Grace Gems for OCTOBER 2006

A whole Christ with a whole heart

(Thomas Brooks, "
Touchstone of Sincerity")

The terms upon which Christ is offered in the gospel are
these: that we shall accept of a whole Christ with a
whole heart
. Now, mark—a whole Christ includes all
His offices; and a whole heart includes all our faculties.

Christ as mediator is prophet, priest, and king.
Christ as a prophet instructs us.
Christ as a priest redeems us and intercedes for us.
Christ as a king sanctifies and rules us.

A hypocrite may be willing to embrace Christ as a priest
to save him from wrath, from the curse, from hell, from
everlasting burning—but he is never sincerely willing to
embrace Christ as a prophet to teach and instruct him,
and as a king to rule and reign over him. Many hypocrites
are willing to embrace a saving Christ—but they are not
willing to embrace a ruling Christ, a
"But those enemies of Mine who did not want Me to be
king over them—bring them here and kill them in front
of Me!'" Luke 19:27

Hypocrites love to share with Christ in His happiness—but
they don't love to share with Christ in His holiness. They
are willing to be redeemed by Christ—but they are not
cordially willing to submit to the laws and government of
Christ. They are willing to be saved by His blood—but they
are not willing to submit to His scepter.

But a true Christian receives Christ in all His offices. He accepts
Him, not only as a saving Jesus—but also as a Lord Jesus. He
embraces Him, not only as a saving Christ—but also as a ruling
Christ. He received Christ as a king upon His throne, as well
as an atoning sacrifice upon His cross.

A hypocrite is all for a saving Christ, for a sin-pardoning Christ,
for a soul-saving Christ—but has no regard for a ruling Christ,
a reigning Christ, a commanding Christ, a sanctifying Christ;
and this at last will prove his damning sin.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

One sin lived in and indulged

(Thomas Brooks, "Touchstone of Sincerity")

Satan knows that one sin lived in and indulged,
will as certainly damn a man as many sins; as one
disease, one ulcerous part, may as certainly kill a
man as many diseases.

O sirs! remember that as one hole in a ship will sink
it; and as one stab at the heart will kill a man; and
as one glass of poison will poison a man—so one sin
lived in and indulged
will damn a man forever.

One wound strikes Goliath dead, as well as 23 did
Caesar; one Delilah will do Samson as much mischief
as all the Philistines; one vein's bleeding will let out
all the vitals; one bitter herb will spoil all the pottage.

One Achan was a trouble to all Israel; one Jonah was
too heavy for a whole ship; so one sin lived in and
, is enough to make a man miserable forever.

One millstone will sink a man to the bottom of the
sea as well as a hundred; so one sin lived in and
will sink a man to the bottom of hell as
well as a hundred.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Faith, in its practical exercise

(John Newton's Letters)

That faith which justifies:
  purifies the heart,
  works by love, and
  overcomes the world.

That faith which justifies the soul, does likewise
receive grace from Jesus, whereby the heart is
purified, and the life regulated as befits the
Gospel of Christ.

Faith is of great use and importance in the daily
concerns of life
. Faith gives evidence and reality
to things not seen, and realizes the great truths
of the Gospel—so that they become abiding and
living principles of support and direction while
we are passing through this wilderness.

It is a believer's privilege to walk with God in the
exercise of faith, and, by the power of His Spirit,
to mortify the whole body of sin, to gain a growing
victory over the world and self, and to make daily
advances in conformity to the mind of Christ.

Faith, in its practical exercise, has for its object
the whole word of God; and forms its estimate of all
things with which the soul is at present concerned,
according to the standard of Scripture.

When our Lord was upon earth, and conversed with
His disciples, their eyes and hearts were fixed upon
Him. In danger He was their defender; their guide
when in perplexity; and to Him they looked for the
solution of all their doubts, and the supply of all their
needs. He is now withdrawn from our eyes; but faith
sets Him still before us, for the same purposes, and,
with the same effects, as if we actually saw Him!

His spiritual presence, apprehended by faith, is . . .
  a restraint from evil,
  an encouragement to every service, and
  affords a present refuge and help in every time of trouble.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A measure of trials is necessary

(John Newton's Letters)

A measure of trials is necessary for the exercise
and manifestation of your graces; to give you a more
convincing proof of the truth and sweetness of the
promises made to a time of affliction; to mortify the
body of sin; and to wean you more effectually from
the world.

Faith upholds a Christian under all trials, by assuring him
that every painful dispensation is under the direction of
his Lord; that chastisements are a token of His love; that
the season, measure, and continuance of his sufferings,
are appointed by Infinite Wisdom, and designed to work
for his everlasting good; and that grace and strength
shall be afforded him, according to his need.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Vain and sensual amusements

(John Newton's Letters)

"Be not conformed to this world." Romans 12:2

Conformity to the world is the bane of many professors in
this day. They have found a way, as they think, to serve
both God and Mammon. They may attain to a scheme of
orthodox notions—but they will remain destitute of the
life, power, and comfort of piety—so long as they cleave
to those things which are incompatible with it.

