Author Archive

FREE WILL

Written by Steven Black on 06/03/2016. Posted in Articles

By W. S. Craig (1867 – 1920)

THE WILL, choice and desire practically mean the same thing. Men act freely in choosing that which is agreeable with their nature, love and desires; but they do not thus act freely with that which is not agreeable, for it is contrary to their real choice. They may be, and very often are, prevented from possessing their choice, but not from willing or desiring it. But the Arminian belief that the will is self-determining and that man can of himself change his will is a very great error. In nature’s night men act freely in committing sin, but because they are willingly in love with it and as willingly bound with its chain, and are willingly haters of God, they have no power or ability or real willingness in and of themselves to reverse all this.

They may, and often do, claim to make such a choice; but as this can only be an empty profession, what is it but hypocrisy? For without the blessed Spirit’s work of grace in the heart, no-one can make a genuine profession of religion. And it is very wrong to urge anyone who has not had this heart-change to make such a profession, for of all things surely this is the worst place to practise deception. But when the gracious Lord is pleased to take away the hard and stony heart and give a tender heart of flesh, and shed abroad His love therein, then this regenerated person freely loves God, and can then freely and truly choose to make profession of His service. For when he is painfully made aware of the awful plague of his heart, he then will freely hate sin instead of loving it as before. And such awakened sinners should certainly always be encouraged and comforted; and it is wrong not to do so.

But man positively cannot of himself reverse his desire, change his heart, and prepare himself for God’s service. And all men are quite powerless to aid each other in this line, for “The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord” (Proverbs 16:1). “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil” (Jeremiah 13:23). “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34, 35).

I am positive that the above is true. But, sad to say, in this proud age of popular profession, free-will is so often perverted and “run up to seed,” and an acquired head-knowledge is generally substituted for the necessary Spirit-given heart-work. The devils plainly possessed quite an intellectual knowledge of Jesus Christ. (See Luke 4:34, 41). Historical knowledge alone puffeth up; but God’s grace in the human heart humbleth.

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Loved of my God, for Him again,
With love intense I’s burn;
Chosen of thee, ere time began,
I choose thee in return.
(Augustus Toplady)

“A peculiar people”

Written by Steven Black on 06/03/2016. Posted in Articles

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a PECULIAR people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” (I Peter 2:9-10).

In reading this particular portion of Scripture, I began to ponder the concept of being identified as a “PECULIAR” people, or person. If I was brought before a jury made up of various folks from every profession and description, could they find ENOUGH evidence “without reasonable doubt” to judge me as being a PECULIAR person?

The word “Peculiar” is defined as: different from the usual or normal. I am convinced that one that has been called of God out of darkness into the marvellous light of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, and been translated into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son, is going to be identified as a PECULIAR person. If any man be in Christ he is a NEW creature (II Cor.5:17) and this NEW creature is not of the norm; they have been ushered into the Kingdom of God by the supernatural operation of God’s sovereign, ever-ruling grace. These people which I am referencing are identified as Strangers, Pilgrims, and Sojourners as well in this time world. They are marching to a DIFFERENT drumbeat; they hear the voice of the Good Shepherd that the worldling knows nothing of. They have been given the ears to hear the Gospel of their salvation, whereas the worldling is deaf under depravities’ curse. These Peculiar people have been given eyes to see by the miraculous vehicle of the faith of Christ, this glorious Saviour that bled and died on Calvary’s tree on their behalf.

Yea, beloved professor of such blessed hope, are you seen by the unregenerate people that you meander about daily as one that is PECULIAR? Can you laugh at the immoral jokes of the natural man’s humour as others? Does the vulgar God-dishonouring language of the majority become an offence to your ears? Are you vexed with the wickedness of this sin-dominated society?

If these things are not offensive to you as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, then one ought to question what has been made PECULIAR in your nature since you have been called to believe? I did once ask myself these very questions and am convinced that there is a part of me that hates sin and the influence of its wickedness. There was a time when I loved sin and walked after it with a rebellious heart against those things that resembled God. There was no fear of God before my eyes and my ears were deaf to the Gospel trumpet. But, when grace came in its mighty power, it arrested me; it slew me prostrate before the Almighty, to whom I was introduced. Sin was revealed as a vile poison to me and I begged for forgiveness as repentance was granted to this wretched sinner. Faith had brought its perfect work, causing me to believe Jesus Christ was who the Scriptures say He is, and that God is the rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.

