Category Archives: Worship

The Psalms: An Anatomy of All the Parts of the Soul

I have been accustomed to call this book (Psalms), I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror.  Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated.  The other parts of Scripture contain the commandments which God enjoined his servants to announce to us.  But here the prophets themselves, seeing they are exhibited to us as speaking to God, and laying open all their inmost thoughts and affections, call, or rather draw, each of us to the examination of himself in particular, in order that none of the many infirmities to which we abound, may remain concealed.  It is certainly a rare and singular advantage, when all lurking places are discovered, and the heart is brought into the light, purged from that most baneful infection, hypocrisy.  In short, as calling upon God is one of the principal means of securing our safety, and as a better and more unerring rule for guiding us in this exercise cannot be found elsewhere than in the Psalms, it follows, that in proportion to the proficiency which a man shall have attained in understanding them, will be his knowledge of the most important part of celestial doctrine.  Genuine and earnest prayer proceeds first from a sense of need, and next, from faith in the promises of God.  it is by perusing these inspired compositions, that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of their maladies, and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure.  In a word, whatever may serve to encourage us when we are about to pray to God, is taught us in this book.  And not only are the promises of God presented to us in it, but oftentimes there is exhibited to us one standing, as it were, amidst the invitations of God on the one hand, and the impediments of the flesh on the other, girding and preparing himself for prayer: thus teaching us, if at any time we are agitated with a variety of doubts, to resist and fight against them, until the soul, freed and disentangled from all these impediments, rise up to God; and not only so, but even when in the midst of doubts, fears, and apprehensions, let us put forth our efforts in prayer, until we experience some consolation which may calm and bring contentment to our minds.  Although distrust may shut the gate against our prayers, yet we must not allow ourselves to give way, whenever our hearts waver or are agitated with inquietude, but must persevere until faith finally come forth victorious from these conflicts. In many places we may perceive the exercise of the servants of God in prayer so fluctuating, that they are almost overwhelmed by the alternate hope of success and apprehension of failure, and gain the prize only by strenuous exertions. We see on the one hand, the flesh manifesting its infirmity; and on the other, faith putting forth its power; and if it is not so valiant and courageous as might be desired, it is at least prepared to fight until by degrees it acquire perfect strength. But as those things which serve to teach us the true method of praying aright will be found scattered through the whole of this Commentary, I will not now stop to treat of topics which it will be necessary afterwards to repeat, nor detain my readers from proceeding to the work itself. Only it appeared to me to be requisite to show in passing, that this book makes known to us this privilege, which is desirable above all others — that not only is there opened up to us familiar access to God, but also that we have permission and freedom granted us to lay open before him our infirmities which we would be ashamed to confess before men.

John Calvin (1509-64), The Author’s Preface, Joshua. Psalms 1-35, xxxvi-xxxvii

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All of God is Ours in Christ

lookinguntojesus.jpgHere is the propriety of saints – “the Lord thy God.” What is this, that God is thy God? Heaven and earth, angels and men, may stand astonished at it. What! that the great and mighty God, God almighty, and God all-sufficient, should be called thy God! It is observable what the apostle speaks, “God is not ashamed to be called their God.” Would not a prince be ashamed to take a beggar, a base and adulterous woman, to be his wife? But we are worse than so, and God is better than so; sin hath made us worse than the worst of women; and God is better, holier, higher, than the best of princes; and yet God is not ashamed to own us, nor ashamed that we own him as our own – “I am thy God.” It is as if the Lord should say. Use me, and all my power, grace, mercy, kindness, as thine own. Go through all my attributes; consider my almighty power, consider my wisdom, understanding, goodness, truth, faithfulness; consider my patience, longsuffering, forbearance, all these are thine: as thus, — my power is thine, to work all thy works for thee, and in thee, to make a passage for thee in all thy straits, to deliver thee out of six troubles, and out of seven: my wisdom is thine, to counsel thee in any difficult cases, to instruct thee in things that be obscure, to reveal to thee the mysteries of grace, and the wonderful things contained in my law: my justice is thine, to deliver thee when thou art oppressed, to defend thee in thy innocence, and to vindicate thee from the injuries of men. What needs more? O my soul, think of these, and all other God’s attributes; say in thyself, All these are mine: nay more; think of God in Christ, (for otherwise what hast thou to do with God in a covenant of grace?) and say in thy heart, Jesus Christ is mine, my Saviour, my Redeemer, my Head, my elder Brother. His doings are mine, and his sufferings are mine; his life and death, his resurrection and ascension, his session and intercession, all are mine: nay more; If Christ be mine, why then all good things are mine in Christ; I say, in Christ, for they come not immediately, but through the hands of a Redeemer; and though he be a man who redeemed us, yet because he is God as well as man, there is more of God, and heaven, and free-love, in all our good things, than if we received them immediately from God. Ravens have their food, and devils have their being, from God by creature-right; but we have all we have, from God in Christ, by covenant-right. This, surely this very promise, is the principal promise of the covenant; it is the very substance, soul, and life of all. Oh then! how careful shouldst thou be to improve the strength of thy mind, thoughts, and affections, on this only subject!

