Santa Clara, CA
| Re: RASA ~ The Heresy of Christendom|
Along with the establishment of Christianity in Jerusalem was a distinct program to care for the dependent and the aged. It is as vital as the commission that Jesus gave for the evangelization of the world. It is as distinct a part of the Christian life as personal holiness. It is one of the chief pillars that uphold the divine structure of the church of God. It was as much a part of the apostolic church as faith, repentance and baptism. We have sought to restore that church in doctrine and practice. I do not doubt that we have made known the plan of salvation as clearly as Peter, or Paul, or Timothy; but this is only one phase of the apostolic church. Not until we have established as a practice among ourselves those benevolences of the apostolic church as we have established the practice of faith, repentance and baptism, can we claim that holy place of apostolic reproduction.
I know that it is said among us, as an excuse for our dereliction of duty, that we are a new people, that we have been busy evangelizing, and that we have not had the wealth for the building of orphanages and homes for the aged; but I beg to say that none of these excuses suffice. I have no more respect for these answers than I have for the Roman Catholic reason for not reading the Bible. We are not too new a people to practice Christian benevolence, neither can it be said that we have not the wealth, if the apostolic church is to be our model. On the day of Pentecost Peter preached the first gospel sermon, three thousand responded to his message and were baptized that day, and in the evening they sold their possessions to help those in need. Before they went out to evangelize Judea or Samaria, they appointed deacons to look after the needy. Before they erected a church building, they had established a system of benevolence. It was as much a part of the church life as that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; and had it not been a church of that type, it would have perished before the wrath of Nero, Domitian or Diocletian.
A movement that holds out its hand to help the orphan, the poor and the aged can not be defeated in this world. It has in it the pulse-beats of immortality. Its song is the song of the brook, and its music is like the music of the rustling of the corn. Since it has begun to flow, it will not cease, and all hearts are touched by its appeals. While we are threshing out our theological differences, the cry of the orphan or the stumbling steps of the aged make us forget our differences and bring us into a common kinship. When there will still be theological divergences, the Christian forces of benevolence will  have united into a common service for the good of all. In these sweet, warm influences the church will stack arms, and peace will flow through all her channels like the tides flow through the sea, for this is the highway of victory. We sweep over nearly nineteen hundred years, and if to us belongs one thing above another, it has been said that is the discovery of the Book of Acts. Be that as it may, but is it not true that our discovery has largely been a phase of the Book of Acts? Here it is a fact that the plan of salvation is clearer than elsewhere in all the Scriptures, but by the side of this plan of salvation is the plan of benevolence so grand, magnificent and all-embracing that the church has rarely been able to comprehend its power and beauty. In the advancement of the chariot of His redemption, if one wheel of that chariot was world-wide missions, the other was world-wide benevolence. Our missionaries on the foreign field have caught this vision, for by the side of the chapel they have planted an orphanage or a hospital. Let us, who sit in the darkness, rekindle our fires, and see that what is necessary for the conquest of China, India and Japan is likewise necessary for the conquest of America. Say what you will about the Roman Catholic Church, and I hate her heads and all her heathen appendages, as Cardinal Newman termed them, but I passionately love her orthodoxy in caring for the orphan. It has been the strongest pillar in upholding that church and saving it from decay.
Amid the clashes of creeds and one generation making orthodox what another had declared heresy, I do not hesitate to say that indifference to benevolence in all ages has been the great heresy of Christendom. On the departure of the church from that cardinal principle, the door was opened for all kind of heresies; and when you read church history, you read the history of a church that is largely prodigal, because one of the chief sources of her life was almost closed. It is no surprise that worldly aggrandizement became her policy; but the religion of Jesus Christ is not in great church buildings, pipe-organs and pulpit oratory, but pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is to recognize the wants of the orphan and the aged as the wants of Christ himself, and go speedily to the help of Him who helped us out of sin into the light of pardon. By the side of faith in the Book must be unstinted practice of the Book. I care little about higher criticism or lower criticism, so long as this heresy is permitted to exist in Christendom with so little concern for its abolition.
It is as much our duty to think seriously of our obligation to the orphan and the aged as it was to think seriously of our obligation to be baptized. As to whether distress is more universal now than in former years, is a question we need not consider. Suffice it for duty and our sympathy that there is distress, and the sight of the needs of the orphan and the aged is the appeal from Christ himself. They are here in his stead, and through them he receives our ministries. Then, "deal thy bread to the hungry, cover the naked with thy garment, hide not thyself from thine own flesh, build up the broken-hearted, set at liberty them that are bruised. Then thou shalt be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the paths to dwell in."
No service is more beautiful in all the pale of human activities than taking hold of the hand of the orphan and guiding his tender feet into the paths of righteousness. That child holds within himself the forces of manhood that are mightier than a university. All unconscious of his strength, he has within himself the sunshine of heaven and the life of God is there.
Our National Benevolent Association is not simply building orphanages of stone and mortar, but when these shall have crumbled into dust amid the last conflagration there still will be remaining their real buildings, which are characters built out of fatherless and motherless boys and girls--characters strong and beautiful, that but for our National Benevolent Association might have been weak and worthless--characters that will have given muscle to our nation and adornment to our church; but the care of the aged is no less beautiful. The storms have swept over their paths, yet not fierce enough to lay them  beneath the sod, but there they stand without home or friends, broken in life, aching in heart. The ploughshare of sorrow has cut great gullies in their faces, and their hands are hard from the years of toil. Tired of the burden of life, their staff has broken, and our Christian Benevolent Association goes to their rescue and becomes a staff to the stumbling, a home to the homeless and a friend to the friendless. I do not disparage our missionary work nor our educational work; both are necessary for the maintenance of our service, but equally necessary is the unstinted practice of benevolence. Every believer should be unreservedly pledged to this practice as he is pledged to the Lord Almighty. The myriad of angels that look upon the trembling steps of childhood and the stumbling steps of the aged, and from whom sometimes seems to come the unseen angelic hand, must covet the task that has been given to believers. It calls for our full identification with a cause that is divine. It means that the gospel of help has indeed become the gospel of practice, and he is living in heresy who is living without sympathy for this cause. Before the New Testament was written, benevolence was the practice of the church. It came in the morning of its strength and purity, and fellowship with the saints of Pentecost can come only through the practice of the principles of Pentecost.
As distinctly as baptism is immersion of the whole body, deeper still our baptism means the surrender of the whole body and its possessions. What is money for if it is not for the use of all? That was the conception of the apostolic church. It must be the conception of the church again if it would be apostolic. "He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto Jehovah;" "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your boom." On the call for the erection of the tabernacle in the wilderness, Moses received more than enough. About 170 years ago, when Saurin preached a sermon on benevolence, men gave all the money in their possession and women heaped up the collection-plate with their jewels. We depreciate the religion of the French of the last century, but this is inappropriate until we of this century shall have learned to give like those of the last century. The opportunities for money-making should not eclipse the opportunities for money-giving, yet the last decade reveals the fact. Serious issues are facing American Christianity, and with it are facing the Disciples, and we can only meet these conditions successfully in a full acceptance of the whole revelation of God. Because we are freer from human creeds, our opportunities for service are necessarily greater, and except we measure up to these divinely given opportunities, the tree, which God has planted in the garden of this new continent, shall bear the frost of the coming century. Distinctly as the call of Jesus from the cross to John the beloved disciple, to care for his weeping mother, is the sacred call to care for the orphan and the aged, the sick and the disabled, that we may be "unblameable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints."
[url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=category&cid=313] Peter Ainslie[/url]
| 2005/2/26 21:49||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| RASA~ The Gospel|
A little preface here. For those newer or just otherwise, on the main page to your left, about midway down is a function called "[b]Random Article[/b]" which time and again proves the incredible and vast riches that are contained throughout this site. You must be quick though, if you click off to another area, the "page" refresh's and a new article takes it's place.
It's become kind of like checking your side view mirrors before making a lane change. Often times will glance over at it, catching it in the periphial as it creeps into my lane, so to speak, hence the "[b]R[/b]andom [b]A[/b]rticle [b]S[/b]trikes [b]A[/b]gain". Got sided swipped again this morning...
| 2005/4/7 8:42||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| RASA~ The Gospel (Cont.)|
(Was hard [i]not[/i] to post the whole thing, so...it's the whole thing)
DON'T BE A DUCK
In a famous ecclesiastical trial in Virginia, a number of years ago, it was said by someone that the preaching of the party on trial "had no more effect than pouring water on a duck's back." Quick as a flash the reply came, "Is that the fault of the water, or the duck?" There is food for thought in that home thrust; and so let us all go to church, next Sunday, praying for the preacher, asking God to "open our hearts," as He did the heart of Lydia, that we may attend unto the things that are spoken.
-- Central Presbyterian.
