Saturday, May 26, 2018

My Victorian Year #21

This week I'll be sharing quotes from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening and J.C. Ryle's Old Paths.

From Morning and Evening:
Our heavenly Father often draws us with the cords of love; but ah! how backward we are to run towards Him! How slowly do we respond to His gentle impulses! He draws us to exercise a more simple faith in Him.
We are but poor lovers of our sweet Lord Jesus, not fit to be His servants, much less to be His brides, and yet He has exalted us to be bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh, married to Him by a glorious marriage-covenant. Herein is love! But it is love which takes no denial.
A jealous and holy distrust of SELF may give rise to the question even in the believer’s heart—but the continuance of such a doubt would be an evil indeed. We must not rest without a desperate struggle to clasp the Savior in the arms of faith, and say, “I know whom I have believed, and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him.”
Do not rest, O believer, until you have a full assurance of your interest in Jesus. Let nothing satisfy you until, by the infallible witness of the Holy Spirit bearing witness with your spirit—you are certified that you are a child of God.
Oh, do not think, believer, that your sorrows are out of God’s plan; they are necessary parts of it.
It is the Lord who has begun the good work within us; it is He who has carried it on; and if He does not finish it—it never will be complete!
If there is one stitch in the celestial garment of our righteousness, which we are to insert ourselves, then we are lost! But this is our confidence, the Lord who began—will perfect. He has done it all, must do it all, and will do it all.
If we had to navigate our frail vessels over so rough a sea alone—we might well give up the voyage in despair! But, thanks be to God—HE will perfect that which concerns us, and bring us to the desired haven! We can never be too confident—when we confide in Him alone!
Jesus gave His blood for us—what shall we give to Him? We are His, and all that we have, for He has purchased us unto Himself—can we act as if we were our own?
In looking back upon the character of our prayers, if we do it honestly, we shall be filled with wonder that God has ever answered them.
But the true Christian, in a more enlightened retrospect, weeps over his prayers, and if he could retrace his steps—he would desire to pray more earnestly.
The gospel is very simple. So Christians should be simple and plain in their habits. There should be about our manner, our speech, our dress, our whole behavior—that simplicity which is the very soul of beauty.
The gospel is pre-eminently true, it is gold without dross; and the Christian’s life will be lustreless and valueless without the jewel of truth.
The gospel is a very bold gospel, it fearlessly proclaims the truth, whether men like it or not. We must be equally faithful and unflinching.
But the gospel is also very gentle. Mark this spirit in its Founder, “a bruised reed He will not break.”
The gospel is very loving. It is the message of the God of love to a lost and fallen race.
We must not forget that the gospel of Christ is holy. It never excuses sin. It pardons sin—but only through an atonement. If our life is to resemble the gospel, we must shun, not merely the grosser vices—but everything that would hinder our perfect conformity to Christ.
For His sake, for our own sakes, and for the sakes of others, we must strive day by day—to live our life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ!
There is no moment of our life, however holy—in which we can do without His constant upholding. Whether in light or in darkness, in communion or in temptation—we alike need the prayer, “Do not forsake, O Lord!” “Hold me up—and I shall be safe!”
Keep back no part of the precious truth—but speak what you know, and testify what you have seen. Let not the toil or darkness, or possible unbelief of your friends, weigh one moment in the scale. Up, and be marching to the place of duty—and there tell what great things God has shown to your soul!
Perseverance is the badge of true believers. The Christian life is not only a beginning in the ways of God—but also a continuance in holiness as long as life lasts.
The world does not object to your being a Christian for a time, if she can but tempt you to cease your pilgrimage, and settle down to buy and sell with her in Vanity Fair.
From Old Paths, chapter twelve, Conversion
Conversion is a Scriptural thing. Let me show, in the first place, that conversion is a Scriptural thing.
It matters nothing who says a thing, and declares it to be religious truth; it matters nothing whether we like or dislike a doctrine. Is it in the Bible? That is the only question. If it is, we have no right to refuse it. If we reject a Bible truth because we do not like it, we do so at the peril of our souls, and might as well become infidels at once. This is a principle which ought never to be forgotten.
To be renewed,--to be transformed,--to be created anew,--to be raised from the dead,--to be illuminated,--to pass from death to life,--to be born again,--to put off the old man and put on the new man,--all these are Scriptural expressions, which mean the same thing as conversion.
I have known people to find fault with doctrines and opinions as enthusiastic, fanatical, and absurd, in perfect ignorance that they were finding fault with Scripture itself! They have given sad proof that they spoke of things which they did not understand, and that they knew nothing, comparatively, of the contents of the Bible. 
Conversion is a real thing. Let me show, in the second place, that conversion is a real thing.
I say that when a man turns right round from sin to God,--from worldliness to holiness,--from self-righteousness to self-distrust,--from carelessness about religion to deep repentance,--from unbelief to faith,--from indifference to Christ to strong love to Christ,--from neglect of prayer, the Bible, and the Sabbath, to a diligent use of all means of grace, I say boldly, that such a man is a converted man.
Conversion is a necessary thing. Let me show, in the third place, that conversion is a necessary thing.
