Just a Bit O’ History… Psalm 81: A Framework of an Appeal, and a Lament of Blessings Lost

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Psalm 81

“Hear, 0 my people,and I will testify unto thee: 0 Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me: there shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god. I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt.”

–Psalm 81: 8-16.

The whole passage forms the beginning of the appeal…

…the Scottish exiles in Newcastle, Aug. 10, 1584. They had been compelled to quit Scotland, owing to the oppressive course which was afterwards pursued in Church and State for a full century, during the reign of the later Stuarts. At the head of the exiled party were Andrew Melville and his nephew James, and here was drawn up the system of government for the Church of Scotland, which fought its way to a definite triumph in the Glasgow Assembly of 1638.

Andrew Melville took up the standard from the dying hand of John Knox, and, instead of Frankfort and Geneva, the shelter of the refugees was found in Berwick and Newcastle. The common interest of the Reformation was now drawing England and Scotland more closely together, especially to the side of the Puritans, and was even then preparing the way for the union of the kingdoms.

Psalm 81

Geneva Bible

Sing joyfully unto God our strength: sing loud unto the God of Jacob. Take the song and bring forth the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the viol. Blow the trumpet in the new moon, even in the time appointed at our feast day.

For this is a statute for Israel, and a Law of the God of Jacob. He set this in Joseph for a testimony, when he came out of the land of Egypt, where I heard a language, that I understood not. I have withdrawn his shoulder from the burden, and his hands have left the pots. Thou calledst in affliction, and I delivered thee, and answered thee in the secret of the thunder: I proved thee at the waters of Meribah. Selah.

Hear, O my people, and I will protest unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me, And wilt have no strange god in thee, neither worship any strange god, (For I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt); open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. But my people would not hear my voice, and Israel would none of me, So I gave them up unto the hardness of their heart, and they have walked in their own counsels.

Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I would soon have humbled their enemies, and turned mine hand against their adversaries. The haters of the Lord should have been subject unto him, and their time should have endured forever. And God would have fed them with the fat of wheat, and with honey out of the rock would I have sufficed thee.

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Written by John Ker, D. D.
Taken from, “The Psalms in History and Biography,”
Wikipedia, and other sources.
Edited for thought and sense.

When acting a death led to life

[Do you remember the events and things that led up to your own personal conversion to the Lord?  Many of us can. Often there seems to be a profound tension that builds. And while the whole world may seem to be quiet, inside of our soul, life is at a boil. There is a restlessness, a sense of disquiet, a tension that builds upon itself until... that moment. When all is ready, Grace is offered and received. God has regenerated a heart, a new life begins; a soul has been born in the gates of heaven. Has that happened to you? I pray that it has. --MWP]

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One evening…

…recalls the Rev. Dr. J. H. Wilson, when he was a young man, and sitting in the gallery of the Independent Church, Pastor Cullen, the minister, in applying the text of his sermon, “Thou God seest me,” said, with intense earnestness… “Sailors, write it on your binnacles; merchants, on your counters; carters, on your carts, ‘Thou God seest me;’ –and then turning to the gallery where I was seated, he seemed to fix his eyes on me, and said, “Young man, write it on thy heart, –Thou God seest me.”

That was all he said. But it was an arrow from God’s quiver. I went home wretched, and could not tell why. Days and weeks passed away, and I was unhappy. I read, I prayed, and I wept and laughed, and laughed and wept, like a maniac, and father and mother thought I was going mad. Oh! the remembrance of those days. I cannot account for such feelings. All about me were religious, but none were pious except my dear mother, and her piety was not of the demonstrative cast. I had no sins of a glaring character to mourn over. Ours had been a family of love and obedience, and yet I was not happy.

In this state I continued to hear the good minister, but to no profit. At length the way to peace seemed to open up. I was walking down the principal street of our little town one day, when I met an acquaintance who stopped me, and said, “–Come, now, I want you very much. We are going to act the play of the ‘Heart of Midlothian’ for the benefit of the poor, and Mr. Mullender of the Theatre Royal is to help us. You will make a capital Madge Wildfire. What do you say? The passage, “charity covereth a multitude of sins,” rushed into my mind. “I will,” was the response, and then with all my heart and energy I committed to memory, and practiced for performance.

