Tuesday, September 16, 2014

My Year with Spurgeon #37

Hatred Without A Cause
Charles Spurgeon
1856
"They hated me without a cause.”—John 15:25.
No being was ever more lovely than the Saviour; it would seem almost impossible not to have affection for him. Certainly at first sight it would seem far more difficult to hate him than to love him. And yet, loveable as he was, yea, “altogether lovely,” no being so early met with hatred, and no creature ever endured such a continual persecution as he had to suffer. He is no sooner ushered into the world, than the sword of Herod is ready to cut him off, and the innocents of Bethlehem, by their dreadful massacre, gave a sad foretaste of the sufferings which Christ would endure, and of the hatred that men would pour upon his devoted head. From his first moment to the cross, save the temporary lull while he was a child, it seemed as if all the world were in league against him, and all men sought to destroy him. In different ways that hatred displayed itself, sometimes in overt deed, as when they took him to the brow of the hill, and would have cast him down headlong, or when they took up stones again to stone him, because he said that Abraham desired to see his day, and saw it, and was glad. At other times that hatred showed itself in words of slander, such as these,—“He is a drunken man and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners;” or in looks of contempt, as when they looked suspiciously at him, because he did eat with publicans and sinners, and sat down to table with unwashed hands. At other times that hatred dwelt entirely in their thoughts, and they thought within themselves, “This man blasphemeth,” because he said, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” But at almost every time there was a hatred towards Christ; and when they took him, and would have made him king, and a shallow fleeting flood of popular applause would have watted him on to an unsteady throne, even then there was a latent hatred towards him, only kept under by loaves and fishes, which only wanted an equal quantity of loaves and fishes offered by the priests, to develop it itself in the cry of “Crucify him, crucify him,” instead of the shout of “Hosannah! blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” All grades of men hated him. Most men have to meet with some opposition; but then it is frequently a class opposition, and there are other classes who look at them with respect. The demagogue, who is admired by the poor, must expect to be despised by the rich; and he who labours for the aristocracy, of course meets with the contempt of the many. But here was a man who walked among the people, who loved them, who spoke to rich and poor as though they were (as indeed they are) on one level in his blessed sight: and yet all classes conspired to hate him; the priests cried him down because he spoiled their dogmas; the nobles would put him to death because he spoke of being a king; while the poor, for some reasons best known to themselves, though they admired his eloquence, and frequently would have fallen prostrate in worship before him, on account of the wondrous deeds he did, even these, led by men who ought to have guided them better, conspired to put him to death, and to consummate their guilt by nailing him to the tree, and then wagging their heads, bade him, if he could build a temple in three days, to save himself and come down from the cross. Christ was the hated one, the slandered and scorned; he was “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
First, then, beloved, let us JUSTIFY WHAT THE SAVIOUR SAID,—“They hated me without a cause.” And we remark, that, apart from the consideration of man’s sinfulness, and Christ’s purity, there certainly is not cause, whatever to be discovered why the world should have hated him.
He came, first of all, to explain mysteries—to tell them what was meant by the sacrificial lamb, what was the significance of the scape-goat, what was intended by the ark, the brazen serpent, and the pot of manna; he came to rend the veil of the holy of holies, and to show men secrets they had never seen before. Should they have hated one who lifted the veil of mystery, and made dark things light, and expounded riddles? Should they have hated him who taught them what Abraham desired to see, and what prophets and kings had longed to know, but died without a knowledge of? Was there anything in that to make them hate him? What else did he come for? He came on earth to reclaim the wanderer; and is there anything in that that should make men hate Christ? If he came to reform the drunkard, to reclaim the harlot, and gather in the publicans and sinners, and bring prodigals to their father’s house again, sure that is an object with which every philanthropist should agree; it is that for which our governments are formed and fashioned, to bring men to a better state; and if Christ came for that purpose, was there anything in that to make men hate him?
He came to heal the diseases of the body; is that a legitimate object of hatred? Shall I hate the physician who goes about gratuitously healing all manner of diseases? Are deaf ears unstopped, are mouths opened, are the dead raised, are the blind made to see, and widows blest with their sons? Are these causes why a man should be obnoxious? Surely, he might well say, “For which of these works do ye stone me? If I have done good works wherefore speak ye against me?” But none of these works were the cause of men’s hatred; they hated him without a cause. And he came on earth to die, that sinners might not die? Was that a cause of hatred? Ought I to hate the Saviour, because he came to quench the flames of hell for me? Should I despise him who allowed his father’s flaming sword to be quenched in his own vital blood? Shall I look with indignation upon the substitute who takes my sin and griefs upon him, and carries my sorrows? Shall I hate and despise the man who loved me better than he loved himself—who loved me so much that he visited the gloomy grave for my salvation? Are these the causes of hatred?
Never does sin appear so exceedingly sinful as when we see it pointed at the person of Christ, whom it hated without a cause.
It is not true that we Christian people are hated because of our infirmities; men make our infirmities a nail whereon to hang their laughter; but if we were not Christians they would not hate our infirmities. They hold our inconsistencies up to ridicule; but I do not believe our inconsistencies are what they care about; we might be as inconsistent as all the rest of the world if we did not profess religion, of if they did not think we had any.
You are indifferent to Christ? Then you hate him.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Monday, September 15, 2014

