Grace Gems for AUGUST 2009

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When God laughs

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Treasury of David")

"The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord ridicules them!" Psalm 2:4

Note God's derision of the rebellious! What will the King do unto those who reject Him? Mark the quiet dignity of the Omnipotent One, and the contempt which He pours upon His raging enemies. He has not taken the trouble to rise up and do battle with them—He despises them, He knows how absurd, how irrational, how futile are their attempts against Him. He therefore laughs at them! (Charles Spurgeon)

"The One enthroned in heaven . . ." Hereby it is clearly intimated,
(1) that the Lord is far above all their malice and power;
(2) that He sees all their plots, looking down on all;
(3) that He is of omnipotent power, and so can do with His enemies just as He desires. "Our God is in the heavens! He has done whatever He has pleased." (Arthur Jackson)

"Sinners' follies are the righteous sport of God's infinite wisdom and power. Those attempts of the kingdom of Satan, which in our eyes are formidable, in God's eyes are despicable." (Matthew Henry)

"The One enthroned in heaven laughs". They scoff at us—but God laughs at them! Laugh? This seems like a harsh word at first view. But are the derision, the persecution and the injuries of his saints; and the cruelties of their enemies—a matter of laughter? God laughs—but it is in scorn; He scorns—but it is with vengeance. Short is the joy of the wicked! Oh, what are God's frowns—if His smiles are so terrible! (Thomas Adams)

The expression, "The One enthroned in heaven", at once fixes our thoughts on a being infinitely exalted above impotent man. And when it is said, "HE laughs," this is designed to convey to our minds the idea, that the greatest confederacies among kings and peoples, and their most extensive and vigorous preparations to defeat HIS purposes—are in HIS sight altogether insignificant and worthless! HE looks upon their poor and puny efforts, not only without uneasiness or fear—but HE laughs at their folly! HE treats their impotency with derision. He knows how HE can crush them like a moth when HE pleases—or consume them in a moment with the breath of HIS mouth! How profitable it is for us to be reminded of truths such as these! Ah! it is indeed a vain thing for the potsherds of the earth to strive with the glorious Majesty of Heaven! (David Pitcairn)

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Perfect peace

(Charles Spurgeon, "Gleanings among the Sheaves")

"Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27

Unless the heart is kept quiet and peaceable—the life will not be happy. If calm does not reign over that inner lake within the soul which feeds the rivers of our life—the rivers themselves will always be in storm. Our outward acts will always manifest that they were born in tempests—by being tempestuous themselves.

We all desire to lead a peaceful and joyous life; the bright eye and the elastic foot are things which each of us desire; to carry about a contented mind is that to which most people are continually aspiring. Let us remember that the only way to keep our life peaceful and happy—is to keep the heart at rest—for come poverty, come wealth, come honor, come shame, come plenty, or come scarcity—if the heart is quiet, there will be peace and happiness manifested in the life!

But no matter how bright the sun shines outside—if the heart is troubled—the whole life must be troubled too!

"You will keep in perfect peace—all whose thoughts are fixed on You—because he trusts in You!" Isaiah 26:3

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A faint symbol of unutterable affection!

(Charles Spurgeon, "Gleanings among the Sheaves")

"Yes, He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16

In calling the Lord Jesus "altogether lovely," the redeemed Church asserts that she sees nothing in Him which she does not admire. The world may rail at His cross and call it shameful; but to her it is the very center and soul of glory. He is never without beauty to her! She presses His pierced feet to her embrace—and looks upon His wounds as jewels! Fools stand by His cross and find many a theme for jest and scorn; but she discovers nothing but solemn reason for reverent adoration and unbounded love!

"You are absolutely beautiful, my Beloved—with no imperfection in You!" Song of Songs 4:7. Viewing Him in every office and relationship—she cannot discover a flaw! She knows too well, His perfect Godhead and His spotless manhood—to offer a moment's shelter to the thought of a blemish in His immaculate person! She abominates every teaching that debases Him! She spurns the most gorgeous religious drapery that would obscure His beauteous features! Yes, so jealous is she of His honor, that a hint against His unsullied purity would stir her soul to holy wrath—and speedy would be her execration, and relentless her execution of the heresy! Nothing has ever aroused the ire of the Church so much—as a word against her beloved Redeemer. To all true believers, this is high treason and an offense which cannot be treated lightly.

Jesus is without a single blot or blemish—yet this negative praise, this bold denial of any fault—is far from representing the fullness of the loving admiration of the Church. Jesus is positively lovely in her eyes! Not merely lovely—His beauties are attracting beauties, and His glories are such as charm the heart. But although this utterance of the Church is the very climax of the language of praise, and was doubtless intended as the pinnacle of all description—yet it is not possible that this one sentence, even when expanded by the most careful meditation, should be able to express more than a mere particle of the admiration felt. Her description towers above all others; but its stature fails to reach the towering height of Heaven-born love. It is but a faint symbol of unutterable affection! It is a choice pearl washed on shore, from the deep sea of Divine love.

"Yes, He is altogether lovely. This is my Beloved, and this is my Friend!" Song of Songs 5:16

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What a contrast, mixture, paradox I am!

(A letter of Charles Spurgeon, at the age of 17)

My dear father,
I am very comfortable here, and I may say, happy. Were it not for my vile heart—I might rejoice. I am the least of God's people—and I am sure I am the worst. But yet I am one—I believe in Jesus and trust in Him. Conviction of sin, I take it, is the evidence of true spiritual life. I can fall into His arms, though I cannot rest on my own merits, for I have none. Jesus, and Jesus alone—is my sure defense.

I must bless the Lord for making me His son—it is of His own sovereign mercy. Not one good thing has failed. I have felt corruptions rise, and the old man is strong—but His grace always comes in just at the critical time—and saves me from myself! The Lord alone keeps me! I have no hope of persevering—but by His power. I know that His almighty arm is all-sufficient.

