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 September 2010

Looking forward to the return of our Lord. Look up Rosh Hashanah 2010 for dates and articles. Use discernment.

Jesus fulfilled all of the spring feasts literally during His first Advent. He will fulfill the fall ones during the time of His second advent. The feast of trumpets (Rosh-Hashanah) starts next Thursday at sundown in Israel.

But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

August 2010

William Mason (1719-1791) authored a number of practical, devotional volumes for Christians and was highly respected in England for his legal service as a justice of the peace and later as a magistrate. These next two selections are taken from his daily devotional: A Spiritual Treasury for the Children of God.

Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest to your souls. (Matthew 11:29)
Thus, with tender affection, speaks Jesus our Prophet to the lambs of His flock. He well knows we stand in need of daily instruction from Him. He teaches us in the truth, as we are able to bear it. He knows the weakness of our understandings. He is "touched with a feeling of our infirmities." Therefore, lest our poor hearts should at any time conceive thoughts of Him contrary to His nature and office, He says, "I am meek and lowly in heart." You find you are poor sinners; ignorant of many truths; exercised with many conflicts, trials, and temptations: do not think of Me only as "the High and Lofty One, who inhabiteth eternity," but as dwelling also with humble hearts. Look not on Me as an austere master, a terrible lawgiver, a severe judge, who watches over you for evil, and is ever ready to take all advantages against you. No: I am your condescending, meek, and lowly Saviour; your loving Friend and kind Instructor; therefore come and listen to My words. "Learn of Me."

What sweet encouragement is this! Art thou, O soul, tossed with temptations? Harassed with corruptions? Beset with sinful passions? Do these bring disquiet upon thy mind, distress to thy conscience, and prove a wearisome burden to thy spirits, so that thou dost not enjoy settled ease and rest? Remember thy Saviour's lowly character and kind advice. He hath an ear of grace for thy complaints, a heart of love to pity thee, a powerful arm to relieve thee. With sweet familiarity pour out thy heart to Him. As a bosom friend tell Him of thy sorrows, complaints, and fears. Always bear in mind His kind invitation, the loving meekness and lowliness of His heart, and the blessedness of His promise. He hath spoken it, and will He not bring it to pass? He hath said it, and will He not fulfill it? "Ye shall find rest to your souls;" such sweet tranquillity and inward composure as can be found in no object besides. Could the children of this world persuade us that there is no evil in their vain diversions and carnal delights; still, we know we cannot expect our Lord's presence, nor shall we find rest to our souls in all the delusive scenes of earth. No; but the more rest we find to our souls in Jesus, the more we are delighted with Him; we become dead to all things that are contrary to spiritual peace and joy from Him. "We who have believed do enter into rest;" and yet, we "labor to enter into rest." Hebrews 4:3,11 

 

July 2010

 

The Seed of the Woman, and the Seed of the Serpent Sermon 1

Genesis 3:15 — “And I will put Enmity between thee and the Woman, and between thy Seed and her Seed, it shall bruise thy Head, and thou shalt bruise his Head.”

George Whitefield

On reading to you these words, I may address you in the language of the holy angels to the shepherds, that were watching their flocks by night: “Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy.” For this is the first promise that was made of a Savior to the apostate race of Adam. We generally look for Christ only in the New Testament; but Christianity, in one sense, is very near as old as the creation. It is wonderful to observe how gradually God revealed his Son to mankind. He began with the promise in the text, and this the elect lived upon, till the time of Abraham. To him, God made further discoveries of his eternal council concerning man’s redemption. Afterwards, at sundry times, and in divers manners, God spoke to the fathers by the prophets, till at length the Lord Jesus himself was manifested in flesh, and came and tabernacled amongst us.

This first promise must certainly be but dark to our first parents, in comparison of that great light which we enjoy: And yet, dark as it was, we may assure ourselves they built upon it their hopes of everlasting salvation, and by that faith were saved.

How they came to stand in need of this promise, and what is the extent and meaning of it, I intend, God willing, to make the subject-matter of your present meditation.

The fall of man is written in too legible characters not to be understood: Those that deny it, by their denying, prove it. The very heathens confessed, and bewailed it: They could see the streams of corruption running through the whole race of mankind, but could not trace them to the fountain-head. Before God gave a revelation of his Son, man was a riddle to himself. And Moses unfolds more, in this one chapter (out of which the text is taken) than all mankind could have been capable of finding out of themselves, though they had studied to all eternity.

In the preceding chapter he had given us a full account, how God spoke the world into being; and especially how he formed man of the dust of the earth, and breathed into him the breath of life, so that he became a living soul. A council of the Trinity was called concerning the formation of this lovely creature. The result of that council was, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.” Moses remarkably repeats these words, that we might take particular notice of our divine Original. Never was so much expressed in so few words: None but a man inspired could have done so. But it is remarkable, that though Moses mentions our being made in the image of God, yet he mentions it but twice, and that in a transient manner; as though he would have said, “man was made in honor, God make him upright, ‘in the image of God, male and female created he them.’ But man so soon fell, and became like the beasts that perish, nay, like the devil himself, that it is scarce worth mentioning.”

How soon man fell after he was created, is not told us; and therefore, to fix any time, is to be wise above what is written. And, I think, they who suppose that man fell the same day in which he was made, have no sufficient ground for their opinion. The many things which are crowded together in the former chapter, such as the formation of Adam’s wife, his giving names to the beasts, and his being put into the garden which God had planted, I think require a longer space of time than a day to be transacted in. However, all agree in this, “man stood not long.” How long, or how short a while, I will not take upon me to determine. It more concerns us to inquire, how he came to fall from his steadfastness, and what was the rise and progress of the temptation which prevailed over him. The account given us in this chapter concerning it, is very full; and it may do us much service, under God, to make some remarks upon it.

“Now the serpent (says the sacred historian) was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made, and he said unto the woman, Yes, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”

Though this was a real serpent, yet he that spoke was no other than the devil; from hence, perhaps, called the old serpent, because he took possession of the serpent when he came to beguile our first parents. The devil envied the happiness of man, who was made, as some think, to supply the place of the fallen angels. God made man upright, and with full power to stand if he would: He was just, therefore, in suffering him to be tempted. If he fell, he had no one to blame except himself. But how must Satan effect his fall? He cannot do it by his power, he attempts it therefore by policy: he takes possession of a serpent, which was more subtle than all the beasts of the field, which the Lord God had made; so that men who are full of subtlety, but have no piety, are only machines for the devil to work upon, just as he pleases.