Book Review: Love's Fortune (2014)

Love's Fortune. Laura Frantz. 2014. Revell. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Love's Fortune is the third in the Ballantyne Legacy series by Laura Frantz. Love's Fortune introduces us to another generation of the family. Characters from the previous books are older--in some cases much older. I enjoyed revisiting with these characters. I was very pleased to see Ellie living her happily ever after. Readers also get to know Ellie's daughter, Izannah.

Can Love's Fortune stand alone? Probably. But I'd recommend at the very least reading Love's Awakening first. (Personally, I'd recommend reading ALL of Laura Frantz's books. I have loved them all.)

Rowena Ballantyne is the heroine of Love's Fortune. She is the granddaughter of Silas and Eden, and the daughter of Ansel Ballantyne. (Her mother is dead. She was English.) The novel opens with father and daughter traveling from Kentucky to Pennsylvania. He is coming home, and his return may be for good. Wren is anxious. Will she like living here? Will she fit in with the family? Will they like her? Will she like them? Will they accept her for who she is? Will they try to change her, to mold her? Will she be able to be herself here? Will she be happy? Will she have some independence, some say in her life? Wren has some reason to be anxious. There are plenty of bossy people in the family. In particular a bossy aunt and great-aunt. Certain members of the family think it is Wren's duty to do well for her family, to have a social season, to find a husband who has great connections (business, social) and is already wealthy. But does Wren want such a life? Does she want that sort of marriage? Does she want to be part of SOCIETY and have an extravagant lifestyle?

There are two heroes--of sorts--in Love's Fortune. I fell in love with them both. Honestly. I did. I loved, loved, loved James Sackett. But I also loved, loved, loved Malachi Cameron. I loved getting to know both men well. I loved all of their scenes. Good thing there are two heroines!

This one is set in the 1850s in Pennsylvania. It touches on abolition and slavery. In addition to history and romance, there's some action and mystery as well.

The first book, Love's Reckoning. The second book, Love's Awakening.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week In Review: September 7-13

ESV

  • Leviticus 
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Matthew 
  • Mark
  • Luke 1-14


NASB

  • Psalms 42-57


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Friday, September 12, 2014

Book Review: Unbroken

Unbroken. Laura Hillenbrand. 2010. Random House. 473 pages. [Source: Library]

Unbroken is an incredible read and an emotional one. It is the biography of Louis Zamperini. Readers learn about his family, his growing up years, his training and competitive years. Zamperini competed in track in the 1936 Olympics. He went home knowing that the next Olympics would be his Olympics. He spent years training for an Olympics that was never to be. The arrival of war shifts the focus to Zamperini in the military. Much of the book focuses on the war years. I suppose there are three sections that focus on the war years: his time as a bombardier, his crash and survival in the seas--this section was INTENSE, his "rescue" and time spent as a POW in Japan--and I thought the earlier section was intense! There is so much drama, so much emotion in this one. I don't mean that in a bad way at all. It's not overly dramatic or inappropriately dramatic or manipulative. The book is straightforward in its horrors. But the description of what life was like in the prisoner of war camps is vivid. Same with the descriptions of his survival at sea. For over a month, Zamperini and two others barely survived in two small rafts with essentially little to no food and water. So as I said, this is an emotional and unforgettable story of survival. What I didn't quite expect to be as emotional was the final section which focuses on his return to the States after the war is over. Those months and years where he had to get on with his life, to return to a "normal" life, his mental and emotional struggles. Since he was famous, it was made all the more difficult perhaps? As I said, I wasn't expecting that section to be as emotional as previous sections. There are a couple of scenes in this last section that just get to me.