We must not conform to the spirit of the world. As
believers, we are strangers and pilgrims upon earth.
Heaven is our country, and the Lord is our King. We
are to be known and noticed as His subjects; and
therefore it is His desire, that we do not adopt the
sinful customs of the land in which we sojourn.

We must not conform to the maxims of the world. The
world in various instances calls evil good, and good evil.
But we are to judge of things by the unerring Word of
God—uninfluenced by the determination of the great,
or the many.

We must not conform to the world in their amusements
and diversions. "What fellowship has light with darkness,
or what concord has Christ with Belial?" What does a believer
have to do into those places and companies, where everything
tends to promote a spirit of dissipation; where the fear of God
has no place; where things are purposely disposed to inflame
or indulge corrupt and sinful appetites and passions, and to
banish all serious thoughts of God and ourselves?

If it is our duty to redeem time, to walk with God, to do
all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to
follow the example which He set us when he was upon
earth. It must of course be our duty to avoid a conformity
with the world in those
vain and sensual
which stand in as direct contradiction to a spiritual frame
of mind. So far as a Christian is infected by a conformity
to the spirit, maxims, and sinful customs of the world,
true piety will be hindered.

May the Lord enable you and I to lay this subject to
heart, and that we be preserved from that growing
evil—a sinful conformity to the world!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Divine guidance

(John Newton's Letters)

In general, God guides and directs His people, by affording
them, in answer to prayer, the light of His Holy Spirit, who
enables them to understand and to love the Scriptures.

The word of God furnishes us with just principles, and right
apprehensions, to regulate our judgments and affections, and
thereby to influence and direct our conduct. Those who study
the Scriptures, in a humble dependence upon Divine teaching,
are taught to make a true estimate of everything around them,
and are gradually formed into a spirit of submission to the will
of God. They thereby discover the nature and duties of their
several situations and relations in life, and the snares and
temptations to which they are exposed.

The word of God dwelling richly in them, is a preservative from
error, a light to their feet, and a spring of strength and consolation.
By treasuring up the doctrines, precepts, promises, examples, and
exhortations of Scripture, in their minds, and daily comparing
themselves with the rule by which they walk, they grow into a
habitual frame of spiritual wisdom, and acquire a gracious taste,
which enables them to judge of right and wrong with a degree of
readiness and certainty, as a musical ear judges of sounds. And
they are seldom mistaken, because they are influenced by the
love of Christ, which rules in their hearts, and a regard to the
glory of God, which is the great object they have in view.

The Lord, whom they serve, does not disappoint their expectations.
He leads them by a right way, preserves them from a thousand snares,
and satisfies them that He is and will be their guide even unto death.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Proud, dogmatic, and self-important

(Newton's letter on "Blemishes in Christian character")

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another;
 be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate
 and humble
." 1 Peter 3:8

'Austerus' is a solid and exemplary Christian. He has a deep,
extensive, and experimental knowledge of Divine things.
Inflexibly and invariably true to his principles, he stems with
a noble singularity the torrent of the world, and can neither
be bribed nor intimidated from the path of duty. He is a rough
of great intrinsic value, and would sparkle with a
distinguished luster—if he were more polished. But, though
the word of God is his daily study, and he prizes the precepts,
as well as the promises, more than thousands of gold and
silver, there is one precept he seems to have overlooked—
"be compassionate and humble."

Instead of that gentleness and humility which will always be
expected from a professed follower of the meek and lowly
Jesus, there is a harshness in his manner, which makes him
more admired than beloved; and those who truly love him,
often feel more constraint than pleasure when in his company.
His intimate friends are satisfied that he is no stranger to
true humility of heart; but these are few. By others he is
thought proud, dogmatic, and self-important; nor can
this prejudice against him be easily removed, until he can
lay aside that cynical air which he has unhappily contracted.

How lamentable are such blemishes in such a person!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We are no better than they

(John Newton's Letters)

Jesus, full of compassion and tenderness, wept over
His enemies, and prayed for His actual murderers! A
feeling of this kind seems essential to that new nature
which characterizes the children of God; and where it
is not in habitual exercise, it is a sufficient evidence
that the soul, if truly alive to God at all—is at least
in a lean and distempered state.