“And he said unto the woman.” Here is an instance of his subtlety. He says unto the woman, the weaker vessel, and when she was alone from her husband, and therefore was more liable to be overcome; “Yes, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” These words are certainly spoken in answer to something which the devil either saw or heard. In all probability, the woman was now near the tree of knowledge of good and evil; (for we shall find her, by and by, plucking an apple from it) perhaps she might be looking at, and wondering what tree was in that tree more than the others, that she and her husband should be forbidden to take of it. Satan seeing this, and coveting to draw her into a parley with him, (for if the devil can persuade us not to resist, but to commune with him, he hath gained a great point) he says, “Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree in the garden?” The first thing he does is to persuade he, if possible to entertain hard thoughts of God; this is his general way of dealing with God’s children: “Yea, hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? What! Hath God planted a garden, and placed you in the midst of it, only to tease and perplex you? Hath he planted a garden, and yet forbid you making use of any of the fruits of it at all?” It was impossible for him to ask a more ensnaring question, in order to gain his end: For Eve was here seemingly obliged to answer, and vindicate God’s goodness. And therefore, —

Verses 2 & 3. The woman said unto the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”

The former part of the answer was good, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, God has not forbid us eating of every tree of the garden. No; we may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden (and, it should seem, even of the tree of life, which was as a sacrament to man in the state of innocence) there is only one tree in the midst of the garden, of which God hath said, ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Here she begins to warp, and sin begins to conceive in her heart. Already she has contracted some of the serpent’s poison, by talking with him, which she ought not to have done at all. For she might easily suppose, that it could be no good being that could put such a question unto her, and insinuate such dishonorable thoughts of God. She should therefore have fled from him, and not stood to have parleyed with him at all. Immediately the ill effects of it appear, she begins to soften the divine threatening. God had said, “the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die;” or, dying thou shalt die. But Eve says, “Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” We may be assured we are fallen into, and begin to fall by temptations, when we begin to think God will not be as good as his word, in respect to the execution of his threatenings denounced against sin. Satan knew this, and therefore artfully “Said unto the woman, (ver. 4) Ye shall not surely die,” in an insinuating manner, “Ye shall not surely die. Surely; God will not be so cruel as to damn you only for eating an apple, it cannot be.” Alas! How many does Satan lead captive at his will, by flattering them, that they shall not surely die; that hell torments will not be eternal; that God is all mercy; that he therefore will not punish a few years sin with an eternity of misery? But Eve found God as good as his word; and so will all they who go on in sin, under a false hope that they shall not surely die.

We may also understand the words spoken positively, and this is agreeable to what follows; You shall not surely die; “It is all a delusion, a mere bugbear, to keep you in a servile subjection.”

For (ver. 5) “God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, then shall your eyes be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”

What child of God can expect to escape slander, when God himself was thus slandered even in paradise? Surely the understanding of Eve must have been, in some measure, blinded, or she would not have suffered the tempter to speak such perverse things. In what odious colors is God here represented! “God doth know, that in the day ye eat thereof, ye shall be as gods,” (equal with God.) So that the grand temptation was, that they should be hereafter under no control, equal, if not superior, to God that made them, knowing good and evil. Eve could not tell what Satan meant by this; but, to be sure, she understood it of some great privilege which they were to enjoy. And thus Satan now points out a way which seems right to sinners, but does not tell them the end of that way is death.

To give strength and force to this temptation, in all probability, Satan, or the serpent, at this time plucked an apple from the tree, and ate it before Eve; by which Eve might be induced to think, that the sagacity and power of speech, which the serpent had above the other beasts, must be owing, in a great measure, to his eating that fruit; and, therefore, if he received so much improvement, she might also expect a like benefit from it. All this, I think, is clear; for, otherwise, I do not see with what propriety it could be said, “When the woman saw that it was good for food.” How could she know it was good for food, unless she had seen the serpent feed upon it?

Satan now begins to get ground space. Lust had conceived in Eve’s heart; shortly it will bring forth sin. Sin being conceived, brings forth death. Verse 6, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband, and he did eat.”

Our senses are the landing ports of our spiritual enemies. How needful is that resolution of holy Job, “I have made a covenant with mine eyes!” When Eve began to gaze on the forbidden fruit with her eyes, she soon began to long after it with her heart. When she saw that it was good for food, and pleasant to the eyes, (here was the lust of the flesh, and lust of the eye) but, above all, a tree to be desired to make one wise, wiser than God would have her be, nay, as wise as God himself; she took of the fruit thereof, and gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat. As soon as ever she sinned herself, she turned tempter to her husband. It is dreadful, when those, who should be help-meets for each other in the great work of their salvation, are only promoters of each other’s damnation: but thus it is. If we ourselves are good, we shall excite others to goodness; if we do evil, we shall entice others to do evil also. There is a close connection between doing and teaching. How needful then is it for us all to take heed that we do not sin any way ourselves, lest we should become factors for the devil, and ensnare, perhaps, our nearest and dearest relatives? “she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.”

Alas! What a complication of crimes was there in this one single act of sin! Here is an utter disbelief of God’s threatening; the utmost ingratitude to their Maker, who had so lately planted this garden, and placed them in it, with such a glorious and comprehensive charter. And, the utmost neglect of their posterity, who they knew were to stand or fall with them. Here was the utmost pride of heart: they wanted to be equal with God. Here’s the utmost contempt put upon his threatening and his law: the devil is credited and obeyed before him, and all this only to satisfy their sensual appetite. Never was a crime of such a complicated nature committed by any here below: Nothing but the devil’s apostasy and rebellion could equal it.

And what are the consequences of their disobedience? Are their eyes opened? Yes, their eyes are opened; but, alas! It is only to see their own nakedness. For we are told (ver. 7) “That the eyes of them both were opened; and they knew that they were naked.” Naked of God, naked of every thing that was holy and good, and destitute of the divine image, which they before enjoyed. They might rightly now be termed Ichabod; for the glory of the Lord departed from them. O how low did these sons of the morning then fall! Out of God, into themselves; from being partakers of the divine nature, into the nature of the devil and the beast. Well, therefore, might they know that they were naked, not only in body, but in soul.