It suited my romantic nature. Madge was a religious maniac, and I could enter into all her griefs and sorrows and joys with zest. But Madge had to die. On the stage this scene troubled me. “I am mocking death,” said I to myself, when prostrate on the boards. “What if God takes me in this act of solemn mockery?” At that moment a flash of lightning seemed to come across the stage, and with it the words, “–Thou God seest me.”

I could stand it no longer. Rushing behind the scenes, and spoiling the whole play, I put on my daily dress, ran home, went into a summer house in the garden, wept and prayed, and prayed and wept, for a whole night, and until day came in the morning.

Shortly after that, rest was found in Jesus, and a new life, with new aims, hopes, joys, and aspirations, began.

ADVENTISM AND THE SABBATH: When the Truth Started as a Lie. Part 2

harvest_moon_lake-e1348770140423[As mentioned in our first post, much of the source materials used herein came from a friend who obtained them from “BibleTruthers.org,” who, for whatever reason, now appears to be inactive. Having said that, the thrust of this post is to further examine the basis of Adventist Sabbatarianism. Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself as you read the second post on this subject:.

  1. When confronted with their erroneous position, how has the church reacted?
  2. What is the reasoning for their reaction?
  3. Are they protecting a true scriptural approach to the Bible?
  4. What is the reasonable thing to do?
  5. What would you do in their position?  Why?

As we have observed in our previous post, the problem is when the Sabbath is calculated by the original Biblical calendar does not fall on Saturday because the weekly cycle of the luni-solar calendar does not align with the weekly cycle of the Gregorian calendar, which is a solar calendar. Furthermore, this can be proven by the fact that if the 2300 day/year time period started in 457 BC as taught by both the Millerites and the SDA Church, the year AD 31 is pinpointed as the year of the crucifixion. When the luni-solar calendar for AD 31 is overlaid the Julian calendar for the same year, Passover, the sixth day of the week, also does not fall on Friday. This was the problem facing the Study Committee of 1995. To acknowledge that the Church’s sole, unique contribution to Protestant theology was based upon a different method of time-keeping, was to open the floodgates to a problem they did not wish to deal with: i.e., the problem that the Biblical Sabbath is not Saturday!]

When interviewed, one of the committee members stated, “The main thing the NAD men wanted to cover up was the fact that October 22 is based on Jewish lunar calculation.

He said that they were wanting to get people thinking that it was based on solar calendation.” This led to extremely heated discussions among the committee members.

While the author does not know precisely which position, each specific man from the NAD and the GC took, it is to be noted that according to his interviews, three of the five members from Andrews University were vocal in their support for a truthful and consistent stance on the establishment of the date of October 22, 1844.

A committee member recalled some of the discussion that took place over the issue, stating emphatically: Anytime you have October 22 and it is your hallmark doctrine, it is the hallmark doctrine that sets your denomination apart as distinct and separate from all other denominations, and it is based on Jewish lunar calculation, and then you give people the idea that you got it from the solar calendar, you’re lying! Several of us were very, very hard on them.

When asked if the church officials who appointed the committee, in their ignorance of the topic, if they actually thought that the Study Committee could refute the lunar Sabbath, he replied: In their ignorance, they actually thought they had a committee that would rubber stamp whatever they were told to agree to. But after a few meetings they saw that they couldn’t get a consensus from us, they couldn’t bully us, and they shut it down. They saw that they were about to open Pandora’s box and so they shut it down.

The committee members who did not feel comfortable speaking up in support of an open admission of the calendar used to establish October 22 as the Day of Atonement in 1844, nevertheless saw the truth of what the others were saying. One of them admitted to another, “I see what you are saying and I agree with you.” When asked why, then, he had not spoken up in the committee, he replied: “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” If I am viewed as a liberal, I will lose everything. The fastest way to destroy your career in the SDA Church is to be branded a liberal scholar. If I come out and agree with you, my career will be over. I’ll lose my job. I’ll lose everything. Once you’re labeled a liberal in the Adventist Church, you’re dead.

Even Chairman Johnston went so far as to admit: “I agree with what you are saying, and that is why I do not teach Bible Chronology. Men and women are saved by grace and so that is what I teach. I do not teach Bible Chronology.”

In order to spare the corporate church the embarrassment of having to admit that Saturday was not actually the Biblical Sabbath, the Study Committee was shut down and the subject was suppressed. Or, as one committee member recalled, it was feared the truth “would blow up the Church.”

