“STAND THEREFORE”

Written by Steven Black on 23/04/2019. Posted in Articles

By: Mr. B. A. Ramsbottom

It seems remarkable that when the Lord describes the Heavenly armour, He mentions the girdle before anything else. “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth” (Eph. 6:14). Why should this be so?

The purpose of the girdle was to fasten up long-flowing garments. Before anything of effort or importance (e.g. Israel on the Passover night), it was necessary to “gird up the loins” – otherwise you might trip, or stumble, or fall, certainly not stand. Hence the exhortation before breastplate, shield, sword, to “bind the golden girdle round thee” (as Hart expresses it).

So this expression of “girding up the loins” is often used in a figurative way in Scripture. For instance:

“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning. And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately” (Luke 12:35,36).

“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:13).

The golden girdle is truth. Apart from this there can be no “girding up the loins” and no “standing.” There must be a vital, personal acquaintance with the truth.

  1. The Truth “as in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21). The Holy Spirit reveals the truth of our lost, fallen condition and our need of a Saviour, and then the glorious truths of the Gospel: the Trinity; the Person of the Lord Jesus, God and Man; the covenant ordered in all things and sure; the riches of free grace; eternal election; the preciousness of atoning love and blood; the security of God’s people; the Person and work of the Holy Ghost – and a personal interest.

Apart from this golden girdle there can be no standing.

  1. Truth in the heart and life through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. Scripture speaks of truth being received “in the love of it” (2 Thess. 2:10), of walking in the truth (2 John 4). We cannot stand without this. There are those things about us by nature which, like the long-flowing garments, would trail in the mire unless girt up by the golden girdle.

Only having our loins “girt about with truth” can the Church of God, or the individual believer, stand today in this world of wickedness. The great need today in the Church of God is what Luther called “Amen men;” men who will stand whatever the cost.

“Stand therefore.” We live in a day of compromise. People do not wish to stand – unless they personally are affected, their ease, their reputation. When England was guilty of the infamous slave trade, John Newton said no professing Christian really liked it or really approved of it – but they did not stand against it because it did not affect them personally. When taxes were raised, they were only too willing to stand!

So often today, when vital issues arise, the position taken is: “It is not my business”; “It is nothing to do with me”; “I feel it is right to keep out of it.” May the Lord give us singleness of eye for His glory, the spirit of Elijah: “the Lord God of Israel before whom I stand.” May we not be like Ephraim: “The children of Ephraim, being armed, and carrying bows, turned back in the day of battle” (Ps. 78:9).

In all this we need a right spirit. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit.” “Lord, help us by Thy grace to stand.” Stormy petrels, who love contention and conflict, are no help to the Church of God.

“Stand therefore.” We need to stand for “the present truth” (2 Pet. 1:12). Luther said that if we stand firmly for every truth except the one at present being assailed, God counts us unfaithful. Some are wonderfully faithful in standing against the errors of the Pope and Archbishop, writing about them, denouncing them, but they do not stand firmly in the local Church against any deviation in faith or practice. This is not “standing.”

Some say they do not like trouble. No one does. Some seek to please both sides. Some (who should know better) say they do not understand. Some compromise. Some “look over their shoulder” to see what others think. Some say they do not wish to offend. “Stand therefore.”

But above all, the need to stand personally in the conflict. Satan is a mighty foe, too strong for us. So is the world, either opposing, persecuting or alluring. But what of indwelling sin, the conflict with self – evil self, proud self, self-righteous self? We can only stand as we are upheld. We do need the golden girdle. We do need to pray:

“Lord, help us by Thy grace to stand,
And every trial firm endure;
Preserved by Thy sovereign hand,
And by Thy oath and covenant sure.”

“Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth.”
 

“Gird thy loins up, Christian soldier;

Lo! Thy Captain calls thee out;

Let the danger make thee bolder;

War in weakness, dare in doubt.

Buckle on thy Heavenly armour;

Patch up no inglorious peace;

Let thy courage wax the warmer,

As thy foes and fears increase. (J. Hart)


Previously published in The Gospel Standard – June, 2006

“STAND THEREFORE”

FRUITFULNESS

Written by Steven Black on 26/02/2019. Posted in Articles

By: J. C. Philpot

And what fruit?   Why, fruit of three kinds: fruit in the heart, fruit in the lip and fruit in the life. 

