Grace Gems for MAY, 2023


He led them forth by the right way!

(Octavius Winslow, "My Father's Way Right!")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation." Psalm 107:7

The believer is as much to live upon the grace and power of Christ for the subduing of sin—as upon the blood and righteousness of Christ for the pardon and removal of the guilt and condemnation of sin.

Beloved, the same Jehovah has undertaken to guide you through this waste howling wilderness, up into the city prepared for you by God! His dispensations with us are varied, but always suited to our needs.
Some of His dispensations are dark; others are light.
Some are cloudy; others are luminous.
Some are adapted for the day, when light streams around us; others are adapted for the night, when darkness enshrouds us.
Both are essential to our right way to Heaven.

Not by blind chance, or human forethought, or creature sagacity—are we homeward led, but:
   by an Eye that never slumbers,
   by a Hand that never wearies,
   by a Mind that never errs,
   by a Heart that never chills, and
   by a Presence that never for a moment leaves our side!
Thus the Lord your God is guiding you.

By Him who loves you:
  the hairs of your head are numbered,
  your steps are led,
  your difficulties are overcome,
  your foes are vanquished,
  your needs are supplied,
  your sorrows are soothed!

Your heavenly Father, whose kind and merciful providence spreads its cloud-veil over you by day, kindles its fire-light around you by night.

Ah! how beneficently has He arranged it all!
Were it all cloud, then how dark and dreary would the night-season of affliction be!
Were it all light, then how dazzling and overpowering would the day-time of our prosperity be!

But He has most wisely and exquisitely balanced and harmonized the two in our history.

Joy and sorrow,
  toil and rest,
    defeat and victory,
      the wounding and the healing,
        the casting-down and the lifting-up
—each acting and reacting upon the other, and both working together for our good!

The cloud of sadness, subdues and softens the light of joy.
The sunshine of joy, illumines and warms the chill cloud of sadness.

Just so, He is leading us by the right way home to Himself.
Beneath the culture of His hand:
  what blessings spring from our trials,
  what joy springs from our sorrows,
  what wealth springs from our losses,
  what lovely flowers and sweet fruit of holiness bloom and grow upon the thorn and the thistle of the wise and wholesome discipline by which our God is fitting us for Heaven!

Afflictions lift the soul nearer to God, as the flood lifted the ark nearer to Heaven. As the waters rose, the ark rose still higher. And thus the flood that saved the Church—drowned the world!

With His people, God's afflictions are loving and parental.
With His enemies, God's afflictions are judicial and punitive.

God places His saints in the furnace, for purification.
He places the ungodly in the furnace, for destruction.

The calamity that saves the godly, is often the ruin of the ungodly!
The affliction which is as a loadstone drawing the holy nearer to Christ—is as a millstone round the neck of the unholy, sinking them deeper into Hell!

 "My times are in Your hand!" Psalm 31:15

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The predestined moment has not yet struck!

(Charles Spurgeon)  LISTEN to audio! Download audio

(You will find it helpful to listen to the audio above, as you read the text below.)

"One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city." Acts 18:9-10

This should be a great encouragement to evangelize, since God has . . .
  among the vilest of the vile,
  among the most reprobate,
  among the most debauched and drunken,
an elect people who must be saved!

When you take the Word to them, you do so because God has ordained you to be the messenger of life to their souls, and they must receive it, for so the decree of predestination runs. They are as much redeemed by Christ's blood, as the saints before the eternal throne! They are Christ's property, yet perhaps they are at present, lovers of the ale-house and haters of holiness. But if Jesus Christ has purchased them, He will have them.

God is not unfaithful to forget the price which His Son has paid. He will not allow His substitutionary sacrifice to be in any case an ineffectual, dead thing. Tens of thousands of redeemed ones are not regenerated yet, but regenerated they must be! This is our comfort when we go forth to them with the quickening Word of God.

Nay, more, these ungodly ones are prayed for by Christ before the throne. "My prayer is not for them alone," says the great Intercessor, "I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message." Poor, ignorant souls, they do not pray for themselves, but Jesus prays for them! Their names are on His breastplate, and before long they must bow their stubborn knee, breathing the penitential sigh before the throne of grace.

The predestined moment has not yet struck!
 But when it comes, they shall obey, for God will have His own redeemed people! They must obey, for the Spirit is not to be withstood when He comes forth with the fullness of His saving power. They must become the willing servants of the living God.

"My people shall be willing in the day of My power."

"He shall see of the travail of His soul, and be satisfied."

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An infinite love!

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")

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"And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should—how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully!" Ephesians 3:18-19

The love of Christ is an infinite love: its heights and depths, its breadths and lengths—surpass our knowledge! The whole of His nature and perfections are thrown into His love, therefore He is said to BE love. He cannot love His people more than He does, nor will He love them less! Until we can comprehend infinity and measure eternity—we cannot know the love of Christ to perfection.

Love in us, rules us; just so, the infinite love of Jesus, rules Him. All that He has ever purposed, promised, or performed for His people—has flowed from this ocean of divine love! He is a globe of love, without beginning or end! He is a sea of love, without fault of defect! Only an infinite intellect can grasp Christ's love; only eternity is sufficient to reveal it to our minds. Christ's love will be always unfolding, but never be fully unfolded. It will be always displaying, but never be fully displayed. We may stand in the center and endeavor to follow its lines, but Christ's love defies our powers, and drowns our thoughts in its immensity!

Christ's love can never be diverted from its objects; it is immutably fixed upon them, and remains fixed forever! Had it been possible to have turned its current, it would have been done long ago; but it is still the river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God.

Having loved His own, He loves them unto the very end. Nothing present or future, above or below—can ever separate believers from the love of Jesus!

On this rock they rest, amidst all the storms of life!
In this fortress they hide, when dangers of every kind surround them!
At this fountain they live, when every creature-stream is dried up!

No love is unchangeable, but the love of Jesus!
His love is like the great mountains, and abides forever firm!

O believer, admire and adore! Jesus continues to love you amidst all your coldness, darkness, and proneness to wander; therefore He restores your soul and causes you to walk in the paths of righteousness. Satan may harass and accuse you, the world may frown upon and persecute you—but Jesus rests in His love, and rejoices over you with singing!

And amidst all the changes which we feel within and without, we ask with holy Paul, "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?" And with him we reply, "No! In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow, not even the powers of Hell—can separate us from God's love! No power in the sky above or in the earth below. Indeed, nothing in all creation—will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord!"

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Think of all the hard things there are in your life

(Susannah Spurgeon, "Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls!" 1898)

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"Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm. There is nothing too hard for You!" Jeremiah 32:17

"Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?" Jeremiah 32:26-27

Dear reader, your difficulties and trials may not be similar to those of "the weeping prophet", but they are very real, and seemingly insurmountable to you; and it is a fact that, of yourself, you can neither overcome nor endure them. So I want to remind you that the Lord's hand is not shortened, that what was true of His power in Jeremiah's time, is as certainly true today; and that whatever present hardship may press upon you, or whatever burden may be weighing you down—you, yes, you may look up to Him with confident faith, and say, "There is nothing too hard for You!"

Oh, the blessed peace which such an assurance brings! I do not know what your particular sorrow or hardship may be, but I do know that, whatever its nature, cruel, or bitter, or hopeless—it is as "nothing" to Him! He is able to deliver you, as easily as you can call upon Him for support and help.

Now, dear friend, think of all the hard things there are in your life:
  poor circumstances,
  difficult duties,
  grievous pains,
  sore struggles,
  bitter disappointments,
  harsh words,
  sinful thoughts,
  a hard heart of your own,
  a hard heart in others.
Gather all these, and many more together, and pile them one on another until you have one great mountain of afflictions; and your God still calmly asks the question: "Is there anything too hard for Me?"

When our hearts are weary of life's cares and crosses, when our courage flags because of our helplessness, and we cry out with the patriarch, "All these things are against me!"—then what a support and stronghold is the fact that our God has all power in heaven and on earth!

There is nothing too mighty for Him to manage.
There is nothing too insignificant to escape His notice.

