Grace Gems for February 2012

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Sound doctrine is useless!

(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots" 1879)

he doctrine which is according to godliness" 1 Timothy 6:3

Sound doctrine is uselessif it is not accompanied by a holy life!

It is my firm impression that we need a thorough revival of Scriptural holiness.

I have had a deep conviction for many years, that practical holiness and consecration to God are not sufficiently attended to by modern Christians. Worldliness has eaten out the heart of vital piety in too many of us. The subject of personal godliness has fallen sadly into the background. The standard of Christian living has become painfully low in many quarters. The immense importance of "adorning the doctrine of God our Savior" (Titus 2:10), and making it lovely and beautiful by our daily habits and tempers — has been far too much overlooked!

The details and particular ingredients of which holiness is composed in daily life — ought to be fully set forth and pressed on believers. True holiness does not consist merely of believing — but of doing and a practical exhibition of the active and passive graces.

Our tongues,
our tempers,
our natural passions and inclinations,
our conduct at home and abroad,
our dress,
our employment of time,
our behavior in business,
our demeanor in sickness and health, in riches and poverty
 — all, all these are matters which are fully treated by inspired writers. They go into particulars. They specify minutely, what a holy man ought to do an be in his own family, by his own fireside, and at the work-place.

True holiness is something of "the image of Christ" which can be seen and observed by others in our private life, and habits, and character, and doings!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A huge organized idolatry!

(J.C. Ryle, "Idolatry!")

"My dearly beloved, flee from idolatry!" 1 Corinthians 10:14

Romanism is a gigantic system of sacrament-worship, Mary-worship, saint-worship, image-worship, relic-worship, and priest-worship! In one word, Romanism is a huge organized idolatry!

I know how painful these things sound to many ears. To me it is no pleasure to dwell on the shortcomings of any who profess and call themselves Christians. I can say truly that I have said what I have said with pain and sorrow.

I believe that many a poor Catholic at this day is worshiping with an idolatrous worship, simply because he knows no better. He has no Bible to instruct him. He has no faithful minister to teach him. I remember all this; and I say that the Catholic eminently deserves our sympathy and compassion.

But all this must not prevent my saying that the Church of Rome is an idolatrous Church. I would not be faithful if I said less.

My own conscience would rebuke me if I did not warn men plainly that the Church of Rome is an idolatrous Church, and that if they will join her, they are "joining themselves to idols!"

That heart can hardly be right with God, which can think of the millions who are sunk in heathenism, or honor the false prophet Mahomet, or daily offer up prayers to the Virgin Mary — and not cry, "O my God, what shall the end of these things be? How long, O Lord, how long?"

Christ rightly known, Christ truly believed, and Christ heartily loved — is the true preservative against ritualism, Romanism and every form of idolatry!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Truth, distorted and exaggerated!

(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots")

Let us never forget that truth, distorted and exaggerated — can become the mother of the most dangerous heresies!

We should dread unscriptural Protestant traditions — as much as the traditions of the Church of Rome!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

We have a brother in heaven!

(James Smith, "Our Father and Comforter")

"For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven — is My brother and sister and mother." Matthew 12:50

Every relation in which Jesus stands to His people, is precious. But there are some peculiarly so, especially under certain peculiar circumstances. He is not only our Savior — but our brother. Possessing our nature, being part of the same family, He watches over us with a brother's eye, and loves us with a brother's love.

Jesus is the "brother born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17. He takes the deepest interest in all our affairs, and watches over us to do us good. We may go to Him in all our troubles — and open our hearts to Him without the least reserve. We cannot go to one who loves us more — or one who is more able or willing to help us! He laid down his life for us, thereby proving the intensity of His love to us. He is gone into heaven, there to appear in the presence of God for us.

My tried Christian friend . . .
  the eye of Jesus is upon you in your trial;
  the ear of Jesus is open, to listen to your cries;
  the heart of Jesus is affected with your griefs and woes; and
  the tongue of Jesus is employed to intercede with His Father for you!

