of God, to all works past or to come. He gives no answer but this, ‘he will have mercy because he will have mercy;’ that is the supreme rule of righteousness, and hitherto must we flee, as the surest anchor of our hope and stability. Our salvation depends not on our willing or running, on our resolving or doing, but upon this primitive good pleasure and will of God, on which hangs our willing and running and obtaining. It is certainly an unorderly order, to flee unto that in men, for the cause of God’s eternal counsels, which only flows from his eternal counsel, Eph. 1:4. Hath he chosen us because he did foreknow that we would be holy, and without blame, as men think? Or hath he not rather chosen us to be holy and without blame? He cannot behold any good or evil in the creatures, till his will pass a sentence upon it; for from whence should it come?

Seeing then this order and contrivance of God’s purpose is but feigned, it seems to some that the very contrary method were more suitable even to the rules of wisdom. You know what is first in men’s intention is last in execution. The end is first in their mind, then the means to compass that end. But in practice again, men fall first upon the means, and by them come at length to attain their end; therefore those who would have that first, as it were, in God’s mind, which he doth first, do even cross common rules of reason in human affairs. It would seem then, say some, that this method might do well; that what is last in his execution, was first in his purpose, and by him intended as the end of what he doth first, and so some do rank his decrees; that he had first a thought of glorifying man, and to attain this end he purposed to give him grace, and for this purpose to suffer him to fall, and for all to create him. But we must not look thus upon it either. It were a foolish and ridiculous counsel, unbeseeming the poor wisdom of man, to purpose the glorifying of man whom he had not yet determined to create. Therefore we should always have it in our mind that the great end and project of all is the glory of his mercy and justice upon men; and this we may conceive is first in order, neither men’s life nor death, but God’s glory to be manifested upon men. Now, to attain this glorious end, with one inclination or determination of his will, not to be distinguished or severed, he condescends upon all that is done in time, as one complete and entire mean of glorifying himself, so that one of them is not before another in his mind, but altogether. For attaining this, he purposes to create man. He ordains the fall of all men into a state of sin and misery; and some of those, upon whom he had resolved to show his mercy, he gives them to Christ to be redeemed, and restored by grace; others, he fore-ordains them to destruction; and all this at once, without any such order as we imagine. Now though he intend all this at once and together, yet it doth not hence follow that all these must be executed together. As when a man intends to build a house for his own accommodation, there are many things in the house upon which he hath not several purposes; but yet they must be severally, and in some order done. First the foundation laid; then the walls raised; then the roof put on; yet be did not intend the foundation to be for the walls, or the walls for the roof, but altogether for himself. Even so the Lord purposes to glorify his mercy and justice upon a certain number of persons, and for this end to give them a being, to govern their falling into misery, to raise some out of it by a Mediator, and to leave some into it to destruction; and all this as one entire mean to illustrate his glorious mercy and justice. But these things themselves must be done not all at once, but one before another, either as their own nature requires, or as he pleases. The very nature of the thing requires that man be created before he sin; that he sin and fall before a Mediator suffer for his sin; that he have a being before he have a glorious being; and that he have a sinful and miserable being, before he have this glorious and gracious being which may manifest the grace and mercy of God. But it is the pleasure of the Lord that determines in what time and order Christ shall suffer, either before or after the conversion of sinners, or whether sinners shall be presently instated in glory, and perfectly delivered from all sin at their first conversion, or only in part during this life.

