The Inward Experience of Believers

Taken and adapted from, “Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray M’Cheyne”
Written by, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Sermon XV
Put together and published by Andrew Bonar, 1894.

woman-in-regret

“For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: but I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.”   —Romans. 7:22–25.

A BELIEVER is to be known not only by his peace and joy, but by his warfare and distress…

His peace is peculiar: it flows from Christ; it is heavenly, it is holy peace. His warfare is as peculiar: it is deep-seated, agonizing, and ceases not till death. If the Lord will, many of us have the prospect of sitting down next Sabbath at the Lord’s Table. The great question to be answered before sitting down there is, “Have I fled to Christ or no?”

’Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought,

Do I love the Lord or no?
Am I his, or am I not?

To help you to settle this question, I have chosen the subject of the Christian’s warfare that you may know thereby whether you are a soldier of Christ— whether you are really fighting the good fight of faith.

I.   A believer delights in the law of God.—“I delight in the law of God after the inward man,” ver. 22.

(1.) Before a man comes to Christ, he hates the law of God—his whole soul rises up against it. “The carnal mind is enmity,” etc., 8:7.

First, Unconverted men hate the law of God on account of its purity. “Thy word is very pure, therefore thy servant loveth it.” For the same reason worldly men hate it. The law is the breathing of God’s pure and holy mind. It is infinitely opposed to all impurity and sin. Every line of the law is against sin. But natural men love sin, and therefore they hate the law, because it opposes them in all they love. As bats hate the light, and fly against it, so unconverted men hate the pure light of God’s law, and fly against it.

Second, They hate it for its breadth. “Thy commandment is exceeding broad.” It extends to all their outward actions, seen and unseen; it extends to every idle word that men shall speak; it extends to the looks of their eye; it dives into the deepest caves of their heart; it condemns the most secret springs of sin and lust that nestle there. Unconverted men quarrel with the law of God because of its strictness. If it extended only to my outward actions, then I could bear with it; but it condemns my most secret thoughts and desires, which I cannot prevent. Therefore ungodly men rise against the law.

Third, They hate it for its unchangeableness. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but one jot or one tittle of the law shall in no wise pass away. If the law would change, or let down its requirements, or die, then ungodly men would be well pleased. But it is unchangeable as God: it is written on the heart of God, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of turning. It cannot change unless God change; it cannot die unless God die. Even in an eternal hell its demands and its curses will be the same. It is an unchangeable law, for He is an unchangeable God. Therefore ungodly men have an unchangeable hatred to that holy law.

(2.) When a man comes to Christ, this is all changed. He can say, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man.” He can say with David, “Oh how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” He can say with Jesus, in the 40th Psalm, “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.”

There are two reasons for this:—

First, The law is no longer an enemy.—If any of you who are trembling under a sense of your infinite sins, and the curses of the law which you have broken, flee to Christ, you will find rest. You will find that He has fully answered the demands of the law as a surety for sinners; that He has fully borne all its curses. You will be able to say, “Christ hath redeemed me from the curse of the law, being made a curse for me, as it is written, Cursed,” etc. You have no more to fear, then, from that awfully holy law: you are not under the law, but under grace. You have no more to fear from the law than you will have after the judgment-day. Imagine a saved soul after the judgment-day. When that awful scene is past; when the dead, small and great, have stood before that great white throne; when the sentence of eternal woe has fallen upon all the unconverted, and they have sunk into the lake whose fires can never be quenched; would not that redeemed soul say, I have nothing to fear from that holy law; I have seen its vials poured out, but not a drop has fallen on me? So may you say now, O believer in Jesus! When you look upon the soul of Christ, scarred with God’s thunderbolts; when you look upon his body, pierced for sin, you can say, He was made a curse for me; why should I fear that holy law?

Second, The Spirit of God writes the law on the heart.—This is the promise: “After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” Jer. 31:33. Coming to Christ takes away your fear of the law; but it is the Holy Spirit coming into your heart that makes you love the law. The Holy Spirit is no more frightened away from that heart; He comes and softens it; He takes out the stony heart and puts in a heart of flesh; and there He writes the holy, holy, holy law of God. Then the law of God is sweet to that soul; he has an inward delight in it. “The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” Now he unfeignedly desires every thought, word, and action to be according to that law. “Oh that my ways were directed to keep thy statutes: great peace have they that love thy law, and nothing shall offend them.” The 119th Psalm becomes the breathing of that new heart. Now also he would fain see all the world submitting to that pure and holy law. “Rivers of waters run down mine eyes because they keep not thy law.” Oh that all the world but knew that holiness and happiness are one! Oh that all the world were one holy family, joyfully coming under the pure rules of the gospel! Try yourselves by this. Can you say, “I delight,” etc.? Do you remember when you hated the law of God? Do you love it now? Do you long for the time when you shall live fully under it—holy as God is holy, pure as Christ is pure?

Oh come, sinners, and give up your hearts to Christ, that He may write on it his holy law! You have long enough had the devil’s law graven on your hearts: come you to Jesus, and He will both shelter you from the curses of the law, and He will give you the Spirit to write all that law in your heart; He will make you love it with your inmost soul. Plead the promise with Him. Surely you have tried the pleasures of sin long enough. Come, now, and try the pleasures of holiness out of a new heart.

If you die with your heart as it is, it will be stamped a wicked heart to all eternity. “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still.” Rev. 22:11. Oh come and get the new heart before you die; for except you be born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God!

II.    A true believer feels an opposing law in his members.

“I see another law,” etc., ver. 23. When a sinner comes first to Christ, he often thinks he will now bid an eternal farewell to sin: now I shall never sin any more. He feels already at the gate of heaven. A little breath of temptation soon discovers his heart, and he cries out, “I see another law.”

(1.) Observe what he calls it—“another law;” quite a different law from the law of God; a law clean contrary to it. He calls it a “law of sin,” ver. 25; a law that commands him to commit sin, that urges him on by rewards and threatenings—“a law of sin and death,” 8:2; a law which not only leads to sin, but leads to death, eternal death: “the wages of sin is death.” It is the same law which, in Galatians, is called “the flesh:” “The flesh lusteth against the Spirit,” etc., Gal. 5:17. It is the same which, in Eph. 4:22, is called “the old man,” which is wrought according to the deceitful lusts; the same law which in Col. 3 is called “your members”—“Mortify, therefore, your members, which are,” etc.; the same which is called “a body of death,” Rom. 7:24. The truth then is, that in the heart of the believer there remains the whole members and body of an old man, or old nature: there remains the fountain of every sin that has ever polluted the world.

(2.)  Observe again what this law is doing—“warring.” This law in the members is not resting quiet, but warring—always fighting. There never can be peace in the bosom of a believer. There is peace with God, but constant war with sin. This law in the members has got an army of lusts under him, and he wages constant war against the law of God. Sometimes, indeed, an army are lying in ambush, and they lie quiet till a favourable moment comes. So in the heart the lusts often lie quiet till the hour of temptation, and then they war against the soul. The heart is like a volcano: sometimes it slumbers and sends up nothing but a little smoke; but the fire is slumbering all the while below, and will soon break out again. There are two great combatants in the believer’s soul. There is Satan on the one side, with the flesh and all its lusts at his command; then on the other side there is the Holy Spirit, with the new creature all at his command. And so “the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these two are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”

Is Satan ever successful? In the deep wisdom of God the law in the members does sometimes bring the soul into captivity. Noah was a perfect man, and Noah walked with God, and yet he was led captive. “Noah drank of the wine, and was drunken.” Abraham was the “friend of God,” and yet he told a lie, saying of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” Job was a perfect man, one that feared God and hated evil, and yet he was provoked to curse the day wherein he was born. And so with Moses, and David, and Solomon, and Hezekiah, and Peter, and the apostles.

First. Have you experienced this warfare? It is a clear mark of God’s children. Most of you, I fear, have never felt it. Do not mistake me. All of you have felt a warfare at times between your natural conscience and the law of God. But that is not the contest in the believer’s bosom. It is a warfare between the Spirit of God in the heart, and the old man with his deeds.

Second, If any of you are groaning under this warfare, learn to be humbled by it, but not discouraged.

1st, Be humbled under it.—It is intended to make you lie in the dust, and feel that you are but a worm. Oh! what a vile wretch you must be, that even after you are forgiven, and have received the Holy Spirit, your heart should still be a fountain of every wickedness! How vile, that in your most solemn approaches to God, in the house of God, in awfully affecting situations, such as kneeling beside the death-bed, you should still have in your bosom all the members of your old nature! Let this make you lie low.

2d, Let this teach you your need of Jesus.—You need the blood of Jesus as much as at the first. You never can stand before God in yourself. You must go again and again to be washed; even on your dying bed you must hide under Jehovah our Righteousness. You must also lean upon Jesus. He alone can overcome in you. Keep nearer and nearer every day.

3d, Be not discouraged.—Jesus is willing to be a Saviour to such as you. He is able to save you to the uttermost. Do you think your case is too bad for Christ to save? Every one whom Christ saves had just such a heart as you. Fight the good fight of faith; lay hold on eternal life. Take up the resolution of Edwards: “Never to give over, nor in the least to slacken my fight with my corruptions, however unsuccessful I may be.” “Him that over-cometh will I make a pillar,” etc.

III.   The feelings of a believer during this warfare

(1.) He feels wretched.—“O wretched man that I am!” ver. 24. There is nobody in this world so happy as a believer. He has come to Jesus, and found rest. He has the pardon of all his sins in Christ. He has near approach to God as a child. He has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. He has the hope of glory. In the most awful times he can be calm, for he feels that God is with him. Still there are times when he cries, O wretched man! When he feels the plague of his own heart; when he feels the thorn in the flesh; when his wicked heart is discovered in all its fearful malignity; ah, then he lies down, crying, O wretched man that I am! One reason of this wretchedness is, that sin, discovered in the heart, takes away the sense of forgiveness. Guilt comes upon the conscience, and a dark cloud covers the soul. How can I ever go back to Christ? he cries. Alas! I have sinned away my Saviour. Another reason is, the loathsomeness of sin. It is felt like a viper in the heart. A natural man is often miserable from his sin, but he never feels its loathsomeness; but to the new creature it is vile indeed. Ah! brethren, do you know anything of a believer’s wretchedness? If you do not, you will never know his joy. If you know not a believer’s tears and groans, you will never know his song of victory.

(2.) He seeks deliverance.—“Who shall deliver me?” In ancient times, some of the tyrants used to chain their prisoners to a dead body; so that, wherever the prisoner wandered, he had to drag a putrid carcase after him. It is believed that Paul here alludes to this inhuman practice. His old man he felt a noisome putrid carcase, which he was continually dragging about with him. His piercing desire is to be freed from it. Who shall deliver us? You remember once, when God allowed a thorn in the flesh to torment his servant,—a messenger of Satan to buffet him,—Paul was driven to his knees. “I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.” Oh, this is the true mark of God’s children! The world has an old nature; they are all old men together. But it does not drive them to their knees. How is it with you, dear souls? Does corruption felt within drive you to the throne of grace? Does it make you call on the name of the Lord? Does it make you like the importunate widow: “Avenge me of mine adversary?” Does it make you like the man coming at midnight for three loaves? Does it make you like the Canaanitish woman, crying after Jesus? Ah, remember, if lust can work in your heart, and you lie down contented with it, you are none of Christ’s!

(3.) He gives thanks for victory.—Truly we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us; for we can give thanks before the fight is done. Yes, even in the thickest of the battle we can look up to Jesus, and cry, Thanks to God. The moment a soul groaning under corruption rests the eye on Jesus, that moment his groans are changed into songs of praise. In Jesus you discover a fountain to wash away the guilt of all your sin. In Jesus you discover grace sufficient for you,—grace to hold you up to the end,—and a sure promise that sin shall soon be rooted out altogether. “Fear not, I have redeemed thee. I have called thee by my name; thou art mine.” Ah, this turns our groans into songs of praise! How often a psalm begins with groans and ends with praises! This is the daily experience of all the Lord’s people. Is it yours? Try yourselves by this. Oh, if you know not the believer’s song of praise, you will never cast your crowns with them at the feet of Jesus!

Dear believers, be content to glory in your infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon you. Glory, glory, glory to the Lamb!

Our “Blandus Daemon” Our Flattering Enemy

Leah

Those that want the honors of the world, want the temptations of it.

The world is “Blandus Daemon,” a flattering enemy. It is given to some as Michal to David, for a snare.

The world shews its two breasts of pleasure and profit, and many fall asleep with these breasts in their mouth. The world never kisses us, but with an intent to betray us. It is a silken halter.

The world is no friend to grace; it chokes our love to heavenly things: the earth puts out the spiritual fire. Naturally we love the world, Job 31: 24. ‘If I have made gold my hope;’ the Septuagint renders it, ‘If I have been married to my gold.’ Too many are wedded to their money; they live together as man and wife. O let us take heed of being entangled in this pleasing snare.

Many who have escaped the rock of scandalous sins, yet have sunk in the world’s golden quicksand. The sin is not in the using of the world, but in the loving, 1 John 2: 15. ‘Love not the world.’ If we are Christians, we must offer violence to the world. Believers are ‘called out of the world:’ they are in the world, but not of it, John 17.

As we say of a dying man, he is not a man for this world. A true saint is crucified in his affections to the world, Gal. 6: 14. He is dead to the honors and pleasures of it. What delight does a dead man take in pictures or music? Jesus Christ gave himself ‘to redeem us from this present evil world,’ Gal. 1:4. If we will be saved, we must offer violence to the world.

Living fish swim against the stream. We must swim against the world, else we shall be carried down the stream, and fall into the Dead Sea. That we may offer violence to the world, let us remember, it is deceitful; our Savior calls it, ‘The deceitfulness of riches,’ Matt.13:22.

The world promises happiness. It promises us nothing less than Rachel, but puts off on us blear-eyed Leah:’ it promises to satisfy our desires, but instead increases them: it gives us poisoned pills, but it always wraps them in sugar.

……..
Taken and adapted from, “The Christian Soldier,”
Written by Thomas Watson, 1669.

SELF-DENIAL DEFINED

Written by, Wilhelmus à Brakel (1635-1711)
Taken and adapted from, “The Christian’s Reasonable Service”, Vol. 3, reprinted by Reformation Heritage Books

Cd2MkT3W4AAERcB

Self-denial is a Christian virtue, granted by God to His children, whereby they, out of love for God’s will, neither give heed nor yield to their intellect, will, and inclinations insofar as they are in opposition to the will of God—and oppose and suppress them instead. They do so by a voluntary forsaking and rejection of all that pertains to their natural well-being, if God’s cause demands such from them. This [is] to the honor of God and the welfare of their neighbors.

Self-denial is, first, a Christian virtue. Pagans have observed that their inner peace has been disturbed by their lusts. Some therefore sought to extinguish them by way of reason and appeared to practice self-denial regarding some things. However, it did not issue forth from the right motive—love for the will of God. They did not have the right objective in view, but rather it was a seeking of self (be it in a different manner from others), resting in this as their peace and seeking to be honored by men. Their self-denial was thus a splendid sin that had a counterfeit luster and was not accompanied by deeds.

Our reference here, however, is to the self-denial of a Christian as being exclusive of all inordinate self-love (and self-reliance that issues forth from this) and seeking of self. Such self-denial issues forth from love for the will of God and culminates in the glorification of God.

Secondly, the moving cause of self-denial is the Lord and not man himself. Man is too deeply immersed in self-love to be able to rid himself from it. Even if he could divorce himself from this, he would not be able to bring himself into the opposite virtuous disposition. Self-denial does not consist in a negation, but is rather a propensity. The Lord grants this grace to His children, for He grants them spiritual life in regeneration (Eph 2:1; Jam 1:18). Through this virtuous disposition, He causes them to be active and thus works in them to will and to do (Phi 2:13). He particularly works in them the mortification of sin: “…but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom 8:13). God, having given life in the soul, stirs up this life and renders it active by His prevening and cooperative power. The believer—uniting himself by faith with Christ and through Christ with God—takes hold of His strength as his own. By reason of this received strength, [he] is active in mortifying sin within him. God is thus the original cause: man, having been affected by this power, is himself active in the casting out of sinful self-love and its consequences, as well as in purifying and adorning himself with the contrary virtue. “Let us cleanse ourselves” (2Co 7:1); “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which work-eth in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Phi 2:12-13).

Thirdly, the subjects of self-denial are the children of God. The unconverted are void of all spiritual life; therefore, the motions and operation of life cannot come forth from them. Rather, it is a gift to God’s children as presently being in a converted and believing state. They are those who are Christ’s disciples and follow Him (Mat 16:24). Self-denial does not consist in a few deeds, but is rather a propensity and disposition of the heart. Their heart has been turned away from self-love and a seeking of self—albeit imperfectly…Once this virtue has become deeply rooted, the person who practices self-denial will have much inner peace. He will not so readily be enticed to entertain ulterior motives or be envious, wrathful, and guilty of misuse of words—all of which frequently issue forth in a rash manner due to self-love and a seeking of self…All that he does renders him pleasant to all—before God and before men.

Fourthly, the object of self-denial is man himself. God has created self-love in man and mandates the exercise of this love in the Second Table of the Law by giving command that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mat 22:39). After the fall, however, love has become entirely distorted, as it causes man to be opposed to God, to make himself as God, and wanting all to end in man. This principle governs fallen man in his operations, and he wants everyone to function toward him in harmony with this principle.

John Welsh Preached Last Sermon at Ayr

Written by, Dan Graves
b75dbc195589eed47ce4d7f19c1d8284

.
John Welsh, you are to report to the King’s Council in Edinburgh.”

When John Welsh stepped out of his pulpit in Ayr, Scotland, on this day, July 23, 1605, the King’s men came for him with that order. The Scottish pastor had preached that morning on the heart-warming promise that there is no condemnation for God’s elect, concluding with the words, “Now let the Lord give his blessing to his word, and let the Spirit of Jesus, who is the author of this verity [truth], come in and seal up the truth of it in your hearts and souls, for Christ’s sake.”

John had expected this arrest. Earlier that year, King James VI of Scotland forbade any pastor from attending a convention in Aberdeen. Like many Scottish pastors, Welsh believed no king had the right to stop preachers from conducting God’s business. He had never been one to buckle in face of danger. Needless to say, he had gone to the meeting. Now it was pay day.

Welsh said good-bye to his crying family and weeping church folk. “God send you back soon,” they prayed. But it was not to be.

John was given a mock trial and jailed. At first he was held in the prison known as the tollbooth, where many Scottish preachers served time. Later he was taken to brutal Blackness Castle. According to tradition, he was lowered into a dungeon pit that could be reached only through a hole in the floor. Its rough floor was uneven and slanted. There was no flat place on which to lay and no smooth spot on which to get comfortable. One could not sit, stand or lie down without misery. John spent ten months at Blackness. Well-known for his prayer-life (he averaged seven hours a day in prayer), John no doubt continued his earnest pleas for Scotland. Like his father-in-law John Knox, he pleaded, “O God, will you not give me Scotland!”

Perhaps he also remembered his hard years of service for Christ. At his first pastorate, in Selkirk, the local folk rejected the gospel completely, even cruelly cutting his horse so that he could not ride to nearby villages to preach. His next position was in a Roman Catholic region. The previous minister was killed for preaching reformation. At neither place did he have much success. But in his third pulpit, at Ayr, many people came to know Christ.

Ayr was a rough town. Duels and fights were so common, people feared to step onto the streets. Whenever John heard that a fight was brewing, he rushed to the spot and urged the rowdies to sit down to a peace meal together. He did this so often that the town became quieter and safer. James did not have the best interests of Ayr in mind when he arrested John. He felt that if he allowed Scotland to abolish bishops, they would want to abolish the king too!

James banished John to France. John quickly learned French and served as a preacher among the persecuted Protestants there. When his health broke, John’s wife pleaded with King James to let him return to Scotland’s air. The king said John could–if he submitted to the bishops. John’s wife was made of the same heroic stuff as her husband. She held out her apron and replied with spirit that she would rather have his head cut off and placed in her apron then have him betray the truth!

Bibliography:

Roberts, Maurice. “John Welsh of Ayr.” Revival Library. http://www.revival-library.org/ index.html.

Smellie, Alexander. Men of the Covenant. Revell, 1903.

Taylor, James. The Scottish Covenanters. London: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co., no date.

Last updated June, 2007

Published: Wednesday, April 28, 2010, www.christianity.com

The Nature and Calling of Free Grace

Written by J.C. Philpot

I admire and love the grace of God; and the longer I live, the more do I love and admire it.

My sins, my corruptions, my infirmities make me feel my deep and daily need of it; and as its freeness, fulness, suitability and inexpressible blessedness are more and more opened up to my heart and conscience, so do I more and more cleave to and delight in it. What, in fact, is there which you can substitute for it?

I assume that you have some concern about religion; that the solemn realities of eternity press with more or less weight on your conscience, and that you are awakened to see the evil of sin and your own evil case as sinners. I speak not to stocks and stones; I speak to you who desire to fear God and to have your hearts right before Him. If you have no concern about the salvation of your soul, you will love many things far beyond free grace. Money, dress, amusements, the pleasures that present themselves on every side, though hollow as the tomb and vain as a drunkard’s mirth, will so charm your mind and occupy your thoughts that Christ and His gospel will have no place in your conscience. But if you have any anxiety about your eternal condition, and are brought to cry, “What shall I do to be saved?” then I ask you, what can you put in the place of free grace? Surely, you cannot be so foolish as to put your own works in its stead. Surely, you cannot be so ignorant of your ruined condition before God, and of what is revealed in the Scriptures of the way of salvation by the atoning blood of Jesus, as to substitute the words and works of man for the words and works of the God-Man?

You may doubt your own interest in His atoning blood; but you do not doubt that salvation is all of grace, and that if saved your soul can be saved by grace alone.

And why not YOU be saved? What countless trophies has grace already at the Redeemer’s feet! What hosts of ruined wretches, of souls sunk beyond all other help or hope, has free grace sought out, rescued from their destructions, plucked from the jaws of hell, and ransomed from the hand of him that was stronger than they, so that they have come and sung in the height of Zion, and flowed together to the goodness of the Lord!

Look at Paul. Where can we find among the sons of men a parallel to the great Apostle of the Gentiles? What a large capacity! What a powerful intellect he naturally possessed, but how subdued and subjugated it became by grace, and how devoted to the glory of God and the advancement of His Dear Son! How grace arrested him at Damascus’ gate, cast him down body and soul at the Redeemer’s feet, translated him from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God’s dear Son, and changed a bloodthirsty persecutor of the church of Christ into a minister and an apostle, the greatest ever seen. As such, what a deep humility, thorough disinterestedness, noble simplicity, godly zeal, unwearied labors distinguished him from first to last-a course of more than thirty years.

How in his inspired writings he pours, as it were, from his pen the richest streams of heavenly truth! With what clearness, power, and savor he describes and enforces the way of salvation through the blood shedding and obedience of the Son of God, the blessings of free grace, the glorious privileges of the saints, and the things that make for their happiness and holiness! How in every epistle it seems as if his pen could hardly drop a line without in some way setting forth the infinite grace, the boundless mercy, and unfathomable love of God, as displayed in the gift of His dear Son, and the blessings that flow to the church through His blood and love.

But look not at Paul only. View the jewels on every side that grace has set in the Redeemer’s crown out of the most depraved and abject materials! Who, for instance, were those Ephesians to whom Paul wrote that wonderful epistle? The most foolish and besotted of idolaters, so infatuated with their image which fell down from Jupiter-most probably some huge meteoric stone, that had fallen from the sky-that they spent two hours until they wearied out their throats with crying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians; ! men debased with every lust, ripe and ready for every crime. How rich, how marvelous the grace that changed worshippers of Diana into worshippers of Jehovah, brutal howlers into singers who made melody in their heart to the Lord (Eph. 5:19), and magicians, full of curious arts and Satanic witchcraft, into saints built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets!

Now cannot the same grace, that did so much for them, do the same or similar things for us?

Is the nature of man now less vile, or is the grace of Christ now less full and free? Has the lapse of 1800 years raised man out of the depths of the Fall, eradicated sin from his constitution, cleansed the foul leprosy of his nature, and purified it into holiness? Let the thin sheet of decent morality and civilization be taken off the corpse, and here it lies in all its hideous ghastliness.

Human nature is still what it ever was dead in trespasses and sins. Or has time, which changes so many things on earth, changed things in heaven? Is not God the same gracious Father, Jesus the same compassionate Savior, the Holy Spirit the same heavenly Teacher? Is not the gospel the same glad tidings of salvation, and the power of the gospel the same to everyone that believeth? Then why should not we be blessed with the same spiritual blessings as the saints at Ephesus? Why may not the same Jesus be to us what He was to them, the same Spirit to do for us and in us what He did for and in them, and the same grace save and sanctify us which saved and sanctified them? Here and here alone is our strength, our help, our hope, our all.

———-
Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  Joseph Charles Philpot (1802 – 1869) was known as “The Seceder”. He resigned from the Church of England in 1835 and became a Strict & Particular Baptist. While with the Church of England he was a Fellow of Worchester College, Oxford. After becoming a Strict and Particular Baptist he became the Editor of the Gospel Standard magazine and served in that capacity for twenty years.

Educated at Oxford University, he was elected a fellow of Worcester College, and appeared to have a brilliant scholastic career before him. But he was brought into solemn concern spiritually and the Lord led him into the ministry. He first preached in the Established Church at Stadhampton (Oxfordshire). In 1835, however, he was constrained, for the truth’s sake, to sever his connection with the Church of England and to resign his curacy and his fellowship. The letter to the provost stating his reasons was published and went into several editions.

The same year, he was baptized by John Warburton at Allington (Wilts). The rest of his life was spent ministering among the Strict Baptists. For 26 years, he held a joint pastorate at Stamford (Lines) and Oakham (Rutland). In addition for over twenty years, he was editor of “The Gospel Standard”, where many of his sermons first appeared.

–Theopedia

The Exchange Between the Sinful and the Sinless

Written by, by Horatius Bonar

“For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” —2 Corinthians 5:21

In showing favor to a criminal, an earthly sovereign must consider whether he can do so…

(1) without loss of character;
(2) without breach of law;
(3) without encouragement to crime;
(4) without infringement or compromise of government.

All these things have been amply provided for in the divine scheme of pardon; that scheme being the embodiment of such provision,—not only containing the prevention of any such wrongs to God and to His universe, but the development of principles and the revelation of facts, which far more than compensate for threatened evils, and bring immense glory to God and His government, out of that which otherwise would have been big with dishonour and confusion. That scheme is announced in these words, “He hath made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made (or be, or become) the righteousness of God in Him.” Thus God is just, and the Justifier of the unjust.

Here are two special points:

(1) The sinless one made sin for the sinful;

(2) the unrighteous becoming the righteousness of God in the righteous One.

I. The SINLESS One made SIN for the SINFUL.

He was “without sin;” He “knew no sin;” not the shadow of evil was to be found in Him; He was the “righteous one,” the “holy one,” the “Lamb without blemish, and without spot;” altogether perfect, yet partaker of our very flesh, our true humanity; very man, of the substance of the virgin, partaker of the dust of earth, bone of our bone, and flesh of our flesh, still SINLESS in the most entire sense of that word; loving righteousness and hating iniquity, this sinless One was made sin, made sin by God: “He hath made Him sin.” The connection between Him and sin, between Him and the sinner, was one made, constituted by God. It was the Lord that laid our iniquity upon Him (Isa 53:6); that bruised Him and put Him to grief; that made His soul an offering for sin (Isa 53:10); that made Him a curse for us (Gal 3:13). Our guilt was transferred to Him by God, and He was treated as if He were really the doer of it all. God “spared Him not, but delivered Him up” (Rom 8:32). In the Psalms He confesses our sin as if it were His own (see 38, 40, 69); during His life He acted as one shut out because of guilt; at His trial He was dumb, and answered not a word; on the cross He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.” It is not merely that He was made a sin offering, but he was “made sin,” as if no words could fully express the closeness of His connection with our transgressions. He was treated as a sinner from His cradle to His cross. His was a vicarious life and a vicarious death.

It was this that made Him the man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. On no other ground can we account for His profound and life-long sorrow, save that all His life long He was bearing sin for us,—He was being led as a lamb to the slaughter; and this leading to the slaughter was the real meaning of His sorrowful and burdened life. He was moving to the altar with the sins of His church upon Him; He was going to the cross, laden all through with this infinite burden which was laid upon Him, when He took flesh by the power of the Holy Ghost.

As the sacrifice, burnt-offering, sin-offering, trespass-offering, substitute, surety, and sin-bearer, we find Him here on earth, till He had finished the work which was given Him to do, till He had by Himself purged our sins (Hebrews 1:2).

Men call this a “fiction,” or a “make believe;” but it is the truth of God, with which the whole Bible is full,—the transference of our human guilt to our divine Substitute, that He might bear it all for us, the transference of legal condemnation and divine displeasure from us to Him, that only acquittal, and pardon, and favour, and love might belong to us. “Thy wrath lieth hard upon me” (Psa 88:7), are the words of the Sin-bearer; and that this was felt in a measure all His life through (though consummated on the cross), is shewn by what follows: “I am afflicted and ready to die (“sorrowful unto death”) from my youth up” (Psa 88:15).

The sinless One made sin for the sinful is the pervading doctrine of both Testaments; such books as Leviticus and the Epistle to the Hebrews are unintelligible otherwise. It is this that so strongly and awfully establishes the doctrine of eternal recompense for sin. If sin deserves no eternal wrath, what an unmeaning thing is this divine sin-bearing! What a gratuitous expenditure of labour, and suffering, and death.

II. The UNRIGHTEOUS becoming the RIGHTEOUSNESS Of God in the RIGHTEOUS One.

The name of our Substitute is, “Jehovah our Righteousness”; and, the justifying righteousness is called by an apostle, “the righteousness of Him who is our God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1). Thus the “righteousness of God” and the “righteousness of Christ” are declared to be the same, and our common use of the expression, “the righteousness of Christ,” is amply vindicated from the cavils of Socinians and others of like mind. Luther exhorted the brethren to learn, as their constant song of praise, “Lord Jesus, thou art my righteousness, and I thy sin.” So must we, if we would enjoy Luther’s doctrine, his twofold teaching, “That a man is justified by faith; and that he is to know that he is justified.” We are “unrighteous.” There is no question as to that. Yet, says the apostle, “We become (not merely “righteous,” but) THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD,” in this righteous One. What is ours passes over to Him; what is His passes over to us. We become righteousness! As if, from the moment that we believe God’s testimony to, the righteous One and His work, we and righteousness become one and the same thing. So completely are we justified, and lifted up into the same righteous level or standing which the righteous One himself occupies in the sight of God. Thus are we “complete in Him,”—“found in Him,”— recognised as one with Him in righteousness, and entitled to possess all He possesses. What a transference! And how simply effected! Receive the Father’s testimony to the righteousness of the beloved Son, and all that righteousness becomes yours! O man, canst thou refuse an exchange like this? A salvation so complete, so perfect and divine.

Yes; “It is finished!”

On the cross it was finished. Then the blood was shed with which the sinner is sprinkled and purged in conscience; and all that followed (both resurrection and ascension) assumed the completion of the great sacrifice on Golgotha. Then the righteousness was finished also, in virtue of which we are “accepted in the Beloved.” During all the preceding ages the voice of each sacrifice laid on the altar, morning and evening, was, “It is NOT finished;” but then the one voice of the one Sacrifice proclaimed before earth and heaven, “It is finished.” Nothing was from that moment to be added to it or taken from it. All was done. It is the ministry of this “righteousness” that is now preached to the unrighteous. There are many “ministries.” There is the ministry of “the word” (Acts 6:24.); the ministry of “the grace” (Acts 20:24); the ministry of “the reconciliation” (2 Cor 5:18); the ministration of “the Spirit” (2 Cor 3:8). There is also the ministry of “the righteousness” (2 Cor 3:9). Righteousness for the unrighteous is God’s message to the world; righteousness for those whose only qualification is, that they need it; righteousness to the most unrighteous of the sons of men; for it is to the wretched prodigal, the wanderer in the far country, that the Father says, “Bring forth THE BEST ROBE, and put it on him:” In Jesus, the sinner’s substitute, we have “the perfect One.” God sees perfection in Him. But this perfection, while it detects and condemns our imperfection, provides also for its forgiveness.

It is by means of this perfection that God is enabled to deal in love with our imperfection, however great and manifold it may be. The good swallows up the evil, and yet is not tainted thereby. The sinner hands over his sins to the perfect One; and the perfect One hands over His perfection to the sinner. Thus, by reason of this blessed transference or exchange, the imperfect one becomes as the perfect One in the sight of God, and is dealt with as such in regard to all favour and blessing.

Perfection covers imperfection, and the believing sinner stands “complete” in the perfect One: “accepted in the Beloved.” Crediting God’s testimony to the perfect One, and His perfect sacrifice, we stand before God on a new footing,—as men who have “become the righteousness of God in Him,”—and who now get life, and peace, and pardon, and blessing, simply because the perfect One has deserved it for them. We have all in Him.

Finding Answers for the Crookedness of Life

Excerpt taken from “The Crook in the Lot”
Written by Thomas Boston
Adapted and modernized for the young reader
 crooked-path
“Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which He has made crooked?” —Ecclesiastes 7:13.
 

A just view of our afflictions is altogether necessary for proper Christian deportment under them…

…and this view can only be obtained only by faith, not by sense; for it is the “Light of the World” alone that represents them justly, discovering in them the work of God, and consequently, crooked designs becoming the Divine perfections. When they are perceived by the eye of faith, and duly considered, we have a just view of our afflictions, fitted to quell the turbulent motions of corrupt affections under dismal outward appearances.
 

It is under this view that Solomon, in the preceding part of Ecclesiastes 7, advances several paradoxes, which are surprising determinations in favor of certain things, that, to the eye of sense, looking gloomy and hideous, are therefore generally reputed out of order, and shocking. For he pronounces the day of one’s death to be better than the day of his birth; namely, the day of the death of one, who, having become the friend of God through faith, has led a life to the honor of God, and service of his generation, and in this way raised to himself the good and savvy name better than precious ointment.

 

In like manner, he pronounces the house of mourning to be preferable to the house of feasting, sorrow to laughter, and a wise man’s rebuke to a fool’s song. As for that, even though the latter is indeed the more pleasant, yet the former is the more profitable. And observing with concern, how men are in danger, not only from the world’s frowns and ill-usage, for oppression can make a wise man mad, but also from its smiles and caresses, which is a gift destroying the heart. Therefore, since whatever way it goes there is danger, he pronounces the end of every worldly thing better than the beginning of it. And from the whole he justly infers, that it is better to be humble and patient, than proud and impatient under afflicting dispensation; since, in the former case, we wisely submit to what is really best; in the latter, we fight against it. And he dissuades from being angry with our lot, because of the adversity found in it. He cautions against making odious comparisons of former and present times, by which point he is insinuating against undue reflections on the providence of God: and, against that querulous and fretful disposition. Here he first prescribes a general remedy, namely, holy wisdom, as that which enables us to make the best of everything, and even gives life in the most killing of circumstances; and then he offers a particular remedy, consisting in a due application of that wisdom, towards taking a just view of the case: “Consider the work of God: for who can make that straight which He has made crooked?”
 
In which words are proposed,
 
1. The remedy itself;
2. The suitableness of it.
 
1. The remedy itself, is a wise eyeing of the hand of God on all we find hard to bear on us: “Consider the work of God,” namely, His providence in the crooked, rough, and disagreeable parts of your afflictions, the crosses you find in it. For you see very well the cross itself. Yes, you turn it over and over in your mind and leisurely view it on all sides. You look to the primary cause of it, and also to the other secondary cause of it, and so you find yourself in a fret. But, would that you would be quieted and satisfied in the matter, lifting up your eyes towards heaven, seeing the doing of God in it, the operation of His hand. Look at that, and consider it well; eye the first look at the crookedness in your lot; but behold, how it is the work of God, how is it His doing?
 
2. Such a view of the crookedness of our afflictions is very suitable to still improper risings of heart, and quiet us under them: “For who can make that straight which God has made crooked?” As to the crookedness in your life, God has made it; and he will continue while He will have it so. Should you ply your utmost force to even things out, or make it straight, your attempt will be vain: for it will not change no matter what you do. Only He who made it can mend it, or make it straight. This consideration, this view of the matter, is the proper means at once to silence and to satisfy man, and so to bring him to a dutiful submission to his Maker and Governor, no matter the crookedness and afflictions in his life.