EFFECTS OF THE GOSPEL
God never repairs. Christ never patches. The Gospel is not here to mend people. Regeneration is not a scheme of moral tinkering and ethical cobbling. What God does, He does new-- new heavens, new earth, new body, new heart -- Behold, I make all things new." In the Gospel, thus we move into a new world and under a new scheme. The creative days are back again. We step out of a regime of jails and hospitals and reform shops. We get live effects direct from God. That is the Gospel. The Gospel is a permanent miracle. God at first hand -- that is miracle. The Gospel thus does not classify with other schemes of amelioration. They are good, but this is not simply better, but different, distinct, and better because distinct; it works in a new way, and works another work. Compare the wrought chains riveted on the demoniac, and the divine word working a new creation in the demoniac. It is all there. It is like the difference between the impotent Persian lashing the turbulent sea with chains, and the gracious Lord saying to the troubled sea, "Peace, be still!"
RESULT OF ONE SERMON
Dr. Antliff was preaching special sermons in the chapel at Wolstanton, a pleasant village in the Tunstall Circuit. In one of his discourses, touching upon the tendency of preachers to underestimate the possible results of services at which there was only a small congregation, he gave an illustration from his own experience. Some years ago he went to preach in a small Derbyshire village, and found he had to preach in a farmhouse kitchen. The congregation was composed mainly of a number of boys and other young people. He accordingly addressed himself to children, and then prayed with and for the boys then present, and thought that several of them appeared impressed and interested. On returning home at night his wife said, "Well, Samuel, what sort of a day have you had?" "Only a poor day," he replied, "hardly anybody present but a few boys." "But," said the doctor, "God has graciously blessed that service. One of the boys, who dates his conversion from that afternoon, is now a Wesleyan minister, Rev. (giving a well known name); two more of those boys (giving their name) are now Primitive Methodist ministers." As he mentioned these names a young minister in the congregation became deeply moved, and rising and interrupting the preacher, said, with tears rolling down his face, "Forgive my intruding on your sermon, Dr. Antliff, but I am another of those boys who were led to Christ at that service in the farmhouse kitchen." The young man who thus testified is now doing noble ministerial service at one of the stations within a mile or two of Wolstanton.
TURN TO THE LIGHT
A weary and discouraged woman, after struggling all day with contrary winds and tides, came to her home and, flinging herself down into a chair, said:
"Everything looks dark, dark."
"Why don't you turn your face to the light, aunty dear?" said a little niece who was standing near.
The words were a message from on high, and the weary eyes were turned toward Him who is the light and the life of men, and in whose light alone we see light.
"Turn your face to the light," oh, weary watcher! You have looked, and longed, and struggled in the darkness without avail; now turn your glance the other way; "God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give unto us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ," and if we will look toward the light, we shall find blessing and peace all along the way, and even amid darkness and shadows shall rejoice in hope of the glory of God, the light of an unsetting day.
-- The Christian
HOW TO DESTROY THE BIBLE
First, get rid of all the copies in all the languages -- there are 160,000,000 copies, say, of the Old and New Testaments in one book and in portions of the book -- you must have all these piled together into a pyramidal mass and reduced to ashes before you can say you have destroyed the Bible. Then go to the libraries of the world, and when you have selected every book that contains a reference to the Old and New Testaments, you must eliminate from every book all such passages; and until you have so treated every book of poetry and prose, excising all ideas of grandeur and purity and tenderness and beauty for the knowledge and power of which the poets and prose writers were indebted to the Bible -- until you have taken all these from between the bindings and turned them to ashes, leaving the asculated fragments behind -- not until then have you destroyed the Bible. Have you done it, then? Once more. Go to all the courts of law, and, having sought out the pandects and codes, you must master every principle of law, and study what it may have derived from the Old and New Testaments, and have all such passages removed from the codes of jurisprudence. You must then go to the galleries of art throughout the world, and you must slash and daub over and obliterate the achievements that the genius of the artist has produced -- not until then have you destroyed the Bible.
Have you done it then? What next? You must visit every conservatory of music, and not until the world shall stand voiceless as to its masters, not until then have you destroyed the Bible. Then you must visit the baptistries of the churches, and from the baptismal rolls you must erase all Christian names -- the names of John and Mary -- for they suggest the Scriptures, and the register is stamped with the Bible. Have you done it then? No. There is one thing more you must perform. There is one copy of the Bible still living. It is the cemetery of the Christian. The cemeteries, while they exist, are Bibles, and to suppress the book, to let not a trace of it be discovered, you must pass from grave-stone to grave-stone, and with mallet and chisel out out every name that is biblical, and every inspiring passage of Scripture graven thereon. To destroy the Bible you must also blot from the memory of every Christian its promises and comforts. Not till you have done all this can you destroy the Bible.
THE LONGEST DAY
It is quite important, when speaking of the longest day in the year, to say what part of the world we are talking about, as will be seen by reading the following list, which tells the length of the longest day in several places. How unfortunate are the children in Tornea, Finland, where Christmas Day is less than three hours in length!
At Stockholm, Sweden, the longest day is eighteen and one-half hours in length.
At Spitzbergen the longest day is three and one-half month.
At London, England, and Bremen, Prussia, the longest day has sixteen and one-half hours.
At Hamburg, Germany, and Dantzig, Prussia, the longest day has seventeen hours.
At Wardbury, Norway, the longest day lasts from May 21 to July 22, without interruption.
At St. Petersburg, Russia, and Tobolsk, Siberia, the longest day is nineteen hours, and the shortest five hours.
At Tornea, Finland, June 21 brings a day nearly twenty-two hours long, and Christmas one less than three hours in length.
At New York the longest day is about fifteen hours, and at Montreal, Canada, it is sixteen
But the longest day of all will be in the New Jerusalem; for "there shall be no night there."
-- The Evangel.
THE KEY TO HIS HEART
I had at one time a class of promising boys, with one exception. One of the nine was considered the worst boy in the school. As rough, untutored specimen of a boy as ever was.
I made the same appeals to John that I did to the others, and there is just where I erred. I pointed out his rough, careless ways, and urged him to give himself to God; but I never studied him; I never searched for his heart, to know what was in it; I never tried to find the link between his soul and Heaven.
John was a great trouble in the school. He spoiled the other boys, and annoyed the superintendent by keeping up a general disquiet.
Time and again, the superintendent used to come to me, saying, "Can you do nothing with John? Can you make no appeal to his heart?"
"Heart!" I answered. "John is without a heart, so far as I can judge."
There was one thing about the boy that I had noticed, without making any inquiry concerning it; and that was, that he always brought his own old Bible -- a worn, ragged copy; and when he could be persuaded to read, never read from any other. Occasionally, I urged him to use a newer copy, but he steadily refused, and always slipped his ragged Bible into his pocket at the close of the session.
One Sabbath I missed John from his usual place. "Now, boys," I said, "we may expect a quiet, profitable time, since our tormentor is not with us."
In a moment, I felt in my heart that I was rebuked, and I would have given much to have seen my troublesome scholar's shaggy head restlessly moving about before my eyes. Was this the spirit of my Master? Was I a fit keeper for that soul? What had I succeeded in doing for him all along? A sense of my utter unworthiness and uselessness took possession of me. In vain I took up the lesson and attempted to teach. The scholars were dull and indifferent, and I had no power to interest them. The lesson was a failure, and I was relieved when it was finished.
Two weeks passed. Each Sabbath I expected to see John, but he never came again. One evening of the third week of his absence, a woman, carelessly dressed, weeping bitterly, came to my house.
"Are you John Wesley's Sabbath School teacher, sir?" she asked.
"I am," I replied.
"Oh, then, sir, our John's a-dyin'! He didn't like to send for you, because he said he'd been a bad boy. But he longed and longed, and watched the door, sir, hopin' you'd come in. I couldn't stand his looks; so tonight, I just slipped off without sayin' a word to him. Oh! won't you come with me to see him?"
I made no answer, but snatching my hat, blindly hurried out beside her, and spoke not a word till I stood at the bedside of the worse boy in school. How changed he was! His old, restless air was quite gone.
"My boy!" I exclaimed through choking tears.
He turned his filmy eyes upon me, and made an effort to speak, but failed. I knelt and prayed aloud in bitter agony of soul; prayed most for myself; for had I not sinned more than this boy? Then I held tight the hand of John, and yearned over him with unutterable sorrow.
"He was wild, poor boy!" said the mother sobbing: "but I missed training him right. But he had his soft ways, too. You see that little, old Bible by his pillow?" I looked and saw the same old copy which he had read in school.
"Well," continued his mother, "that used to belong to his sister. She had read it over and over again, and sometimes read bits of it to Johnny. She died very happy, and Johnny kept her Bible. But he got more reckless, after she we gone. When he was very bad at times, I used to remind him of little Mary's Bible, and it softened him. Since he's been sick, he would have the book by him all the time."
And there was poor John's history -- all bound up in that little volume! At last I had discovered his heart. All that long time the key to it had been carried about with him. One word about Mary's Bible might have suddenly given me the secret workings of his soul. But that word I had never uttered.
John died, his hand held in mine.
Friends, I believe my scholar is in Heaven. I know that the Holy Spirit came in just where I failed, and performed the work in John's heart at last. But I still carry with me a wholesome regret; and I write this that you may be warned in time, that every scholar has a heart, and that it is discoverable.
THE LAST REQUEST
It was at the close of a hard fought day when death from the cannon ball, death from the rifle bullet, and death from the bayonet thrust had laid low many a brave man, that a stalwart soldier, rifle in hand, knelt on one knee, beside a dying comrade.
Hand clasped in hand the two men held their last interview. It was very brief and the crack of the rifle and the boom of the distant gun mingled with the solemn word that passed. "George," said the dying man, "you will see the folks at home, though I shall not. Will you take them a message for me?" "I will faithfully, Fred," said his friend. "I feel my time is short," said Fred, as he pressed his arm on a wound from which the life blood was slowly but surely flowing; "but I should like to send some consolation to the home where they will weep for me." "You may trust me, Fred," said the kneeling soldier, who, strong and manly as he was, could scarcely repress his tears. "If I live to see the dear old village again, I will surely take your message."
"Thank you, old boy. I am sure you will. You know what I was when I left home, a wild, careless boy without a serious thought in my head. Well, my mother gave me a Bible when I came away and I promised to read it. You know we had to go to church and Sunday School when we were boys, but afterward I did not go when I could avoid it. Mother grieved, I know; and she was afraid that when I was away I should come to harm. But I read the Book every day, George tell her that -- I was among a wild lot and I was careless, but I always found a chance to keep my promise. And the dreadful scenes we have seen have sobered me. I always thought I should get knocked over in some of our fights, as I have, and the thought, though it did not unman me, made me serious. At times I have heard the hymns we used to sing at school, 'Around the throne of God in Heaven,' and 'I think when I read' -- you remember them, George? Well, I fancied I could hear them above the music of the drum and fife. Odd scraps of sermons, too, have come in my mind at times, and though I did not care for them when I heard them, they have had a new light with the boys dying around us.
"Well, George, I prayed, too, and I have had some talk with the chaplain and -- my dear, old boy, I am dying fast, I cannot see your face now, it is growing dark all around - don't loose my hand, George, I cannot say all I wanted to, but go to my mother and tell her I am a Christian. Tell her I died trusting in Jesus and sure that He will receive me on the shining shore we used to sing about. Tell her I could see --"
But George never told Fred's mother what her boy could see as he lay dying. He told her all beside, but when he had told her that, he had to tell her that a bright flash of joy shot across his face, and he fell back speechless in the arms of death. The old Christian lady shed many tears over her son's death, but the message his friend carried to her was the best consolation she could have had, and it was with a happy face that she said, as the sorrowing king said in the hour of his bereavement: "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me."
THE DAY THAT BABY DIED
A poor, little, faded woman had been brought into court as a witness in a very disagreeable case, involving very serious issues. The entire case depended on the fact that a paper had been signed on a certain day, and this the forlorn little woman was prepared to prove.
"You saw the paper signed?" asked the opposing counsel in cross-examination.
"You take your oath that it was the 30th of August?"
"I know it was, sir."
The lawyer, who thought another date could be proved, assumed an exasperating smile, and repeated her words:
"You know it was! And now be so good as to tell me just how you know it."
The poor, little woman looked from one to another with wide, sorrowful eyes, as if she sought understanding and sympathy. Then her gaze rested on the face of the kindly judge. "I know," she said, as if speaking to him alone, "because that was the day that baby died."
THE BACKWOODSMAN'S THRILLING STORY
Special services were being conducted in the East of London recently, and at one of the meeting an old man desired that the well-known children's hymn, commencing -- "I want to be an angel," might be sung. In compliance with the request the hymn was sung, and the impression made was of a most encouraging character. Many present were touched with the simplicity and tenderness of the words, and most felt that they would like to enter into "the rest that remaineth for the people of God." Among those who remained for prayer was the old man himself, and he was completely broken down. Christian friends present inquired how it was that he was so affected by the hymn, as he had been on the Lord's side for a number of years, and knew that when death came he would "enter in through the gates into the City." He replied:
"Many years ago I was living in the backwoods of America, and, although far away from companions, my life was a very happy one. A loving wife and little daughter were the sunshine of my home, and made even bush life far from monotonous. I was not, however, a Christian, and felt quite unconcerned about my soul's salvation. Death, however, came into my home, and took away my wife. I then began to think seriously about the importance of decision for Christ, and reconciliation to God. But, alas! I did not yield to the strivings of the Spirit, and, in order to deaden my impressions, and to silence my conscience, I gave way to drink and day after day I became worse.
"Thus I was going headlong towards perdition. My little daughter was neglected, and, furthermore, forbidden even to read her Bible or attend the Sunday School, some three miles distant, and which was presided over by a Christian missionary. In my drunken fits I treated her most cruelly, and threatened that I would shoot her if she crossed the threshold of the Sunday School any more. With a cry of sorrow she would say, 'Father, I do love Jesus! I do love my teacher! and I do so want to go to Heaven when I die! I hope you will let me go to school.' My heart was not in the least affected by her pleadings, but rather hardened, and I resolved that if she would insist upon going I would punish her severely. The following Sunday, however, on my return home, I found that she was absent, and being almost mad with drink, I took down my gun and made for the direction from which she would come.
"On meeting my child I at once leveled the gun, but was stopped from firing by her entreaties. On perceiving that I fully intended to commit this diabolical act, she cried, 'Stop a minute, father; I want to pray;' and after a few words of simple prayer, she sang the following verse --
"I want to be an angel,
And with the angels stand,
A crown upon my forehead,
A harp within my hand.
There with the blood-bought children,
So glorious and so bright,
I'll make the sweetest music
And praise Him day and night."
"Then, oh, how can I repeat it! I shot her -- my child. The act sobered me, and realizing what I had done, I lost consciousness. On my recovery I seemed to hear the voice of God, saying, 'The fearful, and unbelieving and the abominable, and murderers and all liar, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.' For many days and nights I was in a most distressed state of mind lest God's judgment should come upon me, and that I should have my part in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. But I cried unto the Lord for mercy, and He heard my cry and saved my soul, and now I want all present to thank God for His goodness."
* * * * * * * * * *
One day last week a man on his way to the station to take a train, passing a fine old mission, saw smoke issuing from the roof. He rang the bell and told the servants that the house was on fire. They laughed at him. Having done his duty, he went on to the train. Thirty minutes afterward the flames burst out and the edifice was destroyed. How oft the friendly voice that warns the reckless boy is laughed at. It was always so. When Lot warned his friends to flee out of Sodom, we are told that "he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons-in-law." But the end came then, and ever will, to a life of sin, sooner and far more terribly than any warning voice can depict.
| 2005/4/7 8:46||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Re: RASA~ Fix your eyes on Jesus|
[b]Fix your eyes on Jesus when you have too much to do[/b]
Ten months after Ray and I were married we had baby Sherry.
Eleven and a half months later we had Margie.
Seventeen months later we had Buddy.
And immediately after that, Ray had a shrew for a wife.
My problem wasn't Ray or the babies; all four were adorable! My problem was no quiet time, no focus. My eyes weren't fixed on Jesus, they were fixed on what I had to do.
A work-centered life gets complex, and it leads to burnout. A Christ-centered life -- even in the midst of work -- stays basically simple, nourished and rested.
(When I got ornery enough to get desperate, I got back to Jesus again. Then little by little I didn't yell so much, and I guess Ray decided he could stick out being married to me after all.)
Learn from two of my weak areas:
One, especially in earlier days, sometimes I wasn't really as busy as I felt I was busy. The pressure I put on myself kept "overheating my motor" and making me feel pushed.
Two, I tended to feel crowded periods before they ever arrived, and to be tired just from anticipating them.
You see, our actual living is between our ears. If you're unhappy or anxious over what's happening or what's going to happen, that's what tenses your muscles and starts to erode you.
Then don't fix your eyes on what you have to do. When I've done that it's made me fragmented and harried.
"Martha, Martha," the Lord said, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better" (Luke 10:41-42).
Martha's problem wasn't cooking, it was the "many things." She was multi-directional, which always makes us oppressed, nervous, burdened, self-pitying, off-balance.
When your eyes are on Him you begin to develop a reflex action inside you -- it may take time -- that shuns what's complicating, what's overwhelming. You'll find you want to do less (but do the most important things) to become more.
Although truly, the more you become, the more you actually achieve. And then your life begins to have wider-ranging and longer-lasting effects.
Fix your eyes on Jesus! Like Mary, focus; that's what I had to learn. Become a "one-thing" person (Luke 10:42).
How do you do this?
First, begin to develop the habit of continual fellowship with Him (see chapter 18) in the midst of it all.
Second, determine to give Him the sacrifice of a regular "quiet time" (see chapter 19). Yes, it will be a true sacrifice. ("You will never find time for anything," says Charles Bixton. "If you want time you must make it.")
Third, give Him frequent spaces when you momentarily quit, relax, breathe deeply, stretch your body, and say, "Jesus, my eyes are on You. You are able. You are helping me from one moment to the next. I trust You."
As you seek to do those three things and release control to Him, He will make the hours stretch,
bring others to help you, cancel some things you thought you had to do, show you duties you can delegate, show you duties which don't have to be done at all.
I didn't learn my lessons once for all. I've had to come back over and over to take seriously again His practical words,
Reverence for God adds hours to each day (Proverbs 10:27, TLB).
Let's pray to Him -- you and I, Anne Ortlund -- together:
Lord Jesus, according to Matthew 11:29, we take Your yoke upon us. We want to learn from You -- Creator, Producer, Worker, Achiever! Be our Model, and teach us Your rhythm for living, so that as we live, we'll find rest for our souls. In Your dear name, amen.
* * * * *
For the weariest day
May Christ be thy stay.
For the darkest night
May Christ be thy light.
For the weakest hour
May Christ be thy power.
For each moment's fall
May Christ be thy all.
(Loved this line: [i]"You see, our actual living is between our ears.[/i]")
| 2005/4/14 10:23||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Re: RASA ~ (Oh My!) Weakness, strength, practice, knowledge|
[b]Weakness preferable to strength, and practice better than knowledge.[/b]
Weakness preferable to strength, and practice better than knowledge.
I am told, my dear child in our Lord, that you are suffering from sickness. I suffer with you, for I love you dearly; but I cannot but kiss the hand that smites you, and I pray you to kiss it lovingly with me. You have heretofore abused your health and the pleasures derived from it; this weakness and its attendant pains are the natural consequence of such a course.
I pray God only that He may depress your spirit even more than your body, and while He comforts the latter according to your need, that He may entirely vanquish the former. O how strong we are when we begin to perceive that we are but weakness and infirmity! Then we are ever ready to believe that we are mistaken, and to correct ourselves while confessing it; our minds are ever open to the illumination of others; then we are authoritative in nothing, and say the most decided things with simplicity and deference for others; then we do not object to be judged, and submit without hesitation to the censure of the first comer. At the same time, we judge no one without absolute necessity; we speak only to those who desire it, mentioning the imperfections we seem to have discovered, without dogmatism, and rather to gratify their wishes than from a desire to be believed or create a reputation for wisdom.
I pray God that He may keep you faithful to his grace, and that He who hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. i. 6.) We must bear with ourselves with patience and without flattery, and remain in unceasing subjection to every means of overcoming our thoughts and inward repugnances; we shall thus become more pliable to the impressions of grace in the practice of the gospel. But let this work be done quietly and peacefully, and let it not be entered upon too eagerly, as though it could all be accomplished in a single day. Let us reason little, but do much. If we are not careful, the acquisition of knowledge will so occupy this life that we shall need another to reduce our acquirements into practice. We are in danger of believing ourselves advanced towards perfection in proportion to our knowledge of the way; but all our beautiful theories, far from assisting in the death of self, only serve to nourish the life of Adam in us by a secret delight and confidence in our illumination. Be quit then of all trust in your own power and in your own knowledge of the way, and you will make a great stride towards perfection. Humility and self-distrust, with a frank ingenuousness, are fundamental virtues for you.
| 2005/5/8 11:48||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Random Article Strikes Again ~ Lying: Secretiveness|
"... all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone" (Rev. 21: 8). Perhaps we are amazed at this verdict. But how could it be otherwise, for Satan is the "father of lies" (John 8: 44)? So all those who lie will come into his kingdom. That is why Jesus says to the Pharisees, whom He accused of lying, "How are you to escape being sentenced to hell?" (Matt. 23: 33). If Jesus places so much weight upon the sin of lying, if it will bring us into the kingdom of Satan, then we have to fight against it to the point of shedding blood and not give it any right to exist in our lives. It is a matter of being alert at the onset of the sin, when we begin to lie by twisting the facts, or exaggerating, or not wanting to bring our mistakes into the light and trying to cover them with silence or pretences. Covering up the facts begins when we only say half-truths, trying to protect our reputation.
Lies belong to the kingdom of darkness and usually go hand in hand with secretiveness. We usually say and do things secretively when our consciences tell us we should not, and when others would be right in accusing us. Because we do not want to break with our sin, we do not want anyone to discover the bad things we have done. That is why we do them in secret and do not want them to be revealed; we do not want to be judged.
Every time we do something in secret, because we do not want others to see what we are doing wrong, we have begun to lie. Then, if we are trapped, we try to get out of it by lying. That is why we should be careful not to do the slightest thing secretively. When we are tempted to do so, we must ask ourselves immediately: "Why should I not do it in front of others?" The answer is probably because there is something wrong about it. When the Jews accused Jesus, He answered, "I have spoken openly to the world. . . I have said nothing secretly" (John 18: 20).
Jesus could say this. He stands before us in His divine majesty. He is Light and Truth, and every true disciple of Jesus ought to be able to say, "Everything that I have said and done in my life can be heard and seen by everyone. I have said and done nothing in secret, because everything I have done was done in the sight of God."
Yes, Jesus is Light. That is His glory. His nature is pure light and truth. He has redeemed us to be children of light so that all our words and actions might be pure and transparent. If we speak and act in the sight of God, we will not do anything secretively, but will only do what can stand in the light of God. On the other hand, Satan is the liar, the lord of the kingdom of darkness. If we speak and act in the dark, secretly, and do not want our words and deeds to come into the light, we belong to Satan. So we are constantly confronted with small, hidden situations that make us decide between light and darkness. Jesus' words are very serious, "For every one who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does what is true comes to the light, that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been wrought in God" (John 3: 20).
We cannot remind ourselves of this often enough, because Satan in his craftiness always tries to tell us that covering up our sins is harmless. He sees to it that we cover up the truth before God and man, even before ourselves, and so make room for lies. We say we did not mean it that way. When we are criticized we give other motives for our actions but these motives are not the true ones. We repress the true facts and are not conscious of the fact that we are on the way to lying, or that our lives are already riddled with lies. We lie out of fear, out of pride, out of desire to please our fellow men, and for other reasons.
But Jesus has redeemed us from these dark powers of secretiveness and lying and therefore He is waiting for us to claim this redemption and run to attain the prize (1 Cor. 9: 24): the City of God.
The City of God is utterly light. Liars will find its doors closed. That is why the apostles always say that we should be children of light and that light does not associate with darkness (Eph. 5:8-13). Light and darkness, truth and lies are mutually exclusive. If we are untruthful and secretive, we are excluded from the kingdom of light, from the Kingdom of God, as Scripture tells us (Rev. 21: 27). No matter what it costs, we must make a complete break with the kingdom of darkness, the kingdom of lies. Otherwise we will lose our inheritance in the Kingdom of God, the fellowship of believers, and above all the fellowship with Jesus.
How do we become free from our disposition and inclination to do things secretively and to lie? The first step is to ask the Lord to show us the extent of this sin, which is satanic by its very nature, and to help us to abhor it. If we do not abhor it, we could very well manage to put up with it, and will not be interested in fighting against it. But we have to fight against it and not let it exist any longer. How can we do this? By unmasking the lies that we speak in haste, we deprive this sin of its powers over us. This happens when we immediately confess them to our own humiliation. Bringing them into the light sentences the sin of lying to death. Light has won and the humiliation has taken us out of Satan's sphere of influence, for he can only attack the proud and the haughty.
We have to apply the same tactics if we have done something secretly. We must unmask it and call it by name. If we have taken something away, we cannot put it back secretly, but, when we put it back, we must admit that we took it. But that's not the end. That only takes care of the sinful act. The sinful trait, lying, covering things up which is deeply rooted in us, will continue to live in us and when the appropriate situation materializes, it will manifest itself again. If we hate everything in us that is untruthful and if we sense that lies separate us from Jesus, we cannot do anything but call upon Jesus day by day-Jesus who is the Truth. Through His sacrificial death on Calvary He did nail the sin of lying to the cross and free us from it. It can no longer rule over us, because He has trodden it under His feet. Jesus, the Truth, reigns in us.
"I am redeemed; I have been set free for the truth!" That is how we should begin our battle of faith every day. And what we believe will come to pass. No matter how much we are inclined to lie, if we carry out this battle of faith, Jesus will make us utterly truthful, so that we can enter the city of light as children of light.