The concept of the need to regulate the weekly Sabbath by the lunar cycles was known very early on within Adventism. An allusion to the idea can be found as early as 1850, a full 13 years before the Seventh-day Adventist Church was formally established in 1863. In that year, Sylvester Bliss, an Adventist pioneer and one of the leaders of the earlier Millerite Movement, published a book entitled Analysis of Sacred Chronology. In his opening remarks, Sylvester Bliss, Millerite editor of The Signs of the Times and later editor of the Advent Herald.

Bliss stated:

Time is measured by motion. The swing of a clock pendulum marks seconds. The revolutions of the earth mark days and years. The earliest measure of time is the day. Its duration is strikingly indicated by the marked contrast and succession of light and darkness. Being a natural division of time, it is very simple, and is convenient for the chronology of events within a limited period.

The week, another primeval measure, is not a natural measure of time, as some astronomers and chronologers have supposed indicated by the phases or quarters of the moon. It was originated by divine appointment at the creation, six days of labor and one of rest being wisely appointed for man’s physical and spiritual well-being.

This assumption that the week is the sole unit of time-measurement that is not tied to anything is nature was repeated by J. N. Andrews in his weighty tome, History of the Sabbath and First Day of the Week, published by Review & Herald Publishing Association in 1887, where he quoted Bliss’ above statement. For these statements to make it into publication would seem to indicate that there was wide enough agitation of the subject that the authors felt the need to address the matter, however briefly.

Around this same time, Alonzo T. Jones wrote a scathing rebuttal of the concept as presented by a Sunday-keeping minister. Unfortunately, his response was more of an impassioned attack rather than a well-reasoned, logical refutation addressing the various evidences supporting the concept. To the author’s knowledge, there is no evidence that Ellen White was involved in any discussion of the topic or even aware of it.

However, within the Spirit of Prophecy (as the writings of Ellen White are known to Seventh-day Adventists) numerous statements are made that do support luni-solar reckoning of time. A few examples include:

Alonzo T. Jones

  • Acknowledgment that the crucifixion occurred on the Passover, the sixth day of the week and the 14th day of the lunar month. (See Great Controversy, p. 399.)
  • Confirmation that the Passover was observed nationally the night Yahushua lay at rest in Joseph’s tomb. (See Desire of Ages, p. 775.)
  • Recognition of the latter rain link to the spring barley harvest beginning of the year. (See From Trials to Triumph, p. 30.)

([The original author notes:] It is true that there are some references in her writings to “Friday” and “Saturday” but such terminology cannot be found in Scripture. Furthermore, it is historically documented fact that the seven-day planetary week in use today did not enter the Julian calendar until after the death of Jesus.)

ROMANS 8: Paul’s Song of Songs

Excerpts taken and adapted from, “PAUL’S SONG OF SONGS:
A Practical Exposition of the Eighth Chapter of Romans.”
Written by, John MacDuff, 1818-1895

In entering on the exposition of the eighth chapter of Romans, we listen to the music of the greatest of the Church’s prose-minstrels. It is a Gospel enshrined in the most precious of the Epistles–an epitome of divine truth. Though blended with other chords, let it be noted at the outset, that the Love of God, and the Security of the Believer, constitute the special dual strain intoned by our Apostle in his sublime Canticle.

 

love001“The Eighth Chapter of Romans is the Masterpiece of the New Testament.”–Luther.

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Let us listen to the key-note of the song.
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“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus”
  

–Romans 8:1

The remarkable opening and ending of our chapter have often been observed; what, in accordance with the name of this Book, I may call the Antiphon. The Voice or Harp-note begins with “NO CONDEMNATION.” It is answered in the close of the chapter with “NO SEPARATION.” The key is struck by the inspired musician. This is followed by an ever-augmenting volume of melody, until it culminates in an anthem “like the voice of a great multitude and the sound of many waters.” It reminds us of another Master of sacred Song (Haydn)–with his “Let there be Light!”–and the Light broadens and deepens into the perfect day of heaven.

“No condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” This first proposition is ushered in with “Therefore.” It is the summing up–the great inference from the preliminary thesis of the earliest and best of Christian Apologists. And this initial thought of consolation and peace, like a golden thread, is interweaved throughout the chapter.