When we look at the ungodly, we are not to
hate them—but to pity them, mourn over them,
and pray for them. Nor have we any right to boast
over them; for, by nature, and of ourselves, we
are no better than they

"For who makes you different from anyone else?
 What do you have that you did not receive? And
 if you did receive it, why do you boast as though
 you did not?" 1 Corinthians 4:7

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Paulinus Nolanus

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod"
 or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes"
 by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

Paulinus Nolanus, when his city was taken from
him, prayed thus, "Lord, let me not be troubled at
the loss of my gold, silver, honor—for You are all,
and much more than all these unto me!"

Christian! In the absence of all your sweetest
enjoyments, Christ will be all in all unto you!

"My jewels are my husband," said one.

"My ornaments are my two sons," said another.

"My treasures are my friends," said yet another.

And so may a Christian, under his greatest losses
say—"Christ is my richest jewels, my chief treasures,
my best ornaments, my sweetest delights! What all
these things are to a carnal heart, to a worldly heart
—that and more—is Christ to me!"

"Christ is all!" Colossians 3:11

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

When Munster lay sick

("The Mute Christian Under the Smarting Rod"
 or, "The Silent Soul with Sovereign Antidotes"
 by Thomas Brooks, 1659, London.)

"Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline."
 Revelation 3:19

"The Lord disciplines the one He loves, and
punishes every son whom He receives." Heb. 12:6

All the afflictions which come upon the saints,
are the fruits of divine love.

When Munster lay sick, and his friends asked
him how he did, and how he felt; he pointed to
his sores and ulcers, whereof he was full, and said,
"These are God's gems and jewels with which He
decks his best friends, and to me they are more
precious than all the gold and silver in the world!"

"It was good for me to be afflicted!" Psalm 119:71

God afflicts you, O Christian, in love! Therefore Luther
cries out, "Strike, Lord, strike, Lord! and spare not!"

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The astonishing anomaly

(Jared Waterbury, "Piety, the Only Foundation
 of True and Substantial Joy" May, 1838)

It is a subject for serious inquiry—how far the pursuit
of riches is consistent with true and genuine piety?

Why is it that some Christian professors are found in
such constant contact with the world? Why are closet
duties abridged or neglected, while time is freely, and
even lavishly, given to business and to pleasure? Ah!
the question has been sadly answered, in the almost
unbounded thirst for gain, which, like a sweeping
epidemic, has found its way into the homes and the
hearts of professors!

The astonishing anomaly has been witnessed, of
men professing to live above the world—yet wholly
bent on acquiring its possessions! Many who profess
to renounce the world's pomps and its vanities, have
been seen foremost in plans to secure them, and even
ostentatious in the exhibition of them! They live in a
greedy and all-absorbing pursuit of the world, while
they dwell in fine houses, ride in splendid vehicles,
and feast on rich dainties.

If a Christian may embark in the pursuit of riches with
as unbridled an appetite as the professed votaries of the
world, and vie with them in the manifestation of external
grandeur; it must follow that Jesus did not mean what He
said, or that He was mistaken, when He declared, "You
cannot serve God and mammon." Luke 16:13.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

An honest, heart-felt preference of better things  

(Jared Waterbury, "Piety, the Only Foundation
of True and Substantial Joy" May, 1838)

Piety powerfully dissuades its possessors to forsake the
indulgence of pleasures, and the gaieties of the world.
This relinquishment is not a forced, but a voluntary act.
It is not so much the coercion of stern duty, as the sweet
constraint of an honest, heart-felt preference of
better things
. In comparison to true piety, the world's
groveling pleasures are empty and unsatisfying.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You take the goods

(Thomas Brooks, "Heaven on Earth" 1667)

"As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants
 for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
 When can I go and meet with God?" Psalm 42:1-2

The rattle without the breast, will not satisfy the child;
the house without the husband, will not satisfy the wife;
the cabinet without the jewel, will not satisfy the maiden;
nor will the world without Christ, satisfy the soul.

The hungry soul will not be put off with any bread but
with the bread of life; the thirsty soul will not be put off
with any water but with the well-springs of life.

As the king of Sodom said once, "You take the goods,
give me the people," Gen 14:21. Just so, says the hungry
soul, "You take the goods—take your honors, and riches,
and the favor of creatures; you take the grain, the oil,
and the wine; give me Christ, give me the light of His
countenance, give me the joy of His Spirit, etc."