I want to feel "less than nothing," but this is a very great attainment.

Sometimes, I pour my heart out sweetly and freely; at another time, I can hardly bring up a petition. What a contrast, mixture, paradox I am! My greatest concern is to grow in grace, and to go onward in the heavenly race! I hope you and dear mother are well. Love to all.
Your affectionate son,

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The best fighting!

(A letter of Charles Spurgeon, written to his father, at the age of 17)

God saves whom He will, when He will, and where He will.

I feel persuaded that I shall never fathom the depths of my own natural depravity—nor climb to the tops of the mountains of God's eternal love. I feel constrained day by day to fall flat down upon His promises, and leave my soul in Jesus' safe keeping.

How soon would our lamps go out—did not our mighty Lord supply fresh oil. And if it were not for His unshaken promise to supply all our needs out of the fullness of His grace—poor indeed would we be!

Yes, where Jesus comes—He comes to reign. How I wish He would reign more in my heart—then I might hope that every atom of SELF, self-confidence, and self-righteousness, would be swept out of my soul. I surely I long for the time when all evil affections, corrupt desires, and rebellious, doubting thoughts shall be overcome, and completely crushed beneath the Prince's feet, and my whole soul be made perfectly pure and holy. But so long as I am encaged within this house of clay, I know that my corruptions will lurk about, and I must have hard fighting—though the victory by grace is sure. Praying is the best fighting; nothing else will keep them down! I would go forth by prayer, like the Israelites, to gather up this Heavenly manna, and live upon free-grace!

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The eye of Divine Providence

(Letters of John Newton)

"Not even a sparrow, worth only half a penny, can fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father! And the very hairs on your head are all numbered!" Matthew 10:29-30

Let us learn to see and acknowledge God's hand in all we have, and in all we meet with. Such a deep and abiding persuasion of the Most High God, ordering and over-ruling all our concerns, would, like the light, diffuse a luster and a beauty upon everything around us! To consider every comfort of life, as an effect and proof of God's mercy towards us, would, like the fabled magic stoneturn all our possessions to gold, and stamp a value upon things which a common eye might judge as insignificant.

The eye of Divine Providence is upon every flitting sparrow of the field. Nor can we properly term any circumstance of our lives as small, since such things as seem most trifling in themselves, do often give birth to things which become most important. On the other hand—to be able to discover the wisdom and goodness of our heavenly Father, through the darkest cloud of troubles and afflictions; to see all our trials appointed to usin number, weight, and measure; nothing befalling us by chance; nothing without a needs-be; nothing without a support; nothing without a divinely designed advantagewhat a support must this be to the soul!

Take away this truth of Divine Providence—and man is the most forlorn, helpless and miserable object in the world! He would be pining for everything he has not—and trembling for everything he has! He would be equally suffering under the pressure of what does happenand the fear of what may happen! He would be liable to thousands of unsuspected dangersyet unable to guard against those which are most obvious!

Let us learn the secret of being content in any and every situation, "Our heavenly Father knows what we have need of, before we ask Him!" "The earth is His, and the fullness thereof;" and His goodness is equal to His power.

In Christ, He has already given us more than ten thousand worlds!

Are you poor? Be satisfied with the Lord's appointment. It would be as easy to Him to give you a large estateas to supply you with the bread you eat, or to continue the breath in your nostrils. He sees that poverty is best for youHe sees that prosperity might prove your ruin! Therefore He has appointed you the honor of being in this respect, conformable to your Lord, who, when on earth, "had nowhere to lay His head!"

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Splendid sins!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"Without faith it is impossible to please God." Hebrews 11:6

Without saving faith, all moral virtues are but splendid sins!

Unbelief nullifies everything!
It is the dead fly in the ointment!
It is the poison in the pot!

All the moral virtues,
all the benevolence of philanthropy,
all the kindness of unselfish sympathy,
all the talents of genius,
all the bravery of patriotism
—give no title to Divine acceptance, for
"without faith it is impossible to please God."

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Some of the advantages of early piety

(Charles Spurgeon)

I will just mention some of the advantages of early piety.

To be a believer in God early in life—is to be saved from a thousand regrets! Such a man shall never have to say that he carries in his bones—the sins of his youth. The Christian young man will not fall into the common sins of other young men, and injure his bodily health by excesses.

He will likely marry a Christian woman—and so have a holy companion in his journey towards Heaven.

Early piety helps us to form friendships for the rest of life which will prove helpful—and saves us from those which are harmful. He will select as his associates,  the godly from the church—and not the rogues from the tavern. They will be his helpers in virtue—and not his tempters to vice. Depend upon it—a great deal depends upon whom we choose for our companions early in life. If we start in bad company—it is very hard to break away from it.

The man brought to Christ early in life has this further advantage—that he is helped to form holy habits—and is saved from being the slave of sinful ones. Habits soon become second nature; to form new ones is hard work; but those formed in youth— usually
remain to old age.

Moreover, I notice that very frequently, those who are brought to Christ while young, grow in grace more rapidly and readily than others do. They have not so much to unlearn—and they have not such a heavy weight of old sinful memories to carry. The scars and bleeding sores which come from having spent years in the service of the devil—are missed by those whom the Lord brings into His church early, before they have wandered far into the sinful pleasures of this evil world.

I cannot commend early piety too highly. How attractive it is! Grace looks loveliest in youth! That which would not be noticed in the grown-up man—strikes at once the most careless observer, when seen in a child. Grace in a child has a convincing force—the infidel drops his weapon and admires. A word spoken by a child abides in the memory, and its artless accents touch the heart. Where the minister's sermon fails—the child's prayer may gain the victory!

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The utter ruin and spiritual death of your children

(Charles Spurgeon, "Christian Training of Children")

Parents! Your children are as surely as grown-up people, "dead in trespasses and sins!" May no parent fail fully to realize the spiritual state in which all human beings are naturally found. Unless you have a very clear sense of the utter ruin and spiritual death of your children, you will be incapable of being made a blessing to them. Go to them, I beg you, not as to 'sleepers' whom you can by your own power awaken from their slumber—but as to 'spiritual corpses' who can only be quickened by a  divine power!

If you think that your child is 'not really depraved', if you indulge foolish notions about the 'innocence of childhood', it should not surprise you if you remain barren and unfruitful.

If you would bring spiritual life to your child—you must most vividly realize that child's state. It is dead, dead! God will have you feel that your child is dead in trespasses and sins—as you once were. God would have you come into contact with that death by painful, crushing, humbling sympathy. If you would raise your dead child to spiritual life—you must feel the chill and horror of your child's death yourself. You must have, more or less, a distinct sense of the dreadful wrath of God, and of the terrors of the judgment to come. Depend upon it, when the spiritual death of your children alarms and overwhelms you—then it is that God is about to bless you!

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Our tears of penitence cannot remove one blot!

(Henry Law, "Family Prayers")

"Where sin abounded—grace did much more abound!" Romans 5:20

Heavenly Father,
Deepen in us this day, contrition for our vileness, as miserable sinners in Your sight. How often without resistance, have we floated down the stream of evil! We do not cloak our wretchedness. Our lips are ready to confess—but our hearts are slow to feel, and our feet are reluctant to amend our ways. We bring our hard hearts unto You. Break them by Your Spirit—and then bind them up by Your grace. Wound them to the core—and then pour in the Gospel-balm!

Such is the blindness of our fallen nature, that we cannot see sin's deformity—except as You are pleased to unmask it. Such is our deadness, that we cannot hate sin—except as You shall graciously implant abhorrence. Such is our infirmity, that we cannot flee sin—except as Your strength enables. Conscious of our total inability—we come to You for light, for help, for strength, for blessing.

Our sins without number stare us in the face! They are piled as mountain upon mountain. Their height reaches unto the heavens! But their full extent is open only to Your omniscient eye. The burden of our known transgressions weighs us to the dust. But the burden is light, compared to the mass which the scales of Your justice hold. We see but little, because our light is partial and our sight is dim. How must we appear, as seen by You, before whom the very heavens are not clean! You charge Your holy angels with folly. What must be Your estimate of our polluted souls! Humbled for what we see and feel; fearful for what is known only unto You—we meekly cry, "Pardon all our sins—for Jesus' sake!"

We smite upon our breasts, as utterly unworthy of the least of Your gracious and unfathomable mercies. Hear now our cry, and work in us by the omnipotence of Your Holy Spirit, more profound and abiding repentance. Give us more and more of that godly grief, which ever fears and trembles, and yet ever trusts and loves—which is ever watchful and prayerful, and yet is ever confident and hopeful. May the remembrance of the sad past—quicken us to walk in entire newness of life. Grant that through the tears of penitence, we may see more clearly—the brightness and the glories of the saving Cross!

Oh! blessed Jesus—we flee to You!
We cling to You. Our countless iniquities condemn us—but You will wash them all away! Our tears of penitence cannot remove one blot—but Your blood has all cleansing merit. Our prayers can earn no pardon—but Your mercy says, "Your sins which are many—are all forgiven!" The more we loathe ourselves—the more we love You! Our vile demerits—commend Your glorious worth!

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It will save a thousand tears from the child's eyes!

(Charles Spurgeon, "The Christian Training of Children")

"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6

Babes receive impressions long before we are aware of the fact. During the first months of a child's life—it learns more than we imagine. It soon learns the love of its mother, and its own dependence; and if the mother is wise—it learns the meaning of obedience, and the necessity of yielding its will to the parent's will.

This may be the keynote of its whole future life. If it learns obedience and submission early—it will save a thousand tears from the child's eyes—and as many from the mother's heart! A special vantage-ground is lost—when even babyhood is left uncultured.

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A weak, defenseless and foolish creature!

(Charles Spurgeon)

"The Lord is my shepherd—I have everything I need." Psalm 23:1

"The Lord is my shepherd!" What condescension is this—that the Infinite Lord assumes the office and character of a Shepherd towards His people! It should be the subject of grateful admiration, that the great God allows Himself to be compared to anything which will set forth His great love and care for His own people!

David had himself been a keeper of sheep, and understood both the needs of the sheep, and the many cares of a shepherd. He compares himself to a weak, defenseless and foolish creature—and he takes God to be his Provider, Preserver, Director, and, indeed, his everything!

No man has a right to consider himself the Lord's sheep—unless his nature has been renewed; for the Scriptural description of unconverted men does not picture them as sheep—but as wolves or goats! A sheep is personal property—not a wild animal. Its owner sets great value on it, and frequently it is bought with a great price. It is well to know, as certainly as David did—that we belong to the Lord!

There is a noble tone of confidence in this sentence. There is no "if", nor "but", nor even an "I hope so". David says, "The Lord IS my shepherd." We must cultivate the spirit of assured dependence upon our heavenly Father.

The sweetest word of the whole verse, is that monosyllable, "MY". He does not say, "The Lord is the shepherd of the world at large," but "The Lord is MY shepherd!" He is a MY Shepherd to no one else—He cares for me, watches over me, and preserves me! The words are in the present tense. Whatever the believer's situation—he is constantly under the pastoral care of Jehovah Himself!

The next words are an encouraging inference from the first statement, "I have everything I need." I might lack otherwise—but when the Lord is my Shepherd—He is able to supply my needs—and He is certainly willing to do so, for His heart is full of love towards His people!

I shall not lack for temporal things. Does He not feed the ravens, and cause the lilies to grow? How, then, can He leave His children to starve?