“In Christ Jesus.” We cannot now pause to expound and illustrate all which these pregnant words imply. They set forth, in a flash of thought, the personal, vital union or incorporation of the Believer with his living, loving Lord; transforming the old into “the new man which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” The expression is explained and unfolded in the sixth chapter (4-11). It is a favorite and often recurring formula which permeates the writings of him who specifically calls himself “A man in Christ” (2 Cor. 12;2). “In Christ”–safely immured in Him who is “the refuge from the storm and the covert from the tempest.” I have read, in the terrible story of the Crimean War, when rampart after rampart, bastion after bastion of the doomed city were being stormed and battered into shapeless ruin–deep down in the foundations of one of the grim fortresses was a hold, where the wounded were conducted safe from the iron hail–away too from the din and roar of artillery which in that battle of giants made night as hideous as day. There they were, for the time, safe and sheltered–“The weary to sleep and the wounded to die.”

Christ is that sheltering Covert.

He is “the Stronghold in the day of trouble” (Nahum 1;7). “In Him”–in the clefts of this Rock of Ages–within this Citadel of faith I am safe. The law and its avenging thunders crash against me in vain. Crippled and wounded in the stern struggle hours of life–sin-stricken and sorrow-stricken–assailed with temptation and legion foes–principalities and powers–spiritual wickedness in high places; I can listen to the voice of the Great Rest-giver as amid the shot and shell of battle He thus speaks–“Come unto Me!” “Come, My people, enter into your chambers, and shut your doors about you, and hide yourself for a little moment until the indignation be overpast.” “The peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep (as the word means in a citadel or garrison) your hearts and your thoughts in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4;7).

“In Christ.” It was the vital truth so beautifully enforced by the Divine Master Himself in His valedictory Parable of the vine and its branches–“Without Me”; out of Me; severed from Me, you are nothing, and can do nothing. Out of Christ, apart from Him, each soul is like a stranded vessel–mastless, sailless, rudderless, the sport of ocean forces–lying high and dry on the sands, away from its buoyant element. But the tidal wave flows–the rocky inlets and creeks are one by one filled–the “abandoned” is set once more a living thing on the waters–anew “compassed by the inviolate sea.”

That is the man “in Christ.” Environed with this new element–life in his living Lord with its ocean fullness and unsounded depths–he is safe, joyous, happy. No cyclone above, no submerged rocks beneath; a halcyon calm around. “In Me you shall have peace.” Not in vain did the early Christians–even in the midst of their great fight of afflictions–“the sea and the waves roaring and their hearts failing them for fear”–write on the slabs of their catacombs–IN CHRISTO–IN PEACE.

Enough now farther to say, that grasping thoroughly the phrase in its full evangelical meaning, all the varied succeeding affirmations of our chapter become at once comprehensible and luminous. It is the “Basket of Silver” in which “Apples of Gold” are inserted. Let us keep this in mind all through our exposition, as affording the guarantee of every covenant blessing–specially the two already distinctively indicated. It forms Paul’s security and the security of all believers as he utters the closing challenge and “persuasion” –“Shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is IN CHRIST JESUS our Lord.”

“No condemnation in Christ Jesus!”

How blessed the thought, if we are participants in what Dean Alford calls “the bringing in of life by Him, and the absolute union in time, and after time, of every believer with Him!” “Condemn” or “Not condemn;” “Condemnation” or “No condemnation” are no longer open questions–indeterminate and unsettled. He the Great Redeemer and Lord–the Brother in my nature has taken me into living membership and fellowship with Himself. In Him the debt is cancelled–liquidated. In Him I am pardoned and accepted. These are the words of the divine Pardoner (none more precious in all Holy Scripture)–“I will be merciful to your unrighteousness; your sins and your iniquities will I remember no more.” Paul, we must bear in mind, was now writing to Romans; who were familiarized with the forensic terms he uses. They knew well what was the significance of the proclamation “Condemno,” or “Non condemno,” as it rang through their pillared basilicas. Happy for those who have listened, as here, to the Great Absolution from the lips of the Just, yet the Justifier. Happy for me if, feeling my new covenant position in Christ, I can go forth to the world–to my daily work and business–amid “the loud stunning tide of human care and crime,” and hear this chime of heavenly music ringing through it all–“No condemnation.”