I would recommend this one.


© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Book Review: The 30 Day Praise Challenge

The 30 Day Praise Challenge. Becky Harling. 2013. David Cook. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]

Becky Harling challenges her readers to commit to praising God for twenty minutes each day for 30 days. She promises that following through on this commitment will change believers' lives. The first section of the book works like a devotional in a way.
Each day begins with an invitation to praise God for some characteristic of His deity. Written as if they are from God Himself, these Scripture-based invitations are designed to help you hear God’s voice. Each day also includes guidance for how to praise God, suggestions for music to listen to in order to prompt your praise, and a journal idea to help you process your praise journey.
The second section of the book is an extension of sorts. Assuming that readers have now finished their 30 consecutive days of praise and benefited in it by growing closer to God, by coming to know Him more and more, she knows that they'll be hungry for more. So she then offers tips on how to praise God through His names, how to praise God through the Psalms, how to praise God through Revelation, how to praise God through the Apostles' Creed, and finally how to praise God when you are grieving or feeling depressed.

The book includes a comprehensive list of recommended praise songs at the end.

Sample:
Day 13: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1
My child, you are often weighed down by guilt and shame. I don’t condemn you and neither should you condemn yourself. Through My abundant grace, you are forgiven because of the work of My Son on Calvary. All your sins—past, present, and future—have been forgiven. You are totally okay with Me. Shame no longer has to haunt you. You are already clean. I have clothed you in My righteous robe and crowned you with blessing and beauty. When you are tempted to return to your old clothes of shame, put on garments of praise instead. As you worship Me, I will enable you to wear your righteous robe with confidence. Others will try to manipulate you and make you feel guilty; don’t let them. Listen to My voice alone, and lift your voice in praise. If you exalt Me and look up, your face will no longer be clouded with shame; instead, it will glisten with radiant joy. (Rom. 8:1; Rom. 5:17; John 15:3; Rom. 3:21; Isa. 61:1–3; Ps. 34:5) If you’re physically able, get down on your knees for your praise time today. If you are not physically able to get down on your knees, bow your head and imagine someday bowing down in heaven. When you listen to the praise music, use headphones so you won’t be easily distracted. Focus your praise on God’s grace and forgiveness. Lay down every burden of guilt, shame, regret, and self-punishment. Imagine yourself clothed in Christ’s righteous robe. You look as good to God the Father as His Son, Jesus Christ, does. Celebrate the forgiveness that is yours in Jesus Christ. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5:21)
You might also be interested in knowing that there is a 30 Day Praise Challenge For Parents. (I would love to read this at some point to see how the books are the same, and how they are different.)

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Review: The Savior of the World

The Savior of the World. Benjamin B. Warfield. 1991. Banner of Truth. 270 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Savior of the World was my introduction to B.B. Warfield. I loved this collection of sermons. Each sermon focused on a particular passage of Scripture. Warfield did a great job "unpacking" Scripture. He really took his time and examined the verses carefully. This was good, for the most part. There were places that instead of saying exactly what he thought a verse meant right away, he would explore various options first. Interpretation A says this, Interpretation B says that…but this is what I really think the Bible was saying. He argues his case for a particular interpretation. It definitely has an intellectual feel to it as opposed to devotional. It can still be emotional, by the way. The two are not exclusive.

His sermons are thought-provoking. They do require you to think, to be engaged, to follow his arguments point by point, to consider. These sermons can't be rushed through. There is much to be gained by taking your time, by absorbing all he has to say. It really is an amazing read.

