WE ARE RECEIVERS NOT GIVERS

“[W]hat accounts for most of our failures in Christian living is our failure to realize what we are. It is our failure to realize what God has done to us. We must think less and less of doing and more and more of being. If we only are what we ought to be, then the doing will more or less look after itself” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#211, p87).

“Conformity, to live one with God, is a far higher and more divine life than to live simply in submission to God” E.M. Bounds (ref#54, p51-52).

“It is a great matter to enjoy God’s ordinances, but to enjoy God’s presence in the ordinances is that which a gracious heart aspires after” Thomas Watson (ref#225, Jan 15th).

“You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews. You have granted me life and steadfast love and your care has preserved my spirit” (Job 10:11-12 ESV).

“Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long” (Ps 25:4-5 ESV).

“Salvation is something that has come to men and women as a free gift to them, and they have nothing to do but to receive this gift. It is something provided; it is the righteousness of God that is given” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Nov 24th).

A free gift is hard to receive. Over and over free gifts are hard to receive as we go through sanctification. But, our entire life with CHRIST is receiving from Him with our inability to pay back. We are receivers not givers when it comes to our spiritual life. Pointing our finger at CHRIST in worship is the only gesture we can give.

“Guide me, O thou great Jehovah!

Pilgrim through this barren land;

I am weak, but thou art mighty;

Hold me with thy powerful hand;

Bread of heaven,

Feed me now and evermore” W. Williams (ref#224, song #462).

GRACE

“[O]ur hearts are so like a tinderbox and sparks are so plentiful, we need to use all diligence in all places to prevent a blaze. Satan can climb housetops and enter prayer closets. Even if we could shut out that foul fiend, our own corruptions are enough to work our ruin unless grace prevents it” Charles Spurgeon (ref#34, Jan 17th PM).

“Satan does not tempt God’s children, not because they have sin in them, but because they have grace in them. Had they no grace, the devil would not disturb them. Where he has possession all is at peace. His temptations are to rob the saints of their grace” Thomas Watson (ref#225, p278).

“Satan will not often temp a believer to gross crimes: our greatest snares and sorest conflicts are usually found in things lawful in themselves, but hurtful to us by their abuse, engrossing too much of our time, or of our hearts, or somehow indisposing us for communion with the Lord” John Newton (ref#322, p156).

“Although to be tempted is a trouble, yet to consider why you are being tempted is a comfort. Godly temptation causes the increase of grace” Thomas Watson (ref#225, p278).

“If we would make peace with the world, the world would let us alone; if we could be content to walk in the ways of sin, Satan would give us no disturbance; but because grace has rescued us from his dominion, and the love of Jesus constrains us to live to him alone, therefore the enemy, like a lion robbed of his prey, roars against us. He roars, but he cannot devour; he plots and rages, but he cannot prevail; he disquiets, but he cannot destroy” John Newton (ref#322, p96-97).

“Deceit of the mind is carried on by degrees, little by little. We are first drawn away from watchfulness, then from obedience. We are drawn away from watchfulness by overconfidence. We are often drawn away from obedience by the abuse of grace” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p65).

It is easier to sin and then ask forgiveness than to resist temptation in the first place. “We abuse grace when we think we can sin and then receive forgiveness. We abuse grace when, after sinning, we dwell on the compassion and mercy of God to the exclusion of His holiness and hatred of sin” Jerry Bridges (ref#244, p65).

“Christ succors the tempted. [W]hen a soul is most assaulted, it shall be most assisted” Thomas Watson (ref#225, p278).

RENOUNCING OUR OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS

“[H]is heart was lifted up and his spirit was hardened so that he dealt proudly” (Dan 5:20 ESV).

“Possibly you may be confident of your own strength, and may think that you are not in danger, that there is no temptation but what you are able easily to overcome. But you should consider that the most self-confident are most in danger” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p71).

“If when others who have fallen into gross sins should be inquired of, and should declare how it was with them, doubtless they would say that they at first thought there was no danger; that they were far from the thought that ever they should commit such wickedness” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p71).

“O faithless daughter, who trusted in her treasures, saying, ‘Who will come against me?’” (Jer 49:4 ESV).

“[N]ever can I swallow pride

My pride will swallow me

Unless I’m overwhelmed by grace

In forced humility” Doug Newton (ref#166, p132).

“God would rather let His children all into the devil’s hands than to see them proud. Better is that temptation that humbles than that duty which makes us proud. [A] Christian may get much good by temptation” Thomas Watson (ref#225, p202).

“The one great design of God in all His dispensations to His people, is to prevent and cure the pride of their hearts. We must condemn ourselves, before He will justify us; and renounce our own righteousness, if ever we will be made righteous” Richard Mayo (ref#225, p 237).

“[W]hen I see myself as I really am, nobody can insult me. It is impossible, because they can never say anything that is bad enough about me. Whatever the world may say about me, I am much worse than they think. Self-sufficiency, self-consciousness—oh, to get away from the self” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Nov 13th)!

“Restore to me again the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you” (Ps 51:12 TLB).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

HYPOCRITES_4

“The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: ‘Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire?  Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?’  He who walks righteously…” (Isa 33:14-15 ESV).

“There are two kinds of persons among God’s professing people: the one is those who are truly godly, the other kind consist of sinners in Zion, hypocrites…. hypocrites…make a profession of the true religion; they attend God’s ordinances and make a show of being the worshippers of God, but all is in hypocrisy.  Fearfulness will surprise them.  The wrath of God is in His Word manifested against the wicked, but it is ten times as much manifested against those sinners who make the profession and enjoy the privileges of the people of God….The reasons for this are chiefly these: they sin against such professions and vows, and they sin against so much greater mercy” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p59).

“Abstaining from sin.  This abstaining may be from restraining grace, not renewing grace.  Men may leave gross sin and yet live in more spiritual sins; leave drunkenness and live in pride; leave uncleanness and live in malice” Thomas Watson (ref#48, “The Counterfeits of the New Creature”).

“Many a man’s knowledge is a torch to light him to hell.  You who have knowledge of God’s will, but don’t do it, in what way do you excel a hypocrite” Thomas Watson (ref#225, May 23rd)?

“…a mighty supernatural power is needed if I am to come to Him who ‘justifieth the ungodly.’  None but the all-mighty Spirit can lift a stricken soul out of the guilt of despair and enable him to believe to the saving of his soul” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p93).

A characteristic of a Christian is: “He is painfully aware of his indwelling corruption.  He finds an evil principle within himself that is constantly warring against grace and trying to draw him away from God.  But he does not consent to it, though he cannot prevent its presence” J.C. Ryle (ref#222).  “Sanctification is…dependent on God’s continuing action in the believer, and consisting of the believer’s continuous struggle against sin….Sanctification is…human effort dependent on God” The Reformation Study Bible (ref#56, p1650).

O FATHER, how I want to believe that all I pray for, who are unregenerate, are sinning in a way that does not lead to death and that eventually You will give them life.  I pray their sins are not obstinate sins, and thus, incurable.  Matthew Poole (ref#21, p941, [1 John 5:16]).

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?

TEMPORARY CONVERSION

“There is the possibility of a joyful conversion proving to be temporary” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Jan 21st).

This title is misleading as well as the statement above for conversion is permanent.  I’ve labeled this post “temporary conversion” because for some there is a short-lived excitement toward Christianity, but in the end they fall short of it.  “…this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy…endures for a while, and…falls away” (Matt 13:20-21 ESV).

“He seems to have received the Word, he is full of joy, but he has no root in him, and that is why he ends up with nothing at all….there is the possibility of this very joyful ‘conversion,’ and yet there is nothing there in a vital, living sense, and it proves temporary” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Jan 21st).

“Instead of believing God, he believes the contradiction of his own ungodly heart; and hopes to be saved whether God wills it or not” Richard Baxter (ref#225, Aug 25th).

“Judas was in the company of the apostles all along, he really belonged to the world, and the fate of the world is to perish….The end of the non-Christian, even though he may be highly religious, is perdition, which means perishing” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, March 14th).  “…Not everyone who talks about God comes from God….” (1 John 4:1 MSG).

“He is not a true Christian who only bears the visible badges of Christianity, but he who, with the visible badges, also partakes of the invisible grace (Mark 16:16)” Thomas Watson (ref#48, “The Counterfeits of the New Creature”).

“…we want an experience with God…You don’t experience God; you get to know him.  You submit to him.  You enjoy him, He is, after all, a person” Paul E. Miller (ref#62, p21).

TRUE CHRISTIAN OR FAUX?

PROFESSING BELIEVERS

This title, too, is misleading for these are carnal men who, themselves, profess to be believers, but they are not genuine believers.

“A dangerous yet real possibility is that apparent followers of Jesus may not be true disciples at all but only professing believers (e.g. Judas Iscariot)” The ESV Study Bible (ref#125, p1859, [Matt 18:14]).

“There are multitudes of unregenerate religionists [professing believers] who are taught, numbers of them well taught, in the letter of the Scriptures.  They are thoroughly versed in the historical facts and doctrines of Christianity; but their instruction came only from human media—parents, Sunday School teachers, or through reading religious books.  Their intellectual knowledge of spiritual things is considerable, sound, and clear; yet it is unaccompanied by any heavenly unction, saving power, or transforming effects….many of them are total strangers to a miracle of grace being wrought in the heart.  How it behooves each of us to test ourselves rigidly at this point” A.W. Pink (ref#269 p103, brackets mine)!

