SUFFERING FROM HATEFUL MEN

“[We are] hated by the world so long as the race of Cains and the race of Abels continue on the earth” Charles Ross (ref#241, p137).

“I call persecution for righteousness’ sake not only when we suffer in defense of the gospel, but also when we are opposed in upholding any just cause. When we defend the truth of God over against the falsehoods, of Satan, or protect good and innocent people against injustice and injury, it may be necessary for us to incur the hatred and indignation of the world, so that our lives, our possessions, or our reputation may be endangered” John Calvin (ref#313, p56).

“John Bunyan said that believers ‘are like bells; the harder they are hit, the better they sound’” John Calvin (ref#164, Aug 20th).

“When our Lord was on earth what was the treatment He received? Were His claims acknowledged, His instruction followed, and His perfections worshipped by those whom He came to bless? Crossbearing was His occupation. They did not prize the polished gem, so why would they value the jewel in the rough” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 10th PM)?

“We learn to glory in infirmities, to take pleasure in necessities and distresses for Christ’s sake; for ‘when I am weak, then I am strong.’ He rises above the ordinary tone in which so many Christians speak of their weakness, while they are content to abide there, because he had learnt from Christ that in the life of divine love the emptying of self and the sacrifice of our will is the surest way to have all we can wish or will. Dependence, subjection, self-sacrifice, are for the Christian as for Christ the blessed path of life. Like as Christ lived through and in the Father, even so the believer lives through and in Christ” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p149).

“[I]f God be at peace with you, it matters not who is at war with you. If Jehovah absolves, your name may be cast out as evil, you may be ranked among the vilest of the vile, your name may be a byword and a proverb, only fit to be wrought up into the drunkard’s song—but who is he that can be against you? What are all these things, if put into the balance, but lighter than vanity, if Jehovah Himself hath justified you” Charles H. Spurgeon (ref#238, p47)?

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the LORD delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken. Affliction will slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be condemned. The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned” (Ps 34:19-22 ESV).

“Show me a sign of your favor, that those who hate me may see and be put to shame because you, O LORD, have helped me and comforted me” (Ps 86:17 ESV).

CHRIST TEACHES SUFFERING

“For us all—for you, tempted to interpret your afflictions as signals of wrath and your sins as seals of condemnation, your poverty as the mark of neglect, your seasons of darkness as token of desertion, and your doubts and fears as evidences of a false hope and of self-deception. For you, dear saint of God, Jesus was delivered up” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, Dec 14th).

“[L]et no Christian call into question God’s love when he is brought under painful afflictions and trials. God did not enrich Christ on earth with temporal prosperity. But He [gave] Him the Spirit without measure (Jon 3:34). Learn that spiritual blessings are the principal gifts of divine love” Arthur W. Pink (ref#253, p10).

“Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God” (1 Pet 4:1 ESV).

“Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. 1 Peter 2:21 “Christ teaches us how to live, and He also teaches us how to suffer. Because we live in a world of suffering and we need to be taught how to suffer, He teaches us how to suffer. The cross teaches us how to suffer—not only how to live morally and ethically, but how to suffer. ‘The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune’ come to us all: people misunderstanding us, injustices done to us, the failure of trusted friends, people letting us down, disappointments, loneliness, physical pain” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, April 30th).

“He that abides in Christ the Crucified One, learns to know what it is to be crucified with Him, and in Him to be indeed dead unto sin” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p199).

“He suffered for us; he calls us to be conformed to him in sufferings. He conquered in his own person, and he will make each of his members more than conquerors in due season” John Newton (ref#322, p182).

ABIDE IN CHRIST

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn [God’s] statutes” (Ps 119:71 ESV).

“When things are going ‘bad’ that does not mean God has stopped doing good. It means he is shifting things around to get them in place for more good, if you will go on loving him” John Piper (ref#220, p181).

“[B]eliever, most specially in times of trial, abide in Christ. Abide in Christ! This is indeed the Father’s object in sending the trial” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p124).

“[O]ne of the purposes of trials—to revive in us the spirit of devotion and communion with God. And when mercy comes on the back of great trouble, it leads us sweetly to prayer” Charles Spurgeon (ref#310, p165).

