Saturday, November 10, 2018

My Victorian Year #42

Still reading Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon and J.C. Ryle's Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew. (I hope to finish up the Ryle this week! I only lack a few chapters.)

From Morning and Evening:

  • A primary qualification for serving God with any amount of success, and for doing God’s work well and triumphantly, is a sense of our own weakness.
  • Those who serve God—must serve Him in His own way, and in His strength, or He will never accept their service. God will never own that man who works, unaided by divine strength.
  • Until our Immanuel reveals Himself within—the soul cannot truly see Him.
  • It is not the law—but the gospel which saves the seeking soul at first; and it is not a legal bondage—but gospel liberty alone, which can restore the fainting believer afterwards.
  • Christian, make your life a clear testimony. Be as the clear brook wherein you may see every stone at the bottom—not as the muddy creek, of which you only see the surface—but clear and transparent, so that your heart’s love to God and man may be visible to all.
  • If we have received Christ Himself in our inmost hearts, our new life will manifest its intimate acquaintance with Him by a walk of faith in Him.
  • Proceed from grace to grace, run forward until you reach the uttermost degree of knowledge that a man can attain concerning our Beloved.
  • How many Christians think that in the morning and evening they ought to come into the company of Jesus—but may give their hearts to the world all the day. This is poor living;
  • We should always be with Him, treading in His steps and doing His will.
  • When we speak of a man’s walk and life—we mean his habits, the constant tenor of his life. Now, if we sometimes enjoy Christ, and then forget Him; sometimes call Him ours, and anon lose our hold, that is not a habit; we do not walk in Him.
  • We must keep to Him, cling to Him, never let Him go—but live and have our being in Him. “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord—so walk in Him”;

From Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 26
Matthew 26:1-13

  • We now approach the closing scene of our Lord Jesus Christ's earthly ministry. Hitherto we have read of His sayings and doings--we are now about to read of His sufferings and death.
  • The place whereon we stand is holy ground. Here we see how the Seed of the woman bruised the Serpent's head. Here we see the great sacrifice to which all the sacrifices of the Old Testament had long pointed.
  • We see in the death of Christ, the great mystery revealed, how God can be just, and yet justify the ungodly.
  • We can never attach too much importance to the atoning death of Christ. It is the leading fact in the word of God, on which the eyes of our soul ought to be ever fixed.
  • Without the shedding of his blood, there is no remission of sin. It is the cardinal truth on which the whole system of Christianity hinges.
  • Without it the Gospel is an arch without a key-stone, a fair building without a foundation, a solar system without a sun.
  • Let us make much of our Lord's incarnation and example, His miracles and his parables, His works and His words, but above all let us make much of His death.
  • This, after all, is the master-truth of Scripture, that "Christ died for our sins." To this let us daily return.

Matthew 26:14-25

  • There are few blacker pages in all history, than the character and conduct of Judas Iscariot. There is no more dreadful evidence of the wickedness of man.
  • Let us learn, in the first place, from these verses, that a man may enjoy great privileges, and make a great religious profession, and yet his heart all the time may not be right before God.
  • Like Lot's wife, Judas is intended to be a beacon to the whole church. Let us often think about him, and say, as we think, "Search me, O Lord, and try my heart, and see if there be any wicked way in me."
  • Let us resolve, by God's grace, that we will never be content with anything short of sound, thorough, heart conversion.
  • Let us learn, in the second place, from these verses, that the love of money is one of the greatest snares to a man's soul.
  • Let us learn, in the last place, from these verses, the hopeless condition of all who die unconverted. The words of our Lord on this subject are peculiarly solemn.
  • He says of Judas, "It would have been better for that man, if he had not been born." This saying admits of only one interpretation. It teaches plainly, that it is better never to live at all, than to live without faith, and to die without grace.
  • The gulf between hell and heaven is one that no man can pass. This saying could never have been used, if there was any truth in the doctrine of 'universal salvation'.
  • Hell itself would lose its terrors, if it had an end. Hell itself would be endurable, if after millions of ages there was a HOPE of freedom and of heaven.
  • But universal salvation will find no foot-hold in Scripture. The teaching of the word of God is plain and express on the subject.
  • There are always people who dislike the reality and eternity of hell. We live in a day when a morbid charity induces many to exaggerate God's mercy, at the expense of His justice, and when false teachers are daring to talk of a "love of God, lower even than hell."
  • We may rest assured that there is no firm standing ground between a belief in the eternity of hell, and downright infidelity.