I  Let us see what these fruits are that he brings forth in the heart, or rather, that the Lord brings forth in him.

    1. There is, first, the fruit of faith. This is the only man who really believes in Jesus; who believes the Gospel to be glad tidings to perishing sinners; and who believes in and accepts the doctrines of grace as sweet and suitable to his soul. This is the only man who really believes in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, in His blood, in His glorious righteousness, in His dying love, as sweet and suitable. And why does he believe it? Because it has been revealed in a measure to his soul. Another may have heard it and received it gladly; but there has been no special discovery or manifestation of the gospel to his heart with Divine power. His head may be stuffed with doctrines; but there is no faith in his heart; no real coming unto, trusting in, or hanging upon the Lord Jesus Christ. There may be abundance of false confidence and presumption, but no real looking unto the Lord Jesus Christ out of the depths of a broken heart; no calling upon His Name; no seeing Him by the eye of faith; nor casting all his soul upon Him as able to save to the uttermost.
    2. Again, He will bring forth the fruit of hope; or rather, God will bring it forth in him. The light shining into his soul making his evidences clear, bringing sweet manifestations of the love of God into his heart, applying His precious promises, and shedding abroad His favour – all these things, experimentally felt within, give him Gospel hope, “an anchor to the soul, both sure and steadfast, and entering into that within the veil.” Others have no such hope. Their hope is the hope of the hypocrite that shall perish, the spider’s web spun out of his own fleshly bowels and vain hope; not a good hope through grace, anchoring in the blood, love and obedience of Jesus.
    3. And he brings forth the fruits of love. There are times and seasons when he can say, “Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee.” He loves the Lord Jesus Christ; he loves the truth as it is in Jesus; he loves the people of God; he loves the work of grace wherever he sees that work manifest; and he feels a sweet union with the tried and tempted followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    4. He brings forth also true humility. He has had a sight of himself; he knows what is in man and abhors himself. His heart is humbled by and before God.
    5. He brings forth, or rather the Lord brings forth in him, the fruit of repentance. He sees what he is as a sinner and truly repents. He brings forth the fruit of godly sorrow; for seeing what his sins have cost the Lord Jesus Christ, he mourns over them with a repentance not to be repented of.
    6. He brings forth spiritual-mindedness. In the place of a carnal embracing of mere doctrines, his affections are fixed upon the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity and simplicity of heart. And this produces that spiritual-mindedness which is life and peace and delights in Heavenly things.

II       He not only brings forth these things in his heart, or rather, God brings them forth in him; but he brings them forth in his lip. When he speaks of the things of God, he speaks of them with real feeling, with real love in his soul and real grace in his breast; his heart teaching his mouth. If he be a Minister, he will speak with power; he will not deliver truth in a hardened, presumptuous, unfeeling manner; but having life and feeling in his soul, and an inward experience of the things of God, what he speaks will be uttered with unction, dew, savour and power. It will reach the heart, melt the spirit and bring forth life and feeling in the hearers.

And if he be a hearer, a private character, he will also bring forth fruit with his lips. His speech will be seasoned with salt. There will be a life and power in his conversation when he comes into the company of the people of God; the hearts of others will unite and melt as it were into his and find sweet union and mutual communion.

III       Nay more, he brings forth fruit in his life. He is not a drunkard nor an adulterer. When hidden and covered by darkness, he knows that when no human eye sees him, God sees him. He will not be a slave to sin; God will deliver him. Sin shall not have dominion over him; he may be entangled from time to time in secret lusts that work in him, but he will beseech God to subdue them and bring him out of every snare.

He will sigh and cry to be delivered from sin in all its shapes and forms. He will not be a covetous, a proud, a worldly-minded, an oppressive man. If a master, he will not oppress his servant; if a servant, he will be sincere and upright towards his master. He will not be an unkind, cruel husband at home. Before his friends, his wife, his children, he will be the same – a Christian at home, as well as a Christian abroad. Thus he will bring forth fruit in his life as well as in his lip.

If there be no fruit in his life, depend upon it, there is no fruit in his heart; if there be no fruit in his heart, depend upon it, there will be no fruit in his life. Very few professors will bear following home; very few whose lives and conversation will bear looking into; very few who are not slaves, more or less, to some sin – drunkenness, pride, uncleanness, covetousness, worldly-mindedness, tricks in business, or some deceitful practices. The children of God will indeed be tempted, entangled and hampered, yea, fearfully hampered by sin in their soul’s feelings.