Seeing then this was his majesty’s purpose, to make so many vessels of honour, upon whom he might glorify the riches of his grace and mercy; and so many ‘vessels of wrath,’ upon whom he might show the power of his anger; you may think what needed all this business of man’s redemption. Might not God have either preserved so many as he had appointed to glory from falling into sin and misery; or at least have freely pardoned their sin without any satisfaction; and out of the exceeding riches of his mercy and power, have as well not imputed sin to them at all, as imputed their sins to Christ, who was not guilty? What needed his giving so many to the Son, and the Son’s receiving them? What needed these mysteries of incarnation, of redemption, seeing he might have done all this simply without so much pains and expense? Why did he choose this way? Indeed, that is the wonder; and if there were no more end for it, but to confound mortality that dare ask him what he doth, it is enough. Should he be called down to the bar of human reason, to give an account of his matters? ‘Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or, being his counsellor, hath taught him,’ that is in the depths of his unsearchable understanding, that he chose to go this round, and to compass his end by such a strange circuit of means, when he might have done it simply and directly without so much pains? Yet it is not so hidden, but he hath revealed as much as may satisfy or silence all flesh. For we must consider, that his great project is not simply to manifest the glory of his goodness, but of his gracious and merciful goodness, the most tender and excellent of all; and therefore man must be miserable, sinful, and vile, that the riches of his grace may appear in choosing and saving such persons. But that it may appear also how excellent he could make man, and how vain all created perfections are, being left to themselves, therefore he first made man righteous, and being fallen into sin and misery, he might straightway have restored him without more ado. But his purpose was to give an exact demonstration of mercy, tempered and mixed with justice; and therefore he finds out the satisfaction in his eternal counsel, ‘I have found a ransom.’ And so he chooses Jesus Christ to be the head of these chosen souls, in whom they might be again restored unto eternal life. And these souls, he, in his everlasting purpose, gives over to the Son to be redeemed, and these the Son receives. And thus the glory of mercy and justice shines most brightly, yea, more brightly, than if he had at first pardoned. O how doth his love and mercy appear, that he will transfer our sins upon his holy Son, and accept that redemption for us; and his justice, that a redemption and price he must have, even from his Son, when once he comes in the stead of sinners! And in this point do the songs of eternity concentre.

 

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Richard Baxter: Are You A Man-Pleaser?

Posted by Scott on November 3, 2007

Directions Against Inordinate Man-pleasing

or that overvaluing the Favour and Censure of Man, which is the Fruit of Pride, and a great cause of Hypocrisy; or, Directions against Idolizing Man.

by Richard Baxter



As in other cases, so in this, iniquity consisteth not simply in the heart’s neglect of God, but in the preferring of some competitor, and prevalence of some object which standeth up for an opposite interest. And so the obeying man before God and against him, and the valuing the favour and approbation of man before or against the approbation of God, and the fearing of man’s censure or displeasure more than God’s, is an idolizing man, or setting him up in the place of God. It turneth our chiefest observance, and care, and labour, and pleasure, and grief into this human fleshly channel, and maketh all that to be but human in our hearts and lives, which (objectively) should be divine. Which is so great and dangerous a sin, partaking of so much impiety, hypocrisy, and pride, as that it deserveth a special place in my directions, and in all watchfulness and consideration to escape it.

As all other creatures, so especially man, must be regarded and valued only in a due subordination and subserviency to God. If they be valued otherwise, they are made his enemies, and so are to be hated, and are made the principal engine of the ruin of such as overvalue them. See what the Scripture saith of this sin: Isa. ii. 22, “Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?” Matt. xxiii. 9, “And call no man your father upon the earth; for one is your Father which is in heaven.” ver. 8, “And be not ye called Rabbi, for one is your Master even Christ: but he that is greatest among you shall be your servant” Jer. xx. 15, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” Psalm cxviii. 6, 8, 9, “The Lord is on my side, I will not fear what man can do unto me. It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man,-yea, in princes.” Job xxxii. 21, 22 “Let me not accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man: for I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my Maker would soon take me away.” Job xxi. 4, “As for me, is my complaint to man? “Gal. i. 10, “Do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be a servant of Christ.” I Cor. iv. 3, “But with me it is a very small thing to be judged of you, or of man’s judgment.” Luke xiv. 26, “If a man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” “Blessed are ye when man shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven,” Matt. v. Ii-, 12. “Not with eye-service, as men-pleasers,” Eph. vi. 6; Col. iii. 22. I Thess. ii. 4, “So we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who trieth our hearts.” Jude 16, “Having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.” This is enough to show you what Scripture saith of this inordinate man-pleasing, or respect to man: and now I shall proceed to direct you to escape it.

Direct. I. Understand well wherein the nature of this sin consisteth, that you may not run into the contrary extreme, but may know which way to bend your opposition. I shall therefore first show you, how far we may and must please men, and how far not.

The Proper Respect We are to Have Towards Men
Consider the Nature of Man in General

Direct II. Remember that the favour and pleasing of man is one of your snares, that would prevail against your pleasing God: therefore watch against the danger of it, as you must do against other earthly things.

Direct. III. Remember how silly a creature man is and that his favour can be no better than himself. The thoughts or words of a mortal worm are matters of no considerable value to us.

Direct. IV. Remember that it is the judgment of God alone, that your life or death for ever doth depend upon; and how little you are concerned in the judgment of man.

