29 July, 2005
WE LIVE IN A FAST paced world. News is available "up to the minute" and information is constantly being thrown towards us. We never take the time to sit and to listen. We do not take time to say, "be still my soul...listen." Due to the pace with which our society moves, we do not remember cliches such as, "good things come to those who wait."
This also applies to our spiritual lives. When I first was coming into the Reformed faith my minister reminded me that "it is not he with the most zeal will be saved, but he who perseveres to the end shall be saved." We want to see people that "are on fire", "filled with zeal", and "passionate" about the Christian faith. These things are okay when taken at face value, but in reality when I reflect on my Christian experience the people that were once those things are no longer in the faith. Jesus teaches us that there are those seeds who fall on rocky soil and they spring up quickly but do not last. These plants have no roots.
What does this have to do with meditation?
The Christian life is one that is filled with questions: doctrinal, practical, ethical, personal, etc. One practice that is not considered much in our new age filled era is that of meditation.
When one says mediation, quickly images of cross legged Buddists come to mind, or that of the monkey from the Lion King. Obviouosly this is not what we mean by Christian meditation.
In Puritan Christianity there have been many definitions that are helpful in understanding meditaion. One that I enjoy is, "talking to yourself before God". The point is that we openly talk to ourselves in persuit of God giving us understanding through His Word. (This is a needed point: all meditation is on and through the Word of God.) This is where we take that which we know in our heads and we apply to our lives. (Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy).
I hope that the following is helpful. It is from Professor AG Haykins' publication entitled Eusebia.
On the topic of Puritan meditation, James Packer writes, "Knowing themselves to be creatures of thought, affection, and will, and knowing that God's way to the human heart (the will) is via the human head (the mind), the Puritans practiced meditation, discursive and systematic, on the whole range of biblical truth as they saw it applying to themselves." In a similar vein, Horton Davies describes Puritan meditation as "moving from intellectual issues to exciting the heart's affections in order to free the will for conformity to God."This approach to meditation stems from the Puritans' conviction that the will is a "blind" faculty. According to Edward Reynolds (1599-1676), the will "cannot see the right good it ought to affect without the assistance of an informing power" nor "can it see the right way it ought to take for procuring that good without the direction of a conducting power." This "informing" and "conducting" power is the understanding-the leading faculty of the soul. When this "noblest faculty," as Stephen Charnock (1628-1680) calls it, is "employed about the most excellent object," it informs and conducts the will via the affections to choose the "right good."With this paradigm firmly in place, George Swinnock (1627-1673) defines meditation as "a serious applying the mind to some sacred subject, till the affections be warmed and quickened, and the resolution heightened and strengthened thereby, against what is evil, and for that which is good.
THE METHOD OF MEDITATION
According to Swinnock's definition, the method of meditation is serious applying the mind. . . till the affections be warmed and quickened. This method dates hack to Joseph Hall (1574-1656), who affirms that "the practice of true piety" is contingent upon meditation - "the best improvement of Christianity." He defines this meditation as 'a bending of the mind upon some spiritual object, through divers forms of discourse, until our thoughts come to an issue.' This bending of the mind has two forms: "extemporal" and "deliberate." Hall focuses upon the second, seeking to describe its "proceeding."In brief deliberate meditation "begins in the understanding, endeth in the affection; it begins in the brain, descends to the heart; begins on earth, ascends to heaven, not suddenly but by certain stairs and degrees till we come to the highest." Hall divides these "stairs and degrees into two sections. The first concerns the practice meditation in the understanding.It involves the study of divine truths according to certain "heads": description, division, effects, subjects, qualities, contraries, comparisons, titles, and testimonies. The second concerns the practice of meditation in the affections. For Hall, this "is the very soul of meditation, whereto all that is past serveth but as an instrument." It involves the pressing of divine truths upon the affections through seven steps: taste, complaint, hearty wish, confession, petition, enforcement, and confidence. James Ussher (1581-1656) also recommends this two-pronged approach, stating that the "work" of meditation consists of the "two principal faculties of the soul; First, the Understanding, to which I refer the Memory; Secondly the Will, to which I refer the Affections." The first involves a "calling to mind" whereby biblical truths are remembered and debated. The second involves a "laying to heart" these truths.Swinnock describes this "laying to heart" as "serious consideration" or "an act of the practical understanding, whereby it reflecteth upon its actions and intentions, and comparing them with the rule of the word, proceedeth to lay its command upon the will and affections to put what is good in execution." This "reflection" usually consists of soliloquies, which Richard Baxter (1615-1691) defines as "awakening questions." These are designed to make people feel the pulse of their soul for the purpose of self-evaluation. For Ussher, this is the "main business" of meditation - "to see how the matter stands between God, and my own soul." With this goal in view, he suggests, "First look backwards, and say, what have I done? Secondly look forwards, and say, what will I do?" Similarly, William Gurnall (1617-1679) writes, "Reflect upon thyself, and bestow a few serious thoughts upon thy own behaviour-what it hath been towards God and man all along the day.
THE OBJECT OF MEDITATION
In his definition, Swinnock describes the object of meditation as "some sacred subject." For his part, Hall speaks of "those matters in divinity which can most of all work compunction in the heart and most stir us up to devotion." In all, there are seven "sacred" subjects that figure prominently in Puritan meditation.The first is the majesty of God. "Above all," writes Swinnock, "meditate on the infinite majesty, purity, and mercy of that God against whom thou hast sinned." Charnock concurs, "Be often in the views of the excellencies of God." Gurnall encourages his readers to meditate on the "infinite holiness of God." Similarly, Baxter directs his audience to "dwell on the meditations of the Almighty," adding, "One would think if I should set you no further task, and tell you of no other matters for meditation, this one should be enough; for this one is in a manner all." Baxter's urgency flows from his conviction that the "best Christian" is the one "that hath the fullest impression made upon his soul, by the knowledge of God in all his attributes."The second subject is the severity of sin. For the Puritans, the knowledge of sin and the knowledge of God are inextricably related. Swinnock explains, "Man never comes to a right knowledge of himself, what a pitiful, abominable wretch he is, till he comes to a right knowledge of God, what an excellent incomparable majesty he is." Charnock agrees, "in the consideration of God's holiness we are minded of our own impurity . . . so his immensity should make us, according to our own nature, appear little in our own eyes." In other words, people only arrive at a proper understanding of the darkness of sin in the light of God's holiness, because it is then that they see their sin as an attack against God. With this in mind, Joseph Alleine (1634-1668) urges his audience to meditate upon the "number," "aggravation," "deformity," and "defilement" of their sin.The third subject is the beauty of Christ, which is only appreciated against the backdrop of God's majesty and sin's severity. According to Alleine, "Till men are weary and heavy laden, and pricked at heart, and quite sick of sin, they will not come to Christ for cure, nor sincerely enquire, "What shall we do?" When they do arrive at this point, they see the beauty of Christ's love as he bridges the immeasurable distance between a glorious God and a sinful creature. This leads Gurnall to declare, "Bathe thy soul with the frequent meditation of Christ's love."The fourth subject is the certainty of death. "If thou wouldst exercise thyself to godliness," writes Swinnock, "think often of thy dying day." Robert Bolton (1572-1631) directs his readers to ponder the certainty that "all the pleasures, treasures, and comforts of this life... must all, upon the stroke of death . . . be suddenly, utterly, and for ever left."The fifth subject is the finality of judgment. Gurnall remarks, "Surely thou wilt not easily sleep while this trumpet, that shall call all mankind to judgments shall sound in thy ear. The reason why men sleep so soundly in security is, because they either do not believe this, or at least do not think of it seriously so as to expect it." With this lethargy in mind, Bolton instructs individuals to ponder what it will be like to give an exact account of "all things done in the flesh," to witness the disclosure of all "secret sins" and "closet villanies," and to "hear that dreadful sentence of damnation to eternal torments and horror."The sixth subject is the misery of hell. Swinnock describes hell as a "privative" misery, because sinners lose "earthly delights," "carnal contentments," "spiritual preferment," "the society of all the godly," "hope," their "precious soul," and "the infinitely blessed God." Likewise, Bolton speaks of the "privation of God's glorious presence, and eternal separation from those everlasting joys, felicities, and bliss above." Swinnock also describes hell as a "positive" misery, because of what sinners gain, explaining, "the wicked shall in the other world depart from Christ into fire. . . They shall not only be stripped of all good... but also be filled with all evil." At that time, they will gain "a perfection of sin" and "a fullness of sorrow."The seventh subject is the glory of heaven. In terms of "privative" gain, Swinnock says Christians will obtain freedom from the evil of sin, that is, freedom from the commission of sin and the temptation to sin. They will also obtain freedom from the evil of suffering. In terms of "positive" gain, they will obtain the company of perfect Christians, the nearest communion with Christ, and the full and immediate fruition of God. For Baxter, this gain is of utmost importance. "I would not have you cast off your other meditations," he says, "but surely as heaven hath the pre-eminence in perfection, it should have it also in our meditation. That which will make us most happy when we possess it, will make us most joyful when we meditate upon it."
