Are We Christians–Or Are We Worldlings?

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(Horatius Bonar, “Self-Denial Christianity”)

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!” Amos 6:1

What do we say to . . .
our self-indulgence,
our spiritual sloth,
our love of ease,
our avoidance of hardship,
our luxury,
our pampering of the body,
our costly feasts,
our silken couches,
our brilliant furniture,
our gay attire,
our expensive jewelry,
our idle mirth,
our voluptuous music,
our jovial tables, loaded with every variety of rich viands?

Are we Christians–or are we worldlings?

Where is the self-denial of the New Testament days?

Where is the separation from a self-pleasing luxurious world? Where is the cross, the true badge of discipleship, to be seen–except in useless religious ornaments for the body, or worse than useless decorations for the sanctuary?

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!”
Is not this the description of multitudes who name the name of Christ? They may not be “living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” But even where these are absent, there is ‘high living’–luxury of the table or the wardrobe–in conformity to this present evil world.

“At ease in Zion!” Yes! there is the shrinking . . .
from hard service;
from spending and being spent;
from toil and burden-bearing and conflict;
from self-sacrifice and noble service;
for the Master’s sake.

There is conformity to the world, instead of conformity to Christ!
There is a laying down of the cross, instead of a taking up of the cross.
Or there is a lining of the cross with velvet, lest it should gall our shoulders as we carry it!
Or there is an adorning of the cross, that it may suite the taste and the manners of our refined and intellectual age.

Anything but the bare, rugged and simple cross!

We think that we can make the strait gate wider, and the narrow way broader–so as to be able to walk more comfortably to the heavenly kingdom. We try to prove that modern enlightenment has so refined ‘the world and its pleasures’, that we may safely drink the poisoned cup, and give ourselves up to the inebriation of the siren song.

“At ease in Zion!” Even when the walls of our city are besieged, and the citadel is being stormed!

Instead of grasping our weapons, we lie down upon our couches!

Instead of the armor, we put on the silken robe!

We are cowards, when we should be brave!

We are faint-hearted, when we should be bold!

We are lukewarm, when we should be fervent!

We are cold, when we should be full of zeal!

We compromise and shuffle and make excuses–when we should lift up our voice like a trumpet! We pare down truth, or palliate error, or extenuate sin–in order to placate the world, or suit the spirit of the age, or ‘unify’ the Church.

Learn self-denying Christianity. Not the form or name, but the living thing.

Let us renounce the lazy, luxurious, self-pleasing, fashionable religion of the present day!

A self-indulgent religion has nothing in common with the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; or with that cross of ours which He has commanded us to take up and carry after Him–renouncing ease and denying self.

Our time,
our abilities,
our money,
our strength–
are all to be laid upon the altar.

“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!”
Amos 6:1

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Refuge For the Soul Vexed By Sin

Oasis_in_Libya(Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889)

“In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!” Colossians 2:3

The one true resting-place where doubt and weariness, the stings of a pricking conscience, and the longings of an unsatisfied soul would all be quieted–is Christ Himself!

Not the church, but Christ.

Not doctrine, but Christ.

Not religious forms and ceremonies, but Christ.

Christ the God-man . . .
giving His life for ours,
sealing the everlasting covenant, and
making peace for us through the blood of His cross!

Christ the divine storehouse of all light and truth, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!

Christ the infinite vessel–the enlightener, the teacher, the quickener, the comforter–so that out of His fullness we may receive grace upon grace.

This, this alone is the vexed soul’s refuge, its rock to build on, its home to abide in–until the great tempter is bound and every conflict ended in victory.

The love that surpasses knowledge!

99000000000245226_1920x1080(Horatius Bonar, “The Chief Among Ten Thousand”)

“To Him who loves us, and has freed us from our sins by His blood!” Revelation 1:5

The name of Him who loves us is not given, because it would be superfluous to state it. Only One could be meant. His is love like Himself . . .
infinite,
unchanging,
never ending,
yet free!

Love stronger than death or the grave–love that loves us . . .
out of sin,
out of the grave,
out of Hell,
into Heaven!

It is the love whose breadth and length, depth and height, are immeasurable–the love that surpasses knowledge!

“May you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should–how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is!” Ephesians 3:18

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!” Ephesians 3:19

Be Aware of What You Read

800px-Urval_av_de_bocker_som_har_vunnit_Nordiska_radets_litteraturpris_under_de_50_ar_som_priset_funnits_(3)(Horatius Bonar, “Follow the Lamb” 1861)

“They are more desirable than gold–yes, than much fine gold! Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned. In keeping them there is great reward!” Psalm 19:10-11

The Christian has discovered one book truer and more precious than all the rest together. Let the Bible be to us the book of books–the one book in all the world whose every verse is wisdom. In studying it, be sure to take it for what it really is–the revelation of the thoughts of God, given us in the words of God. Knowing that we have divine thoughts embodied in divine words–we sit down to the study of the heavenly volume, assured that we shall find the perfection of wisdom in all of its teachings.

Let us read and re-read the Scriptures–meditating on them day and night.
They never grow old, they never lose their sap, they never run dry.

Though it is right and profitable to read other books, if they are true and good–yet beware of reading too many. Do not let man’s book thrust God’s book into a corner! Do not let commentaries smother the text–nor let the good, shut out the best.

Especially beware of light reading! Shun novels–they are the literary curse of the age! If you are a parent–keep novels out of the way of your children. Neither read them yourself, nor set an example of novel-reading to others. Do not let novels lie on your table, or be seen in your hand. The reading of the light novels of the day, has done deep injury to many:
vitiating their taste,
enervating their minds,
unfitting them for life’s plain work,
eating out their love for the Bible,
teaching them a false morality, and
creating in the soul an unreal standard of truth, and beauty, and love.

Do not be too fond of the newspaper. Extract matter for thought and prayer out of all that you read.

Let your reading be always select–and whatever you read, begin with seeking God’s blessing on it.

But see that your relish for the Bible is above every other enjoyment. The moment you begin to feel greater relish for any other book–lay it down until you have sought deliverance from such a snare, and obtained from the Holy Spirit a more intense relish, and a keener appetite for the Word of God!

“Your words were found, and I ate them. And Your Word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart!” Jeremiah 15:16

WHY?

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“Do not love the world or anything in the world.” 1 John 2:15

WHY?

1. Because the gain of it, is the loss of the soul–Matthew 16:25-26.

2. Because its friendship is enmity to God–James 4:4.

3. Because it did not know Christ–John 1:10; 17:25.

4. Because it hates Christ–John 7:7; 15:18.

5. Because the Holy Spirit has forbidden us–1 John 2:15.

6. Because Christ did not pray for it–John 17:9.

7. Because Christ’s people do not belong to it–John 17:16.

8. Because its Prince is Satan–John 13:31; 16:11.

9. Because Christ’s kingdom is not of it–John 18:36.

10. Because its wisdom is foolishness–1 Corinthians 1:20.

11. Because Christ does not belong to it–John 8:23.

12. Because it is condemned–1 Corinthians 11:32.

13. Because it is passing away–1 Corinthians 7:31.

14. Because it slew Christ–James 5:6; Matthew 21:39.

15. Because it is crucified to us–Galatians 6:14.

16. Because we are crucified to it–Galatians 6:14.

17. Because it is the seat of wickedness–2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 5:19.

18. Because its god is the evil one–2 Corinthians 4:4.