Isaac Ambrose (1604-64), Looking Unto JesusBook II.2.2

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The Greatness of a Devout Musing Upon the Subject of the Godhead

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The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can compass and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-content, and go our way with the thought, “Behold I am wise.” But when we come to this master-science, finding that our plumb-line cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, that vain man would be wise, but he is like a wild ass’s colt; and with the solemn exclamation, “I am but of yesterday, and know nothing.” No subject of contemplation will tend more to humble the mind, than thoughts of God. We shall be obliged to feel –

“Great God, how infinite art thou,
What worthless worms are we!”

But while the subject humbles the mind it also expands it. He who often thinks of God, will have a larger mind than the man who simply plods around this narrow globe. He may be a naturalist, boasting of his ability to dissect a beetle, anatomize a fly, or arrange insects and animals in classes with well nigh unutterable names; he may be a geologist, able to discourse of the megatherium and the plesiosaurus, and all kinds of extinct animals; he may imagine that his science, whatever it is, ennobles and enlarges his mind. I dare say it does, but after all, the most excellent study for expanding the soul, is the science of Christ, and him crucified, and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity. Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatary. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul, so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.

Charles Spurgeon (1834-92), exerted from a sermon titled “The Immutability of God“, delivered on Sabbath Morning, January 7th, 1855, at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark.

HT: Jordan Thomas, Grace Church

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A Biblical Look at Election

christianWhat Election is Not

  • Election is not salvation but unto salvation (2Th 2:13-14; Eph 1:4; Rom 8:29-30).
  • Election is not exclusive of means (2Th 2:14; Eph 1:5, 13; 2Ti 2:10; 1Pe 1:2).
  • Election is not a respecter of persons (Rom 9:18-24). Fame, wealth, wisdom, position, etc., did not cause God to have respect for some and thus elect them (Job 34:19). All being ungodly, none could have been saved had he not shown grace to some.
  • Election is not “salvation regardless,” but unto salvation through the redemption of Christ, applied by the Spirit through the Gospel (Joh 6:37; Rom 10:17; 1Th 1:4-5; 2Th 2:13-14; Act 13:48).
  • Election is not opposed to the Gospel, but the Gospel is a means in accomplishing election’s purpose (see Scriptures already cited).
  • Election is not an enemy of righteousness, but through its appointed means it causes those once ungodly to live godly (Eph 1:4; 1Th 1:4-10).
  • Election is not based on unforeseen faith or works, but it produces faith and works (Rom 9:11-16; 11:5-6; Phi 1:6; 1Ti 1:9; Eph 2:8-10; Act 13:48; 1Co 3:5; Rom 12:3; Eph 4:7; Act 5:31; 2Ti 2:25).
  • Election does not shut the door of salvation but opens that door for all those who come to Christ (Joh 6:37, 44, 63; 10:9; 14:6).
  • Election is not a hindrance to Gospel preaching, but it assures the Gospel of success (Isa 55:11; Joh 10:27; 6:37, 45; 17:20-21; Act 15:14; 16:14; 18:27; 2Ti 2:9-10).
  • Election is not of the Jews only (Rom 9:24; 11:5-8, 11-12, 25; Joh 11:52).
  • Election is not merely to service but to salvation (2Th 2:13-14; 2Ti 2:10).
  • Election is not fatalism but is the work of God (1Th 1:4; Rom 8:28, 30).
  • Election does not destroy man’s so-called “free will.” The will of man is his desire, wish or choice. His choice is sin (Joh 3:19-20; 5:40; 3:11; 4:17-19; Jer 17:9; 13:23; etc.). Man “freely”chooses sin, and by God’s grace, the elect freely choose Christ (Psa 65:4; 110:3; Joh 6:44, 65; Act 13:48). Lazarus “freely” rotted, but at the word of Christ, he “freely” came forth (Joh 11); and so do the elect of God.
  • Election is not anti-missionary but gives the foundation for missions (Joh 6:37; 17:20-21; 2Ti 2:10; Isa 55:11; 2Pe 3:9, 15).
  • Election does not destroy the responsibility of man. Men are responsible with whatever light they have, be it conscience (Rom 2:15), nature (Rom 1:19-20), written Law (Rom 2:17-27), or the Gospel (Mar 16:15-16). Man’s inability to do righteousness no more frees him from responsibility than does Satan’s inability to do righteousness.
  • Election does not make God unjust. His blessing of a great number of unworthy sinners with salvation is no injustice to the rest of the unworthy sinners. If a government pardons one convict, is it injustice to the rest (1Th 5:9)?
  • Election does not discourage convicted sinners but welcomes them to Christ. “Let him who thirsts come” (Rev 22:17). The God who saves is the God who has elected men unto salvation. He is the same God who invites.
  • Election does not discourage prayer. To the contrary, it drives us to God, for He it is who alone can save. True prayer is the Spirit’s prompting; and thus will be in harmony with God’s will (Rom 8:28).
  • Election is not of man. Some say, “God votes, the devil votes, and man votes.” The Bible teaches that election is not of the devil and man, but “of God” (1Th 1:4; Joh 10:16; 1Jo 4:10, 19).
  • Election is not of reason but of revelation. At first it does not appeal to man’s reason; but when man accepts God’s Word, it is seen to be the only thing that could be “reasonable” (Mat 20:15).