But He, who has made their hearts inwardly honest, will make their lives outwardly honest. God, who has implanted His precious grace in their soul, causes the Word to take root in the heart and makes them to bring forth fruit, some a hundred fold (these indeed are rare), some sixty fold and some thirty fold. But if they bring forth no fruit whatever; if there be no fruit in their heart, lip or life, where shall we place them? If the preacher stand in God’s counsel, he will be as God’s mouth. I might have amused, entertained or deceived you and said, “If you believe the doctrines of grace you are Christians.” But I dare not say so; I should not be standing up in God’s name, nor be doing the work of a Minister uprightly, if I were to do so; my conscience, I hope, would not let me thus flatter and deceive you.

Then, where are the fruits? We profess to be Christians, profess to be children of God; but where are the fruits? Where are the fruits inwardly? Where are the fruits outwardly? If we have no fruits inwardly, no fruits outwardly, we may call ourselves what we please, but we shall not be what the Lord calls fruitful children, “trees of His right hand planting.”
                                                                  

From: Sin and Salvation – Selections from J. C. Philpot
Edited by B. A. Ramsbottom

FRUITFULNESS

So walk ye in Him

Written by Steven Black on 20/02/2019. Posted in Articles

“So walk ye in Him”

Colossians 2:6

by Charles Spurgeon

If we have received Christ Himself in our inmost hearts, our new life will manifest its intimate acquaintance with Him by a walk of faith in Him. Walking implies action. Our religion is not to be confined to our closet; we must carry out into practical effect that which we believe. If a man walks in Christ, then he so acts as Christ would act; for Christ being in him, his hope, his love, his joy, his life, he is the reflex of the image of Jesus; and men say of that man, “He is like his Master; he lives like Jesus Christ.” Walking signifies progress. “So walk ye in Him”; proceed from grace to grace, run forward until you reach the uttermost degree of knowledge that a man can attain concerning our Beloved. Walking implies continuance. There must be a perpetual abiding in Christ. How many Christians think that in the morning and evening they ought to come into the company of Jesus, and may then give their hearts to the world all the day: but this is poor living; we should always be with Him, treading in His steps and doing His will. Walking also implies habit. When we speak of man’s walk and conversation, we mean his habits, the constant tenor of his life. Now, if we sometimes enjoy Christ, and then forget Him; sometimes call Him ours, and anon lose our hold, that is not a habit; we do not walk in Him. We must keep to Him, cling to Him, never let Him go, but live and have our being in Him. “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him”; persevere in the same way in which ye have begun, and, as at the first, Christ Jesus was the trust of your faith, the source of your life, the principle of your action, and the joy of your spirit, so let Him be the same ’til life’s end; the same when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and enter into the joy and the rest which remain for the people of God. O Holy Spirit, enable us to obey this heavenly precept.


God Is Still on the Throne

Written by Steven Black on 01/01/2019. Posted in Articles

“One sat on the throne.” Revelation 4:12

The throne of Heaven is not vacant. Nor is it impotent. It is occupied by our God and Father, who omnipotently controls all the affairs of angels, demons, men and events according to His own sovereign purpose.

This is what John said and what he wanted his readers to grasp. Those early Christians appear to have been somewhat troubled by all that the throne of the Caesars meant. At times it must have appeared to them as if that idolatrous, persecuting throne was supreme and unchallengeable. John’s message was that there is a throne above every human throne from which God sovereignly dispenses His purpose.

Forty-seven times in this book John uses the word throne. Clearly it is something of supreme importance to God’s people. Surrounded by the apparently dominant power of sin and Satan, we need to have John’s vision of our God upon His throne. He is doing His will. He has a purpose of grace in the world through the Gospel. He has a purpose of government whereby He will by powerful interventions in the natural world show His sovereign authority. Of course, ultimately His purpose is a purpose of glory that will be completed only when “in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in Heaven, and which are on earth” (Eph. 1:10).

We desperately need to have this vision of the total sovereignty of God. This is no mere academic truth. Nor is it only a theological position of those called Calvinists. It is a truth that is vital to inspire Christians with confidence and courage. Having once gazed on the throne of God, will we ever be intimidated by any show of the power of man? Will we ever despair to pray and preach? Behold the throne set in Heaven today, and you will walk on earth in the light of its purity and power.