The Judgement of God Compared to that of Men

Direct. V. Remember that the judgment of ungodly men, is corrupted and directed by the devil and to be overruled by their censures, or too much to fear them, is to be overruled by the devil, and to be afraid of his censures of. us. And will you honour him so much? Alas! it is he that puts those thoughts into the minds of the ungodly, and those reproachful words into their mouths. To prefer the judgment of a man before God’s, is odious enough, though you did not prefer the devil’s judgment.

Direct. VI. Consider what a slavery you choose, when you thus make yourselves the servants of every man, whose censures you fear, and whose approbation you are ambitious of. I Cor. vii. 23, “Ye are bought with a price. Be not ye the servants of men:” that is, do not needlessly enthral yourselves. What a task have men-pleasers! they have as many masters as beholders! No wonder if it take them off from the service of God; for the “friendship of the world is enmity to God;” and he that will thus be “a friend of the world, is an enemy to God,” James iv. 4. They cannot serve two masters God and the world. You know men will condemn you, if you be true to God: if, therefore, you must needs have the favour of men, you must take it alone without God’s favour. A man-pleaser cannot be true to God, because he is a servant to the enemies of his service; the wind of a man’s mouth will drive him about as the chaff, from any duty, and to any sin. How servile a person is a man-pleaser! How many masters hath he, and how mean ones! It perverteth the course of your hearts and lives, and turneth all from God to this unprofitable way.

Direct. VII. Remember what a pitiful reward you seek. “Verily,” saith our Lord, concerning hypocrites and man-pleasers, “they have their reward,” Matt. vi. 25. O miserable reward! The thought and breath of mortal men, instead of God-instead of heaven; this is their reward! Their happiness will be to lie in hell, and remember that they were well spoken of on earth! and that once they were accounted religious, learned, wise, or honourable! and to remember that they preferred this reward be fore everlasting happiness with Christ! If this be not gain, your labour is all lost, which you lay out in hunting for applause. If this be enough to spend your time for, and to neglect your God for, and to lose your souls for, rejoice then in the hypocrite’s reward.

Direct. VIII. And remember that honour is such a thing as is found sooner by an honest contempt of it, than by an inordinate affection of it, and seeking it. It is a shadow which goeth from you if you follow it, and follows you as fast as you go from it. Whose names are now more honourable upon earth, than those prophets, and apostles, and martyrs, and preachers, and holy, mortified christians, who in their days set lightest by the approbation of the world, and were made the scorn or foot-ball of the times in which they lived? Those that have been satisfied with the approbation of their heavenly Father, who saw them “in secret,” have been “rewarded by him openly.” It is, even in the eyes of rational men, a far greater honour to live to God, above worldly honour, than to seek it. And so much as a man is perceived to affect and seek it, so much he loseth of it: for he is thought to need it, and men perceive that he plays a low and pitiful game, that is so desirous of their applause! As they would contemn a man that should lick up the spittle of every man where he comes, so will they contemn him that liveth on their thoughts and breath, and honour him more that lives on God.

Direct. IX. If nothing else will cure this disease, at least let the impossibility of pleasing men, and attaining your ends, suffice against so fruitless an attempt. And here I shall show you how impossible it is, or, at least, a thing which you cannot reasonably expect.

The Folly of Trying to Please Men 
Direct. X. Remember what a life of unquietness and continual vexation you choose, if you place your peace or happiness in the good will or word of man. For having showed you how impossible a task you undertake, it must needs follow that the pursuit of it must be a life of torment. To engage yourselves in so great cares, when you are sure to be disappointed; to make that your end, which you cannot attain; to find that you labour in vain, and daily meet with displeasure instead of the favour you expected; must needs be a very grievous life. You are like one that dwelleth on the top of a mountain, and yet cannot endure the wind to blow upon him; or like him that dwelleth in a wood, and yet is afraid of the shaking of a leaf. You dwell among a world of ulcerated, selfish, contradictory, mutable, unpleasable minds, and yet you cannot endure their displeasure. Are you magistrates? The people will murmur at you, and those that are most incompetent and uncapable will be the forwardest to censure you, and think that they could govern much better than you. Those that bear the necessary burdens of the common safety and defence, will say that you oppress them, and the malefactors that are punished, will say you deal unmercifully by them; and those that have a cause never so unjust, will say you wrong them, if it go not on their side. Are you pastors and teachers? You will seem too rough to one, and too smooth to another; yea, too rough to the same man when by reproof or censure you correct his faults, who censureth you as too smooth and a friend to sinners, when you are to deal in the cause of others. No sermon that you preach is like to be pleasing to all your hearers; nor any of your ministerial works. Are you lawyers? The clients that lost their cause, behind your backs will call you unconscionable, and say you betrayed them; and those that prevailed, will call you covetous, and tell how much money you took of them, and how little you did for it: so that it is no wonder that among the vulgar your profession is the matter of their reproach. Are you physicians? You will be accused as guilty of the death of many that die; and as covetous takers of their money whether the patient die or live; for this is the common talk of the vulgar, except with some few with whom your care has much succeeded. Are you tradesmen? Most men that buy of you are so selfish, that except you will beggar yourselves, they will say you deceive them, and deal unconscionably and sell too dear: little do they mind the necessary maintenance of your families, nor care whether you live or gain by your trading; but if you will wrong yourselves to sell them a good penny-worth, they will say you are very honest men: and yet when you are broken, they will accuse you of imprudence, and defrauding your creditors. You must buy dear and sell cheap, and live by the loss, or else displease.

