The Bible, and the Fullness of it with the Doctrine of Election

Taken and adapted from, “The Doctrine of Election”
Written by, A.W. Pink

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There is not a single book in the Word of God where election is not either expressly stated…

…strikingly illustrated, or clearly implied. Genesis is full of it: the difference which the Lord made between Nahor and Abraham, Ishmael and Isaac, and His loving Jacob and hating Esau are cases to the point. In Exodus we behold the distinction made by God between the Egyptians and the Hebrews. In Leviticus the atonement and all the sacrifices were for the people of God, nor were they bidden to go and “offer” them to the surrounding heathen. In Numbers Jehovah used a Balaam to herald the fact that Israel were “the people” who “shall dwell alone, and shall not be numbered among the nations” (23:9); and therefore was he constrained to cry “How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, 0 Israel” (24:5). In Deuteronomy it is recorded “The Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (32:9).

In Joshua we behold the discriminating mercy of the Lord bestowed upon Rahab the harlot, while the whole of her city was doomed to destruction. In Judges the sovereignty of God appears in the unlikely instruments selected, by which He wrought victory for Israel: Deborah, Gideon, Samson. In Ruth we have Orpah kissing her mother-in-law and returning to her gods, whereas Ruth cleaves to her and obtained inheritance in Israel—who made them to differ? In 1 Samuel David is chosen for the throne, preferred to his older brethren. In 2 Samuel we learn of the everlasting covenant “ordered in all things, and sure” (23:5). In 1 Kings Elijah becomes a blessing to a single widow selected from many; while in 2 Kings Naaman alone, of all the lepers, was cleansed. In 1 Chronicles it is written “Ye children of Jacob, His chosen ones” (16:13); while in 2 Chronicles we are made to marvel at the grace of God bestowing repentance upon Manasseh. 

And so we might go on. The Psalms, Prophets, Gospels and Epistles are so full of this doctrine that he may run that readeth it. [Hab 2:2]”

The Doctrine of Justification Made Easy

Taken and adapted from, “Illustrations of Bible Truth” Moody Press, 1945

e8a6c913b008aba146a31fcbe0122375Some years ago…

…H.A. Ironside had a little school for young Indian [Native American] men and women, who came to his home in Oakland, California, from the various tribes in northern Arizona. One of these was a Navajo young man of unusually keen intelligence. One Sunday evening Ironside tells, that this student went with him to his young people’s meeting. They were talking about the epistle to the Galatians, and the special subject was law and grace. They were not very clear about it, and finally one turned to the Indian and said, “I wonder whether our Indian friend has anything to say about this.”

He rose to his feet and said, “Well, my friends, I have been listening very carefully, because I am here to learn all I can in order to take it back to my people. I do not understand all that you are talking about, and I do not think you do yourselves. But concerning this law and grace business, let me see if I can make it clear. I think it is like this. When Mr. Ironside brought me from my home we took the longest railroad journey I ever took. We got out at Barstow, and there I saw the most beautiful railroad station and hotel I have ever seen. I walked all around and saw at one end a sign, ‘Do not spit here.’ I looked at that sign and then looked down at the ground and saw many had spitted there, and before I think what I am doing I have spitted myself. Isn’t that strange when the sign say, ‘Do not spit here’?

“I come to Oakland and go to the home of the lady who invited me to dinner today and I am in the nicest home I have been in. Such beautiful furniture and carpets, I hate to step on them. I sank into a comfortable chair, and the lady said, ‘Now, John, you sit there while I go out and see whether the maid has dinner ready.’ I look around at the beautiful pictures, at the grand piano, and I walk all around those rooms. I am looking for a sign; and the sign I am looking for is, ‘Do not spit here,’ but I look around those two beautiful drawing rooms, and cannot find a sign like this. I think ‘What a pity when this is such a beautiful home to have people spitting all over it — too bad they don’t put up a sign!’ So I look all over that carpet, but cannot find that anybody have spitted there. What a queer thing! Where the sign says, ‘Do not spit,’ a lot of people spitted. Where there was no sign at all, in that beautiful home, nobody spitted. Now I understand! That sign is law, but inside the home it is grace. They love their beautiful home, and they want to keep it clean. They do not need a sign to tell them so. I think that explains the law and grace business.” 

As he sat down, a murmur of approval went round the room and the leader exclaimed, “I think that is the best illustration of law and grace I have ever heard.”

Let me confirm this thought by something I remember reading about when a student had confronted Martin Luther, upon the Reformer’s rediscovery of the biblical doctrine of justification. The student challenged Luther with the remark, “If this is true, a person could simply live as he pleased!” “Indeed!” answered Luther. “Now, what pleases you?”

Augustine was the great preacher of grace during the fourth and fifth centuries. Although his understanding of the doctrine of justification did not have the fine-tuned precision of the Reformers, Augustine’s response on this point was similar to Luther’s. He said that the doctrine of justification led to the maxim, “Love God and do as you please.” Because we have misunderstood one of the gospel’s most basic themes, Augustine’s statement looks to many like a license to indulge one’s sinful nature, but in reality it touches upon the motivation the Christian has for his actions.

The person who has been justified by God’s grace has a new, higher, and nobler motivation for holiness than the shallow, hypocritical self-righteousness or fear that seems to motivate so may religious people today.

The Scriptural Doctrine of Double Predestination

Taken and adapted from, “The Doctrine Of Absolute Predestination”
Written by, Jerome Zanchius, in Latin
Translated by Augustus Montague Toplady

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I.   We, with the Scriptures, assert that there is a predestination of some particular persons to life for the praise of the glory of Divine grace, and a predestination of other particular persons to death, which death of punishment they shall inevitably undergo, and that justly, on account of their sins –

There is a predestination of some particular persons to life, so “Many are called, but few chosen” (Matthew 20:15), i.e., the Gospel revelation comes, indiscriminately, to great multitudes, but few, comparatively speaking, are spiritually and eternally the better for it, and these few, to whom it is the savour of life unto life, are therefore savingly benefited by it, because they are the chosen or elect of God. To the same effect are the following passages, among many others “For the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened ” (Matthew 24:22). “As many as were ordained to eternal life, believed” (Acts 13:48). “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called” (Romans 8:30, 33), “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?” “According as He hath chosen us in Him, before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy … Having predestinated us to the adoption of children, by Jesus Christ, unto Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will” (Ephesians 1:4-5). “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given us, in Christ, before the world began” (2 Timothy 1:9).

This election of certain individuals unto eternal life was for the praise of the glory of Divine grace. This is expressly asserted, in so many words, by the apostle (Ephesians 1:5-6). Grace, or mere favor, was the impulsive cause of all: it was the main spring, which set all the inferior wheels in motion. It was an act of grace in God to choose any, when He might have passed by all. It was an act of sovereign grace to choose this man rather than that, when both were equally undone in themselves, and alike obnoxious to His displeasure. In a word, since election is not of works, and does not proceed on the least regard had to any worthiness in its objects, it must be of free, unbiased grace, but election is not of works (Romans 11:5-6), therefore it is solely of grace.