Alan Cairns

Eagles Wings, Daily Devotional Meditations

God’s ways are behind the scenes, but He moves

All the scenes which He is behind.

 

J. N. Darby

 

First Things First by A. W. Pink

Written by Steven Black on 31/12/2018. Posted in Articles

FIRST THINGS FIRST

By: A. W. Pink

1886 – 1952

The dawning of a new year is a fresh call unto each of us to put first things first, and it is only by heeding this call that we are prepared to start it aright. The greatest tragedy of life is that the vast majority of our fellows are dissipating their energies on secondary things, spending their strength for that which satisfies not. Alas, how much time have we wasted in the past! But a new year affords us another opportunity to mend our ways: how much of it, then, are we going to improve and conserve for eternity? The answer to that question will be determined by how far we put first things first.

It is one thing to recognise and realise that it is both our duty and wisdom to put first things first, and quite another to actually do so. It is much to be thankful for when light from above makes plain the path wherein we should walk – yet something more than illumination is required in order for us to traverse the same. Strength, power, enablement, is indispensable – and that we have not by nature. Have we not already been made painfully aware of this fact? Then have we humbly acknowledged it to God, and sought from Him fresh supplies of grace? Let us say with Jehoshaphat, when the enemies of Israel assembled against them, “O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? For we have no might against this great company that cometh against us: neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee” (2 Chron. 20:12).

What is it to put first things first? First and supremely to give God Himself His rightful place in our lives and render to Him that which is His due. “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and His Redeemer the LORD of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last” (Isa. 44:6). The great “I am” is self-existent and self-sufficient. Because He is the First, He should be first served. The world had its beginning from Him; we had ours, and therefore at the beginning of the year, and of each day, it deeply concerns us to take Him along with us. God is the sum of all excellence, being inexpressibly blessed in Himself. How He should attract us! God is possessed of infinite benevolence, which is guided by unerring wisdom, and He had all-mighty power at His disposal. What an Object for our most fervent affections! Shall, then every glittering toy become a rival to this transcendently glorious Being and rob Him of our hearts?

Let us form the habit (if we have not already done so) of directing our first conscious thoughts unto Him who has preserved us through the night. Begin the day by definitely bringing the Lord God before your heart, contemplate His wondrous attributes, prostrate your soul before Him in worship, adore Him for His glorious perfections. Say with holy David, “My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee” (Psa. 5:3). Nor will this be either difficult or irksome if we turn the eyes of our souls unto Him: it is beholding the beauty of the Lord which puts in tune the strings of our harps, and enables us to make melody in our hearts unto Him. Nor is this all: by doing obeisance we promote obedience. By solemnly paying homage to God and rendering to Him the honour which is due His great name, we strengthen the obligations that we lie under to observe His statutes and keep His commandments. By our humble and frequent adoration of His perfections, conformity to His will, will be easier, for His authority over us will be more strongly felt.

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). God is to be given the preference above all others. Let not any business prevent our seeking communion with Him nor hinder the maintenance of it. There are many things we would like to do, but other things deter us. We wish to visit a dear friend, but the pressure of other concerns thwarts us. But this must never be the case with our seeking unto God: that is the “one thing needful” to which everything else must be made to give way. It is not at all necessary to our highest good that we be great in the world or advance our estate in it to such and such a pitch – but it is absolutely essential that we obtain God’s favour and keep ourselves in His love. No worldly business whatsoever can serve to excuse our attendance upon God; nay, the more important our worldly business be, the more need have we to apply ourselves to God by prayer for His help in and blessing upon it. The closer we keep to God in prayer, the more likely are our affairs to prosper.

Second, to yield ourselves up unreservedly to God. Of the Corinthian saints we read that they “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (2 Cor. 8:5), which should be done by us at the beginning of each day. This means that they (1) gave their hearts to Him, being won by His loveliness; and they (2) surrendered their wills to Him, to be governed by Him; and they (3) devoted their lives to Him, seeking His honour and glory. “In the way of Thy judgments, O LORD, have we waited for Thee; the desire of our soul is to Thy name, and to the remembrance of Thee. With my soul have I desired Thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early” (Isa. 26:8, 9). Our desire must be not only towards the good things that He gives, but towards God Himself – His favour and love, the manifestation of His name to us, and the influences of His grace upon us. Our wills are to be surrendered to God, as the servant is yielded to his master’s pleasure, in everything consulting his desires and interests. God’s will is to be our sole rule, His precepts the regulator of all we engage in. Our lives are to be devoted to His glory: acknowledging Him in all our ways, following Him fully as Caleb did.

Third, to keep our hearts with all diligence (Prov. 4:23). It is not enough that our outward conduct be proper – the springs from which it issues must be right. “Cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also” (Matt. 23:26). The stream itself cannot be sweet if the fountain-head be foul. A corrupt tree will not bear wholesome fruit. Alas, how widely neglected is this inward cleansing! How generally is external reformation substituted for internal mortification. And why is this? – because we are far more concerned about the approval of our fellow-creatures than we are to obtain the approbation of our Creator. Our actions come beneath the gaze of man, but the springs from which they proceed are under the scrutiny of God. He who “weigheth the spirits” (Prov. 16:2) demands purity of heart. We are required to judge the motives which actuate us, to make conscience of evil lustings and vain imaginations, to take ourselves to task for wandering thoughts when engaged in Divine worship.

Fourth, to manifest godliness in the family circle: “let them learn first to show piety at home” (1 Tim. 5:4). Here is another God- appointed “first” which is most necessary for us all to heed – but we would specially press it upon the attention of those who are so anxious to engage in what they term “service for the Lord.” The “service” which God requires from all of His people is not a running about here and there, asking impertinent questions of total strangers and prattling to them about Divine things, but to be in subjection to Himself, to walk obediently to His Law. To talk to people about Christ is far easier than the task He has assigned – to deny self, take up our cross, and follow Him. Actions speak louder than words: it is by our conduct we are to make manifest whose we are. Christians are to “show forth” by their lives (rather than tell forth with their lips) “the praises of Him who has called them” (1 Peter 2:9). And they are “first to show piety at home,” then in the Church, and then in the world, for if there be no piety in our home life, then all our seeming piety in the Church and before the world is only hypocrisy.

__________________________

SPIRITUAL DECLENSION

Written by Steven Black on 17/08/2018. Posted in Articles

Solemn words by J. C. Philpot in 1853 – based upon Joel 1

Where in our day, with all this material prosperity, is real religion and vital godliness, which are the evidence of grace? Does it flourish? Is the church, the Lamb’s wife, growing in grace and in knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do ministers preach with power and savour? Is God deeply feared, are His promises firmly believed, are His precepts carefully obeyed and His ordinances highly prized. Is His Word dearly loved, His honour and glory earnestly sought? Are those who profess the truth humble, prayerful, watchful and spiritually minded? Are they walking as living witnesses for God and testifying to an ungodly world that they are children and servants of the Most High? Is the line of separation between the church and the world clear and distinct? And does she shine forth, “fair as the moon, clear as the sun and terrible as an army with banners”(S of S 6:10)?

Who can say it is so? Who can say of the church that she is flourishing and that her prosperity runs parallel with that of the world? We may rather take up Joel’s lament in verses 10 – 12 of the chapter we read, “The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted; the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth. Be ye ashamed, O ye husbandmen; howl O ye vine dressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished. The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree even all the trees of the field are withered”.

No one who knows what grace is and what grace does, can help seeing that Zion’s sky is much beclouded at the present time, that the life of God is at a low ebb and that the blessings and consolations of the Holy Spirit are much restrained. Go where you will, the same complaints reach our ears. Churches are much rent and divided, a party spirit widely prevails, spiritual coldness and deadness benumb those who once seemed full of life and feeling. When the children of God meet there is little real spiritual conversation. Worldly subjects, the mere trifles of the day, be it the weather, the markets, the crops, politics and gossip, all thrust out the things God. When religion is talked of it is often at a distance; spiritual experience is lost in a cloud of generalities.

