Precious Jesus

"Afresh, precious, precious Jesus, I resign this body to You, for doing or suffering, for living or dying. Will You accept it? Will You use me for Your glory more than heretofore, that You may have some little return for all the benefits You have done to me? Oh, do grant this request; my heart longs for it, my spirit pleads for it; and "if You will, You can." You know the hot temptation of which I am the subject. Bring Your glory out of it, and keep me from the evil, and it shall be well." - Ruth Bryan

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

'self' dies!

Winslow "The Nature and Source of Spiritual Life" 

Self is the first citadel of the soul against
which Grace directs its battery.

Self righteousness, Self trust, Self glorifying,
must yield to the humbling, emptying power
of the Spirit.

Self must be mortally wounded before Christ
lives in us. The two sovereigns cannot reign at
the same time and upon the same throne.

Self righteousness, Self glorifying, Self seeking,
must fall when Christ enters triumphantly to
set up His kingdom, to erect His throne, and to
subjugate all the powers and faculties of the
soul to His own holy and gracious supremacy.

Oh what vigilance it demands, lest this wretched
Self in us obtain a partial, or even a momentary,
ascendancy!

The two principles; Self and Grace, are in deadly
antagonism the one to the other in the regenerate.

In proportion as Christ lives in us, Self dies!

only acknowledge your guilt

(Octavius Winslow, "The Lord's Prayer" 1866)

"Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you
rebelled against the Lord your God and committed
adultery against Him by worshiping idols under
every green tree. Confess that you refused to
follow Me. I, the Lord, have spoken!" Jer. 3:13

God has laid great stress in His word upon the
confession of sin. How touching His language
addressed to His backsliding people, whose
backslidings were of a most aggravated character;
than which none could have been of deeper guilt,
seeing that they had committed the sin of idolatry!

"Only acknowledge your guilt." This was all that
He required at their hands. "Only acknowledge."

Poor penitent soul, bending in tears and self
reproaches over this page, read these words again
and again, and yet again, until they have scattered
all your dark, repelling thoughts of this sin forgiving
God, winning you to His feet as His restored and
comforted child, "only acknowledge your guilt."

"What! Lord! after all that I have done, after . . .
  my base returns,
  my repeated wanderings,
  my aggravated transgressions,
  my complicated iniquity,
  my sins against conviction, light, and love;
do You still stretch out your hand to me, a poor,
wretched wanderer as I am? Do You go forth to
meet, to welcome, to pardon me? Do You watch
the first kindling of penitence, the first tear of
contrition, the first word of confession, 'Father,
I have sinned!' Lord, I fall at Your feet, the
greatest of sinners . . .
  Your power has drawn me,
  Your love has subdued me,
  Your grace has conquered me!"

Behold God's strange choice!

Who chose whom?

 by Don Fortner

"The decision is yours... Now it is all up to you... God has
done all He can to save, the rest is up to you... You must
choose Christ for yourself...You must make the final decision."
How often we have all heard statements like those from the
pulpit. I want to raise a question regarding this matter of
eternal salvation: WHOSE CHOICE IS IT? Our Lord
Jesus Christ has answered the question very plainly:
"You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you"
(John 15:16).

Divine election is a very humbling, and at the same time it
is a very encouraging and blessed doctrine of Scripture.

It is humbling to know that we would never have chosen Christ.
Our needs were so many, our hearts were so hard, that we
would never have sought the lord.

Yet, it is exceedingly comforting to hear our Savior say,
"I have chosen you."

Our Lord Jesus Christ loved us long before we ever loved him.
He loved us even when we were dead in sin.
Had He not loved us, we would never have loved Him.
Had He not chosen us, we would never have chosen Him.

Language could not be clearer. Our Savior tells us that man,
by nature, will never choose Christ. It is true, in one sense,
that every believer chooses Christ. This is the result, however,
not the cause, of Christ's choosing him.

The natural ear is so deaf that it cannot hear.
The natural eye is so blind that it cannot see.
The natural heart is so hard that it cannot feel.
Man sees no beauty in Christ.
He feels no need of Christ.
He has no desire for Christ.