Sweet thought! We have a brother in heaven! A brother who knows all that we suffer, and who will . . .
  frustrate the designs of our foes,
  sanctify our troubles and trials to us, and
  eventually make all things work together for our good!

His strong arm will defend us,
His merciful hand will supply us, and
His tender heart will ever sympathize with us!

He will guide us through life and death by His counsel, and afterwards receive, us to glory! Let us, therefore . . .
  go to Him in every trouble,
  plead with Him to supply our needs,
  trust Him in every dark and dreary hour,
  and expect Him to show a brother's love!

"Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers." Hebrews 2:11

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God's child

(James Smith, "Our Father and Comforter")

"I will be a Father unto you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty." 2 Corinthians 6:18

Tried Christian, you are not an orphan! You have a Father! God, in all the glory of His nature and perfections, is your Father! He has adopted you for his own. He has regenerated you by his Spirit. He has called you out of the world, and has promised to do a father's part unto you. He says, "I will be a Father unto you!"

Do you need advice? Consult your Father.

Do you need supplies? Ask them of your Father.

Are you tormented with cares? Cast them on your Father.

Are you alarmed at foes? Cry unto your Father.

Do your difficulties appear insurmountable? Appeal to your Father.

We should . . .
  exercise confidence in His love;
  trust in His Word;
  appeal to His paternal heart;
  look for our supplies from His hand.

He loves to see His children . . .
  confide in His care,
  rely on His word,
  expect His communications,
  and acquiesce in His will.

whatever trials may befall you,
whatever troubles may come upon you,
whatever enemies may rise up against you,
whatever changes may take place in your circumstances,
one thing can never befall you — you can never be fatherless; therefore you can never be friendless. You are God's child, however poor your circumstances, or trying your path.

What an unspeakable mercy!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I will be their God!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

"I will be their God — and they will be My people!" Hebrews 8:10

So has Jehovah purposed in reference to all the chosen of His love! In this gracious and holy purpose, is wrapped up all present and future blessedness. He who has God to be his God — cannot lack any good thing; but he who has not God for his God — lacks everything really and truly good.

If Jehovah is your God — then all His glorious perfections are engaged and employed for your welfare:
  His mercy will supply all your needs;
  His power will conquer all your foes;
  His wisdom will direct your way;
  His faithfulness will answer your prayers;
  His justice will maintain your cause; and
  His infinite love and grace will be displayed in all His dealings with you!

If God is your God, then . . .
  His promises — are your heritage,
  His precepts — are your rule,
  His doctrines — are your present paradise,
  His Son — is your Savior and King,
  His Spirit — is your Sanctifier and Tutor,
  and He Himself — is your everlasting portion!

If God is your God, then He will freely confer on you all good things at present — and crown you at last with everlasting glory. He will . . .
  guide you continually,
  chasten you occasionally,
  receive you graciously,
  and bless you indeed!

If God is your God, then all things are yours; things present, things to come; life, death, the world — all are yours!

If God is your God, then all the resources of eternity and all the treasures of time — will, if necessary, be employed in your spiritual and eternal benefit. This is the highest point of blessedness and honor — and this honor have all His saints.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Many a blemish, many a defect, many an infirmity

(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots" 1879)

"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out." Romans 7:18

"O What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" Romans 7:24

Let us always remember that a true Christian may have many a blemish, many a defect, many an infirmity — and yet be a true Christian nevertheless. We do not despise gold — because it is mixed with much dross. We must not undervalue grace — because it is accompanied by much corruption.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Do not be afraid!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

"So do not be afraid — for I am with you;
 do not be dismayed — for I am your God.
 I will strengthen you and help you;
 I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!"
    Isaiah 41:10

God has arranged all our concerns with consummate wisdom, in the very best possible manner.

He overrules all events by His omnipotent power.

He directs all things by His paternal love.

If infinite wisdom, omnipotent power, and paternal love, are engaged for our present and eternal welfare — then our fears must be groundless, and our anxiety folly. Our fears only . . .
   dishonor God,
   distress the mind,
   please Satan,
   and grieve the godly.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You may as well throw your Bible away at once!

"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape the damnation of Hell?"
Matthew 23:33

(J.C. Ryle, "He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire!" 1878)

Do you believe the Bible? Then depend upon it, Hell is real and true! There is not a fact or doctrine which you may not lawfully doubt — if you doubt Hell. Disbelieve Hell — and you unscrew, unsettle, and unpin everything in Scripture! You may as well throw your Bible away at once!

From "no Hell" to "no God" there is but a series of steps!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

An old-fashioned, narrow-minded, fossilized person!

(J.C. Ryle, "Needs of the Times!" 1879)

There is a common complaint in these days, that there is a lack of power in Christianity, and that the church does not shake the world as it did in former years. Shall I tell you what the reason is, in plain words? It is the low tone of life which is so sadly prevalent among professing believers. I believe we fall far short in our standard of Christian practice.

The times require a higher standard of personal holiness, and an increased attention to practical religion in daily life.

I must honestly declare my conviction, that there never has been . . .
  so much profession of religion — without practice,
  so much talking about God — without walking with Him,
  so much hearing God's Words — without doing them,
as there is at this present date!

Never were there so many empty tubs and tinkling cymbals!

Never was there so much formality — and so little reality!

The whole tone of men's minds on what constitutes practical Christianity seems lowered. The old golden standard of the behavior which befits a Christian, appears debased and degenerated. You may see scores of religious people (so-called) continually doing things which in days gone by, would have been thought utterly inconsistent with vital Christianity! They see no harm in such things as theater-going, dancing, incessant novel reading — and they cannot in the least understand what you mean by objecting to them! The ancient tenderness of conscience about such things seems dying away and becoming extinct, like the dodo-bird.

And when you venture to remonstrate with those who indulge in them, they only stare at you as an old-fashioned, narrow-minded, fossilized person, and say, "What is the harm?" In short, laxity and levity are the common characteristics of the rising generation of professors.

Where is . . .
  the self-denial,
  the redemption of time,
  the absence of luxury and self-indulgence,
  the unmistakable separation from earthly things,
  the manifest air of being always about our Master's business,
  the singleness of eye,
  the simplicity of home life,
  the high tone of conversation in society,
  the patience, the humility, the universal love —
which marked Christians seventy or eighty years ago? Yes, where is it indeed? We have inherited their principles — but I fear we have not inherited their practice!

The Holy Spirit sees it — and is grieved! The world sees it — and despises us. The world sees it — and cares little for our testimony. It is life, life — a heavenly, godly, Christ-like life — depend on it, which influences the world!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

A bugbear to frighten children and fools!

(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots" 1879)

I believe that the time has come, when it is a positive duty to speak plainly about the reality and eternity of Hell. A flood of false doctrine has lately broken in upon us. Men are beginning to tell us that God is too loving and merciful to punish souls forever; and that all mankind, however wicked and ungodly some of them may be — will sooner or later be saved. We are invited to leave the old paths of apostolic Christianity. We are told that the views of our fathers about Hell, and the devil, and punishment — are obsolete and old-fashioned. We are to embrace what is called a "kinder theology" — and treat Hell as a pagan fable, or a bugbear to frighten children and fools!

Against such false teaching I desire, for one, to protest. I, for one, am resolved to maintain the old position, and to assert the reality and eternity of Hell.

It is a question which lies at the very foundation of the whole gospel. The moral attributes of God — His justice, His holiness, His purity — are all involved in it. Once let the old doctrine about Hell be overthrown — and the whole system of Christianity is unsettled, unscrewed, unpinned and thrown into disorder!

The Scripture has spoken plainly and fully on the subject of Hell.
If words mean anything — then there is such a place as Hell.
If texts are to be interpreted fairly — then there are those who will be cast into Hell.
If language has any sense belonging to it — then Hell is forever.

The drowning of the old world by the flood,
the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah,
the overthrow of Pharaoh and all his host in the Red Sea,
the judgment on Korah, Dathan and Abiram,
the utter destruction of the seven nations of Canaan —
all teach the same solemn truth. They are all given to us as beacons and signs and warnings — that we may not provoke God. They all remind us that there is such a thing as the wrath of God. They all tell us plainly that "the wicked shall be turned into Hell" (Psalm 9:17).

Settle it firmly in your mind, that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself has spoken most plainly about the reality and eternity of Hell. No lips have used so many words to express the dreadfulness of Hell, as the lips of Jesus.
the damnation of Hell,
eternal damnation,
the resurrection of damnation,
everlasting fire,
the place of torment,
outer darkness,
the worm that never dies,
the fire that is never quenched,
the place of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth,
everlasting punishment —
these, these are the words which the Lord Jesus Christ Himself employs! Away with the miserable nonsense which people talk in this day, who tell us that the ministers of the gospel should never speak of Hell!

He is the kindest friend — who tells me the whole extent of my danger!

The watchman who keeps silence when he sees a fire — is guilty of gross neglect!
The doctor who tells us we are getting well when we are dying — is a false friend!
The minister who keeps back Hell from his people — is a wicked and cruel man!

What is the use of hiding eternal punishment from the impenitent and the ungodly? Surely, it is helping the devil!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He actually chooses affliction!

(J.C. Ryle, "Faith's Choice!" 1879)

"By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin." Hebrews 11:24-25

Is there any cross in your Christianity?

There is a common worldly kind of Christianity in this day, which many have — a cheap Christianity . . .
   which offends nobody,
   which requires no sacrifice,
   which costs nothing — and is worth nothing!

But if you really are in earnest about your soul,
if your religion is something more than a mere fashionable Sunday cloak,
if you are determined to live by the Bible,
if you are resolved to be a New Testament Christian —
then you will soon find that you must carry a cross. You must endure hard things; you must suffer in behalf of your soul, as Moses did — or you cannot be saved.

The offense of the cross is not ceased!

God's true people are still a despised little flock.

True evangelical religion still brings with it reproach and scorn.

A real servant of God will still be thought an enthusiast and a fool by many.

If there is no cross — there will be no crown!

Moses left the ease and comfort of Pharaoh's court — and openly took part with the despised children of Israel. In fact, if ever a man seemed to be choosing pain, trials, poverty, distress, anxiety, perhaps even death, with his eyes open — Moses was that man!

Let us think how astonishing was this choice.

Flesh and blood naturally shrink from pain. We draw back by a kind of instinct from suffering, and avoid it if we can. If two courses of action are set before us, which both seem right — we take that which is the least disagreeable to flesh and blood.

But look here! Here is a man of like passions with ourselves, and he actually chooses affliction! Moses saw the cup of suffering that was before him if he left Pharaoh's court — and he chose it, preferred it, and took it up!

Faith told Moses that
affliction and suffering are not real evils. They are . . .
  the school of God, in which He trains the children of grace for glory;
  the medicines, which are needful to purify our corrupt hearts;
  the furnace, which must burn away our dross;
  the knife, which must cut the ties which bind us to the world.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Surely, we would not wish them back again!

(J.C. Ryle, "Christ's Greatest Trophy!" 1879)

"I tell you the truth, today you will be with Me in paradise!" Luke 23:43

The very moment that believers die, they are in paradise. Their battle is fought; their strife is over. They have passed through that gloomy valley which we must one day tread; they have gone over that dark river which we must one day cross. They have drunk that last bitter cup which sin has mingled for man; they have reached that place where sorrow and sighing are no more! Surely, we would not wish them back again! We should not weep for them — but for ourselves!

We are still warring — but they are at peace!
We are laboring — but they are at rest!
We are watching — but they are sleeping!
We are wearing our spiritual armor — but they have forever put it off!
We are at sea — but they are safe in harbor!
We have tears — but they have joy!
We are strangers and pilgrims — but they are at home!
Surely, better are the "dead in Christ" — than the living! Surely the very hour the poor saint dies — he is at once higher and happier than the happiest upon earth!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The four giant-killers of preachers
 money, pride, unbridled ambition, and women
  — have killed their thousands! 
(Al Martin)

"But you, man of God, flee from all this, and
 pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love,
 endurance and gentleness!" 1 Timothy 6:11

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Earthly sorrows and troubles

(J.C. Ryle, "The Ruler of the Waves" 1879)

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.” John 16:33

Following Christ will not prevent our having earthly sorrows and troubles.

Perhaps the disciples had expected that Christ's service would at any rate lift them above the reach of earthly trials. Perhaps they thought that He, who could raise the dead and heal the sick and feed multitudes with a few loaves, and cast out devils with a word — would never allow His servants to be sufferers upon earth. Perhaps they had supposed He would always grant them . . .
  smooth journeys,
  fine weather,
  an easy course, and
  freedom from trouble and care.
If they thought so — they were much mistaken! The Lord Jesus taught that a man may be one of His chosen servants — and yet have to go through many a trouble, and endure many a pain!

It is good to understand this clearly. It is good to understand that Christ's service never did secure a man from all the ills that flesh is heir to — and never will. If you are a believer, you must reckon on having your share . . .
  of sickness and pain,
  of sorrow and tears,
  of losses and crosses,
  of deaths and bereavements,
  of partings and separations,
  of vexations and disappointments
 — so long as you are in the body. Christ never promises that you shall get to Heaven without these. He has promised that all who come to Him shall have all things pertaining to life and godliness; but He has never promised that He will make them prosperous, or rich, or healthy, and that death and sorrow shall never come to their family.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

I solemnly warn you!

(J.C. Ryle, "Holiness, Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties, and Roots" 1879)

Some professors are always trying to keep in with the world. They are ingenious in discovering reasons for not separating decidedly, and in framing plausible excuses for attending questionable amusements, and keeping up questionable friendships.

One day you are told of their attending a Bible class; the next day perhaps you hear of their going to a ball!

One day they fast, or go to the Lord's table and receive the sacrament; another day they go to the racecourse in the morning, and the opera at night!

One day they are almost in hysterics under the sermon of some sensational preacher; another day they are weeping over some novel!

But . . .
to walk closely with God;
to be really spiritually-minded;
to behave like strangers and pilgrims;
to be distinct from the world in use of time, in life-style, in amusements, in dress;
to bear a faithful witness for Christ in all places;
to leave a fragrance of our Master in every society;
to be prayerful, humble, unselfish, good-tempered, quiet, contented, charitable, patient;
to be jealously afraid of all manner of sin;
to be tremblingly alive to our danger from the world
 — these, these are rare things! They are not common among those who are called Christians; and, worst of all, the absence of them is not felt and bewailed as it should be!

I beseech you not to be content with a small measure of grace — not to be satisfied with being a little better than the world!

I solemnly warn you not to attempt doing what never can be done: to serve Christ — and yet keep in with the world. I call upon you and beseech you . . .
  to be a whole-hearted Christian,
  to follow after eminent holiness,
  to aim at a high degree of sanctification,
  to live a consecrated life, and
  to present your body a "living sacrifice" unto God!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The omnipotent God is your God!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

"With God all things are possible!"
Matthew 19:26

The omnipotence of Jehovah is ruled by His wisdom and holiness, His justice and love. He can do everything consistent with those attributes — but nothing contrary to them.