[url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=category&cid=53] Basilea Schlink[/url]
| 2005/6/30 16:36||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| Random Article Strikes Again ~ J.C. Ryle|
Long, but seems to be a good balance to many recent discussions. Too hard to clip excerpts from...
J. C. Ryle
("The man of granite, with the heart of a child." 1816 - 1900)
[b]Warnings To the Churches - All Kinds of Strange Teachings[/b]
"Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings.
It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace,
not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those
who eat them" (Hebrews 13:9)
The text which heads this paper is an apostolic caution against false
doctrine. It forms part of a warning which Paul addressed to Hebrew
Christians. It is a caution just as much needed now as it was eighteen
hundred years ago. Never, I think, was it so important for Christian
ministers to cry aloud continually, "Do not be carried away."
That old enemy of mankind, the devil, has no more subtle instrument for
ruining souls than that of spreading false doctrine. "A murderer and a
liar from the beginning. . . .your enemy the devil prowls around like a
roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Outside the Church he is
ever persuading men to maintain outrageous customs and destructive
superstitions. Human sacrifice to idols, gross revolting, cruel,
disgusting worship of abominable false deities, persecution, slavery,
cannibalism, child murder, devastating religious wars--all these are a
part of Satan's handiwork, and the fruit of his suggestions. Like a
pirate, his object is to "sink, burn, and destroy." Inside the Church he
is ever laboring to sow heresies, to propagate errors, to foster
departures from the faith. If he cannot prevent the waters flowing from
the Fountain of Life, he tries hard to poison them. If he cannot destroy
the remedy of the Gospel, he strives to adulterate and corrupt it. No
wonder that he is called "Apollyon, the destroyer."
The Divine Comforter of the Church, the Holy Spirit, has always employed
one great agent to oppose Satan's plans. That agent is the Word of God.
The Word expounded and unfolded, the Word explained and opened up, the
Word made clear to the head and applied to the heart. The Word is the
chosen weapon by which the devil must be confronted and confounded. The
Word was the sword which the Lord Jesus wielded in the temptation. To
every assault of the Tempter, He replied, "It is written." The Word is
the sword which His ministers must use in the present day, if they would
successfully resist the devil. The Bible, faithfully and freely
expounded, is the safeguard of Christ's Church.
I desire to remember this lesson, and to invite attention to the text
which stands at the head of this paper. We live in an age when men
profess to dislike dogmas and creeds, and are filled with a morbid
dislike to controversial theology. He who dares to say of one doctrine
that "it is true," and of another that "it is false," must expect to be
called narrow-minded and uncharitable, and to lose the praise of men.
Nevertheless, the Scripture was not written in vain. Let us examine the
mighty lessons contained in Paul's words to the Hebrews. They are
lessons for us as well as for them.
I. First, we have here a broad warning: "Do not be carried away by all
kinds of strange teachings."
II. Secondly, we have here a valuable prescription: "It is good for our
hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods."
III. Lastly, we have here an instructive fact: "Ceremonial foods are of
no value to those who eat them."
On each of these points I have something to say. If we patiently plow up
this field of truth, we shall find that there is precious treasure hidden
1. First comes the broad warning. "Do not be not carried away by all
kinds of strange teachings."
The meaning of these words is not a hard thing to understand. "Be not
tossed back and forth," the Apostle seems to say, "by every blast of
false teaching, like ships without compass or rudder. False doctrines
will arise as long as the world lasts, in many numbers, with varying
minor details, in one point alone always the same--strange, new, foreign,
and departing from the Gospel of Christ. They do exist now. They will
always be found within the visible Church. Remember this, and do not be
carried away." Such is Paul's warning.
The Apostle's warning does not stand alone. Even in the midst of the
Sermon on the Mount there fell from the loving lips of our Savior a
solemn caution: "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in
sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves" (Matthew 7:15).
Even in Paul's last address to the Ephesian elders, he finds time to warn
his friends against false doctrine: "Even from your own number men will
arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them"
Note what the Second Epistle to the Corinthians says: "I am afraid that
just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow
be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ"
(2 Corinthians 11:3). Note what the Epistle to the Galatians says: "I am
astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by
the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel." "Who has
bewitched you?" "After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to
attain your goal by human effort?" "How is it that you are turning back
to those weak and miserable principles?" "You are observing special days
and months and seasons and years!" "I fear for you." "Stand firm, then,
and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."
(Galatians 1:6; 3:1, 3; 4:9, 10, 11; 5:1).
Note what the Epistle to the Ephesians says: "No longer be infants,
tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every
wind of teaching" (Ephesians 4:14). Note what the Epistle to the
Colossians says: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow
and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic
principles of this world rather than on Christ" (Colossians 2:8). Note
what the First Epistle to Timothy says: "The Spirit clearly says that in
later times some will abandon the faith" (1 Timothy 4:1). Note what the
Second Epistle of Peter says: "There will be false teachers among you.
They will secretly introduce destructive heresies" (2 Peter 2:1). Note
what the First Epistle of John says: "Do not believe every spirit. Many
false prophets have gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Note what the
Epistle of Jude says: "Contend for the faith that was once for all
entrusted to the saints. For certain men have secretly slipped in among
you" (Jude 1:3, 4). These things were written for our learning.
What shall we say about these texts? How they may strike others I cannot
say. I only know how they strike me. To tell us, as some do, in the
face of these texts, that the early Churches were a model of perfection
and purity, is absurd even in Apostolic days, its appears, there were
abundant errors both in doctrine and practice. To tell us, as others do,
that pastors ought never to handle controversial subjects, and never to
warn their people against erroneous views, is senseless and unreasonable.
If we did this then we would have to ignore most of the New Testament.
Surely the dumb dog and the sleeping shepherd are the best allies of the
wolf, the thief, and the robber. It is not for nothing that Paul says,
"If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good
minister of Christ Jesus" (1 Timothy 4:6).
A plain warning against false doctrine is especially needed in the
present day. The school of the Pharisees, and the school of the
Sadducees, those ancient mothers of all mischief, were never more active
than they are now.
--Between men adding to the truth on one side, and men taking away from
it on the other.
--Between those who bury truth under additions, and those who mutilate it
--Between superstition and infidelity.
--Between Roman Catholicism and neology [New Theology].
--Between Ritualism and Rationalism.
Between these upper and lower millstones the Gospel is near being crushed
to death! Strange views are continually propounded by pastors about
subjects of the deepest importance. About the atonement, the divinity of
Christ, the inspiration of the Bible, the reality of miracles, the
eternity of future punishment, about the Church, the ministerial office,
the Lord's Supper, Baptism, the confessional, the honor due to the
Virgin, prayers for the dead. About all these things there is nothing
too outrageous to be taught by some ministers in these latter days. By
the pen and by the tongue, by the press and by the pulpit, the country is
incessantly deluged with a flood of erroneous opinions. To ignore the
fact is mere blindness. Others see it, even if we pretend to be ignorant
of it. The danger is real, great, and unmistakable. Never was it so
needful to say, "Do not be carried away."
Many things combine to make the present inroad of false doctrine
peculiarly dangerous. There is an undeniable zeal in some of the
teachers of error: their "earnestness" makes many think they must be
right. There is a great appearance of learning and theological
knowledge: many fancy that such clever and intellectual men must surely
be safe guides. There is a general tendency to free thought and free
inquiry in these latter days: many like to prove their independence of
judgment, by believing novelties. There is a wide-spread desire to
appear charitable and liberal-minded: many seem half ashamed of saying
that anybody can be in the wrong. There is a quantity of half-truth
taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using
Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense. There is a morbid
craving in the public mind for a more sensuous, ceremonial, sensational,
showy worship: men are impatient of inward, invisible heart-work. There
is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks
cleverly, lovingly, and earnestly, and a determination to forget that
Satan often masquerades himself "as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians
11:14). There is a wide-spread "gullibility" among professing
Christians: every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be
believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a
narrow-minded man. All these things are peculiar symptoms of our times.
I defy any observing person to deny them. They tend to make the assaults
of false doctrine in our day peculiarly dangerous. They make it more
than ever needful to cry aloud, "Do not be carried away!"