Jeremiah's faith . . .
  sees no obstacles,
  stumbles at no hindrances,
  faints under no burden,
  shrinks from no responsibilities,
because he realizes the sublime Omnipotence of God, and fortifies himself by calling to remembrance His "outstretched arm" in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Cannot we do likewise?

I took up a book in a leisure moment the other day, opened it carelessly, and this is what I read: "It is a scientifically proven fact, that this great globe on which we live, spins around on its axis at the rate of a thousand miles an hour, and propels through space in its orbit at a speed immensely greater!"

The thought of this, seemed almost to take away my breath! Was I calmly and constantly living in the swirl of such a stupendous miracle as this? Then surely I could say, "Ah, Lord God! There is nothing too hard for You! My little troubles and afflictions—how small they must be to You! Yet with what tender compassion do You stoop from guiding the worlds in their courses, to support and comfort the hearts of those who fear You!"

Never let us give up in despair, while we have such a God to trust in. If there is a great mountain of sorrow or difficulty in your way, dear friend—do not be cast down by the darkness of its shadow. Your God can either make a way for you through it; or He can guide you around it; or just as easily, He can carry you right over it! There is nothing too hard for Him! Expect Him to make the crooked things straight, and to bring the high things low. And while you keep humbly at His feet, He will work wondrously, and you shall see His salvation!

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He loves to see His poor, helpless, suffering patients come!

(James Smith, "The Love of Christ! The Fullness, Freeness, and Immutability of the Savior's Grace Displayed!")

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"The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it—but wounds and bruises and putrefying sores!"
Isaiah 1:5-6

Sin not only brings us under condemnation, but it assumes the character of a disease! It has infected the whole soul, and spoiled every faculty. We need healing, as well as pardon. Jesus, in the greatness of His love, provides for both. He becomes not only our Redeemer, but our Physician. He employs His Spirit, His Word, and His Providence—to bring us to a healthy state.

He lays open the wound to our view, and then applies His own most precious blood to heal it! He makes us to feel our sickness, and then bestows His grace to restore us to health. All healing is by His skill—and through His Spirit, grace, blood, and Word. He is the maker of the Balm of Gilead, and He is the Physician there.

He undertakes the healing of all who apply to Him! He never yet failed in any case! He heals all gratuitously. His wisdom shines in the management of every case, and also His skill in healing the most desperate and alarming cases. He acts so kindly and tenderly to all His patients, and heals so judiciously—that He wins the heart of every patient, and all are delighted with His skill.

Thousands throng Him, but not one is overlooked or neglected by Him. He is always at His office, and ready to heal. He loves to see His poor, helpless, suffering patients come—and always greets them with a hearty welcome.
The plague of the heart,
the plague of the head,
weakness in the hands,
feebleness in the knees,
disease in every form,
are easily removed by Him.

Before Him . . .
  the lame man leaps like an deer,
  the tongue of the dumb sings,
  broken hearts rejoice, and
  the blind see out of darkness and out of obscurity.

This process of healing is on-going; none are completely healed at present. And when they are healthy enough, they are sent from the hospital below, to paradise above! Every patient who is healed, is provided with a mansion above—and has a title to the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. There the inhabitants shall no more say, "I am sick," and the people who dwell there are forgiven their iniquities!

All His patients feel and manifest the symptoms of returning health—which are love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, goodness, faith, etc. But none of them rest satisfied with any symptoms; they all visit His office frequently, asking Him to complete the cure. And such is His love, kindness, and grace, that He assures all those who have a good work begun in them, that He will complete it in the day of His glorious appearing!

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(Susannah Spurgeon, "Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls!" 1898)

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"When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your comforts delight my soul." Psalm 94:19. "Your comforts delight my soul!" Blessed Lord, how sweet is this text in my mouth! The taste of it is "like wafers made with honey." It is both food and drink to my heart, for every word has joy and refreshing in it; so that, like the "best wine" of the Canticles, it "goes down sweetly." Song of Songs 7:9

1. The first of Your comforts, gracious God, is this, that You have said unto my soul, "I am your salvation!" He saves us, not because of any merit in us, or any deservings of our own; but because sovereign grace chose us, and Divine compassion redeemed us. And when we were afar off, infinite pity brought us back, and made us near by the precious blood of Christ. This may well comfort our hearts, coming as it does directly from "our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace!" A saved and pardoned sinner can truly say, "Your comforts delight my soul!"

2. The next thought is that, having saved us, He keeps us. "We are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." Comparatively few Christians put God's keeping power fully to the test. If we would trust Him for the keeping, as we do for the saving—our lives would be far holier and happier than they are. "I will keep him every moment," is one of those grandly unlimited promises which most of us are afraid of; and we store them away in the background because we dare not believe them, and bring them out into the light of our daily practice. O foolish and unbelieving hearts—how much of soul-delighting comfort do we thus miss!

3. Then comes another thought, He cares for us. Dear friends, if you are His, you know the exceeding comfort of casting all your care upon Him, and being quite sure that He will "undertake" for you. Have we not often come to Him oppressed and burdened with an intolerable weight of anxiety and distress—and been enabled to roll the whole mass of it on Him, leaving it all at His feet, and returning to our work with a lightened and restful heart? Some of us have had burdens and sorrows, which would have crushed the very life out of us—if we had not been enabled to look up and say, "You, O Lord, have helped and comforted me!" Yes, truly, God's care for us is one of the sweetest comforts of our mortal life!

4. Closely linked with this, is the thought that He knows all about us. Our enemies, sometimes, even our friends, misunderstand and malign us; they misconstrue our words and actions, and impute to us motives which never actuated us. But our God knows the thoughts and intents of our heart, and never makes a mistake in the judgment He passes on us. The comfort of this knowledge on the Lord's part, to those who are "suffering wrongfully," is inexpressibly precious. They can lift up their heads with joy, and say, "The Lord is good. He knows those who trust in Him!" I have known this comfort to so delight my soul, that trials and temptations had no power to vex or annoy it, for my soul was hidden "secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues."

5. Lastly (though there are many, many more), one of the multitude of thoughts which stand out prominently from the rest, as a comfort which delights the soul—is that He loves us. This truth has been running through the fields of previous thought, as a silver streamlet glides through the meadows, here, it would deepen and expand to a broad and fathomless ocean—had I the power to speak of its height, and depth, and length, and breadth, and to tell of the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge! But my pen utterly fails here. You who love Him, and know that He loves you—must each one say to himself what that "comfort of His love" is to your own heart. This will be a better commentary than any I can offer.

And, if some poor distressed soul is mourning the loss of the sweet consolation which Christ's love alone can give, let him call to remembrance a tenderly precious promise which the Lord put into the lips of the prophet Isaiah, "I have seen his ways, but I will heal him. I will guide him and restore comfort to him!" Isaiah 57:18

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All through the journey of life!

(James Smith's autobiography, "Marvelous Mercy!" 1862)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

[The following is an excerpt from the diary of James Smith]

June 29, 1857.
Through this month, I have been much employed in preaching the Word, and endeavoring to spread the fame of Jesus. O to exalt His dear name more and more!

I have been much tried by the instability of some from whom I expected better things. One thing is certain: the Lord will overrule all for His own glory, and the good of His cause. O to look away from the creature, to the Lord Jesus Christ alone!

May I seek all my happiness in Christ, and all my supplies from Christ. May I . . .
  look to Him,
  lean on Him,
  and walk with Him—
all through the journey of life! Then, when my journey ends, may I pass the Jordan under a sense of His love, and enter into the promised land!

O for more grace!
O for more conformity to Jesus!
O for more fellowship with Jesus!

I find more and more, that it does not do to look to creatures at all. I must . . .
  look to Christ,
  expect from Christ, and
  seek in all things to honor Christ.
May I labor for Christ alone, and expect my reward from His blessed hands.

As Jesus lived for me—so I would live for Him!
As Jesus suffered for me—so I would suffer for Him!
As Jesus died for me—so I am willing to die for Him, if He required it at my hands.

"For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain!" Philippians 1:21

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What Is Experiential Theology?

(Excerpted from an article by Joel Beeke)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Taste and see that the Lord is good." Psalm 34:8

Experiential or experimental theology addresses how a Christian experiences the truth of Christian doctrine in his life.