There is, on the other hand, a predestination of some particular persons to death. “If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost” (2 Corinthians 4:3). “Who stumble at the word being disobedient; whereunto also they were appointed” (1 Peter 2:8). “These as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed” (2 Peter 2:12). “There are certain men, crept in unawares, who were before, of old, ordained to this condemnation” (Jude 1:4). “Whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world (Revelation 17:8). But of this we shall treat professedly, and more at large, in the fifth chapter.

This future death they shall inevitably undergo, for, as God will certainly save all whom He wills should be saved, so He will as surely condemn all whom He wills shall be condemned; for He is the Judge of the whole earth, whose decree shall stand, and from whose sentence there is no appeal. “Hath He said, and shall He not make it good? Hath He spoken, and shall it not come to pass?” And His decree is this: that these (i.e., the non-elect, who are left under the guilt of final impenitence, unbelief and sin)” shall go away into everlasting punishment, and the righteous (i.e., those who, in consequence of their election in Christ and union to Him, are justly reputed and really constituted such) shall enter into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46).

The reprobate shall undergo this punishment justly and on account of their sins. Sin is the meritorious and immediate cause of any man’s damnation. God condemns and punishes the non-elect, not merely as men, but as sinners, and had it pleased the great Governor of the universe to have entirely prevented sin from having any entrance into the world, it would seem as if He could not, consistently with His known attributes, have condemned any man at all. But, as all sin is properly meritorious of eternal death, and all men are sinners, they who are condemned are condemned most justly, and those who are saved are saved in a way of sovereign mercy through the vicarious obedience and death of Christ for them.

Now this twofold predestination, of some to life and of others to death (if it may be called twofold, both being constituent parts of the same decree), cannot be denied without likewise denying most express and frequent declarations of Scripture, and the very existence of God, for, since God is a Being perfectly simple, free from all accident and composition, and yet a will to save some and punish others is very often predicated of Him in Scripture, and an immovable decree to do this, in consequence of His will, is likewise ascribed to Him, and a perfect foreknowledge of the sure and certain accomplishment of what He has thus willed and decreed is also attributed to Him, it follows that whoever denies this will, decree and foreknowledge of God, does implicitly and virtually deny God Himself, since His will, decree and foreknowledge are no other than God Himself willing and decreeing and foreknowing.

II.  We assert that God did from eternity decree to make man in His own image, and also decreed to suffer him to fall from that image in which he should be created, and thereby to forfeit the happiness with which he was invested, which decree and the consequences of it were not limited to Adam only, but included and extended to all his natural posterity.

That God did make man in His own image is evident from Scripture (Genesis 1:27).

That He decreed from eternity so to make man is as evident, since for God to do anything without having decreed it, or fixed a previous plan in His own mind, would be a manifest imputation on His wisdom, and if He decreed that now, or at any time, which He did not always decree, He could not be unchangeable.

That man actually did fall from the Divine image and his original happiness is the undoubted voice of Scripture (Genesis 3.), and that he fell in consequence of the Divine decree, we prove thus: God was either willing that Adam should fall, or unwilling, or indifferent about it. If God was unwilling that Adam should transgress, how came it to pass that he did? Is man stronger and is Satan wiser than He that made them? Surely no. Again, could not God, had it so pleased Him, have hindered the tempter’s access to paradise? Or, have created man, as He did the elect angels, with a will invariably determined to good only and incapable of being biased to evil? Or, at least, have made the grace and strength, with which He endued Adam, actually effectual to the resisting of all solicitations to sin? None but atheists would answer these questions in the negative. Surely, if God had not willed the fall, He could, and no doubt would, have prevented it; but He did not prevent it: ergo He willed it. And if He willed it, He certainly decreed it, for the decree of God is nothing else but the seal and ratification of His Will. He does nothing but what He decreed, and He decreed nothing which He did not will, and both will and decree are absolutely eternal, though the execution of both be in time. The only way to evade the force of this reasoning is to say that “God was indifferent and unconcerned whether man stood or fell.” But in what a shameful, unworthy light does this represent the Deity! Is it possible for us to imagine that God could be an idle, careless spectator of one of the most important events that ever came to pass? Are not “the very hairs of our head all numbered”? or does “a sparrow fall to the ground without our heavenly Father”? If, then, things the most trivial and worthless are subject to the appointment of His decree and the control of His providence, how much more is man, the masterpiece of this lower creation? and above all that man Adam, who when recent from his Maker’s hands was the living image of God Himself, and very little inferior to angels! and on whose perseverance was suspended the welfare not of himself only, but likewise that of the whole world. But, so far was God from being indifferent in this matter, that there is nothing whatever about which He is so, for He worketh all things, without exception,” after the counsel of His own will” (Ephesians 1:11), consequently, if He positively wills whatever is done, He cannot be indifferent with regard to anything. On the whole, if God was not unwilling that Adam should fall, He must have been willing that he should, since between God’s willing and nilling there is no medium. And is it not highly rational as well as Scriptural, nay, is it not absolutely necessary to suppose that the fall was not contrary to the will and determination of God? since, if it was, His will (which the apostle represents as being irresistible, Romans 9:19) was apparently frustrated and His determination rendered of worse than none effect. And how dishonourable to, how inconsistent with, and how notoriously subversive of the dignity of God such a blasphemous supposition would be, and how irreconcilable with every one of His allowed attributes is very easy to observe.

That man by his fall forfeited the happiness with which he was invested is evident as well from Scripture as from experience (Genesis 3:7-24; Romans 5:12; Galatians 3:10).He first sinned (and the essence of sin lies in disobedience to the command of God) and then immediately became miserable, misery being through the Divine appointment, the natural and inseparable concomitant of sin.

That the fall and its sad consequences did not terminate solely in Adam, but affected his whole posterity, is the doctrine of the sacred oracles (Psalm 51:5; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:22; Ephesians 2:3). Besides, not only spiritual and eternal, but likewise temporal death is the wages of sin (Romans 6:23; James 1:15), and yet we see that millions of infants, who never in their own persons either did or could commit sin, die continually. It follows that either God must be unjust in punishing the innocent, or that these infants are some way or the other guilty creatures; if they are not so in themselves (I mean actually so by their own commission of sin), they must be so in some other person, and who that person is let Scripture say (Romans 5:12, 18; 1 Corinthians 15:22). And, I ask, how can these be with equity sharers in Adam’s punishment unless they are chargeable with his sin? and how can they be fairly chargeable with his sin unless he was their federal head and representative, and acted in their name, and sustained their persons, when he fell?

III.   We assert that as all men universally are not elected to salvation, so neither are all men universally ordained to condemnation.