If any one should ask me, What is the best safeguard against false
doctrine?--I answer in one word, "The Bible: the Bible regularly read,
regularly prayed over, regularly studied." We must go back to the old
prescription of our Master: "Diligently study the Scriptures" (John
5:39). If we want a weapon to wield against the plans of Satan, there is
nothing like "the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God." But to wield it
successfully, we must read it habitually, diligently, intelligently, and
prayerfully. This is a point on which, I fear, many fail. In an age of
hurry and activity, few read their Bibles as much as they should. More
books perhaps are read than ever, but less of the one Book which makes
man wise to salvation. The Roman Catholic Church and new theology could
never have made such havoc in the Church in the last fifty years, if
there had not been a most superficial knowledge of the Scriptures
throughout the land. A Bible-reading congregation is the strength of a
"Diligently study the Scriptures." Mark how the Lord Jesus Christ and
His Apostles continually refer to the Old Testament, as a document just
as authoritative as the New. Mark how they quote texts from the Old
Testament, as the voice of God, as if every word was given by
inspiration. Mark how the greatest miracles in the Old Testament are all
referred to in the New, as unquestioned and unquestionable facts. Mark
how all the leading events in the Pentateuch are incessantly named as
historical events, whose reality admits of no dispute. Mark how the
atonement, and substitution, and sacrifice, run through the whole Bible
from first to last, as essential doctrines of revelation. Mark how the
resurrection of Christ, the greatest of all miracles, is proved by such
an overwhelming mass of evidence, that he who disbelieves it may as well
say he will believe no evidence at all. Mark all these things, and you
will find it very hard to be a Rationalist! Great are the difficulties
of unbelief: it requires more faith to be an unbeliever than a Christian.
But greater still are the difficulties of Rationalism. Free handling of
Scripture--results of modern criticism--broad and liberal theology--all
these are fine, swelling, high-sounding phrases, which please some minds,
and look very grand at a distance. But the man who looks below the
surface of things will soon find that there is no sure standing-ground
between ultra-Rationalism and Atheism.
"Diligently study the Scriptures." Mark what a conspicuous absence there
is in the New Testament of what may be called the Sacramental system, and
the whole circle of Ritualistic theology. Mark how extremely little
there is said about the effects of Baptism. Mark how very seldom the
Lord's Supper is mentioned in the Epistles. Find, if you can, a single
text in which New Testament ministers are called sacrificing priests, or
the Lord's Supper is called a sacrifice, or private confession to
ministers is recommended and practiced. Turn, if you can, to one single
verse in which sacrificial vestments are named as desirable, or in which
lighted candles, and pots of flowers on the Lord's Table, or processions,
and incense, and flags, and banners, and turning to the east, and bowing
down to the bread and wine, or prayer to the Virgin Mary and the angels,
are sanctioned. Mark these things well, and you will find it very hard
to be a Ritualist! You may find your authority for Ritualism in garbled
quotations from the Fathers, in long extracts from monkish, mystical, or
from Popes; but you certainly will not find it in the Bible. Between the
plain Bible, honestly and fairly interpreted, and extreme Ritualism there
is gulf which cannot be passed.
"If we would not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings," we
must remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ: "Diligently study the
Scriptures." Ignorance of the Bible is the root of all error. Knowledge
of the Bible is the best antidote against modern heresies.
II. I now proceed to examine Paul's valuable prescription: "It is good
for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods."
There are two words in this prescription which require a little
explanation. A right understanding of them is absolutely essential to a
proper use of the Apostle's advice. One of these words is "foods," and
the other is "grace."
To see the full force of the word "foods" we must remember the immense
importance attached by many Jewish Christians to the distinctions of the
ceremonial law about food. The flesh of some animals and birds,
according to Leviticus, might be eaten, and that of others might not be
eaten. Some foods were, consequently, called "clean," and others were
called "unclean." To eat certain kinds of flesh made a Jew ceremonially
unholy before God, and no strict Jew would touch and eat such food on any
account. Now were these distinctions still to be kept up after Christ
ascended into heaven, or were they done away by the Gospel? Were heathen
converts under any obligation to attend to the ceremonial of the
Levitical law about food? Were Jewish Christians obliged to be as strict
about the foods they ate as they were before Christ died, and the veil of
the temple was torn in two? Was the ceremonial law about foods entirely
done away, or was it not? Was the conscience of a believer in the Lord
Jesus to be troubled with fear lest his food should defile him?
Questions like these appear to have formed one of the great subjects of
controversy in the Apostolic times. As is often the case, they assumed a
place entirely out of proportion to their real importance. The Apostle
Paul found it needful to handle the subject in no less than three of his
Epistles to the Churches. "Food," he says, "does not bring us near to
God." "The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking." "Do
not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink." (1 Corinthians 8:8;
Romans 14:17; Colossians 2:16). Nothing shows the fallen nature of man
so clearly as the readiness of morbid and scrupulous consciences to turn
trifles into serious things. At last the controversy seems to have
spread so far and obtained such dimensions, that "foods" became an
expression to denote anything ceremonial added to the Gospel as a thing
of primary importance, any Ritual trifle thrust out of its lawful place
and magnified into an essential of religion. In this sense, I believe,
the word must be taken in the text now before us. By "foods" Paul means
ceremonial observances, either wholly invented by man, or else built on
Mosaic precepts which have been abrogated and superseded by the Gospel.
It is an expression which was well understood in the Apostolic days.
The word "grace," on the other hand, seems to be employed as a
comprehensive description of the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ. Of that
glorious Gospel, grace is the main feature, grace in the original scheme,
grace in the execution, grace in the application to man's soul. Grace is
the fountain of life from which our salvation flows. Grace is the agency
through which our spiritual life is kept up.
Are we justified? It is by grace.
Are we called? It is by grace.
Have we forgiveness? It is through the riches of grace.
Have we good hope? It is through grace.
Do we believe? It is through grace.
Are we elect? It is by the election of grace.
Are we saved? It is by grace.
Why should I say more? The time would fail me to exhibit fully the part
that grace does in the whole work of redemption. No wonder that Paul
says to the Romans, "We are not under the law, but under grace;" and
tells Titus, "The grace of God that brings salvation has
appeared to all men." (Romans 3:24; Galatians 1:15; Ephesians 1:7;
2Thessalonians 2:16; Acts 18:27; Romans 1:15; Ephesians 2:5; Romans 6:15;
Such are the two great principles which Paul puts in strong contrast
in the prescription we are now considering. He places opposite to one
another "foods" and "grace" --Ceremonialism and the Gospel--Ritualism and
the free love of God in Christ Jesus. And then he lays down the great
principle that it is by "grace," and "not foods," that the heart is
Now "strengthening of the heart" is one of the great wants of many
professing Christians. Especially is it longed after by those whose
knowledge is imperfect, and whose conscience is half enlightened. Such
persons often feel in themselves much indwelling sin, and at the same
time see very indistinctly God's remedy and Christ's fullness. Their
faith is feeble, their hope dim, and their consolations small. They want
to realize more tangible comfort. They fancy they ought to feel more and
see more. They are not at ease. They cannot attain to joy and peace in
believing. Where shall they turn? What shall set their consciences at
rest? Then comes the enemy of souls, and suggests some shortcut road to
establishment. He hints at the value of some addition to the simple plan
of the Gospel, some man-made gimmick, some exaggeration of a truth, some
flesh-satisfying invention, some improvement on the old path, and
whispers, "Only use this, and you shall be strengthened." Plausible
offers flow in at the same time from every quarter, like quack medicines.
Each has its own patrons and advocates. On every side the poor unstable
soul hears invitations to move in some particular direction, and then
shall come perfect strength.
"Come to us," says the Roman Catholic. "Join the Catholic Church, the
Church on the Rock, the one, true, holy Church; the Church that cannot
err. Come to her bosom, and rest your soul in her protection. Come to
us, and you will find strength."
"Come to us," says the extreme Ritualist. "You need higher and fuller
views of the priesthood and the Sacraments, of the Real Presence in the
Lord's Supper, of the soothing influence of daily service, daily masses,
confession to priests, and priestly absolution. Come and take up sound
Church views, and you will find strength."
"Come to us," says the violent Liberationist. "Cast off the traditions
and rules of established Churches. Enjoy religious liberty. Throw away
forms and Prayer-books. Join our party. Cast in your lot with us, and
you will soon
"Come to us," say the Plymouth Brethren. "Shake off all the bondage of
creeds and Churches and systems. We will soon show you higher, deeper,
more exalting, more enlightened views of truth. Join the brethren, and
you will soon be strengthened."
"Come to us," says the Rationalist. "Lay aside the old worn-out clothes
of unfruitful schemes of Christianity. Give your reason free scope and
play. Begin a freer mode of handling Scripture. Be no more a slave to
an ancient old world book. Break your chains and you shall be
Every experienced Christian knows well that such appeals are constantly
made to unsettled minds in the present day? Who has not seen that, when
boldly and confidently made, they produce a painful effect on some
people? Who has not observed that they often beguile unstable souls, and
lead them into misery for years?
"What does the Scripture say?" This is the only sure guide. Hear what
Paul says. Heart strength is not to be obtained by joining this party or
that. It comes "by grace, and not by foods." Other things have a "show
of wisdom" perhaps, and give a temporary satisfaction "to the flesh."