By experiential or experimental theology, we mean Christ-centered theology which stresses that for salvation, sinners must by faith have a personal, experiential (that is, experienced) Spirit-worked knowledge of Christ; and, by extension, of all the great truths of Scripture. Thus we must emphasize, as the Puritans did, that the Holy Spirit causes the objective truths about Christ and His work to be experienced in the heart and life of sinners.

For example, our lost state and condition by nature due to our tragic fall in Adam, our dire need for Jesus Christ who merits and applies salvation by His Spirit, and our responsibility to repent and believe the gospel of God's freely offered salvation in Jesus Christ—all must be known and experienced in our lives.

Experiential theology stresses that the Holy Spirit blesses man-abasing, Christ-centered theology that makes room for Christ within the soul; believers will then yearn to live wholly for His glory out of gratitude for His great salvation. The gospel truth of sovereign grace that abases us to the lowest and exalts Christ to the highest in our salvation, must be proclaimed and experienced.

Experiential theology is therefore applicatory. It explains how the life of faith begins with spiritual rebirth and grows in resisting sin and in becoming Christ-like, while being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Such teaching:
  addresses the mind,
  engages the heart,
  and confronts the conscience.

We believe that more than historical faith (believing biblical truth and doctrine with the mind) is necessary for salvation. True saving faith (biblical doctrine and truth formed within the soul by personal knowledge of and trust in Christ alone for salvation) is essential. At minimum, a true Christian should be able to explain the basics of personal conversion, which results in experiencing the reality of:
  the guilt of sin,
  deliverance in Christ,
  and gratitude to the Triune God for His glorious salvation.

Emphasis must be placed, then, on the necessity of being born again, repenting, and believing in Christ alone for salvation.

True conversion should never be presumed in adults or children. Out of loving concern for children and adults, biblical marks and fruits of saving grace are expounded from Scripture to distinguish spiritual life from counterfeit Christianity.

Reformed experiential theology teaches that Christianity is not only a creed and a way of life, but also an inner experience resulting from personal fellowship with God through the indwelling Spirit.

Some assert that this produces an unbiblical kind of mysticism, but nothing could be further from the truth. Unbiblical mysticism separates Christian experience from the Word of God, but the historic Reformed stance demands God-glorifying, Word-centered, Spirit-worked, experiential Christianity. Such Christianity produces a balanced Calvinism that does justice to all aspects of the Christian life:
  the intellectual,
  the emotional,
  the volitional,
  and the spiritual.
It helps promote a comprehensive Reformed worldview. It shows us how to live in two worlds; how to have heaven before our minds to guide and shape our lives here on earth.

"They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved." 2 Thessalonians 2:10

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The master-key which fits the locks!

(Susannah Spurgeon"Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls!" 1898)

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"The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loved you!" Deuteronomy 7:7-8

My gracious God, there is a honeycomb of delight and sweetness in these words! Will You put the rod of faith into my hand, this morning, and enable me to dip the end thereof into this rich provision—that my soul may eat and be satisfied, and that the eyes of my understanding may be enlightened?

"Because the Lord loved you!" 
This is His great "reason" for all of God's dealings with His redeemed people. It is a full and convincing answer to all the doubts and questionings with which Satan can perplex and distress the Lord's timid ones. The enemy of souls has, alas! a powerful confederate in the wicked unbelief which lurks within us; but they will both be vanquished when we have learned to use this weapon of war against them.

Come, my heart, try its blessed force and quality at this moment! The foe says, "Why does God send you affliction, and sorrow, and suffering—when those who do not fear His Name have continual quietness and abounding prosperity?"

If you can boldly answer, "It is because the Lord loves me!" then you will have given him such a sword-thrust as will free you, for a time, at least, from his cunning devices and fierce onslaughts.

Or, look at the text as a shaft of sunlight, piercing through a chink in the shuttered window of some dark experience. Bring your fears and forebodings out of their dusky corners, and place them within the radiance of this light of love:
you will be amazed to see them transformed into confident trusts,
your doubts will vanish as if they had never been, and
the evil and bitter things of life will all be transformed into blessings in a moment.

"Because the Lord loved you!" is the master-key which fits the locks of the hardest question, and opens the mysteries of the deepest problem! It is a charm of wondrous efficacy, and every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ may not only rejoice in its possession, but use it constantly to obtain all the desire of his heart in spiritual things.

What ails you, poor soul?
 Is it loss of health, or friends, or means? Has God taken from you some dearly-loved one, and left you alone on this sad earth? Is He trying and proving you, by many and varied tests and troubles, "to know what was in your heart"? Whatever may be your immediate and peculiar sorrow, if you have grace and faith enough to say, "This is because the Lord loves me!"—then I dare to promise you that all the bitterness of the affliction will melt away, and the peace of God will fill you with a sweet contentment which surpasses understanding. No distress can withstand such Divine solace—no anguish can refuse the relief of this balm of Gilead. If all that happens to you can be traced directly or indirectly to the hand of your loving Lord—then how gladly should you bear life's burdens, and how perfect should be the rest in which heart and mind should dwell!

O gracious Master, looking back over the years that are gone, the interminglings of grief and gladness pass before my eyes as the clouds sail by on an April day. And though the memories of great affliction and sore bereavement cast deep shadows across the scene, and seem for a time to blot out all the brightness, yet, above and beyond those changeful skies, the sun has never ceased shining, and darkness as well as day has proclaimed the immutability of Your love. When the ears of my soul are attuned to catch the soft whisper of Your voice, I hear You saying:
"All this, My child, was because I loved you! Left to yourself; you would have destroyed yourself; but in Me was your help found. All the tribulations you have endured, were but My servants to whom I entrusted the necessary discipline of your earthly life. Do not forget those words of Mine: As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten!"

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O think of eternal fire!

(James Smith, "The Sinner's Doom!" 1855)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"These shall go away into everlasting punishment!" Matthew 25:46

WHO shall go away into everlasting punishment?
Every unbeliever.
Every soul that leaves this world without a new birth.
Every one who does not sincerely love Christ.
All who do not experimentally know God.
All who not practically obey the teachings of our Lord Jesus.
Every prayerless person.
Every immoral person.
Every one who lives and dies an enemy to God.

"These shall go away into everlasting punishment!"
To be driven away from God forever.
To dwell with devils and damned souls.
To be shut up in the prison of Divine justice.
To suffer directly from the wrath of God.
To endure the lashings of an enlightened conscience.
To be scourged with the most bitter reflections.
To be tormented by Satan, who now deceives and misleads them.
To be filled with black despair.
To be plunged into a lake of fire and brimstone.
To be punished in every faculty of the soul, in every sense and in every member of the body.

But how long will this punishment continue?

It must be so, for SIN, which is the cause of punishment, will continue. Punishment has never converted a soul to God yet, and never will. The punished will go on sinning, and sin will require the continuance of punishment.

It must be eternal, for GOD who punishes is eternal. He is the eternal God.
He will live forever, and while He lives He will hate sin; and
while He hates sin, He will punish the condemned sinner.

It must be eternal, for the WORM that inflicts the most exquisite part of the punishment is so. "Their worm never dies, and the fire never goes out!" Conscience will ever live, and the fire will forever burn.

It must be eternal, for . . .
  the CHAINS that bind them are everlasting (Jude 6);
  the PRISON is blackness of darkness forever (Jude 13); and
  the PUNISHMENT is the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 7).

It must be eternal, for the SENTENCE is. It cannot be repealed, for it is just. It dooms every impenitent sinner to depart from God, from hope, from ease, from happiness, from Heaven—and to go "into everlasting fire!"

Dear reader, think of these things!
O think of eternal fire!

O think of hopeless despair!

And think that you may now escape these, for Jesus is able to save you! Look, look then to Jesus! Fly, fly this moment to His arms! Fall, fall at His feet, and seek and obtain everlasting life! But if you will not, I assure you that you shall surely perish—and perish justly, too!

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Jesus is Ever the Same!

(James Smith, "The Sinner's Doom!" 1855)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!" Hebrews 13:8

We live in a changing world!
Days are seldom exactly alike.
Relatives are removed from us, or die.
Friends are separated from us, or become alienated.