THE RESULT OF MEDITATION
Through meditation, the significance of these "sacred" subjects is felt in the soul. A glimpse of God's majesty produces fear and love. A sense of sin's severity excites sorrow and hatred. A taste of Christ's beauty stirs delight and desire. The remaining truths, known as "the four last things," produce what the Puritans call "heavenly-mindedness." "The heavenly minded person," explains historian Dewey Wallace, is "absorbed in divine things, weaned from earth, and advanced in communion with God." Their goal is "to meditate on that state, binding one's heart so closely to God that all else pales into insignificance."According to Swinnock's definition, this "warming" and "quickening" of the affections leads to the "heightening" and "strengthening" of the will's "resolution" against "what is evil, and for that which is good." As Gurnall explains, "Affections are actuated when their object is before them. If we love a person, love is excited by sight of him, or anything that minds us of him; if we hate one, our blood riseth much more against him when before us." By meditating upon divine truths, love is stirred toward the greatest good (God) and hatred is stirred toward the greatest evil (sin). As a result, the will is resolved to pursue God and forsake sin. For time Puritans, this "resolution" manifests itself in godliness-conformity to God's will. Baxter is so convinced of this relationship between meditation and godliness that he writes, "If, by this means, thou dost not find an increase of all thy graces, and dost not grow beyond the stature of common Christians, and art not made more serviceable in thy place, and more precious in the eyes of all discerning persons; if thy soul enjoy not more communion with God, and thy life be not fuller of comfort, and hast it not readier by thee at a dying hour: then cast away these directions, and exclaim against me for ever as a deceiver."
For the Puritans, therefore, meditation is pivotal to the practice of piety. As Baxter notes, "the Spirit makes use of our understandings for the actuating of our wills and affections." This necessarily implies that meditation is one of the principal means by which the Holy Spirit sanctifies the Christian.It is for this reason that Hall much lamented the widespread neglect of meditation in his day, commenting, "If there be any Christian duty whose omission is notoriously shameful and prejudicial to the souls of professors, it is this of meditation. This is the very end God hath given us our souls for we misspend them if we use them not thus." Hall's words are as true today as the day he penned them, for as Joel Beeke observes, "One hindrance to growth among Christians today is our failure to cultivate spiritual knowledge. We fail to give enough time to prayer and Bible-reading, and we have abandoned time practice of meditation." Given this fact, we would do well to heed Gurnall's plea to "retire often to muse on some soul-awakening meditations," remembering that "if you seek her as silver and search for her as for hidden treasure; then you will discern the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God."
27 July, 2005
The Confession begins with these lines:
Agreed upon by the Assembly of Divines (Theologians) at Westminster, with the assistance of commissioners from the Church of Scotland, as a part of the Covenanted Uniformity in Religion betwixt the churches of Christ in the kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland.
From this alone we see the nature of uniformity and unity that the Standards were aiming for. The purpose is for the unity of the Christian church. These are the doctrines that all should be able to agree upon. Believe it or not, the more divisive and "unimportant" doctrines were not a part of the Standards. This is Christian unity. Amongst Presbyterians. Amongst Christians.
As far as I am able to judge, the Christian world, since the dayes of the Apostles, had never a synod of more excellent divines than this. -Richard Baxter
The Westminster Standards are the richest and most precise and best guarded statement ever penned of all that enters into evangelical religion, and of all that must be safeguarded if evangelical religion is to persist in the world. -Benjamin B Warfield
25 July, 2005
Those Christians who do choose to read are reading books that are, at least, "spiritual milk" and, at most, outright heresy. (Think of the list of "Christian" books that have made the NY Times bestseller list or the Orcha book club.)
We need to recapture the art of reading and of comprehension. One of the means to reformation in the sixteenth and seventeenth century was by going back to the original sources, ad fontes, and seeking out biblical Christianity in the Scriptures, the ancient creeds, and Christian writings.
A challenge to all Reformed and Presbyterian believers:
1. Seek the Lord in the Scriptures
2. Find grace in the creeds and confessions
3. Read our spiritual forefathers.
The Puritans were, according to many, the greatest living out of Christian doctrine and practice. There are many great Puritan authors that have been re-published since the 1950s and are now available to us. (See my bibliophiles section.) These are great pastors and teachers that have a lot to say to us today. They are fresh and contemporary even though they have joined the Church Triumphant.
Below is an article by Dr. Beeke that gives a synopsis of Puritan thought and practice. It is an excellent starting point for what to read in the Puritan genre. Read towards reformation.
Soli Deo Gloria!
A Guide to Puritans in your Devotional Life
Shape Your Life by Scripture
Let the Puritans show you how to shape your entire life by scripture. They loved, lived, and breathed Scripture, relishing the power of the Spirit that accompanied the Word. They regarded the sixty-six books of Scripture as the library of the Holy Spirit that was graciously bequeathed to them. Scripture was God speaking to them as their Father; the Word was truth they could trust in for all eternity. They saw it as Spirit-empowered to renew their minds and transform their lives.The Puritans searched, heard, and sang the Word with delight, and encouraged others to do the same. Puritan Richard Greenham suggested eight ways to read Scripture: with diligence, wisdom, preparation, meditation, conference, faith, practice, and prayer.
Thomas Watson provided numerous guidelines on how to listen to the Word: Come to the Word with a holy appetite and a teachable heart. Sit under the Word attentively, receive it with meekness, and mingle it with faith. Then retain the Word, pray over it, practice it, and speak to others about it.The Puritans sounded a call to become Word-centered in faith and practice. Richard Baxter's Christian Directory showed how the Puritans regarded the Bible as a trustworthy guide for all of life. Every case of conscience was subjected to Scripture's directives. Henry Smith said, "We should set the Word of God always before us like a rule, and believe nothing but that which it teacheth, love nothing but that which it prescribeth, hate nothing but that which it forbiddeth, do nothing but that which it commandeth."If you read the Puritans regularly, their Bible-centeredness becomes contagious. They show you how to yield wholehearted allegiance to the Bible's message. Like them, you will become a believer of the Living Book, concurring with John Flavel, who said, "The Scriptures teach us the best way of living, the noblest way of suffering, and the most comfortable way of dying." Puritan books are rich with scriptural support and references. When you read these books for devotions, look up their references and meditate on them.
Marry Doctrine and Practice
The Puritans show us how to marry doctrine and practice in our lives by addressing the mind, confronting the conscience, and wooing the heart.
• Puritan literature addresses the mind. The Puritans loved and worshiped God with their minds. They refused to set mind and heart against each other, but taught that knowledge was the soil in which the Spirit planted the seed of regeneration. They viewed the mind as the palace of faith. "In conversion, reason is elevated," John Preston wrote. Cotton Mather said, "Ignorance is the mother not of devotion but of heresy."The Puritans teach us to think in order to be holy. They understood that a mindless Christianity fosters a spineless Christianity. An anti-intellectual gospel will spawn an irrelevant gospel that doesn't get beyond "felt needs." That's what is happening in our churches today. We have lost our intellect, and for the most part we don't see the necessity of recovering it. We do not understand that if there is little difference between the Christian and unbelievers in what we believe, there will soon be little difference in how we live.
• Puritan literature confronts the conscience. The Puritans were masters at naming specific sins, then asking questions to press home the guilt of those sins. As one Puritan wrote, "We must go with the stick of divine truth and beat every bush behind which a sinner hides, until like Adam who hid, he stands before God in his nakedness."Devotional reading should be confrontational as well as comforting. We grow little if our consciences are not pricked daily and directed to Christ. Since we are prone instead to run away, we need help in our daily devotions to be brought before the living God, "naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Heb. 4:~3).