Let me close this important chapter with a brief warning to those who reject and speak against the blessed doctrine of election:

  1. It is not wise to make derogatory remarks about what is in the Bible, whether you understand it or not.
  2. It is not wise to reject what the Bible teaches on any subject, especially if you have not studied what the Bible says about it.
  3. It is not wise to make a hobby out of any one doctrine. Although this doctrine is of vital importance, it is only one doctrine and must not be separated from all Christian truth.
  4. It is not wise to reject any doctrine because it has been abused and misused. All the key doctrines have been perverted.

If it were not for election, your will would take you to hell. You can only get rid of election by getting rid of the Bible. My foremost reason for believing in election is because it is clearly and plainly taught in the Bible.

Unbelievably, many people do not know that election is in the Bible. Worse yet, the Biblical teaching on the subject has been very little discussed, taught, or preached. Someone once must have thought it important because it is in our Baptist Faith and Message: “Election is the gracious purpose of God, according to which He regenerates, sanctifies, and glorifies sinners.”

It is not only in our Articles of Faith, but we sing it in many of our hymns—the second stanza of “The Church’s One Foundation” begins “Elect from every nation…”

More importantly, it is in the Bible; and if only one point is made in this chapter, let it be that everyone who believes the Bible must believe in election.

Ernest C. Reisinger (1919-2004), God’s Will, Man’s Will, and Free Will, Ch.5 “Related Doctrines”.

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Repent for the Glory of God

repent signDear friends, there’s only one reason -one reason for a sinner to repent: and that’s because Jesus Christ deserves the worship and adoration and the love and the obedience of his heart. Not because he’ll go to heaven. If the only reason you repented, dear friend, was to keep out of Hell, all you are is just a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt! That’s all! You’re trying to serve God because He’ll do you good! But a repentant heart is a heart that has seen something of the enormity of the crime of playing god and denying the just an righteous God the worship and obedience that He deserves!

Why should a sinner repent? Because God deserves the obedience and love that he’s refused to give Him! Not so that he’ll go to heaven. If the only reason he repents is so that he’ll go to heaven, it’s nothing but trying to make a deal or a bargain with God.

Why should a sinner give up all his sins? Why should he be challenged to do it? Why should he make restitution when he’s coming to Christ? Because God deserves the obedience that He demands!

I have talked with people that have no assurance that sins are forgiven. They want to feel safe, before they’re willing to commit themselves to Christ. But I believe that the only ones whom God actually witnesses by HisSpirit and are born of Him, are the people, whether they say it or not, that come to Jesus Christ and say something like this, “Lord Jesus, I’m going to obey you, and love you, and serve you, and do what you want me to do, as long as I live, even if I go to Hell at the end of the road, simply because you are worthy to be loved, and obeyed and served, and I’m not trying to make a deal with you!” Do you see the difference? Do you see the difference? Between a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt or a Micah building a chapel because God will do you good, and someone that repents for the glory of God. 