Where is love and union amidst the strife of tongues? What are the feelings of the tender hearted, the meek and quiet ones, those newly called by grace, the young members of our churches, the exercised part of the flock, the doubting and fearing ones, I say, what are their feelings when they see those, who by their age and experience, should be fathers and mothers in Israel, spiritually cold and dead in conversation and buried in carnality. When Churches are made up of discordant materials, strife and disunion will usually exist. How can the stormy petrel and the timid dove dwell in the same nest? The dove cannot scream on the crest of the boiling wave, as does the petrel, and gather up its fishy prey from between the heaving billows, revelling in wind and storm. Nor can the petrel lodge in the calm nest of the dove, cooing out its lamentations, because of the absence of its beloved. Let us examine ourselves. Amen.

SPIRITUAL DECLENSION

The Middle Years

Written by Steven Black on 27/07/2018. Posted in Articles

O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years.

HABAKKUK 3:2

The middle of anything is generally its weakest point, and middle years are years of particular danger. More and more, society has turned its attention to the problems people face in their middle years. The work of God faces its own peculiar difficulties in its middle years, and Habakkuk was led to pray that it might be revived at that time. The trouble with the middle years is that zeal tends to diminish while worldliness creeps in. Prosperity can lead to complacency, and God’s people lose the vision of a world perishing in sin.
Habakkuk shows us that the work is still God’s in the midst of the years. He prays, “Revive thy work in the midst of the years.” Because the work is still God’s, it demands the same level of faithfulness as at the beginning. Many people support the work when it is in its exciting initial stages and then lie back and become discouraged when it settles down.
What God’s work needs in the middle years is revival. The word for “revive” is often translated quicken in the Old Testament. To quicken is to bring to life, and God can bring His work to life just when it seems to have lost its way and become powerless. No one could have anticipated the mighty revival that God sent to Europe in the sixteenth century. Men like Luther, Calvin, Knox, Zwingli, and Farel were raised up, and they led great multitudes to Christ.
In the midst of the years we stand in need of revival. Unless it comes, our strength will ooze from us, and we will be like Samson when shorn of his locks. All we can say to God is, “O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years.”

Rev. Gordon Ferguson
From: Eagles’ Wings, Daily Devotions

There is no hope for true prayer and intercession
for revival unless we realise that there is a need.
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Longing for Revival

Written by Steven Black on 15/05/2018. Posted in Articles

“Where be all His miracles which our fathers told us of?”

Judges 6:13

Christians should never despise the day of small things. We tend to look for the extraordinary and discount the ordinary, but this is wrong. God’s ordinary dealings in and through His people are worthy of our deepest gratitude. People saved here and there through the normal ministry of the church are just as truly saved as those saved in revival, and their salvation is just as much a miracle of grace.

Yet we cannot be indifferent to the need for revival. We have read in Scripture and in church history of the great outpourings of the Holy Spirit. We have thrilled at the record of the powerful revelation of the majesty of God, causing men to fall under great conviction of sin and to cry for mercy through Christ. As we have read, we have yearned to see the working of His Spirit. We are grateful for every token of the Lord’s presence as we worship and serve, but we long to see greater things than we have yet seen. Where are the mighty works of grace our fathers have described?

It is tragic that all that most Christians today know about revival is what they have read. It is not the knowledge of experience. What is being touted in some circles as a great movement of spiritual renewal is mostly a manufactured phenomenon and is largely divorced from the solid preaching and the awesome sense of the majesty of God that mark true revivals. Crusades and crowd psychology are no substitute for a real movement of the Holy Spirit in the fulness of His power.

Where are God’s mighty works? We do not see revival today. But we may see it. The Lord is sovereign in dispensing His grace, but we have every reason to pray that He will send us a true revival. Each of us can personally enter into the experience of being filled with His Spirit, which is revival on an individual scale. Let us cry for such a reviving. Then may the Lord enlarge it to touch multitudes.

By: Alan Cairns

From Eagles’ Wings

Daily Devotional Meditations

A Watchword for All Who Profess
and Call Themselves Christians

Written by Steven Black on 16/03/2018. Posted in Articles

by JOSEPH IRONS

“Beware of men.” (Matthew 10:17)

This is the caution which the Son of God gave to His disciples, when He ministered among them on earth, and the Holy Ghost caused it to be penned, that the true Church of God might use it as a watchword to the end of time; and never since this caution dropped from the lips of Jesus, has it been needed than now; for men seem to vie with the prince of darkness who shall most effectually oppose the kingdom of Christ and the spiritual interests of His blood-bought family.

