Truth and the Word of God

Why Obey the Word of God?

Untitled.pngWhy are those blessed, who hear and obey the Word of God?

(Francis Bourdillon, “Short Sermons for Family Reading” 1881)

“Blessed rather are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

The Word must be obeyed–as well as heard. We must not hear it carelessly. Nor must we be hearers only, forgetting it as soon as heard. We are to guard it and keep it–to treasure it in our hearts as a precious possession. We are to believe it and to follow it–then the full blessing will be ours.

Why are those blessed, who hear and obey the Word of God?

1. Because the Word of God tells us of the Savior, speaks pardon and peace, and opens to us God’s wondrous way of saving sinners. This can be said of no other book, and no other thing. The works of God in nature tell us much–but they do not tell us this. Many books of man are written on these subjects–but they are but man’s books after all.

2. They are blessed also, because the Word of God is a sure guide. It is a difficult path through the wilderness of this world. Many hindrances and perplexities meet us–and many different rules are offered for our guidance: fashion, custom, prudence, man’s opinion, etc. But the Word of God is the only sure guide. A simple, humble, earnest following of this guide–is the wisest, happiest, safest course! The poorest and most unlearned who through grace take this course–have more security for going right than the greatest and wisest who follow any other path. Therefore they are blessed who hear and keep the word of God–because they have a sure guide through life.

3. The word of God also comforts in trouble, and therefore they are blessed who hear it and keep it. This world has its sorrows as well as its difficulties–sorrows many and great; but the word of God has comfort for all of life’s sorrows. It is full of comfort. It has promises and declarations of God’s love. It contains examples of mourners whom He has comforted–and these in great number and variety. There is no kind of trouble for which some suitable comfort may not be found in the Bible. In time of deep sorrow–a comfort and consolation are found in the Word of God which are sought in vain in other books. It is the best of all books for those in trouble.

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God’s School

Amish_schoolhouse(Francis Bourdillon, “Alone with God–Helps to Thought and Prayer, for the Use of the Sick“)

“Teach me what I do not see.” Job 34:32

I am now especially in the school of God. He has taken me aside to teach me. The whole world is a training place, and all of God’s dealings with His redeemed children are to teach and discipline them. But God is giving me more than general teaching now. He has taken me aside from the great school of the world, to speak to me alone–doubtless because I need this special teaching.

It is my earnest desire to learn of God. It is my great wish that this time of severe illness may not be sent to me in vain. Lord, give me a humble and teachable heart. Let no pride or hardness or carelessness of mine–come between me and Your teaching, nor hinder me from receiving the impressions of Your grace.

“Teach me what I do not see.” There is much that I do not see.
There is much in the Word of God that has, I am sure, a deeper and more spiritual meaning than I have yet attained to seeing.
I am not fully acquainted with my own heart.
I have but a faint and shallow knowledge of the riches of God’s grace in Christ Jesus.

I do not fully see His precise purpose in sending me this present illness. I know that it comes to me for good, and that He takes me aside to teach me–but I would know His gracious will more clearly and distinctly, so that I may learn the very lessons which He is teaching me, and receive the very blessing which He designs for me.

“Teach me what I do not see!” Lord, I turn to You as my teacher. I am blind and ignorant–but You know all. All that it would be for my soul’s good to see and know–graciously teach me. Open my heart to understand the Scriptures–may Your Spirit unfold Your Word to me.

Teach me to know myself–let me see myself, not in the light of self-esteem, or in that of the world’s opinion, but as I am in Your sight.

Reveal Christ to me more fully. Let me know more of His unsearchable riches. Cause my heart to be more deeply affected with His dying love, and teach me to clearly see the infinite value of His great atonement.

Whatever special fault You mean to correct by this chastisement–enlighten my conscience to see it.

Whatever in my way of life You would have me to change, as contrary to Your will–oh, show it to me now for Your mercy’s sake.

“Teach me.” I might read books, or I might ask man’s advice. I do not disregard either. But now, O my God, that You have taken me thus aside–now I turn to You as my teacher. Who teaches like You? Oh, teach me now–teach me by Your Spirit–teach me Yourself.

Teach me, as You alone can teach–in my heart. Let me not only understand Your holy will–but experience it and follow it. Let me not only have an insight into Your truth and Your dealings–but let me receive a deep and lasting experience of Your grace, and may my every thought be brought into subjection to You.

Teach me by whatever means You may see good to use. I do not ask so much that this time of trial may be shortened, and that Your chastening hand may be removed–as that I may receive all the blessings of such a time, and profit fully by Your chastening.