I shall not lack for spiritual things, I know that His grace will be sufficient for all my needs. Resting in Him—He will say to me, "As your days—so shall your strength be!"

I may not possess all that I wish for—but "I have everything I need." Others, far wealthier and wiser than I, may lack—but "I have everything I need." "The young lions may lack, and suffer hunger—but those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing."

Come what may, if famine should devastate the land, or calamity destroy the city, "I have everything I need!" Old age with its feebleness shall not bring me any lack; and even death with its gloom—shall not find me destitute. I shall have all good things and abound; not because I have a large store of money in the bank, nor because I have skill and wit to sustain myself—but because "The Lord is my shepherd!"

The wicked always lack—but the righteous never! An unsaved person's heart is far from satisfaction—but a gracious heart dwells in the "palace of contentment!"

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The slippery paths of a tempted, tried and afflicted believer

(Charles Spurgeon)

"He will not allow your foot to be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber." Psalm 121:3

This is a choice stanza for pilgrims to the celestial city.

"He will not allow your foot to be moved."
Though the paths of life are dangerous and difficult—yet we shall stand fast, for Jehovah will not permit our feet to slide; and if He will not allow it—we shall never be moved! If our foot will is thus kept—we may be sure that our head and heart will be preserved also! Those who have God for their keeper—shall be safe from all the perils of the way.

Among the hills and ravines of Palestine, the keeping of the feet is a great mercy. But in the slippery paths of a tempted, tried and afflicted believer, the blessing of upholding is of priceless value—for a single false step might cause us a fall fraught with awful danger! To stand 'steadfast' and pursue our holy way—is a blessing which only God can give. It is worthy of His divine hand—and worthy also of our perennial gratitude. Our feet shall move in heavenly progress—and we shall never be overthrown!

"He who keeps you will not slumber." We could not stand a moment—if our Divine Keeper were to sleep! We need Him by day and by night. Not a single step can be safely taken—except under His guardian eye. God is the convoy and body-guard of His people. When dangers are all around us—we are safe, for our Preserver is awake, and will not permit us to be moved. No fatigue of exhaustion can cast our God into sleep—His watchful eyes are never closed!

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Heaven would be an intolerable hell

(Charles Spurgeon, "
The Treasury of David")

"Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous!" Psalm 1:4-5

Well may the saints long for heaven, for no evil men shall dwell there! All our congregations on earth are mixed. Every church has at least one devil in it. The tares grow in the same furrows as the wheat. There is no threshing-floor which is as yet thoroughly purged from chaff. Sinners MIX with saints—as dross mingles with gold.

God's precious diamonds still lie in the same field with worthless pebbles. On this side heaven, righteous Lots are continually vexed by the wicked men of Sodom. Let us rejoice then, that in heaven above, there shall by no means be admitted a single unrenewed soul.

The wicked cannot live in heaven. They would be out of their element. Sooner could a fish live in a tree—than the wicked in Paradise! Heaven would be an intolerable hell—to an impenitent man, even if he could be allowed to enter. But such a privilege shall never be granted to the man who perseveres in his iniquities. May God grant that we may have a name and a place in His courts above!

May the Lord cleanse our hearts and our ways, that we may escape the doom of the ungodly, and enjoy the blessedness of the righteous! "For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish!" Psalm 1:6

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The flood came and swept them all away!

(Edward Griffin, "NOAH'S ARK")

"HE wiped out every living thing that was on the surface of the ground, from mankind to livestock, to creatures that crawl, to the birds of the sky, and they were wiped off the earth! Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark!" Genesis 7:23

Finally, the frightful morning began! The heavens gathered blackness. Angry tempests conflicted in the skies. The lightnings flashed over the world! Word was spread, that Noah and his family had entered into the ark. The ungodly then began to fear!

Before long, floods of water poured from the sky. Some now began to turn their eyes towards the ark; others stood doubting; others still dared to scoff!

The waters go on to increase. The rivers fill—and start to overflow. The waters begin to rise in the streets. Some flee into their houses; others, more intimidated, hasten to the hills! Others are now convinced, and with dreadful fright, are seen wading towards the ark!

The fountains of the great deep are now broken up. The waters rise more rapidly, and begin to rush with impetuous force. With difficulty they stand against the stream. They struggle for their lives to reach the ark! Thousands come—some wading, some swimming, some sinking, some hanging onto the ark with the grasp of death—all screaming for admission!

But it is too late! Time was, when the ark was open and they might have entered in—but that time is past! Where are now those tongues which derided the enormous vessel and the man who built it? Now what do you think of him—who for more than a century has borne the character of a fool and madman! They would give a thousand worlds—to be in his condition now!

Those nearest to the ark, cry and plead for admission, but in vain! The waters roar! The ark is lifted up! They sink and are seen no more!

By this time, every wretch on earth is thoroughly convinced. Hear their cries from the tops of the houses, which are answered by wails from those on the hills. See the multitudes who have fled to the mountains. How like frightened sheep they crowd together! Now the waters, roaring and foaming, have reached their feet! They flee up to the highest ridge—but the floods pursue them there! Some are able to climb the lofty oaks—and the waves overtake them there! They flee to the highest branches, and for a moment have time to reflect on their former madness: "How could I disbelieve the Lord's prophet? Where is now the ark which I scorned? Where am I going? O eternity! eternity! What a dreadful God have I despised!" On the topmost bough, the impetuous torrent sweeps them away! Their hold is broken—and they sink to rise no more!

The ark floats by—and sails over the heads of the revilers and persecutors! Only that blessed family in the ark, are safe!

The same terrors will seize an unbelieving world when Jesus comes again! "As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and swept them all away! That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man!" Matthew 24:37-39

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Their supreme deity!

(Edward Griffin)

It is distressing to look through our congregations and see how people neglect God—how they live as though there were no God.

Supreme love to God will certainly produce self-denial for His sake. It will habitually avoid everything which He has forbidden; and will obey, not a part, but all of His commands. Supreme love will seek communion with its object more than any worldly pleasure. It will pant after Him—and after greater conformity to Him; it will seek His glory as its highest interest; it will consider Him as its most desirable portion; it will delight in thinking of Him more than in any worldly object; it will delight in prayer; it will renounce the world and idols—and cultivate a heavenly mind.

As humiliating as the thought is—we know that every person is God's enemy, until he is born again. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." Hence it is, that so many people who attend public worship and lead regular lives, are . . .
  so unmindful of God from day after day,
  neglect prayer,
  put eternal things out of view, and
  lose themselves in the eager pursuit of the world.

They must be conscious, if they will but reflect, that the world engages more of their care—than God or their souls—and is of course their supreme deity. They must be conscious that prayer is a burden—that pious fellowship is a burden—that the thoughts of God which sometimes intrude are unwelcome—that the Christian service is not agreeable to their taste—that they would rather be employed in amusement, or business, or pleasure, or sloth—than in piety; that they would rather be reading an amusing story—than in searching the Scriptures.

Surely such people do not love God. Such minds could not be happy in heaven—if admitted there. They must undergo a radical change—or certainly they can find no happiness beyond the grave. Ah Lord God, how many of such are to be found among us—among the dearest friends of our hearts!

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A hearer of Mr. Griffin in New Jersey in 1829, gives us a description of his preaching and of the love and brokenness which gave his preaching its power:

"During most of the sermon his face was wet with tears, and for nearly an hour he spoke to us with such tender and appealing sentences—that it seemed as if his hearers must cry out in an agony of fear and trembling. But what a climax the ending was! It was a wonder how he endured the strain so long—and that he had not given up physically exhausted. The mental agony, and his heart-breaking sympathy—were enough to break an angel down! When he fell on his knees as if he had been knocked on the head with an ax, with outstretched arms and tears coursing down his face, he cried out:
Oh! my dying fellow sinners! I beseech you to give your heart to the Savior now. Give your life to Jesus Christ, do not put it off! Do not leave this house without dedicating yourself to His service, lest you be left at last to cry—the harvest is past, the summer is ended, and I am not saved!"

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Every sorrow and trouble of our earthly pilgrimage

(J. C. Ryle, "Faith")

"He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:32

If God has given His Son to die for us, let us beware of doubting His kindness and love in any painful providence of our daily life. Let us never allow ourselves to think hard thoughts of God. Let us never suppose that He can give us anything that is not really for our good.

Let us see in every sorrow and trouble of our earthly pilgrimage—the hand of Him who gave Christ to die for our sins. That hand can never smite us except in love! He who gave His Son to die for our sins—will never withhold anything from us that is really for our good. Let us lean back on this thought and be content. Let us say to ourselves in the darkest hour of trial, "This also is ordered by Him who gave Christ to die for my sins. It cannot be wrong! It is done in love! It must be well!"

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Shall we, then, flaunt proudly in Your sight?

Henry Law, "Family Prayers")

God Almighty, heavenly Father,

Who are we, that pride should swell within us! Our original is the mire beneath our feet. Dust we are—and unto dust we shall soon return. In material, we do not surpass the most detestable reptile. Whatever difference of form and intellect is ours—is freely granted by Your goodness. Our every faculty of mind and body—is Your undeserved gift.

Thus low as creatures—we are far lower as sinners. We have times without number trampled on Your righteous law. Sin's deformity is stamped upon us; its hideousness darkens on our brow; its loathsome touch has fixed corruption on us. Shall we, then, flaunt proudly in Your sight? The lowest depths of self-abasement is our due place. We are far less than nothing in Your all-seeing eye. Help us to see ourselves—as we are seen by You. Then pride must wither, and vanish, and decay, and die!

Your Word assures us that You give grace to the lowly. Humble our hearts before You—and then replenish them with Your choicest gifts. May our position ever be the lowliest of the lowly—so may our spiritual riches exceedingly abound.

Enable us to walk on earth—even as Your beloved Son walked. He is our most perfect model. He was meek and lowly in heart. Let His meekness be our all-covering garb. Clothe us entirely with humility.

"This is what the LORD says—Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, or the strong man boast of his strength, or the rich man boast of his riches!" Jeremiah 9:23

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The old man yet lives!

Henry Law, "Family Prayers")

O ever-watchful Shepherd of Your flock—lead us, guide us, safely tend us this day. Without Your restraining rod—we shall err and stray like lost sheep. Hedge up our paths—lest we be misled into the unwholesome pastures of the world, and drink of its poisonous streams. Direct our feet—lest we be entangled by some secret snare of the devil, or stumble into his hidden pitfalls. Encircle Your fold by Your protecting power, that the roaring lion may not devour, nor any cruel foe assail. Remember Your ransomed flock. Protect, preserve it as the purchase of Your dear Son's blood.

O Lord, we beseech You now to defend us, not only from outward adversaries—but especially from ourselves! We have foes which cleave closer to us than our very skin! We cannot escape them. Help us to elude their enticing wiles. In public and in private, when we come in or go out, whether we rise up or sit down—they cling to our heart. Deliver us from their constant baits and traps. The old man yet lives within us—and is powerful. Help us to nail him to the cross of Jesus! We earnestly desire to put him off with all his foul deeds—and to put on the new man, which is created in righteousness and true holiness. If You speak the word—the victory is ours!

Our best strength—is utter weakness. Our firmest resolves—are as fleeting as the morning cloud and early dew. In our flesh there dwells no good thing—it is the vile abode of every corrupt desire. It is the den in which all vile passions lurk. Left to ourselves, we fall. But Your Spirit is omnipotent. Oh! then, bid Your Spirit to arise in all His might—and crush our indwelling opponents!

How often do we mourn that, when we would do good, evil is present with us. The good that we would do—we cannot do; the evil that we would not do—that we do. We look to You to deliver us from the body of this death. Strengthen us with heavenly aid in the inner man, lest we faint and be weary in the conflict—and yield to our bosom-foes. The enemy is within the citadel! Come with Your almighty power and subdue him. Enable us, therefore, by Your Spirit, to mortify all the deeds of the body.

O Jesus, we are Yours! Other lords have had dominion over us—but now we are Your willing servants. Come, then, O You who are our Lord, pierce to the death—utterly destroy—abolish in us every particle of carnal self!

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Our hearts are Yours!

Henry Law, "Family Prayers")

"My son, give Me your heart, and let your eyes observe My ways." Proverbs 23:26

Holy Father, Almighty God,
We desire to give our hearts unto You, without one shadow of reserve. We beseech You to take full possession of them.

Expel mightily every opposing foe.

Crush every rebel lust.

Mortify each traitorous passion.

Annihilate each earth-born desire.

Our hearts are Yours—for You have created them.

They are Yours—for You have redeemed them by the most precious blood of Your only begotten Son.

They are Yours—because in free love You have renewed them by Your Holy Spirit.

They are Yours—because You have conquered them by Your grace.

They are Yours—because we willingly surrender them to You.

Occupy them wholly by Your presence.

Exclude every intruding rival.

Reign supreme within them.

We would love You now, and forevermore, with all our hearts, and all our souls, and all our might, and all our strength. You are worthy of infinitude of adoration, far beyond what our dull hearts can yield. Is love among men awakened by genius, wisdom, worth, and seeming perfection? You are the very perfection of all perfections! All intellect is derived from You. Our scanty rivulets flow from Your unfathomable fountain. Compared with You—
  the sun is darkness,
  all beauty is deformity,
  all knowledge is folly,
  the best goodness is most faulty.
You, the great Creator, who inhabits eternity, are high above all creatures. So invigorate our love, that it may worthily rise to You and tightly entwine itself around You!

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His most afflictive dispensations

(Letters of John Newton)

Dear friend,
I hope that you have found your trials so sweetened, and so sanctified, by God's blessing, that you have been enabled to rejoice in them!

Whatever may be the immediate causes of your troubles—they are all under the direction of a gracious hand—and each, in their place, cooperating to a gracious end. Your afflictions all come from God's heart, who loves you better than you love yourself! They are all tokens of His love and favor—and are necessary means of promoting your growth in faith and grace.

You are in the hands of Him who does all things well, and conducts His most afflictive dispensations to those who fear Him, with wisdom and mercy!

The Lord knows what is best for you! When there is an especial need-be for your being in the furnace—He knows how to support you; and at what season, and in what manner, deliverance will best comport with His glory and your good. These are the two great ends which He has in view, and which are inseparably connected together.

He knows our frame, and of what we are made. His pity exceeds that of the most tender parent. And though He causes grief—He will have compassion. Your afflictions which at present are not joyous but grievous, shall, when you have been duly exercised by them—yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness. I trust the Lord gives you a measure of patience and submission to His holy will. If so, everything shall be well—and when He has fully tried you—you shall come forth as gold!

The thoughts of what we have deserved at His hands—and what Jesus suffered for our sakes—when applied by his Holy Spirit, have a sovereign efficacy to compose our minds, and enable us to say, "Not my will—but may Yours be done!" How unspeakably better is it to be chastened by the Lord now—than to be left to ourselves for a season, and at last condemned with the world.

The path of affliction is sanctified by the promises of God, and by the consideration of our Lord Jesus, who walked in it Himself, that we might not think it too much to tread in His steps. Yes, it has been a beaten path in all ages; for the innumerable multitudes of the redeemed who are now before the eternal throne, have entered the kingdom by no other way. Let us not then be weary and faint—but cheerfully consent to be the followers of those who, through faith and patience, are now inheriting the promises!

If, after much tribulation, we stand accepted before the Lord in His glory, we shall not then think much of the difficulties we met with in our pathway to glory. Then sorrow and sighing shall cease forever—and songs of triumph and everlasting joy shall take their place! Oh, happy transporting moment, when the Lord God Himself shall wipe every tear from our eyes!

Until then, may the prospect of this glory which shall be revealed, cheer and comfort our hearts! Hitherto the Lord has helped us. He has delivered us in six troubles—and we may trust Him in the seventh.

Whatever storms may arise, we have an infallible and almighty Pilot, who will be a Sun and a Shield to those who love Him!

As long as we live, new trials will be needful. It is not that the Lord delights in grieving us and putting us to pain; on the contrary, He rejoices in the prosperity of His servants. No, it is not for His pleasure—but for our profit, that we may be made partakers of His holiness!

Perhaps you may have observed a bird, in a hedge, or upon the boughs of a tree; if you disturb it—it will move a little higher—and thus you may make it change its place three or four times. But if it finds, after a few trials, that you continue to follow it—it takes wing at last, and flies away!

Thus it is with us! When the Lord drives us from one creature-rest, we immediately perch upon another! But He will not allow us to stay long upon any. At length, like the bird, we are sensible that we can have no safety, no stable peace below! Then our hearts take flight and soar heavenwards, and we are taught by His grace to place our treasure and affections out of the reach of earthly vanities. So far as this end is accomplished, we have reason to be thankful and say,
happy rod—that brought me nearer to my God!

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Groveling among the baubles of this world

(Thomas Boston, "Human Nature in its Fourfold State")

"He who overcomes will inherit all things!" Revelation 21:7

He shall have peace and plenty, profit and pleasure, everything desirable—full satisfaction of his most enlarged desires! Let the expectants of heaven, then, lift up their heads with joy. Let them gird up their loins, and so run that they may obtain; trampling on everything that may hinder them in their way to the kingdom. Let them never account any duty too hard, nor any cross too heavy, nor any pains too great—so that they may attain the unfading crown of glory.