I became PECULIAR through this supernatural experience, never to be the same. This was an experience that occurred 42 years ago in this man’s heart and soul. I stand amazed day by day that I continue to believe in this Christ of whom I have not seen with the physical eye, yet embrace Him as my beloved Saviour!! I often question, how could this be, that one such as me could believe in this supernatural Gospel GOOD NEWS?

I conclude it was ALL by grace that this poor sinner was made to lay hold on such spiritual experience. It is ALL by grace that I was sought, and ALL by grace that I persevere, and it shall be ALL by grace that I arrive at that immortal place which God has prepared for them that love Him. Oh! to be PECULIAR is my heart’s desire, to be seen as STRANGE before a sin-cursed society, and be made to feel as a PILGRIM and SOJOURNER seeking another country whose builder and maker is God, the Almighty!!

O to Christ how great a debtor this poor needy sinner has been made to be……

Grace, grace, free and sovereign grace is my plea, for ONLY grace could rescue one like me.

Pastor Donald E. Martin, Sr.
Fellowship Primitive Baptist Church
Florida, U.S.A.

 

29th February

Written by Steven Black on 29/02/2016. Posted in Devotionals

“And has put all things under his feet.”
Ephesians 1:22

How vast, how numerous, how complicated are the various events and circumstances which attend the Church of God here below, as she travels onward to her heavenly home! But if all things as well as all persons are put under Jesus’ feet, there cannot be a single circumstance over which he has not supreme control. Everything in providence and everything in grace are alike subject to his disposal. There is not a trial or temptation, an affliction of body or soul, a loss, a cross, a painful bereavement, a vexation, grief or disappointment, a case, state or condition, which is not put under Jesus’ feet.

He has sovereign, supreme disposal over all events and circumstances. As possessed of infinite knowledge he sees them, as possessed of infinite wisdom he can manage them, and as possessed of infinite power he can dispose and direct them for our good and his own glory. How much trouble and anxiety should we save ourselves, could we firmly believe, realize, and act on this! If we could see by the eye of faith that every foe and every fear, every difficulty and perplexity, every trying or painful circumstance, every looked-for or unlooked-for event, every source of care, whether at present or in prospect, are all, as put under his feet, at his sovereign disposal, what a load of anxiety and care would be often taken off our shoulders!

What should be the attitude of the Christian in a declining Church?

Written by Steven Black on 03/02/2016. Posted in Articles

What should be the attitude of the Christian
in a declining Church?

By Michael Hobbis,
CW Committee Member

2 Timothy 3 – 4: 5

Since this is a message for Christians, we may now pass briefly over some preliminaries, as it is assumed that certain truths are self-evident.

    1. That we live in an age of unparalleled wickedness in its extent and blatant ungodliness – I say unparalleled – since the speed of modern day communications means that sin in all its horrid forms, is now global and highly contagious.
    2. That the professing Church is in a state of decline – no honest man, Christian or non-Christian, can deny. I recall at the inception of the Anglican Archbishop, Justin Welby, a columnist in a secular newspaper wrote to the effect – somewhat facetiously – that it was a relief that we now had one who actually believed in God.

The false religion of New Evangelicalism has pervaded most, if not all, of local churches in one form or another. Even some reformed believers now have a very relaxed view of the Christian Lord’s Day (the N.T. Sabbath) and the moral law of God, as expressed in the Ten Commandments. They speak of liberty and doing whatever they wish on this day of holy rest, while they themselves prove by disobedience that they are the servants of corruption.

In my attendance at the Christian Resources Exhibition, while representing Christian Watch, to walk among the stands is akin to a walk in Pilgrim’s Vanity Fair, such is the worldliness and abounding impiety of the corrupt forms of Christianity displayed, with no sense of irony, or any fear of God before the eyes of most.

Horrific accounts of sinful acts in the world and in the professing Church are now so common, as to have almost lost their ability to shock.

What are we to do?
We live in dangerous times, troubling times, yet in times in which all true believers are required by God to be faithful, and even excel (Dan. 11:32). But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overcome you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness (1 Thess. 5:4/5). However, to walk in the light, we must have a right attitude in response towards these times in which Divine providence has placed us.

We may find what this attitude is to be, always and only, in the Holy Oracles of God.