Lord, I would not choose–choose for me. Order all for me. Keep all in Your own gracious hand. Deal with me after Your own wisdom and love. Only “Teach me what I do not see”–yes, all that I ought to see and know for my soul’s health. By Your dealings, by Your Word, by Your Spirit–graciously teach me!

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You may want to read the whole of Francis Bourdillon’s helpful book, “Alone with God–Helps to Thought and Prayer, for the Use of the Sick“.

Enough’s Enough!

Colorful buildings in Burano island street Venice(Arthur Pink)

“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of His appearing and His kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth, and turn aside to myths.” 2 Timothy 4:1-4

That time has arrived! Church-goers today will not endure “sound doctrine.” Those . . .
who preach the total depravity of man,
who insist upon the imperative necessity of the new birth,
who set forth the inflexible righteousness and holiness of God, and
who warn against the eternal and conscious torment awaiting every rejecter of Christ,
find it almost impossible to obtain a hearing! Such preachers are regarded as puritanic pessimists, and are not wanted.

In these degenerate times, the masses demand that which will soothe them in their sins–and amuse them while they journey down the Broad Road which leads to eternal destruction! The multitude is affected with “itching ears” which crave novelty and that which will amuse them.

Not only are many of our Seminaries cesspools of spiritual corruption,
not only are hundreds of our pulpits now filled by traitors to the cause they profess to champion,
not only is every cardinal doctrine of the faith attacked and denied by the very ones paid to defend them–
but the evil effects of such teaching from our religious leaders have influenced multitudes of souls committed to their care.

The man in the pew, following the lead of his teachers, has lost faith in the Bible as a Divine revelation, and in consequence, no longer submits to its authority.

I Am Cursed!

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(Thomas Doolittle, “Love to Christ Necessary to Escape the Curse at His Coming!” 1693)

“If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ–let him be Anathema! (or accursed).” 1 Corinthians 16:22

To be Anathema is to be cursed really–sentenced to real pains and real torments. These will be . . .
so great,
so grievous,
so many,
so extreme,
so continual,
and so universal–
that they shall wring out a confession from you: “Now I am accursed indeed!

To lie in these flames which cannot be quenched, to burn in this fire in which I cannot be consumed–is such a curse, and so intolerable, that will make you curse the day in which you were born, and curse the time you ever lived in this world–because not better improved, to escape that curse you lie under in Hell.

You shall cry out and roar, “Woe is me–a poor miserable wretch! I am tormented in this place, and cannot have one drop of water to refresh and cool my parched tongue! Woe is me–a poor cursed scoundrel! I am in pain–in extremity of pain–and have no ease! Alas! I toss and tumble in this bed of flames, and cannot rest! If I wander from one side of Hell unto another–I cannot find one corner where I might have a little rest! Oh! cursed creature, that I did not love Christ! If I had loved Christ as much above the world, as I loved the world above Christ–then I might have been among the blessed saints, and not in the midst of such a cursed crew! Had I loved Christ so much more than sin, as I loved sin more than Christ–then I might have been a blessed one. But because I did not love Christ–I am now this cursed wretch! I am as cursed as cursed can be! I was told that, for lack of love to Christ–this would be my accursed state. And now, for lack of love to Jesus–it is my accursed state forever! I was told that if I do not love Christ–I would be Anathema! I did not love Christ–and now I am Anathema!”

Building Character or Complaining?

donkeyTheir greatest obstacle in the way of spiritual growth and transformed character

(J.R. Miller, “The Transfigured Life!” 1893)

Nothing helps more to develop the transfigured life in us, than work. Some people chafe because they have so much to do. Their days are filled from morning to night with dreary, monotonous task-work. With men it is the never-ending work of the farm, the office, the store, the shop, the mill. With women it is the thousand duties of the household, the care of the home, the tending of children, the weary chores of domestic life.

There are many people who think their greatest obstacle in the way of spiritual growth and transformed character–is in the drudgeries to which they are indentured by their condition. They imagine that if they could be freed from these and could have leisure for reading, for study, and for fellowship–then they would grow into far more radiant beauty of character.

But this is a mistaken impression. The only one perfect life the world has ever known, was not spent with a book–but with a hammer and a saw! The school of common taskwork, with its perpetual round of dreary duties–is the best place in the world in which to attain noble spiritual culture. There is no other way in which one’s life will be so surely, so quickly transfigured–as in the faithful, cheerful doing of every-day tasks.

