I Cannot Think Little of Sin

Woman-kneelingj1600-cropped.jpg(J.C. Ryle)

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46

Would I know how exceedingly sinful and abominable sin is in the sight of God? Where shall I see sin most fully brought out?

Shall I turn to the history of the flood, and read how sin drowned the world?

Shall I go to the shore of the Dead Sea, and mark what sin brought on Sodom and Gomorrah?

No! I can find a clearer proof still! I look at the cross of Christ!

There I see that sin is so filthy and damnable, that nothing but the blood of God’s own Son can wash it away!

There I see that sin has so separated me from my holy Maker, that all the angels in Heaven could never have made peace between us. Nothing could reconcile us, short of the death of Christ.

If I listened to the wretched talk of proud people, I might sometimes imagine that sin was not so very sinful! But I cannot think little of sin, when I look at the cross of Christ!

“A bleeding Savior I have viewed–and now I hate my sin!” John Newton

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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 Best Sermon Is…

1024px-Cross_in_sunset

(Charles Naylor)

“He who says he abides in Him, ought himself also to walk just as He walked.” 1 John 2:6

We must pattern our lives after our Lord, and follow in the way which He trod.

God’s will for His people, is that they set before the world a worthy example of Christian character.

A blameless character is the best sermon!

In all our relations with others, we should manifest a sweet temper, kindness, meekness, gentleness, forbearance, patience, reasonableness, cheerfulness, magnanimity and all the other things that go to make up Christian character.

In our lives we should be examples of holiness, consistency and moderation. We should be free from worldliness, ostentation, and the vanities that are ruining the world. We should not be not of the world . . .
in the tenor of our lives,
in the motives that move us,
in the purposes that actuate us.

God’s will for His people regarding . . .
the vanities of this world,
the desires that have their root in worldliness,
and the sinful customs of the world,
is that we do not imbibe them.

Jesus said of His own, “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.” He has chosen us out of the world. Un-worldliness is a characteristic of true Christianity, and is found in all genuine believers.

The multitude of worldly professors who call themselves by Christ’s name, but who, in their lives, and in the worldliness of their hearts, deny Him–are not Christians at all. They are Christians in name only. Their religion is only a veneer that covers a heart of sin. They are actuated by the spirit of the world, and they love the things of the world.

To be a true Christian, means to be severed in spirit . . .
from the vanities of the world,
from the pride, fashion, display and pretense of the world,
from the world’s love of pomp and power, and its hypocritical pretensions.

We must strive to be separated from the spirit, desires, aspirations, and hopes of this world–as really and as truly as Jesus was.

We must desire to live out in the life, those things that definitely mark one as having his hopes set on something higher, his aspirations set on something nobler, and his interests aimed at something greater and more lasting than . . .
the perishable things of the world,
the popular opinions of the world,
the sinful customs of the world,
the fashions and frivolities of the world, and
the pleasures and amusements of the world.

“Just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do. For it is written: Be holy, because I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:15-16

We Start With Humility

screen-shot-2013-04-22-at-11-34-35-pm.pngJC Ryle

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 5:3

The Lord Jesus calls those blessed, who are poor in spirit. He means the humble, and lowly-minded, and self-abased. He means those who are deeply convinced of their own sinfulness in God’s sight. These are those who are not “wise in their own eyes and holy in their own sight.” They are not “rich and increased with goods.” They do not imagine that they need nothing. They regard themselves as “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Blessed are all such! Humility is the very first letter in the alphabet of Christianity! We must begin low, if we would build high.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

The Lord Jesus calls those blessed, who mourn. He means those who sorrow for sin, and grieve daily over their own short-comings. These are they who trouble themselves more about sin than about anything on earth. The remembrance of it is grievous to them. The burden of it is intolerable. Blessed are all such! “The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite spirit.” One day they shall weep no more! “They shall be comforted.”