Only after God by almighty grace opens the blind eye,
unstops the deaf ear, quickens the dead heart, and gives
strength to the withered hand is the sinner made willing to
seek Christ and given the strength of faith to embrace Him.

ALL WHO BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
IN TIME, WERE CHOSEN BY GOD IN ETERNAL
LOVE; AND THAT CHOICE OF THEM SECURES
THEIR FAITH AND HOLINESS IN CHRIST.

WHAT DOES THE TERM ELECTION MEAN?
Accurate statements on this doctrine are essential. No doctrine
in the Bible has suffered so much damage from the erroneous
views of its foes and the inaccurate statements of its friends.

Election may be defined this way: God has been pleased from
all eternity to choose certain men and women, whom He has
determined to save by the righteousness and shed blood of Christ.
None are finally saved except those whom He has chosen.
Therefore, the Word of God calls His people "the elect."
And the choice, or the appointment of them to eternal life,
is called "the election of God."

All those whom God was pleased to choose in eternity were
redeemed by Christ at Calvary. All who were chosen and
redeemed are (in due season) called to salvation and eternal
life by the Holy Spirit.

He convinces them of sin.
He leads them to Christ.
He works repentance and faith in them.
He keeps them by His grace from falling entirely away.
He brings them all safely to eternal glory.

In short, election is the first link in the chain of salvation, of which
eternal glory is the end. All who are redeemed, justified, called,
born again, and brought to faith in Christ are elect. The primary and
original cause of the saint's being what he is, is God's eternal election.

What does the Word of God Teach about Election?
God's election of men to salvation is gracious and free, absolute and
sovereign. It is an unconditional act of sovereign mercy. He did not
choose us because he foresaw that we would repent and believe on
Christ. Our repentance and faith is the result of God's election, not
the cause of it (John 10:16, 26; 15:16; Acts 13:48). God's election
is personal: He chose not a mass of nameless faces, but individual
sinners, calling them his sons and daughters. This election of grace
is also eternal and immutable (Eph. 1:4). When the triune Godhead
existed alone in glorious self-sufficiency, we were chosen in
covenant mercy. God chose us because of His eternal love and
sovereign pleasure, simply because he would be gracious.
We were chosen in Christ Jesus.

Behold God's strange choice! He chose not the noble, but the
common. He chose not the wise, but the foolish. He chose
not the righteous, but the wicked. He chose us, "that no flesh
should glory in His presence...that according as it is written,
He that glories, let him glory in the Lord: (I Cor. 1:29,31).
Let all who are born again confess, "By the grace of God,
I am what I am" (I Cor. 15:10).

Let us sing of electing love:
"Tis not that I did choose Thee,
For, Lord, that could not be;
This heart would still refuse Thee,
But Thou hast chosen me.

My heart owns none before Thee;
For thy rich grace I thirst;
This knowing, if I love Thee,
Thou must have loved me first."
(Josiah Conder)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Face to face


"Brief life is here our portion,
Brief sorrow, short-lived care:
The life that knows no ending,
The tearless life, is there.
There, glory yet unheard of
Shall shed abroad its ray,
Resolving all enigmas—
An endless Sabbath-day."—Bernard

"Now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face." —1 Cor. 13:12.