Firstly, we may say fundamentally, it is to recognise with sadness and self-loathing our own part in these things. We each bear our own responsibility in Adam as our representative, and the sad Biblical history of the human race declares that in rebellion against God and in our departing from Him, we have not only brought upon ourselves misery and judgement, but have sinned against infinite Goodness. If we are true Christians, we also have the aggravated sense of sorrow in that we crucified the Lord of Glory by our sin, and were complicit in His death.

Many today are like the proverbial ‘disgusted lady of Tunbridge Wells’, declaring loudly against homosexuality, abortion and the sexualisation of children. So too, many often quote that Scripture from Ezekiel 9:4 that the Lord has an especial regard for those who sigh and cry for the abomination of the times. However, this is surely not to be a crying and sighing at the abominations in our midst, but rather as the Scripture says: for these things. They have been done in our day, and if we are the sons of Adam, we share in the responsibility for them.

Consequently, we are to be much in prayer, for prayer and true repentance go together. We repent unto God, and not like Judas, unto ourselves. As Hezekiah, we should spread these things before the Lord.

Our Lord Jesus told us to watch and pray, particularly in these end times (Mark 13:33). To watch without praying is presumption; to pray without watching is laziness. Therefore, the second attitude to cultivate is watchfulness. Repentance joins with prayer, and prayer to watching. Indeed the exhortation to Timothy in our text (2 Timothy 4:5) is to watch. This exhortation follows the many warnings given in the preceding chapter concerning the last days: of perilous times; a false form of godliness; of evil men and seducers becoming worse and worse in each succeeding generation; a turning away from sound doctrine. Such times are dangerous times and we are to be watchful.

The contagion of sin
As John Owen remarked in his treatise ‘Perilous Times’ – sin is infectious. You and I may be infected, yet oblivious to our danger. We know that some diseases like Creutzfeldt – Jakob disease (similar to BSE) have long and hidden incubation periods. Consider how the plague of sin in the world may have infected you, yet you know it not. Jesus told us that the last days would be declining days in the Church, because iniquity would abound in the world (Matt. 24:12). Therefore, in declining times particularly, it is better to be far removed from the fashions of this world as is consistent with true godliness.

The New Evangelicals, who would have all the pleasures of this life, together with the security of forgiveness and Heaven, consider not that the weight of their worldliness alone will sink them beneath the waves as they try to cross Jordan to the Celestial City.

The next advice to Timothy in 4:5 is to endure. The children of Issachar were blessed with the strength to endure the burden of the day (Gen. 49:14); and true Christians, to whom all the promises belong in Christ Jesus, shall receive from Him strength to endure equal to the day.

They are also called here to be active and make full proof of their calling in Christ. Some may have more opportunities than others, but the parable of the talents applies not just to Timothy, but to all the Lord’s people. How tender that precious saying of Jesus – She hath done what she could (Mark 14:8).

To stand firm in times of the declining Church is a miracle of God’s grace, and our prayer with the Psalmist should be: O let me not wander from thy commandments (Ps.119:10).

It is the words of the Saviour that we are told to hold fast unto; so that our house may rest upon solid foundations and withstand the flood-tide of sin and iniquity that is increasingly coming upon the face of the earth. What else are we to hold fast to? That which is good (1 Thess. 5:21) – to a form of sound words (2 Tim 1:13) – our profession (Heb. 10:23) – and whatever light and attainments we have been given (Rev. 2:25 and Rev. 3:11).

The lips of the righteous know what is acceptable
Finally, brethren; whatsoever things are true – honest – just – pure – lovely – of good report – virtuous – praiseworthy – think on these things (see Phil.4:8).

Why do I mention this last? Because we are to be pure and holy in thought. There are those believers and organisations today who are very concerned for the moral degradation, which is found in homosexuality, child sexualisation and other abuses. Consequently, they feel it incumbent upon themselves to display graphic images and descriptions on websites and in emails of homosexual acts, and other sexual perversions; all in the cause of righteousness!

When Paul the Apostle declared in his day by the Holy Ghost that it was a shame even to speak of such practices (Eph. 5:12); he meant exactly that. Do not speak of them.

Christians should have a God-given sense of propriety and they know what is acceptable, and what is not (Prov. 10:32). So let us always cultivate that attitude which hates sin and loves holiness, and be like those who wait with one eye upon the horizon for His coming, and so purify themselves, even as He is pure, by this fervent hope. For we shall be like Him when we see Him as He is (1 John 3:2 /3).