“Beware of men!” – Not merely of profane men, open infidels; but little caution is necessary respecting them, because “the show of their countenance does witness against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom – they hide it not;” (Isa. 3:9) but the men who assume the profession of Christianity, without possessing its vital principle, are the men of whom the Saviour’s watchword is, “Beware!” – The men who put on the form of godliness, but deny the power thereof – whose carnal minds and carnal interests have always warred against the pure truth of God, and perverted the whole plan of salvation by lying fables and human traditions, seducing the souls of millions to utter destruction.

This baneful poison produced the monster Popery in the days of Constantine, when carnal men professed to be Christians, because the emperor professed to be such, and thrust themselves into priestly office, blending priestly power with political power, until superstition and tyranny supplanted Christianity, and exercised a despotic sway over mankind; proudly dictating to every man’s conscience, plundering his property, degrading his existence, and pretending to power over his eternal destiny; so that priestcraft sat like an infernal incubus ever the entire population of Christendom, and spread its darkness, horror, and death over this favored land, with tortures and cruelties perfectly satanic.

That awful night was chased away by the glorious Reformation, and the principles of liberty have had a shining day; but who does not see the evening shades gathering around us again, threatening midnight darkness with tempestuous horror? Intellectual pride vaunts itself against the light of revelation; superstition is trampling upon the simplicity of the gospel; and error, of every name and form, is at war with the truth.

There is now scarcely a city or town in England but in which there are men sprung up in the office of priest (some Papist, some Puseyite,) who are using all their efforts to bring back those dark days and those degrading superstitions which dishonor God, foster the pride of man, and delude millions of souls fatally; and hence the importance of our Saviour’s watchword, “Beware of men!” – For these men are doing more mischief than devils could do without them.

“Beware of men” who boast of apostolical succession, which they cannot prove, and who are no more like the apostles of our Lord, either in doctrine or character, than sin is like holiness, or Satan like God. See what monstrous opinions they broach, such as baptismal regeneration, which rejects the ministry of the Holy Ghost; priestly absolution, which insults and virtually denies Christ; ecclesiastical authority, which sets at nought the word and the decrees of God the Father, and thus genders Atheism, by denying all the Persons of the Godhead. Can they be honest, when they know that there is not a word in all the New Testament to sanction the existence of an official human priesthood, Christ only being the Priest of the Gospel Church after the order of Melchisedec? Can they be honest in their boasted reference to the fathers, when they know that the usurpation of ecclesiastical power, and the right of one Christian minister to exercise authority over others, were never allowed in the churches for 300 years after Christ’s ascension to glory?

“Beware of men!” Such as our dear Redeemer has described, “who desire to walk in long robes, and love greetings in the markets, and the highest seats in the synagogues, and the chief rooms at feasts; which devour widows’ houses, and for a show make long prayers.” (Luke 20:46) And again, the same Divine Teacher says, they outwardly appear righteous before men, but within are full of hypocrisy and iniquity; therefore He denounces them as serpents and a generation of vipers, who shall not escape the damnation of hell. (Matt. 23:28-33) Indeed, whoever would see a full-length portrait of Puseyism, has only to read the whole of the twenty-third chapter of Matthew. It has enslaved the finest minds; it has prostrated the brightest genius; it has sugared the most virulent poison; and sainted the most reprobate enemies to vital godliness; in fact, it has outdone Popery itself in deception.

The tradition of apostolic succession is a religious hoax: the existence of an official human priesthood is a rejection of Christ and a return to Judaism; the doctrine of baptismal regeneration is a barefaced falsehood; and all pretensions to priestly absolution are blasphemy. Yet men who hold these hideous notions, arrogate to themselves the exclusive right to teach their fellow-men, saying with lying words, as did the false teachers in Jeremiah’s day, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these;” (Jer. 7:4) or, in modern language, “The Church, the Church, the Church,” is the enthusiastic cry of those who possess not one feature of the Church of Christ as described in Holy Scripture, and as exhibited in the early ages. The Church of Christ is a spiritual body.

“Beware of men!” Those very men who now seek to do by “all who profess and call themselves Christians,” as the spider does by the fly; first bind the wings and legs of our liberty with an invisible web; and then suck our blood by persecution, as in days of yore. Oh! Search the Scriptures, and learn from thence what the true Church of God is, and do not suffer a carnal priesthood to blind your eyes, enslave your consciences, and ruin your souls. See how they toil for human patronage; mark their thirst for worldly honors; watch their abuse of ecclesiastical power; weigh the mock sanctity of their long prayers; and then say if these are the marks of apostolic descendants, or the characteristics of Christ’s ministers. Rather, are they not the features of Baal’s priests – the broad marks of Antichrist?