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I had to punish him

(Arthur Pink)

"We are being disciplined so that we will not be
 condemned with the world." 1 Corinthians 11:32

"Is not Israel still My son, My darling child? I had to
 punish him
, but I still love him. I long for him and
 surely will have mercy on him." Jeremiah 31:20

O the bitterness of provoking Him to punish us, our
best Friend; that One who poured out His life's blood
for us; who endured the sharpest inflictions of justice
to screen us; Him whose heart is love, and on the sense
of whose love all our happiness depends! Yet, we forfeit
all, and compel Him to restrain His lovely smile, put on
instead a frown, take the rod in His hand, and chasten
us for our folly! Then we cannot escape: smite He will.
How long and how much, we must leave to Him. We are
completely in His hands; His power over us is supreme,
entire; resistance is vain, and will certainly increase the
affliction. There is nothing to be done, but humbly to lie
down before Him, and submit to His will. He may punish
severely; often He does. He may punish long; and there
is no promise that it shall not be so. The suffering child
has but one resource, but one door of hope; it is love,
the exquisite, surpassing love of Him who is chastening.
On that he throws himself. Yes, there is none other. He
who inflicts the pain can withdraw His hand; He who has
wounded, can bind up; He who has laid us in the dust by
His frown, can raise up by His smile. Yes, He can forgive,
He can restore; He can heal.

This, this is a mercy, an infinite mercy, that we are in
the hands of One so tender, so loving, who does not like
to put us to pain, who does it unwillingly, and longs to
restore us to favor.

"Is not Israel still My son, My darling child? I had to
 punish him
, but I still love him. I long for him and
 surely will have mercy on him."  Jeremiah 31:20

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A devil at home!

(Charles Spurgeon, sermon #2362)

The way in which a man lives in his home is vital. It
will not do to be a saint abroad—and a devil at home!
There are some of that kind. They are wonderfully sweet
at a prayer meeting, but they are dreadfully sour to their
wives and children. This will never do! Every genuine
believer should say, and mean it, 'I will walk within my
house with a perfect heart.' It is in the home that
we get the truest proof of godliness!

'What sort of a man is he?' said one to George Whitefield;
and Whitefield answered, 'I cannot say, for I never lived
with him.' That is the way to test a man—to live with him.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Preach with your feet!

(Charles Spurgeon, sermon #2432)

It is well to preach as I do, with my lips. But you can
all preach with your feet and by your lives—and that
is the most effective preaching! The preaching of holy
lives is living preaching! The most effective ministry
from a pulpit is that which is supported by godliness
from the pew! God help you to do this!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The devil's tennis-ball

(Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)

"Warn those who are idle." 1 Thessalonians 5:14

Take heed of an idle and slothful spirit. An idle life
and a holy heart are far asunder. By doing nothing
men learn to do evil things. It is easy slipping out
of an idle life into an evil and wicked life. Yes, an
idle life is of itself evil, for man was made to be
active, not to be idle. Idleness is a mother-sin, a
breeding-sin; it is the devil's cushion—on which
he sits; and the devil's anvil—on which he frames
very great and very many sins. Look! as toads and
serpents breed most in standing waters, so sin
thrives most in idle people. Idleness is that which
provokes the Lord to forsake men's bodies, and
the devil to possess their souls.

No man has less means to preserve his body, and
more temptations to infect his soul, than an idle
person. Oh shake off sloth! The sluggish Christian
will be sleeping, or idling, or trifling; when he should
be in his closet a-praying. Sloth is a fatal sickness of
the soul; get it cured—or it will be your eternal bane.
Of all devils, it is the 'idle' devil which keeps men
most out of their closets. There is nothing that gives
the devil so much advantage against us as idleness.

Idleness is the time of temptation. An idle person
is the devil's tennis-ball, tossed around by him
at his pleasure.

The fowler bends his bow and spreads his net for birds
when they are set, not when they are upon the wing.
So Satan shoots his most fiery darts at men, when
they are most idle and slothful.

Slothful and idle people commonly lie so long a-bed,
and spend so much precious time between the comb
and the mirror, and in eating, drinking, sporting, and
trifling; that they can find no time for private prayer.
Certainly such as had rather go sleeping to hell, than
sweating to heaven, will never care much for prayer.
And therefore shun sloth and idleness, as you would
shun a lion in your way, or poison in your food, or
coals in your bosom!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

On just such husks do the religious swine feed

(Arthur W. Pink)

"Take heed what you hear." Mark 4:24

The word hear obviously includes what is read, for
that which is written or printed is addressed to the
ears of our intellect. Few people today realize the
urgent need for 'taking heed' unto what they read.
Just as the natural food which is eaten either helps
or hinders the body; so the mental food we receive
either benefits or injures the mind, and that, in turn,
affects the heart. Now just as it is harmful to listen
to the rubbish and poison which is being served from
the great majority of present-day pulpits, so it is
exceedingly injurious to the soul to read most of
what is now being published. Take heed what you
hear—and read!

"Those who are after the flesh do mind the things
of the flesh" (Romans 8:5), and are charmed with
oratorical eloquence, catchy sayings, witty allusions,
and jocular displays. On just such husks do the
religious swine feed
; but the penitent prodigal
can find no nutriment therein!

