Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pilgrim's Progress - Demas

Pictured at the left is John Bunyan in prison, perhaps writing The Pilgrim's Progress as his beloved blind daughter Mary clings to his side. He did not love this world, he did not forsake Christ for the treasures of this world. He did not listen to Demas for all the freedom this world had to offer. I sometimes try to think of Bunyan like this as I read and discuss with my little girls, The Pilgrim's Progress.

No more in the Plain called Ease, temptation comes and and our Heroes encounter Demas:

Then Christian and Hopeful outwent them again, and went till they came at a delicate plain, called Ease, where they went with much content; but that plain was but narrow, so they were quickly got over it. Now at the farther side of that plain was a little hill, called Lucre, and in that hill a silver-mine, which some of them that had formerly gone that way, because of the rarity of it, had turned aside to see; but going too near the brim of the pit, the ground, being deceitful under them, broke, and they were slain: some also had been maimed there, and could not, to their dying day, be their own men again.

Then I saw in my dream, that a little off the road, over against the silver-mine, stood Demas (gentleman-like) to call passengers to come and see; who said to Christian and his fellow, Ho! turn aside hither, and I will show you a thing.

Christian: What thing so deserving as to turn us out of the way to see it?

Demas: Here is a silver-mine, and some digging in it for treasure; if you will come, with a little pains you may richly provide for yourselves.

What a temptation is this? Please note to see the silver mine they must TURN OUT OF THE WAY. And Hopeful is beginning to succumb:

Hopeful: Then said Hopeful, let us go see.

Praise God, for a faithful brother to check us.

Christian: Not I, said Christian: I have heard of this place before now, and how many there have been slain; and besides, that treasure is a snare to those that seek it, for it hindereth them in their pilgrimage.

And so Christian converses some with Demas that Hopeful might learn and ourselves:

Then Christian called to Demas, saying, Is not the place dangerous? Hath it not hindered many in their pilgrimage? Hosea 9:6.

Demas: Not very dangerous, except to those that are careless; but withal he blushed as he spake.

Interesting, how Demas blushed. Is this some indication that he knew he lied? Some hint of that former conscience? Whatever it may be Christian is not fooled.

Christian: Then said Christian to Hopeful, Let us not stir a step, but still keep on our way.

Hopeful: I will warrant you, when By-ends comes up, if he hath the same invitation as we, he will turn in thither to see.

Hopeful now seeing their danger, and remembering just what kind of principals Byends held to predicts Byends fall here.

Christian: No doubt thereof, for his principles lead him that way, and a hundred to one but he dies there.

Demas: Then Demas called again, saying, But will you not come over and see?

Christian: Then Christian roundly answered, saying, Demas, thou art an enemy to the right ways of the Lord of this way, and hast been already condemned for thine own turning aside, by one of his Majesty’s judges, 2 Tim. 4:10; and why seekest thou to bring us into the like condemnation? Besides, if we at all turn aside, our Lord the King will certainly hear thereof, and will there put us to shame, where we would stand with boldness before him.

Demas cried again, that he also was one of their fraternity; and that if they would tarry a little, he also himself would walk with them.

Christian: Then said Christian, What is thy name? Is it not the same by which I have called thee?

Demas: Yes, my name is Demas; I am the son of Abraham.

Christian: I know you; Gehazi was your great-grandfather, and Judas your father, and you have trod in their steps; it is but a devilish prank that thou usest: thy father was hanged for a traitor, and thou deservest no better reward. 2 Kings 5:20-27; Matt.26:14,15; 27:3-5. Assure thyself, that when we come to the King, we will tell him of this thy behavior. Thus they went their way.

I liked how Bunyan joined Judas, and Gehazi with Demas. We read the whole account of Elisha, Naaman, and Gehazi from 2Kings 5.

Demas like Talkative earlier does prove scary to me. And because of him, my girls and I had some talk on the doctrine of the perseverance of the Saints. We talked about election, we talked about the ransom price. We talked about the atonement accomplished. We talked about the gift of the Father to the son and how all that the Father giveth to the son shall come to him, and for the one who comes, Jesus is both able and willing to receive him and will in no wise cast him out. Comforting truths to me, comforting to my girls as we consider Demas and are warned away from the love of this present world.

Col 4:14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

Philemon 1:23-24 There salute thee Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus; Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.

2Ti 4:10 For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica; Crescens to Galatia, Titus unto Dalmatia.

And so Hopeful's prediction proved true:

By this time By-ends and his companions were come again within sight, and they at the first beck went over to Demas. Now, whether they fell into the pit by looking over the brink thereof, or whether they went down to dig, or whether they were smothered in the bottom by the damps that commonly arise, of these things I am not certain; but this I observed, that they were never seen again in the way. Then sang Christian,

“By-ends and silver Demas both agree;

One calls, the other runs, that he may be

A sharer in his lucre: so these two

Take up in this world, and no farther go.”

1John 2:15-17

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pilgrim's Progress - The Plain Called Ease

The Delicate, Narrow Plain, Called Ease.

Our Heroes, Christian and Hopeful, out pacing Mr. Byends and companions experience some refreshing times, though very brief, in fact only a sentence's breadth. Yet in beautiful Bunyan fashion I think we learn from this one sentence something of the Christian Experience:

We read:

Then Christian and Hopeful outwent them again, and went till they came at a delicate plain, called Ease, where they went with much content; but that plain was but narrow, so they were quickly got over it.

I noted that here they had "much content." And yet we should remember, this was a delicate plain, a narrow plain and so we won't be here long in the delicate, narrow plain called Ease. I think Bunyan wants us to know there is such a thing as a time of Ease where trials seem to cease from view, temptations not so tempting, persecutors not so apparent. But even so this shouldn't be expected long. The place is delicate and the plain itself is narrow. So wonderful as the journey here is - since we are ever moving to the celestial city soon we quickly get over it and find ourselves facing the next trial.

Thank you God for those refreshing times may I learn to "Don't Waste your Plain called Ease."

Friday, July 23, 2010


Continuing in our look at Psalm 42

Psalm 42:9-11

Psa 42:9 I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?
Psa 42:10 As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?
Psa 42:11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

The despair expressed here is so painful. God is my rock, I will pray to my rock, my God and ask, "why have you forgotten me, why go I on mourning? My enemy continues to oppress me, my sins overwhelm me, my grief over them is so great, I am distressed and pained because of it. My bones hurt, my body aches, my stomach is sick. These things are speaking to me over and over again doubt and unbelief, mocking me, "where is thy God? Where is he? why do you continue in this doubt if your God is here - he is not here - where is your GOD? He is gone from you."

Again we are reminded, THE PROBLEM IS YOU ARE LISTENING TO YOURSELF. YOU LET YOURSELF TALK TO YOU. But verse eleven once again demonstrates the proper soul healing procedure. Take your soul by the hand and no longer listening to it - talk to it - talk to yourself in this manner, preaching the gospel to yourself everyday.

Why are you cast down, Soul?
Why are you disquieted, clamoring and noisy-complaining, Soul?

HOPE IN GOD, SOUL. Soul, Hope thou in GOD.

I will YET after this praise GOD. There will be praise after this darkness. God is my help. His countenance, his presence, his SMILE and favor which is MINE in Christ who bought me. He will make MY own countenance SHINE IN HEALTH. Glow with Rosy robust health. He is the health of my countenance. My face will shine in joy for my God. For my saviour, his lovingkindness is ever towards me, for I belong to Christ. HE has given me to his son, and I belong to Jesus. I am his and he will never cast me away. He is able and willing to receive me, who am given to himself from the Father. It's a matter for GOD and he will bring health to my face, joy to my body. My bones will hurt no more. Soul, Hope thou in God.

Thus faith closes the struggle, a victor in fact by anticipation, and in heart by firm reliance. The saddest countenance shall yet be made to shine, if there be a taking of God at his word and an expectation of his salvation.
“For yet I know I shall him praise
Who graciously to me,
The health is of my countenance,
Yea, mine own God is he.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


Continuing on in our look at Psalm 42

Lovingkindness a noble-lifebelt in a rough sea......

Psalm 42:8

Yet the LORD will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.

There is something so wonderful here - the LORD will COMMAND his lovingkindness. Do you hear that word, "command?" The Lord has a directive for his lovingkindness. My problems are overwhelming me, my body hurts, my stomach aches, my soul is cast down and disquieted within me .... BUT GOD will command his lovingkindness -- even in the daytime. Christ for me, Christ my saviour, Christ my sacrifice that satisifies the just wrath of God. Christ my mediator between God and men. Christ the friend who sticks closer than a brother. Christ fairer than the fair. Christ lovely and beautiful, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. Christ who condemned sin in the flesh. Christ given for me and in my place, delivered up for my offenses and raised again for my justification. Christ who has washed me from my sins. In Christ is lovingkindness abounding. And knowing my calling and election of God - making it sure - believing in the saviour Jesus Christ I know his lovingkindness is commanded in the daytime.

Come what may there shall be “a certain secret something” to sweeten all. Lovingkindness is a noble life-belt in a rough sea. The day may darken into a strange and untimely midnight, but the love of God ordained of old to be the portion of the elect, shall be by sovereign decree meted out to them. No day shall ever dawn on an heir of grace and find him altogether forsaken of his Lord: the Lord reigneth, and as a sovereign he will with authority command mercy to be reserved for his chosen. “And in the night.” Both divisions of the day shall be illuminated with special love, and no stress of trial shall prevent it.


At night in bed, when my thoughts drift where they shouldn't where cares and sin overwhelm. Where in the quiet my thinking lead to my doubting there his song shall be with me. There I can find him. God commanding lovingkindness in the daytime and at night his SONG IS WITH ME.

Our God is God of the nights as well as the days; none shall find his Israel unprotected, be the hour what it may. “His song shall be with me.” Songs of praise for blessings received shall cheer the gloom of night. No music sweeter than this. The belief that we shall yet glorify the Lord for mercy given in extremity is a delightful stay to the soul. Affliction may put out our candle, but if it cannot silence our song we will soon light the candle again.

His song with me and my prayer to GOD.

God hears our prayers - his ear is open to us. He has bought us with a precious price, the dear blood of the blessed glorious only-begotten of the FATHER and he will hear his own they know his voice and he knows them.

“And my prayer unto the God of my life.” Prayer is yoked with praise. He who is the living God, is the God of our life, from him we derive it, with him in prayer and praise we spend it, to him we devote it, in him we shall perfect it. To be assured that our sighs and songs shall both have free access to our glorious Lord is to have reason for hope in the most deplorable condition.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Continuing on in our look at Psalm 42
God's Waves and Billows

Psalm 42:7

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.

Q. What are waterspouts?
A. I'm thinking water shooting up from the sea terrible to behold. And John Gill writes:
By which are meant afflictions, comparable to the deep waters of the sea, for their multitude and overwhelming nature; see Psalm 69:1; these came pouring down, one after another, upon the psalmist: as soon as one affliction over, another came, as in the case of Job; which is signified by one calling to another, and were clamorous, troublesome, and very grievous and distressing;

Q. What noise do they make?
A. You can imagine the terrific rush of noise, the gushing forth, crashing with fierceness. Waters from the DEEP uniting force with Waters deep as well. Deep calling unto deep with troubles mounting as in the noise of GOD's tremendous workings in nature - his waterspouts.

Q. And to whom do they belong?
A. To GOD, they are his waterspouts.

Still praying to GOD, "...thy waves and thy billows...."

Tremendous waves of troubles are coming over me and they are thy waves, I receive them from the hand of my God. All things are of the Lord troubles as well.

And so Matthew Poole writes:
All thy waves and thy billows; thou hast sent one sharp trial or affliction upon me after another.

Are gone over me, i.e. are gone over my head, as this same verb is used, Psa_38:4. They do not lightly sprinkle me, but almost overwhelm me.

“Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts.” Thy severe dealings with me seem to excite all creation to attack me; heaven, and earth, and hell, call to each other, stirring each other up in dreadful conspiracy against my peace. As in a waterspout, the deeps above and below clasp hands, so it seemed to David that heaven and earth united to create a tempest around him. His woes were incessant and overwhelming. Billow followed billow, one sea echoed the roaring of another; bodily pain aroused mental fear, Satanic suggestions chimed in with mistrustful foreboding, outward tribulation thundered in awful harmony with inward anguish: his soul seemed drowned as in a universal deluge of trouble, over whose waves the providence of the Lord moved as a watery pillar, in dreadful majesty inspiring the utmost terror. As for the afflicted one he was like a lonely bark around which the fury of a storm is bursting, or a mariner floating on a mast, almost every moment submerged. “All thy waves and thy billows are gone over me.” David thought that every trouble in the world had met in him, but he exaggerated, for all the breaking waves of Jehovah have passed over none but the Lord Jesus; there are griefs to which he makes his children strangers for his love's sake. Sorrow naturally states its case forcibly; the mercy is that the Lord after all hath not dealt with us according to our fears. Yet what a plight to be in! Atlantic rollers sweeping in ceaseless succession over one's head, waterspouts coming nearer and nearer, and all the ocean in uproar around the weary swimmer; most of the heirs of heaven can realise the description, for they have experienced the like. This is a deep experience unknown to babes in grace, but common enough to such as do business on great waters of affliction: to such it is some comfort to remember that the waves and billows are the Lords, “thy waves and thy billows,” says David, they are all sent, and directed by him, and achieve his designs, and the child of God knowing this, is the more resigned.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Continuing on in our look at Psalm 42

Therefore Will I Remember Thee

Psalm 42:6

O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar.

Now again David speaking to GOD, after first taking Soul in Hand now in Prayer to GOD, "MY SOUL IS CAST DOWN WITHIN ME." What to do - I MUST REMEMBER GOD. We must Remember God wherever we are. Remember God in the school work, in the office, on the river, in the pedal boat, in the canoe, with your friends, Remember God for he is the health and healing of all your soul problems. His countenance is your HELP. Remember God in the city, the country. Remember God and in prayer pledging to remember and trust and depend upon God. WE ARE HELPLESS - but we have a great HELPER.

Here the song begins again upon the brass. So sweet an ending deserves that for the sake of a second hopeful close the Psalm should even begin again. Perhaps the Psalmist's dejection continued, the spasm of despondency returned; well, then, he will down with his harp again, and try again its power upon himself, as in his younger days, he saw its influence upon Saul when the evil spirit came upon him. With God the song begins the second time more nearly than at first. The singer was also a little more tranquil. Outward expression of desire was gone; there was no visible panting; the sorrow was now all restrained within doors. Within or upon himself he was cast down; and, verily, it may well be so, while our thoughts look more within than upward. If self were to furnish comfort, we should have but poor provender. There is no solid foundation for comfort in such fickle frames as our heart is subject to. It is well to tell the Lord how we feel, and the more plain the confession the better: David talks like a sick child to its mother, and we should learn to imitate him. “Therefore will I remember thee.” 'Tis well to fly to our God. Here is terra firma. Blessed downcasting which drives us to so sure a rock of refuge as thee, O Lord! “From the hill Mizar.” He recalls his seasons of choice communion by the river and among the hills, and especially that dearest hour upon the little hill, where love spake her sweetest language and revealed her nearest fellowship. It is great wisdom to store up in memory our choice occasions of converse with heaven; we may want them another day, when the Lord is slow in bringing back his banished ones, and our soul is aching with fear. “His love in times past” has been a precious cordial to many a fainting one; like soft breath it has fanned the smoking flax into a flame, and bound up the bruised reed. Oh, never-to-be-forgotten valley of Achor, thou art a door of hope! Fair days, now gone, ye have left a light behind you which cheers our present gloom. Or does David mean that even where he was he would bethink him of his God; does he declare that, forgetful of time and place, he would count Jordan as sacred as Siloa, Hermon as holy as Zion, and even Mizar, that insignificant rising ground, as glorious as the mountains which are round about Jerusalem! Oh! it is a heavenly heart which can sing -
“To me remains nor place nor time;
My country is in every clime;
I can be calm and free from care
On any shore, since God is there.
“Could I be cast where thou art not,
That were indeed a dreadful lot,
But regions none remote I call,
Secure of finding God in all.”

Monday, July 19, 2010


Continuing in our look at Psalm 42

Psalm 42:5

Psa 42:5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

Q. What is it to be cast down? How sad, how low, how despairing are you my soul and why are you thus?

Q. What is it to be disquieted? The soul is not quiet, it cries, it weeps and complains, there is an uproar within, a clamour of despair and noisy tumult of soul-upsettedness. Your whole body sometimes feels the pain of it. The bones hurt, the stomach hurts, the soul cries and the body aches.

Why Soul are you cast down - why are you in such a loud tumult?


A. He is talking to his own soul, talking to HIMSELF. D.M. Lloyd Jones' book, Spiritual Depression, is to my hearing becoming more and more well known for his great exposition of this psalm. I hear Lloyd-Jones here saying: "Preach the gospel to yourself every day." Before Jerry Bridges helped us with this concept, Lloyd-Jones did and before that THE WORD OF GOD has taught us this wisdom.

David is talking to himself. As Lloyd-Jones wrote, the problem is we are always listening to ourselves. Stop listening to yourself and take yourself in hand and counsel your own soul, "Hope thou in GOD. " Preach the gospel to yourself - quiet your soul with such words - not listening to the clamorous, depressed, downcast soul, but speaking to it the GOSPEL. HOPE THOU SOUL IN GOD.

God's countenance is a HELP TO US. His near presence is a HELP to US. HIS sending his son FOR US is a HELP to us. His smile of electing Love is our HELP. WE believe in Christ he has smiled upon us and Christ is for us. Who can be against us? God who spared not his own son but delivered him up for us -- how shall he not with HIM freely give us all things. He has already given the greatest in CHRIST HIS ONLY-BEGOTTEN, all else is less, and all else is ours in CHRIST. His countenance is our help.

Spurgeon writes on this:
Salvations come from the propitious face of God, and he will yet lift up his countenance upon us. Note well that the main hope and chief desire of David rest in the smile of God. His face is what he seeks and hopes to see, and this will recover his low spirits, this will put to scorn his laughing enemies, this will restore to him all the joys of those holy and happy days around which memory lingers. This is grand cheer. This verse, like the singing of Paul and Silas, looses chains and shakes prison walls. He who can use such heroic language in his gloomy hours will surely conquer. In the garden of hope grow the laurels for future victories, the roses of coming joy, the lilies of approaching peace.

Albert Barnes in his Notes points out that the word "Help" as
found in the original Hebrew is in the plural and wonderfully explains as follows:

"For the help of his countenance - literally, “the salvations of his face,” or his presence. The original word rendered help is in the plural number, meaning salvations; and the idea in the use of the plural is, that his deliverance would be completed or entire - as if double or manifold. The meaning of the phrase “help of his countenance” or “face,” is that God would look favorably or benignly upon him. Favor is expressed in the Scriptures by lifting up the light of the countenance on one. See the notes at Psa 4:6; compare Psa 11:7; Psa 21:6; Psa 44:3; Psa 89:15. This closes the first part of the psalm, expressing the confident belief of the psalmist that God would yet interpose, and that his troubles would have an end; reposing entire confidence in God as the only ground of hope; and expressing the feeling that when that confidence exists the soul should not be dejected or cast down."

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Continuing in our look at Psalm 42

Psalm 42:4

When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday.

There were better times before - the thinking of the joy I had then in worship and praise with like-minded worshippers of GOD, with a multitude that kept holyday. Really kept it - in true worship to God. The VOICE OF JOY was there, I had joy in the Lord then. Now tears are my meat - but then Joy. And remembering these things I pour out my soul in me.

What is this: "pour out my soul in me?" Matthew Henry describes it thus: "his soul was poured out in him; he melted away, and the thought almost broke his heart. he poured out his soul within him in sorrow, and then poured out his soul before God in prayer."

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Continuing in our study of Psalm 42

Psalm 42

My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?

Tears are meat! Tears are meat? What does this mean? How can tears be meat? Daily King David partakes of tears? Daily they are his meal, no food but this - my tears. So distressed that the only meat to eat is the tears I cry.

I'm thinking, like David's enemies taunting him, "where is thy God?" our own sins and doubts and unbeliefs say the same thing - they speak words of an enemy ringing and banging in the inner ear..... "where is thy God?" Oh God - come to me, satisfy my thirst, quiet my enemies. I pant for thee.

When a man comes to tears, constant tears, plenteous tears, tears that fill his cup and trencher, he is in earnest indeed. As the big tears stand in the stag's eyes in her distress, so did the salt drops glitter in the eyes of David. His appetite was gone, his tears not only seasoned his meat, but became his only meat, he had no mind for other diet. Perhaps it was well for him that the heart could open the safety valves; there is a dry grief far more terrible than showery sorrows. His tears since they were shed because God was blasphemed, were “honourable dew,” drops of holy water, such as Jehovah putteth into his bottle. “While they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?” Cruel taunts come naturally from coward minds. Surely they might have left the mourner alone; he could weep no more than he did - it was a supererogation of malice to pump more tears from a heart which already overflowed. Note how incessant was their jeer, and how artfully they framed it! It cut the good man to the bone to have the faithfulness of his God impugned. They had better have thrust needles into his eyes than have darted insinuations against his God.

Friday, July 16, 2010


Continuing in our look at Psalm 42

Psalm 42:2

My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?

Repeating again, first in verse 1 "panting soul" now in verse 2 "thirsting soul" thirsting for GOD.
OH GOD SATISFY MY THIRST - FOR YOU I THIRST. Spurgeon writes how violent thirsting really is:
“Thirsteth.” Which is more than hungering; hunger you can palliate, but thirst is awful, insatiable, clamorous, deadly. O to have the most intense craving after the highest good! this is no questionable mark of grace. “For God.” Not merely for the temple and the ordinances, but for fellowship with God himself. None but spiritual men can sympathise with this thirst.

And as an encouragement and emphasis - "THE LIVING GOD." Again Spurgeon writes:
Because he lives, and gives to men the living water; therefore we, with greater eagerness, desire him. A dead God is a mere mockery; we loathe such a monstrous deity; but the ever-living God, the perennial fountain of life and light and love, is our soul's desire. What are gold, honour, pleasure, but dead idols? May we never pant for these.

When shall I come and appear before GOD? God seems so distant now - my thirst is not satisfied by grows - when shall I be in the presence of God again?

Spurgeon: "“To see the face of God” is the nearer translation of the Hebrew; but the two ideas may be combined - he would see his God and be seen of him; this is worth thirsting after!"

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Continuing our study in Psalm 42

Psalm 42:1
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

This is how David felt. King David, the same that killed Goliath, the same called a man after God's own heart. He felt just as a deer very thirsty, parched and panting after water, cool fresh water. The deer, dry to the bone, running all night from the hunter perhaps, fleeing the wolf, now spent and thirsting to the point of PANTING is how DAVID SAYS, speaking in prayer to GOD, HIS OWN SOUL PANTS AFTER GOD. God my soul pants for thee! I'm thirsting for you my GOD.

Something is wrong for King David - he is thirsting as one who cannot be satisfied and the only satisfaction to refresh his soul is to drink deeply of GOD.

To add to these thoughts from Spurgeon's Treasury of David I found the following:
As after a long drought the poor fainting hind longs for the streams, or rather as the hunted hart instinctively seeks after the river to lave its smoking flanks and to escape the dogs, even so my weary, persecuted soul pants after the Lord my God. Debarred from public worship, David was heartsick. Ease he did not seek, honour he did not covet, but the enjoyment of communion with God was an urgent need of his soul; he viewed it not merely as the sweetest of all luxuries, but as an absolute necessity, like water to a stag. Like the parched traveller in the wilderness, whose skin bottle is empty, and who finds the wells dry, he must drink or die - he must have his God or faint. His soul, his very self, his deepest life, was insatiable for a sense of the divine presence. As the hart brays so his soul prays. Giro him his God and he is as content as the poor deer which at length slakes its thirst and is perfectly happy; but deny him his Lord, and his heart heaves, his bosom palpitates, his whole frame is convulsed, like one who gasps for breath, or pants with long running. Dear reader, dost thou know what this is, by personally having felt the same? It is a sweet bitterness. The next best thing to living in the light of the Lord's love is to be unhappy till we have it, and to pant hourly after it - hourly, did I say? thirst is a perpetual appetite, and not to be forgotten, and even thus continual is the heart's longing after God. When it is as natural for us to long for God as for an animal to thirst, it is well with our souls, however painful our feelings. We may learn from this verse that the eagerness of our desires may be pleaded with God, and the more so, because there are special promises for the importunate and fervent.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


This morning my girls and I during r Saturday morning breakfast and bible study took a look into Psalm 42 before resuming our reading and discussions of Pilgrim's Progress.

Psalm 42

To increase our comprehension, before we began with a serious reading, I thought it good to ask a few questions:

Q1. What is a hart?
A1. We know the song, as the deer panteth for the waters.... I was pretty sure the girls would hear "hart" and think "heart." Other than that - I thought they probably would have no idea what is a "hart."

E-Sword tells us also: a "hart" is a stag, a deer, a male deer.

Q2. What are water brooks?
A2. Eleven year old said "small running streams of water." Good enough, I thought. This might be easy.

Q3. What is panting?
A3. This was harder for them to grasp. We thought of a movie we saw, a comedy, actually, but in this movies closing scene there were two men approaching the hero demanding said here give up his most prized position. The hero thought they meant the gold, which he tossed in their direction. The men just took the gold and threw it away. "We don't want your gold we want your water." You see they were in the middle of the desert dying of thirst. Gold was nothing - water was everything. "Have you ever been so thirsty that you yearned after a glass of cold refreshing water?" I asked.

Q4. What is it to be "cast down?"
A4. To be very sad, to be really depressed, down in spirits.

Q5. What is it to be disquieted?
A5. One answered, "to be really quiet." NO, quite the opposite, there is "QUIET" and then there is "DIS -- QUIETED." There is noise, a ruckus going on. Instead of peace there is clamor. Your soul is loudly complaining.

Q6. What is "countenance?"
A6. Another tough question. Thinking in terms of the appearance of one's countenance, I tried to explain by giving various appearances to my facial expressions. Serious, stern, happy, loving and caring -- see how my countenance changes as my appearance shows forth differently. Also, how so much happiness relies on their mother's first reception of me as I return home every day. Is it Joyful or sad, does she run and greet me with a hug? Or does she look up with a big smile and that every friendly "Hey your home!" - as her countenance is first towards me upon my daily return my own mood is affected. And so also is she affected by my first countenance towards her. Literally countenance: "his face or presence."

Continued tomorrow

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pilgrim's Progress - More Thoughts on Byends


To further the lessons we learned from Byends and company I thought to read from Lectures on Pilgrim's Progress by George Cheever. Selected thoughts from the author as follows: click here for context

The philosophy of Money-Love and By-ends is that which the god of this world teaches all his votaries, and, alas, when motives come to be scrutinized, as they will be, at the bar of God, how much of our apparent good will be found to be evil, because in the root that nourished both the branches and the fruit, there was found to be nothing but self-interest carefully concealed. Ye seek me, not because of the miracles to be witnessed, or the grace to be gained, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

Now is not this logic of Money-love very bare-faced ? And yet these men considered it perfectly triumphant, and an argument that Christian and Hopeful could not possibly contradict. Whereupon they resolved to propound the same question to them, and so puzzle and defeat them. But to their astonishment, Christian declared that none othe;-s than heathens, hypocrites, devils, and witches conld be of their opinion,' and then he went on to prove this so clearly and powerfully out of Scripture, with instances in point, that the men were completely staggered, and stood staring one upon another unable to answer a word. What, said Christian to Hopeful, will these men do with the sentence of God if they cannot stand before the sentence of men ?

This passage in the pilgrimage is full of instruction, and we might dwell long upon it, and upon the danger of evil motives under the guise of a good cause, or of unholy motives in a holy cause. The motive is every thing; it makes the man. An eye single makes a single-minded man: an eye double makes a double minded man. An eye single is good in whatever a man undertakes, considered even merely in reference to the things of this life, and as requisite to decision of character. In this view the children of this world are wiser in their generation than the children of light; what they do for this world they do with energy and whole-heartedness, which is just what, as pilgrims, we want for Christ. We want in all tillings an eye single for God, for his approbation, for his glory, and this is the precious motive that excludes every other, or keeps every other subordinate, and turns every thing to gold. " Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not as unto men." The very drudgery and toilsomeness of our pilgrimage is turned into a divine and holy service, by this precious singleness of heart for Christ! O how desirable is this in every thing ! This is the body of that beautiful composition by Herbert, entitled The Elixir, which is perhaps the best series of stanzas he ever wrote. It is good to drink this on our pilgrimage, especially after such a conversation with By-ends and Money-love. By ends are almost always bad ends, but love to Christ, singleness of heart for Christ, sets them at a distance, and shows them at once in their native hypocrisy and deformity.

Teach me, my God and King,
In all things thee to see,
And what I do in any thing
To do it as for thee.

Not rudely, as a beast,
I'd run into an action,
But still to make thee prepossest.
And give it thy perfection.

A man that looks on glass

On it may stay his eye;

And if he pleaseth, through it pass.

And then the heaven espy.

All I may of thee partake;
Nothing can be so mean
Which with this tincture for thy sake
Will not grow bright and clean.

A servant with this clause
Makes drudgery divine:
Who sweeps a room as for thy laws
Makes that and the action fine.

This is the famous stone

That turneth all to gold;

For that which God doth touch and own

Cannot for less be told.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pilgrim's Progress - Mr. Byends

We read the account of Byends, Mr. Moneylove and Mr. Hold-the-World and Mr. Save-All now several times. There was something about this encounter that especially caught me - some quality about it that I wanted my girls to catch - to recognize and to learn. And I think this encounter catches something that is so BUNYANESQUE for me.

Bunyan has a way of displaying to our ears conversations full of thoughts and reasonings that sound so familiar to us. Perhaps we think: "I've thought like that." or "That's been said to me but I didn't know how to respond." or even "Ah, here in this conversation is the wisdom and insight I need for I encounter this kind of thinking without and within."

Who is ByEnds? He is a man from the city of Fair Speech. He thinks it good and right to follow whatever means necessary to reach the desired end. If religion will advance him, then he pursues religion for advancement. He loves religion, "In its silver slippers" and "not against wind and tide." Byends finds Christian and Hopeful to be rather overly-rigid. It's offensive to him that they stand by religion even against wind and tide, silver slippers or rags. Byends has left the company of Christian lagging behind them to join up with Mr. Moneylove, Mr. Save-All and Mr. Hold-The-World. And to these men Byends poses a question and Mr. Moneylove answers.

Let's consider ByEnds and Moneylove and how their thinking works as Mr. Byends proposes the following question:

By-Ends: My brethren, we are, as you see, going all on pilgrimage; and for our better diversion from things that are bad, give me leave to propound unto you this question.

Suppose a man, a minister, or a tradesman, etc., should have an advantage lie before him to get the good blessings of this life, yet so as that he can by no means come by them, except, in appearance at least, he becomes extraordinary zealous in some points of religion that he meddled not with before; may he not use this means to attain his end, and yet be a right honest man?

How would you answer? IS it not right to act against your opinion and principal and appear to be something you are not if gain might be had? Sounds rather dark to me but listen to the eloquent logic and reasoning of Mr. Moneylove:

Mr. Money-Love: I see the bottom of your question; and with these gentlemen’s good leave, I will endeavor to shape you an answer. And first, to speak to your question as it concerneth a minister himself: suppose a minister, a worthy man, possessed but of a very small benefice, and has in his eye a greater, more fat and plump by far; he has also now an opportunity of getting it, yet so as by being more studious, by preaching more frequently and zealously, and, because the temper of the people requires it, by altering of some of his principles; for my part, I see no reason why a man may not do this, provided he has a call, aye, and more a great deal besides, and yet be an honest man. For why?

1. His desire of a greater benefice is lawful, (this cannot be contradicted,) since it is set before him by Providence; so then he may get it if he can, making no question for conscience’ sake.

2. Besides, his desire after that benefice makes him more studious, a more zealous preacher, etc., and so makes him a better man, yea, makes him better improve his parts, which is according to the mind of God.

3. Now, as for his complying with the temper of his people, by deserting, to serve them, some of his principles, this argueth, 1. That he is of a self-denying temper. 2. Of a sweet and winning deportment. And, 3. So more fit for the ministerial function.

4. I conclude, then, that a minister that changes a small for a great, should not, for so doing, be judged as covetous; but rather, since he is improved in his parts and industry thereby, be counted as one that pursues his call, and the opportunity put into his hand to do good.

Quite a string of convincing Logic:

It's certainly lawful for a man to desire to improve his station in life. To seek better for himself and his own - is it not? And if for any man why not also for a minister.

Besides see how this desire for improvement of things will bring the minister to study harder, to preach more and more zealously. Look what his desire for more causes - it causes good to come.

And if that minister must deny his own principals and appear to hold to the verbal plenary inspiriation of scripture, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, and penal substitionary atonement - why he is evidencing SELF-DENIAL in this. And self-denial is a good virtue in a minister.

How can we not conclude such a man good who pursues this path? How can we call him covetous from whom his desire for a better and bigger lot in life produces such good things.

Maybe you are convinced now concerning that minister based on the words of Mr. Moneylove but certainly they don't apply to the worker who is not in the full time minister. Wouldn't it be rather base for such a man to pretend to be religious in order to improve his substance to gain by godliness.

Mr. Moneylove has an answer for that as well:

And now to the second part of the question, which concerns the tradesman you mentioned. Suppose such an one to have but a poor employ in the world, but by becoming religious he may mend his market, perhaps get a rich wife, or more and far better customers to his shop; for my part, I see no reason but this may be lawfully done. For why?

1. To become religious is a virtue, by what means soever a man becomes so.

2. Nor is it unlawful to get a rich wife, or more custom to my shop.

3. Besides, the man that gets these by becoming religious, gets that which is good of them that are good, by becoming good himself; so then here is a good wife, and good customers, and good gain, and all these by becoming religious, which is good: therefore, to become religious to get all these is a good and profitable design.

Who can answer such logic? For me there is a nagging thought that even with this good line of logic and reasoning it still sounds covetous - it still sounds wrong. But with great confidence Byends, Moneylove and friends decide they will STUMP Christian and Hopeful for sure, so they speed ahead to catch them and put the same question to them and here is how Christian answered:

Then said Christian, Even a babe in religion may answer ten thousand such questions. For if it be unlawful to follow Christ for loaves, as it is, John 6:26; how much more abominable is it to make of him and religion a stalking-horse to get and enjoy the world! Nor do we find any other than heathens, hypocrites, devils, and wizards, that are of this opinion.

1. Heathens: for when Hamor and Shechem had a mind to the daughter and cattle of Jacob, and saw that there was no way for them to come at them but by being circumcised, they said to their companions, If every male of us be circumcised, as they are circumcised, shall not their cattle, and their substance, and every beast of theirs be ours? Their daughters and their cattle were that which they sought to obtain, and their religion the stalking-horse they made use of to come at them. Read the whole story, Gen. 34:20-24.

2. The hypocritical Pharisees were also of this religion: long prayers were their pretence, but to get widows’ houses was their intent; and greater damnation was from God their judgment. Luke 20:46,47.

3. Judas the devil was also of this religion: he was religious for the bag, that he might be possessed of what was put therein; but he was lost, cast away, and the very son of perdition.

4. Simon the wizard was of this religion too; for he would have had the Holy Ghost, that he might have got money therewith: and his sentence from Peter’s mouth was according. Acts 8:19-22.

5. Neither will it go out of my mind, but that that man who takes up religion for the world, will throw away religion for the world; for so surely as Judas designed the world in becoming religious, so surely did he also sell religion and his Master for the same. To answer the question, therefore, affirmatively, as I perceive you have done, and to accept of, as authentic, such answer, is heathenish, hypocritical, and devilish; and your reward will be according to your works.

Then they stood staring one upon another, but had not wherewith to answer Christian. Hopeful also approved of the soundness of Christian’s answer; so there was a great silence among them. Mr. By-ends and his company also staggered and kept behind, that Christian and Hopeful might outgo them. Then said Christian to his fellow, If these men cannot stand before the sentence of men, what will they do with the sentence of God? And if they are mute when dealt with by vessels of clay, what will they do when they shall be rebuked by the flames of a devouring fire?

And so we are grateful once again to learn wisdom and discernment.

By the way, I had to look up stalking horse and found this in wikipedia (see picture above):

The term stalking horse originally derived from the practice of hunting,[1] particularly of wildfowl.[2] Hunters noticed that many birds would flee immediately on the approach of humans, but would tolerate the close presence of animals such as horses and cattle.

Hunters would therefore slowly approach their quarry by walking alongside their horses, keeping their upper bodies out of sight until the flock was within firing range. Animals trained for this purpose were called stalking horses. Sometimes mobile hides are used for a similar purpose.

Our study guide defined stalking horse as "a mask or pretense."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

SPURGEON - Conversion Account

Over on we are reading together through the classics this one titled: Spurgeon A New Biography by Arnold Dallimore.

The account of his conversion to Christ described in Spurgeon's own words was quite good and worth reading. I see through a quick google search it has been reproduced by many websites and blogs many times. Thought I'd do the same.

I sometimes think I might have been in darkness and despair until now had it not been for the goodness of God in sending a snowstorm, one Sunday morning, while I was going to a certain place of worship. When I could go no further, I turned down a side street, and came to a little Primitive Methodist Chapel. In that chapel there may have been a dozen or fifteen people. I had heard of the Primitive Methodists, how they sang so loudly that they made people’s heads ache; but that did not matter to me. I wanted to know how I might be saved, and if they could tell me that, I did not care how much they made my head ache. The minister did not come that morning; he was snowed up, I suppose. At last, a very thin-looking man, a shoemaker, or tailor, or something of that sort, went up into the pulpit to preach. Now, it is well that preachers should be instructed; but this man was really stupid. He was obliged to stick to his text, for the simple reason that he had little else to say. The text was,—

“Look Unto Me, And Be Ye Saved, All The Ends Of The Earth.”

He did not even pronounce the words rightly, but that did not matter. There was, I thought, a glimpse of hope for me in that text. The preacher began thus: “My dear friends, this is a very simple text indeed. It says, ‘Look.’ Now lookin’ don’t take a deal of pains. It ain’t liftin’ your foot or your finger; it is just, ‘Look.’ Well, a man needn’t go to College to learn to look. You may be the biggest fool, and yet you can look. A man needn’t be worth a thousand a year to be able to look. Anyone can look; even a child can look. But then the text says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Ay!” said he, in broad Essex, “many on ye are lookin’ to yourselves, but it’s no use lookin’ there. You’ll never find any comfort in yourselves. Some look to God the Father. No, look to Him by-and-by. Jesus Christ says, ‘Look unto Me.’ Some on ye say, ‘We must wait for the Spirit’s workin’.’ You have no business with that just now. Look to Christ. The text says, ‘Look unto Me.’”

Then the good man followed up his text in this way: “Look unto Me; I am sweatin’ great drops of blood. Look unto Me; I am hangin’ on the cross. Look unto Me; I am dead and buried. Look unto Me; I rise again. Look unto Me; I ascend to Heaven. Look unto Me; I am sittin’ at the Father’s right hand. O poor sinner, look unto Me! look unto Me!”

When he had gone to about that length, and managed to spin out ten minutes or so, he was at the end of his tether. Then he looked at me under the gallery, and I daresay, with so few present, he knew me to be a stranger. Just fixing his eyes on me, as if he knew all my heart, he said, “Young man, you look very miserable.” Well, I did; but I had not been accustomed to have remarks made from the pulpit on my personal appearance before. However, it was a good blow, struck right home. He continued, “and you always will be miserable—miserable in life, and miserable in death,—if you don’t obey my text; but if you obey now, this moment, you will be saved.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, as only a Primitive Methodist could do, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.”

I saw at once the way of salvation. I know not what else he said,—I did not take much notice of it,—I was so possessed with that one thought. Like as when the brazen serpent was lifted up, the people only looked and were healed, so it was with me. I had been waiting to do fifty things, but when I heard that word, “Look!” what a charming word it seemed to me! Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away. There and then the cloud was gone, the darkness had rolled away, and that moment I saw the sun; and I could have risen that instant, and sung with the most enthusiastic of them, of the precious blood of Christ, and the simple faith which looks alone to Him. Oh, that somebody had told me this before, “Trust Christ, and you shall be saved.”

The Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon V1: 1834-1854, Page 105-107

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Romans Seven - Assurance of Salvation

As we continue our study in Romans 7, I am more deeply grasping how this chapter speaks to the doctrine of Assurance of Salvation.

First, it speaks in this way: As a believer you discover you are still a sinner. You still sin. Are you saved knowing that your thoughts are not perfect? Are you saved knowing that sin still remains?

Romans Seven is very clear - FOR THE BELIEVER THERE IS REMAINING SIN. There is comfort for the wounded in this chapter knowing that even Paul writes, "Oh wretched Man that I am....." we also have this remaining sin as a harasser and ever present foe. So we must always have the weapons of our warfare at the ready.

BUT - THERE IS ANOTHER and second thing coming out of Romans Seven dealing with the doctrine of Assurance of Salvation - and it is this. Yes sin remains even for the believer - but is there a warring against it? Rom 7:23 Don't find Assurance on to slight of Grounds.

Hear Romans Seven speaking of this war: "warring against the law of my mind." Rom 7:23

When it comes to sin can you say: WHAT I HATE THAT I DO? Do you truly hate it? Rom 7:15 Or are you really readily yielding to sin, allowing it, giving willingly way to sin?

Can you say: "It is not I that do it but Sin that dwelleth in me. " Rom 7:17 I am a new creature in Christ, I detest sin, I myself as renewed in the inward man DO IT NOT -- it is SIN that still dwells in me. ????

Or again, Rom 7:19, the evil that I WOULD NOT that I do. I don't want to do it. I hate it. I abhor it - yet there it is - I am new in Christ but not altogether as new as I will be. So now what I do not will to do I find myself yet doing. ????

Consider now A.W. Pink on this topic from the October 1932, Studies In The Scripture. click here

All pretensions unto the present enjoyment of the assurance of faith by those whose daily lives are unbecoming the Gospel, are groundless. They who are confident of entering that Eternal Happiness which consists very much in a perfect freedom from all sin,
but who now allow themselves in the practice of sin (persuading themselves that Christ has fully atoned for the same), are deceived. None truly desire to be free from sin in the future, who do not sincerely long to forsake it in the present. He who does not pant after
holiness here, is dreadfully mistaken if he imagines he desires holiness hereafter. Glory is but grace consummated; the heavenly life is but the full development of the regenerated life on earth. Neither death nor the second coming of Christ will effect any radical change in the Christian: it will only perfect what he already has and is. Any, then, who pretend unto the assurance of salvation, boast of their pardon and present possession of eternal life, but who have not an experience of deep sorrow for sin, real indignation against it, and hatred of themselves because of transgressions, know nothing at all of what holy assurance is.

So there is a heavy emphasis on the renewed inward man in Romans 7, who though finding sin yet within, sins not willingly but to his sorrow and lament.

MAY THIS LAMENT BE FOUND IN ME. God fill me with such a holy hatred of SIN.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Psalm 27 - Confidence in GOD

Continuing our annual series called SUMMER PSALMS, this post is a summary of the most recent sermon preached at Morningside Baptist Church (MBC) by Pastor Dave Sowers. Pastor Sowers pictured to the left. As much as is possible it is hoped that these notes honor both the intent and the content of Pastor Sowers' original message. Please compare to the sermon audio podcast which will soon be posted on our new Website.

Confidence in God in the midst of Trouble

Psa 27:1-3

We tend to feel confident if we are safe and secure from all harm. Everything is going well, no trouble expected.

But Jesus said "In this world you will have trouble."

So where does this confidence come from of which David speaks in these first three verses?

Is it self-confidence?
Confidence that others will do what they should?


V1. The Lord is my light psa 27;1
The Lord is my salvation.

David is not looking to himself or others but to the Lord. He is our deliverer from Hell, and death, and Satan and the power of sin.

The Lord is my refuge. Prov 18:10 Strong Tower

Spurgeon: "The Lord shall give me the best of shelter in the worst of danger."

V2. (psa 27:2) David is looking at back at a past deliverance - when things were really bad - but God delivered.

Like the Hymn we sing by Newton: Through many dangers toils and snares....Grace that brought me this far grace that will bring me through.

Psa 27:5 - we are all going to experience trouble - but he will protect us. Knowing and believing who God is and what he has done in the past will give us the kind of confidence we need in the day of trouble.

We often come up with a list of reasons of why we should be fearful. "DOOM" "COLLAPSE" "MISERY" anxious thoughts multiplying within me. Lot of things that cause us inner turmoil.
Fear of man that keeps us from sharing the gospel.

BUT THE QUESTION IS: Are they stronger reasons than these to be fearful that WE SHOULD BE CONFIDENT IN GOD.

Yea though I walk THRU the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil - FOR THOU ART WITH ME.

Isa 43:2-3

Romans 8:35-37 List of circumstances where IN HIM WE ARE MORE THAN CONQUERORS.

Psa 27:9 David knows the ever present Lord - yet he prays like this.

Psa 27:10 Sometimes parents aren't there - doesn't matter David says - even if they forsake me the Lord will take me up.

Though a nursing mother may forget the newborn baby -- yet God will never forget his own.

Psa 27:11

Matthew Henry:

That in due time he should see the displays of his goodness, Psa_27:13. He believed he should see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living; and, if he had not done so, he would have fainted under his afflictions. Even the best saints are subject to faint when their troubles become grievous and tedious, their spirits are overwhelmed, and their flesh and heart fail. But then faith is a sovereign cordial; it keeps them from desponding under their burden and from despairing of relief, keeps them hoping, and praying, and waiting, and keeps up in them good thoughts of God, and the comfortable enjoyment of themselves. But what was it the belief of which kept David from fainting? - that he should see the goodness of the Lord, which now seemed at a distance. Those that walk by faith in the goodness of the Lord shall in due time walk in the sight of that goodness. This he hopes to see in the land of the living, that is, (1.) In this world, that he should outlive his troubles and not perish under them. It is his comfort, not so much that he shall see the land of the living as that he shall see the goodness of God in it; for that is the comfort of all creature-comforts to a gracious soul. (2.) In the land of Canaan, and in Jerusalem where the lively oracles were. In comparison with the heathen, that were dead in sin, the land of Israel might fitly be called the land of the living; there God was known, and there David hoped to see his goodness; see 2Sa_15:25, 2Sa_15:26. Or, (3.), In heaven. It is that alone that may truly be called the land of the living, where there is no more death. This earth is the land of the dying. There is nothing like the believing hope of eternal life, the foresights of that glory, and foretastes of those pleasures, to keep us from fainting under all the calamities of this present time.

The Lord does not slip - His timing is always perfect. The right help will come at the right time.

Mattew Henry:
That in the mean time he should be strengthened to bear up under his burdens (Psa_27:14); whether he says it to himself, or to his friends, it comes all to one; this is that which encourages him: He shall strengthen thy heart, shall sustain thy spirit, and then the spirit shall sustain the infirmity. In that strength, (1.) Keep close to God and to your duty. Wait on the Lord by faith, and prayer, and a humble resignation to his will; wait, I say, on the Lord; whatever you do, grow not remiss in your attendance upon God. (2.) Keep up your spirits in the midst of the greatest dangers and difficulties: Be of good courage; let your hearts be fixed, trusting in God, and your minds stayed upon him, and then let none of these things move you. Those that wait upon the Lord have reason to be of good courage.

Joshua 1:6-9 Be strong and courageous

Wherever you go the LORD GOD IS WITH YOU.

Acts 23:10-11 The Lord himself said to Paul: "Take Courage"

JESUS says in various ways to us: Take courage.

John 14:27

Where is your rest? Where is your peace? Many have a self-confidence. Beware of a False Hope, and supposed goodness within.
During this morning's message reference was made to the missionary JAMES HANNINGTON, I found the following small account: click here for full text

King Mwanga, fearing annexation of his dominions, and believing the missionaries to be the agents of the design, had begun a bitter persecution of the Christians. At a village on the shores of the lake, Hannington was seized, and confined in a miserable prison, surrounded by noisy, drunken guards. Consumed with fever, and at times delirious from pain, devoured by vermin, menaced every moment by the prospect of death, he found strength in the Psalms. On Wednesday, October 28th, he notes in his Diary : " I am quite broken down and brought low. Comforted by Psalm xxvii.

Word came that Mwanga had sent three soldiers, but what news they bring, they will not yet let me know. Much comforted by Psalm xxviii." "October 29th, Thursday (eighth day in prison).—I can hear no news, but was held up by Psalm xxx., which came with great power. A hyena howled near me last night, smelling a sick man, but I hope it is not to have me yet." This is his last entry. That day, at the age of thirty-seven, he was killed.

Saturday, July 3, 2010


"We are helpless"

So explained my just turned 11 years old daughter this morning as we studied our way through Romans chapter 1 - 6 this morning.

This week my girls requested me to forgo our current study of Pilgrim's Progress to revisit our previous study of Romans. To once again consider the gospel as presented especially in those first six chapters.

An outline of our conversation went something like this:

Rom 1:16 as a key verse for the whole of Romans - The gospel of Christ of which Paul by the Holy Spirit of God says he is not ashamed is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.

Rom 1:1-4 Observing that Paul is separated unto the Gospel. The gospel long proclaimed even before by his Holy Apostles in the HOLY SCRIPTURES.

Which Gospel is "CONCERNING" his son Jesus Christ. We made observation that this word "concerning" means "ABOUT" it's all about CHRIST. We also noted that the Greek word PERI from where we get the English word perimeter teaches us that like the perimeter of the circle - the gospel is all around, all about Christ. The gospel is about JESUS, who he is and what he has done.

And immediately in the next verses we learn that Jesus Christ is of the seed of DAVID according to the FLESH and declared to be the SON OF GOD with power. 1Tim 3:16 God manifest in the flesh.

Going on we rehearsed our keywords from each of the first six chapters of Romans.

Rom 1:20 Everyone is WITHOUT EXCUSE for creation evidences a creator. We can see that GOD IS and if GOD IS then HE is to be worshiped.

And if we would know that GOD IS we should live in obedience to him. IF we have within in us some knowledge of right and wrong, a sense of RULE that must be obeyed we know also that it must be obeyed perfectly in all its parts. Rom 2:13 it is not the hearers but the DOERS of the Law that are justified or declared right by and with GOD.

But from Romans 3:10 we see that there is NONE RIGHTEOUS. And Rom 3:23 ALL have sinned. We cannot but conclude from our condition and plight that the only means to be justified is by FAITH and not by the works of the law. Rom 3:28.

AGAIN - what does the scriptures say. Rom 4:3 reminds us - that Abraham believed GOD it was counted to him for/unto righteousness. (greek word "eis" meaning unto or into) Faith is the instrument by which Abraham was imputed as righteous. Not works but Faith.

And we can gain great hope for this was not written for just Abraham but for us also to whom it shall be imputed if we believe on him who raised up Christ our Lord from the dead. Rom 4:22-25.

But how can this work?

How can God consider the righteousness of another as mine? How can the atoning work or Christ be done in my place, and how can his perfect law-keeping righteousness be imputed to me?

Which answer we find in Romans Chapter Five where we read of the REPRESENTATION or HEADSHIP of Jesus Christ on behalf of those that are in him.

Rom 5:12 See how the judgement or consequence of what Adam has done has fallen upon us all, in fact upon the whole world. Death passed upon all men. We are culpable in Adam, because we were in ADAM as he STOOD IN THE GARDEN in the form of a public representative of all that were in HIM. What Adam did he did on behalf of all that were in him. When ADAM fell, all fell in HIM. In ADAM ALL DIE.

Rom 5:14 As is evident all around --- the result of Adam's fall, know also that ADAM in this representative nature was a FIGURE or TYPE of HIM THAT WAS TO COME. HE was a figure of CHRIST. Christ, the second Adam, holding a representative office for his people. So that what Jesus did he did on behalf of all that were in HIM.

We read in Genesis, God's words to Adam: In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. He ate and Death passed upon all. We could also read "and in the not eating thereof you will live." Christ obeyed where Adam disobeyed.

Rom 5:19 For AS by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, SO by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

We especially concentrated here upon those two little words: AS and SO

What does the word "AS" mean we thought. It means in similar fashion, in LIKE manner with Adam as a representative so also CHRIST. The results are quite opposite but there is a similarity in their representative offices. Which office was appointed by GOD.

By Faith in Christ alone we are counted righteousness. We are declared perfectly 100% righteous because our HEAD was this, if we by Faith beleive on the HIM who raised up Christ our Lord from the dead.

AND SO my just-turned-11-years-old daughter says with all seriousness: "We are helpless without God. He is the one who puts his spirit in us. We cannot do this work, he must do it. We are helpless, He changes us." I don't remember ever using that word with my girls but I think she rightly appropriated it today "HELPLESS without GOD." Even for our Faith, God be thanked.

This led me to think deeply about the meaning of faith and to think out loud with my girls this morning. How FAITH, and BELIEVING does speak to our utter dependence and reliance upon God for every good and perfect gift. Even as a baby is so dependent upon parents for food, and bed, and love, and shelter, and changing the diapers - so dependent. We are dependent upon God, Our faith is a dependence, a trusting a relying upon GOD ALONE, Apart from him we are helpless.

[postscript: after discussing the above post my 11 yr old added the comment, "and so I also thank God for making that in my mind."]

** Update - Whitestone has written extensively and clearly on this same topic today in her post entitled:

What I Learned Yesterday In the Chemo Chair click here

Whitestone's article deals with the Heidelberg Catechism and the following question and answer:
Question 12 asks, "According to God's righteous judgment we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after: How then can we escape punishment and return to God's favor?"

Answer 12: God requires that His justice be satisfied. Therefore the claims of His justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or another.