Why should a person come to the cross? Why should a person embrace death with Christ? Why should a person be willing to go, in identification, down to the cross and into the tomb and up again? I’ll tell you why – because it’s the only way that God can get glory out of human being! If you say it’s because he’ll get joy or peace or blessing or success or fame then it’s nothing but a Levite serving for ten shekels and a shirt. There is only one reason for you to go to the Cross, dear young person – and that’s because until you come to the place of union with Christ in death, you are defrauding the Son of God of the glory that He could get out of your life. For no flesh shall glory in His sight. And until you’ve understood the sanctifying work of God by the Holy Ghost taking you into union with Christ in death and burial and resurrection, you have to serve in what you have and all you have which is under the sentence of death: human personality, and human nature, and human strength, and human energy. And God will get no glory out of that! So the reason for you to go to the cross isn’t that you’re going to get victory – you will get victory. It isn’t that you’re going to have joy – you will have joy. But the reason for you to embrace the cross and press through until you know that you can testify with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ..” (Galatians 2:20) It isn’t what you’re going to get out of it, but what He’ll get out of it, for the glory of God. By the same token, why aren’t you pressed through to know the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Why aren’t you pressed through to know the fullness of Christ? I’ll tell you why – Because the only possible way that Jesus Christ will get glory out of a life that He’s redeemed with His precious blood, is when He can fill that life with His presence and live through it his own life.

The genius of our faith wasn’t that we were going to go through the motions like a Levite that was hired to serve God. No, No! The genius of our faith was that we’d come to a place where we knew we could do nothing, and all we could do would be to present the vessel and say, “Lord Jesus, you’ll have to fill it. And everything that’s done will have to be done by You and for You.”

Paris Reidhead (1919-92), exerted from a sermon on Judges 17:1-18:4, “Ten Shekels and a Shirt“.

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Christianity and Humanism: Selling Out for Ten Shekels and a Shirt

Paris ReidheadWell now, the philosophy of the atmosphere is humanism; the chief end of being is the happiness of man. There’s another group of people that have taken hum bridge with the liberals; this group are my people, the fundamentalists. They say, “We believe in the inspiration of the Bible! We believe in the deity of Jesus Christ! We believe in hell! We believe in heaven! We believe in heaven! We believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ!” But remember, the atmosphere is that of humanism. And humanism says the chief end of being is the happiness of man. Humanism is like a miasma out of a pit; it just permeates everyplace. Humanism is lie an infection, an epidemic – it just goes everywhere. So it wasn’t long until we had this, that the fundamentalists knew each other because they said, “We believe these things!” They were men for the most part that had met God. But you see, it wasn’t long until having said, “These are the things that establish us as fundamentalists!” The second generation said, “This is how we become a fundamentalist! Believe the inspiration of the Bible! Believe in the deity of Christ! Believe in His death, burial, and resurrection! And thereby become a fundamentalist!” And so it wasn’t long until it got to our generation, where the whole plan of salvation was to give intellectual assent to a few statements of doctrine. And a person was considered a Christian because he could say, “Ah hah” at four or five places that he was asked. If he knew where to say “Ah hah”, someone would pat him on the back, shake his hand, smile broadly, and say, “Brother, you’re saved!” so it had gotten down to the place where salvation was nothing more than an assent to a scheme or a formula, and the end of this was that salvation was the happiness of man, because humanism has penetrated. If you were to analyze fundamentalism in contrast to liberalism of a hundred years ago, as it developed, for I am not pinpointing it in time, it would be like this: The liberal says the end of religion is to make man happy while he’s alive, and the fundamentalist says the end of religion is to make man happy when he dies. But again! The end of all of the religion it was proclaimed was the happiness of man. And where as the liberal says, “By social change and political order we’re going to do away with funds, we’re going to do away with alcoholism and dope addiction and poverty. And we’re going to make Heaven on earth and make you happy while you’re alive! We don’t know anything about after that, but we want you to be happy while you’re alive!” They went ahead to try and do it only to be brought to a terrifying shock at the first World War and utterly staggered by the second World War, because they seemed to be getting no where fast.