Christian reader, if you value the health of your soul,
cease hearing and quit reading all that is lifeless,
unctionless, powerless—no matter what prominent or
popular name is attached thereto. Life is too short
to waste valuable time on that which profits not.

Ninety-nine out of every hundred of the religious books,
booklets, and magazines now being published, are not
worth the paper on which they are printed! Take heed
what you hear—and read!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Adorned with a heavenly life

(Thomas Brooks, "Holiness the Only Way to Happiness")

"Be an example to all believers in what you teach,
 in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and
 your purity." 1 Timothy 4:12

A preacher's life should be a commentary of his
doctrine; his practice should be a counterpart of
his sermons. Heavenly doctrines should always be
adorned with a heavenly life

"He will remind you of my way of life in Christ
 Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere
 in every church." 1 Corinthians 4:17

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He does whatever He pleases!

(Arthur Pink, "The Attributes of God")

"He does whatever He pleases!" Job 23:13

Ah, my reader, the God of Scripture is no make-believe
monarch, no mere imaginary sovereign; but King of kings,
and Lord of lords! To countless thousands, even among
those professing to be Christians, the God of the
Scriptures is quite unknown.

The god of this twentieth century no more resembles
the Supreme Sovereign of Holy Writ, than does the
dim flickering of a candle, the glory of the midday sun!
The god who is now talked about in the average pulpit,
spoken of in the ordinary Sunday School, mentioned in
much of the religious literature of the day, and preached
in most of the so-called Bible conferences, is the figment of
human imagination, an invention of mushy sentimentality!

The heathen outside of the pale of Christendom form gods
out of wood and stone; while the millions of heathen inside
Christendom manufacture a god out of their own carnal
mind! In reality, they are but atheists, for there is no other
possible alternative between an absolutely supreme God,
and no God at all. A god whose will is resisted, whose
designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated,
possesses no title to Deity; and so far from being a fit
object of worship, merits nothing but contempt!

"Our God is in heaven and does whatever He pleases."
    Psalm 115:3

"I know that You can do anything, and no plan of
 Yours can be thwarted." Job 42:2

"The Lord does whatever He pleases in heaven and
 on earth, in the seas and all the depths." Psalm 135:6

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns!"
    Revelation 19:6

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The wrath of God let loose upon His Son!

(Stephen Charnock, 1628-1680)

"Yet it was the Lord's will to crush Him and cause
 Him to suffer." Isaiah 53:10

Not all the vials of judgment that have or shall be poured
out upon the wicked world, nor the flaming furnace of a
sinner's conscience, nor the irreversible sentence pronounced
against the rebellious demons, nor the groans of the damned
creatures—give such a demonstration of God's hatred of sin—
as the wrath of God let loose upon His Son! Never did
divine holiness appear more beautiful and lovely than at the
time our Savior's countenance was most marred in the midst
of His dying groans—when God had turned His smiling face
from Him, and thrust His sharp knife into His heart, which
forced that terrible cry from Him, 'My God, My God, why
have You forsaken Me!'

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Whence, then, this loveliness, this charm?

(Arthur Pink, "The Attributes of God")

"The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord." Psalm 33:5

The goodness of God is seen in the variety of natural
which He has provided for His creatures. God
might have been pleased to satisfy our hunger without the
food being pleasing to our palates—how His benevolence
appears in the varied flavors which He has given to meats,
vegetables, and fruits. God has not only given us senses,
but also that which gratifies them; and this too reveals His
goodness. The earth might have been as fertile as it is
without its surface being so delightfully variegated. Our
physical lives could have been sustained without beautiful
flowers to regale our eyes with their colors, and our nostrils
with their sweet perfumes. We might have walked the fields
without our ears being saluted by the music the birds.
Whence, then, this loveliness, this charm, so freely
diffused over the face of nature? Truly, "the earth is full
of the goodness of the Lord."

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The power of God

(Stephen Charnock, 1628-1680)

"All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.
 He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and
 the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand
 or say to Him—What have You done?" Daniel 4:35

The power of God
is that ability and strength whereby
He can bring to pass whatever He pleases, whatever His
infinite wisdom may direct, and whatever the infinite purity
of His will may resolve. As holiness is the beauty of all God's
attributes; so power is that which gives life and action to all
the perfections of the divine nature. How vain would be the
eternal decrees, if power did not step in to execute them.
Without power—
  His mercy would be but feeble pity,
  His promises an empty sound,
  His threatenings a mere scarecrow.
God's power is like Himself—infinite, eternal,
incomprehensible; it can neither be checked,
restrained, nor frustrated by the creature.

As His essence . . .
  is immense—not to be confined in place;
  as it is eternal—not to be measured in time;
  so it is almighty—not to be limited in regard of action.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The unworthiness and unlikeliness of its objects!

