Inconvenient Reflections of Darkness: My Thoughts on Seventh-Day Adventism and the Correct Reasons Why I Left… Part One of Four.

Written by, Michael W. Pursley

CW049-Breaking-Free-from-the-Power-of-Sin.

There is a hatred that is downright charity:
that is the hatred of erroneous doctrine.
–J. C. Ryle

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There are some things in life that I wish I could write down in the third person.

By that I mean, I wish I could write it down as if I were looking through the dossier of the life of another person, but I can’t. It might even be easier, I think, if I could say that the person I will be thinking of and speaking about, was my unfortunate twin, or maybe even me, but perhaps in another lifetime, but I cannot do that either. No, this is my testimony. This is my life. These are my experiences. This is me. But not quite.

I say “not quite” because wrapped in my testimony and my thinking are also the lives and experiences of thousands of other people who altogether, God has used to help shape and bring me more into his likeness…and out of darkness; “though, they knew it not.”

It has long been maintained by Christian churchmen, when relating to that “body of Christ,” that on doctrinal essentials, we have to have unity. On non-essentials, we should permit diversity. But in all matters, we must maintain charity. And with this maxim in mind, I would like to take a reflective moment and look at a “dark-side of Christianity;” which, together with my experiences, I want to set forth with that charity which reflects my Master, Jesus Christ.

First, I think we would agree that when we speak about the “Pillars of the Christian Faith,” or “The Eternal Verities” as they are sometimes called, that we are speaking about the absolute “essentials” of Christianity; it doesn’t get any more important than this; these essentials are those substantive definitions of who we are and what we are.

And when we talk about the essentials of Christianity, we are talking about those things concerning the Gospel, about those things which the Apostle Paul took quite “personally” when he felt that they had become perverted. It is interesting that Paul didn’t call those differences in the Gospel an innocent compromise, or merely a slight difference of opinion, he calls it “another gospel.” And when he spoke about those people, those leaders, who taught what he described as this other gospel, he spoke quite darkly; he wished that those teachers of another gospel would “emasculate themselves.” (Galatians 5:12)

With the Apostle, I too wish and yearn for those who are yet in the darkness of “another Gospel.” While I wish that those leaders of this other gospel would find Christ; outside of that, I wish that they would only hurt themselves and leave their followers; their sheep, alone. “Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?” As Spurgeon once said, “We can none of us tell if we go down to hell how many we shall draw with us, for we are bound to thousands by invisible bands. Over the tomb of each sinner may be read this epitaph: “This man perished not alone in his iniquity.”

To be plain and straight forward, in this, my reflective testimony, I am speaking about the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. For on some level, and to some degree, most know that not all of what they are teaching is the truth… I have talked to them. But, like the Jewish Pharisees, they comfort themselves, that “they have the Sabbath,” and that they are part of God’s “Remnant Church.” Therefore, they can’t be too far wrong. They do not realize that someday Jesus will tell them, and by them I still do mean the leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church,  just as he declared to those Jewish Pharisee leaders in his day; He will say, “I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:23)

What they may not see now is, that God will reject them and do so for the same four basic reasons that he rejected the Jewish leaders in Christ’s day:

They have distorted, twisted and added to God’s word, the Bible.

They have come up with a different plan of salvation.

They have added to the work of God in redemption.

More controversially, they believe that salvation, and the plan of salvation, especially during the eschaton, comes only for them; as a group—“the Remnant Church” which is doctrine predicated upon their extra-biblical sources. Let me demonstrate these points and what I mean, later on.

There are many of you, who know exactly what I mean when I say it is even more painful if you have been raised in the Seventh-day Adventist church, or cult… I say this even after thirty years of separation, which I believe adds perspective to my viewpoint, personal experience and solemn reflection; I say this, inasmuch as I was raised as a Seventh-day Adventist and trained for the ministry. Even after, all these years, this pain, for me, is very real, and very tangible, and it incurs adrenalin surges, surges that occur even to this very day, when I realize just what great darkness I have been delivered from –a darkness that has been transformed into light, by the certainty of the Gospel.

Like the Gospel dawn to the early Christian church and to the early Protestant church–of the news of our eternal battle won, I can now say, “How lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, “Who announces peace And brings good news of happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, “Your God reigns!“(Isaiah 52:7)

Now, in the light of the Gospel, I exclaim like the Reformers in the city of Geneva, Post Tennebras Lux, “After Darkness, Light.” I feel like those early Protestants who were so thankful to God for this deliverance, that in Geneva, they had those words inscribed onto their coinage, lest they forgot!

Admittedly, in the past, there have been a number of Christian scholars, looking in as outsiders, who were reluctant to include Seventh-day Adventists into that terrible mold of a cult. But I can testify that these charitable scholars have not done their homework. They have not looked deeper into the way Seventh-day Adventism has formulated its theology, or at the wide divergence between Seventh-day Adventism’s stated faith and actual practice; between Seventh-day Adventist’s orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Instead, these Christian scholars, these well-meaning people, have accepted the Seventh-day Adventist’s theological statements and Adventism’s comparisons to other Christian thought. And by that I mean, the Christian thinking which was to some extent, considered orthodox, at some point in Christian history. This will be much clearer when we later compare historical Adventist theology in their doctrine of Atonement to actual Biblical and orthodox Christian understanding of the Atonement; namely, that it was finished at the Cross.

The fact that Seventh-day Adventism has been able to maintain this Christian deception in so many quarters, is perhaps due to its great moralistic “Cloaking Device,” which is NOT the Gospel; it is their pietistic perspective and practice reflective of their roots from old Methodism. Even today, Seventh-day Adventism’s “statement-in-practice” is in many ways reflective of the old-time Pietism from which it came. Lest some Seventh-day Adventist tells you otherwise (inasmuch as they love to confuse laymen on this issue), please understand that personal piety is vastly different from theological Pietism, which places heavy emphasis on spiritual perfectionism, which in turn, has at its base, man’s work to maintain his spiritual acceptance with God.

Throughout the years, I have been often asked, “Do I believe that Seventh-day Adventists are going to hell?”

My answer to that is, that if they are trusting Christ alone as their Savior, and relying upon his finished work of atonement on the cross to cover their sins as the basis of their salvation, rather than “belonging to the church,” or “keeping the Sabbath,” then I would say that these believers have every right to embrace that they are completely accepted as children of God…!

EXCEPT…

It is AGAINST the teachings of Seventh-day Adventist theology to ever presume that the believer can ever have the assurance that they are part of God’s Elect, or that they are now and will always be his Children.

 

Unfortunately, most SDAs, if they were stood against the wall would state, that they ARE part of “God’s Remnant,” because they “belong to the Remnant church,” and “keep the Sabbath.” But they cannot hide their spiritual discomfiture if you are to ask them how well they keep the Sabbath; to this question they would answer somewhat negatively, or be at a loss as to how to answer at all. It is no wonder, that these poor people have no idea, unless from outside official church sources, as to whether or not they are God’s children, and whether or not God truly loves them and accepts them.

While I was in Seventh-day Adventism, I had a number of scholars and ministers implore me to remain. For them, like Erasmus, they much preferred a “quiet evolution” of truth to confrontation. Jobs were at stake, career investments had been made, bottom lines had to be considered, “and we didn’t want to frighten or disturb the simple faith of the faithful… did we?” But I could not subjugate what I saw as the truth for any reason; I had to leave.

That is not to say that I left for all the right reasons, I did not. My brokenness, my fallenness, my Adamic nature, my own personal foibles, I am sure were evident to many, many people. I know that many people were praying for me, on both sides of the fence, and to these people I owe a debt of gratitude. Only, a merciful Sovereign God could pluck me from that fire. I freely admit, that there was nothing about me then, and certainly nothing now, that would ever commend me to heaven, except his grace; “nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”

I wish I could say, that in the years following my departure, that the joy of the Gospel filled my steps and my life, but that was not the case. Like Lot’s wife, I kept looking back. Why? Because I did not realize that my identity was not there… my identity was now in Christ. But, I had invested nearly every aspect of my person-hood into Adventism; it had been my life, it was my identity, it was my all-in-all, my identity was not yet in Christ. Perhaps, this is the worst aspect of Seventh-day Adventism, in that it becomes an Idol to the faithful. Ellen White also, becomes an idol. In fact, there are two different types of Ellen White idols –but I shall deal with that later.

I am sure some would say that it is natural that I would look back, and that I would carry such heavy baggage forward. But at the time, I naively believed that the Gospel would immediately correct all past personal mistakes, that somehow the gospel would immediately make everything right; things would fall into place; a full new life would immediately commence; and instead, it seemed that all I could see was inner desolation, spiritual oppression and depression. For those who are contemplating leaving or who have already left, my counsel to you is to be patient with yourself… For as God says through Isaiah, “I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:16)  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)

However, I still had to learn that God was in control despite my surroundings and personal fortunes; and so for a time (years actually), I spiritually threw the proverbial baby out with the bath water. What I did not realize during this period, was that God was still working in my life; I just couldn’t see it. What I also couldn’t see was that there were a lot of Idols in my life that had to be cleared away, pride, self-centeredness, spiritual self-complacency, to name a few, and yes, the list was very long. As Calvin said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” (idolorum fabricam)

But that is what the Gospel does, it clears away the darkness and replaces it with light.

For me, it has been and still is very frightening, to stop and to realize that what I had believed and taught others, was against the teachings Scripture and the Word of Almighty God. It is frightening, to think that the Gospel I was preaching, was that other gospel, spoken about by Paul. And that it was “a gospel from heaven, the very same heaven,” as Luther says, “where hellfire is ready for the devil and his angels.” For me, that thought was, and is, very frightening indeed!

[It is my intention, by the Grace of God, to release one part each week. Grace and peace –MWP]

Link to Part Two.  Inconvenient Reflections of Darkness: My Thoughts on Seventh-Day Adventism and the Correct Reasons Why I Left.  Part Two.

 

 

Evidences of Regeneration, and Evidences of the Doctrine of the Saint’s Perseverance.

Written by, William G. T. Shedd.
Taken from, “Sermons to the Spiritual Man.”
Edited for thought and space. 

i-hate-you-but-not-reallyThe duty of the Christian is, to assure himself upon scriptural grounds of his regeneration…

…and then to “work out his salvation with fear and trembling, because it is God that worketh in him to will and to do.” The fact that he is a new creature, if established, is a proof that God is helping him in the struggle with indwelling sin; and when God helps, victory is sure in the end. Believers are commanded to “examine themselves,” not for the purpose of seeing whether they are perfectly sanctified, but “whether they be in the faith.” We may make our self-examination minister to our discouragement, and hindrance in the Christian race, if, instead of instituting it for the purpose of discovering whether we have a penitent spirit, and do cordially accept Christ as our righteousness, we enter upon it for the purpose of discovering if we are entirely free from corruption.

Remainders of the old fallen nature may exist in connection with true faith in Christ, and a new heart.

Paul bemoans himself, saying: “The good which I would I do not; but the evil which I would not that I do.” But Paul was certain that he trusted in the blood of Christ for the remission of sin; that he was a new man in Christ Jesus, and influenced by totally different motives from those that actuated him when he persecuted the Church of Christ; that he loved Christ more than the whole universe, and “counted all things but dung that he might win Christ,” and become a perfect creature in him.

The first and chief thing, therefore, which the Christian should have in his eye, in all his self-examination, is, to determine upon scriptural grounds whether he is a renewed man. The evidences of regeneration are plain, and plainly stated. We have already hinted at them. A sense of guilt and cordial acceptance of Christ’s atonement, a desire to be justified by his precious blood, a peaceful confidence in God’s righteousness and method of justifying a sinner –this is the first and infallible token of a new heart, and a right spirit. Then, secondly, a weariness of sin, “a groaning, being burdened” under its lingering presence and remaining power, a growing desire to be entirely delivered from it, and a purer simpler hungering after holiness –these are the other evidences of regeneration.

Search yourselves to see whether these things be in you,

…and if you find them really, though it may be faintly and feebly, in your experience, do not be discouraged because along with them you discover remaining corruption. Remember that as a man struck with death is a dead man, so a soul that has been quickened into life is a living soul, even though the remnants of disease still hang about it and upon it. The “new man” in Christ Jesus will eventually slay stone-dead the “old man” of sin. The “strong man” has entered into the house, and bound the occupant hand and foot, and he will in time “spoil his house.”

The truth that God will carry forward his work in the renewed soul, and that the principle of piety implanted by Divine grace will develop to perfection, may indeed be abused by the false Christian; but this is no reason why the genuine child of God should not use it for his encouragement, and progress in this divine life.

One of the evidences of regeneration, however, if considered, will prevent all misuse of the doctrine of the saint’s perseverance.

A “groaning, being burdened” by the remaining presence of sin, is a sign of being a new creature. How can a man have this grief and sadness of heart at the sight of his indwelling corruption, and at the same time roll sin as a sweet morsel under the tongue? How shall one, whose great burden it is, that he is tied to the body of sin and death, proceed to make that burden heavier and heavier, by a life of ease, indifference and worldliness? “How shall we that are dead to sin live any longer therein?”

No, my brother, if you really groan, being burdened because you are still so worldly, so proud, so selfish, so sinful, you are a new creature.

You never did this in the days of your impenitency. You were “alive without the law,” then. You did not feel the heavy, weary, weight pressing down upon you. You did not say with the Psalmist, as you now do: “My sin is ever before me.” This very imperfection which you now painfully feel, is the very evidence that you are on the way to perfection; it is the sign that there is a new principle of holiness implanted in your soul, one of whose effects is this very consciousness of remaining corruption, and one of whose glorious results will be the final and eternal eradication of it, when the soul leaves the body and enters paradise.

The child of God therefore, should not be discouraged because he discovers indwelling sin, and imperfection, within himself. 

A believer in the Lord Jesus Christ ought never to be discouraged. He ought to be humble, watchful, nay, sometimes fearful, but never despondent, or despairing. David, Paul, and the Colossian church were imperfect. But they were new men in Christ Jesus, and they are now perfectly holy and happy in heaven.
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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage:  William Greenough Thayer Shedd (1820 –1894), was an American Presbyterian Theologian born in Acton, Massachusetts.

In 1835, Shedd enrolled at the University of Vermont, He graduated from University of Vermont in 1839 and taught school for one year, during which time he began to attend the Presbyterian Church. Being called to the ministry, Shedd entered Andover Theological Seminary in 1840 and studied under theologian Leonard Woods. He graduated in 1843.

After a short pastorate at Brandon, Vermont, he was successively professor of English literature at the University of Vermont (1845–1852), professor of sacred rhetoric in Auburn Theological Seminary (1852–1854), professor of church history in Andover Theological Seminary (1854–1862), and, after one year (1862–1863) as associate pastor of the Brick Church of New York City, of sacred literature (1863–1874) and of systematic theology (1874–1890) in Union Theological Seminary. He died in New York City on November 17, 1894.

Dr. Shedd was a high Calvinist and was one of the greatest systematic theologians of the American Presbyterian church. His great work was Dogmatic Theology (3 vols, 1888–1894). He served as editor of Coleridge’s Complete Works (7 vols, New York, 1894), and he also wrote: Lectures on the Philosophy of History (1856), in which he applied to history the doctrine of organic evolution. Discourses and Essays (1856) A Manual of Church History (2 vols, 1857), a translation of Guericke A History of Christian Doctrine (2 vols, 1863) Homiletics and Pastoral Theology (1867) Sermons to the Natural Man (1871) Theological Essays (1877) Literary Essays (1878) Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (1879) Sermons to the Spiritual Man (1884) The Doctrine of Endless Punishment (1885)

 

A Gentle Glimpse Into a Covenanter Church Service and Communion During the Persecution of 1677.

I Thought that it may be interesting…

(c) National Galleries of Scotland; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundationto get the detailed account of one of these solemn communion seasons that was celebrated at East Nisbet, in Berwickshire, in 1677. It was well attended; the multitudes who assembled from all quarters of the country amounted to several thousand.

The people had reason to believe that an attempt might be made to disperse them by violence, and in order to protect from invasion the assembly and solemn work, some of the gentlemen present drew together about seven or eight score horses on the Saturday, equipped with such weapons as they had. Of these, parties of about twelve or sixteen men were appointed to ride forth towards the most suspected parts, and single horsemen were also dispatched to greater distances, to view the country, and give warning in case of danger. The remainder of the horses were drawn around the people, as a kind of rampart, at such distances as they might hear the sermon, and be in readiness in case of the approach of the enemy.

The place where they were assembled was peculiarly well adapted for such a work. It was a verdant and pleasant low-lying meadow, secretly close by the side of the Whitadder, with a spacious hillside in front, and on either hand, in form of a semi-circle. It was covered with delightful pasture, and rising with a gentle slope to a goodly height.

The communion-table was set in the midst of the little valley, around which a large number of people were congregated, but the great body of the people sat on the face of the hillside, which was crowded from top to bottom, “presenting perhaps the finest and most lovely sight of the kind which many present had ever beheld.”

That all things might be done decently and in order, tokens of admission to the Lord’s table were distributed on Saturday, and they were given only to such as were known to ministers or persons of trust present, to be free of known scandals.

The Sabbath morning rose calm and peaceful…

…and throughout the day the sky over their heads was serene and unclouded, in delightful harmony with that tranquilizing joyful, and holy service, in which they were to engage.

The ministers were remarkably well assisted and the whole scene was most interesting and solemnizing. All seemed to feel like Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place; this is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven.” Or, perhaps even like the disciples on the mount of transfiguration; “It is good for us to be here.”

CovworThere were sixteen tables in all, and each table was supposed to contain about a hundred persons. After the communion was over, Mr. Welsh offered up a fervent prayer and thanksgiving, and then the whole assembly united in a solemn hymn of praise to Him who had thus mercifully spread a table before them in the presence of their enemies. Blackadder particularly mentions the solemn joy with which the people joined in this concluding exercise.

Such were some of the scenes in which Blackadder and his fellow exiles from their sorrowing flocks passed the time of their probation.

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Taken from “THE BASS ROCK AND ITS MEMORIES”
Edited for thought and sense

The Rest of GOD’s Story: Margaret Erskine

Henry Erskine (1624–1696) was a well-known Scottish Presbyterian minister.  He lived in Scotland during some of the worst times of persecution of the Covenanters.  His first wife passed away, and very little is known about her.  But after sometime, Henry Erskine decided that he needed to find someone to help him in his ministry, so he married again to a Margaret Halcro, a descendant of an old family in Orkney. This was also a time in which persecution had risen up again in the land and marriage prospects did not look very promising. Also, neither Henry nor his new wife, Margaret, were in the very best of health, and this is where “The Rest of GOD’s Story” begins…

This remarkable circumstance was connected with the history of Henry Erskine, and was a fact well authenticated during that time, and in that part of Scotland where his family lived. That his wife, Margaret was “dead and was buried,” some years BEFORE she gave birth to his two distinguished sons, Ralph and Ebenezer.

Let me explain!

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MinaMargaret wore on her finger at the time of her death a rich gold ring, which, from some domestic cause or other, was much valued by the family. After her body was laid in the coffin, an attempt was made to remove the ring, but the hand and the finger were so much swollen that it was found impossible.

It was proposed to cut off the finger, but the husband’s feelings revolted at the idea. She was therefore buried with the ring on her finger. The sexton, who was aware of the fact, formed a resolution to possess himself of the ring. Accordingly, on that same night he opened the grave and coffin. —Having no scruples about cutting off the finger of a dead woman, he provided himself with a sharp knife for the purpose. He lifted the stiff arm, and made an incision by the joint of the finger. The blood flowed—and the woman arose and sat up in her coffin! The grave-digger fled with affright, while the lady made her way from her coffin and walked back to the door of her dwelling, there she stood without and knocked for admittance.

Her husband, Henry Erskine, sat mourning that evening and conversing with a friend. When the knock was repeated he observed, “were it not that my wife is in her grave, I should say that that was her knock.” He arose hastily and opened the door.

There stood his wife and dear companion,  Margaret Erskine, wrapped in her grave-clothes, and her uplifted finger dripping blood.” My Margaret!” he exclaimed. “The same,” said she—”Your dear wife, in her own proper person; do not be alarmed.”

Henry’s wife, Margaret Erskine , lived seven or eight years after this occurrence, and became the mother of several children, among whom were the renowned ministers and theologians mentioned above, Ralph and Ebenezer Erskine.

Turning From Sin …THE DOCTRINE OF REPENTANCE. Part 9.

Written by, Thomas Watson.
Taken from, “THE DOCTRINE OF REPENTANCE.”
Published in 1668.

In this series we are looking at all the ingredients necessary for true repentance. In today’s thoughts, we are looking at “Turning From Sin.” Today, observe how Thomas Watson skillfully puts together the Biblical case.  Now, let us look again at the sixth of these respective ingredients. –MWP]

Turning-from-Sin_wide_t_nv1. Sight of sin
2. Sorrow for sin
3. Confession of sin
4. Shame for sin
5. Hatred for sin
6. Turning from sin

REMEMBER: If any one ingredient is left out, repentance loses its virtue.

Ingredient 6: Turning from Sin

The sixth ingredient in repentance is a turning from sin. Reformation is left last to bring up the rear of repentance. True repentance, like aquafortis [nitric acid], eats asunder the iron chain of sin. Therefore, weeping and turning are put together (Joel 2:12). After the cloud of sorrow has dropped in tears, the firmament of the soul is clearer: ‘Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations’ (Ezek. 14:6).

This turning from sin is called a forsaking of sin (Is. 55:7)

as a man forsakes the company of a thief or sorcerer. It is called ‘a putting of sin far away’ (job 11:14), Paul Put away the viper and shook it into the fire (Acts 28:5). Dying to sin is the life of repentance. The very day a Christian turns from sin he must enjoin himself a perpetual fast. The eye must fast from impure glances. The ear must fast from hearing slanders. The tongue must fast from oaths. The hands must fast from bribes. The feet must fast from the path of the harlot. And the soul must fast from the love of wickedness.

This turning from sin implies a notable change.

There is a change wrought in the heart. The flinty heart has become fleshly. Satan would have Christ prove his deity by turning stones into bread. Christ has wrought a far greater miracle in making stones become flesh. In repentance, Christ turns a heart of stone into flesh. There is a change wrought in the life. Turning from sin is so visible that others may discern it. Therefore it is called a change from darkness to light (Eph. 5:8). Paul, after he had seen the heavenly vision, was so turned that all men wondered at the change (Acts 9:21).

Repentance turned the jailer into a nurse and physician (Acts 16:33).

He took the apostles and washed their wounds and set meat before them. A ship is going eastward; there comes a wind which turns it westward. Likewise, a man was turning hell-ward before the contrary wind of the Spirit blew, turned his course, and caused him to sail heavenward. Chrysostom, speaking of the Ninevites’ repentance, said that if a stranger who had seen Nineveh’s excess had gone into the city after they repented, he would scarce have believed it was the same city because it was so metamorphosed and reformed. Such a visible change does repentance make in a person, as if another soul did lodge in the same body.

That the turning from sin be rightly qualified, these few things are requisite:

It must be a turning from sin with the heart. The heart is the primum vivens, the first thing that lives, and it must be the primum vertens, the first thing that turns. The heart is that which the devil strives hardest for. Never did he so strive for the body of Moses as he does for the heart of man; In religion the heart is all. If the heart be not turned froirn sin, it is no better than a lie: ‘her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly’ (Jer. 3:10), or as in the Hebrew, ‘in a lie’. Judah did make a show of reformation; she was not so grossly idolatrous as the ten tribes. Yet Judah was worse than Israel: she is called ‘treacherous’ Judah. She pretended to a reformation, but it was not in truth. Her heart was not for God: she turned not with the whole heart.

It is odious to make a show of turning from sin while the heart is yet in league with it, I have read of one of our Saxon kings who was baptized, who in the same church had one altar for the Christian religion and another for the heathen. God will have the whole heart turned from sin.

True repentance must have no reserves or inmates.

It must be a turning from all sin ‘Let the wicked forsake his way’ (Isa. 55:7). A real penitent turns out of the road of sin. Every sin is abandoned: as Jehu would have all the priests of Baal slain (2 Kings 10:24) — not one must escape — so a true convert seeks the destruction of every lust. He knows how dangerous it is to entertain any one sin. He that hides one rebel in his house is a traitor to the Crown, and he that indulges one sin is a traitorous hypocrite.

freed_from_sin-249x300It must be a turning from sin upon a spiritual ground.

A man may restrain the acts of sin, yet not turn from sin in a right manner. Acts of sin may be restrained out of fear or design, but a true penitent turns from sin out of a religious principle, namely, love to God. Even if sin did not bear such bitter fruit, if death did not grow on this tree, a gracious soul would forsake it out of love to God.

This is the most kindly turning from sin. When things are frozen and congealed, the best way to separate them is by fire. When men and their sins are congealed together, the best way to separate them is by the fire of love. Three men, asking one another what made them leave sin: one says, I think of the joys of heaven; another, I think of the torments of hell; but the third, I think of the love of God, and that makes me forsake it. How shall I offend the God of love?

It must be a turning from sin and a turning unto God. This is in the text, ‘that they should repent and turn to God’ (Acts 2 6.2 o). Turning from sin is like pulling the arrow out of the wound; turning to God is like pouring in the balm. We read in scripture of a repentance from dead works (Heb. 6:1), and a repentance toward God (Acts 20:21). Unsound hearts pretend to leave old sins, but they do not turn to God or embrace his service. It is not enough to forsake the devil’s quarters, but we must get under Christ’s banner and wear his colours. The repenting prodigal did not only leave his harlots, but he arose and went to his father. It was God’s complaint, ‘They return, but not to the most High’ (Hos. 7.16). In true repentance the heart points directly to God as the needle to the North Pole.

True turning from sin is such a turn that has has no return. ‘Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?’ (Hos. 14:8). Forsaking sin must be like forsaking one’s native soil, never more to return to it. Some have seemed to be converts and to have turned from sin, but they have returned to their sins again. This is a returning to folly (Ps. 85:8). It is a fearful sin, for it is against clear light.

It is to be supposed that he who did once leave his sin felt it bitter in the pangs of conscience. Yet he returned to it again; he therefore sins against the illuminations of the Spirit. Such a return to sin reproaches God: ‘What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are gone far from me?’ (Jer. 2:5).

He that returns to sin by implication charges God with some evil. If a man puts away his wife, it implies he knows some fault by her. To leave God and return to sin is tacitly to asperse the Deity. God, who ‘hateth putting away’ (Mat. 2:16), hates that he himself should be put away.

To return to sin gives the devil more power over a man that ever. When a man turns from sin, the devil seems to be cast out of him, but when he returns to sin, the devil enters into his house again and takes possession, and ‘the last state of that man is worse than the first’ (Matt. 12:45). When a prisoner has broken prison, and the jailer gets him again, he will lay stronger irons upon him. He who leaves off a course of sinning, as it were, breaks the devil’s prison, but if Satan takes him returning to sin, he will hold him faster and take fuller possession of him than ever.

Oh take heed of this!

A true turning from sin is a divorcing of  it, so that it will never to come near it any more. Whoever is thus turned from sin is a blessed person: ‘God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities’ (Acts 3:26).

Is turning from sin a necessary ingredient in repentance?

If so, then there is little repentance to be found. People are not turned from their sins; they are still the same as they were. They were proud, and so they are still. Like the beasts in Noah’s ark, they went into the ark unclean and came out unclean. Men comes to ordinances impure and go away impure. Though men have seen so many changes without, yet there is no change wrought within: ‘the people turneth not unto Him that smiteth’ (ha.9.13). How can they say they repent who do not turn? Are they washed in Jordan who still have their leprosy upon their forehead?

May not God say to the unreformed, as once to Ephraim, ‘Ephraim is joined to idols: l will leave him alone’(Hos. 4:17) Likewise, here is a man joined to his drunkenness and uncleanness, let him alone; let him go on in sin; but if there be either justice in heaven or vengeance in hell, he shall not go unpunished.

The conscience reproves those who are but half-turned.

And who are these? Such as turn in their judgment but not in their practice. They cannot but acknowledge that sin, has a bad aspect and influence and will weep for sin, yet they are so bewitched with it that they have no power to leave it. Their corruptions are stronger than their convictions. These are half-turned, ‘almost Christians’ (Acts 26:28). They are like Ephraim, who was a cake baked on one side and dough on the other (Hos. 7:8). They are but half-turned who turn only from gross sin but have no intrinsic work of grace. They do not prize Christ or love holiness.

It is with civil persons as with Jonah; he got a gourd to defend him from the heat of the sun, and thought that he was safe, but a worm presently arose and devoured the gourd. So men, when they are turned from gross sin, think their civility will be a gourd to defend them from the wrath of God, but at death there arises the worm of conscience, which smites this gourd, and then their hearts fail, and they begin to despair. They are but half-turned who turn from many sins but are unturned from some special sin. There is a harlot in the bosom they will not let go. As if a man should be cured of several diseases but has a cancer in his breast, which kills him.

It reproves those whose turning is as good as no turning…

…who expel one devil and welcome another. They turn from swearing to slandering, from profuseness to covetousness; such turning will turn men to hell.

Let us show ourselves penitents in turning from sin to God.

There are some persons I have little hope to prevail with. Let the trumpet of the word sound never so some flashes of hell-fire be thrown in their faces, yet they will have the other game at sin. These persons seem to be like the swine in the Gospel, carried down by the devil violently into the sea. They will rather damn than turn: they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. But if there be any candour or sobriety in us, if conscience be not cast into a deep sleep, let us listen to the voice of the charmer, and turn to God our supreme good.

How often does God call upon us to turn to him? He swears, ‘As I live, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways’ (Ezek. 33.11). God would rather have our repenting tears than our blood.

Turning to God makes for our profit.

Our repentance is of no benefit to God, but to ourselves. If a man drinks of a fountain he benefits himself, not the fountain. If he beholds the light of the sun, he himself is refreshed by it, not the sun. If we turn from our sins to God, God is not advantaged by it. It is only we ourselves who reap the benefit. In this case self-love should prevail with us: ‘If thou be wise, thou shalt be wise for thyself (Prof. 9.12).

If we turn to God, he will turn to us.

He will turn his anger from us, and his face to us. It was David’s prayer, turn unto me, and have mercy upon me’ (Ps. 86.16). Our turning will make God turn: ‘Turn yo unto me, saith the Lord, and I will turn unto you’ (Zech. 1.31). He who was an enemy will turn to be our friend. If God turns to us, the angels are turned to us. We shall have their tutelage and guardianship (Ps. 91.11). If God turns to us, all things shall turn to our good, both mercies and afflictions; we shall taste honey at the end of the rod.

Thus,we have seen the several ingredients of repentance.

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Meet the author and part of your Christian heritage: Thomas Watson (1620 – 1686) was an English, Nonconformist, Puritan preacher and author.

He was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was noted for remarkably intense study. In 1646 he commenced a sixteen-year pastorate at St. Stephen’s, Walbrook. He showed strong Presbyterian views during the civil war, with, however, an attachment to the king, and in 1651 he was imprisoned briefly with some other ministers for his share in Christopher Love’s plot to recall Charles II of England. He was released on 30 June 1652, and was formally reinstated as vicar of St. Stephen’s Walbrook. He obtained great fame and popularity as a preacher until the Restoration, when he was ejected for Nonconformity. Notwithstanding the rigor of the acts against dissenters, Watson continued to exercise his ministry privately as he found opportunity. Upon the Declaration of Indulgence in 1672 he obtained a license to preach at the great hall in Crosby House. After preaching there for several years, his health gave way, and he retired to Barnston, Essex, where he died suddenly while praying in secret. He was buried on 28 July 1686

 

THE HOTTENTOT’S GIFT

Written by, Rev. J. Campbell.
In the year 1813

hottentotAfter I had visited several nations in the interior of Africa…

…beyond the colony of the Cape of Good Hope, I halted at the town of Paarl, which was within thirty-six miles of Cape Town. Here I was requested by friends to relate publicly the state of the nations in the interior of Africa. About one hundred free persons, with some slaves, attended. At the close, several hundred rix dollars were contributed by the white friends present for the Missionary Society.

After the whites had all left the house, a slave woman and her daughter called upon me, and said, “Sir, will you take anything from a poor slave, to help to send the gospel to the poor things beyond us?” On my assurance, saying, “Most certainly I will,” she gave me eight pence, and her daughter four pence.

Having done so, they hastily went out, clapping their hands, and ran to some slave men who were waiting to hear the result. On hearing from her that I cheerfully took subscriptions from slaves, they rushed into my room, and every one threw down all that he had, to send the gospel to “the poor things- beyond them!”

The immediate cause of this was their masters had lately built a place of worship for them, where missionaries, when they happened to be in the town, preached to them; and some of their masters would at times read a sermon to them. These tastes of instruction made them desirous that the nations beyond should be favored with the same “advantage.”

“Verily I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast more in than all they that have cast into the treasury; for they all cast in of their
abundance, 
but she of her want cast in all that she had,
even all her living.”

–Mark 12:43-44

ON THE ENCOURAGING NATURE AND PRIVILEGE OF PRAYER

Written by: Edward Bickersteth
Published in: 1839
Edited for thought and sense

Men in general, think it an honor…

…to be admitted into the company of those who are distinguished by their rank, their power, or their attainments. They feel it a privilege to converse with a man of the first consequence in the state, a man eminent in wisdom or knowledge, or the monarch of a mighty empire.

1560722_597740120302470_264582166_nA Christian also justly reckons it no small privilege to be permitted…

…for a season, to associate with a person of peculiar piety. And if while the greatest good may be obtained from a distinguished person, there be only a limited time in which we can go to him, the importance of using an opportunity that is offered, is evidently greatly increased. If we can say, ‘Now the way of access is open, but it will soon be closed; now you may hold converse, and get intimately acquainted with him; you may obtain all you want; you may secure a lasting interest in his affections; he has invited you to come to him, and you will never have this privilege offered again; surely no other arguments need be urged, to induce a man waiting his help to go to him without delay.

When the Lord of Glory dwelt on earth,

we often read of the great multitudes who assembled together and crowded around him, to see and to hear him. On one occasion, we find even a rich man, Zaccheus, unable to approach him, and climbing a tree to have a transient glimpse of so remarkable a character. Had we lived at that time, and possessed any thing of our present knowledge, we should doubtless have thought it a high honor to be in his company, and, like Mary, to sit at the feet of Jesus, and hear his words.

This privilege was counted the more valuable in seasons of difficulty.

When any were in sickness or danger, and believed that if they could see our Lord, he would help them, they then desired his presence with peculiar earnestness. When Lazarus is dying, then his sisters send a special message to their Lord. When the disciples are in the storm, they awaken him by saying, “Carest thou not that we perish?” When the people are sick, they break through the roof of a dwelling to come to him ; or press through the crowd to touch the hem of his garment.

It is the NATURE of prayer…

…that it gives to needy and sinful men, in the limited time of this life, every day, yes, every hour, this great privilege of access to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, to the Most High and the Most Holy, and this with the utmost freedom and confidence; the access not merely of a servant to a master; or a subject to a king; but of a child to a tender parent.

Prayer is then a holy intercourse with God.

…It is, –as the martyr Bradford expresses it,”a simple, unfeigned, humble, and ardent offering of the heart before God, wherein we either ask things needful, or give thanks for benefits received.” Acceptable prayer is the desire of the heart offered up to God, through the influence of his Spirit, in the name of his Son Jesus Christ,for things according to his will, and in confidence that he hears us, and will answer us. There is no prayer without the exercise of holy and suitable dispositions and affections. The true worshipers,says our Lord, shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth,for the Father seeketh such to worship him, John 5: 23.

Prayer is not the mere posture of the body…

A man may kneel till he wear out the stones; he may put himself into every variety of posture, throw himself on the earth, and lie in the dust; like Ahab, he may put on sackcloth and ashes; or, like the monks of modern times, kneel till his knees become horny, and yet never pray at all.

It is not the mere expression of the mouth…

A man may repeat a hundred times in a day that comprehensive and affecting prayer which our Lord has taught us to use; or he may say, “My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth after thee,” and yet not offer up one prayer unto God.

It is not the mere invention of the mind.

…Many have a peculiar gift of prayer in this respect, and can pour out fluently, perspicuously, and at length, a multitude of words; but, both the mind and the tongue may be thus employed, while the heart neither feels the sentiments expressed, nor longs for the blessings implored. Nor is the mere act of joining in family,social, or public worship, acceptable prayer. Uniting with others, in the most earnest petitions,while your own heart is unmoved, will avail you nothing.

All these things may be as the mere husk and shell without the kernel; the body without the spirit. God expects the desire of the heart. Your devotions should be a sacred bond knitting the soul unto God, –in a holy converse with him.