Jonathan Edwards lends sobering words in his famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God.”  “Every one lays out matters in his own mind how he shall avoid damnation and flatters himself…that his schemes will not fail” Jonathan Edwards (ref#139, point 9 in second set of beginning points).  “…whatever pains a natural man takes in religion, whatever prayers he makes,…God is under no matter of obligation to keep him a moment from eternal destruction” Jonathan Edwards (ref#139, point 10 in second set of points).

“It is not that he [the sinner] is averse from being saved from Hell—for none desire to go there—but that he is unwilling to “forsake” (Prov 28:13; Isa 55:7) his idols—the things which hold the first place in his affections and interests….the things of time and sense…” A.W. Pink (ref#269, p88-89, brackets mine).

“Man may change from error to truth, yet only in the head, not in the heart…morality is but nature at best….Sudden passion, or stirring of the affections.  Many desire heaven, but will not come up to the price.  King Herod heard John gladly; his affections were moved, but his sin was not removed” Thomas Watson (ref#48, “The Conuterfeits of the New Creature”).

HEAVEN

CONTINUAL ENJOYMENT OF GOD

“It is the enjoyment of God that makes heaven…” Thomas Watson (ref#225, p18).

“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple” (Ps 27:4 ESV).

FATHER, my longing is for heaven.  Settle me now and allow me to dream…

“…the former troubles are forgotten and are hidden from my eyes.  ‘For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind” (Isa 65:16-17 ESV).

 “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.  And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.  And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Rev 21:1-4 ESV).

“The sun shall be no more your light by day, not for brightness shall the moon give you light; but the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory” (Isa 60:19 ESV).

“…The Throne of God and of the Lamb is at the center.  His servants will offer God service—worshiping, they’ll look on his face…” (Rev 22:1-5 MSG).

 “…What we know is that when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him.…” (1 John 3:2-3 MSG).

 FATHER, with the utmost praise I thank You for my inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading kept in heaven for me. (1 Pet 1:4) 

2ND COVENANT

LAW VS. GOSPEL

“What is the difference between the moral law and the Gospel?  The law requires that we worship God as our Creator; the Gospel, that we worship Him in and through Christ.  God in Christ is propitious; out of Him we may see God’s power, justice, and holiness: in Him we see His mercy displayed.  The moral law requires obedience, but gives no strength…but the Gospel gives strength; it bestows faith on the elect; it sweetens the law; it makes us serve God with delight” Thomas Watson (ref#225, p319).

“The great and most distinguishing difference between the covenant of grace and that of works is that by the covenant of grace we are not thus justified by our own works, but only by faith in Jesus Christ” Jonathan Edwards (ref#229, p9).

“…the law…Its purpose was to make obvious to everyone that we are, in ourselves, out of right relationship with God…” (Gal 3:21-22 MSG).

“…we need God’s help not just in the doing part but also in willing to walk in his ways” Jim Cymbala (ref#161, p157).

FATHER, the law holds me captive until I embrace the Gospel.  The law announces I will die because I’m not, in every point, keeping it.  The law holds me in sin.

“But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code” (Rom 7:6 ESV).

I have not just shunned or rejected the old law.  If that were the case I could come back to it. No, I am dead to it—transformed into a new person altogether.  I now have a spiritual nature that has the ability in joy to subject my members to righteousness.  FATHER, Your works move me to an impossible-to-express thanks.

FAITH

SUPERNATURAL FAITH

“I need emancipation; I need to be lifted to another realm; I need a force and a strength and a power that I do not have myself.  That is my need, and here is the answer: I am given faith—I am given an outlook and understanding—I am introduced to a source of power” Martyn Lloyd-Jones (ref#189, Dec 7th).

“Faith means you take God at his word, you never let yourself think that you’re smarter than him, and you live inside his boundaries….We tend to live by sight, by personal experience, by collective research, or by good old intuition, but faith isn’t natural” Paul David Tripp (ref#190, April 17th).

“The highest rational knowledge of God cannot profit without the knowledge of faith….In the Scriptures, Christians are not called knowing persons, but believers” Thomas Watson (ref#225, p151).

“…trusting God to shape the right living in us…It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is…God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead….You’re not ‘doing’ anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation….” (Rom 10:4-10 MSG).

“The obedience that gives God pleasure is produced by the power of God’s grace through faith.  The same dynamic is at work at every stage of the Christian life.  The power of God’s grace that saves through faith (Eph 2:8) is the same power of God’s grace that sanctifies through faith” John Piper (ref#220, p245).

 “…God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power…” (1 Cor 2:4-5 MSG).