Health gives place to sickness,
ease gives place to pain,
peace gives place to trouble,
joy gives place to sorrow,
life gives place to
Within us and without us, all seems transitory and changeable.

But there is One who never changes!

Jesus is ever the same.
His nature is immutable.
His love to us is constant.
His mercies are new every morning.
His compassions never fail.
His heart is ever toward us.
His power is always employed for us.
His eye is ever watching us.
His everlasting arms are always beneath us!

Yes, Jesus is the same:
  in adversity as in prosperity,
  in sickness as in health,
  in winter as in summer,
  in death as in life!

He cannot change in His nature. He will not alter the thing that has gone out of His mouth. The mountains may depart, and the hills be removed—but His kindness shall never depart from us, neither shall the covenant of His peace be removed. All nature may change—but His nature, His love, and His Word, are ever the same.

Heaven and earth may pass away, but His Word shall never pass away. All that He says surely comes to pass.

His arms are ever open to receive us.

On His bosom we may always pillow our weary head.

In His blood we may always wash away our sins, and make our robes white.

On His Word we may always depend with confidence.

Christ alone, then, should be:
  the object of our confidence,
  the source of our comfort,
  and the ground of our rejoicing!

For if Jesus is ours, we may sing with the psalmist, in the darkest day: "The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation!" Psalm 18:46

   ~  ~  ~  ~

If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ

(James Smith LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"If any man does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema!" 1 Corinthians 16:22

Not love Jesus! Are there any who do not love Jesus? Yes, very many!

  They hear of Him;
  they read of Him;
  they talk of Him—
but they do not love Him.

If ever they are saved, they must be saved by Him. If ever they are assured with a good hope, they must receive it from Him. Yet they do not love Jesus. Oh fearful case!

Reader, Christ alone can save you!
If you are not saved by Jesus, then . . .
you must sink into the lowest Hell,
  you must endure the eternal torments of the damned,
  you must be associated with devils and lost souls forever!

No man can come to the Father, and find acceptance in His sight, but through Jesus.
No one can obtain a title to Heaven, but by faith in Jesus.
No one has faith in Jesus, who does not love Him.
No one loves Jesus, who does not hate sin, and strive to please Him.

Beloved, you are shut up to this:
  You must be saved by Christ alone—or perish!
  You must be saved now—or be lost forever!

The grace of God brings salvation to you in the gospel; faith receives and appropriates it; and whenever the heart enjoys salvation, Jesus is precious! As Peter said: "Unto you therefore who believe, He is precious!"

If, therefore, Christ is not precious to you, it is because you do not really believe in Him.

And if you do not believe in Jesus, you are yet in your sins, and the wrath of God abides on you!

And if you live and die with the wrath of God abiding on you, you will be Anathema! or accursed, when the Lord comes.

Let me beseech you, then, to examine yourself whether you are in the faith; prove your own self; and be sure of this, that Jesus Christ is in you, except you prove to be a reprobate.

"He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him!" John 3:36

"Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love!" Ephesians 6:24

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Mother, don't you love me?

(Susannah Spurgeon, "Words of Cheer and Comfort for Sick and Sorrowful Souls!" 1898)

LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"I have seen his ways, and will heal him!" Isaiah 57:18

Here is one of the blessedly incomprehensible paradoxes of God's love and mercy—which startles us by its excess of compassionate grace: "I have seen his ways, and . . .", one would have thought that the next sentence must be, "I will punish him," or at least, "I will rebuke him!" But, instead of wrath, here is pardon! Pity makes room for love; and in the place of bitterness, the Lord gives a blessing! "I have seen his ways, and will heal him!"

O wanderer, will not these tender words cause you to return to your Lord?
O stony heart, will you not break at so loving a touch as this?
O cold and half-dead soul, will not such a Divine cordial revive you?

"I have seen his ways." What "ways" has God seen in you? Have they not been "wicked," "crooked," "perverse," "your own ways", "the ways of death?" Have you not turned aside from the path of life, and refused to walk "in all His way," and chosen "a stubborn way" for yourself?

Our heart must give a sad assent to all these charges. As we bow humbly before Him, and say, "You are acquainted with all my ways"—we feel that such knowledge of us on His part, intensifies our wonder and gratitude at the loving compassion with which He regards us!

When I was a little child, and had been troublesome to my mother, her reproof or punishment would often be followed by my trembling question, "Mother, don't you love me?" And my mother's reply invariably was, "Yes, I do love you; but I do not love your naughty ways!" Poor mother! Doubtless I tried her very much, and this was the best that grieved parental love could say. But our heavenly Father has sweeter, choicer words than these, for His erring children.

His love is Divine, so He says, "I have seen his ways, and will heal him!" O sweet pitifulness of our God! O inexplicable tenderness! O love surpassing all earth's loveliest affection! Do not our hard hearts yield under the power of such compassion as this?

God knows all our wickedness; He has seen all our waywardness—yet His purpose towards us is one of healing and pardon, and not of anger and estrangement.

As I learn more of God, I get so sick of my sin—indwelling-sin, heart-sin, that my soul welcomes this Word of the Lord, as a condemned prisoner embraces a pardon, or as a drowning man clutches the life-buoy thrown out for his rescue. To be healed of the disease which wastes us, to be delivered from the deadness and indifference which enchain us, to have a perfect heart with the Lord our God, and to walk before Him in a perfect way—this, I take it, is the blessed prospect held out by this promise. Who will claim its fulfillment at once? Who will take our gracious God at His Word, and believingly receive the priceless blessing which His love offers?

O blessed Lord, Your forbearance with us in the past, has been a miracle of mercy! You have seen so much in us which Your soul has abhorred—and yet You come now with this gift of healing in Your hands, which means not only pardon, but the power to be holy.

Lord, we lift up our empty, beseeching hands—to Your full ones. Our own ways have led us farther and farther from You; now let Your forgiving, healing love draw us so close to You, that we can never again be among those "who leave the paths of uprightness, to walk in the ways of darkness."

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The blessed man!

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Blessed is the man You chasten, O Lord—the man You teach from Your law!" Psalm 94:12  
The chastenings of the Lord often appear severe, but they are merciful. They . . .
  correct our follies,
  subdue our proud wills, and
  soften and humble our hard hearts before Him.

When God chastens, He teaches. The lessons are found in His Word, but we never learn many of them until we go through the furnace of affliction! We often learn more truth from one short, sharp affliction—than we do from many books and sermons!

In affliction, God teaches us . . .
  our own emptiness and vanity,
  our dependence on Himself, and
  the insufficiency of all our earthly things!

In affliction, God . . .
  endears the Lord Jesus and His great salvation to us,
  shows us the value of the provision of grace,
  makes our consciences tender and honest,
  qualifies us for usefulness on earth, and
  fits us for the enjoyment of Himself in Heaven.

We need chastening. If we do not receive it, we become . . .
  carnal and worldly,
  light and trifling,
  unsavory and useless in both the world and the church!

It is a blessed thing to be chastened of the Lord—especially when the rod teaches us such important and invaluable lessons! Chastened Christians are generally the most useful and attractive Christians.

"Heed the rod, and the One who appointed it!" Micah 6:9
Chastened Christian! Seek grace . . .
  to bear the rod,
  to bless the rod, and
  to kiss the hand that holds the rod!

"Blessed is the man whom God corrects, so do not despise the chastening of the Almighty!" Job 5:17

   ~  ~  ~  ~

My way—Your way

(Susannah Spurgeon, "Free Grace and Dying Love!")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Make Your way straight before my face." Psalm 5:8

Dear Father, this cry is going up to You this morning from many a tried and perplexed soul, who is fearing to "wander in the wilderness in a pathless wasteland." Will You graciously bend down Your ear, and listen to their prayer, and grant the desired direction and guidance?

"Make Your way straight." Dear Lord, it is not that Your ways are ever crooked or deviating, but that my eyes are bent on seeing pleasant little bypaths, where the road is not so rough, or the walking so toilsome—as on the King's highway! My way looks so enticing, so easy, so agreeable to the flesh. Your way means self-denial, taking up the cross, and the relinquishment of much that my carnal heart desires.

Now, dear Lord, hear my cry, "Make Your way straight before my face!" Compel me, by the power of Your love and Your example, to go in the narrow road! "Hedge up my way with thorns", rather than that I should take a step out of the way which You have laid down for me.

What if, sometimes, there are mists and fogs so thick that I cannot see the path? 'Tis enough that You hold my hand, and guide me in the darkness; for walking with You in the gloom, is far sweeter and safer than walking alone in the sunlight!

Dear Lord, give me grace to trust You wholly, whatever may befall; yielding myself up to Your leading, and leaning hard on You when "dangers are in the path." Your way for me has been marked out from all eternity, and it leads directly to Yourself and Home! Help me to keep my eyes fixed on the joy that is set before me, and deliver me from the very faintest desire to turn aside and linger in the flowery meadows which have so often lured the feet of poor pilgrims into danger and distress!

Father, You have said, "My ways are not your ways, neither are My thoughts your thoughts." True, dear Lord; but then You can uplift my thoughts to Yours, and exalt my ways until they reach the mountain-top of obedience to Your blessed will. Work this miracle for me this day, O Lord; use that sweet compulsion which will delight my heart, while it directs my steps! Make me to run in the way of Your commandments—and I shall run gladly, with the blessed certainty that I shall reach the goal at last! Have You not given me a monitor within, which strikes a gentle warning note when my feet turn but an instant from the straight way?

But, best of all, dearest Lord, may You Yourself come with me along life's road, today and every day! Let the abiding of my soul in You be so real and constant, so true and tender—that I may always be aware of Your sweet presence, and never take a single step apart from Your supporting and delivering hand!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

I will uphold you with My righteous right hand!

(James Smith, "Comfort for Christians!")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"So do not fear, 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

What a precious promise this is for all God's feeble children, who are daily fearing that they shall fall or be crushed under the weight of their troubles and trials!

O believer, what comfort is here! This promise is confirmed to you in Jesus, by His death.
Yes, it is yours, as much so as if it was spoken to you directly by the mouth of God!

Oh, what a mercy! God says that He will uphold you. He will put strength into you; He will enable you to bear your afflictions and will bring you safely through all your troubles.

Satan may say, "I will trip you up."
God says, "I will uphold you!"

Unbelief may say, "You will one day fall and perish."
God says, "I will uphold you!"

Your flesh may cry out, "I can never bear up under this cross."
God says, "I will uphold you!"

Your feeble heart may say, "How can I endure:
  such privations,
  such bereavements,
  such buffetings of Satan,
  such temptations,
  such losses,
  such fiery trials?"
God says, "I will uphold you!"

The Bible testifies that all believers "go from strength to strength, until each appears before God in Zion" Psalm 84:7

In weakness, the Lord strengthens them;
in poverty, the Lord supplies their needs;
in sickness, the Lord sustains them; and
in death, the Lord gives them the final victory!

O Father, I am weak, but You are strong. Give me of Your strength so that I may serve You and walk with You all the days of my life on this earth.

"If the Lord delights in a man's way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumbles, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand!" Psalm 37:23-24

"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

   ~  ~  ~  ~

O hard heart, O blind eyes, O poor dull sluggish soul!

(Susannah Spurgeon, "Free Grace and Dying Love!")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"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

As the precious balm of Gilead, these blessed words came into my dull and aching heart this morning. Dear Lord, I thank You for them; You have taken them from Your own Book, and spoken them to me with Your living, loving voice—and they have quickened me to love You!

With shame and sorrow, I had brought to You my hard and insensible heart. I could only groan out my utter lack both of faith and feeling before You. The very desire to love You, seemed to lie fettered and powerless within me; only an occasional struggle revealing its bare existence. Then, Lord, while I knelt in Your presence, with bowed head and troubled spirit, tears and sighs my only prayers—You whispered those sweet words in my ear, and they brought light and liberty to my captive soul! Blessed be Your dear Name for this glorious deliverance!

It is not my poor, cold, half-hearted love—which is to satisfy and comfort me; but Your love, great, and full, and free, and as eternal as Yourself! Surely, I had known this before, Lord; but I had shut myself up in unbelief, until in Your sweet mercy, You spoke the Word which released me from my bonds, opened my prison doors, and led me out into the sunshine of true peace in believing!

"Not that we loved God!" Ah, dearest Lord, You know how deeply, sadly true this was of me—and how I mourn over the years spent without love to You, and at a distance from You! O hard heart, O blind eyes, O poor dull sluggish soul, which could see no beauty in the One who is "altogether lovely!"

"But that He loved us!" Here is . . .
  a blessed contrast,
  the antidote for sin's sting,
  light after darkness,
  hope after despair,
  life after death!

Lord, my soul flings itself on this glorious fact, this saving truth, as a drowning man seizes upon a life-belt thrown to him in the surging sea! If You do not love me and save me, I must perish forever! But there is no question of sinking, when Jesus saves; no fear of losing life, when He loves.

O my Lord, how I thank You for this precious Word upon which You have caused me to hope! Now, all the day long, my heart shall sing over the safety and blessedness of being freely loved—instead of fretting about the sad lack of my poor love to You.

"Not that we loved God"—is darkness, and bitterness, and eternal destruction!

"But that He loved us!"
—is light and pardon, peace and everlasting life!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We are never out of danger, while we are out of Heaven!

(James Smith, "Daily Bible Readings for the Lord's Household")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"The Lord is your keeper" Psalm 121:5

"He shall preserve your soul" Psalm 121:7

What being in creation needs such close and constant keeping, as a Christian. If God was not our keeper, we would never arrive safely in Heaven!
Our foes are so powerful,
our spiritual maladies so numerous,
our dangers so great,
our depravity so deep!

O to keep this fact daily before the mind, that we may evermore cry unto the Lord to keep us! He has promised to do so, but He will have us plead with Him, and daily cry unto Him.

We are never out of danger, while we are out of Heaven!

If we are healthy this morning, we may be diseased before night.

If we are sound in the faith today, we may be led away by some pernicious error tomorrow.

If we are walking at liberty now, we may be entangled with the yoke of bondage before long.

How kind, how gracious then, for our Lord to undertake to keep us, and to promise to preserve our souls.

Let us therefore, this day, feel . . .
  that we are in danger,
  that we need an omnipotent preserver,
  that the Lord preserves through fellowship with Himself,
  and let us endeavor to walk closely with God.

"Hold me up, and I shall be safe!" Psalm 119:117

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Where then, are all my spots?

(Susannah Spurgeon, "A Basket of Summer Fruit")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"You are all beautiful, My beloved; there is no spot in you!" Song of Songs 4:7

"Ah!" I hear some timid, trembling believer say, "Such a text can have nothing to do with me! I am the very opposite of all that is beautiful and spotless. The eyes of my soul have seen hideous sights within, which I can never forget; and I loathe myself and my sin so much, that though I believe God has forgiven me for Christ's sake, I feel it impossible to take those precious words as addressed to one so sinful and imperfect as myself!"

Yet, trembling soul, I would bid you take courage, and look up! Christ's love for His people is marvelously set  forth in this Song of Songs. The same precious blood was poured out to redeem the least lamb of the flock, as for the choicest sheep!

Come, then, timid one—rejoice in the blessed fact that you are indeed precious to the Lord, and He says, "You are all beautiful, My beloved!" Adoringly bow before Him in wonder, at the miracle His love has wrought in you.

It ill becomes the bride of Christ to ignore His loveliness, which He has put upon her—and go about bemoaning the scars and blemishes which His great love overlooks and forgets.

It is quite true that, in themselves, believers are sorrowfully imperfect and sinful. But if the Lord Jesus, in His marvelous mercy, unrobes Himself to cover over their unrighteousness—they may well be content to be thus made "beautiful" in His sight. We cannot comprehend the mystery and sublimity of Divine love; but it is the sole and all-sufficient reason for the dear Lord's estimate of us; and when He uses such endearing language, our hearts melt and are ravished by His wondrous condescension. With reverence we say it, when our dear Master deigns to address us in accents of love and admiration—our souls are thrilled with heavenly bliss, and we are uplifted beyond all the sorrows and vexations of this world, into an atmosphere of unspeakable spiritual joy!

"My beloved!" Oh, say it again, dear Savior! Let the music of Your voice touch and vibrate through the deepest chords of my nature, and awaken sweet responses in my soul! You are the fount and source of all love! Oh, fill me, overwhelm me, plunge me in this sea of mercy and of grace! I would be swallowed up in it, knowing no other joy or bliss comparable to that of being able to say, "My Beloved is mine, and I am His!"

"There is no spot in you!" Can our loving Lord really mean this? He does, indeed! "Where then, are all my spots, dear Lord, for they were legion; and sin must render me vile and loathsome in Your pure sight?"

All the sins, past, present, and future, all the deformity and blackness—are cleansed away by Christ's blood, covered by His righteousness! And so completely is this done, that God Himself can find no remnant or stain of that which would have meant eternal death to an unwashed soul. The poor sinner is lifted from the depths of sin, to the heights of heavenly bliss! "What kind of love is this?" It is so Divine and incomprehensible that, in the contemplation of it, we are lost in wonder and amazement!

Lord Jesus, what a glorious Savior You are! All the sin which made Your bride so black and vile, was laid upon You!

"There is no spot in you!" An old writer says, "Now, if God sees no spot, why should you be prying after one? Poring over your misery, searching after your blackness and depravity—will be no help to you. This only keeps your eyes off Jesus, instead of up unto Jesus. You cannot look two ways at once. How did the poor serpent-bitten Israelites in the wilderness get relief and healing? By looking to their sores, their wounds, their malady? Oh, no! It was by looking to the brazen serpent! And if you would get relief, it must be by looking to Jesus Christ!"

"How beautiful you are, My darling! Oh, how beautiful!" Song of Songs 4:1

   ~  ~  ~  ~

Now am I one day nearer Heaven than I ever was!

(Richard Steele, "A Discourse Concerning Old-age, Tending to the Instruction, Caution and Comfort of Aged People" 1688)   LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

Though it is possible for the young to die soon; yet it is impossible for the aged to live long. Their manifest decays are a certain forecast of their approaching dissolution. No medicine has yet been found to cure old-age. The graves are ready for them, and the worms wait for their meal upon them! The moth of mortality, which is bred in our nature, will still be fretting the garment of our bodies, until they are consumed. Death is already got into the aged person's eye and ear—and in a short time will bring him unto the dust.

Now though death is an unwelcome messenger to those who live for this poor world—yet to a holy old man and woman, it is a blessed privilege. For as looking backward they see a tempting troublesome world—so looking forward they see a state of perfect holiness and happiness prepared for them. The end of their fight, is the beginning of their victory. As they part from their earthly labors, they take possession of their heavenly honors.

The aged Christian sees a woeful wilderness behind him, and the blessed land of promise before him! It is therefore no wonder that, with Moses, he longs to be in it! For where should the spouse desire to be, but with her husband? And upon this account, that holy Lady Falkland would usually say when she was going to bed, "Now am I one day nearer Heaven than I ever was!"

"I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far!" Philippians 1:23

   ~  ~  ~  ~

The path of sorrow!

(William Bacon Stevens, "The Rainbow in the Cloud" 1856)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows." John 16:33

We live in a world of sin, and hence in a world of sorrow; for "man is born to sorrow, as the sparks fly upward." The apostle Paul tells us that "We must go through much tribulation to enter the kingdom of God." Thus it is true that . . .
"The path of sorrow, and that path alone,
 leads to the land where sorrow is unknown!"
That being so, it befits us to learn . . .
  how to transmute tribulations into blessings;
  how to turn God's chastening rod into a supporting staff;
  how to discern the rainbow in the cloud, while we are still wet with with raindrops of sorrow!

It is the design of this volume to aid in doing this comforting work. It seeks to ameliorate sorrow, not by a kind of moral anesthetic, deadening the sensibility of grief, and making the heart less susceptible to woe—but rather by showing to the afflicted that chastenings are the sure evidence of God's fatherly love.

The furnace of affliction is but the purifying agent to purge away our dross—that the great Refiner may see His own image reflected in purified souls.

In furnishing the strongest and most Scriptural consolation which can be offered to the sorrowful and stricken-hearted, we believe . . .
  that all our springs of comfort are in Jesus Christ,
  that they are applied to the soul by the Holy Spirit,
  that they are to be sought for by the prayer of faith, and
  that they result from the overflowing grace of our Heavenly Father.

We are unwilling to lead the reader to any of the "broken cisterns of earth" for consolation, when the well-spring of Divine comfort, which can alone staunch his bleeding heart—is pouring forth its free and life-giving waters!

It is the lot of all, to be visited with sorrow. There is "a time to mourn" marked out in every man's life; and when that time comes, and the fainting spirit turns away from the "miserable comforters" of earth, may all who consult these pages find in God a refuge from every storm, and "a very present help" in every time of trouble. And may they be enabled so to look at their sorrows with the clear-sighted eye of faith, that they shall discern "a rainbow" in every cloud of affliction; and "covenant mercy'' in every shower of grief!

"Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward!" Job 5:7

   ~  ~  ~  ~

We may be in the world, and not be injured by it!

(James Smith, "The Pleading Savior" 1861)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"I do not pray that you should take them out of the world,
 but that you should keep them from the evil." John 17:15

We may be in the world, and not be injured by it!

The world is the field, in which we are to labor for Christ. Here we are to . . .
  plough up the fallow ground,
  sow the good seed, and
  reclaim the waste places for Jesus.

The world is the battleground, on which we are to . . .
  fight the good fight of faith,
  overcome Satan, and
  crucify the old man.

The world is the ocean, over which we are to sail to the port of glory;
and it befits us to look well to . . .
  the vessel in which we sail,
  the captain who commands it,
  the pilot who steers it, and
  the compass by which it is steered,
so that we may . . .
    avoid the rocks and quicksands,
    outlive the storms and tempests,
    and cast anchor within the veil!

The world is the school, in which we are to learn . . .
  the evil of sin,
  the power of corruption,
  the craft of Satan,
  the preciousness of Christ,
  the value of Heaven, and
  the importance and worth of God's promises.

The world is the hospital, in which we are under the Spirit's treatment, in order that we may be restored to health, and prepared to enjoy our Father's eternal house and home!

We should, therefore, rather pray to be kept from evil, than to be removed out of the world. We may be useful, very useful in it, and useful in a way in which we cannot be in Heaven. Here, we can . . .
  visit the sick for Jesus,
  clothe the naked for Jesus,
  feed the hungry for Jesus,
  relieve the widow and fatherless for Jesus,
  and teach the ignorant for Jesus—and thus feed, clothe, visit, relieve and teach Jesus Himself in doing so; for He has said, "Inasmuch as you did it unto one of the least of these My brethren, you did it unto Me!"

Let us not, therefore, be anxious . . .
  to leave the field of labor until our work is done;
  or to get out the battle until the victory is gained;
  or to leave school until our education is complete;
  or to be discharged from the hospital until we are perfectly cured!

   ~  ~  ~  ~

One thing you lack!

(William Bacon Stevens, "The Almost Christian!")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Jesus looked at him and loved him. 'One thing you lack,' He said. 'Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then come, follow Me.'
At this, the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth." Mark 10:21-22

He who searched the heart, knew what the one thing lacking was; and hence put His probing finger on the defect, and made the young man see himself in a truer light than he had ever seen himself before.

What was the result?   "At this, the man's face fell."
What did he do?   "He went away sad."
Why?   "Because he had great wealth."

The one thing which he lacked was a willingness to give up his besetting sin! That besetting sin was covetousness.
He preferred to keep his possessions, rather than give them to the poor;
he preferred the treasure on earth, to the treasure in Heaven;
he preferred ease, to taking up a cross;
he preferred the following of his own will, to following Jesus.

This most instructive case shows us how near, how very near, a person may be to the kingdom of Heaven—and yet fall short of it! They may lack but one thing:
  the giving up of a besetting sin;
  the willingness to make a personal sacrifice for Christ;
  the refusal to take up some cross;
  the drawing back from a full following of Jesus.
Some one single sin, some one single difficulty—may thus obstruct the soul's entrance into Heaven, and prevent one from becoming an altogether Christian.

One sin deliberately persisted in, will certainly keep your soul out of Heaven!

One known duty deliberately disregarded, will surely secure your condemnation!

And a refusal to take up a cross and bear it after Jesus, must result in being only an almost Christian, and so fail of eternal life!

   ~  ~  ~  ~


(James Smith, "The Voice of Mercy in the House of Affliction!" 1855)

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is . . .
the greatest blessing that God can bestow;
deliverance from the greatest misery;
exaltation to the greatest happiness;
the greatest change in man's state and character which can possibly be effected;
the greatest display of the love, wisdom, grace, and power of God!

Salvation is the very blessing that you need. The blessing which you must receive, or be eternally undone!

Salvation is a blessing for the PRESENT, for it is deliverance . . .
  from the guilt of sin, which makes you miserable;
  from the power of sin, which makes you unholy; and
  from the love of sin, which proves you to be God's enemy.

Salvation is a blessing for the FUTURE. It secures to you safety and happiness in time, and glory, honor, immortality, and eternal life when time shall be no more!

Salvation is a blessing which comprehends every other blessing.
If the man is saved, then all good things are his.
If the man is lost, then nothing good is his.
To be saved, is . . .
  for the soul to be restored to a right relationship to God;
  to be put in possession of unsearchable wealth;
  to be raised to the highest honor; and
  to be entitled to eternal glory!
No word is as sweet as salvation—as no word is as dreadful as its opposite, damnation! Reader, there is no intermediate state between these two extremes.

   ~  ~  ~  ~

How are we to obtain a sweet submission to God's afflictive providences?

(Charles Simeon LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

It is the privilege of every Christian to know that all of his affairs are in God's loving hands; and that nothing shall be done which will not work for his spiritual and eternal good.

How are we to obtain a sweet submission to God's afflictive providences?

1. The first thing to be sought by you, is a deep sense of your own sinfulness. "I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against Him!" Micah 7:9. We become reconciled to whatever affliction God may send, seeing that any chastisement in this world must be less than our iniquities have deserved! However heavy your trial may be, you will say, "Why should any living man complain when punished for his sins?" Lamentations 3:39

Anything short of the miseries of Hell, especially if it tends to avert those miseries—will be accounted rather a mercy to be thankful for, than a judgment to be deplored!

O that in the prospect of our heaviest calamities, we might have such a view of our ill-desert, as should dispose us humbly to commit ourselves into God's hands, and cordially to welcome every trial which His all-wise providence may appoint for us!

Under every affliction, our acquiescence should be like that of Eli, "It is the Lord, may He do what seems good to Him!"

2. The next thing is to realize the universal agency of Divine Providence, so as to see that, "Affliction does not come forth from the dust, neither does trouble spring forth out of the ground!" Job 5:6. We must be convinced that everything, even to the falling of a sparrow, or of a hair from our head—is ordered by the Lord. Matthew 10:29-30

Our nature may indeed recoil from suffering; and we may deplore it, even as our Lord himself did when He desired that the cup of suffering which had been put into His hands might pass from Him. But this you will do with submission, saying, "Not my will, but may Your will be done!" And when you see what the Lord's will is, you will chide your reluctant heart, saying, "The cup which my Father has given me—shall I not drink it?" John 18:11

3. Finally, look to the outcome of your trials. "You have heard of Job's perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy!" James 5:11

If God's furnace is to purge away your dross, then you will not greatly regret that He puts you into it. You will expect His presence with you in your troubles, for your comfort and support, (Malachi 3:3, Daniel 3:25,) and a rich compensation for them in the world to come! 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 7:14-15

Get these thoughts wrought into your hearts, and you will bear the heaviest calamities with resignation.

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:10-11

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The yoke of Christ

(James Smith, "The Easy Yoke" 1860)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart—and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matthew 11:29-30

The "yoke" symbolizes subjection and obedience.

The yoke of Jesus includes the subjection of the understanding to His teaching. We must receive the kingdom of God as little children. All that He says, we must believe; and all that He commands, we must do.

The yoke of Jesus includes the subjection of the conscience to His authority. He must be sole Lord of conscience. As cleansed by His blood, enlightened by His truth, and sanctified by His Spirit—the conscience must bow to Him, be zealous for Him, and maintain His honor.

The yoke of Jesus includes the subjection of the will to His pleasure.
We must prefer His will to our own, and make His pleasure ours.

The yoke of Jesus includes the subjection of the heart to His love.
His love must inflame, regulate, and elevate the heart.
He must become the object of its highest, warmest love.
Love to Him must rule our thoughts, words, and actions.

The yoke of Jesus includes the subjection of our abilities to His service. For Him, the duties of life must be performed. To Him, every power must be dedicated. His glory must be the end in all things sought.

Unless, therefore, we submit . . .
  the understanding to His teaching,
  the conscience to His authority,
  the will to His pleasure,
  the heart to His love, and
  the abilities to His service—
we do not take His yoke upon us.

The yoke of Christ may be represented by the subjection of . . .
  the child to its parents,
  the servant to his master, and
  the scholar to his tutor.
In each case, the authority within its proper sphere is absolute. Authority on the one side, and subjection on the other—are the ideas suggested by these relations.

The yoke of Christ includes . . .
  allegiance to Him as our King,
  reliance on Him as our Savior,
  confidence in Him as our Guide,
  imitation of Him as our Example, and
  attachment to Him as our best Friend.

The yoke of Christ is EASY. Compare it with . . .
  the yoke of Satan, which we wore in our natural state;
  the yoke of Moses, as worn by the Jews of old;
  the yoke of superstition, as worn by pagans and papists now.

It is easy, because connected with it . . .
  for every trial, there is assistance;
  for every temptation, there is support;
  for every difficulty, there is help;
  for every sorrow, there is solace;
  for every trouble, there is tranquility;
  for every loss, there is unspeakable gain; and
  for every service, there is a rich and eternal reward!

"Take My yoke upon you . . . for My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

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The difficulties and mysteries of Scripture

(William Bacon Stevens, "Follow Me!")   LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law." Deuteronomy 29:29

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth—so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts!" Isaiah 55:8-9

The difficulties and mysteries of Scripture, necessarily result from the relations between God and man:
  God the infinite, man the finite;
  God the holy, man the sinner;
  God a Spirit, man a creature of flesh and blood;
  God in Heaven, man on earth;
  God inhabiting eternity, and man the creature of a day;
  God the Sovereign of the universe, and man the tiny, puny rebel to His throne.
Mark these contrasts, measure their diversity. The very statement of them shows how impossible it is for man to be able to fully comprehend God or His dealings.

The question was asked of old, "Who, by searching, can find out God? Who can find out the Almighty?" And Solomon, the wisest of men, declared, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter." For if man knew as much as God, he must have the mind of God and the wisdom of God!

For eighteen hundred years the mind of man with its measuring lines, has been endeavoring to fully understand God and His ways, and compute the measurements of His great truths—and yet they are no nearer the solution now, than when first revealed. There they stand in the firmament of theology, the great unresolvable nebulae of Revelation; and no magnifying power of man's optics, and no space-penetrating power of man's devising—can unfold those mysteries, which at once challenge and test the faith of man.

There can be no revelation of God which is free from mysteries, because human language cannot embody celestial thoughts and modes of divine existence. And the human mind could not comprehend terms and phrases which would truly reflect the person, glory, and work of the Almighty.

Divine thoughts, before they can be taken into our minds—have to be diluted into human words.
Divine things have to be symbolized to us, by human or earthly types.
And divine beings have to be described to us, by terms borrowed from human existences and of purely earthly signification.
Hence, in the process of translation, dilution, and illustration—no one attribute of God, no one truth of God, can be fully revealed and understood.

We can only see the earthly side and the earthly terminus, the heavenly side and the heavenly starting-point, are all beyond our reach, far away out of sight! And there we must be content to let it be, ever standing with our eyes upturned to Jesus, holding in one hand the great doctrines of revealed truth, and in the other the precious assurances:
"What I am doing, you do not understand now; but you shall know hereafter." John 13:7
"Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror—then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part—then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

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My ruling desire!

(James Smith, "Christ Exalted, Saints Comforted, and Sinners Directed" 1855)

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My ruling desire is to be wholly given up to the Lord and to His work, and to show forth His praises from day to day. But when I aim at this most—I am baffled, opposed, and always hindered!
I see what is wrong, but cannot avoid it.
I see what is right, but cannot attain unto it.
I know what I wish, but I cannot enjoy it.
I read what God commands, but I cannot perform it.

In the midst of all, I bless God . . .
   for Jesus Christ,
   for free grace,
   for a full salvation,
   for abiding comfort,
   for a good hope,
   for sweet views of Jesus,
   for a glorious inheritance,
   for an assurance of victory, and
   for the promise of eternal triumph!

Nothing can . . .
  separate me from Jesus,
  turn the current of His love from me, or
  change the purposes of His grace for me.

His love is astonishing!

His ways are marvelous!

I change; He remains the same.
I sin; He pardons.
I cry; He hears and answers.
I ask for favors; and He kindly bestows them.
I fear; and He promises.
I wander; and He says, "Return."
I lament my folly; He whispers peace.
I feel poor and impoverished; He says, "All things are yours!"
I imagine that I am alone; He says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
I expect that He will abandon me; He asks, "How can I give you up?"

I cry, "Unworthy, unworthy!"
He says, "You are My dear son, My pleasant child."

I fear I shall be overcome.
He says, "No weapon formed against you shall prosper."

I fear I shall lie down in darkness.
He says, "The Lord shall be a light unto you."

I say, "I can do nothing!"
He says, "I will work all your works in you."

I say, "I am barren!"
He says, "From Me is your fruit found."

I cry, "I am thirsty!"
He says, "I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys—to give drink to My people, My chosen ones."

I complain, "I am weary!"
He says, "Come unto Me—I will give you rest."

I feel dry and parched.
He says, "I will be as the dew unto Israel."

I say, "I need food!"
He says, "My flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed."

I fear I shall die.
He says, "He who eats Me, even he shall live by Me."

I say at times, "All these things are against me!"
He says, "All things shall work together for your good!"

I say, "I shall surely be overcome!"
He says, "Nothing shall by any means hurt you."

I say, "I am often left alone!"
He says, "Lo, I am with you always."

I say, "I am all deformity!"
He says, "You are all beautiful, My love—there is no spot in you!"

I say, "I shall see Him no more!"
He says, "I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice."

I say, "Surely the Lord cannot love such a wretch!"
He says, "I have loved you with an everlasting love."

I say, He cannot have chosen one so vile and base.
He says, "I have chosen you, and will never cast you away!"

I say, "I am desolate and forsaken!"
He says, "Your Maker is your husband, the Lord Almighty is His name, and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel."

I say, "I shall be left to myself at last!"
He says, "I am a friend who sticks closer than a brother."

I say, "Set me as a seal upon Your arm, as a seal upon Your heart!"
He says, "I will make you like a signet ring on My finger, for I have chosen you."

I cry, "Remember me, O Lord my God, for good!"
He says, "You shall be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God."

I cry, "Do not be terribly angry with me, O Lord!"
He says, "I swear that I will never again be angry and punish you."

I say, "I beseech You, show me Your glory!"
He says, "Behold, I come quickly!"

I cry, "Remember me with the favor which You bear unto Your people!"
He says, "As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you—and you shall be comforted."

I cry, "Tell me where You graze Your flock."
And He says, "Follow the footsteps of My flock."

I cry, "O that it was with me as in days that are past!"
He says, "Arise, My darling, My beautiful one, and come with Me."

I cry, "My soul is among lions!"
He says, "Come down with Me, from where the lions have their dens and leopards live among the hills."

I say, "O that I was sure that Jesus loved me!"
He says, "You have ravished my heart, My sister, My spouse!''

I say, "I moaned like a mourning dove!"
He says, "Your lips, O My spouse, drop as the honeycomb, honey and milk are under your tongue."

I say, "I am exposed, and lie open to the attacks of enemies on every side!"
He says, "You are My private garden, My treasure, My bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain."

I say, "Do not look upon me, because I am black!"
He says, "You are all beautiful, O My love!"

I say, "How miserable I am! Not a cluster of grapes or a single early fig can be found to satisfy my hunger."
He says, "At our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old—which I have laid up for you, O My beloved."

I say, "I fear that my numerous sins and powerful corruptions will cool the love of Jesus for me!"
He says, "Many waters cannot quench My love, neither can the floods drown it."

I sigh, "I am feeble and sorely broken!"
He says, "I will not break the bruised reed, nor quench the smoking flax."

I say, at times, "He afflicts, and counts me for His enemy!"
He says, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten! I deal with you as My son."

I say, "I am totally unfit to be the bride of Jesus!"
He says, "Oh, how beautiful you are! How pleasing, My love—how full of delights!"

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Modern science and the Bible do not agree!

(William Bacon Stevens, 1815-1887)  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

What if science, as at present understood, and the Bible, do not agree? Shall we be troubled thereat? I think not. I rejoice to know that what is termed modern science and the Bible do not agree. I would be sorry if they did agree! Modern science is changeable, the Bible is unchangeable!

The science of today is not the science of last year, and will not be the science of the next year.

The Bible of today, is the Bible of all the Christian centuries; and will be a thousand years hence, just what it was nearly eighteen hundred years ago, when the canon of Scripture was closed!

Mark the changes which have taken place along the whole line of sciences since the beginning of this nineteenth century. What a catastrophe then would it have been, had it been proved that the Bible and science as known at the beginning of this century, fully agreed; that all the assertions of the Bible could be squared with the facts of science as then understood! The great tidal waves of science which have rolled over the world since, would have left the Bible stranded and ruined!

And just so now, could it be made clear today that every truth in the Bible accords with the received theories of science—what would become of the Bible fifty years hence, when science will have moved on with even more rapid strides, and left behind more wrecks of theories and more stranded speculations?

In the meanwhile, the Bible stands still in the solitary grandeur of its own perfection! It waits, as the ages roll on, for confirmation and acceptance. It was said by one of old, "God is patient, because He is eternal;" and the Bible, as the book of the God of truth, has this attribute of its divine Author. Its strength is to sit still. It does not go out hastily to meet a half-formed science, and embrace it as an ally, lest it should turn into a foe. It calmly tarries in the consciousness of its own truth, as the advances of science come nearer and nearer; and every advance of true science does bring it nearer to the Bible.

The opposition to that Bible, comes only from a class whose utterances, Paul has justly characterized as "the profane and vain babblings and oppositions of science falsely so called." 1 Timothy 6:20

These differences between science and Scripture cannot be settled, because science is not settled. And science will never be settled, so long as there is an undiscovered fact in nature, or an inquiring mind in man!

"Forever, O LORD, Your Word is settled in Heaven!" Psalm 119:89

"The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever!" Isaiah 40:8

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The words of Jesus

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

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"Remember how He spoke to you!" Luke 24:6

So said the angels to the women at the sepulcher, on the resurrection morning. This exhortation is most applicable to us, for we are apt to forget His words.

The words of Jesus ought to have the best place in our memories:

1. On account of their intrinsic value. There are no words like the words of Jesus, which exhibit the nature, will, and promises of God.

2. On account of their veracity. They are all true—the truth itself.

3. On account of their suitability. They . . .
  check sin,
  control fears,
  produce confidence,
  inspire with gratitude,
  and fill us with love.

4. On account of their usefulness . . .
  in our daily trials,
  to direct our way,
  to rule our expectations,
  to comfort our hearts,
  to feed and support our faith,
  on the bed of sickness,
  and at the hour of death.

Let us treasure up the words of Jesus carefully, diligently, and with much prayer.

Are our memories stored with Christ's words?

Do we meditate upon them?

Do we walk by them?

"If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word." John 14:23

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away!" Luke 21:33

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The great and crowning bliss of Heaven!

(William Bacon Stevens, "The Loveliness of Christ")  LISTEN to Audio!  Download Audio

"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!"