And how do they behave now they are naked? Do they flee to God for pardon? Do they seek to God for a robe to cove their nakedness? No, they were now dead to God, and became earthly, sensual, devilish: therefore, instead of applying to God for mercy, “they sewed or platted fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons, “or things to gird about them. This is a lively representation of all natural man: we see that we are naked: we, in some measure, confess it; but, instead of looking up to God for succor, we patch up a righteousness of our own (as our first parents platted fig-leaves together) hoping to cover our nakedness by that. But our righteousness will not stand the severity of God’s judgment: it will do us no more service than the fig-leaves did Adam and Eve, that is, none at all.

For (ver. 8) “They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the trees of the garden, in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife (notwithstanding their fig-leaves) hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God, among the trees of the garden.”

They heard the voice of the Lord God, or the Word of the Lord God, even the Lord Jesus Christ, who is “the word that was with God, and the word that was God.” They heard him walking in the trees of the garden, in the cool of the day. A season, perhaps, when Adam and Eve used to go, in an especial manner, and offer up an evening sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. The cool of the day. Perhaps the sin was committed early in the morning, or at noon; but God would not come upon them immediately, he staid till the cool of the day. And if we would effectually reprove others, we should not do it when they are warmed with passion, but wait till the cool of the day.

But what an alteration is here! Instead of rejoicing at the voice of their beloved, instead of meeting him with open arms and enlarged hearts, as before, they now hide themselves in the trees of the garden. Alas, what a foolish attempt was this? Surely they must be naked, otherwise how could they think of hiding themselves from God? Whither could they flee from his presence? But, by their fall, they had contracted an enmity against God: they now hated, and were afraid to converse with God their Maker. And is not this our case by nature? Assuredly it is. We labor to cover our nakedness with the fig-leaves of our own righteousness: We hide ourselves from God as long as we can, and will not come, and never should come, did not the Father prevent, draw, and sweetly constrain us by his grace, as he here prevented Adam.

Verse 9. “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Adam, where art thou?”

“The Lord God called unto Adam.” (for otherwise Adam would never have called unto the Lord God) and said, “Adam, where art thou? How is it that thou comest not to pay thy devotions as usual?” Christians, remember the Lord keeps an account when you fail coming to worship. Whenever therefore you are tempted to withhold your attendance, let each of you fancy you heard the Lord calling unto you, and saying, “O man, O woman, where art thou? It may be understood in another and better sense; “Adam, where art thou?” What a condition is thy poor soul in? This is the first thing the Lord asks and convinces a sinner of; when he prevents and calls him effectually by his grace; he also calls him by name; for unless God speaks to us in particular, and we know where we are, how poor, how miserable, how blind, how naked, we shall never value the redemption wrought out for us by the death and obedience of the dear Lord Jesus. “Adam, where art thou?”

Verse 10. “And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid.” See what cowards sin makes us. If we knew no sin, we should know no fear. “Because I was naked, and I hid myself.” Ver. 11, “And he said, who told thee that thou was naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I (thy Maker and Law-giver) commanded thee, that thou shouldest not eat?”

God knew very well that Adam was naked, and that he had eaten of the forbidden fruit, But God would know it from Adam’s own mouth. Thus God knows all our necessities before we ask, but yet insists upon our asking for his grace, and confessing our sins. For, by such acts, we acknowledge our dependence upon God, take shame to ourselves, and thereby give glory to his great name.

Verse 12. “And the man said, the woman which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”

Never was nature more lively delineated. See what pride Adam contracted by the fall! How unwilling he is to lay the blame upon, or take shame to himself. This answer is full of insolence towards God, enmity against his wife, and disingenuity in respect to himself. For herein he tacitly reflects upon God. “The woman that thou gavest to be with me.” As much as to say, if thou hadst not given me that woman, I had not eaten the forbidden fruit. Thus, when men sin, they lay the fault upon their passions; then blame and reflect upon God for giving them those passions. Their language is, “the appetites that thou gavest us, they deceived us; and therefore we sinned against thee.” But, as God, notwithstanding, punished Adam for hearkening to the voice of his wife, so he will punish those who hearken to the dictates of their corrupt inclinations. For God compels no man to sin. Adam might have withstood the solicitations of his wife, if he would. And so, if we look up to God, we should find grace to help in the time of need. The devil and our own hearts tempt, but they cannot force us to consent, without the concurrence of our own wills. So that our damnation is of ourselves, as it will evidently appear at the great day, notwithstanding all men’s present impudent replies against God. As Adam speaks insolently in respect to God, so he speaks with enmity against his wife; the woman, or this woman, she gave me. He lays all the fault upon her, and speaks of her with much contempt. He does not say, my wife, my dear wife; but, this woman. Sin disunites the most united hearts: It is, the bane of holy fellowship. Those who have been companions in sin here, if they die without repentance, will both hate and condemn one another hereafter. All damned souls are accusers of their brethren. Thus it is, in some degree, on this side of the grave. “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” What a disingenuous [deceitful] speech was here! He makes use of no less than fifteen words to excuse himself, and but one or two (in the original) to confess his fault, if it may be called a confession at all. “The woman which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree;” here are fifteen words; “and I did eat.” With what reluctance do these last words come out? How soon are they uttered are they uttered? “And I did eat.” But thus it is with an unhumbled, unregenerate heart; It will be laying the fault upon the dearest friend in the world, nay, upon God himself, rather than take shame to itself. This pride we are all subject to by the fall; and, till our hearts are broken, and made contrite by the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ, we shall be always charging God foolishly. “Against thee, and thee only, have I sinned, that thou mightest be justified in thy saying, and clear when thou art judged,” is the language of none but those, who, like David, are willing to confess their faults, and are truly sorry for their sins. This was not the case of Adam; his heart was not broken; and therefore he lays the fault of his disobedience upon his wife and God, and not upon himself; “The woman which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”

Verse 13. “And the Lord God said, What is this that thou hast done?” What a wonderful concern does God express in this expostulation! “What a deluge of misery hast thou brought upon thyself, thy husband, and thy posterity? What is this that thou has done? Disobeyed thy God, obeyed the devil, and ruined thy husband, for whom I made thee to be an help-meet! What is this that thou hast done?” God would here awaken her to a sense of her crime and danger, and therefore, as it were, thunders in her ears: for the law must be preached to self-righteous sinners. We must take care of healing before we see sinners wounded, lest we should say, Peace, peace, where there is no peace. Secure sinners must hear the thunderings of mount Sinai, before we bring them to mount Zion. They who never preach up the law, it is to be feared, are unskillful in delivering the glad tidings of the gospel. Every minister should be a Boanerges, a son of thunder, as well as a Barnabus, a son of consolation. There was an earthquake and a whirlwind, before the small still voice came to Elijah: We must first show people they are condemned, and then show them how they must be saved. But how and when to preach the law, and when to apply the promises of the gospel, wisdom is profitable to direct. “And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou has done?”

“And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” She does not make use of so many words to excuse herself, as her husband; but her heart is as unhumbled as his. What is this, says God, that thou hast done? God here charges her with doing it. She dares not deny the fact, or say, I have not done it; but she takes all the blame off herself, and lays it upon the serpent; “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” She does not say, “Lord, I was to blame for talking with the serpent; Lord, I did wrong, in not hastening to my husband, when he put the first question to me; Lord, I plead guilty, I only am to blame, O let not my poor husband suffer for my wickedness!” This would have been the language of her heart had she now been a true penitent. But both were now alike proud; therefore neither will lay the blame upon themselves; “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat. The woman which thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”

I have been the more particular in remarking this part of their behavior, because it tends so much to the magnifying of Free-grace, and plainly shows us, that salvation cometh only from the Lord. Let us take a short view of the miserable circumstances our first parents were now in: They were legally and spiritually dead, children of wrath, and heirs of hell. They had eaten the fruit, of which God had commanded them, that they should not eat; and when arraigned before God, notwithstanding their crime was so complicated, they could not be brought to confess it. What reason can be given, why sentence of death should not be pronounced against the prisoners at the bar? All must own they are worthy to die. Nay, how can God, consistently with his justice, possibly forgive them? He had threatened, that they day wherein they eat of the forbidden fruit, they should “surely die;” and, if he did not execute this threatening, the devil might then slander the Almighty indeed. And yet mercy cries, spare these sinners, spare the work of thine own hands. Behold, then, wisdom contrives a scheme how God may be just, and yet be merciful; be faithful to his threatening, punish the offense, and at the same time spare the offender. An amazing scene of divine love here opens to our view, which had been from all eternity hid in the heart of God! Notwithstanding Adam and Eve were thus unhumbled, and did not so much as put up on single petition for pardon, God immediately passes sentence upon the serpent, and reveals to them a Savior.

Verse 14. “And the Lord God said unto the serpent, because thou hast done this, thou art accursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life;” i.e. he should be in subjection, and his power should always be limited and restrained. “His enemies shall lick the very dust,” says the Psalmist. (Verse 15.) “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Before I proceed to the explanation of this verse, I cannot but take notice of one great mistake which the author of "The Whole Duty of Man" is guilty of, in making this verse contain a covenant between God and Adam, as though God now personally treated with Adam, as before the fall. For, talking of the second covenant in his preface, concerning caring for the soul, says he, “This second covenant was made with Adam, and us in him, presently after the fall, and is briefly contained in these words, Gen. 3:15 where God declares, ‘The seed of the woman shall break the serpent’s head; and this was made up, as the first was, of some mercies to be afforded by God, and some duties to be performed by us.” This is exceeding false divinity: for those words are not spoken to Adam; they are directed only to the serpent. Adam and Eve stood by as criminals, and God could not treat with them, because they had broken his covenant. And it is so far from being a covenant wherein “some mercies are to be afforded by God, and some duties to be performed by us,” that here is not a word looking that way; it is only a declaration of a free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. God the Father and God the Son had entered into a covenant concerning the salvation of the elect from all eternity, wherein God the Father promised, That, if the Son would offer his soul a sacrifice for sin, he should see his seed. Now this is an open revelation of this secret covenant, and therefore God speaks in the most positive terms, “It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heal.” The first Adam, God had treated with before; he proved false: God therefore, to secure the second covenant from being broken, puts it into the hands of the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. Adam, after the fall, stood no longer as our representative; he and Eve were only private persons, as we are, and were only to lay hold on the declaration of mercy contained in this promise by faith, (as they really did) and by that they were saved. I do not say but we are to believe and obey, if we are everlastingly saved. Faith and obedience are conditions, if we only mean that they in order go before our salvation, but I deny that these are proposed by God to Adam, or that God treats with him in this promise, as he did before the fall under the covenant of works. For how could that be, when Adam and Eve were now prisoners at the bar, without strength to perform any conditions at all? The truth is this: God, as a reward of Christ’s sufferings, promised to give the elect faith and repentance, in order to bring them to eternal life; and both these, and every thing else necessary for their everlasting happiness, and infallibly secured to them in this promise; as Mr. Rastan, an excellent Scots divine, clearly shows, in a book entitled, “A View of the Covenant of Grace.”

This is by no means an unnecessary distinction; it is a matter of great importance: for want of knowing this, people have been so long misled, They have been taught that they must do so and so, and though they were under a covenant of works, and then for doing this, they should be saved. Whereas, on the contrary, people should be taught, That the Lord Jesus was the second Adam, with whom the Father entered into covenant for fallen man; That they can now do nothing of or for themselves, and should therefore come to God, beseeching him to give them faith, by which they shall be enabled to lay hold on the righteousness of Christ; and that faith they will then show forth by their works, out of love and gratitude to the ever blessed Jesus, their most glorious Redeemer, for what he has done for their souls. This is a consistent scriptural scheme; without holding this, we must run into one of those two bad extremes; I mean Antinomianism on the one hand, or Arminianism on the other: from both which may the good Lord deliver us!

But to proceed: By the seed of the woman, we are here to understand the Lord Jesus Christ, who, though very God of very God, was, for us men and our salvation, to have a body prepared for him by the Holy Ghost, and to be born of a woman who never knew man, and by his obedience and death make an atonement for man’s transgression, and bring in an everlasting righteousness, work in them a new nature, and thereby bruise the serpent’s head, i.e. destroy his power and dominion over them. By the serpent’s seed, we are to understand the devil and all his children, who are permitted by God to tempt and sift his children. But, blessed be God, he can reach no further than our heel.