• Puritan literature woos the heart. It is unusual today to find books that both feed the mind with solid biblical substance and move the heart with affectionate warmth, but the Puritans do this. They reason with the mind, confront the conscience, and appeal to the heart. They write out of love for God's Word, love for the glory of God, and love for the souls of readers. They set forth Christ in His loveliness, moving the reader to yearn to know Him better and live wholly for Him.
Focus on Christ
Puritan literature magnifies Christ. According to Thomas Adams, "Christ is the sum of the whole Bible, prophesied, typified, prefigured, exhibited, demonstrated, to be found in every leaf, almost in every line, the Scriptures being but as it were the swaddling bands of the child Jesus." Likewise, Isaac Ambrose wrote, "Think of Christ as the very substance, marrow, soul, and scope of the whole Scriptures."The Puritans loved Christ and wrote much about His beauty. Listen to Samuel Rutherford: "Put the beauty of ten thousand thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden in one; put all trees, all flowers, all smells, all colors, all tastes, all joys, all loveliness, all sweetness in one. O what a fair and excellent thing would that be? And yet it would be less to that fair and dearest well-beloved Christ than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes, and foundations of ten thousand earths." Thomas Goodwin summed that up, writing, "Heaven would be hell to me without Christ."Would you know Christ better and love Him more fully? Immerse yourself in Puritan literature, asking the Spirit to sanctify it to you in a Christ-centered way.
Handle Trial Christianly
The Puritans show us how to handle trials. We learn from their books that we need affliction to humble us (Deut. 8:2), to teach us what sin is (Zeph. 1:12), and to bring us to God (Hos. 5:15). 'Affliction is the diamond dust that heaven polishes its jewels with," wrote Robert Leighton. They teach us to view God's rod of affliction as His means to write Christ's image more fully upon us so that we may be partakers of His righteousness and holiness (Heb. 12:10-11).If you are presently undergoing profound trials, learn from the Puritans not to overestimate those trials. Read William Bridge's A Lifting Up for the Downcast (Banner of Truth), Thomas Brooks' A Mute Christian Under the Rod, and Richard Sibbes's A Bruised Reed (Banner of Truth). They will show you how every trial can bring you to Christ to walk by faith and to be weaned from this world. As Thomas Watson wrote, "God would have the world hang as a loose tooth which, being easily twitched away, doth not much trouble us."Or read The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment (Banner of Truth) by Jeremiah Burroughs. He'll teach you how to learn contentment through trial. Then, the next time you're buffeted by others, Satan, or your own conscience, you will not waste time complaining. Instead, you'll carry those trials to Christ and ask Him, by His Spirit, to sanctify them so that you model spiritual contentment for others.
Live in Two Worlds
The Puritans show us how to live from a two-worlds point of view. Richard Baxter's The Saint's Everlasting Rest demonstrates the power that the hope of heaven should have to direct, control, and energize our life here on earth. Despite its length (800-plus pages), this classic became household reading in Puritan homes. It was exceeded only by John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress (Banner of Truth), which, by the way, is an allegorical proof of my point. Bunyan's pilgrim is heading for the Celestial City, which he never has out of his mind except when he is betrayed by some form of spiritual malaise.The Puritans believed that we ought to have heaven ''in our eye'' throughout our earthly pilgrimage. They took seriously the two-worlds, now/not-yet dynamics of the New Testament, stressing that keeping the "hope of glory" before our minds helps guide our lives here on earth. Living in the light of eternity for the Puritans often necessitated radical self-denial. They taught us to live knowing that the joy of heaven will make amends for any losses and crosses, strains and pains that we must endure on earth if we are to follow Christ. They teach us that preparation for death is the first step in learning to live. This earth is God's dressing-room and gymnasium that prepares us for heaven.
Emulate Puritan Spirituality
There's so much to learn from the Puritans - how they promote the authority of Scripture, biblical evangelism, church reform, the spirituality of the law, spiritual warfare against indwelling sin, the filial fear of God, the art of meditation, the dreadfulness of hell and the glories of heaven - but space prohibits us. In a word, let's read the Puritans devotionally, then pray to emulate their spirituality. Let's ask ourselves questions like these: Are we, like the Puritans, thirsting to glorify the triune God? Are we motivated by biblical truth and biblical fire? Do we share the Puritan view of the vital necessity of conversion and of being clothed with the righteousness of Christ?Reading the Puritans isn't enough. We also need the inward disposition of the Puritans authentic, biblical, intelligent piety that shows in our hearts, lives, and churches.Let me challenge you. Will you live like the Puritans? Will you go beyond reading their writings, discussing their ideas, recalling their achievements, and berating their failures? Will you practice the degree of obedience to God's Word for which they strove? Will you serve God as they served Him? Will you live with one eye on eternity as they did? "Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls" (Jer. 6:16).
22 July, 2005
THIS SECTION OF COMIC STRIP speaks much truth that Christians as well as Westerners in general need to be mindful of. Islam is the fastest growing religion in our country and leaders (both church and state) are afraid of not being politically correct and refuse to denounce this religion as one of hate filled sword-prosalytation.
We, as Christians, need to understand what is the motivation behind such a religion. We also need to be on our knees in prayer and repentance for not having the missionary zeal to tackle this people group head on. (Muslims still remain to be one of the least evangelized people group in the world. Honestly, the Pigmys know more of Jesus Chrsit than the Muslims.)
So what could motivate such a hate filled religion such as this? A recent Banner of Truth Trust article deals with this very issue:
What Motivates the Bombers?
In the furore that has followed the London suicide bombings there have been affirmations from all our politicians and Muslim leaders that Islam is a religion of love and that the suicide bombers are aberrant misguided criminals and not true Muslims at all. However the suicide bombers would claim that they are the true Muslims dedicated to world domination for Islam.
Nasra Hassan in The Times 14th July documents in meticulous detail the fact that the suicide bombers, and the imams who teach them, believe that the first drop of the martyr's blood will wash away his sins instantaneously. On the Day of Judgement he will face no reckoning and he can intercede for 70 of his nearest and dearest to enter Heaven. In addition he will have 72 beautiful virgins of Paradise. The bomber martyr becomes a hero in his circles which means that all those who applaud him are guilty by association.The suicide bombers by their drastic actions send out a message to the world that Allah so hates the world of unbelieving infidels that he commissions suicide bombers to blow them to pieces.
That is in stark contrast to the good news of John 3:16, 'For God so loves the world (all the infidels) that he gave his only begotten Son that all who believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life.'
What is the origin of the Qur'an?
Muslims insist that Mohammed was the channel by which the revelation in the Qur'an came. They claim that Allah is the source and author of the Qur'an and Mohammed the agent to whom it was given. Mohammed was raised in an area where heretical Christian groups lived. Possibly he learned about Judaism and Christianity from merchants on the trade routes from Arabia to Syria. Does this explain his limited grasp of the Old Testament and the New Testament? His knowledge of the Bible was rudimentary. For instance in spite of the fourfold witness of the gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Mohammed denied that Jesus died on the Cross.Christians believe that the Bible came not through one channel but through about 34 authors who lived over a time span of 1,500 years. What came by them has been tested for errors and these books form the canon or contents of the Bible.
The Old Testament forms a book of promise and the New Testament records and explains the fulfilment of the promises. This is important because central to it all is loving faithfulness. God is love. The Father loves the Son perfectly and the Holy Spirit loves the Father and the Son comprehensively. Those who are brought by faith into this triune family of love learn how to love from the Trinity. A monad cannot love because he is not relational and has nobody to love on his level. Moreover in a monad there is no room for diversity. Everyone must conform.
In Islam as we have witnessed over many years those who leave Islam are subject to the death penalty. The list of martyrs all over the world is miles long.The suicide bombers believe passionately in Islamic world domination. To justify themselves they must please Allah and for them there is no better way of pleasing him than by advancing his program and giving themselves up to achieve it. In this manner they believe they earn Allah's approval. But for Christians it is inconceivable that a God of love would approve and reward criminal murderous acts.
Is it possible to convert the suicide bombers from the error of their ways? That surely is necessary as well as the essential expensive measures that are now being made to try and protect society. Let us remember that there was a misguided Jew by the name of Saul of Tarsus. He was bent on vindictive persecution of Christians. Suddenly on the Damascus road he was converted. He became the great apostle Paul of the New Testament. My response to all this is to pray that potential bombers will be converted to Christ. This will not only make the earth a safer place for us all to live in but it will save these young men from hell which is the certain destiny of unrepentant murderers (1 Corinthians 6:9).
Thank you JameswLanning.com for your post as well as JWS for your truth on who the enemy is.
EVEN THOUGH this is not a site dedicated to the follies of the Roman Catholic Church, here are some thoughts on the Pope and his power as the supreme superpower in the universe.
Charles Spurgeon, a 19th century Calvinistic Baptist preacher had some thoughts on the Papacy. (The Papal Bull or is it the bull of the papal?)
Of all the dreams that ever deluded men, and probably of all blasphemies that ever were uttered, there has never been one which is more absurd and which is more fruitful for all manner of mischief, than the idea that the Bishop of Rome can be the head of the church of Jesus Christ. No, these popes die, and how could the church live if its head were dead? The true Head ever lives, and the church ever lives in Him.
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume 14 p. 621
A man who deludes other people, by degrees comes to delude himself. The deluder first makes dupes of others and then becomes a dupe to himself. I should not wonder but what the pope really believes that he is infallible, and that he ought to be saluted as "his holiness." It must have taken him a good time to arrive at that eminence of self-deception, but he has gotten to that by now, and everyone who kisses his toe or hand confirms him in this insane idea.
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 21. p. 413
Christ did not redeem his church with his blood that the pope might come in and steal away the glory. He never came from heaven to earth, and poured out his very heart that he might purchase his people, that a poor sinner, a mere man, should be set upon high to be admired by all the nations, and to call himself God's representative on earth. Christ has always been the Head of the church.
Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Volume 60, p. 592
20 July, 2005
Don't let that fraud baptize me! I was supposed to go to a CHRISTIAN FAMILY!
Its sad to say, but Bethany Christian Services has given in to the pressures of a post-modern ecumanical church. Lord Jesus come quickly!
A controversial adoption policy has been changed at Bethany Christian Services.
24 Hour News 8 reported last week about the organization's Mississippi branch refusing to allow a Catholic couple to adopt a child. A spokesman for the home office in Grand Rapids said he would not say that what the Mississippi office did was wrong.
Now the board of directors of that branch has voted unanimously to include Catholic families in all adoption programs.
In addition, the national board has agreed to do the same.
We need to have our hearts prepared so that we can eat and drink of Christ in a worthy manner.
I would suggest Brakel on the Preparation to come to the table. (Always a classic: he even deals with our thoughts on our way to the church as well as what to reflect on in our seats!)
I would also like to include this Communion sermon by Samuel Rutherford (the youngest of the Westminster Divines and called the most influential of the theologians present). The sermon title is Christ's Napkin and deals with Christ wiping the tears from the eyes of his children.
Also we need to be in prayer for Justin Pickering as well as Evangeline Lanning who will be publicly professing their faith in Jesus Christ before the congregation and becoming "full communicant members".
This is a special day in the life of our church. Christ says, "profess me before men and I will profess you before my father."
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, &c. —
Rev. xxi. 4, 5, 6, 7.
THIS text contains three things. First, The state of the glorified, verse 4. Secondly, A part of Christ's office, verse 5. Thirdly, A description of His nature. Fourthly, The promises as to i. Drink to satisfy the thirst; 2. An inheritance to the overcomers, or overcoming soldiers; 3. A threatening of eternal wrath to offenders against the first and second tables of the law.
"And God shall wipe away all tears." — When friends meet, they give the stranger his welcome-home. Here is the pilgrim's welcome that our friend, Christ, gives us. It was spoken from heaven, and therefore it is true doctrine. Then we see that the sufferings and tears of the saints shall be wiped away and removed, but not fully, until0 the world to come; for then is Christ's welcome-home to poor sinners. They come all to Him with wet faces, and bleared with tears for sin and the manifold troubles of this life; and Christ meets them in the door, with a fair soft napkin in His hand, and puts up His hand to their faces, and says, “Hold your tongue, My dear bairns; ye shall never weep again." And indeed, in my judgment, it is a speech borrowed from a mother that has a bairn with a broken face, all bloody and all bleared with tears, and it comes to her (and woe's her heart to "see him so), and she sits down and wipes the tears from his eyes, and lays her hand softly on the wound, and his head in her breast, and dights (wipes) away the blood, and lays her two arms about him, and there is no end of fair words. So when Christ and we shall meet in heaven, He will hush us, and wipe away all tears, and lay our head in His bosom. See how He alludes to this place (Isaiah liv. n), "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy foundations with sapphires," &c. It is there, to speak so, our Lord is rueing (repenting) that ever He had handled the saints as He did. (Isaiah lxv. 18, 19), “Be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in My people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying." If ever there was a blythe meeting betwixt two, it must be betwixt the Bridegroom and the bride in the marriage-day. And what a meeting there is of joy betwixt such a Bridegroom and bride cannot be conceived. For Christ, that day, will have on all His best clothes. And such a bride as the Lamb's wife! when we shall be clothed, and not a wrong pin on us; a fair bride in silk and purple of Christ's own busking. And what a welcome she will get! To get a drink at our first meeting and incoming to heaven, “of the well of the water of life." Oh, strong comforting water! And Christ our Lord shall present His bride to His Father; and our Father-in-law, the Father of our Husband, shall take us by the hand and lead us bent the house to the dining hall, and set us down at a table to feast our fill upon “the tree of life"—to feast upon the Trinity for evermore! Now, mock and scorn the way to heaven as ye please; ye never heard of true happiness till now. Here is a “banquet of joy “for evermore.
"He shall wipe away all tears."—Christ our Lord in this world wipes the tears from His bairns' faces; yet after that they weep new tears. He never wipes away all tears till now. Here shall be our last “goodnight “to death—Good-night to crying, and mourning, and sorrow! We shall be on the other side of the water, and over beyond the black river of death, and shall scorn death; for Christ shall take death and hell and cast them in the prison of fire (Rev. xx. 14). The mother that lost her bairns shall get them—all the Lord's widows shall get their husbands—the old world, which was the mourning world, shall be away. And therefore, never till now shall "all tears" be wiped away.
The kirk is half a widow here; her Lord is in an uncouth country; far from her home: and ilk loon round about plucks at this silly widow, while she is in the valley of Baca, wherein is no water. The watchmen strike her and take her veil from her; but Christ writes a love letter to her, and after she has read it she rejoiceth and wipeth her face. But when the letter grows old, and she has lost the letter, new troubles come on; she sheds new tears, and comes under new persecutions; and her Lord, for her sins, goes in behind the wall and hides Himself, and lets her mourn her fill. But in that day “He will wipe away all tears from her eyes." See then how it goes here in this life—first a fair day, then again a foul day, till at last that fair day dawns when all shadows flee away; and there shall never be a foul day after that; but aye the long, lasting, summer day for evermore. You see a man travelling to his home—here is a water, then dry land; then another water, then dry land; then a water, and at last only dry land between him and his home: then he goes home to his wife and bairns, and has no more waters. So all our tears are never dried till we come to heaven; for the saints have a different tack of the cross of Christ, while we are here, and aye ill weather—(Matt. xvi. 16)—ever the cross. See in John xvi. 20, 22, our Lord compares our troubles to the pains that come upon a woman in travailing; now a shower, and then some ease; a shower again, and then ease—aye till the last shower that she be delivered, and then no more showers: "She remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the World." We must be in pain ere our birth be born; but we shall be delivered of our birth.
Use 1st. Let us prepare; for tears will follow us to heaven; unto the very entry of the door our face shall be wet, for we go out of this life sad and groaning for this miserable life; and to thrust through the last port, and to wade through the hindermost water—it is a sore set. But be blythe, Christians, and grip to the promises. God's bairns that can now mourn for their own sins, and the sins of the land, rejoice in heaven; there are never seen greeting bairns there; God has a napkin to dight their faces. It is the laughing, rejoicing people that God destroys. But ye that laugh now (Luke vi. 25), (and are so far from tears—that ye mock the mourners of Zion), you may sigh and close the Bible, and say, "Alas! I never shed a tear for Christ; your text is not for me." It may be Christ shall that day make you weep and shed tears for evermore. This sour, laughing world will pass away—there is a day of tears coming on you; "greeting and gnashing of teeth." And when a man gnasheth his teeth, one against another, he has no mind of laughing. I would not have your mirth for a world. Be doing; we shall see who will laugh fastest yon day.
Use 2nd. There is an ill coming on this land. Sin is not come to full harvest. Often have I told you of a fan of God's word to come among you, for the contempt of it. I have told you often of wrath—wrath from the Lord to come upon Scotland, and yet I bide by my Master's word; it is quickly coming—desolation for Scotland, because of the quarrel of a broken covenant. Now, my dear people, my joy and crown, seek the Lord and His face; let Him be your fear. "Flee to your stronghold, ye prisoners of hope." Doves, flee to Christ's windows, and save your souls.
Verse 5. “And He that sat upon, the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And He said unto me, Write; for these words are true and faithful."
John heareth more of Christ—a sweet speech. Here are three things mentioned—1st, a speaker; and, a speech; 3rd, a direction to keep the speech.
1. A speaker. "He that sat upon the throne"—Who spake the speech is not told, whether an angel or an earthly king, for they sit on thrones also. But it is He of whom it is said (Rev. iv. 2), “And behold a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne." John tells not His name, but he thinks so much of Him, that he takes it for granted that there is none worthy to be a King but He, and to sit on a throne but He. The saints measure all the affections of others by their own affections. As, if one speared (inquired) at John, “Who is He that sits upon the throne?" he would have answered, "What needs you speir? is there any in heaven or earth, in my estimation, worthy to be a King but He? and to sit on a throne but He? and to take a crown upon His head but He? “The saints set aye Christ alone—they set Him above all. Speak of kings to them; but Christ is out of play. So (Cant. iii. 3), the kirk, meeting with “the watchmen," saith, “Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth? “"What kenned (knew) the watchman of Him whom her soul loved? for she might have laved a loon, or a harlot, or an idol-god, or the world. But she measureth the watchman by herself. There was none in her mind but Christ; and therefore she needed not to tell them, as she thought. So Mary Magdalene (John xx. 15) says to the-gardener (as she thought), "Sir, if ye have borne Him hence, tell me where ye have laid Him."
She tells not what Him, taking as granted, that what so much possessed her own soul would doubtless equally occupy the thoughts of every other; and none was so much in her mind as Christ. Now, I pray you, let the same mind be in you that was in John and in Mary. Let Christ be to your soul the pearl of the ring. Among all kings, Christ should be made high, and esteemed by us as He—the only He—that is worthy to “sit on a throne." So, in Cant. v. 10, He is to the kirk "the chiefest among ten thousand." Gather all the angels in heaven and earth together; Christ is too good to be their Captain. And, indeed, what is all that sits on a throne? It must be infinitely more in Him. And whatever glory is in the world, is far more in Him. Take all the roses in the earth, and put them all in one, that would be a dainty thing and sight. But what are all these to Christ?—no more than a nettle to the fairest rose. Fie upon the tasteless love of men, that never loveth Jesus Christ, and yet falleth in love with lusts. They love gold, riches, and honour, and put Christ to a backside. Ay, Christ gets not His own among us. We recommend Him not; neither will we match with Him.
2. A speech. “I will make all things new."—This is as much as, all things are old. Sin hath made all things old. They are like a woman groaning in childbirth with pain and vanity, because of our sin (Rom. viii. 22). All the creatures are sickened because of sin. Because of our sin, vanity can on the sun, moon, and other creatures. They sigh -under this, and pray, in their kind, a malison (evil) and a woe to man, for sin has made us all miserable. The heavens, that are the fairest part of the great web of the world, "wax old as a garment;" the prophet saith they are like an old clout. The water saith, "Let me drown sinners —they have sinned against my Lord;" the fire saith, "Let me burn them—let me burn Sodom, for they have sinned against my Lord." All things have lost the glory that they got at their first creation. Jesus seeth all things gone wrong, and quite out of order, and man fallen from his Lord. And He did even with the world as the pilot, who, when an unattentive man at the rudder was steering the ship on a sandbank, stept in quickly and turned her incontinent, or else all would have gone to confusion. So our Lord stept in when the great ship of this world was running on a sand-bed; and when the sun and the moon looked sad-like, and said they would not serve us, He renewed them by His death, made them all laugh on the elect again, and gave them all a suit of new clothes.
Drunkards, Christ gave His blessing on the wine that ye spue on the walls. Ye that dishonour your Maker with your vain apparel, ye know not what it cost Christ our Lord to buy a right to those things that ye abuse in vanity. All that set the world in their hearts, where the Lord should be, forget that Christ bought the world to be their servant, and not to be as their darling and wife that lies in their bosom. Ye that make the earth, and the broad acres of it, your soul's portion, forget that Christ bought the earth, and made it new, to be a footstool, and not a chair for. our souls to sit down in. And if Christ has this art to make all things new, come to Him all ye that are old. Oh, ye that .have old hearts! come. Christ may get His craft among ye, if ye would come to Him. "He makes all things new." The devil has borrowed your heart for covetousness, and crooked it with the thorny cares of this world, and holed0 it, and knocked the bottom out of it Oh! if ye would put it in Christ's hand, He would put it into His furnace, and melt it again, and by His art bring it out a new heart for Himself to dwell in. Alas! Christ gets not His trade or calling among us. But why are not our old hearts mended? Because we handle them as a foolish mother doth her dawted bairn; she will not let him go to the school to learn, and why?—because she dow (dare not) not want him out of her sight. She will therefore never let him do well, but feeds him for the gallows. We dow not give away our souls to Christ, who would fain have, and could easily mend them. But lust, or pride, or covetousness, like the foolish mother, keeps them out of Christ's company; so that we will not let that dear craftsman, who made the earth under our feet and the mountains new, make our old hearts new. Our souls are all hanging in tatters, worn and old with sin, and yet we dow not put them in Christ's hand, that He might make them whole and cleanse them. Fie upon thee, that thy garden, cursed in Adam's day to bring forth nettles and thorns, is blessed again to bring forth fruit in Christ, and thy soul gets not so much of Him as thy yard; it is made new, but thy soul remains old. Oh! bring it to Jesus; He will create in you a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within you. Indeed, Christ may get His craft among ye, if you would go to Him; for it is His trade to “make all things new."
3. A direction to keep the speech. “And He said unto me, Write; for these words are true and faithful? —He bids John write these things about the state of the glorified, and calls them faithful and true. He would not intrust His word to man's memory and conscience—He would have it written. Blasphemous Papists, laugh not at this, nor call the Pope's breast the Bible; here is a warrant for written Scripture. Indeed, it tells us that man's falsehood wore his conscience. Had his conscience been a faithful register, there should have been no need of a written Bible. But now the Lord has lippened0 more to dead paper than to a living man's soul. Our conscience, now under sin, had not been a good Bible, because man is ready to run away from his conscience, and because what is written on our conscience (as, that there is a God—a judgment—a heaven—a hell), Satan and sin come in as two false witnesses and blot it out, and write that in the fool's heart that says, “There is no God." And there are many holes in our souls; the word of God comes in and runs out again at back-spouts, except Jesus make our souls waterfast, so that “the word of God may dwell in us plentifully “(Col. iii. 16). Are not our hearts compared to a field, wherein the preacher sows the seed, and the black spirits of hell come and gather up Christ's wheat? Oh! but there are many running-out souls; and much need we have of a written Bible. Therefore make much of the written word, and pray God to copy His Bible into your conscience, and write a new book of His doctrine in your hearts, and put it in the conscience as He directs (Jer. xxxi.)
Verse 6. "-And He said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely."
Here, also, are three things—1st, a prophecy; 2nd, a description; 3rd, a promise of water.
i. A prophecy. Christ says to John, "It is done." —That is exponed in Rev. xvi. and xvii. The world is ended. So speaks Christ of the world. The glory of it passeth away in the twinkling of an eye, and Christ crieth to those that have the world in both their arms, “It is done," it is a past thing, there is no more of it. It is but a word to our Lord. He said, “Let all things be," and they were; He will say, “Let all things depart," and they will be at an end. We are beginning with the world as if it would be evermore ours; and our Lord says, in a moment, “Let it be plucked from them," and it is done. It is not for nothing that the taking down of this inn of heaven and earth is touched in so few words—" It is done." For it is an easy thing for the Almighty to take in His own hand the staves that hold up this fair tent, and, when He pulleth it, He garreth0 it come down with a tilt. So (Rev. vii. i), four angels are brought in, “holding the four winds of the earth," as if they had the world in their hands, and as if they had it ready to fold up as a sheet. And oh! what a fighting and business do men make to get a clout of this sheet!—he staring out his eyes—and he setting out his neck, for a piece of this holly\ clout and sheet, and for a gloib (a piece of ground) of the earth. But (see Rev. vi. 14), "The heavens shall depart away like a scroll" of parchment that is rolled together, and the fair stories thereof are like figs; with the shake of the Almighty's arm shall they fall together to the ground. And, what is more, with a touch of the Almighty's hand, or a putt of His little finger, or a blast of His mouth, saying, "It is done," the cupples0 of the walls of the house shall come down. Now, I cannot but speak of fools that have their heads full of windmills, and cry it is beginning, "To-morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundant" (Isaiah Ivi. 12), and there is no end of buying and selling. I came not here to bid anybody be unthrifty; but be not like bairns building sandy bourocks (places of shelter) at a burn-side, when presently a speat of water conies and spills all their sport, or a shower chases them in from their play. Men are ever bigging castles in the air. In very deed, we are like bairns holding the water at a river side with their hands. They think (daft things) they hold the water, while in the meantime it runs through their fingers. And what says God of honour, riches, pleasure, lands, fair houses, and sums of money? Even that in a word, “all is done." Ask of them that had the world and broad acres once at will what is to the fore? And what is to the fore§ of so many thousands? What has the world of them but their name? And what if their name be lost too? for what is their name? Ten or eleven letters of the ABC; and for their bodies— howbeit, when they were living, kingdoms would not content them—the clay into which their bodies are dissolved would not now fill a glove. I think that a true and a strange spoken word (Isaiah xi. 22), "God sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers." We even creep like grasshoppers up and down the globe of this earth, and cry to men of the vanities of all things, while death comes, like a common thief, without any din or feet, and plucks them away, and there is no more of them; then they say, "It is done." All men must confess it is true that I say; but I think to be dead ere they believe it, and act accordingly, or be brought to hate the world. I think the world is the devil's great herry-water-net, that has taken thousands and slain them. Ye say ye are sure of it. Then I say ye are a dieted! horse for heaven.
2. The second thing that is in the verse is a description of Christ—"I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end"—Our Lord here being to make an offer of the water of life, He first showeth what He is—even the first and the last letter of the alphabet—the Ancient of Days—the Eternal Son of the Eternal God. This teaches us that we may crack (talk freely) more of our old holding, and old charter, than all the world can do. For why? When began Christ to bear a good will to a sinner? Even when He began to be God; and He was God from all eternity. Suppose the sun in the firmament were eternal, the light of it behoved to be eternal; for the light of the sun is as old as the sun. Now love is a beam of life and heat that comes from Christ, the Sun of Righteousness; therefore ever living Christ— ever living love. For love comes not on Christ the day, which was not in Him yesterday. Man's love and a king's love are hunted for very much; and yet they die, and their love dies with them, and often their love dies before themselves. But who seeks Christ's love, that "changes not?" Yea, this a matter of admiration and wonder, that Christ should have thought on us worms of the clay ere ever we were, and that our salvation is as old as evermore—as old as Christ, and Christ is as old as God!
Indeed, if God should begin at any point of time to love sinners, His love would have had a beginning; and if His love had a beginning, Christ Himself would have had a beginning, because love with Him is one with His essence and nature. But it may be said, can the love of God be older than the death of Christ? Answer. Christ's death doth not properly make God a hater or a lover of man; for then both His will should be changeable and His love have a beginning. How then? Christ's death doth only let that God kythe (permit God to shew) the fruits of His eternal love out upon us, but after such a way as He thought convenient for His justice; and therefore we are said in Scripture "to be reconciled unto God," and not God to be reconciled unto us. His love is everlasting; because by order of nature it was before the seed, before we had done either good or evil; so that sin could not change God's mind. But only by the order of justice, sin stood in the way to hinder us of life everlasting, which is a fruit of His love. Yea, more, God with that same love in Christ, loveth the elect before and after conversion; and therefore, in feeling any of God's love to us, we have to rejoice in Christ. It is old acquaintance between Him and us. And therefore, as it is folly in man (as Solomon saith) to cast off his old friend, and his father's friend, so let us think it madness to cast off such an old friend as Christ. And under temptations and desertions, let our faith hold fast by this—Alpha and Omega changeth not; the change is in us.
3. The third thing in the words is a promise of the water of life to the thirsty—"I will give unto him that is at thirst of the fountain of the water of life freely." (Isaiah lv. 1, and John iv. 14). Christ at the market-cross cries the well free. Here learn,
1st. The thirsty and hungry souls are meetest for the water of life. What! (ye will say) and are not all thirsty? Yes; all want the life of God, and the sap of grace, and are burnt and withered at the root; but all know not their own want. Here is indeed a special comfort for the weak ones who say, “Oh! I know Christ doth good to believers, to repenters, and to such as love Him; but I dow not, cannot, win to faith and repentance, hope and patience; I have too short an arm to rax (reach) so high." Then, say I, have ye a desire—a hunger—for faith, and repentance, and love? Now, upon your conscience, speak the truth. I know ye cannot deny it. Then your Lord bids you come—the well is open to you; for hunger and thirst being next to motion, and the two properties that begin first with life, so every one that is new-born is lively, and hath a stomach for meat and drink. “Oh but," say ye, “I am many times, in my soul, at death's door. I have neither faith nor feeling. I am even at this—'God loves me not,' and the well is not ordained for me at these times." Would ye fain be at the well? In my mind ye cannot win away. In the children of God, when at the lowest ebb—even when faith, comfort, joy, love, and disposition to pray is away—is there not a longing for a presence? I speak to the conscience of God's child; lie not. David (Psalm vi.), when he thought God spake to him in wrath, was at, “How long, Lord?"—a cutting word. I think he looked like a hungry beast looking over the dyke; he would fain have a mouthful. He was going about to seek a slapp0 to break over the dyke of his doublings. And so it is with God's bairns, under their thirst for the water of the well of life. See Canticles iii., when the kirk can get no speiring of Christ, and has no smell of Him, and cannot find the print of His foot, yet she is at this, "Saw ye Him whom my soul loveth?" And (chap. v. 8), “I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my Beloved, that ye tell Him, that I am sick of love." Then let me now tell you weak ones who are Christ's companions, and who it is shall drink with Him, and get their hearts and heads full of. the water of life—even the tender Christians that are aye seeking. The bairn in Christ's house that is most cumbersome, and makes most din for his meat, is the best bairn that Christ has. The bairn that is greeting! ilk hour of the day for a piece and a drink—we say of such a silly thing, “He would fain love." Aye, the cumbersomer that Christ's bairns be, they are welcomer. Na, He loveth the bairns best that have no shame, and are aye crying, “Alas! black hunger, dear Lord Jesus; I am burnt with thirst; oh for an open cold fountain!" Oh, it is a sweet thing aye to be whining, and crying, and seeking about Christ's pantry doors, and to hold aye an eye upon Christ when He goes into the house of wine, into His Father's fair lucky wine-cellar, where there are many wines; and bout (whinings) in at Christ's back! But, in a word, have ye a good stomach?—much hunger and thirst? Well, ye shall get much satisfaction of grace in Christ. Is there not a time when ye cannot get a presence, and ye have no pith to put up the door and bout in, but ye put it half up and blink in? Love ye to pray, or desire ye but a desire of prayer? Hold on then; ye are right. The true desire is absolute, and not conditional. Not like the sluggard that would have a crop, upon condition he might have a feather bed to lie on for fear of cold. Even so some would have heaven, upon condition that they might keep their lusts, and take their lusts with them.
Now, who are they that are debarred from Christ's well? Answer. Those who have gotten an ill drink from the devil, full of lusts, pride, and covetousness—full of love of the world. Such are they that have no stomach for Christ. Alas! and woes me! Christ standeth at the well's side, and crieth, “The back of My hand to you." The Lord Jesus gives such a vomit-drink, that they may grow wholesome and hungry again for Christ; for till then they are never meet for Him.