Matthew 26:26-35

  • These verses describe the appointment of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Our Lord knew well the things that were before Him, and graciously chose the last quiet evening that he could have before his crucifixion, as an occasion for bestowing a parting gift on his church.
  • The first thing that demands our notice in these verses, is the right meaning of our Lord's words, "this is my body, this is my blood."
  • The plain meaning of our Lord's words appears to be this--"This bread represents my body. This wine represents my blood."
  • The true doctrine about our Lord's human nature forbids us to believe that the bread in the Lord's Supper can be His body, or the wine His blood.
  • The second thing which demands our notice in these verses, is the purpose and object for which the Lord's Supper was appointed.
  • From the day that Jesus died there needed no more offering for sin. By one offering He perfected forever those who are sanctified. (Heb. 10:14.)
  • The Lord's Supper has no power to automatically confer benefit on those who come to it, if they do not come to it with faith.
  • The Lord's Supper was ordained for a continual remembrance of the sacrifice of Christ's death, until He comes again.
  • It is an ordinance for redeemed sinners, and not for unfallen angels.
  • By receiving it we publicly declare our sense of guilt, and need of a Savior--our trust in Jesus, and our love to Him--our desire to live upon Him, and our hope to live with Him.
  • The last thing which deserves a brief notice in this passage, is the character of the first communicants. It is a point full of comfort and instruction.
  • The state of their hearts was not hidden from Him. And yet He did not keep back from them the Lord's Supper.
  • It shows us plainly that we must not make great knowledge, and great strength of grace, an indispensable qualification for communicants.
  • Let us leave the passage with serious self-inquiry as to our own conduct with respect to the Lord's Supper. Do we turn away from it, when it is administered?
  • If so, how can we justify our conduct? It will not do to say it is not a necessary ordinance. To say so is to pour contempt on Christ Himself, and declare that we do not obey Him.
  • Are we in the habit of coming to the Lord's table? If so, in what frame of mind do we come? Do we draw near intelligently, humbly, and with faith?
  • Do we really feel our sinfulness and need of Christ? Do we really desire to live a Christian life, as well as profess the Christian faith? Happy is that soul who can give a satisfactory answer to these questions. Let him go forward, and persevere.

Matthew 26:36-46

  • Why do we find our Lord so "sorrowful and very heavy," as he is here described? What are we to make of His words, "my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death?"
  • Why do we see Him going apart from His disciples, and falling on His face, and crying to His Father with strong cries, and thrice-repeated prayer?
  • Why is the Almighty Son of God, who had worked so many miracles, so heavy and disturbed? Why is Jesus, who came into the world to die, so like one ready to faint at the approach of death? Why is all this?
  • There is but one reasonable answer to these questions. The weight that pressed down our Lord's soul, was not the fear of death, and its pains.
  • But the real weight that bowed down the heart of Jesus, was the weight of the sin of the world, which seems to have now pressed down upon Him with peculiar force.
  • It was the burden of our guilt imputed to Him, which was now laid on Him, as on the head of the scapegoat. How great that burden must have been, no heart of man can conceive. It is known only to God.
  • Let us learn, in the first place, that prayer is the best practical remedy that we can use in time of trouble. We see that Christ Himself prayed, when His soul was sorrowful. All true Christians ought to do the same.
  • Trouble is a cup that all must drink in this world of sin. We are "born to trouble as the sparks fly upward." (Job 5:7.) We cannot avoid it.
  • But what is the first thing to be done in time of trouble? We must pray. Like Job, we must fall down and worship. (Job 1:20.)
  • The first person we must turn to for help, must be our God. We must tell all our sorrow to our Father in heaven.
  • Let us learn, in the second place, that entire submission of will to the will of God should be one of our chief aims in this world.
  • Let us learn, in the last place, that there is great weakness, even in true disciples of Christ, and that they have need to watch and pray against it.
  • If we desire to walk with God comfortably, and not fall, like David or Peter, let us never forget to watch and pray.
  • We cannot walk too carefully. We cannot be too jealous over our souls. The world is very ensnaring. The devil is very busy. Let our Lord's words ring in our ears daily like a trumpet.
  • Our spirits may sometimes be very willing. But our flesh is always very weak. Then let us always watch and always pray.
  • Matthew 26:47-56
  • We see in these verses the cup of our Lord Jesus Christ's sufferings beginning to be filled.
  • Never surely was there sorrow like His sorrow! Never may we forget, as we read this part of the Bible, that our sins were the cause of these sorrows!
  • Let us notice, for one thing, in these verses, what gracious condescension marked our Lord's communion with His disciples.
  • Let us notice for another thing, how our Lord condemns those who think to use carnal weapons in defense of Him and His cause.
  • Let us notice for another thing, how our Lord submitted to be made a prisoner of His own free will. He was not taken captive because he could not escape.
  • He came on purpose to fulfill the types and promises of Old Testament Scriptures, and by fulfilling them to provide salvation for the world.
  • He came intentionally to be the true Lamb of God, the Passover Lamb. He came to be the Scapegoat on whom the iniquities of the people were to be laid.
  • Let us observe this. There is much encouragement in it. The willing sufferer will surely be a willing Savior.
  • Let us notice, in the last place, how little Christians know the weakness of their own hearts, until they are tried.