And to have the full comfort of this opening strain of the song, let me think of it, too, as denoting a present discharge–a present immunity. Not the limited and partial thought of being one day called to the tribunal of a Judge to receive the sentence and assurance of remission; but “There is therefore, NOW, no condemnation.” The absolution is already pronounced from which there is no appeal. “I AM pacified towards you” (Ezek. 16;63). “We who have believed do enter into rest” (Heb. 4;3). “He that believes shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life” (John 5;24). “Beloved, now are we the sons of God” (1 John 3;2).

The Prodigal in the parable is not ordered to undergo probation –to tarry outside as a dependent among the menials of his father’s house and halls, before restoration is accorded. The robe, the ring, the sandals, the welcome, are his at once. Let me accept the same lofty consolation, that the blessedness is even now mine of those whose iniquities are thus forgiven and their sin covered–that I am now a chartered citizen of that heaven of which the subsequent portions of this “Song of Songs” tell me I am to be a glorified inhabitant.

Yes, in beginning these successive cadences of Paul’s sacred Cantata, I can appropriately take up the words of other and older singers–“O Lord, I will praise You; for though You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away and You comfortest me” (Isa. 12;1).

“He has put a new Song in my mouth, even praise unto our God” (Ps. 40;3).

You will hear his voice, and you will know it when you hear it…

Excerpts taken and adapted from C. H. Spurgeon’s 2,900th Sermon,
“How God comes to Man.”

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He will come in the evening, brother and sister, when the day’s work is done…

…so do not fret about the burden and heat of the day. The longest and hottest day will come to an end; you will not live here for ever. You will not always have to wear your fingers to the bone in trying to earn a scanty livelihood.

You will not always have to look round upon your children, and wonder where the bread will be found with which to feed them. No; the days on earth cannot last for ever; and, with many of you, the sun has already climbed the hill, and begun to go down the other side, and “the cool of the day” will soon come. I can look upon a good many of you who have already reached that period. You have retired from active service, you have shaken off a good deal of business care, and now you are waiting for your Master to come to you. Rest assured that He will not forget you, for He has promised to come to you. You will hear His voice,before long, telling you that He is walking in the garden, and coming to you. Good old Rowland Hill, when he found himself getting very feeble, said, “I hope they have not forgotten poor old Rowley up there.” But he knew that he was not forgotten,nor will you be, beloved.

You will hear your Lord’s voice ere long; and the mercy is, that you will know it when you do hear it. Have you not often heard it before now? Many a time, in this house, you have heard His voice, and you have been glad. In the cool of many an evening, you have sat still, and communed with God. I like to see an old Christian woman, with her big Bible open, sitting by the hour together, and tracing with her finger the precious words of the Lord; eating them, digesting them, living on them, and finding them sweeter to her soul than honey or the droppings of the honeycomb to her taste.

Well, then, as you have heard your Lord’s voice, and know its tones so well, as you have been so long accustomed to hear it, you will not be astonished when you hear it in those last moments of your life’s day. You will not run to hide yourself,as Adam and Eve did. You are covered with the robe of Christ’s righteousness, so you have no nakedness to fear ; and you may respond,” Didst Thou ask, my Lord, ‘Where art thou?’ I answer, ‘Here am I, for Thou didst call me.’ Didst Thou ask where I am? I am hidden in Thy Son; I am ‘accepted in the Beloved.” Didst Thou say, ‘Where art thou?’ Here I stand, ready and waiting to be taken up by Him, according to His promise that, where He is, there I shall be also, that I may behold His glory.”

Why surely beloved, as this is the case, you may even long for the evening to come when you shall hear His voice, and shall be up and away from this land of shadows and chilly night dews, into that blessed place where His glory burns on for ever and ever, and the Lamb is the light thereof, and the days of your mourning shall be ended forever.

How much do you love your Bible?

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Margaret Pierrone, a martyr of the sixteenth century, resided in the village of Cambray…

She was accused by a wicked female servant, to the Jesuits, because she had not been for many years at the mass, and had kept in her house a Bible, the reading of which was her whole delight. The magistrates being informed of it, caused her to be apprehended.