It is to be doubted but Adam and Eve understood this promise in this sense; for it is plain, in the latter part of the chapter, sacrifices were instituted. From whence should those skins come, but from beasts slain for sacrifice, of which God made them coats? We find Abel, as well as Cain, offering sacrifice in the next chapter: and the Apostle tells us, he did it by faith, no doubt in this promise. And Eve, when Cain was born, said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord,” or, (as Mr. Henry observes, it may be rendered) “I have gotten a man, — the Lord, — the promised Messiah.” Some further suppose, that Eve was the first believer; and therefore they translate it thus, “The seed, (not of the, but) of this woman:” which magnifies the grace of God so much the more, that she, who was first in the transgression, should be the first partaker of redemption. Adam believed also, and was saved: for unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them: which was a remarkable type of their being clothed with the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.

This promise was literally fulfilled in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Satan bruised his heel, when he tempted him for forty days together in the wilderness: he bruised his heel, when he raised up strong persecution against him during the time of his public ministry: he in an especial manner bruised his heel, when our Lord complained, that his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, and he sweat great drops of blood falling upon the ground, in the garden; He bruised his heel, when he put it into the heart of Judas to betray him: ad he bruised him yet most of all, when his emissaries nailed him to an accursed tree, and our Lord cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Yet, in all this, the blessed Jesus, the seed of the woman, bruised Satan’s accursed head; for, in that he was tempted, he was able to succor those that are tempted. By his stripes we are healed. The chastisement of our peace was upon him. By dying, he destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. He thereby spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them upon the cross.

This promise has been fulfilled in the elect of God, considered collectively, as well before, as since the coming of our Lord in the flesh: for they may be called, the seed of the woman. Marvel not, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus, must suffer persecution. In this promise, there is an eternal enmity put between the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent; so that those that are born after the flesh, cannot but persecute those that are born after the spirit. This enmity showed itself, soon after this promise was revealed, in Cain’s bruising the heel of Abel: it continued in the church through all ages before Christ came in the flesh, as the history of the Bible, and the 11th chapter of the Hebrews, plainly show. It raged exceedingly after our Lord’s ascension; witness the Acts of the Apostles, and the History of the Primitive Christians. It now rages, and will continue to rage and show itself, in a greater or less degree, to the end of time. But let not this dismay us; for in all this, the seed of the woman is more than conqueror, and bruises the serpent’s head. Thus the Israelites, the more they were oppressed, the more they increased. Thus it was with the Apostles; thus it was with their immediate followers. So that Tertullian compares the church in his time to a mowed field; the more frequently it is cut, the more it grows. The blood of the martyrs was always the seed of the church. And I have often sat down with wonder and delight, and admired how God has made the very schemes which his enemies contrived, in order to hinder, become the most effectual means to propagate his gospel. The devil has had so little success in persecution, that if I did not know that he and his children, according to this verse, could not but persecute, I should think he would count it his strength to sit still. What did he get by persecuting the martyrs in Queen Mary’s time? Was not the grace of God exceedingly glorified in their support? What did he get by persecuting the good old Puritans? Did it not prove the peopling of New England? Or, to come nearer our own times, what has he got by putting us out of the synagogues? Hath not the word of God, since that, mightily prevailed? My dear hearers, you must excuse me for enlarging on this head; God fills my soul generally, when I come to this topic. I can say with Luther, “If it were not for persecution, I should not understand the scripture.” If Satan should be yet suffered to bruise my heel further, and his servants should thrust me into prison, I doubt not, but even that would only tend to the more effectual bruising of his head. I remember a saying the then Lord Chancellor to the pious Bradford: “Thou hast done more hurt, said he, by thy exhortations in private in prison, than thou didst in preaching before thou was put in,” or words to this effect. The promise of the text is my daily support: “I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

Further: this promise is also fulfilled, not only in the church in general, but in every individual believer in particular. In every believer there are two seeds, the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent; the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. It is with the believer, when quickened with grace in his heart, as it was with Rebekah, when she had conceived Esau and Jacob in her womb; she felt a struggling, and began to be uneasy; “If it be so says she, why am I thus?” (Gen. 25:22) Thus grace and nature struggle (if I may so speak) in the womb of a believers heart: but, as it was there said, “The elder shall serve the younger;” so it is here, — grace in the end shall get the better of nature; the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. Many of you that have believed in Christ, perhaps may find some particular corruption yet strong, so strong, that you are sometimes ready to cry out with David, “I shall fall one day by the hand of Saul.” But, fear not, the promise in the text insures the perseverance and victory of believers over sin, Satan, death, and hell. What if indwelling corruption does yet remain, and the seed of the serpent bruise your heel, in vexing and disturbing your righteous souls? Fear not, though faint, yet pursue: you shall yet bruise the serpent’s head. Christ hath died for you, and yet a little while, and he will send death to destroy the very being of sin in you. Which brings me

To show the most extensive manner in which the promise of the text shall be fulfilled, vis. at the final judgment, when the Lord Jesus shall present the elect to his Father, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, glorified both in body and soul.

Then shall the seed of the woman give the last and fatal blow, in bruising the serpent’s head. Satan, the accuser of the brethren, and all his accursed seed, shall then be cast out, and never suffered to disturb the seed of the woman any more. Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, and sit with Christ on thrones in majesty on high.

Let us, therefore, not be weary of well-doing; for we shall reap an eternal harvest of comfort, if we faint not. Dare, dare, my dear brethren in Christ, to follow the Captain of your salvation, who was made perfect through sufferings. The seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. Fear not men. Be not too much cast down at the deceitfulness of your hearts. Fear not devils; you shall get the victory even over them. The Lord Jesus has engaged to make you more than conquerors over all. Plead with you Savior, plead: plead the promise in the tent. Wrestle, wrestle with God in prayer. If it has been given you to believe, fear not if it should also be given you to suffer. Be not any wise terrified by your adversaries; the king of the church has them all in a chain: be kind to them, pray for them; but fear them not. The Lord will yet bring back his ark; though at present driven into the wilderness; and Satan like lightening shall fall from heaven.

Are there any enemies of God here? The promise of the text encourages me to bid you defiance: the seed of the woman, the ever-blessed Jesus, shall bruise the serpent’s head. What signifies all your malice? You are only raging waves of the sea, foaming out your own shame. For you, without repentance, is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. The Lord Jesus sits in heaven, ruling over all, and causing all things to work for his children’s good: he laughs you to scorn: he hath you in the utmost derision, and therefore so will I. Who are you that persecute the children of the ever blessed God? Though a poor stripling, the Lord Jesus, the seed of the woman, will enable me to bruise your heads.