This follows from what has been proved already; however, I shall subjoin some further demonstration of these two positions.

All men universally are not elected to salvation, and, first, this may be evinced a posteriori; it is undeniable from Scripture that God will not in the last day save every individual of mankind! (Daniel 12:2; Matthew 25:46; John 5:29. Therefore, say we, God never designed to save every individual, since, if He had, every individual would and must be saved, for “His counsel shall stand, and He will do all His pleasure.” (See what we have already advanced on this head in the first chapter under the second article, Position 8). Secondly, this may be evinced also from God’s foreknowledge. The Deity from all eternity, and consequently at the very time He gives life and being to a reprobate, certainly foreknew, and knows, in consequence of His own decree, that such a one would fall short of salvation. Now, if God foreknew this, He must have predetermined it, because His own will is the foundation of His decrees, and His decrees are the foundation of His prescience; He therefore foreknowing futurities, because by His predestination He hath rendered their futurition certain and inevitable. Neither is it possible, in the very nature of the thing, that they should be elected to salvation, or ever obtain it, whom God foreknew should perish, for then the Divine act of preterition would be changeable, wavering and precarious, the Divine foreknowledge would be deceived, and the Divine will impeded. All which are utterly impossible. Lastly, that all men are not chosen to life, nor created to that end is evident in that there are some who were hated of God before they were born (Romans 9:11-13), are “fitted for destruction” (Romans 9:22), and “made for the day of evil” (Proverbs 16:1). But,

All men universally are not ordained to condemnation.

There are some who are chosen (Matthew 20:16). An election, or elect number, who obtain grace and salvation, while “the rest are blinded” (Romans 11:7), a little flock, to whom it is the Father’s good pleasure to give the kingdom (Luke 12:32). A people whom the Lord hath reserved (Jeremiah 1:20) and formed for Himself (Isaiah 43:21). A peculiarly favoured race, to whom “it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,” while to others “it is not given” (Matthew 13:11), a “remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5), whom “God hath not appointed to wrath, but to obtain salvation by Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). In a word, who are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that they should show forth the praises of Him who hath called them out of darkness into His marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9), and whose names for that very end “are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3) and written in heaven (Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23). Luther observes that in Romans 9; Romans 10; Romans 11; the apostle particularly insists on the doctrine of predestination, “Because,” says he, “all things whatever arise from and depend upon the Divine appointment, whereby it was preordained who should receive the word of life and who should disbelieve it, who should he delivered from their sins and who should be hardened in them, who should be justified and who condemned.”

IV.  We assert that the number of the elect, and also of the reprobate, is so fixed and determinate that neither can be augmented or diminished.

It is written of God that “He telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 147:4). Now, it is as incompatible with the infinite wisdom and knowledge of the all – comprehending God to be ignorant of the names and number of the rational creatures He has made as that He should be ignorant of the stars and the other inanimate products of His almighty power, and if He knows all men in general, taken in the lump, He may well be said, in a more near and special sense, to know them that are His by election (2 Timothy 2:19). And if He knows who are His, He must, consequently, know who are not His, i.e., whom and how many He hath left in the corrupt mass to be justly punished for their sins. Grant this (and who can help granting a truth so self-evident?), and it follows that the number, as well of the elect as of the reprobate, is fixed and certain, otherwise God would be said to know that which is not true, and His knowledge must be false and delusive, and so no knowledge at all, since that which is, in itself, at best, but precarious, can never be the foundation of sure and infallible knowledge. But that God does indeed precisely know, to a man, who are, and are not the objects of His electing favour is evident from such Scriptures as these “Thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee by name” (Exodus 33:17). “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee” (Jeremiah 1:5). “Your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7). “I know whom I have chosen” (John 13:18). “I know My sheep, and am known of Mine” (John 10:14). “The Lord knoweth them that are His” (2 Timothy 2:19). And if the number of these is thus assuredly settled and exactly known, it follows that we are right in asserting –

V.   That the decrees of election and reprobation are immutable and irreversible. We’re not this the case — God’s decree would be precarious, frustratable and uncertain, and, by consequence, no decree at all.

His foreknowledge would be wavering, indeterminate, and liable to disappointment, whereas it always has its accomplishment, and necessarily infers the certain futurity of the thing or things foreknown: “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and, from ancient times, the things that are not yet done; saying, My counsel shall stand and I will do all My pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

Neither would His Word be true, which declares that, with regard to the elect, “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29); that “whom He predestinated, them He also glorified” (Romans 8:30); that whom He loveth, He loveth to the end (John 13:1), with numberless passages to the same purpose. Nor would His word be true with regard to the non-elect if it was possible for them to be saved, for it is there declared that they are fitted for destruction, etc. (Romans 9:22); foreordained unto condemnation (Jude 4), and delivered over to a reprobate mind in order to their damnation (Romans 1:28; 2 Thessalonians 2:12).

If, between the elect and reprobate, there was not a great gulf fixed, so that neither can be otherwise than they are, then the will of God (which is the alone cause why some are chosen and others are not) would be rendered inefficacious and of no effect. Nor could the justice of God stand if He was to condemn the elect, for whose sins He hath received ample satisfaction at the hand of Christ, or if He was to save the reprobate, who are not interested in Christ as the elect are. The power of God (whereby the elect are preserved from falling into a state of condemnation, and the wicked held down and shut up in a state of death) would be eluded, not to say utterly abolished.

Nor would God be unchangeable if they, who were once the people of His love, could commence the objects of His hatred, or if the vessels of His wrath could he saved with the vessels of grace. Hence that of St. Augustine. “Brethren,” says he, “let us not imagine that God puts down any man in His book and then erases him, for if Pilate could say, ‘What I have written, I have written,’ how can it be thought that the great God would write a person’s name in the book of life and then blot it out again?” And may we not, with equal reason, ask, on the other hand, “How can it be thought that any of the reprobate should be written in that book of life, which contains the names of the elect only, or that any should be inscribed there who were not written among the living from eternity?” I shall conclude this chapter with that observation of Luther.  “This,” says he, “is the very thing that raises the doctrine of free-will from its foundations, to wit, that God’s eternal love of some men and hatred of others is immutable and cannot be reversed.” Both one and the other will have its full accomplishment.

Let us then cease not to speak of “the glorious honor of his majesty,” the unsearchable riches of his love, and the wondrous working of the Spirit in the heart.

The Reality of Revival; an Example, Working Definition, and Features of a Revival

Taken and adapted from, “From Pentecost to the Present, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever”
Written by, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter

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But there have been certain seasons called revivals—when God has “poured His Spirit out on His people.” These times—also called awakenings— occurred when the presence of God is experienced in powerful manifestations of the Holy Spirit. 
                                                                                  –J. Edwin Orr

The Reality of Revival

The evening prayer meeting had been over for about an hour. Students of Liberty University and members of the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg, Virginia, were milling around the front of the sanctuary. It was late—10:30 on a Wednesday night—so most of the ushers and pastors had gone home.