The Savior of the World includes:

The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
Jesus Only (Acts 4:12)
The Lamb of God (John 1:29)
God's Immeasurable Love (John 3:16)
The Gospel of Paul (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, 18-19, 21)
The Glorified Christ (Hebrews 2:9)
The Risen Jesus (2 Timothy 2:8)
The Gospel of the Covenant (John 6:38-39)
Imitating the Incarnation (Philippians 2:5-8)

Quotes:

From "The Prodigal Son"
The message which the parable brings us is certainly a great one. To lost sinners like you and me, assuredly few messages could appeal with more overwhelming force. Our hearts are wrung within us as we are made to realize that our Father in heaven will receive our wandering souls back with the joy with which this father in the parable received back his errant son. But it is an exaggeration to represent this message as all the Gospel, or even as the core of the Gospel; and to speak of this parable therefore, as it has become widely common to speak of it, as “the Gospel in the Gospel,” or even as the summation of the Gospel. It is not that. There are many truths which it has no power to teach us that are essential to the integrity of the Gospel: nay, the very heart of the Gospel is not in it. And, therefore, precious as this parable is to us, and priceless as is its message, there are many other passages of Scripture more precious still, because their message enters more deeply into the substance of the Gospel. Take this passage for example: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever belie vet h on Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Or this passage: “God, being rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, quickened us together with Christ (by grace have ye been saved), and raised us up with Him and made us sit with Him in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus.” Or even this short passage: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” All these are more precious passages than the parable of the lost son, not merely because they tell us more fully what is contained in the Gospel, but because they uncover to us, as it does not, what lies at the heart of the Gospel. It is important that we should recognize this.
We are sinners. And our only hope is in one who loves sinners; and has come into the world to die for sinners.
From "Jesus Only"
The salvation of the world hangs, thus, in our human mode of speaking, on the clearness and the strength of our conviction that there is salvation in none other than Jesus, that there is none other name under heaven, given among men, wherein they must be saved. O the cruelty of that indifferentism, miscalled broadness of mind, that would withhold from a perishing world the only healing draught, on the pretence, forsooth, that it is not needed. O remember that the whole world lies in iniquity — ill to death with the dreadful disease of sin, — and that you have in your hands the one curative potion, the only water of life which can purge away sin and restore to spiritual health and beauty. Remember the great commission!
On the peril of your souls, I charge you to remember that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth, the only life; that no man comes or can come to the Father except by Him, that all the life that is in the world is in Him, and he only that hath Him hath the life, while he that hath not Him hath not the life. Listen to the solemn words of the apostle of love: “Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that confesseth the Son,” he, and he only, “hath the Father also.” Let us note it clearly and note it whole: there is no access to God for sinners save in the blood of Jesus Christ.
From "The Lamb of God"
“Behold the Lamb of God,” cries the Baptist, “which taketh away the sin of the world.” Not, Behold the Prophet like unto Moses, whom ye shall hear; nor yet. Behold the Israelite without guile, in whom meet perfect purity, wisdom and truth; nor even. Behold the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who shall scatter your foes and deliver you from all your enemies. He might have said any one or all of these things. They are all true of Jesus. Christ is our teacher, and our example, and our king. But there is something more fundamental than any of these things; something which underlies them all and from which they acquire their value. And it is this that the Baptist saw in Christ and sends us to Christ to find. “Behold,” says he, “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” That image could mean but one thing to an humble, sin-conscious Old Testament saint. He would think first of the righteous sufferer of the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah: and that righteous sufferer is not merely described there, we will remember, as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb, the very embodiment of meekness and patience in enduring the violence of the despoiler; but, in well-remembered words which throw a glory over these sufferings to which even meek patience and uncomplaining endurance can lend nothing, we read: “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we were