“You and I place much more importance on things than they truly possess, and when we do so, these things begin to claim our heart allegiance. So God ordains for us to experience that physical things get old and break. The people in our lives fail us. Relationships sour and become painful. Our physical bodies weaken. Flowers die and food spoils. All of this is meant to teach us that these things are beautiful and enjoyable, but they cannot give us what we all long for—life” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 29th).

“In this world that is groaning, God is protecting our hearts. He is protecting us from us. Our hearts can be so fickle. We can worship God one day, only to turn and give the worship of our hearts to something else the next. So, in love, God lets pieces of the creation die in our hands so that increasingly we are freed from asking earth to give us what only he can give.” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 29th).

“The furnace works wonders for a believer. He should never wish to be exempt from it! [R]eal grace is inseparable from a state of trial. Where there is real faith, the Lord will try it. Real grace, then, is tried grace. The hour of affliction is the hour of softening. The hardness of the heart yields, the callousness of the spirit gives way, the affections become tender, and conscience is more susceptible. It is the season of holy abstraction, meditation, and prayer, of withdrawal from the world and from creature delights, while the soul is more closely shut in with God. Emptied, humbled, and softened, the heart is prepared for the seal of the Spirit” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 8th).

“Your Lord knows that even as his child your heart is still prone to wander, so in tender, patient grace he keeps you in a world that teaches you that he alone is worthy of the deepest, most worshipful allegiance of your heart” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, March 29th).

KILLING PRIDE

“[T]he most heavily laden branches bow the lowest down” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p132).

GOD has to continue afflicting us because every minute we are un-afflicted we head toward pride, forgetting who rules the world. When un-afflicted we revel in our accomplishments.

“When you discipline us for our sins, you consume like a moth what is precious to us” (Ps 39:11 NLT)!

“This vanity [God] cannot better repress than by proving to us from experience not only our folly, but also our extreme frailty. Therefore he afflicts us with humiliation, or poverty, or loss of relatives, or disease, or other calamities” John Calvin (ref#313, p47).

 “[T]he Lord himself, as he deems fit, uses the cross to oppose, restrain, and subdue the arrogance of our flesh” John Calvin (ref#313, p53).

“[T]he Lord, by pain, sickness, and disappointments weakens our attachment to this world, and makes the thought of quitting it more familiar and more desirable” John Newton (ref#322, p173).

“Take up your own daily cross. It is the burden best suited for your shoulder, and will prove most effective in making you perfect. Down meddlesome self and proud impatience! It is not for you, but only for the Lord of Love, to choose!

Trials must and will befall—

But with humble faith to see

Love inscribed upon them all;

This is happiness to me” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Nov 11th PM).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

HYPOCRITES_3

“Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove to be tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, April 26th PM).

Initial or preparative grace may fail: “’…those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,’ may fall away; such as illumination, external reformation, temporary faith, some good beginnings. Some die in the pangs of the new birth and are stillborn.  Plenty of blossoms do not always foretell a store of fruit” Thomas Manton (ref#225, Sept 28th).

“…enter into the spiritual state…know that there is such a spiritual life to be lived…the first thing…to do is to study and to believe God’s Word until in faith our hearts are filled with the assurance that there is such a life possible….the second step: A man must see the shame and guilt of his not having lived such a life….A man does not get converted without having conviction of sin….a man…must be convicted of his particular sin….Until this conviction of the wrongness of our carnal state as believers comes to each one of us; until we are willing to get this conviction from God, to take time before God to be humbled and convicted, we never can become spiritual men” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p16-20).

We become a brand new person inside.  Our new life has begun (2 Cor 5:17)—a life fashioned after CHRIST, renewed from the inside and able to work itself into our conduct as He accurately reproduces His character in us (Eph 4:24).  This metamorphosis is called, “sanctification” and we will keep changing for the better until the day we die (Phil 2:12).

A characteristic of a Christian is: “He may have fears and doubts.  He may sometimes tell you that he feels as if he had no faith at all.  But ask him if he is willing to trust in anything instead of Christ, and see what he will say.  Ask him if he will rest his hope of eternal life on his own goodness, his own works, his prayers, his minister, or his church” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).

FATHER, all that I pray for I pray they are not refusing Your diagnosis of their need and Your offer of forgiveness (ref#56, p1828, [1 John 1:10]).  I pray they are not chronically disobedient to Your commands (ref#125, p2437, [1 John 5:16]). For continuing in such a state leads to permanent death.

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

HYPOCRITES_2

“The highest principle with the hypocrite is fear of punishment, and hope of reward (Hos 10:11), their highest end is themselves (Hos 10:1)” Thomas  Boston (ref#267).

“To ‘live after the flesh’ is to be in love with sin, to serve it contentedly, to make self-gratification the trade and business of life.  It is by no means limited to the grosser forms of wickedness and crime, but includes as well the refinement, morality, and religiousness of the best of men, who yet give God no real place in their hearts and lives” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p111).

“You know the way of salvation.  You read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, and it is explained to you by friends; yet you neglect it and therefore, are not saved….Times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, yet you are without Christ….Affliction and prosperity have both failed to impress you.  Tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Dec 31st AM).

“Are you ignorant of the Holy Spirit – unacquainted with his life-giving power?…You are still of the world, and what you need is to have your false peace disturbed, and to be converted to God” Charles Ross (ref#241, p93).

A characteristic of a Christian: “A person who has been born again, or regenerated, does not habitually commit sin.  He no longer sins with his heart and will and whole inclination.  There was probably a time when he did not think about whether his actions were sinful or not, and he did not always feel grieved after doing evil.  There was no quarrel between him and sin; they were friends.  But the true Christian hates sin, flees from it, fights against it, considers it his greatest plague, resents the burden of its presence, mourns when he falls under its influence, and longs to be completely delivered from it” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).

“What brought deliverance to that poor condemned sinner…in his unconverted state?  He felt he could do nothing good of himself….He saw set before him the almighty Saviour and he cast himself into His arms; he trusted himself to that omnipotent love and cried, ‘Lord, have mercy upon me.’  That was salvation” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p22-23).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

NOT REAL

“There are many today who are sincere, but they are not real; they are not hypocrites, but perfectly honest and earnest and desirous of fulfilling what Jesus wants of them, but they really cannot do it because they have not received the Holy Spirit who will make them real” Oswald Chambers (ref#83, p85).

“It is the Holy Spirit alone who by His indwelling can make a spiritual man” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p25).

 “…I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom 10:2 ESV).  “…they trusted…and argued that because they were zealous they were therefore of necessity right….they rejected the knowledge the Gospel was offering them because of that very ardor.  The conflict in their case was between zeal and knowledge, between sincerity and truth” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, May 27th).

“There can be no doubt at all but that these qualities—zeal and sincerity—are being exalted in our day precisely as they were by the Jews of old.  Knowledge is being depreciated, almost despised.  Clear, logical thinking and exact definitions are discounted.  Doctrine and dogma are taboo and regarded as being almost the enemies of truth, and even good deeds are not given the prominence they had a few years ago” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, May 27th).

“…knowledge…draws us to the kingdom of heaven or takes our affections from the world, and leads us to Jesus Christ…when we do not know what the salvation means that was purchased by our Lord Jesus Christ, we belong to the world and are profane” John Calvin (ref#164, Nov 9th).

A characteristic of a Christian is: “A man who is born again…believes that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour who can pardon his soul, that He is the divine person appointed by God the Father for this very purpose, and beside Him there is no Saviour at all….trusting in Him, he believes that his sins are all forgiven.  He believes that, for the sake of Christ’s finished work and death on the Cross, he is reckoned righteous in God’s sight. (Rom 4:20-5:1, 8:1)” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

PHARISEES

“…others…have strained after holiness of life, but have denied the faith, like the Pharisees of old” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Sept 18th AM).

“…few people are aware how far an individual may go—not merely in an outward change of character and an external union to Christ, but in a strong resemblance to the positive and manifest evidences of the new birth—without actually possessing any of them….the soul…the will…and the heart…are all unrenewed by the Holy Spirit….It is surprising how far an outwardly moral individual may seem to progress—spiritual knowledge, eminent gifts, and even great usefulness—while yet retaining the carnal mind, the rebellious will, the unhumbled and unbroken heart….we should be perpetually beguiled into the belief that a head filled with rational, theoretical truth must necessarily be connected with some degree of divine grace in the heart… let no man be so deceived as to substitute knowledge for grace” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, May 7th).