Suddenly a lone student rose and walked to the pulpit, weeping, to confess sins. The microphone and pulpit lights were off, but God was there. That student’s passionate repentance captured the attention of those who were still in the auditorium.

Someone began singing. Someone else ran to play the piano—softly, so as not to interrupt the sacred sound of tears. People dropped to their knees beside the altar and front pews.

Shortly, another broken person approached the pulpit to confess sins. Soon there were others. After two hours, frantic phone calls went out to the pastor and deacons: “Revival’s hit the church!”

Church members, awakened in the middle of the night, dressed hurriedly and drove through the dark streets of Lynchburg. All came back to the church building expecting to experience God. No neckties … no Sunday morning dresses … just believers eager for a divine touch. Soon the glory of the Lord flooded the church auditorium.

People stayed at the church from Wednesday night until Saturday morning. All normal activities in their lives shut down. Classes were canceled. Most of those involved didn’t leave for work; some didn’t eat. When drowsiness couldn’t be fought off, students slept in the pews in the back of the auditorium, or even under the pews.

No one wanted to leave the sanctuary, because when they left the building, they were leaving an almost tangible presence of God. They didn’t want to miss anything that God was doing.

Like the tide that ebbs and flows, the intensity of the experience came in waves. There were louder times when people were publicly confessing their sins, then quieter times of soft weeping and private prayer around the altar.

How did the revival end?

Early Saturday morning one student rose to confess his sins, but he seemed to be bragging about what he had done when he had sinned; there was no shame, no brokenness. The Holy Spirit—who knows the heart—departed the meeting.

Within one hour, everyone knew the revival was over. They left, went home, and went back to their daily activities.

What Is a Revival?

The eternal human quest is to know and experience God.

Some want God to split open the heavens and descend to earth so they can see him. Others want God to write his message in the sky or on a mountain so they can see it and know for sure what to do. Still others want to hear the voice of God shouting like thunder. And still others want God to “zap ‘em” so they’ll quiver on the floor or jump like a kangaroo. Though most won’t admit it, in one way or another they want God to quit playing hide and seek, to come show himself, to visit his people.

True believers want God to intervene in their humdrum experiences. But for most, God can’t be felt or touched. Many feel that God isn’t with them.

A Working Definition

One way God responds to this basic human longing is to manifest himself in a revival. But what exactly do we mean by that term? A variety of definitions have been offered by pastors, theologians, and historians, but we would describe it this way: An evangelical revival is an extraordinary work of God in which Christians repent of their sins as they become intensely aware of his presence in their midst, and they manifest a positive response to God in renewed obedience to the known will of God, resulting in both a deepening of their individual and corporate experience with God, and an increased concern to win others to Christ.

This view of revival recognizes several distinctives, common to historic revivals, that we should keep in mind as we study them:

  • An extraordinary work of God should be distinguished from the more ordinary work of God in the life of the believer.
  • The realization of the unique presence of God during times of revival is consistently reported in the testimonies of the revived.
  • Revivals naturally lead to a significant evangelistic outreach and harvest of souls in the community touched by the revived church.

While there may be isolated exceptions, these are the manifestations connected with the normal experience of a Holy Spirit outpouring as we read about examples of it in Scripture.

Nine “Faces” of Revival

All people have the same basic facial features, yet these features are arranged differently. In a similar way, revivals display the same essential features as they reflect God’s presence, yet they have different “faces”; that is, revival is expressed in different ways. The nine “faces” of revival have been described in an earlier book, Rivers of Revival (written by Elmer Towns with Neil Anderson, Regal Books, 1998; see pp. 116-17). That list of revival types, each with its characteristic focus, is worth repeating here:

  • The repentance revival emphasizes a moral cleansing of individual lives and of society as a whole.
  • The evangelism revival focuses on winning souls to Christ.
  • The worship revival centers on magnifying God.
  • The deeper life revival emphasizes the experience of God’s indwelling.
  • The spiritual warfare revival devotes its energies to battling Satan and the other demons.
  • The Holy Spirit revival is characterized by extensive manifestations of the Spirit.
  • The reconciliation revival leads to the removal of barriers to racial and ethnic harmony.
  • The liberation revival focuses on gaining freedom from corporate and personal bondage to sin.
  • The prayer revival displays considerable efforts at intercession and other forms of prayer.

Though any given revival may manifest several of these characteristics, most revivals tend to display one trait more prominently than the others. Just as the face of a child often reflects a blending of the faces of both parents (and grandparents), so the “face” of a particular revival often reflects a blending of two or more of the revival types listed above.

God’s Motive in Salvation

Taken and adapted from, “The Gospel in Ezekiel” Chapter 6
Written by, Thomas Guthrie, D.D., Published in 1855

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I do . . . for mine holy name’s sake.
–Ezekiel 36:22

There is a land lying beneath a burning sky, where the fields are seldom screened by a cloud, and almost never refreshed by a shower; and yet Egypt— for it is of it I speak— is as remarkable for the fertile character of its soil as for the hoar antiquity of its history. At least, it was so in days of old, when hungry nations were fed by its harvests, and its fields were the granaries of ancient Rome. Powers so prolific Egypt owed to the Nile— that river whose associations carry us upward to the beginning of all human history— upon whose banks, in the sepulchers of forgotten kings, stand the proudest monuments of human vanity— a river, the very name of which recalls some of the grandest scenes that have been acted on the stage of time.

The Nile is Egypt; in the course of long ages it has deposited her soil, and by an annual overflow it maintains her fertility. The limits of that flood are the limits of life and verdure; and without her Nile—that great artery of vegetable life—she would be another Sahara— a vast expanse of burning and barren sands. Humbled as she now is, let this gift of heaven be improved, as of old, by the skill and industry of her inhabitants, and, vivified by a free and Christian government, Egypt would rise from the sepulchers of her kings, and take a place once more in the van of nations.

The Truth shall prove her resurrection. The Gospel shall restore her to life and prosperity; and the day is coming when that land—rich now only in memories of the past, famous now only for her temples and gods, her pyramids and dusty tombs, for her throne of the Pharaohs, for her sacred stream, for the wonders God wrought of old in the field of Zoan, and, most dear above all to Christian hearts, for the asylum she opened to an infant Savior— shall fulfill a noble destiny. Her day approaches. These prophecies regarding her wait their accomplishment—

“The Lord shall be known in Egypt;” and, “Blessed be Egypt, my people.”

From the earliest ages the source of this famous river was regarded with intense interest. Whence it sprung, and how its annual flood was swelled, were the subjects of eager but ungratified curiosity.

One traveler after another had attempted to reach its cradle, and had failed or fallen in the attempt; and when—forcing his way upwards through many difficulties, and traveling along its banks, from where, by many mouths, it disgorged its waters into the sea, till its ample volume had shrunk into the narrowness of a mountain stream— our hardy countryman at length stood beside the long sought for fountain, he won for himself, by the achievement, an immortal reputation. I can fancy the pride with which, first of travelers, he looked on that mysterious fountain. How sweet its waters tasted! How he enjoyed his triumph, as he sat down by the cradle of a river, which had fed the millions of successive generations, and in days long gone by had saved in famine the race which gave a Redeemer to the world.

Now, what this river, which turns barren sands into the richest soil, is to Egypt, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to the world. It flows through the earth, the “river of the waters of life.” Whether they now bloom in heaven, or are still in the nurseries of earth, every plant of grace owes to the Gospel its existence and renown.

Observe, however, that— although the parent of those harvests which angels shall reap and the heavens receive—no more in the case of the Gospel than of the Nile does the bounty of heaven suspend or supersede human exertions. No; but on earth’s improvement of heaven’s bounty the blessing of both are commonly suspended.

“The hand of the diligent makes rich:” and as it is according to the industry or indolence of the inhabitants, that the Nile flows through barren sands, or waters smiling fields, so is it with the Gospel. It is a blessing only where it is sedulously and prayerfully improved, and when, like the overflowing of the Nile, which are conducted along their channels to irrigate its shores, those living waters, through the use of means, are turned on our hearts and habits. “Not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”

Now, if it is interesting to trace a Nile or Amazon to its source, how much more interesting to a Christian to explore the stream of eternal life, and trace it upward till we have reached the fountain. Bruce discovered—or thought he had discovered—the springs of Egypt’s river: he found them away among cloud-capped mountains, at an elevation of many thousand feet above the plains they watered.

Great men have been born in humble circumstances; but all great rivers boast of their lofty descent. It is when the traveler has left smiling valleys far beneath him, and toiling along rugged glens, and, pressing through deep mountain gorges, he at length reaches the chill shores of an icy sea, that he stands at the source of the Alpine river, which, cold as the snows that feed it, and a full grown stream at its birth, rushes out from the caverns of the hollowed glacier.

But with that lofty birthplace it is only a humble image of salvation. How high its source! “He showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, preceding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.” The stream of mercy flows from the throne of the Eternal; and here we seem to stand by its mysterious fountain: in contemplating the words of the text, we look upon its spring—”I do this . . . for mine holy name’s sake.”

In now entering on the question, “What moved God to save man?” Let us…

  I.   Attend to the expression, “my name’s sake.”

This is a most comprehensive term. It indicates much more than what, in common language, is involved in a name. No doubt a name may sometimes convey much meaning. -“Adam,” for instance, means “clay;” made of earth, he receives a name that reminds him of his origin. -“Isaac,” again, means “laughter;” and in her son’s name God rebuked Sarah for the merriment with which, when listening with a woman’s curiosity behind the door, she heard of her coming child, and of fruit growing on such an old and withered stock as she was. -“Moses,” again, means “drawn from the water;” and his name reminded him, who was to deliver others, how he himself had been delivered from death. And in the name “Jesus,” our Lord received a name that revealed his office and anticipated his work— the angel said, “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”

Commonly, however, a man’s name gives no idea of his properties, character, history, works, or life, and is nothing more than an appellation which he receives in infancy, and receives—since the flower is still in the bud—before his fortune can be told, or his character even guessed at. “What’s in a name?” Its chief end is just to prevent confusion, and distinguish one person from another.

The name of God, however, as employed by the sacred writers, has many and most important meanings. In the 20th Psalm, for instance, it embraces all the attributes of the Godhead. “The name of the God of Jacob defend thee;” that is—if paraphrased—may his arms be around thee; may his wisdom guide thee; may his power support thee; the bounty of God supply thy wants; the mercy of God forgive thy sins; the shield of heaven be over, and all its blessings on thee.

In the days of miracles, again, the name of Jesus carried with it the idea of his authority, and of the efficacy of his power. Uttered by the lips of faith, that name was a word of resistless might. It healed disease, shed light on darkness, and breathed life into cold death; it mastered devils, controlled the powers of hell, and commanded into immediate obedience the rudest elements of nature. Like Pharaoh’s signet on Joseph’s hand, he who used that name in faith, was for the time gifted with his Master’s power; whatever he loosed on earth was loosed in heaven; and whatever he bound on earth, was bound in heaven.

Standing over a cripple— one impotent from his mother’s womb—Peter looked on his deformity, and said, “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” And, lo! He who had never stood erect till now, bounded from the earth, and, in the joyful play of new-born faculties, walking, leaping, dancing and singing.

He ushered the Apostles into the astonished temple. Powerful, like prayer, or any other means of grace, as was this name when used by faith, yet on the lips of the unbelieving no name more useless; like a residuum from which the spirit had been evaporated, or a body bereft of life, it possessed no virtue or power at all.

There was no charm in the mere name of Jesus, either to pour light on a blind man’s eyeball, or restore vigor to a withered limb. See how Sceva’s seven sons learn that to their cost! Profaning this holy name, and employing it in their arts of witchcraft, they use it to cast out a devil; and— themselves Satan’s servants—they find that “Beelzebub casts not out devils.” “Jesus I know, and Paul I know,” says the Evil One, “but who are ye?” Hell disowns their authority; the Demon defies them; he leaps on them with the fury of a savage beast; and—theirs the fate of the engineer who is hoisted on his own petard—they are driven off, disgraced and wounded, from the field.

Again, in Micah 4:5, where it is said, “We will walk in the name of the Lord,” the expression assumes a new meaning, and indicates the laws, statutes, and commandments of God. Again, in the beautiful and blessed promise, “In all places where I record my name, there will I come unto thee and bless thee,” the expression bears yet another meaning: it stands for God’s ordinances and worship—rearing, as it were, by the hands of faith, a holy temple out of the rudest edifice, and converting into heaven-consecrated churches those rocky fastnesses and lonely moors where our fathers worshiped in the dark days of old.

Contenting ourselves with these illustrations of the various meanings of this expression in Scripture, I now remark, that here the “name” of God comprehends everything, which directly or remotely affects the divine honor and glory; whatever touches, to use the words of our catechism, “His titles, attributes, ordinances, word, or works; or anything whereby God makes himself known.”

II.   We are to understand that the motive which moved God to save man was regard to his own glory.

“Where is boasting then?” we may ask with the Apostle, and leave him to answer, “it is excluded,” If salvation is not of merit, but of mercy—not of earth, but heaven—”not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”—”Not by might nor by power, but my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts,” it is beyond all doubt “excluded.”