Let us learn how entirely contrary are the principles of Christ–to the principles of the world. It is vain to deny it. They are almost diametrically opposed! The very characters which the Lord Jesus praises–the world despises. The very pride, and thoughtlessness, and high tempers, and worldliness, and selfishness, and formality, and unlovingness, which abound everywhere–the Lord Jesus condemns!

Let us learn how unhappily different is the teaching of Christ from the practice of many professing Christians. Where shall we find men and women among those who go to churches and chapels, who are striving to live up to the pattern we have read of today? Alas! there is much reason to fear, that many baptized people are utterly ignorant of what the New Testament contains!

Above all let us learn how holy and spiritual-minded all believers should be. They should never aim at any standard lower than that of the Beatitudes. Christianity is eminently a practical religion. Sound doctrine is its root and foundation–but holy living should always be its fruit. And if we would know what holy living is, let us often think who they are that Jesus calls “blessed.”

“My God, My God–Why Have You Forsaken Me?”

1024px-Cross_in_sunset

(David Harsha, “The Crucifixion”)

“My God, my God–why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46

He drinks the bitter cup of God’s wrath due to sin.

The powers of darkness fiercely assail Him.

He enjoys no sensible communion with Heaven. It is the gloomiest period in His whole life.

But at length His agony is so piercing that He is constrained to utter the most touching words of grief, “My God, my God–why have You forsaken Me?”

His Father–His own Father, in whose bosom He had lain from eternity! His Father, by whom He was always beloved–has withdrawn the light of His countenance from Him! And from His cross arises a most piercing and agonizing cry, “My God, my God–why have You forsaken Me?”

Oh, how mysterious, how solemn, how affecting is this cry! It is the most doleful that ever came from the lips of Christ during His sorrowful sojourn from the manger to the cross.

Ah! Why does He hang on yonder cross, uttering these doleful words ‘with strong crying and tears’?

It was not the nails which pierced His hands and feet, nor the agony of a crucifixion, which caused this mournful cry. He was now offering Himself a sacrifice for sins. As our Surety, He suffered all that divine justice required to bring the sinner back to God and to glory.

Here is the great mystery of Godliness: the Father bruises the Son, and puts Him to grief for our sakes! All those cries, and tears, and groans of Him whom the Father appointed to accomplish our salvation–were for us.

On His shoulders was laid the enormous load of our guilt.

Oh, what can we render to our Divine Savior, for His amazing and unparalleled love to us?

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We have published Charles Naylor’s helpful two page article, “Do You Need Patience?

When All Hell Breaks Loose

800px-Support_during_Hurricane_Harvey_(TX)_(50)(Charles Naylor)

“Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried” Daniel 12:10

All Christians desire to be purified and made white–but when it comes to being tried, that is a very different thing. They shrink from the very word. Their trials are to them as a nightmare from which they would gladly escape. But trials are a necessary part of God’s process of preparing us for Heaven.

The storms and obstacles in our lives, all work out for out good if we meet them as we should. Through them, our lives are enriched and ennobled and developed. They are blessings to us, though they may seem to be blessings very much disguised.

Life has both its bitter and its sweet. We should not always expect to have the sweet alone. Sometimes circumstances are in our favor, and work for our happiness, peace and contentment. Sometimes we have smooth sailing, and everything goes pleasantly. We are courageous and confident and rejoicing. The sun shines brightly out of a cloudless sky, and every prospect seems fair.

But this smooth sailing does not last forever. Sooner or later, the clouds must come and the storm-winds beat upon us. We must have the rough weather–as well as the pleasant weather; the storm–as well as the calm.

The sunshine and the calm are very needful in life–and they work out a definite purpose.

But the storms and the rain and the wind are likewise needed–and they also fulfill their purpose.

Trials will come–we cannot evade them. We may plan and build up hopes–only to have our air-castles come crashing down around our heads! If we have set our hearts upon these things, we are likely to be very disappointed upon their wreck, and to feel very gloomy over the result.

How greatly we are affected by our trials, depends on whether or not we sweetly submit to them. We should never fret on account of disappointments. If we do, they will only grow more rapidly, both in size and in intensity.