Christians should behave suitably to their character and dignity—as heirs of the eternal glorious kingdom. Let your heart be in heaven. Let your souls delight in communion with God while you are on earth, since you look for your happiness in communion with Him in heaven. Let your speech and actions savor of heaven; and in your manner of life, look towards the heavenly country to which you are going.

Maintain a holy contempt of the world, and of the things of the world. Although others, whose earthly things are their best things, set their hearts upon them; yet it befits you to set your feet on them, since your best things are above. This world is but the alien country through which you must pass through, on your journey to Immanuel's land. Therefore, pass through it as pilgrims and strangers; and do not immerse yourself in its encumbrances, so as to retard you in your journey.

It is unworthy of one born to a palace—to set his heart to dwell in a poor hovel. It is unworthy of one running for a prize of gold—to depart from his path to gather pebbles and sticks. How much more is it unworthy of an heir of the kingdom of heaven—to be groveling among the baubles of this world, when he should be traveling on to receive his eternal inheritance!

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A most sovereign antidote

(Thomas Brooks, "A Word in Season to Suffering Saints")

Then Moses said to Him, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here!" Exodus 33:15

God's presence is infinitely better than the presence of all outward comforts. God is with His people to counsel them in all doubtful and difficult cases, and to defend and secure them against all their enemies and opposers.

A sound sincere Christian can never have enough . . .
  power against sin, nor
  strength against temptation, nor
  weanedness from this world, nor
  ripeness for heaven, nor
  of the presence of the Lord.

The special presence of God with His people, is a most sovereign antidote.

Troubles will be no troubles,
distresses will be no distresses,
dangers will be no dangers—
if God's presence is with you.

Mountains—will be molehills; stabs at the heart—will be as scratches upon the hand; if God's presence is with you.

God's special presence will turn . . .
  storms into calms,
  winter nights into summer days,
  prisons into palaces,
  weakness into strength,
  poverty into plenty,
  death into life.

Just so, while a Christian enjoys the singular presence of God with him, he will make nothing of this affliction and that affliction, of this trouble and that trouble, of this loss and that loss. God's presence makes . . .
  heavy afflictions—light, and
  long afflictions—short, and
  bitter afflictions—sweet.

A man in misery, without this gracious presence of God, is in a very hell on this side hell. God's gracious presence makes every condition—to be a little heaven to the believing soul. There is nothing, there can be nothing, but heaven—where God is specially present.

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble." Psalm 46:1

"The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress!" Psalm 46:7

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You ought to wash one another's feet!

(Philip Bennett Power)

"He got up from supper, laid aside His robe, took a towel, and tied it around Himself. Next, He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples' feet and to dry them with the towel tied around Him." John 13:4-5

When the Lord Himself would stoop to the humblest and lowest act of service, and teach His disciples to do the same—the washing of feet was the one He chose.

During His earthly walk—Jesus saw all humble deeds in both their present and future dignity. He knew how and why it was, that he who would be greatest—must be the servant of all. He connected service and reward together. In His mind—all humble deeds of service were invested with great dignity. Jesus never did a humble deed, or took up a menial position, or uttered a lowly speech, without a consciousness of the true nobility attached to them. Therefore, with great joy did He perform all His humble service!

It is just here that we fail. We have little power of association. We isolate our humble services and deeds—from their eternal principles and thoughts, and then our services become burdensome, and our duties become toilsome—and failure is too often the result. Let us realize the nobility of our humble services. Let us remember that our now all-glorious Redeemer once said, "I am among you as the One who serves." Luke 22:27

Life, and common every-day service and duties, will wear a new aspect to us—when we see them tending to such a glorious consummation! We shall have fresh heart and energy—when we realize that the future will compensate abundantly for them.

"So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet—you ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you." John 13:14-15

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When you stand over your child's dead body

(Charles Spurgeon)

May you so live, that when you stand over your child's dead body, you may never hear a voice coming up from that clay, "Father, your negligence was my destruction! Mother, your prayerlessness was the instrument of my damnation!"

"Impress these words of Mine on your hearts and minds . . . Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 11:18-19

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The secret of development of Christian character

(Arthur Pink, "
The Sovereignty of God")

The loss of all confidence in ones self, is the first essential in the believer's growth in grace! The Christian, conscious of his own frailty, will turn unto the Lord for strength.  "That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak—then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10

There must be consciousness of our weakness, before we shall turn to the Lord for help. While the Christian imagines that he is sufficient in himself; while he imagines that by the mere force of his will, that he shall resist temptation; while he has any confidence in the flesh—then, like 'boasting Peter'—so we shall certainly fail and fall. The plain fact is—that of ourselves we are utterly unable to practice a single precept, or obey a single command that is set before us in the Scriptures! Apart from Christ—we can do nothing! (John 15:5). The promise of God is, "He gives power to the faint; and strengthens the powerless!" Isaiah 40:29

The secret of development of Christian character
, is the realization of our own powerlessness, and the consequent turning unto the Lord for help. A consciousness of our powerlessness, should cast us upon Him who has all power.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble!" Psalm 46:1

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A very delicate thing

(Arthur Pink, "The Eye of Faith")

Faith is frequently represented in Scripture, under the metaphor of bodily sight. Of Moses it is said that "he endured as seeing Him who is invisible" Hebrews 11:27. That is, his heart was sustained through faith's being occupied with the mighty God.

The eye is a very delicate thing—it is soon hurt and easily damaged. A tiny speck of dust will cause pain and make it weep. It is very striking to note, that this is the very way to recovery—it weeps out the dust that gets into it.