My brethren in Christ, I think I do not speak thus in my own strength, but in the strength of my Redeemer. I know in whom I have believed; I am persuaded he will keep that safe, which I have committed unto him. He is faithful who hath promised, that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head. May we all experience a daily completion of this promise, both in the church and in our hearts, till we come to the church of the first-born, the spirits of just men made perfect, in the presence and actual fruition of the great God our heavenly Father!

To whom, with the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be ascribed all honor, power, might, majesty, and dominion, now and for evermore. Amen.

June 2010

However much this may be disputed, as it frequently is, you must first deny the authenticity and full inspiration of the Holy Scripture before you can legitimately and truly deny it. 123.130

I believe the man who is not willing to submit to the electing love and sovereign grace of God, has great reason to question whether he is a Christian at all, for the spirit that kicks against that is the spirit of the devil, and the spirit of the unhumbled, unrenewed heart. 277.424

Answer me, ye that deny God’s sovereignty, and hate His election—how is it that angels are condemned to everlasting fire, while to you, the children of Adam, the gospel of Christ is freely preached? The only answer that can possibly be given is this: God wills to do it. 303.134

Our Arminian antagonists always leave the fallen angels out of the question: for it is not convenient to them to recollect this ancient instance of Election. They call it unjust, that God should choose one man and not another. By what reasoning can this be unjust when they will admit that it was righteous enough in God to choose one race—the race of men, and leave another race—the race of angels, to be sunk into misery on account of sin. 303.134

To this day, men cannot bear that doctrine. Free will suits them very well, but free grace does not. They would not let Christ choose His own wife; I say it with the utmost reverence. 2755.567

Here again, our opponents have tried to overthrow election by telling us that it is an election of nations, and not of people. But here the Apostle says, “God hath from the beginning chosen you.” It is the most miserable shift on earth to make out that God hath not chosen persons but nations, because the very same objection that lies against the choice of persons, lies against the choice of a nation. If it were not just to choose a person, it would be far more unjust to choose a nation, since nations are but the union of multitudes of persons, and to choose a nation seems to be a more gigantic crime—if election be a crime—than to choose one person. Surely to choose ten thousand would be reckoned to be worse than choosing one; to distinguish a whole nation from the rest of mankind, does seem to be a greater extravaganza in the acts of divine sovereignty than the election of one poor mortal and leaving out another. 41, 42.318

 

May 2010

“In the world you shall have tribulation.”

John 16:33

Art thou asking the reason of this, believer? Look upward to thy heavenly Father, and behold him pure and holy. Dost thou know that thou art one day to be like him? Wilt thou easily be conformed to his image? Wilt thou not require much refining in the furnace of affliction to purify thee? Will it be an easy thing to get rid of thy corruptions, and make thee perfect even as thy Father which is in heaven is perfect? Next, Christian, turn thine eye downward. Dost thou know what foes thou hast beneath thy feet? Thou wast once a servant of Satan, and no king will willingly lose his subjects. Dost thou think that Satan will let thee alone? No, he will be always at thee, for he “goeth about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Expect trouble, therefore, Christian, when thou lookest beneath thee. Then look around thee. Where art thou? Thou art in an enemy’s country, a stranger and a sojourner. The world is not thy friend. If it be, then thou art not God’s friend, for he who is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Be assured that thou shalt find foe-men everywhere. When thou sleepest, think that thou art resting on the battlefield; when thou walkest, suspect an ambush in every hedge. As mosquitoes are said to bite strangers more than natives, so will the trials of earth be sharpest to you. Lastly, look within thee, into thine own heart and observe what is there. Sin and self are still within. Ah! if thou hadst no devil to tempt thee, no enemies to fight thee, and no world to ensnare thee, thou wouldst still find in thyself evil enough to be a sore trouble to thee, for “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Expect trouble then, but despond not on account of it, for God is with thee to help and to strengthen thee. He hath said, “I will be with thee in trouble; I will deliver thee and honour thee.”

Charles Spurgeon

April 2010

 

“Fight the Lord’s battles.”

— 1 Samuel 18:17

The sacramental host of God’s elect is warring still on earth, Jesus Christ being the Captain of their salvation. He has said, “Lo! I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Hark to the shouts of war! Now let the people of God stand fast in their ranks, and let no man’s heart fail him. It is true that just now in England the battle is turned against us, and unless the Lord Jesus shall lift His sword, we know not what may become of the church of God in this land; but let us be of good courage, and play the man. There never was a day when Protestantism seemed to tremble more in the scales than now that a fierce effort is making to restore the Romish antichrist to his ancient seat. We greatly want a bold voice and a strong hand to preach and publish the old gospel for which martyrs bled and confessors died. The Savior is, by His Spirit, still on earth; let this cheer us. He is ever in the midst of the fight, and therefore the battle is not doubtful. And as the conflict rages, what a sweet satisfaction it is to know that the Lord Jesus, in His office as our great Intercessor, is prevalently pleading for His people! O anxious gazer, look not so much at the battle below, for there thou shalt be enshrouded in smoke, and amazed with garments rolled in blood; but lift thine eyes yonder where the Savior lives and pleads, for while He intercedes, the cause of God is safe. Let us fight as if it all depended upon us, but let us look up and know that all depends upon Him.

Now, by the lilies of Christian purity, and by the roses of the Savior's atonement, by the roes and by the hinds of the field, we charge you who are lovers of Jesus, to do valiantly in the Holy War, for truth and righteousness, for the kingdom and crown jewels of your Master. Onward! “for the battle is not yours but God’s.”  - Charles Haddon Spurgeon

 

March 2010

 

Joy for the Cast Out

 

“Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at His word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for My Name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but He shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.”—Isaiah 66:5

POSSIBLY this text may not apply to one in a thousand of the readers of this little book of promises, but the Lord cheers that one in such words as these. Let us pray for all such as are cast out wrongfully from the society which they love. May the Lord appear to their joy!

The text applies to truly gracious men who tremble at the word of the Lord. These were hated of their brethren and at length cast out because of their fidelity and their holiness. This must have been very bitter to them, and all the more so because their casting out was done in the name of religion and professedly with the view of glorifying God. How much is done for the devil in the name of God! The use of the name of Jehovah to add venom to the bite of the old serpent is an instance of his subtlety.
The appearing of the Lord for them is the hope of His persecuted people. He appears as the advocate and defender of His elect; and when He does so, it means a clear deliverance for the God-fearing and shame for their oppressors. O Lord, fulfill this word to those whom men are deriding!