Losses may come to us–our property may be swept away or burned up. If we have our hearts set upon our possessions–then this may touch a tender spot, and it will darken our lives and make us morose and dissatisfied.

Poverty may come and the many difficulties incident thereto.

Sickness may lay its heavy hand upon us or our loved ones, and try every fiber of our being. Sickness may play upon the chords of pain, a lamentation that incites with exquisite torture! Or it may fire our blood with fever until the sparkle has gone from the eye and the glow of health from the cheek. Or it may bind us helplessly captive in chains.

Death may come and take those dear by the ties of nature or friendship–and leave sorrow and grief to be our companions.

These things try the soul, but they must be borne. We cannot escape such things, for they are the common heritage of those who dwell in tabernacles of clay. They belong to mortality and to the mutable things of time. How greatly such things may affect us, will depend upon how much we rebel against the circumstances–or how easily we submit to and adapt ourselves to God’s will. God may chasten you sorely, but He will do it for your profit, not for your destruction.

Our trials are the root upon which our blessings grow. These roots may be bitter–but the fruitis sure to be sweet, if we patiently wait for its maturing. Many choice fruits grow on thorny trees, and he who will gather the fruit, may expect to be pricked now and then by the thorns.

We cannot escape trials. The only thing some Christians do by rebelling, is to increase their suffering in the trials and prevent themselves from getting the blessedness out of them.

We ought to be willing to suffer when it is God’s will for us to suffer, and when He sees it is necessary for us to suffer. Our Master drank the cup of suffering, even though it was bitter. Are we better than He? Shall we refuse to go by the path which led Him to glory?

Contriving Methods of Amusing Themselves

HaendelConcerning the performing of ‘Handel’s Messiah’ John Newton wrote:

How shall we view the people of our times? I see the great mass of people involved in one common charge of high treason against the omnipotent God! They are already in a state of guilt–but have not yet been brought to their trial. The evidence against them is so plain, strong and pointed, that there is not the least doubt of their guilt being fully proved–and that nothing but a free pardon from God can preserve them from their deserved eternal punishment!

In this situation, it would seem in their best interest to avail themselves of every expedient in their power for obtaining God’s mercy. But they are entirely heedless of their imminent danger, and are wholly taken up with contriving methods of amusing themselves–that they may pass away their short time on earth with as much levity as possible!

Among other resources, they call in the assistance of music–and they are particularly pleased with the performing of ‘Handel’s Messiah’. They choose to make . . .
the solemnities of their impending judgment,
the character of their Judge,
the methods of His procedure, and
the dreadful punishment to which they are exposed
–the themes of their musical entertainment!

And, as if they were quite unconcerned in their upcoming judgment–their attention is chiefly fixed upon theskill of the composer, in adapting the style of his music to the very solemn subjects with which they are trifling!

The offended King, however, unasked by them, and out of His great mercy and compassion towards those who have no pity for themselves–sends them a gracious message. He assures them that He is unwilling that they should eternally perish; and that He requires, yes, He entreats them to submit to Him! He points out a way in which He offers them a free and a full pardon!

But, instead of taking a single step towards a compliance with His undeserved and gracious offer–they set His message to music! And this, together with a description of their present hopeless state, and of the fearful doom awaiting them if they continue obstinate–is sung for their entertainment, and accompanied with every kind of music!

Surely, if such a case as I have supposed could be found in real life, though I might admire the musical taste of these people–I would certainly commiserate their stupidity and hardness of heart!

A Bleeding Savior…

Benczúr_Christ_on_the_Mount_of_Olives_1919Convicted and condemned, with the rope around his neck!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will never count against him.” Romans 4:7-8

Too many think lightly of sin–and therefore think lightly of the Savior.

He who has stood before his God, convicted and condemned, with the rope around his neck–is the man . . .
to weep for joy when he is pardoned,
to hate the evil which has been forgiven him, and
to live to the honor of the Redeemer by whose blood he has been cleansed.