Matthew 26:57-68

  • The great day of atonement was come. The wondrous type of the scapegoat was about to be completely fulfilled.
  • It was only suitable that the Jewish high priest should do his part, and declare sin to be upon the head of the victim, before he was led forth to be crucified.
  • Let us observe in these verses, that the chief priests were the principal agents in bringing about our Lord's death.
  • It is a clear proof that high ecclesiastical office exempts no man from gross errors in doctrine, and tremendous sins in practice.
  • Let us beware of regarding any minister of religion as infallible.
  • The teaching and conduct of all ministers must be tried by the Word of God. They are to be followed so long as they follow the Bible, but no longer.
  • Let us observe, in the second place, how fully our Lord declared to the Jewish council His own Messiahship, and His future coming in glory.
  • Let us observe, in the last place, how much our Lord endured before the council, from false witness and mockery.

Matthew 26:69-75

  • If the Gospel had been a mere invention of man, we would never have been told that one of its principal preachers was once so weak and erring, as to deny his Master.
  • The first thing that demands our notice, is the full nature of the sin of which Peter was guilty.
  • A man may be converted to God, have faith, and hope, and love towards Christ, and yet be overtaken in a fault, and have dreadful falls.
  • The second thing that demands our notice, is the series of steps by which Peter was led to deny his Lord.
  • The first step to Peter's fall was SELF-CONFIDENCE. He said, "Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will." The second step was INDOLENCE. His Master told him to watch and pray. Instead of doing so, he slept. The third step was cowardly COMPROMISING. The last step was NEEDLESS VENTURING INTO EVIL COMPANY. And then came the final fall, the cursing, the swearing, and the three-fold DENIAL.
  • Let us remember this part of Peter's history. It is deeply instructive to all who profess and call themselves Christians.
  • Great falls seldom happen to a saint, without a previous course of secret backsliding.
  • Men fall in private, long before they fall in public. The tree falls with a great crash, but the secret decay which accounts for it, is often not discovered until it is down on the ground.
  • The last thing that demands our notice, is the sorrow which Peter's sin brought upon him. We read at the end of the chapter, "He went out and wept bitterly."
  • Thousands have read the history of Peter's sin, who have thought little of Peter's tears, and Peter's repentance. May we have an eye to see, and a heart to understand.
  • We see in Peter's tears, the close connection between unhappiness and departure from God. It is a merciful arrangement of God, that in one sense holiness shall always be its own reward.
  • Let it be a settled principle in our religion, that if we love inward peace, we must walk closely with God.
  • When the hypocrite is overtaken by sin, he generally falls to rise no more. He has no principle of life within him to raise him up.
  • When the child of God is overtaken, he rises again by true repentance, and by the grace of God amends his life.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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