healed.” “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” “For the transgression of my people was he stricken. .. yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him. He hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. … By his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many, and he shall bear their iniquities. … He bare the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.” And along with the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, the Old Testament saint, when directed to the Lamb of God which takes away sin, would inevitably think also of the paschal lamb, the fundamental national symbol of deliverance; along with it, beyond question, also of the lamb of the daily sacrifice and of the underlying significance of the whole sacrificial system, with its typical finger pointing forward to something better, — to God’s own Lamb, who should really take away sin, a lamb of God’s providing, able and willing to bear on his own head the sin of the world.
“Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away sin.” Is it not a joyful message to sin-stricken souls? Let others think of Jesus as they may. Let them hail him as a king: let them sit at His feet as a prophet: let them eagerly seek to follow in His steps. For you and me, sinners, He is most glorious and most precious, as a Saviour.
From "God's Immeasurable Love"
What it concerns us now to note, however, is not the mere fact that He loves, but what it is that He is declared to love. For therein lies the climax of the great proclamation. This is nothing other than “the world.” For this is the unimaginable declaration of the text: “God so loved the world.” It is just in this that lies the mystery of the greatness of His love. The “world,” he tells us, is just the synonym of all that is evil and noisome and disgusting. There is nothing in it that can attract God’s love, — nay, that can justify the love of any good man. It is a thing not to be dallied with, or acquiesced in: they that are of it, are by that very fact not of God; and what the Christian has to do with it is just to overcome it; for everything that is begotten of God manifests that great fact precisely by this — that he overcomes the world. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world,” is John’s insistent exhortation. “Nothing that is in the world is of the Father,” we are told; or, as it is put elsewhere in direct positive form: “The whole world lieth in the evil one.” “The world, the flesh and the devil” — this is the pregnant combination in which we have learned from Scripture to express the baleful forces that war against the soul: and the three terms are thus cast together because they are essentially synonyms. See, then, whither we are brought. When we are told that God loves the world, it is much as if we were told that He loves the flesh and the devil. And we may, indeed, take courage from our text and say it boldly: God does love the world and the flesh and the devil. Therein indeed is the ground of all our comfort and all our hope: for we — you and I — are of the world and of the flesh and of the devil. Only, — we must punctually note it, — the love wherewith God loves the world, the flesh and the devil — therefore, us — is not a love of complacency, as if He the Holy One and the Good could take pleasure in what is worldly, fleshly, devilish: but that love of benevolence which would fain save us from our worldliness, fleshliness and devilishness. The world then was perishing: and it was to save it that God gave His Son. The text is, then, you see, in principle an account of the coming of the Son of God into the world. There were but two things for which He, being what He was as the Son of God, could come into the world, being what it was: to judge the world or to save the world. It was for the latter that He came. “For,” the next verse runs on, “God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him should be saved.” Not wrath, then, though wrath were due, but love was the impelling cause of the coming of the Son of God into this wicked world of ours. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son.” The intensity of the love is what is emphasized: it was so intense that it was not deterred even by the sinfulness of its objects. The marvel, in other words, which the text brings before us is just that marvel above all other marvels in this marvellous world of ours — the marvel of God’s love for sinners. And this is the measure by which we are invited to measure the greatness of the love of God. It is not that it is so great that it is able to extend over the whole of a big world: it is so great that it is able to prevail over the Holy God’s hatred and abhorrence of sin. For herein is love, that God could love the world — the world that lies in the evil one: that God who is all-holy and just and good, could so love this world that He gave His only begotten Son for it, — that He might not judge it, but that it might be saved. Its primary connotation is ethical, and the point of its employment is not to suggest that the world is so big that it takes a great deal of love to embrace it all, but that the world is so bad that it takes a great kind of love to love it at all, and much more to love it as God has loved it when He gave His Son for it.