Charles Spurgeon

 

FEBRUARY 2010

 

Ephesians 6 - "Always Praying"

 

What multitudes of prayers we have put up from the first moment when we learned to pray. Our first prayer was a prayer for ourselves; we asked that God would have mercy upon us, and blot out our sin. He heard us. But when He had blotted out our sins like a cloud, then we had more prayers for ourselves. We have had to pray for sanctifying grace, for constraining and restraining grace; we have been led to crave for a fresh assurance of faith, for the comfortable application of the promise, for deliverance in the hour of temptation, for help in the time of duty, and for succour in the day of trial. We have been compelled to go to God for our souls, as constant beggars asking for everything. Bear witness, children of God, you have never been able to get anything for your souls elsewhere. All the bread your soul has eaten has come down from heaven, and all the water of which it has drank has flowed from the living rock—Christ Jesus the Lord. Your soul has never grown rich in itself; it has always been a pensioner upon the daily bounty of God; and hence your prayers have ascended to heaven for a range of spiritual mercies all but infinite. Your wants were innumerable, and therefore the supplies have been infinitely great, and your prayers have been as varied as the mercies have been countless. Then have you not cause to say, "I love the Lord, because He hath heard the voice of my supplication"? For as your prayers have been many, so also have been God’s answers to them. He has heard you in the day of trouble, has strengthened you, and helped you, even when you dishonored him by trembling and doubting at the mercy-seat. Remember this, and let it fill your heart with gratitude to God, who has thus graciously heard your poor weak prayers. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.

 

Charles Spurgeon

January 2010

I will strengthen thee.”—Isaiah 41:10

WHEN called to serve or to suffer, we take stock of our strength, and we find it to be less than we thought, and less than we need. But let not our heart sink within us while we have such a word as this to fall back upon, for it guarantees us all that we can possibly need. God has strength omnipotent; that strength He can communicate to us, and His promise is that He will do so. He will be the food of our souls and the health of our hearts; thus, He will give us strength. There is no telling how much power God can put into a man. When divine strength comes, human weakness is no more a hindrance.

Do we not remember seasons of labor and trial in which we received such special strength that we wondered at ourselves? In the midst of danger, we were calm; under bereavement, we were resigned; in slander, we were self-contained; and in sickness, we were patient. The fact is that God gives unexpected strength when unusual trials come upon us. We rise out of our feeble selves. Cowards play the man, foolish ones have wisdom given them, and the silent receive in the self-same hour what they shall speak. My own weakness makes me shrink, but God’s promise makes me brave. Lord, strengthen me “according to Thy word.”

Help from Without

“Yea, I will help thee.”—Isaiah 41:10

YESTERDAY’S promise secured us strength for what we have to do, but this guarantees us aid in cases where we cannot act alone. The Lord says, “I will help thee.” Strength within is supplemented by help without. God can raise us up allies in our warfare if so it seems good in His sight; and even if He does not send us human assistance, He himself will be at our side, and this is better still. “Our August Ally” is better than legions of mortal helpers.

His help is timely: He is a very present help in time of trouble. His help is very wise: He knows how to give each man help meet and fit for him. His help is most effectual though vain is the help of man. His help is more than help, for he bears all the burden and supplies all the need. “The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man can do unto me.

Because He has already been our help, we feel confidence in Him for the present and the future. Our prayer is, “Lord be thou my helper”; our experience is, “The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities”; our expectation is, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, whence cometh my help”; and our song soon will be, “Thou, Lord, hast holpen me.”

Charles Spurgeon

"Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high has visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace." Luke 1:78-79

Luke 1:78-79

There is a way of peace, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ. For he is "our peace," and "the way," and therefore the way of peace. He has made peace through the blood of his cross (Col. 1:20), having slain the enmity thereby, and came and preached peace to those who were afar off, "sitting in darkness and the shadow of death," and to those who were near (Eph. 2:16, 17). The dayspring, then, breaking in upon the soul, shines upon the way of peace, and guides the feet into it. The light shines upon the way lined with blood, the way of salvation through the finished work, atoning blood, and meritorious sufferings of the Son of God. As, then, the light shines upon the way, and it is seen as a way of peace, a way of pardon and reconciliation, a way of access and acceptance, a way of grace and glory, a way of life and happiness, the feet of faith move towards it, enter upon it, and walk in it.

This is a peace that passes all understanding, a peace which the world cannot give or take away, a holy calm, a gracious subduing of all rebellion; and that power which once said to the boiling waves and howling winds that chafed their whitened crests into a succession of billows, "Peace, be still!" does it all. How great the change! Instead of war with God, to be at peace; to see by the eye of faith that the whole way from earth to heaven, as revealed in the Person and work of the Son of God, is peace from first to last, and that as long as the feet are moving in that path they are walking in a way of peace here and hereafter. O to know, feel, and enjoy more of this peace, the peace of which Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you!"

The only peace is peace in believing, peace through atoning blood, peace by walking in sweet communion with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Nor are we left ignorant how it is to be attained and maintained--"Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6, 7).

December 2009

True Walking Posture

"He that walketh uprightly walketh surely."—Proverbs 10:9

HIS walk may be slow, but it is sure. He that hasteth to be rich shall not be innocent nor sure; but steady perseverance in integrity, if it does not bring riches, will certainly bring peace. In doing that which is just and right, we are like one walking upon a rock, for we have confidence that every step we take is upon solid and safe ground. On the other hand, the utmost success through questionable transactions must always be hollow and treacherous, and the man who has gained it must always be afraid that a day of reckoning will come, and then his gains will condemn him.

Let us stick to truth and righteousness. By God’s grace, let us imitate our Lord and Master, in whose mouth no deceit was ever found. Let us not be afraid of being poor, nor of being treated with contempt. Never, on any account whatever, let us do that which our conscience cannot left. If we lose inward peace, we lose more than a fortune can buy. If we keep in the Lord’s own way, and never sin against our conscience, our way is sure against all comers. Who is he that can harm us if we be followers of that which is good? We may be thought fools by fools if we are firm in our integrity; but in the place where judgment is infallible, we shall be approved.

November 2009

Robert Hawker
(1753-1827)


"For thou wilt light my candle."–Ps. xviii. 28.

Precious consideration!  It is the Lord that lighteth the candle of His people.  And if the Lord light it, what power can put it out?  Cherish, my soul, the faith this thought awakens, amidst all the darkness around thee and in thee.  Hath the Lord, indeed, given thee light?  Dost thou in His light see light?  In the light of God the Father, dost thou behold God the Son, and, by the enlightening of the Holy Ghost, hast thou the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ?  Oh the blessedness of such a state of light, and life, and knowledge; how is it possible then any more to be in darkness, when the Lord Himself is my everlasting light, and my God my glory?  Now consider the reverse of this in creature-enlightening.  "How oft," saith Job, "is the candle of the wicked put out!"  And how exposed it is to be every moment put out; for it is not of God's kindling.  A fleeting of its own oil will do it.  What is called a thief in the candle will do it.  It may be blown out; it may be snuffed out; or if none of these causes occur, yet of itself it must shortly burn out.  "For what is our life but a vapour?"  My soul, ponder these things. Hath the Lord–lighted thy candle?  Is Jesus thy light, thy life, thy joy, thy sunshine, thy morning star, thy all in all?  And hath He risen upon thee, never more to go down?  Oh then, though all thou knowest, all thou beholdest now, is but as the faint taper of the night, compared to the glory of that day which shall be revealed, yet take to thyself by faith all the sweet comforts of thy state of grace, and say, it is the Lord that hath lighted my candle. The Lord my God will enlighten all remaining darkness: I shall see Thy face in glory, and shortly awake up after Thy likeness.

From THE POOR MAN'S MORNING AND EVENING PORTIONS

October 2009

A Covenant He Remembers

“He hath given meat to them that fear Him: He will ever be mindful of His covenant.”—Psalm 111:5

THOSE who fear God need not fear want.  Through all these long years the Lord has always found meat for His own children, whether they have been in the wilderness, or by the brook Cherith, or in captivity, or in the midst of famine.  Hitherto the Lord has given us day by day our daily bread, and we doubt not that He will continue to feed us till we want no more.

As to the higher and greater blessings of the covenant of grace, He will never cease to supply them as our case demands.  He is mindful that He made the covenant, and never acts as if He re-gretted it.  He is mindful of it when we provoke Him to destroy us.  He is mindful to love us, keep us, and comfort us, even as He engaged to do.  He is mindful of every jot and tittle of His engagements, never suffering one of His words to fall to the ground.

We are sadly unmindful of our God, but He is graciously mindful of us.  He cannot forget His Son who is the Surety of the Covenant, nor His Holy Spirit who actively carries out the covenant, nor His own honor which is bound up with the covenant.  Hence the foundation of God standeth sure, and no believer shall lose his divine inheritance, which is his by a covenant of salt.

 Charles Spurgeon

James 1:18

Of His own will He brought us forth 

The apostle instances in one of those good and perfect gifts, regeneration; and he pitches upon a very proper and pertinent one, since this is the first gift of grace God bestows upon his people openly, and in their own persons; and is what involves other gifts, and prepares and makes meet for the gift of eternal life; and therefore may well be reckoned a “good” one, and it is also a “perfect one”; it is done at once; there are no degrees in it, as in sanctification; a man is born again, at once, and is born a perfect new man in all his parts; no one is more regenerated than another, or the same person more regenerated at one time than at another: and this comes from above; it is called a being born from above, in John 1:3 "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. " as the words there may be rendered; and it comes from God the Father, even the Father of our Lord Jesus, as well as of all lights, 1 Peter 1:3 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," and who in it produces light, in darkness, and whose gifts of grace bestowed along with it are without repentance. And since this comes from him, he cannot be the author of evil, or tempt unto it. This is a settled and certain point, that all the good that is in men, and is done by them, comes from God; and all the evil that is in them, and done by them, is of themselves. This act of begetting here ascribed to God, is what is elsewhere called a begetting again, that is, regeneration; it is an implantation of new principles of light and life, grace and holiness, in men; a quickening of them, when dead in trespasses and sins; a forming of Christ in their souls; and a making them partakers of the divine nature; and this is God's act, and not man's. Earthly parents cannot beget in this sense; nor ministers of the word, not causally, but only instrumentally, as they are instruments and means, which God makes use of; neither the ministry of the word, nor the ordinance of baptism, can of themselves regenerate any; nor can a man beget himself, as not in nature, so not in grace: the nature of the thing shows it, and the impotent case of men proves it: this is God's act, and his only; see John 1:13 "who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." and the impulsive or moving cause of it is his own will. God does not regenerate, or beget men by necessity of nature, but of his own free choice; Christ, the Son of God, is begotten of him by necessity of nature, and not as the effect of his will; he is the brightness of his glory necessarily, as the beams and rays of light are necessarily emitted by the sun; but so it is not in regeneration: nor does God regenerate men through any consideration of their will, works, and merits: nor have these any influence at all upon it; but he begets of his own free grace and favor, and of his rich and abundant mercy, and of his sovereign will and pleasure, according to his counsels and purposes of old. And the means he makes use of, or with which he does it, is by the word of truth

 

Not Christ, who is the Word, and truth itself; though regeneration is sometimes ascribed to him; and this act of begetting is done by the Father, through the resurrection of Christ from the dead; but the Gospel, which is the word of truth, and truth itself, and contains nothing but truth; and by this souls are begotten and born again; see Ephesians 1:13 "In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise," and hence ministers of it are accounted spiritual fathers. Faith, and every other grace in regeneration, and even the Spirit himself, the Regenerator, come this way: and the end is, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

 

Either of his new creatures, and so it has respect to such, as James, and others; who received the firstfruits of the Spirit, who first hoped and trusted in Christ, and were openly in him, and converted to him before others; or of his creatures, of mankind in general, who, with the Jews, are usually called creatures; See Gill on “Mark 16:15”, and designs those who are redeemed from among men, and are the firstfruits to God, and to the Lamb, as their regeneration makes appear: and this shows that such as are begotten again, or regenerated, are separated and distinguished from others, as the firstfruits be; and that they are preferred unto, and are more excellent than the rest of mankind, being made so by the grace of God; and that they are by regenerating grace devoted to the service of God, and are formed for his praise and glory.

 

 

John Gill

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