And then the fundamentalists, along the same line, are now tuning in along this same wavelength of humanism. Until we find it something like this: “Accept Jesus so you can go to heaven! You don’t want to go to that old, filthy, nasty, burning hell, when there is a beautiful heaven up there! Now come to Jesus so you can go to heaven!” And the appeal could be as much to selfishness, as a couple of men sitting in a coffee shop, deciding they are going to rob a bank to get something for nothing! There’s a way that you can give an invitation to sinners, that just sounds for all the world like a plot to take up a filling station proprietor’s Saturday night earnings without working for them. Humanism is, I believe, the most deadly and disastrous of all the philosophical stenches that’s crept up through the grating over the pit of Hell. It has penetrated so much of our religion. And it is in utter and total contrast with Christianity! Unfortunately, it’s seldom seen. And here we find Micah, wants to have a little chapel, and he wants to have a priest, and he wants to have prayer, and he wants to have devotion, because, “I know the Lord will do me good!” AND THIS IS SELFISHNESS! AND THIS IS SIN! And the Levite comes along and falls right in with it! Because he wants a place! He wants ten shekels and a shirt and his food! And so in order that he can have what he wants, and Micah can have what he wants, They sell out God! For ten shekels and a shirt! AND THIS IS THE BETRAYAL OF THE AGES! And it is the betrayal in which we live. And I don’t see how God can revive it! Until we come back to Christianity. As in direct and total contrast with the stenchful humanism that’s perpetrated in our generation in the name of Christ….

Do you see? Let me epitomize, let me summarize. Christianity says, “The end of all being is the glory of God.” Humanism says, “The end of all being is the happiness of man.” And one was born in Hell, the deification of man; and the other was born in heaven, the glorification of God! And one is a Levite serving Micah, and the other is a heart that’s unworthy serving the living God, because it’s the highest honor in the universe.

Paris Reidhead (1919-92), exerted from a sermon on Judges 17:1-18:4, “Ten Shekels and a Shirt“.

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George Muller’s Secret to Prayer and Preaching

george_mullerMuller: [That] thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating upon it, my heart might be brought into experimental communion with the Lord…. The first thing I did (early in the morning), after having asked in a few words the Lord’s blessing upon His precious word, was, to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my soul.  The result I have found to be almost invariably this, that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession, or to thanksgiving, or to intercession, or to supplication; so that, though I did not, as it were, give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer…. With this mode I have likewise combined the being out in the open air for an hour, an hour and a half, or two hours before breakfast, walking about in the fields, and in the summer sitting for a little on the stiles, if I find it too much to walk all the time.  I find it very beneficial to my health to walk thus for meditation before breakfast, and am now so in the habit of using up the time for that purpose, that when I get in the open air, I generally take out a New Testament of good-sized type, which I carry with me for that purpose, besides my Bible: and I find that I can profitably spend my time in the open air, which formerly was not the case for want of habit…. The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this. Formerly, when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible, and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer, or almost all the time…. But what was the result?  I often spent a quarter of an hour, or half an hour, or even an hour on my knees, before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of the soul, etc; and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then really began to pray.  I scarcely ever suffer now in this way.  For my heart being nourished by the truth, being brought into experimental fellowship with God, I speak to my Father, and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it!) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word. It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point.

Gavin Kirkham concerning Muller: In his public ministry, he is emphatically a teacher, yet he frequently brings in the way of salvation, in a clear, sweet, persuasive manner.  Preachers may learn from his method of preaching.  He first of all gets a message from the Lord: that is he waits upon the Lord, by reading the Scriptures, meditation, and prayer, till he realizes that he has the mind of the Spirit as to what he shall say.  He has sometimes been in doubt till almost the last minute, but never once has the Lord failed him.  he strongly advocates and practices expository preaching.  Instead of a solitary text detached from its context, he selects a passage, it may be of several verses, which he goes over consecutively clause by clause.  His first care is to give the meaning of the passage, and then to illustrate it by other Scriptures and then to apply it.  This is done sentence by sentence, so that it is definition, illustration, and application all the way through it.  Yet there is no uncertainty to his hearers as to when he is coming to a close, as he intimates at the outset how many verses he purposes to consider.  His illustrations are occasionally taken from history, biography, or nature, but chiefly from Scriptures or his own personal experiences.  One of the most striking things about Mr. Muller’s preaching is the way in which he induces his hearers to reconsider what has already been said.  He frequently says: ‘Let us ask ourselves, Have I understood this?  How does it apply to me? Is this my experience?’

Quoted in Roger Steer, George Muller: Delighted in God, 91-2, 172-3.

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