Direct. XI. Remember still that the pleasing of God is your business in the world, and that in pleasing him your souls may have safety, rest, and full content, though all the world should be displeased with you. God is enough for you; and his approbation and favour is your portion and reward. How sweet and safe is the life of the sincere and upright ones, that study more to be good than to seem good, and think if God accept them that they have enough! O what a mercy is an upright heart! which renounceth the world, and all therein that stands in competition with his God; and taketh God for his God indeed even for his Lord, his Judge, his Portion, and his All: who in temptation remembereth the eye of God, and in all his duty is provoked and ruled by the will and pleasure of his Judge, and regardeth the eye and thoughts of man, but as he would do the presence of a bird or beast, unless as piety, justice, or charity, require him to have respect to man, in due subordination to God: who when men applaud him as a person of excellent holiness and goodness, is fearful and solicitous lest the all-knowing God should think otherwise of him than his applauders: and under all the censures, reproaches, and slanders of man, yea, (though through temptation good men should thus use him,) can live in peace upon the approbation of his God alone; and can rejoice in his justification by his righteous Judge and gracious Redeemer, though the inconsiderable censures of men condemn him. Verily I cannot apprehend, how any other man but this can live a life of true and solid peace and joy. If God’s approbation and favour quiet you not, nothing can rationally quiet you. If the pleasing of him does not satisfy you, though men, though good men, though all men should be displeased with you, I know not how or when you will be satisfied. Yea, if you be above the censures and displeasure of the profane and not also of the godly, (when God will permit them, as Job’s wife and friends, to be your trial,) it will not suffice to an even, contented, quiet life. And here consider
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The Advantages of Pleasing God Rather than Men

1. If you seek first to please God and are satisfied therein, you have but one to please instead of multitudes; and a multitude of masters are hardlier pleased than one.
2. And it is one that putteth upon you nothing that is unreasonable, for quantity or quality.
3. And one that is perfectly wise and good, not liable to misunderstand your case and actions.
4. And one that is most holy, and is not pleased in iniquity or dishonesty.
5. And he is one that is impartial and most just, and is no respecter of persons, Acts x. 34.
6. And he is one that is a competent judge, that hath fitness and authority, and is acquainted with your hearts, and every circumstance and reason of your actions.
7. And he is one that perfectly agreeth with himself, and putteth you not upon contradictions or impossibilities.
8. And he is one that is constant and unchangeable; and is not pleased with one thing to-day, and another contrary to-morrow; nor with one person this year, whom he will be weary of the next.
9. And he is one that is merciful, and requireth you not to hurt yourselves to please him: nay, he is pleased with nothing of thine but that which tendeth to thy happiness, and displeased with nothing but that which hurts thyself or others, as a father that is displeased with his children when they defile or hurt themselves.
10. He is gentle, though just, in his censures of thee; judging truly, but not with unjust rigour, nor making your actions worse than they are.
11. He is one that is not subject to the passions of men, which blind their minds, and carry them to injustice.
12. He is one that will not be moved by tale-bearers, whisperers, or false accusers, nor can be perverted by any misinformation.
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The Benefits of Seeking to Please God