 From "The Gospel of Paul"
Until Jesus had died for us there was nothing for us to do but to die. We were dead in sin, and held under death for sin. But now since He has died for us, we can work our salvation out into life. And that is what Paul teaches us. We cannot save ourselves: but having been saved, we can illustrate our salvation in newness of life.
Being in Christ Jesus, you have within you the powers of a new life, and they will grow, and grow, and grow. Sinner that you are, Christ who knew no sin has been made sin for you, and you shall become the righteousness of God in Him. Could there be a greater inducement to effort brought to bear upon us than this great declaration? It is God that is working in us: shall we not then work out our own salvation with fear and trembling? This is Paul’s exhortation to you. In effect he says: Seeing that you are a new creation, live as becomes those who are a new creation. Desert the old plane of your living; it is not worthy of new creatures. Having died with Christ, live with and for Him. He has been made sin for you. See that you become the righteousness of God in Him. You are released from the bondage of sin and freed for a new life of holiness. Live it. Adorn the Gospel you profess: for God has called you not to sin but to holiness, and if you walk not in this holiness, — are you in Him? have you died with Him? He who dies with Him lives also in and with Him, and living in and with Him lives to Him.
From "The Glorified Christ"
The fashionable, I do not say unbelief, I say the fashionable belief, about us to-day, forgets or neglects, or openly turns its back upon the living Christ, and bids us seek inspiration for our lives and hope for our future, in a Jesus who lived and died in Palestine two thousand years ago, — and that was all. Dimly seen through the ever-increasing obscurity of the gathering years, that great figure has still the power to attract the gaze and to quicken the pulses — yes, to dominate the lives — of men. This is, no doubt, much; but so little is it all, that it is the least of what we are to seek and to find in Jesus Christ. He is our inspiration; and, knowing Him better than these, our would-be guides, know Him, He is also our example. But He is so much more than our inspiration or even our example, that we need scarcely think of these things when we think of Him: He is our life. And He is our life not only because He has washed out in His blood the death-warrant that had been issued against us — giving, as He Himself phrased it. His life as a ransom for many — but also because, after He had purchased us to Himself by His precious blood, He has become to us the living fountain and ever-flowing source of life and blessedness. Jesus on the cross is our Saviour; and it is our privilege to behold Him on His cross, an all-sufficient sacrifice for our sins. But Jesus on His throne is our Saviour too; and it is our privilege to-day, as we read the lofty words of this great declaration of the Epistle to the Hebrews, to behold Him on His throne, crowned with glory and honour, that His tasting of death may by God’s grace be the actual salvation of our souls. 
Remember that you serve a living, not a dead Christ. You are to trust in His blood. In it alone have you life. But you are to remember that He was not broken by death, but broke death; and having purchased you to Himself by His blood, now rules over your souls from His heavenly throne. He is your master whom you are to obey. He has given you commandment to bring all peoples to the knowledge of Him. And He has promised to be with you, even to the end of the world. Live with Him. Keep fast hold upon Him; be in complete touch with Him.
From "The Gospel of the Covenant"
What can we possibly need that we do not find provided in Him? Do we hopelessly groan under the curse of the broken law, hanging menacingly over us? Christ has “redeemed us from the curse of the law, having been made a curse for us.” Do we know that only he that worketh righteousness is acceptable to God, and despair of attaining life on so unachievable a condition? Christ Jesus “hath of God been made unto us righteousness.” Do we loathe ourselves in the pollution of our sins, and know that God is greater than we, and that we must be an offence in His holy sight? The blood of Christ cleanseth us from all sin. But do we not need faith, that we may be made one with Him and so secure those benefits? Faith, too, is the gift of God: and that we believe on Him is granted by God in the behalf of Christ. Have we sought to run, and learned by bitter experience that it is not of him that runneth nor of him that willeth? We may learn too by a happy experience that it is of God that showeth mercy and that worketh in us both the willing and the doing. Nothing has been forgotten, nothing neglected, nothing left unprovided. In the person of Jesus Christ, the great God, in His perfect wisdom and unfailing power, has taken our place before the outraged justice of God and under His perfect law, and has wrought out a complete salvation.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