(Arthur Pink, "The Attributes of God")

The Gospel addresses men as guilty, condemned,
perishing criminals. It declares that the most chaste
moralist is in the same terrible plight as is the most
voluptuous profligate; and the zealous professor,
with all his religious performances, is no better off
than the most profane infidel.

The Gospel contemplates every person as a fallen,
polluted, hell-deserving and helpless sinner. The
grace which the Gospel publishes is his only hope!

Grace is a perfection of the divine character which
is exercised only toward the elect. Divine grace is
the sovereign and saving favor of God exercised in
the bestowment of blessings upon those who have
no merit in them, and for which no compensation
is demanded from them.

Nay, more; grace is the favor of God shown to those
who not only have no positive deserts of their own,
but who are thoroughly ill-deserving and hell-deserving!
Divine grace is completely unmerited and unsought,
and is altogether unattracted by anything in or from
or by the objects upon which it is bestowed. Grace can
neither be bought, earned, nor won by the creature. If
it could be, it would cease to be grace. When a thing is
said to be of "grace," we mean that the recipient has
no claim upon it—that it was not in any way due him.
It comes to him as pure charity, and, at first, unasked
and undesired.

Because grace is unmerited favor, it must be exercised
in a sovereign manner. Therefore does the Lord declare,
"I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious." Exod. 33:19
The great God is under no obligation to any of His creatures,
least of all to those who are rebels against Him.

The distinguishing grace of God is seen in saving those
people whom He has sovereignly singled out to be His
high favorites. By "distinguishing" we mean that grace
discriminates, makes differences, chooses some and
passes by others. Nowhere does the glory of God's free
and sovereign grace shine more conspicuously, than in
the unworthiness and unlikeliness of its objects!

Nothing more riles the natural man, and brings to the
surface his innate and inveterate enmity against God,
than to press upon him the eternality, the freeness, and
the absolute sovereignty of divine grace. That grace
cannot be earned or won by any efforts of man, is too
self-emptying for self-righteousness. And that grace
singles out whom it pleases to be its favored object,
arouses hot protests from haughty rebels.

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The model and strength of his life

(Arthur Pink, 1886-1952)

"Christ is all!" Colossians 3:11

Christ is not only the Christian's righteousness,
but also the model and strength of his life.

"Apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:5

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Correcting in love—not smiting in wrath!

(Arthur Pink, "Comfort for Christians")

"Whom the Lord loves, He chastens." Hebrews 12:6

The Father's wise and loving discipline is in view here.

It is of first importance that we learn to draw a sharp
distinction between Divine punishment and Divine
. The distinction is very simple, yet is
it often lost sight of. God's people can never by any
possibility be punished for their sins, for God has
already punished them at the Cross. The Lord Jesus,
our Blessed Substitute, suffered the full penalty of all
our guilt, hence it is written "The blood of Jesus Christ
cleanses us from all sin." Neither the justice nor the
love of God, will permit Him to again exact payment
of what Christ discharged to the full. The difference
between punishment and chastisement lies not in the
nature of the sufferings of the afflicted. There is a
threefold distinction between the two.

First, the character in which God acts. In the
former God acts as Judge—in the latter as Father.
Sentence of punishment is the act of a judge—a
penal sentence passed on those charged with guilt.
Punishment can never fall upon the child of God in
this judicial sense, because his guilt was all transferred
to Christ, "Who His own self bore our sins in His own
body on the tree."

But while the believer's sins cannot be punished, while
the Christian cannot be condemned (Romans 8:3)—yet
he may be chastised. The Christian occupies an entirely
different position from the non-Christian: he is a member
of the Family of God. The relationship which now exists
between him and God is that of parent and child; and as
a son he must be disciplined for wrongdoing. Folly is
bound up in the hearts of all God's children, and the
rod is necessary to rebuke, to subdue, to humble.

The second distinction between Divine punishment and
Divine chastisement lies in the recipients of each. The
objects of the former are His enemies. The subjects of the
latter are His children. As the Judge of all the earth, God
will yet take vengeance on all His foes. As the Father of
His family, God maintains discipline over all His children.
The one is judicial—the other parental.

A third distinction is seen in the design of each. The
one is retributive—the other remedial. The one flows from
His anger—the other from His love. Divine punishment is
never sent for the good of unrepentant sinners—but for
the honoring of God's law and the vindicating of His
government. But Divine chastisement is sent for the
well-being of His children: "God disciplines us for our
good, that we may share in His holiness." (Heb. 12:10)

When the believer is smarting under the rod let him not
say—'God is now punishing me for my sins.' That can never
be! That is most dishonoring to the blood of Christ. God
is correcting you in love—not smiting in wrath!