An outward man may have occasionally slight works of the SPIRIT.  The SPIRIT may be present to convict him by not convert him.  “True conversion and repentance consists of a true and thorough change of the whole man, whereby not only some actions are changed, but first and chiefly the whole frame and disposition of the heart is changed.  He is now set aright toward God, from evil to good, as well as from darkness to light (Eph 4:22-24)” Henry Scudder (ref#225, Oct 11th).

A characteristic of a Christian is: “He cannot prevent bad thoughts from entering his mind, or shortcomings, omissions, and defects from appearing in both his words and his actions….But…his whole nature does not consent to them” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).

“The believer’s calling is to think and feel and will just what Jesus thought and felt and willed” Andrew Murray (ref#266, p154).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

EMPTY PROFESSORS

“Every bird that hath fine feathers hath not sweet flesh; all that shine with the golden feathers of profession are not saints.  How devout were the Pharisees” Thomas Watson (ref#48, “The Counterfeits of the New Creature”)!

 “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord! Will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter” (Matt 7:21 NLT).

“Our blessed Lord foresaw and forewarned men of the danger that an outward profession of the gospel may exist though the heart be yet a stranger to its power….There may be a deep and clear knowledge of divine truth, a strongly enlightened judgment, and a sound and scriptural creed.  There may be a strong attachment to and zealous maintenance of some of the distinguishing doctrines of grace—even a desire to hear of Christ and an ability to judge between sound and unsound preaching. And all the while, the heart is encased in the hardness of impenitence and unbelief, a stranger to the regenerating influence of the Spirit of God” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, June 9th).

“…for a man to get out of the carnal life into the spiritual life…is when a man utterly breaks with the flesh, when he gives up the flesh into the crucifixion death of Christ, when he sees that everything about it is accursed and that he cannot deliver himself from it, and then claims the slaying power of Christ’s cross within him” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p21).

“According to the Westminster Shorter Catechism (Q. 35), sanctification is ‘the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness’” The Reformation Study Bible(ref#56, p1650).

FATHER, in 1 John 5:15 You say you will give me what I ask for and then follow it with: “If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life…” (1 John 5:16 ESV).  I do not know where the names of the people on my prayer list are in their spiritual life, because I only see the outward signs, but, I pray for their spiritual welfare with all “hope and expectation of success” Matthew Poole (ref#21, p941, [1 John 5:16]).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

BACKSLIDERS – CONTENT IN THEIR STATE

“A believer may fall into a drowsy state of soul—not so profoundly as to be entirely lost to the voice of his Beloved speaking by conscience, by the Word, and by providence; yet his grace may have decayed so far, his love may have grown so cold, and his declension may have been so hardened, that he is content in this state.  Oh, alarming symptom of soul-declension: the indulgence of laziness and self is preferred to a visit from Jesus” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 28th)!

“They are converted; they know what it is to have assurance and faith; they believe in pardon for sin; they begin to work for God; and yet…there is none of the beauty of holiness or of the power of God’s Spirit in them” Andrew Murray (ref#272, p9).

FATHER, backsliders have walked in Your ways long enough to have “…seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit…” (Heb 6:4-8 MSG).  They have personally experienced the sheer goodness of Your Word and the powers of the age to come (Heb 6:5) but have, at some point, turned away from CHRIST.  (These words in Hebrews may describe one who has never experienced regeneration but these Scriptures also fit the definition of a backslider.)

GOD…”would walk with them all the day long, and sun them with the unclouded light of His countenance.  But when He hides Himself for a little moment, He is driven from their embrace by their lukewarmness of heart and unkind resistance of His love” Octavius Winslow (ref#135, July 28th).

FATHER, You tell us to not grieve Your SPIRIT; we grieve You when we do that.  There are endless ways we injure You, GOD.  How continually You must discipline us to move us back into a right relationship with You.  We are constantly “high maintenance.”  But that shows Your longsuffering love and faithfulness.  Once we are reunited we possess much to praise and glorify You.