“Beware of men!” Even of those who pass for evangelical men; for every grade of error is to be found among them. Even while I am writing this paper, my soul is distressed with the awful perversions of the word of God which surround me, and which are advocated by men of renown; one drowning the doctrine of regeneration in the baptismal font; another substituting the credence of carnal reason for the faith of God’s elect, and another denying the Son of God; while the great bulk of so-called evangelical preachers try to dethrone Christ, and to enthrone proud free-will as absolute sovereign.

“Beware of men!” For even those whose views are, in the main, scriptural, seem to determined to bite and devour one another through jealousy, that they make each other offenders for a word, and put more stress upon the shibboleth of a party than upon the fundamental doctrines of the gospel; drinking into the spirit which our Lord reproved in His disciples, when they said, “Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and we forbad him, because he followed not us!” Oh! These are awful signs of the times, when even the real disciples of Christ have exchanged brotherly love for party-spirit and jealousy; all seeking their own, and not the things that are Jesus Christ’s. (Phil. 2:21)

What, then, it may be asked, is real religion? I answer, it is altogether supernatural. It originates in the love of God the Father to His whole Church, His chosen family, which is scattered all over the world. It is intrusted to God the Son, in positive responsibility by an everlasting covenant, for the redemption of their persons with His own blood, and their eternal salvation in His own righteousness imputed to them. It is communicated to them by the regenerating and quickening operations of the Holy Ghost creating in them a new and holy life, capable of enjoying God. This new and holy life consists of all the graces of Holy Spirit, and becomes manifest by their actings upon Christ; Faith trusts Him and claims Him: Hope aspires after Him, and waits for Him; Love cleaves to Him and honors Him, rejecting all that is unlike Him.

Reader, is this your religion? If so, heaven is secure. If not, when you die you will descend to eternal despair, though loaded with all the forms of Pharisees – all the traditions of Rome – and all the mock sanctity of Oxford.

Arise, O Lord, and plead thine own cause, prays His willing servant in the cause of truth.

A Watchword for All Who Profess
and Call Themselves Christians

THE SIN-BEARER

Written by Steven Black on 05/03/2018. Posted in Articles

“Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” 1 Peter 2:24-25

This wonderful passage is a part of Peter’s address to servants; and in his day nearly all servants were slaves. Peter begins at the 18th verse:

Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously: who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”

If we are in a lowly condition of life, we shall find our best comfort in thinking of the lowly Saviour bearing our sins in all patience and submission. If we are called to suffer, as servants often were in the Roman times, we shall be solaced by a vision of our Lord buffeted, scourged and crucified, yet silent in the majesty of His endurance. If these sufferings were entirely undeserved, and we are grossly slandered, we shall be comforted by remembering Him who did no sin and in whose lips was found no guile. Our Lord Jesus is Head of the Guild of Sufferers: He did well and suffered for it but took it patiently. Our support under the cross, which we are appointed to bear, is only to be found in Him “who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree.”

We ourselves now know by experience that there is no place for comfort like the cross. It is a tree stripped of all foliage and apparently dead; yet we sit under its shadow with great delight, and its fruit is sweet unto our taste. Truly, in this case, ‘like cures like’. By the suffering of our Lord Jesus, our suffering is made light. The servant is comforted since Jesus took upon Himself the form of a servant; the sufferer is cheered “because Christ also suffered for us;” and the slandered one is strengthened because Jesus also was reviled.

‘Is it not strange, the darkest hour
That ever dawned on sinful earth
Should touch the heart with softer power
For comfort than an angel’s mirth?
That to the cross the mourner’s eye should turn
Sooner than where the stars of Christmas burn?’

Let us, as we hope to pass through the tribulations of this world, stand fast by the cross; for if that be gone, the lone-star is quenched whose light cheers the downtrodden, shines on the injured and brings light to the oppressed. If we lose the cross – if we miss the substitutionary sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have lost all.

Extract from ‘Communion Meditations and Addresses’

By: C. H. Spurgeon