– Grace glorifies man, no doubt; but for what purpose? That he may glorify God. – Grace saves man, but saves him that he may sing, not his own praises, but a Savior’s. – Grace exalts man, but exalts him, that, like an exhalation, sun-drawn from the ground, and raised to heaven, each of us may form a sparkling drop in the bow, which encircles the head that God crowns with glory, and man once crowned with thorns. Even our Lord himself, although in a sense the “fellow” of his Father, and reckoning it no robbery to make himself equal with God, kept his eye steadily on that lofty mark. His Father’s, not his own glory, was the burden of Jesus’ prayers and the end of Jesus’ sufferings: born for it in a stable, he bled for it on a cross, and was buried for it in a sepulcher.

When, on the solemn eve of his last and awful sufferings, our champion buckled on his armor for the closing struggle, ere he joined battle with men, with death, and with him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, was not this his prayer— “Father, glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee?” Dutiful Son! Pattern to all children of filial piety! Thou didst forget thine own sufferings in a mother’s; and was more concerned for thy Father’s honor than thine own.

This doctrine, that God saves men for his own glory, is a grand and very precious truth; yet there is a way of stating it which seems as offensive as it is unscriptural. Concave mirrors magnify the features nearest to them into undue and monstrous size; and in common mirrors, ill cast and of uneven surface, the most beautiful face is distorted into deformity. And, as if their minds were of such a cast and character, there are some good men who, not exhibiting Bible truth in its proper harmony and proportions, represent Jesus Christ in this matter of salvation as affected by no motive whatever but a regard to his Father’s glory, and even God himself as moved only by respect to his own. Excluding from their view the commiseration and love of God, or reducing these into very shrunk dimensions, they magnify one doctrine at the expense of another, and, indeed, go to sever some of the most sacred and tender ties which bind a believer to his God.

Now, it appears to us that this ill-proportioned theology— the doctrine that the only motive in redemption was a regard to God’s glory—receives no countenance from the Bible. Does not God “pity us, as a father pitieth his children?” Taught to address Him by the endearing appellation of Father, Oh what affection, love, and lovingkindness, are expressed in that tender term! And if, on seeing some earthly father, whom a child’s scream has reached and roused, rush up the blazing stairs, or leap into the boiling flood, it were wrong, it were cruel, it were a shame, to suspect him of being destitute of affection—of being moved to this noble act by no other motive than a regard to his own honor—and by no other voice than the calm command of duty—how much more wrong were it to harbor such suspicions of “our Father who is in heaven.”

I know that we should approach so high a theme with the greatest reverence, and that it becomes us to speak on such a subject, and, indeed, on anything that touches the secret movements of the Divine mind, with most profound humility. Yet, reasoning from the form of the shadow to the object which projects it—from man to God—I would venture to say, that it is with Him as with us, when we are moved to a single action by the united influence of various motives.

The minister, worthy of his office, appears before his assembled people to preach; and, in doing so, he is moved by a variety of motives. Love to God, love to Jesus, love to sinners, love to saints, a regard to God’s glory, and regard to man’s good; these, like the air, water, light, heat, electricity, gravitation, which act together in the process of vegetation, may all combine to form one sermon. They are present, and act not as conflicting but concurring motives in the preacher’s breast. This difference, however, there always is between us and God, that although our motives—like the Rhone, which is formed of two rivers, the one pure as the sky above it, the other turbid and discolored—are ever mixtures of good and evil, all the emotions of the Divine mind, all the influences that move God to action, are of the purest nature.

God cherishes, indeed, such respect to his own glory, that, had the salvation of the world been incompatible with that— this world had been left to perish. Dreadful thought! How should we adore and extol the wisdom which discovered a way to harmonize the glory of God, and the good of men. He was moved by regard to both. It is an imperfect vision that sees but one motive. This lofty subject resembles those binary stars which look to the naked eye as but one, but which, brought into the field of the telescope, resolve themselves into two orbs, rolling in their brightness and beauty around a common center. Blessed be his holy name!

-“He so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on. Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” -“He commends his love to us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Never, therefore, let us exalt this doctrine of the divine glory, at the expense of the divine love. God’s love to sinners is his mightiest, his heart-softening argument; and it were doing Him, his gospel, and our own souls great injustice, if we should overlook the love that gives Divinity its name, and which, sending in his Son a Savior from the Father’s bosom, was eulogized by an Apostle as possessed of a “height, and depth, and breadth, and length, which passes knowledge.”

III.   Observe, that in saving man for his “holy name’s sake,” or for his own honor and glory, God exhibits the mercy, holiness, love, and other attributes of the Godhead.

The truth is, that God saves man for much the same reasons as at first he made him. Why did God make man? What moved God to make him? The ball rolls forward over the ground, and the ship moves onward through the sea, by virtue of an external force—the hand projects the one, and the wind, caught in her sails, impels the other. But no foreign agent imparted an impulse to creating power; nor did any one command or compel God to make man. It is his prerogative to command—the creature’s duty to obey.

Why, then, did He make man? Did He need to make him?

Was it with Him as with some lordly master, who depends for his comfort on his servants?—as with a king, whose glory lies in the numbers of his courtiers, or the brilliancy of his court?—as with the greatest general, who owes his victories to the bravery of his soldiers, and who, whatever his military skill, would win no battles and wear no laurels without an army at his back? Assuredly not. “Our goodness extends not to Thee;” our wealth, makes God no richer, our praise makes Him no happier. “Hear, my people, and I will speak, I will take no bullock out of thy house, or he goat out of thy fold; for every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee, for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof.”

What moved God, then, to make man? or, to enlarge the question so as to embrace creation, when there was neither world rolling, nor sun shining, nor angel singing—when there was neither life nor death, nor birth nor burial, nor sight nor sound, no wave of ocean breaking, no wing of angel moving—when, as in a past eternity, God dwelt alone in silent, solemn, awful, but happy solitude, what moved Him to make creatures at all? Or with these worlds, suns and systems, to garnish the heavens, and people an empty universe? —These are the deep things of God, and it becomes finite and fallible minds such as ours to approach them modestly. If the fabric of nature, if the machine of Providence, with its wheels rolling within wheels in many and complicated parts—if these, and the scheme of redemption, are full of inscrutable mysteries—how much more the vast mind that designed and executed them?

The meanest of his works are full of Himself, and of mysteries which, when apprehended, are not comprehended. If I adore divinity in the humble daisy; and if in the creature, that lives for a day and dances in a sunbeam, I see the wisdom that made the sun—how can I lay aside the telescope by which I have held communion with the distant heavens, or the microscope that reveals a world of wonders in cue drop of water, without concluding that, if the works of God are so wonderful, how much more wonderful his own infinite and eternal mind?

“Those are thy glorious works, Parent of good. Almighty! Thine this universal frame, Thus wondrous fair; thyself how wondrous then Unspeakable! Who sits above these heavens, to us invisible, or dimly seen in these thy lowest works; yet these declare Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.”

