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"...and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away." (Luke 8:13)
How much Evangelical religion is completely unreal? You will sometimes see men professing great affection for the pure "Gospel," while they are practically inflicting on it the greatest injury. They will talk loudly of soundness in the faith, and have a keen nose for heresy. They will run eagerly after popular preachers, and applaud Protestant speakers at public meetings to the very echo. They are familiar with all the phrases of evangelical religion, and can converse fluently about its leading doctrines.
To see their faces at public meetings, or in church, you would think them eminently godly ... And yet these people in private will sometimes do things of which even some heathens would be ashamed. They are neither truthful, nor straightforward, nor honest, nor manly, nor just, nor good-tempered, nor unselfish, nor merciful, nor humble, nor kind! And is such Christianity as this real? It is not. It is a miserable imposture, a base cheat and caricature.
How much Revivalist religion in the present day is utterly unreal! You will find a crowd of false professors bringing discredit on the work of God wherever the Holy Spirit is poured out. You will see a mixed multitude of Egyptians accompanying the Israel of God, and doing it harm, whenever Israel goes out of Egypt. How many now-a-days will profess to be suddenly convinced of sin,--to find peace in Jesus,--to be overwhelmed with joys and ecstasies of soul,--while in reality they have no grace at all. Like the stony-ground hearers, they endure but for a season. "In the time of temptation they fall away." (Luke 8:13)
As soon as the first excitement is passed off, they return to their old ways, and resume their former sins. Their religion is like Jonah's gourd, which came up in a night and perished in a night. They have neither root nor vitality. They only injure God's cause and give occasion to God's enemies to blaspheme. And is Christianity like this real? It is nothing of the kind. It is base metal from the devil's mint, and is worthless in God's sight.
— J. C. Ryle
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The Weakness and Foolishness of God
"But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God"." (1 Corinthians 1:23, 24)
So He is to them that believe. But to those who believe not, God seems to do some very foolish things, and to manifest a lot of weakness for One who is supposed to have made a whole Universe. However, it is in these very things that God is pleased to reveal His glory and His wisdom: to baffle the wisdom of the wise, and to bring to nought the counsels of men.
Therefore, in the midst of the apostasy of modern day Christianity, and the hypocrisy and artificiality of modern day religion, we who know somewhat of God's ways can rejoice in the fact that it is just like God, in times like these, to rend the heavens and come down in power and great glory... and yet in ways that will seem strange and foolish in the eyes of the world.
We are confident that the darkness and the gloom about us will once again become the fitting background for the display of the gems of His glory. Some good Christian people are trying to set the stage for God to work, but God always has to bypass these efforts, for He has prepared the stage upon which He will reveal His sons who are moving in Harmony with His will.
For it is consistent with God's character and way, and with the Jealousy of His Glory, that the greater the work He will perform in the earth--the greater will be the measure of weakness and foolishness that He will cause an unbelieving world to behold.
— George H. Warnock
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You saw only yesterday a strong man in your neighborhood brought to the grave by sudden death; it is only a month ago that you heard the bell toll for one whom once you knew and loved, who procrastinated and procrastinated until he perished in procrastination. You have had strange things happen in your very street, and the voice of God has been spoken loudly through the lip of Death to you. Yes, and you have had warnings too in your own body, you have been sick with fever, you have been brought to the jaws of the grave, and have looked down into the bottomless vault of destruction.
It is not long ago since you were given up all said they might prepare a coffin for you, for your breath could not long be in your body. Then you turned your face to the wall and prayed; you vowed that if God would spare you, you would live a godly life, that you would repent of your sins; but to your own confusion you are just what you were.
Ah! let me tell you, your guilt is more grievous than that of any other man, for you have sinned presumptuously, in the very highest sense in which you could have done so. You have sinned against reproofs, but what is worse still, you have sinned against your own solemn oaths and covenants, and against the promises that you made to God.
He who plays with fire must be condemned as careless; but he who has been burned out once, and afterwards plays with the destroying element, is worse than careless; and he who has himself been scorched in the flame, and has had his locks all hot and crisp with the burning, if he again should rush headlong into fire, I say he is worse than careless, he is worse than presumptuous, he is mad. But I have some such here.
They have had warnings so terrible that they might have known better; they have gone into lusts which have brought their bodies into sickness, and perhaps this day they have crept up to this house, and they dare not tell to their neighbor who stands by their side what is the loathsomeness that even now breeds upon their body. And yet they will go back to the same lusts; the fool will go again to the stocks, the sheep will lick the knife that is to slay him.
You will go in your lust and in your sins, despite warnings, despite advice, until you perish in your guilt. How worse than children are grownup men! The child who goes for a merry slide upon a pond, if he be told that the ice will not bear him, turns back in fear, or if he daringly creeps upon it, how soon he leaves it, if he hears but a crack upon the slender covering of the water!
But you men have conscience, which tells you that your sins are vile, and that they will be your ruin, you hear the crack of sin, as its thin sheet of pleasure gives way beneath your feet; yes, and some of you have seen your comrades sink in the flood, and lost; and yet you go sliding on, worse than childish, worse than mad are you, thus presumptuously to play with your own everlasting state. O my God, how terrible is the presumption of some!
How fearful is presumption of any! Oh ! that we might be enabled to cry, "Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins."
— Charles H. Spurgeon
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The Law of Surrender
The Bible says that we are to present our bodies "as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God." Of course, if you give your body, you give everything it contains. That means giving yourself wholly to God, and the idea of giving yourself wholly to God contains three laws.
The first law is the law of surrender. If you do not surrender, it will be totally impossible for the Lord to do anything for you. Surgeons have to have the surrender of their patients. If I went to a surgeon and insisted that I was going to tell him how to do the job and not only that but stay awake and resist him, the surgeon could not work. It would be impossible. Surgeons must put their patients to sleep so they cannot resist, so they are in a state of surrender. That is the law of surrender.
A more beautiful and biblical description is the story of the potter and the clay, which illustrates the law of surrender further. The potter has soft, yielding clay, but if the clay does not surrender, the potter cannot do a thing with it. If there are burnt places, hard places or unsurrendered places in the clay, though the potter be a genius in making vessels, the artist still could not make anything useful and beautiful out of an unyielding blob of clay. It is possible for an object to be useful but not beautiful, like a garbage can. It is also entirely possible to be beautiful and not useful, like the lily.
The lily has no utilitarian place in the world. It is possible to have a vessel that is useful without being beautiful. The old cream crocks in our spring house on the farm were useful all right. You could pour the milk in them, wait for the cream to rise and skim it off. They were not beautiful, but they were quite useful. Everybody has in their home beautiful little knickknacks. They are utterly useless, simply to be enjoyed for their beauty. But God wants His vessels to be both useful and beautiful.
If God is going to make those kinds of vessels out of us, however, we are going to have to yield to the law of surrender. Give yourself to God as a living sacrifice and let Him have you, all of you.
— A. W. Tozer
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Whose Names are Written in the Book of Life
"Whose names are in the book of life." Philippians 4:3
How is this known? It must be a blessed privilege this, and highly desirable to attain, if there be a truly scriptural testimony to it. That there is a book of life, in which the record is made of the people of the Lamb, is without all dispute, from many parts of scripture. The church of the first-born are said to have their names written in heaven; such as are chosen of God in Christ before the world began. But these are secret things which belong to the Lord our God.
Yet it is said, "the secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will shew them his covenant." Hence therefore, is not the bible a copy of this book of life? Are there not scriptural marks and characters given, by which the correspondence is proved? In both, they are distinguished by one and the same name and character.
They are called the people, the seed, the offspring of Jesus. They are his, by gift, by purchase, by conquest, by a voluntary surrender. They are known by the character as well as by name. They seek salvation only in Jesus. God is their Father, Jesus their Redeemer, the Holy Ghost their sanctifier. My soul, see thy name in bible characters answering to this persuasion, and be assured that the original writing of the book of life in heaven, and the book of God for life upon earth, is his written word, is in exact correspondence.
Blessed Jesus! give me in this way to know whose I am and to whom I belong, and then assured shall I be that my name is in the book of life.
— Robert Hawker
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Faith Casts the Burden on the Lord
Faith has this further influence upon ordinary life-that it casts all the burden of it upon the Lord. Faith is the great remover of yokes, and it does this in part by making us submissive to God's will. When we have learned to submit we cease to repine. Faith teaches us so to believe in God, infallible wisdom and perfect love, that we consent unto the Lord's will and rejoice in it. Faith teaches us to look to the end of every present trial, and to know that it works together for good; thus again reconciling us to the passing grief which it causes.
Faith teaches us to depend upon the power of God to help us in the trial, and through the trial, and in this way we are no longer stumbled by afflictions, but rise above them as on eagles' wings. Brethren, if any of you are anxious, careworn and worried, stop not in such a state of mind; it cannot do you any good; and it reflects no honour upon your great Father. Pray for more faith, that you may have no back-breaking load to carry, but may transfer it to the great Burden-bearer.
Pray to your great Lord so to strengthen and ease your heart that your only care may be to please him, and that you may be released from all other care. By this means will you be greatly helped, for if the burden be lightened, it comes to much the same thing as if the strength were multiplied. Content with the divine will is better than increase of riches, or removal of affliction, for with wealth no peace may come; and out of prosperity no joy in the Lord may arise, but contentment is peace itself.
Whatever burden faith finds in her daily avocation she casts it upon God by prayer. We begin with God in the morning, seeking help to do our work, and to do it well. At his hands we seek guidance and prosperity from hour to hour. We pray him to prevent our doing any wrong to others, or suffering any wrong from them; and we ask him to keep our temper and to preserve our spirit while we are with worldly men. We beg that we may not be infected by the evil example of others, and that our example may be such as may be safely followed.
These are our great concerns in business; we tremble lest in anything we should dishonour God, and we trust in him to keep us. A believer goes to God with the matters of each day, and looks for the morning dew to fall upon him; he looks up through the day expecting the Lord to be his constant shield, and at night ere he goes to rest he empties out the gathered troubles of the day, and so falls to a happy sleep. Then doth a man live sweetly when he lives by the day, trusting his Lord with everything, and finding God to be ever near.
To all this the example of the Saviour leads us, and his love within our hearts draws us. "He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him," and "was heard in that he feared."
— Charles H. Spurgeon
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Waiting on God
IT IS not enough for us to begin everyday with God, but on Him we must wait every day, and all the day long. What is it to wait on God? To wait on God is to live a life of desire towards Him, delight in Him, dependence on Him and devotedness to Him.
I. Desire. It is to live a life of desire towards God; to wait on Him, as the beggar waits on his benefactor, with earnest desire to receive supplies from him: "The desire of our soul is to thy Name, and to the remembrance of Thee. With my soul have I desired Thee..." Isaiah 26:8-9. Thus must we be always waiting on God, as our chief good, and moving towards Him.
II. Delight. It is to live a life of delight in God, as the lover waits on his beloved. Desire is love in motion; delight is love at rest. We must never wish for more than God. In Him we must be entirely satisfied; let Him be mine, and I have enough. The gracious soul dwells in God, is at home in Him, and there dwells at ease; and whatever he meets with in the world to make him uneasy, he finds enough in God to balance it.
III. Dependence. It is to live a life of dependence on God, as the child waits on his father, whom he has confidence in, and on whom he casts all his care. To wait on all good to us, and the Protector of us from all evil. Thus David explains himself in Psahn 62:5, "My soul wait thou only upon God," and continue still to do so, "for my expectation is from Him." I look not to any other for the good I need.
IV. Devotedness. It is to live a life of devotedness to God, as the servant waits on his master, ready to observe his will, and to do his work. The servant waits not only to do him service, but to do him honor; his glory must be our ultimate end.
To wait on God is to make His will our rule, to make the will of His providence the rule of our patience, and to bear every affliction with an eye to that. We are sure, it is God that performeth all things for us; and He performeth the thing that is appointed for us, we are sure, that all is well that God doth, and shall be made to work for good to all that love Him. We must therefore bear the affliction, whatever it is, because it is the will of God.
— Matthew Henry
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All or Nothing
We are told that we ought to give up a part of our old-fashioned theology to save the rest. We are in a carriage traveling over the steppes of Russia. The horses are being driven furiously, but the wolves are close upon us! There they are! Can you not see their eyes of fire? The danger is pressing. What must we do?
It is proposed that we throw out a child or two. By the time they have eaten the baby, we shall have made a little headway; but should they again overtake us, what then? Why, brave man, throw out your wife! "All that a man hath will he give for his life"; give up nearly every truth in the hope of saving one.
Throw out inspiration, and let the critics devour it, the gentlemen who give us the sage advice will be glad to see the doctrines of grace torn limb from limb. Throw out natural depravity, eternal punishment, and the efficacy of prayer. We have lightened the carriage wonderfully. Now for another drop. Sacrifice the great sacrifice! Have done with the atonement!
Brethren, this advice is villainous, and murderous: we will escape these wolves with everything, or we will be lost with everything. It shall be "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth", or none at all.
We will never attempt to save half the truth by casting any part of it away. The sage advice which has been given us involves treason to God, and disappointment to ourselves. We will stand by all or none. We wilt have a whole Bible or no Bible.
— Charles H. Spurgeon
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Our Infinite Worth in Christ
No matter how insignificant he may have been before, a man becomes significant the moment he has had an encounter with the Son of God. When the Lord lays His hand upon a man, that man ceases at once to be ordinary. He immediately becomes extraordinary, and his life takes on cosmic significance. The angels in heaven take notice of him and go forth to become his ministers (Hebrews 1:14). Though the man had before been only one of the faceless multitude, a mere cipher in the universe, an invisible dust grain blown across endless wastes, now he gets a face and a name and a place in the scheme of meaningful things. Christ knows His own sheep by name.
A young preacher introduced himself to the pastor of a great metropolitan church with the words, ?I am just the pastor of a small church upcountry. Son, replied the wise minister, there are no small churches. And there are no unknown Christians, no insignificant sons of God. Each one signifies, each is a sign drawing the attention of the Triune God day and night upon him. The faceless man has a face, the nameless man a name, when Jesus picks him out of the multitude and calls him to Himself.
— By A. W. Tozer
"Man has places in his heart which do not yet exist,
and into them God enters suffering inorder that they might have existence."