But, secondly, hunger is aye seeking through the house; for the belly can hardly play the hypocrite. The natural man is in darkness—he is in a sleep—it it is night with him. He is like a cumbersome bairn greeting in the night for a drink, and crying, “Who will shew me any good?" (Psalm iv. 6). And Satan is ready at his elbow with his dishful of the dirty, miry waters of lust to the world; and he drinks till he sweats and tines £ breath; and tines all sight and desire of Christ, “the Fountain of the Water of Life." It is true this fountain is said to proceed “out of the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Rev. xxii. i). But it is all one; for the streams of the water of life proceed from the fountain, Christ. How, then, is the water Christ? Answer. It is Christ-man, dying, and sending out His heart's blood for quenching the thirst of such poor sinners as find the fire of hell at the stomach of their souls, burning them up with the fire of the wrath of God for sin. This is the well: this is why He is called “a fountain of the water of life." A man, burnt with thirst, nothing can quench him; no, not a world of gold is so good as a drink of pure, cold, clean, fountain water. In a word, a soul wakened under sin findeth nothing in the world satisfactory to the soul's appetite but in Christ. Tell me, art thou a thirsty sinner after Christ? Then thy soul is dead sick while ye get Him. Is a man faint, and fatigued, and way-worn? Lay him down on a soft bed, dry the sweat off him, give him a cold refreshing drink. In like manner, ye cannot speak such a word to a soul bursting under sin, as to lay it upon a crucified Christ. Oh, that is a soft bed! His sinful soul being stretched upon the open wounds and warm-flowing blood of Christ. Oh, that is a soft bed! Oh, but a part of Christ's blood is a refreshing, cooling drink to him! A slave of hell to know that he is made a free heir of heaven—oh, that is sweet! Hence it is that those who are wakened with the furies of hell, howbeit they know not yet what Christ is to them, yet this world cannot calm their conscience— because for men that are soul-sick and sin-sick there is no physic but one—only a “drink of the well of life." And because they ken not the gate to this well of life, they, in despair, loup (leap) out of this life into the fire of hell, through the madness of an awakened conscience. A thirsty soul finds two things in Christ, never to be found in all the world or in anything else.
1st. Christ takes off the hardness of sin. None has power to do this but He. All the pardons of sin are in Christ's keeping, and of Christ's making. It is His office to forgive sin. and. They find in Him an influence and abundance of happiness, so as what they sought before in the creature, they find nowhere else but in Him. Then speak to them of gold—it is nothing to Christ. Speak of lands and lordships—a Saviour, and such a Saviour, is, and has another name to a sinner that is awakened.
3rd. The text calls Him “the water of life." We see here there is some water that is rotten and ill-tasted. Will a thirsty man drink of it? He shall not be the better. But the wholesomest water is the running spring; so all that sinners can get beside Christ is standing water. Let them drink in gold, and kingdoms, and lands; these will never be satisfying to a sick soul as He will be. And they who have drunk in these, at death would be content to spue them out again; they lie so heavy upon their stomach. But Christ is the cooling, wholesome spring—" the well of water springing up to eternal life." Now, to make our use of this. Seeing Christ is such a living well of water, how comes it that under the gospel there are so many dry and withered souls? I answer; for God's part, indeed, God has not put an iron lock upon the well of life; but Christ, .by His word and sacraments, opens the well in the midst of us, and for seventy years and more in this kingdom the well has been open—Christ and His messengers have been crying to dry souls. But now, for aught we see, He will close the well again. He has been setting out the means of life, and opening the booth-doors to give us freely, even to such as would take it; but He gets no sale. Therefore He must put up His wares and go away, for men are not thirsty for His waters. But one thirsts for court and honour, another for lust and money, and a third for sinful pleasures. There be few stomachs gaping for Christ. They have not a vessel to cast down into the well and take up water. This is a fruitless generation. Oh, we loathe Christ, and Christ loathes us. We need speak no more of the call of the word. All the land—court, king, noblemen, and kirkmen—have spued the waters, by despising grace and contemning the gospel; and in very deed, when we cast in clay and mud in Christ's well, and mix His worship with the poison of the whore's well of Rome, what do we else but provoke the Lord to close the well?
"I will give it freely"—So are all Christ's mercies given of grace. His mercy is for nothing, and of free grace. I grant the well is dear to Christ. God's justice digged it out of His side, and heart, and hands, and feet. The man, Christ, got not this water for nothing; yet He gives it to us for nothing, because He minds not to make a gain of us. We live upon Christ's winning. For know ye that Christ, who redeemed many, did so, by the rule »bf justice, since "He gave Himself," and has bought all "with His own blood;" so that in this sense Christ was bought to us with blood, else we could not get Him, for He was both the price and the wares. So that, as far as we can see, it was decreed by the Lord, by order of justice, that Christ could not have lived and given to us the waters of life. It was dear water to Him; for in the garden God deserted Him, and blood came out; on the cross God bruised Him, and blood came out; and that is the well we have here. We think we would have something to give to Christ for the water of life—some of our own righteousness—some of our own worthiness; but this is plastered humility, watered copper. And in doing so we refuse grace, and make grace to be no more grace; for if it be given for any worth in us, then it is no more grace. Let men here see, then, that the kingdom of grace is a good, cheap world, where the best things are gotten for nothing. And therefore, I think in this dear world, where all things go for money, whose court costs expenses, lands are dear, gold is not gotten for nought, and law is dearer than ever it was. Yea, paper and ink are dearer than jewels and gold rings were long syne. Nothing now is bought for nought. Yet Christ for all that will not change His word. All things with Him are given gratis, and ye are welcome when all is done. Here we get no garments for nought, no physic for nought; but Christ gives "white raiment," “eye salve," and all for nought. Sinners say, “Lord, what take Ye for the water of life?" He answers, “Even nothing, and yet welcome." Christ plays not the merchant with His wares: He makes no gain, but cries, The well is free. No, says the Pope —not a drop of it, till ye tell down money. That bloody Beast would sell the water of Rome for gold. As meikle money—as meikle grace and forgiveness. "Want ye money? (He swears) Ye shall not come here. Nothing in Rome without money. Fie, fie; the stink of the devil's world. Nay, but Christ is for nothing. Nay, justice giveth money, and officers give money; it is a dear world. But Christ and His word care no more for money than before!
Verse 7. “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God and he shall be My son.”
1. Alway in this book John urgeth "fighting" and "overcoming" for heaven. We wonder much that God will not have poor men go to heaven but by fighting, seeing He might have sent us to heaven by a second heaven. But this is but a thought of men, that would make a new back-gate of their own to heaven. God advised well when He made His causey to it, and ordained all His saints, yea, His own Son, to go that way. But it is easier for us to complain on God's decree than to obey, and to dispute than believe. Men have too thin skins. For health, they will cut a vein, or let a leg or an arm be cut off for fear of a fester; and yet for “life everlasting “they are so, that they dow not venture a moment's pain.
2. There are excellent promises made to the over-comers—to him that taketh heaven with stroke of sword and blood. For heaven is a -besieged city or castle. There are many foes to fight against. Armies of sin with all their armour, and the deceiving and malicious world. The world has Eve's apple in one hand, and fire and sword jn the other; and the devil is the captain of the army. Now, here is a prize set, and an offer made to him that overcometh—to him that will mount up by faith and hope, and leap up into Christ's chariot, and betide him life, betide him death, will go through. But they are cowards that take a back-side, and let the devil coup (upset) them in a gutter. But yet to lead men on, here is a promise, “He shall inherit all things." Ye see that the Christians' Captain is a man of a fair rent; "for all things are yours, whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come, all are yours" (1 Cor. iii. 21, 22). And to let us see He bides by the thing He has said, He says again, “All things are yours." Ye see in this world one has a kingdom, as Asa, but wants health, and is sick of his feet; he has not all things. Another, as Samson, had strength of body above any living, yet he had many troubles and wanted his eyes; he had not all things. Oh, the business Adam's sons are at for inheritances! Here a mailen (alarm)—there a lairdship— there a new lordship. That they call their all things. I think this is a greedy style, and proud-like lordship or lairdship. Yet, greedy Adam's sons have more greediness here than wit. They run all upon their lordships, that they call the lordship of many things. "Martha, Martha, thou art troubled" (Luke x. 41). Worldlings, ye are aye careful and troubled about this, to be called “My lord “of many things. But we shall see if the text be true.