If Christ has died for me–then I cannot trifle with the sin which killed my best Friend!

Look to the cross, and hate your sin–for sin nailed your Well-Beloved to the tree!

“A bleeding Savior I have viewed–and now I hate my sin!”

I feel that, if I could live a thousand lives, I would like to live them all for Christ; and I would even then feel that they were all too little a return for His great love to me!

He Must Take Away Our Toys!

Doddi_í_leikfangalandi_II_(1947244587)(Charles Naylor, “Providences and Circumstances“)

Life is often an enigma. It brings to us many things that we cannot understand. How blessed it is at such times, to realize that there is One wiser than we, who has our lives in His care and who sees all and understands all! God is our Father, and we are the children of His love. He has our welfare at heart. He is interested in all that concerns us. He watches over all our lives, and nothing that comes to us can come without His wise appointment. Whatever comes, He knows full well its effect upon us, and His loving hand is ever ready to protect and help His children.

He could, if He chose, lead us in a pleasant and easy path through life–but He knows that a pleasant and easy path would not develop that strong and hardy Christian character which is so essential for us. Neither would it give Him an opportunity to reveal the riches of His grace, or His tender care.

He sometimes places a mountain of difficulty before us, that we may climb to higher altitudes–and that in the climbing, we may develop spiritual strength. Every difficulty that we conquer by God’s grace, raises us higher in the Christian life. This is the purpose of these difficulties.

He sometimes sends sorrow to soften us and make us hungry for His comfort. We may become too satisfied with earthly things. We may draw too much of our joy from them. He delights to have us draw our joy and our comfort from Him; therefore He must take away our toys which have been occupying our time–that our souls may yearn for the comfort and blessedness which only He can give. He knows that nothing softens us like sorrow. So He gives us a cup of sorrow to drink to the dregs–and oh, what tenderness and blessedness come into our lives when we submissively drink of that cup, no matter how bitter it may be to our taste!

All these happenings may seem dark and mysterious to us; they may seem to be the very things that are the worst for us–but they are not. They are but the manifestations of His kindly wisdom and His fatherly tenderness. Sometimes behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face. We often see only the frown of the providence, and that frown looks very threatening; but if we will look away from that frowning providence to the smiling face of God, we shall see that which will uplift us and strengthen us and enable us to bear whatever stroke of providence may come.

He knows that we must taste the bitter, before we can appreciate the sweet.
He knows that we must feel life’s sorrows, before we can value its joys.

Suffering more than anything else, develops us in the Christian graces. It is for this purpose that He sometimes leads us along difficult paths. Though His providences are often dark and mysterious–His love will never fail us.

But throughout our lives, if we are His, then we know that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28. When difficulties arise through which we can see no way, and He makes a way of which we had never thought–it is then that our hearts are made to wonder at His wisdom and are melted with gratitude.

His ways are not our ways. They are higher and better than our ways. If we were wise enough, we would always choose for ourselves, that which He chooses for us. But alas! How often when we choose for ourselves, we choose that which is least wise and most hurtful!

O soul, trust Him. He knows the way that you take. He knows just what is needful for you. So bear with patience, and endure with meekness, and do not question His wisdom or love. This will make the hard places easier, and the tiresome places less tiresome.

We Might As Well Preach To Stone Walls!

26145257_l-crop(Charles Spurgeon)

“For we know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words–but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction!” 1 Thessalonians 1:4-5

The gospel is preached in the ears of all men–but it only comes with power to some.

The power which is in the gospel, does not lie in the eloquence of the preacher–otherwise men would be converters of souls.

Nor does it lie in the preacher’s learning–otherwise it could consists of the wisdom of men.

We might preach until our tongues rotted, until we should exhaust our lungs and die–but never a soul would be converted, unless there were mysterious power going with it–the Holy Spirit changing the willand heart of man.

O Sirs! We might as well preach to stone walls, as preach to men–unless the Holy Spirit is with the Word, to give it power to convert the soul.