Depart from us

“Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways.” – Job 21:14

“They say unto God” – This is the language of their conduct. Men do not often formally and openly say this; but it is the language of their deportment.

“Depart from us” – This is about all that the wicked say of God. “They wish him to let them alone.” They do not desire that he would come into their habitations; they would be glad never more to hear his name. Yet what a state of mind is this! What must be the condition and character of the human heart when this desire is felt?

“We desire not the knowledge of thy ways” – We have no wish to become acquainted with God. His “ways” here mean his government, his law, his claims — whatever God does. Never was there a better description of the feelings of the human heart than is here expressed. The ways of God are displeasing to people, and they seek to crowd from their minds all respect to his commandments and claims. Yet, if this is the character of man, assuredly he is very far from being a holy being. What higher proof of depravity can there be, than that a man has no desire to know anything about a pure and holy God; no pleasure in becoming acquainted with his Maker!

– Albert Barnes, 1798 – 1870, Barnes Notes Commentary

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Published in: on July 7, 2018 at 12:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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He is Deranged

And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. – Mark 3:21

He is beside himself. He is delirious, or deranged, The reason why this report gained any belief was, probably, that our Lord had lived among them as a carpenter; that he was poor, and unknown; and that now, at thirty years of age, he broke off from his occupations, abandoned his common employment, spent much time in the deserts, denied himself the common comforts of life, and set up his claims to be the Messiah, who was expected by all the people to come with great pomp and splendor. The charge of derangement on account of attention to religion has not been confined to our Savior. Let a man be made deeply sensible of his sins, and spend much of his time in prayer, and have no relish for the ordinary amusements or business of life; or let a Christian be much impressed with his obligation to devote himself to God, and act as if he believed there was an eternity, and warn his neighbors of their danger; or let a minister show uncommon zeal, and waste his strength in the service of his Master, and the world is not slow to call it derangement. And none will be more ready to originate or believe the charge than an ungodly and infidel parent or brother; a self-righteous Pharisee or professor in the church. At the same time, men may endanger themselves on the bosom of the deep, or in the bowels of the earth, for wealth; or may plunge into the vortex of fashion, and folly, and vice, and break in upon the hours of repose, and neglect their duties to their family, and the demands of business, and in the view of the world it is wisdom, and proof of a sane mind! Such is the consistency of boasted reason; such the wisdom and prudence of worldly men!

– Albert Barnes, 1798 – 1870, Barnes Notes Commentary

 

 

Honesty and Courage Needed

If all preachers had honesty enough and courage enough to preach the truth–then the tide of worldliness that is overwhelming such a multitude of souls and sweeping them into perdition, would be somewhat stayed. As long as preachers allow their sermons to be dictated by public sentiment or the worldly desires of their hearers–they will cater to fashions, and souls by the million will drift on into Hell. Oh, what a reaping such preachers will have at the judgment! The full measure of God’s wrath will fall on those preachers who fail to be true to souls and to God, in preaching those truths the Bible clearly teaches against sin and worldliness.

– Charles Naylor, 1920

Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. – 2 Timothy 4:2

For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. – Acts 20:27

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. – 2 Timothy 4:3 

Formalism or Heart Religion

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” – 2 Timothy 3:5 

There are places of worship in our country today where all the outward things of religion are done to perfection. The building is beautiful. The service is beautiful. The singing is beautiful. The forms of devotion are beautiful. There is everything to gratify the senses. Eye, and ear, and natural sentimentality are all pleased. But all this time God is not pleased. One thing is lacking, and the want of that one thing spoils everything. What is that one thing? It is heart! God sees under all this outward show, the form of religion, put in the place of substance, and when He sees that He is displeased. He sees nothing with an eye of favor in the building, the service, the minister, or the people. If He does not see converted, renewed, broken, penitent hearts, then He is not pleased! Bowed heads, bended knees, loud amens, eyes lifted to heaven, all, all are nothing in God’s sight without right hearts.

There are many assemblies of Christian worshippers on earth this very day in which there is literally nothing to attract the natural man. They meet in miserable dirty so-called chapels, or in wretched upper-rooms and cellars. They sing off tune. They have feeble prayers and feeble sermons. And yet the Holy Spirit is often in the midst of them! Sinners are often converted in them, and the Kingdom of God prospers far more than in any Roman Catholic Cathedral, or than in any gorgeous Protestant Churches. How is this? How can it be explained? The cause is simply this, that in these humble assemblies heart-religion is taught and held. Heart-work is aimed at. Heart-work is honored. And the consequence is that God is pleased and grants His blessing.

I leave this part of my subject here. I ask my readers to consider carefully the things that I have been saying. I believe that they will bear examination, and are all true. Resolve this day, whatever Church you belong to, to be a Christian in “heart.” Do not be content with a mere form of godliness, without the power. Settle it down firmly in your mind that formal religion is not saving religion, and that heart-religion is the only religion that leads to heaven.

God’s truth and Scriptural Christianity are never really popular. They never have been. They never will be as long as the world stands. No one can calmly consider what human nature is, as described in the Bible, and reasonably expect anything else. As long as man is what man is, the majority of mankind will always like a religion of form far better than a religion of heart.

Is heart-religion popular in our country today? I answer sorrowfully that I do not believe it is. Look at the followers of it among the congregations. They are always comparatively few in number. They stand alone in their respective congregations. They have put up with many difficult things, harsh words, censure, harsh treatment, laughter, ridicule, slander, and petty persecution. This is not popularity! Look at the teachers of heart-religion in the pulpit. They are loved and liked, no doubt, by the few hearers who agree with them. They are sometimes admired for their talents and eloquence by the many who do not agree with them. They are even called “popular preachers,” because of the crowds who listen to their preaching. But none know so well as the faithful teachers of heart-religion that few really like them. Few really help them. Few sympathize with them. Few stand by them in any time of need. They find, like their Divine Master, that they must work almost alone. I write these things with sorrow, but I believe they are true. Real heart-religion today, no less than in days gone by, does not have “the praise of’ man.”

But after all it is not important what man thinks, and what man praises. He that judges us is the Lord. Man will not judge us at the last day. Man will not sit on the great white throne, examine our religion, and pronounce our eternal sentence. Those only whom God commends will be commended at the judgment seat of Christ. Here lies the value and glory of heart-religion. It may not have the praise of man, but it has “the praise of God.”

God will proclaim His approval of heart-religion before the assembled world at the last day. He will command His angels to gather together His saints, from every part of the globe, into one glorious company. He will raise the dead and change the living, and place them at the right hand of His beloved Son’s throne. Then all that have served Christ with the heart shall hear Him say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness! You acknowledged me before men, and I will also acknowledge you before my Father and His angels. You are those who have stood by me in my trials, and I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me” (Matthew 25:21-34; Luke 22:8, 28-29; Revelation 3:5). These words will be addressed to none but those who have given Christ their hearts! They will not be addressed to the formalist, the hypocrite, the wicked, and the ungodly. They will, indeed, see the fruits of heart-religion, but they will not eat of them. We will never know the full value of heart-religion until the last day. Then, and only then, will we fully understand how much better it is to have the praise of God than the praise of man.

If you take up heart-religion I cannot promise you the praise of man. Pardon, peace, hope, guidance, comfort, consolation, grace according to your need, strength according to your day, joy which the world can neither give nor take away–all this I can boldly promise to the man who comes to Christ, and serves Him with his heart. But I cannot promise him that his religion will be popular with man. I would rather warn him to expect mockery and ridicule, slander and unkindness, opposition and persecution. There is a cross belonging to heart-religion, and we must be content to carry it. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,”–“Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12). But if the world hates you, God will love you. If the world forsakes you, Christ has promised that He will never forsake and never fail. Whatever you may lose by heart-religion, be sure that the praise of God will make up for it.

– J.C. Ryle, 1816-1900, Formalism

 

Not done for the eyes of men

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in Heaven. So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” Matthew 6:1, 2

Our service to God must be an unostentatious service which springs from true love to God–never desiring to display itself. Genuine service is not done for the eyes of men to behold; it is done as a loving tribute to God, the object of its love.

The principle here set forth is that what is done with the purpose of being seen by men, brings only the reward that men give; in other words, it is not accepted by the Lord as service to Him. Judged by this rule, much of the service of some so-called Christians is never, I fear, recognized in Heaven at all. Our good deeds are to be done–not that men may see them–but that God, who sees in secret, may see, and reward according to His own will, and that He may regard them as service done to Himself and not for the reward of men’s praise.

It is simple, single-hearted service which pleases the Lord.

The man who is truly godly, has no desire to put himself upon exhibition. He thinks, “Not I, but Christ!” and not only thinks it, but feels it in the depths of his heart.

“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then, your Father who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:3-4

– Charles Naylor, 1920

Published in: on May 8, 2018 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Bible Reading

Remember that it is not hasty reading, but serious meditation on holy and heavenly truths — which makes them prove sweet and profitable to the soul. It is not the mere touching of the flower by the bee, which gathers honey — but her abiding for a time on the flower, which draws out the sweet. It is not he who reads most, but he who meditates most — who will prove to be the choicest, sweetest, wisest and strongest Christian!

–  Thomas Brooks, 1608–1680

Published in: on April 30, 2018 at 11:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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Popular Churches

That very church which the world likes best, is sure to be the church which God abhors most!

– Charles Spurgeon, 1834-1892

“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud . . . lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God–having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them!” – 2 Timothy 3:2-5

Published in: on April 16, 2018 at 2:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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The characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit

“John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath! Produce fruit in keeping with repentance!” Luke 3:7-8

Well would it be for the Church of Christ, if it possessed more plain-speaking ministers like John the Baptist.
A morbid dislike to strong language;
an excessive fear of giving offence;
a constant flinching from directness and plain speaking–
are, unhappily, too much the characteristics of the modern Christian pulpit!

Uncharitable language is no doubt always to be deprecated. But there is no ‘charity’ in flattering unconverted people–by abstaining from any mention of their vices, or in applying smooth names to their damnable sins!

There are two texts which are too much forgotten by Christian preachers. In one it is written, “Woe unto you–when all men shall speak well of you!” (Luke 6:26)

In the other it is written, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

J.C. Ryle – 1816-1900

Test Everything Against the Scriptures

“But test everything; hold fast what is good.”
– 1 Thessalonians 5:21

Remember your exalted privilege–you have the Bible in your hands, and are not bound to follow books or preachers any farther than what they teach agrees with the Oracles of Truth. We have great reason to be thankful for the instructions and writings of spiritual men–but they are all fallible, even as ourselves.

One is our master, even Christ–what He says, we are to receive implicitly–but we do not owe implicit subjection to the best of our fellow-worms. The Bereans were commended because they would not implicitly believe even the Apostle Paul–but examined the Scriptures every day to see if what he said was true. May the Lord give us a spirit of humility and discernment in all things.

When we eat an apple–we first cut out the blemishes, then eat what is good, and lastly throw the core away. Such a rule I would observe in reading human authors–the best may be defective, and the wisest may be mistaken. We are not only permitted, but enjoined, to call no man master.

– John Newton, 1725-1807, Letters of John Newton

“These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”   – Acts 17:11

A Bible and a Hymnbook

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD Almighty! – Zechariah 4:6

You know, the Church started out with a Bible, then it got a hymnbook, and for years that was it–a Bible and a hymnbook. The average church now certainly wouldn’t be able to operate on just a hymnbook and the Bible. Now we have to have all kinds of religious bunk. A lot of people couldn’t serve God at all without at least a truck load of equipment to keep them happy.

Some of these attractions that we have to win people and keep them coming may be fine, or they may be cheap. They may be elevated, or they may be degrading. They may be artistic, or they may be coarse–it all depends upon who is running the show! But the Holy Spirit is not the center of attraction, and the Lord is not the one who is in charge. We bring in all sorts of anti-Scriptural and unscriptural claptrap to keep the people happy and keep them coming.

As I see it, the great woe is not the presence of these religious toys and trifles–but the fact that they have become a necessity, and the presence of the Eternal Spirit is not in our midst!

– A.W. Tozer, 1897-1963