Consider also the benefits of taking up with the pleasing of God. 1. The pleasing of him is your happiness itself; the matter of pure, and full, and constant comfort, which you may have continually at hand, and no man can take from you. Get this and you have the end of man; nothing can be added to it, but the perfection of the same, which is heaven itself.
2. What abundance of disappointments and vexations will you escape, which tear the very hearts of man-pleasers, and fill their lives with unprofitable sorrows!
3. It will guide and order your cares, and desires, and thoughts, and labours to their right and proper end, and prevent the perverting of them, and spending them in sin and vanity on the creature.
4. It will make your lives not only to be divine but this divine life to be sweet and easy, while you set light by human censures which would create you prejudice and difficulties. When others glory in wit, and wealth, and strength, you would glory in this, that you know the Lord, Jer. ix. 23, 24.
5. As God is above man, thy heart and life is highly ennobled by having so much respect to God, and rejecting inordinate respect to man: this is indeed to walk with God.
6. The sum of all graces is contained in this sincere desire to please thy God, and contentedness in this so far as thou findest it attained. Here is faith, and humility, and love, and, holy desire, and trust and the fear of God joined together. You “sanctify the Lord of hosts himself, and make him your fear, and dread, and sanctuary,” Isa. viii. 13, 14.

7. If human approbation be good for you and worth your having, this is the best way to it; for God hath the disposal of it. “If a man’s ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him,” Prov. xvi. 7. God does this by appeasing their wrath, or restraining them from intended evil, or doing us good by that which they intend for hurt.
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Signs of Living to Please God

See therefore that you live upon God’s approval as that which you chiefly seek, and will suffice you: which you may discover by these signs.

1. You will be most careful to understand the Scripture, to know what doth please and displease God.
2. You will be more careful in the doing of every duty, to fit it to the pleasing of God than men.
3. You will look to your hearts, and not only to your actions; to your ends, and thoughts, and the inward manner and degree.
4. You will look to secret duties as well as public and to that which men see not, as well as unto that which they see.
5. You will reverence your consciences, and have much to do with them, and will not slight them: when they tell you of God’s displeasure, it will disquiet you; when they tell you of his approval, it will comfort you.
6. Your pleasing men will be charitable for their good, and pious in order to the pleasing of God, and not proud and ambitious for your honour with them, nor impious against the pleasing of God.
7. Whether men be pleased or displeased, or how they judge of you, or what they call you, will seem a small matter to you, as their own interest, in comparison to God’s judgment. You live not on them. You can bear their displeasure, censures, and reproaches, if God be but pleased. These will be your evidences.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Richard Baxter: Evidence of a Flesh-Pleaser!

Posted by Scott on November 3, 2007

The Ten Marks of a Flesh-Pleaser


by Richard Baxter

The signs of a flesh-pleaser or sensualist are these:

1. When a man in his desire to please his appetite, does not do it with a view to a higher end, that is to say to the preparing himself for the service of God; but does it only for the delight itself. (Of course no one does every action conciously with a view to the service of God. Nevertheless, the general manner or habit of a life spent in the service of God is absent for the flesh-pleaser.)

2. When he looks more eagerly and industriously after the prosperity of his body than of his soul.

3. When he will not refrain from his pleasures, when God forbids them, or when they hurt his soul, or when the necessities of his soul call him away from them. But he must have his delight whatever it costs him, and is so set upon it, that he cannot deny it to himself.

4. When the pleasures of his flesh exceed his delights in God, and his holy word and ways, and the expectations of endless pleasure. And this not only in the passion, but in the estimation, choice, and action. When he had rather be at a play, or feast, or other entertainment, or getting good bargains or profits in the world, than to live in the life of faith and love, which would be a holy and heavenly way of living.

5. When men set their minds to scheme and study to make provision for the pleasures of the flesh; and this is first and sweetest in their thoughts.

6. When they had rather talk, or hear, or read of fleshly pleasures, than of spiritual and heavenly delights.

7. When they love the company of merry sensualists, better than the communion of saints, in which they may be exercised in the praises of their Maker.

8. When they consider that the best place to live and work is where they have the pleasure of the flesh. They would rather be where they have things easy, and lack nothing for the body, rather than where they have far better help and provision for the soul, though the flesh be pinched for it.

9. When he will be more eager to spend money to please his flesh than to please God.

10. When he will believe or like no doctrine but “easy-believism,” and hate mortification as too strict “legalism.” By these, and similar signs, sensuality may easily be known; indeed, by the main bent of the life.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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Thomas Watson Message: Get the Most from Your Bible!

Posted by Scott on November 3, 2007

How to Get the Most from Reading your Bible

by Thomas Watson
Abridged and Modernised by Matthew Vogan

(You may read the verses by placing the mouse over the references.)


1. Remove hindrances. (a) remove the love of every sin (b) remove the distracting concerns of this world, especially covetousness [Matt. 13:22] (c) Don’t make jokes with and out of Scripture.