God's omnipotence is altogether on the believer's side. All that God consistently can do — He will do for His people. Nothing is too hard for the Lord.

He can make us contented in the most trying circumstances — and happy in the deepest affliction. He can so bring down our minds to our condition — that we shall glory in tribulation. He can turn darkness into light, and bitter into sweet; and bring the richest joy out of the deepest sorrow.

The omnipotent God is your God! His omnipotence is engaged for you!

Do not look at your difficulties — but at the omnipotent God as engaged for you!

Do not look too much at what you are — but at what your God can make you!

Do not dwell on your own weakness — but on the Lord's strength!

Call nothing impossible. "Is anything too hard for Me? Do not I fill Heaven and earth, says the Lord?" His ways are in the sea, His paths in the mighty waters, and His footsteps are not known! It is possible for God to hold you fast . . .
  in the most slippery path,
  when surrounded by the most determined foes,
  and feeling the greatest weakness — and He will do so!
None shall be able to pluck you out of His hand!

It is possible for God to supply all your needs, in the most trying times; as He did Elijah by the ravens, and the poor widow by the increase of the oil and meal. And He will do so! Only seek the Lord, trust in the Lord, leave difficulties with the Lord — and you shall not lack any good thing. He will display His wisdom, sovereignty, pity, and power in dealing with you; and perhaps fill you with wonder, surprise, and love, at His ways.

All that God is — He is to you!

All He has — He has for you!

All He has promised — He will fulfill in you!

Ever, ever remember that all things are possible to . . .
   your God,
   your Father,
   your Savior,
   and your Friend!

"I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength!" Philippians 4:13

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The great and universal crime of our race!

(Octavius Winslow, "The Weaned Child")

"But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me." Psalm 131:2

The first object from which our heavenly Father weans his child, is the idol SELF! Of all idols, this he finds the hardest to abandon! When man in paradise aspired to be as God — God was dethroned from his soul, and the creature became as a deity to itself! From that moment, the idolatry of self has been the great and universal crime of our race!

In the soul of the regenerate, divine grace has done much to dethrone this idol — and to reinstate God. The work, however, is but partially accomplished. The dishonored and rejected rival is reluctant to relinquish his throne, and yield to the supreme control and sway of another. Thus, much still lingers in the heart which the Spirit has renewed and inhabits, of . . .
  and self-love.
From all this, our Father seeks to wean us!

From our own wisdom, which is but folly;
from our own strength, which is but weakness;
from our own wills, which are often as an uncurbed steed;
from our own ways, which are crooked;
from our own hearts, which are deceitful;
from our own judgments, which are dark;
from our own ends, which are narrow and selfish
 — He would wean and detach us, that our souls may get more and more back to their original center of repose — God Himself!

From SELF, God would gently and tenderly, but effectually, wean us — that we may learn . . .
  to rely upon His wisdom,
  to repose in His strength,
  to consult His honor, and
  to seek His glory and smile, supremely and alone.

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Looking firmly at the cross of Christ!

(J.C. Ryle, "
The Cross of Christ!")

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world!" Galatians 6:14

Look at the cross, think of the cross, meditate on the cross — and then go and set your affections on the world if you can!

I believe that holiness is nowhere learned so well as on Calvary.

I believe you cannot look much at the cross — without feeling your will sanctified, and your tastes made more spiritual.

As the sun gazed upon makes everything else look dark and dim — so does the cross darken the false splendor of this world. As the taste of honey makes all other things seem to have no taste at all — so does the cross seen by faith, take all the sweetness out of the pleasures of the world.

Keep on, everyday,
looking firmly at the cross of Christ!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Your sin, guilt, and temptation!

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

Believer! Your sin, guilt, and temptation should lead you to Jesus — not keep you from Him!

"Come to Me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest!" Matthew 11:28

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The Lord's portion

(Charles Spurgeon)

"The Lord's portion is His people." Deuteronomy 32:9

How are they His portion?