Just so, faith is a most delicate grace, thriving best in a pure conscience. Hence the apostle speaks of "holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" (1 Timothy 3:9). The lively actings of faith are soon marred by the dust of sin, or by the vanities of the world getting into the heart where it is seated. And wherever true faith is—if it is hurt by sin—it vents itself in a way of godly sorrow.

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Entering the Narrow Gate

(Arthur Pink, "The Narrow Way")

"Make every effort to enter through the narrow gate, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to." Luke 13:24

Entering the Narrow Gate signifies the heart's acceptance of Christ's holy teaching. Ah, my friend, to really and actually enter this "Narrow Gate" is no easy matter! These words do not picture salvation as a thing of simple and easy attainment. That Jesus should utter such a statement, clearly implies that there are formidable difficulties and obstacles to be overcome, and that slothful nominal professors will surely not enter in.

Why is such striving necessary to "enter" the narrow gate?

First, because SATAN is striving to destroy your soul. "Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour!" 1 Peter 5:8

Second, because natural appetites of the FLESH are striving to destroy you: "Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims—abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul." 1 Peter 2:11

Third, because the whole WORLD is arrayed against you. It will seek to draw you by its alluring promises, its Delilah-like deceits, and fatal enticements. Unless you overcome the world, the world will overcome you to the eternal destruction of your soul.

From what has been before us, we may plainly discover why it is that the vast majority of our fellow-men, yes, and of professing Christians also, will fail to reach Heaven—it is because they prefer . . .
  sin, to holiness;
  indulging the lusts of the flesh, to walking according to the Scriptures;
  self, to Christ;
  the world, to God.

Men refuse to .  . .
  deny self,
  abandon their idols, and
  submit to Christ as Lord
—and without this, none can take the first step toward Heaven and enter through the narrow gate!

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Walking along the Narrow Way

(Arthur Pink, "The Narrow Way")

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction—and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life—and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

Walking along the Narrow Way
, means for the heart and life to be constantly regulated by Christ's holy teaching. It denotes a steady perseverance in faith and obedience to the Lord Jesus; overcoming all opposition, rejecting every temptation to forsake the path of fidelity to Him. It is called the "Narrow Way" because all self-pleasing and self-seeking is shut out.

It is right here that the testing point is reached. Unto the natural man, it is much easier and far more pleasant—to indulge the flesh and follow our worldly propensities. The Broad Road, where the flesh is indulged—is easy, smooth, and attractive! But it ends in "destruction!" Though the "Narrow Way" leads to eternal life—but only FEW tread it.

Multitudes make a profession and claim to be saved—but their lives give no evidence that they are "strangers and pilgrims" here on earth, and that their "treasure" is in heaven. They are afraid of being thought narrow and strict. Satan has deceived them—they imagine that they can get to heaven by an easier route, than by . . .
  denying self,
  taking up their cross daily,
  and following Christ!

There are multitudes of 'religionists' who are attempting to combine the two "ways," making the best of both worlds and serving two masters. They wish to gratify self in time—and enjoy the happiness of Heaven in eternity. Crowds of nominal Christians are deluding themselves into believing that they can do so—but they are terribly deceived!

The reason why so few will enter Eternal Life—is because the multitudes are not seeking it in the way of God's appointing! None seek it aright—but those who pass through the Narrow Gate—and who, despite many discouragements and falls, continue to press forward along the Narrow Way.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction—and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life—and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

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Your chief study

(Richard Baxter)

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it
 is the wellspring of life!" Proverbs 4:23

See that your chief study is about your heart:
  that there, God's image is planted;
  that there, His interests are advanced;
  that there, the world and flesh are subdued;
  that there, the love of every sin is cast out;
  that there, the love of holiness grows.

"I, the Lord, search the heart and examine
 the mind!" Jeremiah 17:10

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Some Definitions

(Don Fortner)

Election is God's sovereign, eternal choice and determination to save some, a great multitude of Adam's fallen race. It is a free, unconditional, irreversible act of God's sovereign grace, by which the everlasting salvation of all the chosen was secured from eternity (Psalm 65:4; John 15:16; Ephesians 1:3-6; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14). 

Predestination is God's sovereign, eternal arrangement of all the affairs of the universe to secure the object of His electing love, to secure the everlasting salvation of His adopted sons and daughters. It is God's purpose, the blueprint by which He created the universe and rules it in providence. This great, blessed work of God's grace includes all things and can never be altered. This, too, is a matter of such unmistakable, clear revelation that ignorance of it is inexcusable (Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; Romans 8:29).

Redemption is the ransom of chosen sinners out from under the curse of God's broken law and offended justice by the sacrificial, substitutionary, sin-atoning death of our Lord Jesus. Redemption is the satisfaction of justice by the blood of Christ and the deliverance of God's elect from all possibility of condemnation (Ephesians 1:7; Galatians 3:13; Colossians 1:14; 1 Peter 1:18-20). The redemption of our souls by Christ's shed blood also includes and guaranteed the redemption (deliverance) of our souls from the bondage and dominion of sin (Isaiah 53:10-11), and the redemption of our bodies from the grave at the resurrection (1 Corinthians 1:30; Ephesians 1:14; 4:30). All who were redeemed by the blood of Christ must and shall be saved by God's grace in him. 

Regeneration is the new birth, the actual deliverance of chosen, redeemed sinners from spiritual death into spiritual life by the effectual power and irresistible grace of God the Holy Spirit (John 3:8; Ephesians 2:1-4; Colossians 2:10-13). It is a resurrection from spiritual death to spiritual, eternal life in Christ by the Spirit of God. 

Providence is the glorious, though mysterious, sovereign rule of the universe by our God for the salvation of His people and the praise, honor and glory of His own great name (Romans 8:28; 11:36; Ephesians 1:11). Providence is God working out in time what He purposed in eternity. Nothing is more comforting, nothing inspires boldness and nothing gives peace like a good understanding of and a confident faith in God's election, predestination, redemption, regeneration and providence.