We need to remember that this world is not so much a place for doing things–as for developing character.Household life is not primarily a sphere for good cooking, tidy keeping of rooms, thorough sweeping and dusting, careful nursing and training of children, hospitable entertainment of friends, and the thousand things that must be done each day; it is a sphere for transforming women’s souls into radiant beauty.

The shop, the mill, the factory, the store, the office, the farm–are not primarily places for making machines, selling goods, weaving cloths, building engines, and growing crops; they are, first of all, places for making men, building character, growing souls.

Right in the midst of what some people call drudgery–is the very best place to get the transformed, transfigured life! The doing of common tasks patiently, promptly, faithfully, cheerfully–makes the character beautiful and bright!

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We have just published J.R. Miller’s insightful short article, “The Transfigured Life!

Stop Worrying About What Belongs To God

donkeys-heavy-load-696x362It is unwise to try to carry next week’s burdens today

(J.C. Pittman, 1917)

“Do not worry about anything–but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

There is no harm in looking ahead–but it is unwise to try to carry next week’s burdens today. There is nothing wrong in looking ahead, but needless worry in regard to the future, is not only useless but injurious–besides evidencing lack of implicit trust in our heavenly Father’s care for His redeemed people. Worry looks tremblingly ahead–but never accelerates, and always hinders the speed in life’s race.

Yet many drag through life weighted with all sorts of needless cares–and are never in their element unless looking for still more trouble. They are always watching for clouds–and are never content to bask in the sunshine.

Paul has a word concerning the sin of worrying. “Do not worry about anything.” The reason is because we are in God’s world, and He is able and willing to take care of all His people. “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.”

Never bear more than one kind of trouble at once.
Some people bear all three kinds of trouble at once:
all they have had,
all they have now, and
all they expect to have.

John Wesley said: “I dare not worry–any more than I dare curse and swear!”

Why Do Most People Believe in Works-Based Salvation?

dig-a-holeThe simple answer is that salvation by works seems right in the eyes of man. One of man’s basic desires is to be in control of his own destiny, and that includes his eternal destiny. Salvation by works appeals to man’s pride and his desire to be in control. Being saved by works appeals to that desire far more than the idea of being saved by faith alone. Also, man has an inherent sense of justice. Even the most ardent atheist believes in some type of justice and has a sense of right and wrong, even if he has no moral basis for making such judgments. Our inherent sense of right and wrong demands that if we are to be saved, our “good works” must outweigh our “bad works.” Therefore, it is natural that when man creates a religion it would involve some type of salvation by works.

Because salvation by works appeals to man’s sinful nature, it forms the basis of almost every religion except for biblical Christianity. Proverbs 14:12 tells us that “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Salvation by works seems right to men, which is why it is the predominantly held viewpoint. That is exactly why biblical Christianity is so different from all other religions—it is the only religion that teaches salvation is a gift of God and not of works. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).

Another reason why salvation by works is the predominantly held viewpoint is that natural or unregenerate man does not fully understand the extent of his own sinfulness or of God’s holiness. Man’s heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), and God is infinitely holy (Isaiah 6:3). The deceit of our hearts is the very thing that colors our perception of the extent of that deceit and is what prevents us from seeing our true state before a God whose holiness we are also unable to fully comprehend. But the truth remains that our sinfulness and God’s holiness combine to make our best efforts as “filthy rags” before a holy God (Isaiah 64:6; cf. 6:1–5).

The thought that man’s good works could ever balance out his bad works is a totally unbiblical concept. Not only that, but the Bible also teaches that God’s standard is nothing less than 100 percent perfection. If we stumble in keeping just one part of God’s righteous law, we are as guilty as if we had broken all of it (James 2:10). Therefore, there is no way we could ever be saved if salvation truly were dependent on works.

Another reason that salvation by works can creep into denominations that claim to be Christian or say they believe in the Bible is that they misunderstand passages like James 2:24: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.” Taken in the context of the entire passage (James 2:14–26), it becomes evident that James is not saying our works make us righteous before God; instead, he is making it clear that real saving faith is demonstrated by good works. The person who claims to be a Christian but lives in willful disobedience to Christ has a false or “dead” faith and is not saved. James is making a contrast between two different types of faith—truth faith that saves and false faith that is dead.

There are simply too many verses that teach that one is not saved by works for any Christian to believe otherwise. Titus 3:4–5 is one of many such passages: “But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Good works do not contribute to salvation, but they will always be characteristic of one who has been born again. Good works are not the cause of salvation; they are the evidence of it.

While salvation by works might be the predominantly held viewpoint, it is not an accurate one biblically. The Bible contains abundant evidence of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8–9).

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