Some worthy people are ready enough to admit that conversion is a Scriptural truth and a reality, but not a thing which needs to be pressed on most English people. The heathen, they grant, need conversion. Even the thieves, and fallen characters, and inmates of jails, they allow, may require conversion. But to talk of conversion being necessary for Church-going people, is to talk of things which they cannot see at all.
The Bible teaches expressly that the change of heart, called conversion, is a thing absolutely needed by every one. It is needed because of the total corruption of human nature. It is needed because of the condition of every man’s natural heart.
All people born into the world, of every rank and nation, must have their hearts changed between the cradle and the grave, before they can go to heaven. All, all men, without exception, must be converted.
Without conversion of heart we cannot serve God on earth. We have naturally neither faith, nor fear, nor love, toward God and His Son Jesus Christ. Without conversion of heart we could not enjoy heaven, if we got there. Heaven is a place where holiness reigns supreme, and sin and the world have no place at all The company will all be holy; the employments will all be holy; it will be an eternal Sabbath-day. Surely if we go to heaven, we must have a heart in tune and able to enjoy it, or else we shall not be happy. We must have a nature in harmony with the element we live in, and the place where we dwell. Can a fish be happy out of water? We know it cannot. Well, without conversion of heart we could not be happy in heaven.
Conversion is a possible thing. Let me now show, in the fourth place, that conversion is a possible thing.
Any one, however sinful and hardened, any one may be converted. Why do I speak so confidently? How is it that I can look round the world, and see the desperate wickedness that is in it, and yet despair of no living man’s soul?  How is it that I can say to any one, however hard, fallen, and bad, “Your case is not hopeless: you, even you, may be converted? “I can do it because of the things contained in Christ’s Gospel. It is the glory of that Gospel that under it nothing is impossible. Conversion is a possible thing, because of the almighty power of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Him is life. In His hand are the keys of death and hell. He has all power in heaven and earth. He quickeneth whom He will. (John 1:4; Revelation 1:18; Matthew 28:18; John 5:21.)
It is as easy to Him to create new hearts out of nothing, as it was to create the world out of nothing. It is as easy to Him to breathe spiritual life into a stony, dead heart, as it was to breathe natural life into the clay of which Adam was formed, and make him a living man.
But beside this, conversion is a possible thing, because of the almighty power of the Holy Ghost, whom Christ sends into the hearts of all whom He undertakes to save. He who moved on the face of the waters before those wonderful words were spoken, “Let there be light,” is He who moves over sinners’ souls, and takes their natural darkness away. Great indeed is the invisible power of the Holy Ghost!
He can soften that which is hard. He can bend that which is stiff and stubborn. He can give eyes to the spiritually blind, ears to the spiritually deaf, tongues to the spiritually dumb, feet to the spiritually lame, warmth to the spiritually cold, knowledge to the spiritually ignorant, and life to the spiritually dead. “None teacheth like Him!” (Job 36:22.) He has taught thousands of ignorant sinners, and never failed to make them “wise unto salvation.” The Holy Ghost lives, and therefore conversion is never impossible.
Conversion is a happy thing. Let me show, in the fifth place, that conversion is a happy thing.  
A converted man is happy, because he has peace with God. His sins are forgiven; his conscience is free from the sense of guilt: he can look forward to death, judgment, and eternity, and not feel afraid.
Without forgiveness of sins, without hope for the world to come, dependent on this world for comfort, unprepared to meet God, he cannot be really happy. Conversion is an essential part of true happiness. Settle it in your mind to-day that the friend who labours for your conversion to God is the best friend that you have.
Conversion is a thing that may be seen. Let me now show you, in the last place, that conversion is a thing that may be seen.
Hundreds have caused the very name of conversion to stink, by the lives they have lived after declaring themselves converted. 
There will always be something seen in a converted man’s character, and feelings, and conduct, and opinions, and daily life. You will not see in him perfection; but you will see in him something peculiar, distinct, and different from other people.
You will see him hating sin, loving Christ, following after holiness, taking pleasure in his Bible, persevering in prayer. You will see him penitent, humble, believing, temperate, charitable, truthful, good-tempered, patient, upright, honourable, kind. These, at any rate, will be his aims: these are the things which he will follow after, however short he may come of perfection.
First of all, I urge every reader of this paper to find out whether he is converted. I am not asking about other people. In the next place, I urge every reader of this hook who is not converted, never to rest till he is. Make haste: awake to know your danger. Escape for your life: flee from the wrath to come. Time is short: eternity is near. Life is uncertain: judgment is sure. Arise and call upon God. The throne of grace is yet standing: the Lord Jesus Christ is yet waiting to be gracious. The promises of the Gospel are wide, broad, full, and free: lay hold upon them this day. Repent, and believe the Gospel: repent, and be converted. Rest not, rest not, rest not, till you know and feel that you are a converted man. In the last place, I offer a word of exhortation to every reader who has reason to think that he has gone through that blessed change of which I have been speaking in this paper. Do you think that you are converted? Then give all diligence to make your calling and conversion sure. Leave nothing uncertain that concerns your immortal soul. 
Conversion is not heaven! The old man within you is yet alive; the world around you is yet full of danger; the devil is not dead. Remember at your best, that a converted sinner is still a poor weak sinner, needing Christ every day.
Never be content to go to heaven alone. 

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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