Chastisement proceeds from God's goodness and faithfulness,
and is one of the greatest blessings for which we have to thank
Him. Chastisement evidences our Divine sonship. It is designed
for our good, to promote our highest interests. Look beyond
the rod—to the all-wise hand which wields it!

Some of the saintliest of God's people, some of the most
obedient of His children—have been and are the greatest
sufferers. Oftentimes, God's chastenings are corrective.
They are sent to empty us of self-sufficiency and self-
righteousness. They are given to discover to us hidden
transgressions, and to teach us the plague of our own
hearts. Or again, chastisements are sent to strengthen
our faith, to raise us to higher levels of experience, to
bring us into a condition of usefulness. Still again, Divine
chastisement is sent as a preventative—to keep under
pride, to save us from being unduly elated over success
in God's service.

Remember, your afflictions are among the "all things"
which work together for good. Learn, then, to look
upon trials as proofs of God's love—purging, pruning,
and purifying you.

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The sweetest mercies of God!

(Robert Hawker, "Zion's Pilgrim" 1827)

All afflictions which tend to . . .
  bring the soul to God,
  keep up a life of communion with the Redeemer,
  make us sensible of the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit,
  spiritualize our affections,
  wean our hearts from a world from which we must soon part,
and promote a more intimate acquaintance with that world in
which we are shortly forever to dwell—are undeserving the name
of afflictions! They are among the sweetest mercies of God!

God removes earthly comforts—in order to make room for heavenly
delights. He empties the soul of all creature-comforts—that He may
fill it with Creator-mercies. We should embrace our afflictions, as
affording the choicest proofs of divine love.

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Something infinitely better!

(Letters of Ruth Bryan)

It is only "Christ enjoyed" which can loosen our hold
of things seen, and of those earthly attractions which
have long entwined themselves around the heart—for
then we have found something infinitely better!

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The marks of a true shepherd

(Arthur Pink, Studies in the Scriptures, May, 1939)

How diligently should they scrutinize their motives, who think of entering the ministry; for thousands have abused this Divine institution through love of ease, desire for authority and reputation, or love of money—and brought upon themselves "greater damnation" (James 3:1). Thousands have invaded the pastoral office in an unauthorized manner, to fleece sheep rather than feed them, robbing Christ of His honor and starving His people.

Solemn beyond words is it to observe how sternly our Lord denounced these false shepherds of His day. (Matthew 23) As J. C. Ryle rightly said, "Nothing seemed so offensive to Christ as a false teacher of religion, a false prophet, or a false shepherd. Nothing ought to be so much feared by the Church, be so plainly rebuked, opposed and exposed."

What are the marks of a true shepherd, how are God’s people to identify those called and qualified by Him to minister unto His people?

First, the genuine pastor has the doctrine of Christ on his LIPS. The ministers of the new covenant are described as those who had "renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness." Christendom today is infested with men who are full of deceit and hypocrisy, trimming their sails according to whatever direction the breeze of public opinion is blowing.

"We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God." (2 Cor. 4:2). The true servant of Christ holds back nothing which is profitable, no matter how unpalatable it may be unto his hearers. He is one who magnifies not himself, nor his denomination, but Christ—His wondrous Person, His atoning blood, His exacting claims.

Second, the genuine pastor has the Spirit of Christ in his HEART. It is the Spirit who opens to him the mysteries of the Gospel, so that he is "the faithful and wise servant" (Matt. 24:45). It is the Spirit of Christ who gives him a love for His sheep, so that it is his greatest delight to lead them into the green pastures of His Word. It is the Spirit of Christ who enables him to use "great boldness of speech" (2 Cor. 3:12), so that he shuns not to declare all the counsel of God. It is the Spirit of Christ who makes him to be "prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction" (2 Tim. 4:2). It is the Spirit of Christ who gives efficacy to his ministry, making it fruitful according to the sovereign pleasure of God.

Third, the genuine pastor has the example of Christ in his LIFE, which is a conforming of him to the image of his Master. It is true, sadly true, that there is not one of them who does not fall far short both of the inward and outward image of Christ. Yet there are some faint tracings of His image visible in all His true servants. The image of Christ is seen in their words, spirit, actions; otherwise we have no warrant to receive them as God’s servants.

Find a man (no easy task today!) who has the doctrine of Christ on his lips, the Spirit of Christ in his heart, and the example of Christ in his life—and you find one of His genuine ministers—all others are but "thieves and robbers."

Bonus quote—"The unfaithful preacher" by David Porter.

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Letter to a stricken soul

(Arthur Pink)

My dear brother,
My heart goes out to you in sympathy in this dark hour, and I feel my helplessness to comfort you. The loss you have sustained is far greater than any human creature can make up—your suffering is too acute for any fellow-mortal to alleviate. I may endeavor to pour into your sorely-wounded heart something of 'the balm of Gilead,' but only the great Physician can give any efficacy to the same. I can do little more than point you to Him who alone can 'bind up the broken-hearted'. Jesus is a Friend who sticks closer than a brother. Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you. Unburden yourself to Him.