My Year With Spurgeon #36

The Plea of Faith
Charles Spurgeon
1856
“Do as thou hast said.’—2 Samuel 7:25.
I shall not commence my sermon to-night by endeavoring to prove that this Bible is what God has said; I do not come here to give you arguments to prove the inspiration of Scripture; I assume that I speak to a Christian congregation, and I assume, therefore, at starting, that this is God’s word and none other. Leaving that matter, then, altogether, permit me to proceed at once to the text, understanding by what God has said, the Scriptures of his truth; and I trust there are some here who will be led, to-night, to cry to God in behalf of some promise made to their souls, “O Lord, do as thou hast said.”
Our first remark shall be HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO KNOW WHAT GOD HAS SAID, for unless we know what God has said, it will be folly to say, ”do as thou hast said.”
Perhaps there is no book more neglected in these days than the Bible. I do verily believe there are more mouldy Bibles in this world than there are of any sort of neglected books.
But we have no book that is so much bought, and then so speedily laid aside, and so little used, as the Bible.
If we buy a newspaper, it is generally handed from one person to another, or we take care to peruse it pretty well; indeed some go so far as to read advertisements and all. If a person purchases a novel, it is well known how he will sit and read it all the way through, till the midnight candle is burnt out; the book must be finished in one day, because it is so admirable and interesting; but the Bible, of course, in the estimation of many, is not an interesting book; and the subjects it treats of are not of any very great importance.
So most men think; they think it is a very good book to carry out on a Sunday, but never meant to be used as a book of pleasure, or a book to which one could turn with delight. Such is the opinion of many; but no opinion can be more apart from the truth; for what book can treat of truths one-half so important as those that concern the soul. What book can so well deserve my attention as that which is written by the greatest of all authors, God himself? If I must read a valuable book with attention, how much more ought I to give my mind to the study of that book which is invaluable, and which contains truth without the slightest admixture of error?
And if books upon my health, or books which only concern the doings of my fellow creatures occupy some of my time, and deservedly so, how much more time should I spend in reading that which concerns my everlasting destiny; which reveals to me worlds hitherto unknown; which tells me how I may escape from hell and fly to heaven? But I must remark, that even among Christian people, the Bible is one of the least read books that they have in their house. What with our innumerable magazines, our religious newspapers, and our perpetual controversies about the Bible, it is too seldom that people read the Bible. There certainly is not that reading of it that there used to be.
Our predecessors, the ancient Puritans, would scarcely read any book but that; and if a book was not concerning the Bible, they did not care about reading it at all.
It is not the greatness of our intellect, it is the rightness of it, that makes us men in this world, and right men before God.
I beseech you, therefore, you who are members of Christian churches, if you have but little time, do not expend it in reading ephemeral books, but take your Bible and read it constantly; and I promise you one thing, that if you are already Christians, the more you read the Bible the more you will love it.
You may find it hard, perhaps, at present, to read a short passage and meditate upon it all day; but as you proceed you will see such depths unfathomable, such heights beyond your ken; and you will discover such unutterable sweetness in this precious honey-comb dropping with drops of honey, that you will say, “I must have more of it,” and your spirit will always cry, “Give, give;” nor will it be content until you can have God’s statutes upon your mind daily, to be your songs in the house of your pilgrimage.
The errors of this present age have sprung from a non-reading of the Bible.
Hold the truth, my friends, and hold it as the easiest method of sweeping away heresies and false doctrines.
No man has a right to believe what he likes; he is to believe what God tells him; and if he does not believe that though he is not responsible to man, or to any set of men, or to any government, yet mark you, he is responsible to God.
I beseech you, therefore, if you would avoid heresies, and bring the church to a glorious union, read the Scriptures. Read not so much man’s comments, or man’s books, but read the Scriptures, and keep your faith on this,—“God has said it.”
My brethren, always stand by what God has said, and do not be turned aside from it by all the arguments that can be brought to bear against you. “Search the Scriptures, for they testify of Christ.”
The only solid foothold that faith has is, ”It is written, God hath said it.” When a sinner comes to God he must have nothing else to rely upon except this, “Do as thou hast said.”
If I were to go round to some of you and ask you why you believe yourselves to be Christians, it is marvellous what strange reasons many of you would bring. It is very singular what strange views persons often have as to the way of salvation. It is hard to bring a sinner to God simply with this,—“Lord, do as thou hast said.”
Faith can build on a “thou hast said it;” but it cannot build on frames and feelings, on dreams and experiences—it only relies on this—“Thou hast said it.”
The way of salvation is no great mystery, it is very plain; it is “believe and live.” And faith needs no mysteries to hang itself upon; it catches hold of the bare naked promise, and it says, “Lord, do as thou hast said.”
My faith can on this promise live; I know that on this promise it never can die. But faith wants neither testimonies of man, nor learning of philosophers, nor eloquence of orators, nor rhapsodies, nor visions, nor revelations. It wants nothing else but what God has said applied to the heart; and it goes to God, and says, “Lord, do as thou hast said.”
The Lord always meant, when he said a thing, that we should remind him of it.
But oh! my friend, do try and use God’s promises; nothing pleases God better than to see his promises put in circulation; he loves to see his children bring them up to him, and say, “Lord, do as thou hast said.” And let me tell you that it glorifies God to use his promises. Do you think that God will be any the poorer for giving you the riches he has promised? Do you think he will be any the less holy for giving holiness to you? Do you think he will be any the less pure for washing you from your sins? And he has said, “Come now, let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as wool; though they be red, they shall be whiter than snow.” Faith gets hold of that promise, and it does not stand saying, “this is a precious promise, I will look at it;” it goes right up to the throne, and says, “Lord, here is the promise, do as thou hast said.” And God says, “Oh! faith, I am as glad to see the promise brought to me, as thou art to bring it; I meant my promise to be used, and the using of it glorifies me.”
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible