Westpoint, Exeter on the 18 – 20 May, 2017
The attendance of Marcus Brockes and myself at the Devon Show this year was something of a first for Christian Watch. In previous years, we have exhibited and witnessed at CRE Exeter, Cornwall, Sandown, Birmingham, Manchester and London; while many years ago Northern Ireland was a chosen venue.
It was therefore a happy surprise to see so many visitors attend, especially so when considering the weather – heavy showers with intermittent sunshine. It is said that over 95,000 attended over the three days.
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.
We believe that whatever the Bible says is true. Yet sometimes experiences cause us to question whether certain things are personally relevant. The tension between doctrine and experience is a common test of faith. Solomon’s conclusion that God has made every time beautiful and appropriate is one of those great statements easy to believe in good times and easy to apply to others in their bad times. The key is to believe it during our own bad times. Believing that God has a purpose that embraces everything in life and that His plan is beautiful regardless of its manifestation is the secret to enjoying the life that God has given us.
Solomon leads up to this all-embracing statement by setting forth all the times ordered and ordained by God. Ecclesiastes 3 begins with a list of fourteen pairs of defined times that together represent all possible times in life. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens by chance, accident, or fate. Everything, absolutely everything, happens according to God’s design. Our efforts and worries cannot alter His eternal plan for us. Whereas unbelievers may regard themselves as the masters of their fate or the captains of their souls, we as believers know that our times and destinies are not only in God’s good hand, they are part of His infinitely wise plan. Our life is a privilege; our life is God’s purpose. In the good times, we should humbly acknowledge that God has made all times beautiful. In the hard times, we should confidently rest in that beauty. That God is sovereign over the affairs of life is true whether we believe it or not. Believing it is the only thing that gives sense to life.
Dr Michael P. V. Barrett
We must believe in the grace of sovereignty
as well as the sovereignty of grace.
Augustus H. Strong
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.
“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.
By: Thomas Watson
“For ye see your calling brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not to bring to nought things that are; That no flesh should glory in His presence” I Corinthians 1:26-29.
Without this effectual call – there is no going to Heaven!
This effectual call, is a gracious call. It is the fruit and product of free grace! That God should call some – and not others; that some should be taken – and others left; that one should be called who is of a more wicked disposition – while another of a sweeter temper, is rejected. Here is free grace! That the poor should be rich in faith, heirs of a kingdom (James 2:5), and the nobles and great ones of the world for the most part rejected; this is free and rich grace! “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Thy sight” Matthew 11:26.
That under the same sermon one should be effectually wrought upon – while another is no more moved than a dead man with the sound of music; that one should hear the Spirit’s voice in the Word – while another does not hear it; that one should be softened and moistened with the influence of Heaven – while another, like Gideon’s dry fleece, has no dew upon him; behold here distinguishing, sovereign grace!
What is the cause of this – but the free grace of God! It is all enamelled and interwoven with free grace! Those who are monuments of God’s mercies – will be trumpets of His praise. “That no flesh should glory in His presence” I Corinthians 1:29.
By Ian Henderson (C.W. Vice-Chairman)
Edited from an address given at the High Leigh Bible Conference, 2016
The Word of God states – in Jude v 3 – to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” or – in other words – “to engage in the battle.”
It is a plain fact that the Protestant Reformed faith is under threat today as never before – it is under threat from various sources – including atheism, Islam, Ecumenism and Romanism.
Sadly, many Ministers today choose to take a neutral stance on virtually every issue – presumably so that they don’t offend others or jeopardise their own positions. But the Word of God is very clear – and the Lord Jesus Christ did not preach to please all His hearers – the disciples did not preach to please all their hearers. They preached so that men and women could hear the good news of the Gospel and seek the Lord in repentance – and if people were offended (and many of the religious leaders were) – so be it.
Why is the Church not active today? Is it because God’s people are not engaged in the battle?
How many times have you heard prayers offered, prayers that bemoan the state of our nation? And yet we must ask ourselves some pertinent questions:
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.
Christ Himself is to be the single object of our attention in the spiritual race which we pursue. The word looking comes from a verb which means “to look away from.” It denotes the idea of viewing with undivided, fixed, earnest attention.
This is the look of total dependence upon Christ for all we need as we run. Christ is the source of all our requirements. Thus the verse can be read, “Looking into Jesus”—a deep, penetrating look, filling our minds with all that Christ is, constantly communing with Him and drawing out of Him strength for the course.
To run “looking into Jesus” also indicates total obedience. In the context, Paul reminds us that there is a race set before us (v. 1). We must fix our purpose on that race and allow nothing to divert our attention. That is possible only as we are taken up with the Lord. What obedience is generated in us as we keep our eyes on Him! You see, He ran His race with full commitment to the Father. Nothing could prevail upon Him to keep Him from doing the Father’s will. As He obeyed because He loved His Father, so love for Christ alone will stir up our hearts to run the race set before us. The more we love Christ, the more we will lay aside those things which would hinder us—our besetting sins, which are our inward corruptions, and the things of the world, the weights that would hold us back.
Furthermore, this “looking unto Jesus” refers to total steadfastness in our running. We should want to run well and complete the race. Christ did so. He is the “author and finisher of our faith.” The word author also means “prince” or “captain,” denoting a leader. He has gone before us; so He has covered the ground already. What an example of steadfastness! Thus “let us run with patience” (v. 1).
Rev. John Greer
Too much occupied with our work, we
can forget our Master—it is possible to
have the hands full and the heart empty.
Faith without works is dead.
There is a faith that does not save. It is not even worthy of being called faith. It is but a counterfeit of true, saving faith in Christ. This counterfeit faith may be very orthodox in its doctrine. Indeed, it may be vociferous in its stand for the doctrines of the Bible. It can dot every i and cross every t. It loves theological hair-splitting and will make a man a heretic for a word. This false faith is very religious. It looks good. It sounds good. But in truth it is an evil thing. It has the stench of death about it, because when all is said and done, it simply does not work. A faith that does not produce good and holy works is a faith that is no better than what the devil has (James 2:19). Oh! let us take this personally and seriously. If your professed belief allows you to live comfortably in sin, if it does not work repentance and holiness within you, it is a dead faith. It is true that we are saved by faith without works. It is equally true that we are saved by a faith that works.
Does your faith work? Does it stir up your heart to do the will of God and to seek the welfare of men? If godly works are the evidence of saving faith, is there any evidence that you are saved? Now is the time to face this question, because a faith that does not work for God now will not work for you on the judgment day.
It is faith alone that justifies, but
the faith that justifies is not alone.
By Horatius Bonar
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Cor. 5:17
What condemnation do these words pronounce upon the shallow, meagre religion so common among us – making us feel that hardly any description of its professors could be more exaggerated or unreal, than that of being “new creatures.”
Take yon member of the church. He wears the garb and bears the name of Christ. He is a fair average specimen of a large class. He has the profession of being a Christian; yet…
– he is fond of the world;
– he grasps at its gold;
– he loves its fashionable gaiety;
– he reads its novels;
– he frequents its haunts of amusement;
– he enjoys its company;
– he relishes its foolish talking and jesting.
Is he “a new creature” in Christ Jesus?
Is it possible that, with …
– so much worldliness,
– so much selfishness,
– so much self-indulgence,
– so much pleasing of the flesh,
From Jonathan Edwards (1703 – 1758)
Christ became incarnate or, which is the same thing, became man to put Himself in a capacity for working out our redemption. For though Christ as God was infinitely sufficient for the work, yet to His being in an immediate capacity for it, it was needful that He should not only be God, but man. If Christ had remained only in the divine nature, He would not have been in a capacity to have obtained our salvation; not from any imperfection of the divine nature, but by reason of its absolute and infinite perfection: for Christ, merely as God, was not capable either of that obedience or suffering that was needful.
The divine nature is not capable of suffering; for it is infinitely above all suffering. Neither is it capable of obedience to that law which was given to man. It is as impossible that One, who is only God, should obey the law that was given to man, as it is that He should suffer man’s punishment.
And it was necessary not only that Christ should take upon him a created nature, but that He should take upon Him our nature. It would not have sufficed for Christ to have become an angel, and to have obeyed and suffered in the angelic nature. But it was necessary that He should become a man, upon three accounts: