Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Gospel in a Box of Love

It was my joy today to lead in praying, dedicating to God's purposes the Christmas Boxes so lovingly prepared by my brothers and sisters in Christ and delivered to our church today soon to be sent off for parts around the world. Praying for our great savior to receive all the glory, for his gospel to enter into the ears and sink down into the hearts of the little boys and girls receiving these boxes. It's exciting to to think what blessing the recipients may enjoy. Some knowing Christ, comforted a little, finding some joy that though we do not know them yet we are loving them for Christ's sake. Others, hearing for the first time the name of Jesus and discovering the glorious gospel revealing just who is Jesus and what great things he has done. With this blessing in mind, my three little girls enclosed brief notes of encouragement to be read by whomever receives their particular box.

So today I want to present to you as a guest blogger, an excerpt from the words which my 13 yr old daughter penned and enclosed in her box hoping to bring eternal joy and present comfort in the 10-14 year old girl soon to be opening the Christmas box.

In the beginning God created us, and we loved Him and served Him. God made a rule, too not eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But Adam ate it and disobeyed God. When Adam sinned, we sinned. His sin was counted as ours. We are cursed to sin, we are in bondage of sin, slaves of sin. We have to pay for our sins, by dying and going to hell forever.

But there is a second Adam. His name is Jesus. He is our Savior. He can set us free from sin. We don’t have to be in bondage of sin. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life

Our God is so wonderful, sending his son to die for us sinners. Ones who mocked God, disobeyed God, wanted to do evil against God.

And Jesus came to earth willingly. He became flesh, human. He lived a perfect life, without sin. He bore the cup of God’s wrath, for us. He died on the cross and paid for our sins. He was counted sinful even though he never sinned.

That is the Gospel.

I am so thankful that Jesus died for those who believe in Him and will believe in Him. I am so thankful that he can come in us and work in us to want to believe, and to want to be a child of God, and call him, Abba, Father.

Related Posts:
Gospel Thinking - Jim gives a summation of the gospel. click here
Summarizing the Gospel - Gospel in a paragraph. click here

For more on Samaritan's Purse, Operation Christmas Child, including videos and pictures click here.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Romans - Chapters 1 and 2

(Pictured above is a word cloud on the entire book of Romans. click here to see word clounds for the 66 books of the Bible. )

This post is part of a study in Romans, whereby we identify keywords and phrases for each chapter with the goal of having a handle on the subject matter and flow of thought within Romans whereby we can preach the gospel to ourselves and others every day. See here for a introduction and description of our study in Romans.

Below is a handout plus a few added notes to summarize the previous four weeks in Romans Chapters one and two, and to introduce the memory verses and keywords for Romans Chapter 3.

November 15, 2009

  • Chap 1: Without Excuse
  • Chap 2: The Law Condemns
  • Chap 3: There is none righteous

Alternate Keywords:
  • Chap 1: The Indictment Begins (Rom 1:18)
  • Chap 2: Jews having a Law, Gentiles not having a Law Answered
  • Chap 3: All have sinned, Total Depravity

Memory Verses:
  • Rom 1:20
  • Rom 2:13
  • Rom 3:10

Extended Memory Verses
  • Chap 1: Rom 1:20, Rom 1:1, Rom 1:8, Rom 1:16-20
  • Chap 2: Rom 2:13, Rom 2:12-16
  • Chap 3: Rom 3:10, Rom 3:10-12, Rom 3:18, Rom 3:21, Rom 3:23, Rom 3:28-29
In the summaries below the idea is to cement in yourself what is meant by "Without Excuse" and "The Law Condemns." It is not so important to memorize a script as to grasp how these two keywords begin to explain the truth that everyone stands in need of a savior--that outside of Christ there is no salvation. And to remember the flow of the presentation the apostle Paul by the Spirit of God is setting forth.

Romans Chapter One - Without Excuse:

Everyone is without excuse. No one is a victim who is innocent because of ignorance. That which may be known of God has been plainly-made-known or manifest in us, God has showed it to us. Having the truth yet suppressing it. Everyone is without excuse. The invisible things of Him from the very beginning of the world are clearly seen. They are understood by the things that are made. EVEN his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are WITHOUT EXCUSE. Creation evidences a creator. Everything that exists owes for it’s origin ultimately to a self-existent one. Every flower dependent upon the bee, every bee dependent upon the flower, every woodpecker dependent upon the superior strength of his beak that can peck and upon his tongue and every woodpecker’s tongue dependent upon the sheath in his head and every woodpecker’s head dependent upon the incredible shock absorbers surrounding his brain, --- every symbiotic relationship showing forth the glory and wisdom of it’s creator. God’s power is on display. If we would just open our eyes and marvel and worship HIM, Marvelous creator, MARVELOUS GOD. (For more on the woodpecker example click here.)

Romans Chapter Two - The Law Condemns:
The gentiles can make excuse saying, “but we have no law to guide us -- we don’t know -- how can we be blamed?” and the Jews can boast saying “but we have the law, we hear it, we read it, we are Jews, we will escape judgment.

In this chapter, both parties are answered and both are shown to be undone. For the gentiles show the work of the Law written on their heart when they see and value something as either right or wrong. When they are incensed at an injustice, or when they make excuse to justify someone’s action they are clearly showing that God has placed his law on their hearts, though they know it imperfectly, yet even their conscience testifies to the truth of this and their thoughts making excuses on the one hand and accusations on the other. The Jews have the law, but it is not the hearing of it that counts. And as to both parties, whether the law is only what they have by nature written on their hearts, or as do the Jews having a written law, yet it is not the having of it that counts, or the hearing of it that counts but only the doing -- and only the perfection of that doing. As Gal 3:10 says, Cursed is everyone that does not CONTINUE in ALL. The word “continue” pointing to the required continuous perfect adherence to the law - at all times, and the “in all” showing that all parts of the law must be kept moment by moment. You must at all times always with every breath love God with all of your being, ever fiber perfectly or you fail. And if you fail the law condemns.

The law is very good to show you what must be done but it has no power to enable you to do what it requires. The law condemns. And this word “Condemns” is a very grave word speaking of very serious and eternal consequences concerning an eternal judgment. If you hope for the good to outweigh the bad, if you hope to meet some standard, if you hope for some merit by living by some code that seems right in your own heart -- know this - you will fail. The Law Condemns - it does not enable - it shows no mercy and offers no grace. It demands perfection, perfectly all the time. (see commentary at the bottom of this post.)

I often remember this poem, generally credited to John Bunyan, as a further explanation of how in the Law there is no grace, no promise of enablement, no mercy extended but rather to expose our sin and condemn us.

Run, John, Run, the Law commands
But gives me neither feet nor hands
Far Better news the Gospel Brings
It bids me Fly and gives me wings
(click here for possible alternative author and slightly modifed version)

I should add here, that Christ Jesus is our perfect law keeper. That as we continue our study through Romans we will find one who did in all points at all times perfectly keep the law. And he did it not for himself but for us whom he represented. So that, in his life, Christ fulfilled all righteousness and he did so FOR US who are in Christ, who believe. And in his death, our sins were imputed to him, so that he died in our place, in the place of his people and to satisfy the judgment and wrath of God which was against us. Christ Jesus made atonement for sin. He made satisfaction. What a savior! Hallelujah to God for the grace of faith to believe and partake in "so great salvation."

Summary of previous Blog Posts containing Expanded notes of our Study in Romans:
Paul an Apostle, Verbal Plenary Inspiration
Rom 1:1-8
Rom 1:18 Faith is a Gift
Rom 1:20 Without Excuse
Rom 1:17-20 Questions

From here to the bottom is a blog bonus feature offering an opportunity for the more inquiring to read from Calvin's Commentary on Rom 2:12-15.

John Calvin's Commentaries: (click here for online version)

12. Whosoever have sinned without law, 69 etc. In the former part of this section he assails the Gentiles; though no Moses was given them to publish and to ratify a law from the Lord, he yet denies this omission to be a reason why they deserved not the just sentence of death for their sins; as though he had said — that the knowledge of a written law was not necessary for the just condemnation of a sinner. See then what kind of advocacy they undertake, who through misplaced mercy, attempt, on the ground of ignorance, to exempt the nations who have not the light of the gospel from the judgment of God.

Whosoever have sinned under the law, etc. As the Gentiles, being led by the errors of their own reason, go headlong into ruin, so the Jews possess a law by which they are condemned; 70 for this sentence has been long ago pronounced,

“Cursed are all they who continue not in all its precepts.” (Deuteronomy 27:26.)

A worse condition then awaits the Jewish sinners, since their condemnation is already pronounced in their own law.

13. For the hearers of the law, etc. This anticipates an objection which the Jews might have adduced. As they had heard that the law was the rule of righteousness, (Deuteronomy 4:1,) they gloried in the mere knowledge of it: to obviate this mistake, he declares that the hearing of the law or any knowledge of it is of no such consequence, that any one should on that account lay claim to righteousness, but that works must be produced, according to this saying, “He who will do these shall live in them.” The import then of this verse is the following, — “That if righteousness be sought from the law, the law must be fulfilled; for the righteousness of the law consists in the perfection of works.” They who pervert this passage for the purpose of building up justification by works, deserve most fully to be laughed at even by children. It is therefore improper and beyond what is needful, to introduce here a long discussion on the subject, with the view of exposing so futile a sophistry: for the Apostle only urges here on the Jews what he had mentioned, the decision of the law, — That by the law they could not be justified, except they fulfilled the law, that if they transgressed it, a curse was instantly pronounced on them. Now we do not deny but that perfect righteousness is prescribed in the law: but as all are convicted of transgression, we say that another righteousness must be sought. Still more, we can prove from this passage that no one is justified by works; for if they alone are justified by the law who fulfill the law, it follows that no one is justified; for no one can be found who can boast of having fulfilled the law. 71

14. For when the Gentiles, etc. He now states what proves the former clause; for he did not think it enough to condemn us by mere assertion, and only to pronounce on us the just judgment of God; but he proceeds to prove this by reasons, in order to excite us to a greater desire for Christ, and to a greater love towards him. He indeed shows that ignorance is in vain pretended as an excuse by the Gentiles, since they prove by their own deeds that they have some rule of righteousness: for there is no nation so lost to every thing human, that it does not keep within the limits of some laws. Since then all nations, of themselves and without a monitor, are disposed to make laws for themselves, it is beyond all question evident that they have some notions of justice and rectitude, which the Greeks call preconceptions προληψεις, and which are implanted by nature in the hearts of men. They have then a law, though they are without law: for though they have not a written law, they are yet by no means wholly destitute of the knowledge of what is right and just; as they could not otherwise distinguish between vice and virtue; the first of which they restrain by punishment, and the latter they commend, and manifest their approbation of it by honoring it with rewards. He sets nature in opposition to a written law, meaning that the Gentiles had the natural light of righteousness, which supplied the place of that law by which the Jews were instructed, so that they were a law to themselves. 72

15. Who show the work of the law 73 written, etc.; that is, they prove that there is imprinted on their hearts a discrimination and judgment by which they distinguish between what is just and unjust, between what is honest and dishonest. He means not that it was so engraven on their will, that they sought and diligently pursued it, but that they were so mastered by the power of truth, that they could not disapprove of it. For why did they institute religious rites, except that they were convinced that God ought to be worshipped? Why were they ashamed of adultery and theft, except that they deemed them evils?

Without reason then is the power of the will deduced from this passage, as though Paul had said, that the keeping of the law is within our power; for he speaks not of the power to fulfill the law, but of the knowledge of it. Nor is the word heart to be taken for the seat of the affections, but only for the understanding, as it is found in Deuteronomy 29:4,

“The Lord hath not given thee a heart to understand;”

and in Luke 24:25,

“O foolish men, and slow in heart to believe.”

Nor can we conclude from this passage, that there is in men a full knowledge of the law, but that there are only some seeds of what is right implanted in their nature, evidenced by such acts as these — All the Gentiles alike instituted religious rites, they made laws to punish adultery, and theft, and murder, they commended good faith in bargains and contracts. They have thus indeed proved, that God ought to be worshipped, that adultery, and theft, and murder are evils, that honesty is commendable. It is not to our purpose to inquire what sort of God they imagined him to be, or how many gods they devised; it is enough to know, that they thought that there is a God, and that honor and worship are due to him. It matters not whether they permitted the coveting of another man’s wife, or of his possessions, or of any thing which was his, — whether they connived at wrath and hatred; inasmuch as it was not right for them to covet what they knew to be evil when done.

Their conscience at the same time attesting, etc. He could not have more forcibly urged them than by the testimony of their own conscience, which is equal to a thousand witnesses. By the consciousness of having done good, men sustain and comfort themselves; those who are conscious of having done evil, are inwardly harassed and tormented. Hence came these sayings of the heathens — “A good conscience is the widest sphere; but a bad one is the cruelest executioner, and more fiercely torments the ungodly than any furies can do.” There is then a certain knowledge of the law by nature, which says, “This is good and worthy of being desired; that ought to be abhorred.”

But observe how intelligently he defines conscience: he says, that reasons come to our minds, by which we defend what is rightly done, and that there are those which accuse and reprove us for our vices; 74and he refers this process of accusation and defense to the day of the Lord; not that it will then first commence, for it is now continually carried on, but that it will then also be in operation; and he says this, that no one should disregard this process, as though it were vain and evanescent. And he has put, in the day, instead of, at the day, — a similar instance to what we have already observed.

69 Ανόμως commonly means unlawfully, wickedly, lawlessly; but here, as it is evident from the context, it signifies to be without law. The adjective ἀνόμος is also used once in this sense in 1 Corinthians 9:21. — Ed.

70 The word “condemned” would be better in the text than “judged;” it would then more plainly correspond with the former part, where the word “perished” is used: and that it means “condemned” is evident, for those who have “sinned” are the persons referred to. — Ed.

71 On the expression “hearers of the law,” Stuart has these remarks — “The Apostle here speaks of οἱ ἀκροαταὶ τοῦ νόμου, because the Jews were accustomed to hear the Scriptures read in public; but many of them did not individually possess copies of the sacred volume which they could read.”

72 As to the phrase, “these are a law unto themselves,” Venema adduces classical examples — πᾶν τὸ βέλτιστον φαινόμενον ἔστω σοι νόμος ἀπαράβατος “Whatever seems best, let it be to thee a perpetual law.” — Epict. in Ench., c. 75. “τὸ μὲν ορθὸν νόμος ἐστὶ βασιληκός What is indeed right, is a royal law.” — Plato in Min., page 317.
The heathens themselves acknowledged a law of nature. Turrettin quotes a passage from a lost work of Cicero, retained by Lactantius, which remarkably coincides with the language of Paul here — Ed.

73 By the work of the law, τὸ ἔργον τοῦ νόμου, is to be understood what the law requires. The “work of God,” in John 6:29, is of the same import, that is, the work which God requires or demands; and the same word is plural in the former verse, τὰ ἔργα — “the works of God.” So here, in the former verse, it is τὰ τοῦ νόμου — “the things of the law,” where we may suppose ἔργαto be understood. The common expression, “the works of the law,” has the same meaning, that is, such works as the law prescribes and requires. — Ed.

74 Calvin seems to consider that the latter part of the verse is only a expansion or an exposition of the preceding clause respecting “conscience:” but it seems to contain a distinct idea. The testimony of conscience is one thing, which is instantaneous, without reflection: and the thoughts or the reasonings — λογισμῶν, which alternately or mutually accuse or excuse, seem to refer to a process carried on by the mind, by which the innate voice of conscience is confirmed. This is the view taken by Stuart and Barnes, and to which Hodge is inclined.
Another view of the latter clause is given by Doddridge, Macknight, Haldane, and Chalmers The last gives this paraphrase of the whole verse, — “For they show that the matter of the law is written in their hearts — both from their conscience testifying what is right and wrong in their own conduct, and from their reasonings in which they either accuse or vindicate one another.”

But to regard the two clauses as referring to conscience and the inward workings of the mind, appears more consistent with the context. The Gentiles are those spoken of: God gave them no outward law, but the law of nature which is inward. Hence in the following verse he speaks of God as judging “the secrets of men,” as the inward law will be the rule of judgment to the Gentiles — Ed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress - Where am I now?

WHERE AM I NOW? sang Christian as he awakened at the break of day.

I'm a little ahead of myself. Christian now welcomed in to Palace Beautiful or House Beautiful is further questioned by Charity concerning his family. To paraphrase she asks him whether he has a family, and why didn't he bring them along. At which, Christian wept saying he would willingly have done so but they wouldn't.

Charity didn't stop there, she asking further if he didn't warn them of the danger of staying behind. Christian did warn them but they only mocked.

So Charity asks again if he did pray for God to bless his counsel to them.

And this gave me pause, it is not enough to give counsel to your children and your wife - but did your PRAY for that counsel to be blessed of God and effective.

Which Christian answers that he did pray and prayed "with much affection."

Charity pushes on asking again if he told his family of his own sorrow and fears concerning the coming destruction - which she said he must have seen these things well-enough in himself. Christian said yes: "Over and over and over," in fact they could not just hear of the fears but see them in his very countenance and in his tears.

Then going even deeper Charity asks a very probing question: "But did you not, with your vain life, damp all that you, by words, used by way of persuasion to bring them away with you?"

I'm thinking now that this conversation between Charity and Christian is very probing indeed within my own conscience. What about my relatives, my friends, my family? Do they see such concern in my countenance? Do I over and over and over tell them of what I have seen laying ahead in the future? And did I pray all my words and counsel towards them would be blessed of God. Are my children fittingly prepared - did I consider the eternal seriousness of this matter as Charity is seeking to learn from her trying of Christian? AND ESPECIALLY is my vain life throwing water on all the words I use to persuade? Is my life and profession consistent with one another?

But finally lest we lay too much upon ourselves, both Christian and Charity's final words to Christian on this matter are a comfort:

Indeed, I cannot commend my life, for I am conscious to myself of many failings therein. I know also, that a man, by his conversation, may soon overthrow what, by argument or persuasion, he doth labor to fasten upon others for their good. Yet this I can say, I was very wary of giving them occasion, by any unseemly action, to make them averse to going on pilgrimage. Yea, for this very thing, they would tell me I was too precise, and that I denied myself of things (for their sakes) in which they saw no evil. Nay, I think I may say, that if what they saw in me did hinder them, it was my great tenderness in sinning against God, or of doing any wrong to my neighbor.

Charity: Indeed, Cain hated his brother, because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous, 1 John, 3:12; and if thy wife and children have been offended with thee for this, they thereby show themselves to be implacable to good; thou hast delivered thy soul from their blood. Ezek. 3:19.

So they ate their supper, and so they talked together into the night enjoying that rich fellowship that only belongs to those who are true brothers and sisters in Christ. Their subject was gospel-centered, Christ-Centered: Who he was and what he has done; And why he did what he did; And why he built this Palace Beautiful.

"This house was built by the Lord of the hill, and he built it for the relief and security of pilgrims."

"Come in, thou blessed of the Lord; this house was built by the Lord of the hill on purpose to entertain such pilgrims in. "

And so he retired for the night:
"The name of the chamber was Peace, where he slept till break of day, and then he awoke and sang, “Where am I now? "

Here as my three little girls were reading, 10 yr Old, following our previous example was inspired to insist that her 13 yr old currently-reading-out-load-to-the-rest-of-us-sister should sing this song not read it. Failing in this effort, 10 yr old proceeded to sing the song herself. And since she made such a good effort I insisted the rest of us should give it go as well. So alternately taking our turns to sing, my own thoughts reflected back upon Christian's progress thus far:

Which thoughts were mainly this, that up to this point Christian had experienced a fairly solitary journey. Musing and reflecting I recalled that at first he had a book, which reading of it brought great fear upon him as well as a heavy burden upon his back. Evangelist exhorts him to flee the wrath to come and run for yonder bright shining light - keeping it always in his eye. As he ran, in order not to hear the "come back's" of those calling after him, Christian plugged his ears and cried out, "Life, Life, Eternal Life." Pliable and Obstinate meet up with him, but not for good reasons. Though Pliable accompanies Christian a ways - he is not good company and Christian taking his eye momentarily off the light they both fall into the slough of despond. Christian cries for help and help comes. Once again on his way but without Pliable he meets Worldly Wiseman who almost sends him to his death. And with Christian trembling next to Mount Sinai, Evangelist once again points him to yonder wicket gate and bright shining light. Christian goes straight for it, and upon arriving and knocking, Goodwill opens and grabs Christian with a great yank in the door - while we hear the thud, thud, thud of Beezelbub's arrows seeking his life. Christian spends a great deal of time in the Interpreter's House, I'm sure gaining a great deal that will help him on his way. Which finally he resumes alone coming to the cross, receiving great gifts from the shining ones. Alone he goes on headed for the Celetial City, meeting first Simple, Sloth and Presumptions then later with Formalist and Hypocrisy. None of these coming to any good end. Then up Hill Difficulty, Christian sleeping in the Arbor, losing the roll, retracing his steps back down to Arbor, finding the roll and then up the Hill Difficulty a second time. But now night overcomes him and he must face the lions in darkness. But Porter offers good help and advice and he is met at Palace Beautiful. Examined by Porter and then Discretion and Piety and Prudence Christian is welcomed in as one blessed of the Lord. A lonely journey thus far, but now welcomed into the Local Church, Christian resides in that place made for the relief and security of Pilgrim's. SWEET FELLOWSHIP, BLESSED COMPANIONSHIP, Precious Help, from Precious Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Not so alone as he was before. Finally Sleeping in the CHAMBER OF PEACE.

How can he not sing?

“Where am I now? Is this the love and care

Of Jesus, for the men that pilgrims are,

Thus to provide that I should be forgiven,

And dwell already the next door to heaven!”

When the local church is this as described in Bunyan's wonderful book, how can he not sing?

Where am I now? I'm here in the body with brothers who care for me, under the instruction of the word which will bring Relief and Security. O' gracious God who has provided such a PORTER as this! And such a Palace as This! This is the place of the LOVE AND CARE OF JESUS. That has been made for MEN who are PILGRIMS --- BELIEVERS.



And so Sunday morning, with these thoughts still fresh in my own mind, gratitude and praise filled my heart and what a worship I had. This is the Next Door to Heaven!!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pilgrim's Progress - Preaching the Gospel to Yourself Everyday

Again and Again I am struck by the sound practical insight and advice offered up by John Bunyan in his wonderful book. For the last three weeks my three little girls and I stayed on but TWO simple sentences. Which are actually presented as one question and a four-fold answer. My desire for my girls was to see these two sentences through to a full understanding on the one hand, but on the other especially to remember the message here which I believe will prove so useful to myself and my little girls as we grow older in Christ towards the goal of preaching the gospel to ourselves every day with sanctifying results.

The setting at this point in our reading, is this: Christian has arrived at Palace Beautiful, a picture of the local church. He has been questioned by Watchful the Porter, a picture of the Pastor. He has been interviewed first by Discretion, then Piety and now Prudence. All three young ladies of great virtue, wisdom and purity; representing not specific individuals within the local church but the qualities and graces of those who might be able to undertake both examining for admission and assisting along the way, the new believer. Referred to as "virgins of the place" because of the pure and holy faith embraced by this local assembly.

Barry Horner in his online commentary describes the virgins like this:
"What is intended, it seems, is the portrayal of the Palace Beautiful, and therefore a biblical local church, as a fellowship of holy and pure faith that is illustrated by means of virginal purity and undefiled feminine virtue (11 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:27; Col. 3:12)."


To Set the context the passage begins with this interrogation:

Prudence: Do you not yet bear away with you some of the things that then you were conversant withal?

Christian: Yes, but greatly against my will; especially my inward and carnal cogitations, with which all my countrymen, as well as myself, were delighted. But now all those things are my grief; and might I but choose mine own things, I would choose never to think of those things more: but when I would be a doing that which is best, that which is worst is with me. Rom. 7:15, 21.

She is asking, "so as a believer now - what about those former sins you knew so well? Do they still have a hold upon you? Do you ever see them rising up? They once were your daily life - what about now?"

Which Christian answers: "Yes -- I still know these sins, but I know them against my will, and the worst of my enemies are those in my inward parts, in my thoughts, in my musings, I used to delight in those inward thoughts (cogitations) with everyone else - NOW THEY ARE MY GRIEF. If I could choose -- I would choose never to think on them."

Now, I'm thinking, "Oh, I can identify with that - may they be MORE GRIEVOUS to me than they are. " And it is a good sign in Christian, 1) that he recognizes the present continued battle with such sins as he knew before as opposed to someone who thinks, "ah, now that I'm saved I can sin no more, so whatever these things are that I'm thinking - that's not sin - maybe it's liberty - or a mistake." and 2) Their presence in him yet is a GRIEF to HIM. Both observations are a very good sign.

Prudence: Do you not find sometimes as if those things were vanquished, which at other times are your perplexity?

Christian: Yes, but that is but seldom; but they are to me golden hours in which such things happen to me.

But Prudence didn't leave it there. She digs deeper,"but is it not that sometimes those things are defeated - that you do rise victorious over them - even though as you describe at other times they win the day?"

And Christian answers humbly: "YES .... but seldom .... but when it is the case THEY ARE TO ME GOLDEN HOURS."

SO that brings us to the point of this article, and the two sentences that captivated my three little girls and I for the last three weeks.


Prudence: Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances at times as if they were vanquished?

It's like Prudence has noted and underlined back to Christian, "Christian you said that sometimes even though seldom yet at times these sins are defeated. BUT HOW? How is it that this is sometimes done? What method or means did you use that this end was accomplished? If you can identify that perhaps the 'Yes, but seldom' will increase and become 'Yes, though not always.'"

AND WHAT MEANS WERE GOOD FOR CHRISTIAN MAY ALSO BE GOOD FOR US. Chrisitian identifies to Prudence four means or methods that work, "that will do it:"

Christian: Yes: when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it; and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it; and when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it; and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it."

Thinking...Looking...Looking and Thinking again ---- THAT WILL DO IT. That's Christian's four-fold answer and Bunyan's four-fold solution to defeating those sins I knew only too well in my former life.
When I THINK what I saw at the CROSS ....... that will do it. click here for Christian at the cross
From Taste-That-Which-Is-Good

Thinking upon what he saw is a considering of all that was done there? Who is Jesus that there died? Why did he die there? How is he there in my place? How is it that my sins were imputed to him there? He who loves me, who knew no sin, there as my Head and representative counted sinful with the stain and guilt of my own sins laid upon him there to suffer and die and make an atonement. When I think upon that cross there - that will do it. There is sanctifying power in embracing this truth and much in meditating upon the imputation of my sins upon Christ and the His purchase of my forgiveness. Col 1:20

When I LOOK upon my broidered Coat ... that will do it.
This coat was given to Christian at the cross where it says:
"the second stripped him of his rags, and clothed him with change of raiment..."

Bunyan here citing the biblical reference to Zec 3:4
Zec 3:4 And he answered and spoke unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.

Looking upon that Righteousness of Christ my Head which righteousness is counted as mine ... THAT WILL DO IT, the imputation of righteousness rather than being an encouragement to sin - was the very means cited by which sins are defeated. Oh, Christ my righteousness, cover me! This is gospel truth, precious truth and sanctifying truth. Barry Horner in his commentary quotes from Bunyan's treatise, "A Desire of the Rightoues Granted," as follows:

So then, the righteousness of Christ covereth his, as a man's garments cover the members of his body, for we are 'the body of Christ, and members in particular' (1 Cor 12:27). The righteousness therefore is Christ's; resideth still in him, and covereth us, as the child is lapped up in its father's skirt, or as the chicken is covered with the feathers of the hen. I make use of all these similitudes thereby to inform you of my meaning; for by all these things are set forth the way of our being made righteous to justification of life (Matt 23:37; Eze 16:8; Psa 36:7).
(click here for the entire treatise)

So in the first two parts, Christian has already noted the sanctfying benefit of meditating upon both the imputation of my sins to Christ for forgiveness and the imputation of his righteousness upon me by faith.

When I LOOK into the roll that I carry in my bosom...that will do it.

(click here for more on "What is the Roll?")

Assurance, the witness of the Spirit, the Earnest of my Inheritance, Christian states: "When I look into these things those former sins are vanquished?" Eph 1:13-14
Looking into the Holy Spirit spoken assurance that I do belong to Christ, that I have been purchased by his blood and chosen unto adoption is here cited as a sanctifying method. Though Matthew Henry rightly spoke that a holy fear of falling short is a good means of perseverance so also is a Spirit-wrought assurance of salvation a good means of killing sin.

when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.

So my thoughts go heavenward. There to be with Jesus, there to be in the presence of the savior, there where death will hold me no more. To realize this world is not my home, it's pleasures are not my pleasures, I am going heavenward and as my thought grow hotter and hotter thinking upon my future place... that will do it.

1Pet 1:3-4
Phil 3:20-21

As illustrated by Passion and Patience: (click here)
"Things to come and carnal sense are such strangers one to another"

Let your thoughts WAX WARM
about whither you are going and because things-to-come is such a stranger to carnal sense, meditating there will discover new sanctifying strength. As Christian did, I should do likewise, thinking upon where I am going... THAT WILL DO IT.

I will leave us with an extract from Bunyan's, "Heavenly Footman," one that I often refer to myself, and one which is in accord to this Preaching-The-Gospel-To-Yourself-Everyday illustration:


The Second Direction. As thou shouldst get into the way so thou shouldst also be much in studying and musing on the way. You know men that would be expert in any thing, they are usually much in studying of that thing, and so likewise is it with those that quickly grow expert in any way. This therefore thou shouldst do; let thy study be much exercised about Christ, which is the way; what he is, what he hath done, and why he is what he is, and why he hath done what is done; as, why 'He took upon him the form of a servant,' why he 'was made in the likeness of men' (Phil 2:7). Why he cried; why he died; why he bear the sin of the world; why he was made sin, and why he was made righteousness; why he is in heaven in the nature of man, and what he doth there? (2 Cor 5:21). Be much in musing and considering of these things; click here for full text

THINK - LOOK - LOOK and THINK some more --- upon these things and THAT WILL DO IT.