Saturday, October 27, 2018

My Victorian Year #40

This week I'll be sharing quotes from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening and J.C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew.

From Expository Thoughts on Matthew, chapters 23 and 24

Matthew 23:1-12

  • It contains the last words which the Lord Jesus ever spoke within the walls of the temple. Those last words consist of a withering exposure of the Scribes and Pharisees, and a sharp rebuke of their doctrines and practices.
  • We see secondly, in these verses, that inconsistency, ostentation, and love of pre-eminence, among professors of religion, are specially displeasing to Christ.
  • We see in the third place, from these verses, that Christians must never give to any man the titles and honors which are due to God alone and to His Christ. Human nature would always rather lean on a visible minister, than an invisible Christ.
  • We see in the last place, that there is no grace which should distinguish the Christian so much as humility.

Matthew 23:13-33

  • The first "woe" in the list is directed against the systematic opposition of the Scribes and Pharisees to the progress of the Gospel.
  • The second "woe" in the list is directed against the covetousness and self-aggrandizing spirit of the Scribes and Pharisees.
  • The third "woe" in the list is directed against the zeal of the Scribes and Pharisees for making adherents.
  • The fourth "woe" in the list is directed against the doctrines of the Scribes and Pharisees about oaths. They drew subtle distinctions between one kind of oath and another.
  • The fifth "woe" in the list is directed against the practice of the Scribes and Pharisees, to exalt trifles in religion above serious things, to put the last things first, and the first last.
  • The sixth and seventh "woes" in the list possess too much in common to be divided. They are directed against a general characteristic of the religion of the Scribes. They set outward decency above inward sanctification and purity of heart. They made it a religious duty to cleanse the "outside" of their cups and platters, but neglected their own inward man.
  • The last "woe" in the list is directed against the affected veneration of the Scribes and Pharisees for the memory of dead saints.
  • There is not a point in the character of the Scribes and Pharisees in which it might not be easily shown, that people calling themselves Christians have often walked in their steps.
  • Let us learn from the whole passage how deplorable was the condition of the Jewish nation when our Lord was upon earth. Let us learn from the whole passage how abominable is hypocrisy in the sight of God.
  • Whatever we are in our religion, let us resolve never to wear a cloak. Let us by all means be honest and real.
  • Let us learn from the whole passage how awfully dangerous is the position of an unfaithful minister.
  • Let not hypocrisy prevent our confessing Christ, or move us from our steadfastness, if we have confessed Him.

Matthew 23:34-39

  • They are the last words which He ever spoke, as a public teacher, in the hearing of the people. We learn, in the first place, from these verses, that God often takes great pains with ungodly men. We learn, in the second place, from these verses, that God takes notice of the treatment which His messengers and ministers receive, and will one day reckon for. We learn, in the last place, from these verses, that those who are lost forever, are lost through their own fault. 
  • Impotent as man is by nature--unable to think a good thought of himself--without power to turn himself to faith and calling upon God, he still appears to have a mighty ability to ruin his own soul.
  • Powerless as he is to good, he is still powerful to evil. We say rightly that a man can do nothing of himself, but we must always remember that the seat of impotence is his WILL.
  • A will to repent and believe no man can give himself, but a will to reject Christ and have his own way, every man possesses by nature, and if not saved at last, that will shall prove to have been his destruction.
  • Let it be a settled principle in our religion, that men's salvation, if saved, is wholly of God; and that man's ruin, if lost, is wholly of himself. The evil that is in us is all our own. The good, if we have any, is all of God.

Matthew 24:1-14

  • These verses begin a chapter full of prophecy--prophecy of which a large portion is unfulfilled--prophecy which ought to be deeply interesting to all true Christians. On no point have good men so entirely disagreed as on the interpretation of prophecy. On no point have the prejudices of one class, the dogmatism of a second, and the extravagance of a third, done so much to rob the church of truths, which God intended to be a blessing.
  • To understand the drift of the whole chapter, we must carefully keep in view the question which gave rise to our Lord's discourse. "Tell us, when will these things be? What is the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?''--In these words we see the clue to the subject of the prophecy now before us. It embraces three points--one, the destruction of Jerusalem--another, the second personal advent of Christ--and a third, the end of the world.
  • The first general lesson before us, is a warning against deception. The very first words of the discourse are, "Be careful that no one leads you astray." 
  • Let no man deceive us as to the time when unfulfilled prophecies will be accomplished, either by fixing dates on the one hand, or bidding us wait for the conversion of the world on the other.
  • On all these points let the plain meaning of Scripture be our only guide, and not the traditional interpretations of men. Let us not be ashamed to say that we expect a literal fulfillment of unfulfilled prophecy.
  • The second grand lesson before us, is a warning against over-optimistic and extravagant expectations as to things which are to happen before the end comes.
  • We are not to expect a reign of universal peace, happiness, and prosperity, before the end comes. If we do, we shall be greatly deceived.
  • We are not to expect a time of universal purity of doctrine and practice in the Church of Christ, before the end comes. If we do, we shall be greatly mistaken.
  • We are not to expect that all the world will be converted before the end comes. If we do, we shall be greatly mistaken.
  • Let us make haste to spread the Gospel in the world, for the time is short, not long.

Matthew 24:15-28

  • One main subject of this part of our Lord's prophecy, is the taking of Jerusalem by the Romans. That great event took place about forty years after the words we have now read were spoken.
  • For one thing, we see that flight from danger may sometimes be the positive duty of a Christian. Our Lord Himself commanded his people under certain circumstances "to flee."
  • May we have wisdom to know how to act in time of persecution! It is possible to be rash, as well as to be a coward--and to stop our own usefulness by being over hot, as well as by being over cold.
  • We see, for another thing, that in delivering this prophecy, our Lord makes special mention of the Sabbath.
  • We see for another thing, that God's elect are always special objects of God's care. Twice in this passage our Lord mentions them. "For the elect's sake the days of tribulation are to be shortened." It will not be possible to deceive the "elect."
  • Those whom God has chosen to salvation by Christ, are those whom God specially loves in this world.
  • Finally, we see from these verses, that whenever the second advent of Christ takes place, it will be a very SUDDEN event.
  • That our Lord Jesus will come again in person to this world, we know from Scripture. That He will come in a time of great tribulation, we also know. But the precise period, the year, the month, the day, the hour, are all hidden things. We only know that it will be a very sudden event. Our plain duty then is to live always prepared for His return. Let us walk by faith, and not by sight. Let us believe in Christ, serve Christ, follow Christ, and love Christ. So living, whenever Christ may return, we shall be ready to meet Him.

Matthew 24:29-35

  • In this part of our Lord's prophecy, He describes His own second coming, to judge the world. 
  • When the Lord Jesus returns to this world, He shall come with peculiar glory and majesty. He shall come "in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory."
  • The SECOND personal coming of Christ shall be as different as possible from the FIRST. He came the first time as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. He was born in the manger of Bethlehem, in lowliness and humiliation. He took on him the form of a servant, and was despised and rejected of men. He was betrayed into the hands of wicked men, condemned by an unjust judgment, mocked, scourged, crowned with thorns, and at last crucified between two thieves. He shall come the second time as the King of all the earth, with all royal majesty. The princes and great men of this world shall themselves stand before His throne to receive an eternal sentence. Before him every mouth shall be stopped, and every knee bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. May we all remember this.
  • These verses teach us, in the second place, that when Christ returns to this world, He will first take care of His believing people.
  • In the day of judgment true Christians shall at length be gathered together. The saints of every age, and every tongue shall be assembled out of every land.
  • These verses teach us, in the third place, that until Christ returns to this earth, the Jews will always remain a separate people. But we ought not to regard the Jews only as witnesses of the truth of Scripture. We should see in them a continual pledge, that the Lord Jesus is coming again one day.
  • Finally, these verses teach us, that our Lord's predictions will certainly be fulfilled. He says, "heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away."

Matthew 24:36-51

  • It is a serious thing to wrest Scripture out of its true meaning.
  • The second thing that demands our attention, is the dreadful SEPARATION that will take place when the Lord Jesus comes again. We read twice over, that "one shall be taken and the other left."
  • True Christians ought to live like WATCHMEN. The day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. They should strive to be always on their guard. They should behave like the sentinel of an army in an enemy's land.
  • True Christians ought to live like GOOD SERVANTS, whose master is not at home. They should strive to be always ready for their master's return.
  • Let us seek to make sure that we are in Christ, and have an ark of safety when the day of wrath breaks on the world.

From Morning and Evening

  • How will you feel when your Master comes, if you have to confess that you did nothing for Him—but kept your love shut up, like a stagnant pool, not flowing forth to His work.
  • Let the thought of His special love to you be a spiritual pain-killer, a dear quietus to your woe! “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” God says that as much to you as to any saint of old.
  • We lose much consolation by the habit of reading His promises for the whole church, instead of taking them directly home to ourselves.
  • “I will love them freely.” Hosea 14:4 This sentence is a body of divinity in miniature. He who understands its meaning, is a theologian; and he who can dive into its fullness, is a true spiritual master. It is a summary of the glorious message of salvation, which was delivered to us in Christ Jesus our Redeemer. The meaning hinges upon the word “freely.” This is the glorious, the suitable, the divine way by which love streams from heaven to earth—a spontaneous love flowing forth to those who neither deserved it, purchased it, nor sought after it. It is, indeed, the only way in which God can love such as we are. The text is a death-blow to all sorts of fitness, “I will love them freely.”
  • There are times when all the promises and a doctrines of the Bible are of no avail, unless a gracious hand shall apply them to us.
  • O Christian, if you are laboring under deep distresses, your Father does not give you promises, and then leave you to draw them up from the Word like buckets from a well—but the promises He has written in the Word He will write anew on your heart.
  • There is no temptation half so dangerous—as not being tempted. The disciples fell asleep after they had seen Jesus transfigured on the mountaintop.
  • Once let the truth of God obtain an entrance into the human heart, and subdue the whole man unto itself—no human or infernal power can dislodge it! We do not entertain it as a guest, but as the master of the house. He is no Christian, who does not thus believe. 
  • The truth that we are sinners is painfully with us to humble and make us watchful. The more blessed truth that whoever believes on the Lord Jesus shall be saved—abides with us as our hope and joy. Experience, so far from loosening our hold of the doctrines of grace, has knit us to them more and more firmly.
  • Much of error may be mingled with truth received, let us war with the error—but still love the brother for the measure of truth which we see in him.
  • The word “chance” is banished from the Christian’s vocabulary—for we see the hand of God in everything.
  • Our prayer which moves the arm of God—is still a bruised and battered prayer, and only moves that arm because the sinless One, the great Mediator, has stepped in to take away the sin of our supplication.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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