By turning the eye inward, however, on our own mind, we can form some conception of the divine mind, even as a captive child, born and retained in a dark dungeon, may learn some notion of the sun from the beam that, streaming through a chink of the riven wall, travels the gray lonely floor; or even as, although I had never walked its pebbly shore, nor heard the voice of its thundering breakers, nor played with its swelling waves, I could still form some feeble conception of the ocean from a lake, from a pool, from a little drop of water, even from this sparkling dew-drop, which, born from the womb of night, and cradled in the bosom of a flower, lies waiting, like a soul under the sun of righteousness, to be exhaled to heaven.

Look at man, then: be he a poet or a man of mechanical genius or artistic skill, a statesman or a philanthropist, or, better than all, a man who glows with piety: we see that his happiness does not lie in indolence, but in the gratification of his tastes and feelings, and the active exercise of his faculties.

Assume the same to be true of God— a conception which, while it exalts, endears our Heavenly Father. It presents Him in this most winning and attractive aspect, that the very happiness of Godhead lies in the forth-putting— along with other attributes— of his goodness, love, and mercy. 

I would not venture to speak dogmatically here; yet this does appear to shed a ray— a beam, if not a flood of light, on some mysterious passages in the providence of God. Shores on which man has never landed lie paved with shells; fields which his foot has never trod are carpeted with flowers; seas where he has never dived are inlaid with pearls; and caverns into which he has never mined are radiant with gems of the finest form and the fairest colors. Well, it may be, and has been asked, for what purpose this lavish expenditure of skill and beauty on scenes, when there is neither an eye of intelligence to admire, nor piety to adore the Maker?

The poet, lamenting genius unknown, unpatronized, sinking into an ignoble grave, has sung of “flowers that waste their sweetness on the desert air;” and up on the unfrequented shelf of a mountain rock, or rooted in the crevice of an old castle wall, I have found such a flower, opening its modest beauty to the sun, and putting to shame the proudest efforts of human skill.

Did you never sit down beside such a flower, and courting its gentle company, ask the question, Fair creature! For what end were you made, and made so very beautiful? It certainly does look a waste of power and skill divine. Yet may it not be, that angels, as they fly by on their missions of mercy, have stayed their wing over that lowly flower, and hovered there awhile, to admire its colors and adore its Maker? But whether or not God himself is there. Invisible, He walks these unfrequented solitudes, and with ineffable complacency looks on this little flower as his own mighty work, and as a mirror of his infinite perfections, “God,” it is said, “shall rejoice in his work,” “The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.”

The minnow plays in a shallow pool, and leviathan cleaves the depths of ocean—winged insects sport in a sunbeam, and winged angels sing before the throne; and whether we fix our eye on the one or the other, the whole fabric of creation appears to prove that the Lord delights in the evolution of his powers, in the display of his wisdom, love, and goodness; and, just as it is to the delight which God enjoys in the exercise of them that we owe this beautiful creation, so it is to his delight in the exercise of his pity, love, and mercy, that we owe salvation, with all its blessings.

Let us be humble and thankful. Man had as little to do with saving as with making himself: the creation of Eden and the cross of Calvary are equally the work of God; and the Lord stands forth before the universe as not by one tittle less the Savior than the Creator of the world. To display his glory in radiant effulgence—to blaze it out on the eyes of delighted and adoring angels—to evoke the hidden attribute of mercy—to give expression to his love and pity—God resolved to save, and, in saving man, to turn this world into a theater for the most affecting tragedy and amazing love.

Salvation is finished. It is offered. Shall it be rejected? Take the good of it, and give Him the glory. “He is the God of salvation;” “in his name we will set up our banners.” – In that ladder whereby faith climbs her way aloft to heaven, there is not a round that we can call our own. – In this ark which, with open door, offers an asylum in the coming storm, a refuge in the rising flood—from stem to stern and keel to deck there is neither nail, nor plank, nor beam, that we can claim as ours. The plan of redemption was the design of infinite wisdom; its execution was left to dying love; and it is Mercy, generous Mercy, whose fair form stands in the open door, bidding, entreating, and beseeching you all to come in.

Listen to the voice of Jesus, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” And let his mother teach you how to speak, and learn from angels how to sing. With her—the casket of a divine jewel, who held the babe yet unborn in her virgin womb—with Mary say, “My soul doth magnify the Lord; my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior; for he that is mighty hath done great things to me, and holy is his name.”

Or, hark to the angels’ song! Glowing with seraphic fire, borrow seraphic words; and sing with them, ere they wheel their bright ranks for upward flight, “Glory to God in the highest; on earth, peace and good will to men.”

CHRIST AND THE CHRISTIAN: Both as a bruised reed.

Taken and adapted from, “The Bruised Reed”
Written by Richard Sibbes

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The Reed and the Bruising

The prophet Isaiah, being lifted up and carried with the wing of a prophetical spirit, passes over all the time between him and the appearing of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Seeing with the eye of prophecy, and with the eye of faith, Christ as present, he presents him, in the name of God, to the spiritual eye of others, in these words: `Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth’ (Isaiah 42:1 3). These words are alleged by Matthew as fulfilled now in Christ (Matthew 12:18 20). In them are propounded, first, the calling of Christ to his office; secondly, the manner in which he carries it out.

CHRIST’S CALLING

God calls him here his servant. Christ was God’s servant in the greatest piece of service that ever was, a chosen and a choice servant who did and suffered all by commission from the Father. In this we may see the sweet love of God to us, in that he counts the work of our salvation by Christ his greatest service, and in that he will put his only beloved Son to that service. He might well prefix it with ‘Behold’ to raise up our thoughts to the highest pitch of attention and admiration. In time of temptation, apprehensive consciences look so much to the present trouble they are in that they need to be roused up to behold him in whom they may find rest for their distressed souls. In temptations it is safest to behold nothing but Christ the true brazen serpent, the true `Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world’, (John 1:29). This saving object has a special influence of comfort to the soul, especially if we look not only on Christ, but upon the Father’s authority and love in him. For in all that Christ did and suffered as Mediator, we must see God in him reconciling the world unto himself (2 Corinthian 5:19).

What a support to our faith is this, that God the Father, the party offended by our sins, is so well pleased with the work of redemption! And what a comfort is this, that, seeing God’s love rests on Christ, as well pleased in him, we may gather that he is as well pleased with us, if we be in Christ! For his love rests in a whole Christ, in Christ mystical, as well as Christ natural, because he loves him and us with one love. Let us, therefore, embrace Christ, and in him God’s love, and build our faith safely on such a Savior that is furnished with so high a commission.

See here, for our comfort, a sweet agreement of all three persons: the Father gives a commission to Christ; the Spirit furnishes and sanctifies to it, and Christ himself executes the office of a Mediator. Our redemption is founded upon the joint agreement of all three persons of the Trinity.

HOW CHRIST PURSUES HIS CALLING

This is here said to be done modestly, without making a noise, or raising dust by any pompous coming, as princes are accustomed to do. `His voice shall not be heard.’ His voice indeed was heard, but what voice? `Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden’ (Matthew 11:28). He cried, but how? `Ho, every one that thirsts, come ye to the waters’ (Isaiah 55:1). And as his coming was modest, so it was mild, which is set down in these words: `A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench.’

We see, therefore, that the condition of those with whom he was to deal was that they were bruised reeds and smoking flax; not trees, but reeds; and not whole, but bruised reeds. The church is compared to weak things: to a dove among the fowls; to a vine among the plants; to sheep among the beasts; to a woman, which is the weaker vessel.

God’s children are bruised reeds before their conversion and oftentimes after.

Before conversion all (except such as, being brought up in the church, God has delighted to show himself gracious to from their childhood) are bruised reeds, yet in different degrees, as God sees fit. And as there are differences with regard to temperament, gifts and manner of life, so there are in God’s intention to use men in the time to come; for usually he empties such of themselves, and makes them nothing, before he will use them in any great services.

WHAT IT IS TO BE BRUISED

The bruised reed is a man that for the most part is in some misery, as those were that came to Christ for help, and by misery he is brought to see sin as the cause of it, for, whatever pretenses sin makes, they come to an end when we are bruised and broken. He is sensible of sin and misery, even unto bruising; and, seeing no help in himself, is carried with restless desire to have supply from another, with some hope, which a little raises him out of himself to Christ, though he dare not claim any present interest of mercy. This spark of hope being opposed by doubtings and fears rising from corruption makes him as smoking flax; so that both these together, a bruised reed and smoking flax, make up the state of a poor distressed man. This is such a one as our Savior Christ terms `poor in spirit’ (Matthew 5:3), who sees his wants, and also sees himself indebted to divine justice. He has no means of supply from himself or the creature, and thereupon mourns, and, upon some hope of mercy from the promise and examples of those that have obtained mercy, is stirred up to hunger and thirst after it.

THE GOOD EFFECTS OF BRUISING

This bruising is required before conversion that so the Spirit may make way for himself into the heart by leveling all proud, high thoughts, and that we may understand ourselves to be what indeed we are by nature. We love to wander from ourselves and to be strangers at home, till God bruises us by one cross or other, and then we `begin to think’, and come home to ourselves with the prodigal (Luke 15:17). It is a very hard thing to bring a dull and an evasive heart to cry with feeling for mercy. Our hearts, like criminals, until they be beaten from all evasions, never cry for the mercy of the judge.

Again, this bruising makes us set a high price upon Christ. Then the gospel becomes the gospel indeed; then the fig leaves of morality will do us no good. And it makes us more thankful, and, from thankfulness, more fruitful in our lives; for what makes many so cold and barren, but that bruising for sin never endeared God’s grace to them?

Likewise this dealing of God establishes us the more in his ways, having had knocks and bruisings in our own ways. This is often the cause of relapses and apostasy, because men never smarted for sin at the first; they were not long enough under the lash of the law. Hence this inferior work of the Spirit in bringing down high thoughts (2 Corinthians 10:5) is necessary before conversion. And, for the most part, the Holy Spirit, to further the work of conviction, joins with it some affliction, which, when sanctified, has a healing and purging power.

After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks.

Even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy. Such bruising may help weaker Christians not to be too much discouraged, when they see stronger ones shaken and bruised. Thus Peter was bruised when he wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75). This reed, till he met with this bruise, had more wind in him than pith when he said, `Though all forsake thee, I will not’ (Matthew 26:33). The people of God cannot be without these examples. The heroic deeds of those great worthies do not comfort the church so much as their falls and bruises do. Thus David was bruised until he came to a free confession, without guile of spirit (Psalms 32:3 5); nay, his sorrows did rise in his own feeling unto the exquisite pain of breaking of bones (Psalms 51:8). Thus Hezekiah complains that God had `broken his bones’ as a lion (Isaiah 38:13). Thus the chosen vessel Paul needed the messenger of Satan to buffet him lest he should be lifted up above measure (2 Corinthians 12:7).

Hence we learn that we must not pass too harsh judgment upon ourselves or others when God exercises us with bruising upon bruising. There must be a conformity to our head, Christ, who `was bruised for us’ (Isaiah 53:5) that we may know how much we are bound unto him.

Ungodly spirits, ignorant of God’s ways in bringing his children to heaven, censure broken-hearted Christians as miserable persons, whereas God is doing a gracious, good work with them. It is no easy matter to bring a man from nature to grace, and from grace to glory, so unyielding and intractable are our hearts.

Christ Will Not Break the Bruised Reed

In pursuing his calling, Christ will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax, in which more is meant than spoken, for he will not only not break nor quench, but he will cherish those with whom he so deals.

THE RELATION OF CHRIST TO THE COVENANT OF GRACE

Taken and adapted from, “Systematic Theology”
Written by, Louis Berkhof

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Christ is represented in Scripture as the Mediator of the covenant.

The Greek word mesites is not found in classical Greek, but does occur in Philo and in later Greek authors. In the Septuagint it is found but once, Job 9:33. The English word “Mediator,” as well as the Holland “Middelaar” and the German “Mittler,” might lead us to think that it (mesites) simply designates one who arbitrates between two parties, an intermediary in the general sense of the word. It should be borne in mind, however, that the Scriptural idea is far more profound. Christ is Mediator in more than one sense. He intervenes between God and man, not merely to sue for peace and to persuade to it, but as armed with plenipotentiary power, to do all that is necessary to establish peace. The use of the word mesites in the New Testament justifies our speaking of a twofold Mediatorship of Christ, namely, that of surety and that of access (Gr. prosagoge, Rom. 5:2). In most of the passages in which the word is found in the New Testament, it is equal to egguos, and therefore points to Christ as one who, by taking upon Himself the guilt of sinners, terminated their penal relation to the law and restored them to the right legal relationship to God. This is the meaning of the word in Heb. 8:6; 9:15, and 12:24. In Heb. 7:22 the term egguos itself is applied to Christ. There is one passage, however, in which the word mesites has a meaning that is more in accord with the ordinary sense of the word “mediator,” as one who is called in to arbitrate between two parties and to reconcile them, namely, I Tim. 2:5. Here Christ is represented as Mediator in the sense that, on the basis of His sacrifice, He brings God and man together.

The work of Christ, as indicated by the word mesites, is twofold. He labors in things pertaining to God and in things pertaining to man, in the objective legal sphere, and in the subjective moral sphere. In the former He propitiates the just displeasure of God by expiating the guilt of sin, makes intercession for those whom the Father has given Him, and actually makes their persons and services acceptable to God. And in the latter He reveals to men the truth concerning God and their relation to Him with the conditions of acceptable service, persuades and enables them to receive the truth, and directs and sustains them in all circumstances of life, so as to perfect their deliverance. In doing this work He employs the ministry of men, II Cor. 5:20.