First, by His own sovereign election. He chose them, and set His love upon them. He chose them altogether apart from any goodness in them at the time, or any goodness which He foresaw in them. He had mercy on whom He would have mercy, and ordained a chosen company unto eternal life. Therefore, are they His by His unconstrained election.

They are not only His by choice — but by purchase. He has bought and paid for them to the utmost farthing — hence there can be no dispute about His title to them. The Lord's portion has been fully redeemed, not with corruptible things, as with silver and gold — but with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ! See the blood-mark upon all the elect, invisible to human eye — but known to Christ, for "the Lord knows those who are His!" He forgets none of those whom He has redeemed! He counts the sheep for whom He laid down His life, and well remembers the people for whom He gave Himself.

They are also His by conquest. What a battle He had in us — before we would be won! How long He laid siege to our hearts! How often He sent us terms of surrender! But we barred our gates, and fortified our walls against Him. Do we not remember that glorious hour — when He conquered our hearts? When He placed His cross against the wall, and scaled our ramparts, planting the blood-red flag of His omnipotent mercy on our strongholds? Yes, we are, indeed — the conquered captives of His omnipotent love!


  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Error damns, as well as vice!

(Thomas Watson, "Wise as Serpents")

Error damns, as well as vice!

Vice is like killing with a pistol;
error is like killing with poison!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

He justifies us — but we condemn Him!

(William Dyer, "Christ's Famous Titles")

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins!" 1 John 4:10

Jesus Christ brought life to us — but we brought death to Him!

He brought to us a life of grace, a life of comfort, a life of glory — but we brought shame to Him!

He brought riches to us — but we brought poverty to Him!

He brought joy to us — but we brought sorrow to Him, sorrow upon sorrow!

He put the crown of glory upon our heads — but we put the crown of thorns upon His head!

He does not think heaven is too good for us — but we thought the earth too good for Him, and would not let him live here, but put Him to death!

He is not ashamed to own us before His Father and His holy angels — but we are ashamed to own Him before men!

He justifies us — but we condemn Him!

Oh! sirs, think of your unkindness to Him, and let the considerations of His infinite love and favor to you — draw out your affections after Him!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

God is all mercy and love!

J.C. Ryle, "Heirs of God" 1878)

There is a school of theology rising up in this day, which appears to me most eminently calculated to promote infidelity, to help the devil, and to ruin souls! It comes to us like Joab to Amasa — with the highest professions of love and liberality. (2 Samuel 20:9-10)

"God is all mercy and love!" according to this theology. His holiness and justice are completely left out of sight! Hell is never spoken of in this theology — its talk is all of Heaven! Damnation is never mentioned — it is treated as an impossible thing. All men and women are to be saved!

"Everybody is right! Nobody is wrong! Nobody is to blame for any action he may commit! It is the result of his circumstances! He is not accountable for his views, any more than for the color of his skin! He must be what he is! God is so entirely a God of mercy and love — that He never does, and never will punish sin."

Of all this theology I warn men solemnly to beware. In spite of big swelling words about "liberality," and "love," and "broad views," and "new light," and "freedom from bigotry," and so forth — I do believe it to be
a theology that leads to Hell!

Imagine a Heaven which would contain all mankind! Imagine a Heaven in which holy and unholy, pure and impure, good and evil — would be all gathered together in one confused mass!

Surely the mind revolts from the idea of a Heaven in which there would be no distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between Pharaoh and Moses, between Abraham and the Sodomites, between Paul and Nero, between John and Judas Iscariot! Surely an eternity in such a miserably confused crowd, would be worse than annihilation itself! Surely,
such a Heaven would be no better than Hell!

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The great and crowning bliss of Heaven!

(William Bacon Stevens, "The Loveliness of Christ")

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

The character of Christ is not enough studied by His redeemed people. It is looked at with too much of a passing glance, so that we get only hasty and superficial views, which consequently have but a faint and passing influence upon our heart and lives. We must study it — gazing upon it, pondering over it, tracing out its developing lines and beauties — until our soul becomes fired by His excellencies, and is changed into His image.