May divine grace be given you, so that you shall be enabled to meekly acquiesce unto whatever our all-wise God may appoint. It is in heart-submission to God's providential dealings with us, that true religion largely consists. Your acute sorrow is among the 'all things' which work together for good to those who love God. If the Spirit of God is pleased to sanctify this affliction unto you, it will prove a real blessing in disguise. May I suggest several lines of meditation which, if pursued by you and blessed to you by God, will enable you to improve this affliction.

1. Learn anew the terribleness of sin. 'J
ust as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned.' (Romans 5:12) Yes, had sin never entered this world, no graves would have ever been dug in it. Every funeral should be a forceful reminder to us of what the Fall has brought in! Every funeral ought to beget in us a deeper hatred of sin. It was sin which necessitated the death of God's beloved Son. Then how we should loathe it, seek grace to resist its evil solicitations, and follow hard after its opposite—holiness.

2. See the great importance of holding all God's temporal mercies with a light hand. The best of them are only loaned us for a season, and we know not how early we shall be called to relinquish them. It is the part of wisdom for us to recognize and remember this while they are in our hands: not to grasp them too tightly, nor to look upon them as ours to enjoy forever in this perishing world. Holy Writ bids us to 'rejoice with trembling', for that which delights my heart this morning may be taken from me before the shadows of night fall. The more I live with this fact before me, the less shall I feel the loss when it comes!

3. Endeavor to get your heart more weaned from this perishing world.
'Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.' (Col. 3:2) But we are slow to heed this exhortation, and often God has to use drastic means to bring us to a compliance with it. It is for our own good as well as His glory, that we do so. It is only heavenly things which abide; then let us seek grace to have our hearts more and more set upon them.

4. Seek to demonstrate the reality of true religion. Only the real child of God is enabled to say, 'The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: blessed be the name of the Lord.' Earnestly seek supernatural help from above, dear brother, that you may be enabled to manifest the sufficiency of Divine grace to strengthen and support—to show you do have a peace and comfort which the Christless are strangers to. Sorrow not as others do, who have no hope. Doubt not the Lord's goodness. "Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will support you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." Psalm 55:22

Yours by God's abounding mercy,
A. W. Pink

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God's Jewels

(Arthur Pink, "God's Jewels")

"And they shall be Mine, says the Lord Almighty, in
that day when I make up My jewels." Malachi 3:17

It almost surprises one to learn that the great and self-sufficient God has 'jewels,' but our surprise increases to astonishment when we learn that these 'jewels' are living creatures. And astonishment gives place to overwhelming amazement when we discover that these living creatures are fallen and depraved sinners redeemed from among men! Truly, nothing but Divine grace would ever liken such wretched worms of the dust, unto precious jewels! Yet that is the very thing which we find God doing in our text. It is not the unfallen angels, nor the holy seraphim and exalted cherubim who are spoken of as Jehovah's valued treasure—but lost and ruined sinners saved by amazing grace!

The Lord has likened His people to 'jewels' because of their inestimable value in His sight. This is an exceedingly hard thing for the Christian to really grasp, for he feels such a wretched and worthless creature in himself. That the Lord of Glory should deem him of great worth, is difficult to conceive. Yet so it is!

From the earliest times, men have thought much of precious gems, and fabulous prices have been paid for them. With great ardor and toil, do men hunt after gold; but with even greater eagerness and labor will they seek the diamond. Hundreds of men will labor for a whole year in one of the diamond mines of Africa, and the entire result of their efforts may be held in the palm of your hand. Princes have been known to barter their estates in order to obtain some gem of peculiar brilliance and rare excellence.

Yet more desirable still, are His saints in the esteem of the Lord Jesus. The value of a thing in the eyes of its possessor, may be gauged by the price he was willing to pay for it. So valuable was the Church unto Christ that He gave Himself for it, and shed His precious blood to purchase it for Himself. Thus, the saints are likened unto 'jewels' because of the great value which the Lord places upon them.

"You will be a glorious crown in the Lord’s hand, and a royal diadem in the palm of your God." (Isaiah 62:3) What marvelous words are these for faith and hope to lay hold of! Our feeble intellects cannot grasp them! Wondrous is it to think of rough stones, which first look like small pebbles, being found in the mud and mire of earth; then cut and polished until they scintillate with a brilliancy surpassing any earthly object, and being given an honored place in the diadem of a monarch. But infinitely more wonderful is it, that poor lost sinners, saved by sovereign grace, should be among the crown-jewels of the Son of God!