Being in prison the judges called her before them, and said, “Margaret, are you not willing to return home to your house, and there live with your husband and children?” “Yes,” said she, “if it may stand with the good will of God.” They added further, that they had so wrought with the Jesuits that in doing a small matter she might be set at liberty. “A scaffold shall be erected in the chief place of the city, upon which you are to present yourself, and there to crave pardon for offending the law. Then, a fire being kindled, you must cast your Bible therein to be consumed, without speaking any word at all.” “I pray you, my masters, tell me,” said Margaret, “is my Bible a good book or not?” “Yes, we confess it is good,” said they. “Well, If you allow it to be good,” replied the woman, “why would you have me cast it into the fire?”

“Only,” said they, “to keep the Jesuits content. Imagine it to be but paper that you burn, and then all is well enough. Do so much for saving your life, and we will meddle no more with you. You may obtain another whenever you will.” They spent about two hours in endeavoring to persuade her. “By the help of God,” answered Margaret, “I will never consent to do it. I will burn my body before I will burn my Bible.”

Unable to weaken her resolution, her enemies committed her a close prisoner, to be fed only with bread and water, and none to be permitted so much as to speak to her, thinking by this hard usage to overcome her: but all was to no purpose. A doctor of divinity was frequently sent to her to turn her from her resolution; but he found it too hard a task for him to effect, and often confessed to those who sent him, that he found in her no cause why they should put her to death.

On January 22, 1593, however, she was condemned to be brought upon a stage, erected in the market-place before the town-house, first to see her books burned, then herself to be strangled at a post, and her body dragged to the dunghill without the city. Coming to the place, she ascended the scaffold, and distinctly pronounced the Lord’s Prayer.

Then, seeing her books burned in her presence, she uttered these words, with an audible voice: “You burn there the word of God, which yourselves have acknowledged to be good and holy.” Having again repeated the Lord’s Prayer, she was immediately strangled.

Written by, J. Thornton

THE WORKER’S WHETSTONE

Taken and adapted from, FULLY FURNISHED or
THE CHRISTIAN WORKER’S EQUIPMENT, Chapter 16
Written by F.E. Marsh

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“Quicken Thou me according to Thy Word”
–Psalm 119:25

MANY are the similes which are used in the Scriptures about the Word of God…

…and various are their uses to elucidate its intrinsic value, its inherent virtue, and its inspiring vitality. We may call the Word of God, a whetstone to sharpen. As every mechanic knows the value of a whetstone to sharpen his tools, so every believer in Christ realizes the importance of sharpening the graces of the spiritual life with the Word of Truth. God’s people, in all ages, have felt the liability there is on their part, to lose ground in the Christian life.

  • The intensity of love to Christ, may be slackened by the love of other things.
  • The glow of zeal, may be damped down by discouragement.
  • The grip of faith may loosen its grasp, by self-occupation.
  • The brightness of testimony may be tarnished by the breath of the world.
  • The bloom of consecration may be rubbed off, by the hand of inconsistency.
  • The voice of prayer may be hushed by the paralysis of doubt; and
  • The cord of unity may be snapped by the rude force of discord, and neglect of the means of grace.

One half of our freedom from failure in the Divine life, is to know our danger.

When we imagine we are safest, we are in the greatest peril. When we think we are strongest, we are most weak. The Church at Laodicea is a case in point; they thought they were all right, when they were altogether wrong. Whereas, when there is a deep consciousness of our utter weakness, our complete sinfulness, and constant need of grace, we cast ourselves the more upon the Lord.

John Newton puts it well, when he says, “Alas! My experience abounds with complaints. He is my Sun; but clouds, and sometimes walls intercept Him from my view. He is my Friend; but on my part, there is such coldness and ingratitude, as no other friend could bear. He is my Strength, yet I am prone to lean upon reeds. But still He is gracious, and shames me with His repeated multiplied goodness. Oh, for a warmer heart, a more simple dependence, a more active zeal, a more sensible deliverance from the effects of this body of sin and death.”  –So prays every true child of God.

There is another danger, and that is…

…lest we should look to our inability, to the exclusion of God’s ability; lest the sense of our insufficiency should not make room for God’s sufficiency, and lest our weakness should so overpower us, that we do not let God’s power possess us. The one and only safeguard is to keep in touch with the Lord through His Word, and if we do this, the soul of our love will be true, the grip of our faith will be strong, and the cry of our prayer will ever be, “Quicken me according to Thy Word.”