Angels who see Christ in His heavenly glory, and who know something of His divine excellencies — must wonder at the lack of enthusiasm in professing Christians concerning the loveliness of Christ. They are amazed that we . . .
  look upon Him with so cold an eye;
  speak of Him with so tame a tongue;
  love Him with such a lukewarm heart; and
  labor for Him with such a drudging heavy spirit.
It is our privilege to love this altogether lovely One — and we lose a rich and precious employment, when we fail to do it.

There is no higher pleasure for a redeemed soul — than contemplating the glories of Jesus!

There is no surer evidence of a gracious state — than a thirsting after deeper knowledge of Jesus, and a more thorough conformity to His likeness!

The great and crowning bliss of Heaven consists . . .
  not in its seraphic melodies;
  not in its gorgeous displays of almighty power;
  not in its exemption from sorrow and and sighing;
  not in its ceaseless round of high intellectual joys — but . . .
in seeing the unveiled Christ with undimmed eyes;
in studying the loveliness of the ever present Redeemer with unfettered mind;
in daily discovering and admiring new points of His beauty;
and in having our souls, through all eternity, made the receptacles of the light, the joy, the peace, the holiness, the love, and the wisdom of Him, who is "the chief among ten thousand, and the one altogether lovely One!"

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

The depth of that love!

(Mary Winslow, "Life in Jesus")

"Having loved His own who were in the world — He now
 showed them the full extent of His love!" John 13:1 

Christian! Did you but more know the depth of that
that is in the heart of Jesus towards you — you
would never be reluctant to go to Him for all you needed!

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,
 so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in
 our time of need." Hebrews 4:16

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

As we look at this slain Lamb!

(William Bacon Stevens, "The Lamb Slain!")

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne!" Revelation 5:6

As we look at this slain Lamb — let us mark the direful malignity of sin! It was sin which . . .
  drew Christ from His throne in glory;
  humbled Him to the condition of humanity;
  made Him "a man of sorrows" all His days;
  hunted His life from infancy, and
  finally nailed Him to "the accursed tree!"

Had not man sinned — Jesus would never have become incarnate! Hence, every pang and woe which He endured in body and soul, from His miraculous birth to His ignominious death — were inflicted by sin!

Christians! wearers of Christ's name! professors of Christ's religion! Will you love sin? Will you be in league with and cherish that in your heart — which slew the Lamb of God? O, if you love sin; if you are resolved not to forsake it; if you do not hate it as the enemy of Christ, and your own soul — you are hugging that to your heart, which drove the nails into the hands, and thrust the spear into the side, of the Lamb of God!

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!" Revelation 5:12

  ~  ~  ~  ~  ~

You shall see greater abominations than these!

(James Smith, "Daily Bible Readings for the Lord's Household")

"You shall see greater abominations than these!" Ezekiel 8:15

The prophet had no idea of the extent of Israel's wickedness; nor have we any adequate idea of the depravity of our hearts! We may have discovered much — but there is more concealed, than has yet been revealed. The work of the Holy Spirit is to . . .
  reveal these abominations to us,
  to humble us on account of them,
  to lead us to the blood of Jesus to be cleansed from them,
  and to set our hearts against them.

To see all the evils that are in our heart at once — would plunge us into black despair! Therefore it is only little by little, that the great depth of depravity is opened up to us. Herein we see God's mercy. Hereby we should be kept humble, watchful, prayerful, and daily exercising faith in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus.

No one knows the depths of our depravity, or the variety of abominations that are in our hearts — but God! If any other person knew the abominations of our heart — he would hate us on account of it! But God knows all — and yet loves us! This is Godlike. This is being full of compassion, abundant in goodness, and plenteous in mercy. May we be humble before God, hoping in His mercy.