2. Prepare your heart. [1 Sam. 7:3] Do this by: (a) collecting your thoughts (b) purging unclean affections and desires (c) not coming to it rashly or carelessly.

3. Read it with reverence, considering that each line is God speaking directly to you.

4. Read the books of the Bible in order.

5. Get a true understanding of Scripture. [Ps. 119:73] This is best achieved by comparing relevant parts of Scripture with each other.

6. Read with seriousness. [Deut. 32:47] The Christian life is to be taken seriously since it requires striving [Luke 13:24] and not falling short [Heb. 4:1].

7. Persevere in remembering what you read. [Ps. 119:52] Don’t let it be stolen from you [Matt. 13:4,19]. If it doesn’t stay in your memory it is unlikely to be much benefit to you.

8. Meditate on what you read. [Ps. 119:15] The Hebrew word for meditate’ means to be intense in the mind’. Meditation without reading is wrong and bound to err; reading without meditation is barren and fruitless. It means to stir the affections, to be warmed by the fire of meditation [Ps. 39:3].

9. Read with a humble heart. Acknowledge that you are unworthy that God should reveal himself to you [James 4:6]

10. Believe it all to be God’s Holy Word. [2 Tim 3:16] We know that no sinner could have written it because of the way it describes sin. No saint could blaspheme God by pretending his own Word was God’s. No angel could have written it for the same reason. [Heb 4:2]

11. Prize the Bible highly. [Ps. 119:72] It is your lifeline; you were born by it [James 1:18] you need to grow by it [1 Pet 2:2] [cf. Job 23:12].

12. Love the Bible ardently [Ps. 119:159].

13. Come to read it with an honest heart. [Luke 8:15] (a) Willing to know the entire and complete will of God (b) reading in order to be changed and made better by it [John 17:17].

14. Apply to yourself everything that you read, take every word as spoken to yourself. Its condemnation of sins as the condemnation of your own sin; the duty that it requires as the duty God would require from you [2 Kings 22:11].

15. Pay close attention to the commands of the Word as much as the promises. Think of how you need direction just as much as you need comfort.

16. Don’t get carried away with the minor details, rather make sure to pay closest attention to the great things [Hosea 8:12].

17. Compare yourself with the Word. How do you compare? Is your heart something of a transcript of it, or not?

18. Pay special attention to those passages that speak to your individual, particular and present situation. e.g. (a) Affliction — [Heb. 12:7, Isaiah 27:9, John 16:20, 2 Cor 4:17. (b) Sense of Christ’s presence and smile withdrawn — [Isaiah 54:8, Isaiah 57:16, Ps. 97:11] (c) Sin — [Gal 5:24, James 1:15, 1 Peter 2:11, Prov 7:10&22-23, Prov 22:14] (d) Unbelief — [Isaiah 26:3, 2 Sam 22:31, John 3:15, 1 John 5:10, John 3:36]

19. Pay special attention to the examples and lives of people in the Bible as living sermons. (a) Punishments [Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, Num 25:3-4&9, 1 Kings 14:9-10, Acts 5:5,10, 1 Cor 10:11, Jude 7] (b) mercies and deliverances [Daniel, Jeremiah, the 3 youths in the fiery furnace]

20. Don’t stop reading the Bible until you find your heart warmed. [Ps 119:93] Let it not only inform you but also inflame you [Jer 23:29, Luke 24:32].

21. Put into practice what you read [Ps 119:66, Ps 119:105, Deut 17:19].

22. Christ is for us Prophet, Priest and King. Make use of His office as a Prophet [Rev 5:5, John 8:12, Ps 119:102-103]. Get Christ not only to open the Scriptures up to you, but to open up your mind and understanding [Luke 24:45]

23. Make sure to put yourself under a true ministry of the Word, faithfully and thoroughly expounding the Word [Prov 8:34] be earnest and eager in waiting on it.

24. Pray that you will profit from reading [Isaiah 48:17, Ps 119:18, Nehemiah 9:20].

Natural obstacles You may still be able to profit from reading even though:

1. You don’t seem to profit as much as others do. Remember the different yields [Matt 13:8] though the yield isn’t as much as others it is still a true and fruitful yield.

2. You may feel slow of understanding [Luke 9:45, Heb 5:11].

3. Your memory is bad (a) remember you are still able to have a good heart despite this (b) you may still remember the most important things even if you cannot remember everything, be encouraged by John 14:26.

-Scott Bailey 2007

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