(Colossians 2:23). But they have no healing power about them in reality,
and leave the unhappy man who trusts them nothing bettered, but rather
A clearer knowledge of the Divine scheme of grace, its eternal purposes,
its application to man by Christ's redeeming work, a firmer grasp of the
doctrine of grace, of God's free love in Christ, of Christ's full and
complete satisfaction for sin, of justification by simple faith, a more
intimate acquaintance with Christ the Giver and Fountain of grace, His
offices, His sympathy, His power, a more thorough experience of the
inward work of grace in the heart, this, this, this is the grand secret
of heart strength. This is the old path of peace. This is the true
panacea for restless consciences. It may seem at first too simple, too
easy, too cheap, too commonplace, too plain. But all the wisdom of man
will never show the heavy-laden a better road to heart-rest. Secret
pride and self-righteousness, I fear, are too often the reason why this
good old road is not used.
I believe there never was a time when it was more needful to uphold the
old Apostolic prescription than it is in the present day. Never were
there so many weak and worried Christians wandering about, and tossed to
and fro, from want of knowledge. Never was it so important for faithful
ministers to set the trumpet to their mouths and proclaim everywhere,
"Grace, grace, grace, not foods, establishes the heart."
From the days of the Apostles there have never been a lack of quack
spiritual doctors, who have professed to heal the wounds of conscience
with man-made remedies. In our own beloved Church there have always been
some who have in heart turned back to Egypt, and, not content with the
simplicity of our worship, have hankered after the ceremonial fleshpots
of the Catholic Church of Rome. To hear the Sacraments incessantly
exalted, and preaching played down, to see the Lord's Supper turned into
an idol under the pretext of making it more honorable, to find plain
worship overlaid with so many newfangled ornaments and ceremonies that
its essentials are quite buried, how common is all this! These things
were once a pestilence that walked in darkness. They are now a
destruction that wastes in noonday. They are the joy of our enemies, the
sorrow of the Church's best children, the damage of English Christianity,
the plague of our times. And to what may they all be traced? The
neglect and the forgetfulness of Paul's simple prescription: "Grace, and
not foods, strengthens the heart."
Let us take heed that in our own personal religion, grace is all. Let us
have clear systematic views of the Gospel of the grace of God. Nothing
else will do good in the hour of sickness, in the day of trial, on the
bed of death, and in the swellings of Jordan. Christ dwelling in our
hearts by faith, Christ's free grace the only foundation under the soles
of our feet--this alone will give peace. Once let in self, and forms,
and man's inventions, as a necessary part of our religion, and we are on
a quicksand. We may be amused, excited, or kept quiet for a time, like
children with toys, by a religion of "foods." Such a religion has "a
show of wisdom." But unless our religion be one in which "grace" is all,
we shall never feel strengthened.
III. In the last place, I proceed to examine the instructive fact which
Paul records. He says, "Ceremonial foods are of no value to those who
We have no means of knowing whether the Apostle, in using this language,
referred to any particular Churches or individuals. Of course it is
possible that he had in view the Judaizing Christians of Antioch and
Galatia, or the Ephesians of whom he speaks to Timothy in his pastoral
Epistle, or the Colossians who caused him so much inward conflict, or the
Hebrew believers in every Church, without exception. It seems to me far
more probable, however, that he had no particular Church or Churches in
view. I rather think that he makes a broad, general, sweeping statement
about all who in any place had exalted ceremonial at the expense of the
doctrines of "grace." And he makes a wide declaration about them all.
They have got no good from their favorite notions. They have not been
more inwardly happy, more outwardly holy, or more generally useful.
Their religion has been most unprofitable to them. Man-made alterations
of God's precious medicine for sinners, man-made additions to Christ's
glorious Gospel, however superficially defended and plausibly supported,
do no real good to those that adopt them. They confer no increased
inward comfort; they bring no growth of real holiness: they give no
enlarged usefulness to the Church and the world. Calmly, quietly, and
mildly, but firmly, decidedly, and unflinchingly, the assertion is made,
"Ceremonial foods are of no value to those who eat them."
The whole stream of Church history abundantly confirms the truth of the
Apostle's position. Who has not heard of the hermits and ascetics of the
early centuries? Who has not heard of the monks and nuns and recluses of
the Roman Catholic Church in the middle ages? Who has not heard of the
burning zeal, the devoted self-denial of Romanists like Xavier, and
Ignatius Loyola? The earnestness, the fervor, the self-sacrifice of all
these classes, are matters beyond dispute. But none who read carefully
and intelligently the records of their lives, yes, some of the best of
them, can fail to see that they had no solid peace or inward rest of
soul. Their very feverish restlessness is enough to show that their
conscience; were not at ease. None can fail to see that, with all their
furious zeal and self-denial, they never did much good to the world.
They gathered round themselves admiring partisans. They left a high
reputation for self-denial and sincerity. They made men wonder at them
while they lived, and sometimes canonize them when they died. But they
did nothing to convert souls. And what is the reason of this? They
attached an overweening importance to man-made ritual and ceremonial, and
made less than they ought to have done of the Gospel of the grace of God.
Their principle was to make much of "ceremony," and little of "grace."
Hence they verified the words of Paul, "Ceremonial foods are of no value
to those who eat them."
The very history of our own times bears a striking testimony to the truth
of Paul's assertion. In the last twenty-five years some scores of
clergymen have seceded from the Church of England, and joined the Church
of Rome. They wanted more of what they called Catholic doctrine and
Catholic ceremonial. They honestly acted up to their principles, and
went over to Rome. They were not all weak, and illiterate, and second-
rate, and inferior men; several of them were men of commanding talents,
whose gifts would have won for them a high position in any profession.
Yet what have they gained by the step they have taken? What profit have
they found in leaving "grace" for "ceremonies," in exchanging
Protestantism for Catholicism? Have they attained a higher standard of
holiness? Have they procured for themselves a greater degree of
usefulness? Let one of themselves supply an answer. Mr. Ffoulkes, a
leading man in the party, within the last few years has openly declared
that the preaching of some of his fellow "Perverts" is not so powerful as
it was when they were English Churchmen, and that the highest degree of
holy living he has ever seen is not within the pale of Rome, but in the
quiet parsonages and unpretending family-life of godly English clergymen!
Intentionally or not intentionally, wittingly or unwittingly, meaning it
or not meaning it, nothing can be more striking than the testimony Mr.
Ffoulkes bears to the truth of the Apostle's assertion: "Ceremonial foods
do not profit" even those who make much ado about them. The religious
system which exalts ceremonial and man-made ritual does no real good to
its adherents, compared to the simple old Gospel of the grace of God.
Let us turn now, for a few moments, to the other side of the picture, and
see what "grace" has done. Let us hear how profitable the doctrines of
the Gospel have proved to those who have clung firmly to them, and have
not tried to mend and improve and patch them up by adding, as essentials,
the "foods" of man-made ceremonies.
It was "grace, and not foods," that made Martin Luther do the work that
he did in the world. The key to all his success was his constant
declaration of justification by faith, without the deeds of the law.
This was the truth which enabled him to break the chains of Rome, and let
light into Europe.
It was "grace, and not ceremonial foods," that made our English martyrs,
Latimer and Hooper, exercise so mighty an influence in life, and shine so
brightly in death. They saw clearly, and taught plainly, the true
priesthood of Christ, and salvation only by grace. They honored God's
grace, and God put honor on them.
It was "grace, and not ceremonial foods," that made Romaine and Venn, and
their companions, turn the world upside down in England, one hundred
years ago. In themselves they were not men of extraordinary learning or
intellectual power. But they revived and brought out again the real pure
doctrines of grace.
It was "grace, and not ceremonial foods," that made Simeon and Daniel
Wilson and Bickersteth such striking instruments of usefulness in the
first half of the present century. God's free grace was the great truth
on which they relied, and continually brought forward. For so doing God
put honor on them. They made much of God's grace, and the God of grace
made much of them.
The list of ministerial biographies tells a striking tale. Who are those
who have shaken the world, and left their mark on their generation, and
aroused consciences, and converted sinners, and edified saints? Not
those who have made asceticism, and ceremonials, and sacraments, and
services, and ordinances the main thing; but those who have made most of
God's free grace! In a day of strife, and controversy, and doubt, and
perplexity, men forget this. Facts are stubborn things. Let us look
calmly at them, and be not moved by those who tell us that daily
services, processions, incense, bowings, crossings, confessions,
absolutions, and the like, are the secret of a prosperous Christianity.
Let us look at plain facts. Facts in old history, and facts in modern
days, facts in every part of England, support the assertion of Paul. The
religion of "ceremonial foods" does "not profit those that are occupied
therein." It is the religion of grace that brings inward peace, outward
holiness, and general usefulness.
Let me wind up this paper with a few words of practical application. We
are living in an age of peculiar religious danger. I am quite sure that
the advice I am going to offer deserves serious attention.
(1) In the first place, let us not be surprised at the rise and progress
of false doctrine. It is a thing as old as the old Apostles. It began
before they died. They predicted that there would be plenty of it before
the end of the world. It is wisely ordered of God for the testing of our
grace, and to prove who has real faith. If there were no such thing as
false doctrine or heresy upon earth, I should begin to think the Bible
was not true.
(2) In the next place, let us make up our minds to resist false doctrine,
and not to be carried away by fashion and bad example. Let us not
flinch, because all around us, high and low, rich and poor, are swept
away, like geese in a flood, before a torrent of Catholicism. Let us be
firm and stand our ground.
Let us resist false doctrine, and contend earnestly for the faith once
delivered to the saints. Let us not be ashamed of showing our colors and
standing out for New Testament truth. Let us not be stopped by the
cuckoo cry of "controversy." The thief likes dogs that do not bark, and
watchmen that give no alarm. The devil is a thief and a robber. If we
hold our peace, and do not resist false doctrine, we please him and
(3) In the next place, let us try to preserve the old Protestant
principles of the Church, and to hand them down uninjured to our
children's children. Let us not listen to those faint-hearted Churchmen
who would have us forsake the ship, and desert the Church in her time of
(4) In the last place, let us make sure work of our own personal
salvation. Let us seek to know and feel that we ourselves are "saved."
The day of controversy is always a day of spiritual peril. Men are apt
to confound orthodoxy with conversion, and to fancy that they must go to
heaven if they know how to answer Catholic Priests. Yet mere earnestness
without knowledge, and mere head-knowledge of Protestantism, alike save
none. Let us never forget this.
Let us not rest till we feel the blood of Christ sprinkled on our
consciences, and have the witness of the Spirit within us that we are
born again. This is reality. This is true religion. This will last.
This will never fail us. It is the possession of grace in the heart, and
not the intellectual knowledge of it, that profits and saves the soul.
| 2005/7/21 16:22||Profile|
Santa Clara, CA
| RASA ~ Horatius Bonar|
[b]Religion Without The Holy Ghost[/b]
"They took no oil with them."Matthew 25.3
This parable has many sides and aspects. It is prophetical; it is also practical. It suits all ages, but especially the last days. It suits the world, but specially the church of God; "if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear." It is searching and sifting; it is also quickening and comforting. It suits us well in these days of profession and fashionable religion and religiousness.
It divides the church into two classes,the wise and the foolish wise in God's sight, not man's; foolish in God's sight, not man's. Thus it is not a parable for the heathen, as if they only were foolish; nor for the profligate, as if they only were foolish; nor for the infidels, as if they only were foolish. But for the church. It comes in to the inner circle of Christian profession, and sifts it, divides it. Let it sift us and test us. Better to be weighed and found wanting now than hereafter. Better to be undeceived now than when it is too late. Let us notice,
I. The points of likeness between the two classes. (1.) They get the same name, virgins; (2.) they wear the same dress; (3.) they are on the same errand; (4.) they have both lamps; (5.) they have both vessels; (6.) they both slumber and sleep. They have thus many features in common. Man could not discern the difference, at least for the time. The peril of mere externalism is that which our Lord points out here. No doubt there must be externalism. Religion must have an outside as well as an inside. The lamp must not only have oil, but it must burn: the external must indicate the internal. And we may say that our Lord intimated the necessity of a thorough consistency and completeness in the outward religious life of a man, so that as a fair external is no excuse for internal unsoundness or incompleteness, so a sound internal is no excuse for an inconsistent life. Our Lord, then, here depicts, (1.) a complete externalism; (2.) a beautiful externalism; (3.) a deceptive externalism; (4.) a prolonged externalism; (5.) an unavailing externalism. Up to a certain point in a man's life, or character, or religion, externalism may avail; but beyond that it gives way; it breaks down; it exhibits its unprofitableness. This externalism may not always be hypocrisy, but it is imitation. It is not the flower in its natural color and growth, but painted, artificial. Let us watch against an artificial life, and an artificial religion. What does it profit now? what will it profit in the day of wrath? The name, the dress, the lamp, the outward show, will all go for nothing in that day of universal discovery and detection.
II. The points of unlikeness. Though in most respects they were all alike, yet there was a difference. It was within; it was imperceptible from without; it could only be discovered when the bridegroom came. Up till then all were completely similar. Only then the want came out in the foolish. There was it seen who were wise, and who were foolish. That day is the day of certain and unerring detection. It is the day of weighing in the balances! It is the separation of the false from the true.
The difference was confined to a single point,the lack of oil. Some have supposed that the foolish took oil in their lamps, but not in their vessels. It appears, however, that they did neither. The lamps were not required to be lighted till the bridegroom came; and so the oil was not poured in, nor the wick inserted till then. For it was at midnight that the cry was made, and then all the virgins arose and trimmed their lamps, that is, supplied them with the wick and oil, and lighted them. Then it was that the foolish discovered (1) their need of oil; (2) their lack of it. Then they went to the wise to beg for a supply; then they (being wisely refused) went to buy, and returned too late. There was "oil in the dwelling of the wise " (Proverbs 21:20), but the foolish were without it.
The oil is the Holy Spirit. To oil He is likened throughout all Scripture, though in some places to fire, and to water, and to wind or air. There is the oil of consecration (Exodus 30:25); of daily food (1 Kings 17:12); of fragrance (Esther 2:12); of joy (Psalm 47, Isaiah 61:3); of healing (Luke 10:34); of light (Zechariah 4:12). The Holy Spirit is all these. But it is as the light-giving oil that He is specially spoken of here; and the lack of Him as such makes the difference between the foolish and the wise. "Having not the Spirit" (Jude 19).
Thus a man may be very like a Christian, and yet not be one. He may come very near the kingdom, and yet not enter in. He may have all the outward features of a Christian, and yet be lacking in the main one. He may have the complete dress of the saint, and yet not be one. He may have a good life, a sound creed, a strict profession; he may be one who says and does many things excellent; he may be a subscriber to all the religious societies in the land, a member of all their committees, or a speaker at all their meetings, and supporter of all their plans; he may profess to be looking for Christ's coming, and going forth to meet the bridegroom, yet not necessarily a Christian! He may lack the oil, the Holy Spirit.
A religion without the Holy Ghost profiteth nothing. There is the religion of the intellect, of the sense, of the fancy, of the flesh, of the creed, of the liturgy, of the catechism, of nature, of poetry, of sentiment, of mysticism, of humanity. But what are these without the Spirit? Christianity without Christ, what would that be? Worship without God, what would that be? So religion without the Holy Spirit, what would that be?
Yet is there not much of this among us? Is there not much of dry formalism, lifeless doctrine, sapless routine? I do not call it hypocrisy; I simply call it unreal religion.
And what can unreal religion do for a man? Will it not prove irksome and vain? Will it make him happy and free, or liberal, or zealous, or holy? No. It can do none of these things. It is bondage, and darkness, and weariness.
Yet here is the Holy Spirit in the hands of Christ for you. Go to them that sell, and buy for your selves. Not to men, or churches, or creeds, or ministers, but to Christ. Go to Him. He is exalted to give it; and He will. Apply to Him ere it be too late.
[url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=category&cid=18] Horatius Bonar[/url]
| 2005/7/25 15:23||Profile|
| Re: RASA ~ Horatius Bonar|
Quote:Musical, instructive, incisive, tender. This man loved his flock.
The difference was confined to a single point,[b]the lack of oil[/b].
[u]The oil is the Holy Spirit[/u]. To oil He is likened throughout all Scripture, though in some places to [u]fire[/u], and to [u]water[/u], and to [u]wind or air[/u]. There is the [u]oil of consecration[/u] (Exodus 30:25); of [u]daily food[/u] (1 Kings 17:12); of [u]fragrance[/u] (Esther 2:12); of [u]joy[/u] (Psalm 47, Isaiah 61:3); of [u]healing[/u] (Luke 10:34); of [u]light[/u] (Zechariah 4:12). The Holy Spirit is all these. But it is as the light-giving oil that He is specially spoken of here; and the lack of Him as such makes [b]the difference between the foolish and the wise[/b]. [u]"Having not the Spirit"[/u] (Jude 19).
| 2005/7/27 15:53|
| Re: The oil in this thread.|
About the "oil lamps" and this whole thread.
Lamps wouldn't be needed, unless there was a period of darkness just before the Bridegroom came.
Anyhow, I'm going to download this whole thread, in the event that if I go off line again, or 'something', I'll store it with the rest of the gold I've saved from this site.
It's never over the top, when it's Truth.
'Thanks' for posting these.
Mal 3:16 Then they that feared the LORD spoke often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
| 2005/7/29 18:55|