May/June 2015

Written by Steven Black on 02/02/2016. Posted in Back Issues Newsletters, May/June 2015

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April 2015

Written by Steven Black on 02/02/2016. Posted in April 2015, Back Issues Newsletters

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March 2015

Written by Steven Black on 01/02/2016. Posted in Back Issues Newsletters, March 2015

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February 2015

Written by Steven Black on 01/02/2016. Posted in Back Issues Newsletters, February 2015

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January 2015

Written by Steven Black on 01/02/2016. Posted in Back Issues Newsletters, January 2015

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AFFLICTION AND GLORY

Written by Steven Black on 13/01/2016. Posted in Articles

By A.W. Pink (1886 – 1952)

“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more
exceeding and eternal weight of glory” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

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These words supply us with a reason why we should not faint under trials nor be overwhelmed by them. They teach us to look at the trials of time in the light of eternity. They affirm that the present buffetings of the Christian exercise a beneficent effect on the inner man. If these truths were firmly grasped by faith they would mitigate much of the bitterness of our sorrows. “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” This verse sets forth a striking and glorious antithesis, as it contrasts our future state with our present. Here there is “affliction,” there “glory.” Here there is a “light affliction,” there a “weight of glory.” In our affliction there is both levity and brevity; it is a light affliction, and it is but for a moment; in our future glory there is solidity and eternity! To discover the preciousness of this contrast let us consider, separately, each member, but in the reverse order of mention.

  1. “A far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” It is a significant thing that the Hebrew word for “glory”, kabod, also means “weight.” When weight is added to the value of gold or precious stones this increases their worth. Heaven’s happiness cannot be told out in the words of earth; figurative expressions are best calculated to convey some imperfect views to us. Here in our text one term is piled up on top of another. That which awaits the believer is “glory,” and when we say that a thing is glorious we have reached the limits of human language to express that which is excellent and perfect. But the “glory” awaiting us is weighted, yea, it is “far more exceeding” weighty than anything terrestrial and temporal; its value defies computation; its transcendent excellency is beyond verbal description. Moreover, this wondrous glory awaiting us is not evanescent and temporal, but Divine and eternal; for “eternal” it could not be unless it were Divine. The great and blessed God is going to give us that which is worthy of Himself, yea, that which is like Himself, infinite and everlasting.
  2. “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment.”

(a) “Affliction” is the common lot of human existence; “Man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). This is part of the entail of sin. It is not meet that a fallen creature should be perfectly happy in his sins. Nor are the children of God exempted: “Through much tribulation we must enter into the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). By a hard and rugged road does God lead us to glory and immortality.

(b) Our affliction is “light.” Afflictions are not light in themselves for oft-times they are heavy and grievous; but they are light comparatively! They are light when compared with what we really deserve. They are light when compared with the sufferings of the Lord Jesus. But perhaps their real lightness is best seen by comparing them with the weight of glory which is awaiting us. As said the same apostle in another place, “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18).

(c) “Which is but for a moment.” Should our afflictions continue throughout a whole lifetime, and that life be equal in duration to Methuselah’s, yet is it momentary if compared with the eternity which is before us. At most, our affliction is but for this present life, which is as a vapour that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. O that God would enable us to examine our trials in their true perspective.

  1. Note now the connection between the two. Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, “worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.” The present is influencing the future. It is not for us to reason and philosophise about this, but to take God at His Word and believe it. Experience, feelings, observation of others, may seem to deny this fact. Oft-times afflictions appear only to sour us and make us more rebellious and discontented. But let it be remembered that afflictions are not sent by God for the purpose of purifying the flesh: they are designed for the benefit of the “new man.” Moreover, afflictions help to prepare us for the glory hereafter. Affliction draws away our heart from the love of the world; it makes us long more for the time when we shall be translated from this scene of sin and sorrow; it will enable us to appreciate (by way of contrast) the things which God has prepared for them that love Him.

Here then is what faith is invited to do: to place in one scale the present affliction; in the other, the eternal glory. Are they worthy to be compared? No, indeed. One second of glory will more than counterbalance a whole lifetime of suffering. What are years of toil, of sickness, of battling against poverty, of persecution, yea, of a martyr’s death, when weighed over against the pleasures at God’s right hand, which are for evermore! One breath of Paradise will extinguish all the adverse winds of earth. One day in the Father’s House will more than counterbalance the years we have spent in this dreary wilderness. May God grant unto us that faith which will enable us to anticipatively lay hold of the future and live in the present enjoyment of it.

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