What an extension in the domain of knowledge on that blessed morning when "the day shall break," and earth's twilight shadows shall "flee away forever." The mysteries in Providence, the "deep things" in Scripture, the apparent discrepancies in God's moral government, all unfolded, vindicated, explained. "In your light," O God, we shall "see light," (Ps. 36:9.)
How this new illumination will be effected we cannot say. We can only venture a few dim conjectures on a great problem which the future itself alone can solve.
Much of our curtailed and partial knowledge here, is owing to the limited range of our present faculties. It is quite possible to conceive in a future world a vast and indefinite extension and amplification of our present mental and bodily powers; such an amplification asthe man born blind experiences when his eyes are opened for the first time, on a world of whole glories he has only been previously cognizant by hearing about them. We can quite well imagine some faculty which either we do not now possess, or which hitherto, like the sight of the blind man we have supposed, has been lying sealed and dormant, all at once imparted—"eyes of our understanding" opened, which are now closed—new powers, shall we say, of thought and reasoning, taking in knowledge by intuition, which now requires years of laborious thought.
Even in the case of the lower animals, we see powers and instincts which we do not possess, but which, if we did possess them, would add incalculably to our capacities. Instance, as familiar examples, the flight of the migratory birds, or that of the bee winging its way to a vast distance from its hive; yet, notwithstanding its tortuous aerial journey, finding, with unerring precision, its way back to the hidden nook where it started.
The present limited range alike of our physical and moral powers of observation may have been, as an able writer surmises, the reason why Paul, when he was caught up into the third heavens, tells us he saw things which it is not "possible for a man to utter." Why not possible? Simply because he was not gifted with earthly powers or faculties or language capable of giving expression to what he saw. The phenomena of heavenly glory (if I might so call them) were alike, in kind and degree, so diverse from all he had been conversant with here, that he would have needed another dialect and vocabulary to unfold his meaning.
"But THEN shall I know!" All enigma and difficulty will then vanish—all will be made plain to ennobled, refined, and purified powers. Here on earth, a passing breath from a carnal world dims my glass, and obscures my spiritual vision. There in heaven, there will be no taint of sin to mar or blight my lofty contemplations. Here, amid the twilight shadows of an imperfect state there is much to cause doubt, and, alas! disagreement among God's children. There, all shall see "eye to eye;" they will only wonder that trifles should have been allowed so sadly to divide and estrange. Here, we are in the gloomy crypt, walking amid the humiliating wrecks of sin and death, reading the mysterious records of mortality. There, it will be in the "cathedral aisles" of light and love, harmony and peace—the noon-day splendor of eternity. Glorious prospect! all made bright before that Sapphire Throne.
That mysterious PROVIDENCE, that desolating bereavement which, like a sweeping avalanche, tore up by the roots the fibers of affection, then I shall know, and see, and acknowledge it to have been all for good. Then I shall understand, (what my aching heart cannot now,) that the child I wept over—the parent I laid prematurely in the grave—the friend, early severed from my side—were all thereby taken from much evil to come, and invested with an earlier bliss. I shall wonder how I could ever have sorrowed on their behalf.
Meanwhile let me bow submissive to my Righteous Father's will, however dark and startling sometimes it may be. In infancy, the child takes much on trust; in after life, he gets his difficulties explained. Let this be my position regarding the "deep things" of providence and grace. Wait patiently the explanation of my Father in heaven. I shall see in the completed plan that all events had their end and mission—the Lord bringing glory to Himself from all. At present I behold only one or a few links, while He has the whole chain in His hands. Then, in retracing that long line of unbroken kindness, I shall feel satisfied that not only all was for the best, but really the best. The whole bypast wilderness, as seen from the hills of glory, will appear carpeted with love. Like a traveler after a dark night, I shall look back along the region I have traversed; and noting the perils which by His gracious guidance I had escaped, wonder at the way by which God has led me.
Above all, I shall grow in the knowledge of HIMSELF; and have amazing views—such as I have never had here—of His glory as the great end of life and being. Our present knowledge of God, even revealed knowledge, is but like the prattling of infancy, a mere attempt at a spoken language, most of which is still unintelligible. But then I shall be "filled with all the fullness of God." Not by any means that my knowledge of Him can be perfect. There will always be depths in that ocean-fullness, beyond the fathoming of any finite mind. No, further, the more I know, the more I shall feel that I have to know. When I know most, my befitting exclamation will be, "Oh the depth!" "It PASSES knowledge!" (Eph. 3:19.)
"This is eternal life—to know You." God, by His varied discipline, is meanwhile training me in this knowledge. And, as a sainted writer has well said, "we must wait until we get entirely home to have lesson-books put by forever. But what ever are the gradations in our books, or in whatever shape the lesson comes to us, this is the one grand blessed object aimed at by our wondrous Teacher in all, Acquaint yourself now with HIM, and be at peace." (Miss Plumptre.)

"No disappointments shroud
The angel-bowers of joy;
Our knowledge has no cloud,
Our pleasures no alloy.
"The fearful word, to part, Is never breathed above;
Heaven has no broken heart
Throughout her realms of love."

John MacDuff