In calling attention to the fact, that the Word of God is a whetstone, to sharpen us in the many-sidedness of our Christian life, I want to call attention to the frequency with which the Psalmist pleads the prayer, “Quicken me,” in the 119th Psalm. The Hebrew word translated “quicken,” occurs no less than sixteen times. Nine times the term is rendered “quicken” and “quickened,” and five times “live.” The same word is translated “revive” in I Chronicles 11:8 (margin); Nehemiah 4:2; Psalm 138:7; Habakkuk 3:2. The word occurs in three relations in Psalm 119:

  1. There is the Psalmist’s testimony as to what the Lord has done in the past (verses 50, 93).
  2. The Psalmist’s prayer for present revival (verses 17, 25, 37, 40, 77, 88, 107, 116, 149, 154, 156, 159, 175).
  3. The Psalmist’s confidence as to what the Lord will do (verse 144).

Does not the Psalmist’s desire to be revived according to God’s Word, give us the reason why so few are intense in their love to Christ, and whole-heartedly devoted to Him? Many would like a revival, but it must be according to their fancy, or their methods, or their senses, but true revival is always according to God’s Word. When there is a revival according to God’s Word, it will be a revival indeed. Let us see how the Word of God is as a whetstone to sharpen us.

I – The Word of God is a whetstone to sharpen us in prayer.

Among the many promises that Christ has given us, is this: “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7). Christ’s words dwelling in us, not only give us the authority to pray, and direct us as to the petitions we should make, but they give us the incentive to prayer. When we come in the spirit of faith to the Word of God, it sharpens our desires, and makes us turn what we read into prayer.

Listening to the Lord, as He speaks to us in His Word, makes us to pray for the blessings of which He speaks, as when Christ spoke to the woman of Samaria about the Living Water, she exclaimed, “Give me this water.” Pondering the promises of God’s Word, makes us bold to plead them in petition, as when Elijah on Mount Carmel called upon the Lord as the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel,” thus claiming the covenanted promises given to the fathers, that He would care for His people, and vindicate their cause against all the Lord’s enemies.

Feeding upon the holy sayings of Christ, which refer to His death, makes us to say with Thomas, only in a different sense, and in the language of prayer, “Let us . . . die with Him” (John 11:16), die to sin, to self, to the flesh, to the world, and all that is associated with the old man and his deeds.

Musing upon the words of God’s love, as we hear them falling from Him whose lips drop sweet-smelling myrrh, it makes us say to Christ, as the mighty men of David, in whole-hearted devotion, said to him, “Thine are we, and on Thy side.”

Dwelling upon the commands of Christ, as He bids us follow Him, abide in Him, believe in Him, rest upon Him, suffer with Him, look to Him, and testify of Him; it stirs in our hearts, the longing to show our love for Him, by our obedience to Him, and we cry, with the Psalmist, “Help me, O Lord my God” (Psalm 109:26).

Thinking of the power of Christ, as the Spirit of God tells us that Christ is the Power of God, excites in us the longing to come in contact with Him, as the woman did who touched the hem of Christ’s garment, and into whom flowed the power of Christ; and we pray with the apostles, that the Spirit of Power may rest upon us, that we may boldly proclaim the sufficiency of Christ, as the Saviour of the world.

As we hear the Saviour speaking of the coming glory in His gracious promise, “I will come again and receive you to Myself,” and the pointed declaration, .”Behold I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every man according as his work shall be,” it begets in our heart the glad response, as we are walking with Him, “Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly.” Thus the Word of God is a whetstone to sharpen the soul in prayer.

II – The Word of God is a whetstone to sharpen us, in separating from us things contrary to the mind of God.

There is one incident, recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, which illustrates in a remarkable manner the separating influence of the Word of God – when it is believed – upon the life .. The Apostle Paul met with great success, in his preaching at Ephesus, and one result of his mission was, that many who had used cunning arts, burnt all their books; and the cause of this is put down to the working of God’s Word, for in speaking of the burning of the books, it says, “So mightily grew the Word of God and prevailed” (Acts 19:20).