"I am Alpha and Omega"—Ye will notice that Paul puts in “death" into the rent-roll. I think death an ill mailen; better want it out of the charter. Nay, but death is also a part-of the lordship this way (because it is “My lord of all things"), and a coach to glory—Christ Himself being the coachman and driving the horse. Death is the servant. As the wind serveth to bring the seaman home, so death serveth him that hath the new lordship. Death is Christ's ferry-boat to carry the Christian home, for in Christ he sets his foot on death's neck. It is a bridge over the river of hell that he walketh on to heaven; and it is his. The Christian is advanced in Christ's court, and gets the new style to be “My lord of all things," the prince, the duke of all things. Yet I shall get you a lordship far inferior, but much sought for—the lordship of vanity or nothing. “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not?" He that is rich has nought; “for riches certainly make themselves wings—they fly away as an eagle towards heaven “(Prov. xxiii. 5).
2. Again, if the Christian “inherits all things? the whole world is his, and so he wanteth nothing. (Psalm Ixxxix. 25), "I will set his hand also in the sea, and his right hand in the rivers." Here see how broad Christ's two arms are. His one hand upon all the sea, and His other hand upon the rivers. And that promise is made to Christ as principal cautioner of the covenant; for it is said (verse 26), "He shall cry unto Me, Thou art My Father, My God, and the rock of My salvation." Verse 27, "Also, I will make Him My first-born, higher than the kings of the earth," which is exponed of Christ (Heb. i. 6). Again, in Rev. x. 2, Pie has “His right foot on the sea and His left foot on the earth." Put these two together, and see how wide His arms and legs, or feet, are. They go over the whole world as His inheritance, which He won to Himself, and His heirs after Him, with His blood. Now, Christ got land not to Himself. What! needed He land? and to give His blood for clay? But He won it to us, and took investment in the earth, in the name of His friends; so that in Him they inherit "all things." 3. But here one may say, “How is it, then, that the saints are hungry and poor? Answer. It is true, they are not now possessors of all things. But minors' wants—ye see their interest is in and over all things, yet their tutor lets them go with a toom (empty) purse. He knows the heir is a young one, and cannot keep gold,
Take the case of those under age; they are often poor and therefore he gives him food and raiment for his present necessity, but keeps the lordship till he be able to guide it.
Even so Christ is made of God, our Tutor and Purse-Master. It is all one whether our wealth be in our chest-nook or if it be in Christ's purse, to keep till we need it, providing we want not.
Another question and doubt is, “Seeing they are under so many troubles in this life, and have no ease, the saints have not ' all things?' I answer, Yes; I must defend it, and say, if they have the inheritance, they have all things, because the sweet and the comforts of trouble is theirs.
A third question or objection is, The saints have not heaven and glory, at least, in this life, and therefore they have not all things. I answer, i. The promise is not fulfilled in this life. Yet, when a man has shorn a stock or two of corn, we say he “has got harvest and new corn." So the believer gets joy, hope, faith, assurance of heaven, and the first-fruits of the Spirit. These are a foretaste of the full harvest and new corn. 2. Having God and Christ, the saints have all things. For ye see the great ship draggeth the cock-boat after her, so the great Christ bringeth all things after Him at His back. So I say, having Christ, believers, ye have all things—ye have "the Father and the Spirit, the word, life, and death."
19 July, 2005
IT SEEMS THAT ALGER HEIGHTS has been struck a large blow this summer by radical secular humanistic terrorists! Alger Elementry is being demolished so that a "new and improved" educational facility can take its place.
Why the need for another building? It seems that secular humanist Ph.Ds believe that new buildings promote learning. Over the past three years of living in this neighborhood my taxes have gone up anually to pour money into this dying cause called public education.
What the secular humanists do not understand is that true education begins and ends with the knowledge and the fear of Jesus Christ. This is what is missing from public education...knowledge and wisdom.
Lets look at how well Grand Rapids schools are doing in Kent County:
Of the 29 public schools in Kent County it ranks: 27
Graduation rate: 85%
Money that comes from property owners per $100,000: $1080
Percentage of students on forms of welfare: 74.6%
Proficiency in reading at grade level: 49.1%
Proficiency in math at grade level: 35.7%
Christians, this is a wake up call. New buildings and diversified classrooms are not going to solve the education crisis. As Christians we need to be educating our children to be the thinkers in our society. There was once a time in history when all great Western thought came out of the Christian church. WE need to see the importance of this. We need to be educated and keep Jesus Christ as the beginning as well as the goal of all education.
Our tax dollars are lost. (I paid $1600 this year in taxes so that 30 some % of Grand Rapids can do math) Our covenantal children do not need to be lost though.
We need a Reformation in Christian thought: the glory of Christ Jesus!
18 July, 2005
CHRISTIAN LOVE maintains boundaries as well as standards. Without boundaries Christians people and organizations would be taken advantage of and overtaken by worldly minded men and women. Christian standards are set inorder for the people of God to have a rule of faith and practice. Some are in and some are not.
It seems that the adoption agency that was founded by Reformed Christians (and attended RBC has in some degree returned to its roots.
We live in an age of over sensitivity to the point that the gospel has lost its power of offense. The fact is that the gospel is offensive and causes division is one of the reasons why the gospel is different from other religions. Why wouldn't an adoption agency want to adopt out children to families who understand that the child being adopted:
1. Is a sinner
2. Is in need of a savior.
3. The savior is to be received by faith alone.
4. The child should be reared within what the Westminster Confession of Faith calls the true Reformed Religion.
My thoughts: Way to go Bethany Christian Services. May God bless your ministry and may the children who come under your care come to love the Lord Jesus Christ!
JACKSON, Miss. -- A Christian adoption agency that receives money from Choose Life license plate fees said it does not place children with Roman Catholic couples because their religion conflicts with the agency's "Statement of Faith."
Bethany Christian Services stated the policy in a letter to a Jackson couple this month, and another Mississippi couple said they were rejected for the same reason last year.
"It has been our understanding that Catholicism does not agree with our Statement of Faith," Bethany's state director Karen Stewart wrote. "Our practice to not accept applications from Catholics was an effort to be good stewards of an adoptive applicant's time, money and emotional energy."
Sandy and Robert Steadman, who learned of Bethany's decision in a July 8 letter, said their priest told them the faith statement did not conflict with Catholic teaching.
Loria Williams of nearby Ridgeland said she and her husband, Wes, had a similar experience when they started to pursue an adoption in September 2004.
"I can't believe an agency that's nationwide would act like this," Loria Williams said. "There was an agency who was Christian based but wasn't willing to help people across the board."
Bethany, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., has 75 offices in 30 states, including three in Mississippi. The offices are independently incorporated and are affiliated with various religions, spokesman John Van Valkenburg said from the agency headquarters. He couldn't say whether any were Catholic-affiliated.
He said the Jackson office is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of America.
"They included this practice of not including Catholics," Van Valkenburg said Friday.
Stewart told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger that Bethany's board will review its policy, but she didn't specify which aspects will be addressed.
The agency's Web site says all Bethany staff and adoptive applicants personally agree with the faith statement, which describes belief in the Christian Church and the Scripture. It does not refer to any specific branches of Christianity.
"As the Savior, Jesus takes away the sins of the world," the statement says in part. "Jesus is the one in whom we are called to put our hope, our only hope for forgiveness of sin and for reconciliation with God and with one another."
Sandy Steadman said she was hurt and disappointed that Bethany received funds from the Choose Life car license plates. "I know of a lot of Catholics who get those tags," she said.
She added: "If it's OK to accept our money, it should be OK to open your home to us as a family."
Bethany is one of 24 adoption and pregnancy counseling centers in Mississippi that receives money from the sale of Choose Life tags, a special plate that motorists can obtain with an extra fee.
Of $244,000 generated by the sale of the tags in 2004, Bethany received $7,053, said Geraldine Gray, treasurer of Choose Life Mississippi, which distributes the money.
"It is troubling to me if they are discriminating based on only the Catholics," Gray said.
The Bethany spokesman, van Valkenburg, said the offices in Mississippi do not receive any public money, but that some offices in other states do, for example, because they are involved in foster care.