Cheyne Brady tells a remarkable story of the separating influence of God’s Word. He says: “A well-known evangelical minister of Christ, made a tour in Canada some time since. Arriving at an out-of-the-way village, he found a lively assembly of French Christians, who were walking in the love of God, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost. “Surprised to find a flourishing Church in such a place, the visitor inquired by what instrumentality such a work had been brought about. The aged pastor, who was ninety years of age, went to his closet, and produced a small French Testament, literally worn out. ‘This,’ said he, ‘was the commencement of the work. More than half-a-century ago, a lady passing through this place, presented me with this Testament. I was a Roman Catholic, but the perusal of this book, so freely given to me, was the means, through the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, of my regeneration. I was the first convert. I lent it to others, then followed another conversion, and another, until our number has reached three hundred. For years the priest persecuted me, and at length offered me a large sum of money, if I would give up the Bible, but when he found all his efforts unavailing, he desisted; and now we are a happy united community.’

The effectual instrument, which was used of God in separating the man from superstition and sin, was the Word of God.

As the laver in the tabernacle was given, that the priests might wash their hands and feet therein, and the defilement they had contracted might be removed; so the Word of God will separate from us the dirt of worldliness, the slime of unbelief, the mud of superstition, the filth of lust, the dust of conceit, the spots of jealousy, and the ashes of pride.

III – The Word of God is the whetstone to sharpen us in our spiritual life.

When the Apostle Paul was leaving the Church in Ephesus; among other things he said, “I commend you to God, and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up” (Acts 20:32).

During the last few years, we have heard a great deal about the down-grade, and not without reason, but we have not heard so much about the up-grade of the spiritual life. The Holy Spirit says a great deal in relation to the Christian life, in connection with the little word “Up.” The following are a few of the directions the Lord has given in the word of His grace, as to the up-grade of faith.

The attitude in our spiritual life, is to be looking up. As the Psalmist says, “In the morning I will direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up” (Psalm 5:3), for, as the mirror reflects the image of the person who is looking into it, so the believer reflects Christ, as he looks at Him.

The strength of our spiritual life is to gird up the loins of our mind with the truth of God, as we read in I Peter 1:13: “Gird up the loins of your mind,” for as the girdle strengthens the loins in walking, so the truth of God ministers to us its power, and we are girded with it. The exercise of our spiritual life is to stir up the fire of grace, which the Lord has kindled in our hearts, as Paul says in writing to his son Timothy, “Stir up the gift of God, which is in thee” (II Timothy 1:6), for, as the fire in the grate will burn the brighter when it is stirred, so the Divine life will glow when stirred by the truth of God.

The place of our spiritual life, is the presence of the Lord. “Go up to Bethel, and dwell there” (Genesis 35:1), was the command of God to Jacob. We, too, have our Bethel (Bethel means the House of God), namely, abiding in Christ; for as certain plants will only grow in a warm atmosphere, so our spiritual life will only flourish in the warm environment of His presence.

The responsibility of our spiritual life is to take up our Cross daily, even as Christ took up the Cross for us. His word is calm and clear as He bids us follow Him, namely, “Take up thy Cross” (Matthew 16:24). Cross-bearing always precedes crown-wearing. There was no ascension glory before Calvary’s Cross.

The secret of our spiritual life, is to grow up into Christ in all things (Ephesians 4:15). The secret of all growth is Christ. Winning Christ, knowing Christ, and apprehending Christ are the causes that make us advance in grace, even as the child grows in stature as it is fed with good food.

The solidity of our spiritual life is to be built up, with the strengthening of God’s truth. The stamina of faith, the steadfastness of love, the sturdiness of zeal, the solidity of service, the stalwartness of witnessing, and the establishing in the truth, are all born of the cementing power of the Word of Grace.

The story is told of a great bell, which was made to vibrate by the note of a slender flute. The flute had no influence upon the bell, except when a certain note was sounded, then the great mass of metal breathed a responsive sigh. Thus, when our hearts and lives are in unison with the flute of God’s Word, there sounds forth from the bell of our conduct a corresponding action, as in the case of the Thessalonians, who having received the Word of God, it sounded forth from them, in that “they turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from Heaven.”

Let us, morning by morning, like the Master (Isaiah 14), sharpen our spiritual faculties by the whetstone of the Truth, for it will:

  • Give edge to our testimony (Acts 2:37),
  • Keenness to our vision (Acts 17:11, 12),
  • Courage to our ministry (II Timothy 2:15),
  • Intensity to our love (Acts 16:14, 15),
  • Alertness to our faith (Acts 16:33, 34),
  • Tone to our spiritual life (Psalm 1:2, 3), and
  • Equipment for service (II Timothy 3:16, 17).