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Posts Tagged ‘Charles Spurgeon’

blood I

Oh the joy of the redeemed at Easter time! We are reminded anew of the great price it cost to make a way for our rebellious selves to enjoy the pleasure of a pure and righteous God. May our hearts be loosed to rejoice with abandon on Easter Sunday as the Church universal remembers and celebrates our God who is not dead, but is at rest, seated at the right hand of his Father, having accomplished all that was necessary, and ever living to make intercession for those he calls his own. Halleluiah, what a Savior!

“The precious blood of Christ” — 1 Peter 1:19

[Know] that you were ransomed
from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers,
not with perishable things such as silver or gold,
but with the precious blood of Christ,
like that of a lamb without blemish or spot (1 Peter 1:18-19).

“Standing at the foot of the cross, we see hands, and feet, and side, all distilling crimson streams of precious blood. It is “precious” because of its redeeming and atoning efficacy. By it the sins of Christ’s people are atoned for; they are redeemed from under the law; they are reconciled to God, made one with Him. Christ’s blood is also “precious” in its cleansing power; it “cleanseth from all sin.” “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Through Jesus’ blood there is not a spot left upon any believer, no wrinkle nor any such thing remains.

”O precious blood, which makes us clean, removing the stains of abundant iniquity, and permitting us to stand accepted in the Beloved, notwithstanding the many ways in which we have rebelled against our God. The blood of Christ is likewise “precious” in its preserving power. We are safe from the destroying angel under the sprinkled blood. Remember it is God’s seeing the blood which is the true reason for our being spared. Here is comfort for us when the eye of faith is dim, for God’s eye is still the same.

”The blood of Christ is “precious” also in its sanctifying influence. The same blood which justifies by taking away sin, does in its after-action, quicken the new nature and lead it onward to subdue sin and to follow out the commands of God. There is no motive for holiness so great as that which streams from the veins of Jesus. And “precious,” unspeakably precious, is this blood, because it has an overcoming power. It is written, “They overcame through the blood of the Lamb.” How could they do otherwise? He who fights with the precious blood of Jesus, fights with a weapon which cannot know defeat. The blood of Jesus! sin dies at its presence, death ceases to be death: heaven’s gates are opened. The blood of Jesus! we shall march on, conquering and to conquer, so long as we can trust its power!”

– – – – –

Spurgeon, Charles H. “Morning and Evening.” Morning and Evening.N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Apr. 2014.

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Because of parent conferences, I missed the Billy Graham broadcast My Hope America which was aired on his 95th birthday (11-07-18).  I was glad to find the video, though, which not only features Dr. Graham, but Lecrae Moore and Lacey Sturm.

I grew up watching the Billy Graham crusades.  Whenever they were aired, my dad would call us from various parts of the house and  strongly suggest we watch with it only takes a little bit of your time or it won’t hurt you to watch, etc.  I never told my parents that I actually responded to a crusade call during my elementary years and wrote to Billy Graham, Minneapolis, MN (that’s all the address you needed) to get follow up material.  I include that incident in my testimony, believing that even at that age, God was making himself known to me.  Fast forward several years to June 1987 when Dana and I had the privilege of being counselors at a Billy Graham crusade; driving 70 miles south each of three days to where Billy Graham preached and Cliff Barrows led the choir (and Johnny and June Cash brought special music one of the days).

I no longer hold to popular decision theology.  I have come to see that regeneration precedes and produces faith; not the other way around.  God is not the responder, waiting and hoping for people to respond in faith to his Son.  Unless the Holy Spirit shines the light of truth into my darkened understanding, I am dead in my trespasses and unable to respond in faith to the cross of Christ.

We are indeed “saved through faith” and “faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.”  “This [faith] is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (see Ephesians 2:8-9 and Romans 10:17).  Just as the world needed the Word of God to speak it into being, so too, we who are dead in our trespasses, need the same Word of God to quicken our hearts before we can be made new and respond to him (see John 1:1-4 and Ephesians 2:5).

For me, God began to turn his light of truth on in my heart over several years, but for many, like those at a Billy Graham, Louis Palau, or Greg Laurie crusade, it may feel like one puts their faith in Christ and is then made a new creature.  We are unaware in that moment of the Holy Spirit’s work in helping us to “put the pieces together” and in the necessity of his call which prompts us to repentance and faith.  Almost everyone at the time of conversion feels as if they “chose” Christ, especially, I’m sure, those who pray a repentant “sinner’s prayer” as Billy Graham invites.  Only after, are many made aware through Scripture, that it was always Christ’s first move in their hearts that brought them to the realization of his saving work on the cross.  It’s been likened to light that comes on immediately when a switch is flipped.  Only with further study, we note there was a necessary outside source acting upon the switch, to close the circuit, and to bring about light.  Our faith and regeneration often seem to come simultaneously, but it was God first regenerating our wills and our minds to bring us to the point of faith.  “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Charles Spurgeon put it this way:

“…When the gospel comes to some, they fight against it, and will not have it, but where men receive it, welcoming it, this is a sure indication that there is a secret work going on in the soul, and that God has chosen them unto eternal life. Are you willing, dear reader, to receive Christ? Then there is no difficulty in the way; Christ will be your guest; His own power is working with you, making you willing.”

The cross has always been an offense to many.  It is not given to us to know who will receive or reject it.  It is ours to hold out the Word of God and to unashamedly profess the gospel “for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).  Likewise, in hearing the Word of Christ and desiring to receive him, one need not wonder if the gospel is meant for them or not.  The font of such a desire is the “secret work going on in the soul” as Spurgeon put it and Christ assures us, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37).

 

[There is an answer to the title conundrum too–what came first the chicken or the egg?  Genesis 1:24-25]

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Jonathan Edwards studying

“Since wisdom is found in the Word of God, we must apply ourselves in study and meditation to know the Word and do it. ‘The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.’ (Psalm 19:7). Therefore, we must devote ourselves to know and understand the testimonies of the Lord. And here I commend not only faithful Bible study, but also regular reading of great books on theology and biblical interpretation, books that distill the wisdom of the greatest students of the word over the past 1900 years.

“Now, I know what you are thinking: I don’t have the time or the ability to get anywhere in books like that. So I want to show you something really encouraging. When this was shown to me about four years ago by my pastor, it changed my life. Most of us don’t aspire very high in our reading because we don’t feel like there is any hope.

“But listen to this: Suppose you read about 250 words a minute and that you resolve to devote just 15 minutes a day to serious theological reading to deepen your grasp of biblical truth. In one year (365 days) you would read for 5,475 minutes. Multiply that times 250 words per minute and you get 1,368,750 words per year. Now most books have between 300 and 400 words per page. So if we take 350 words per page and divide that into 1,368,750 words per year, we get 3,910 pages per year. This means that at 250 words a minute, 15 minutes a day, you could read about 20 average sized books a year!”

                                                                                       ~ John Piper, May 24, 1981

 

“Give yourself unto reading… He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own. You need to read.”

~Charles H. Spurgeon

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forget-me-notIII

Have you ever passed or seen a nearby police car and in that moment you look down to see that you’ve been riding the gas peddle more heavily than you ought?  Then on the same trip, your path crosses another police car or one turns onto the street behind you and, hopefully, you find yourself grateful that the first car caused you to adjust your pace down before this second close encounter.  I usually see that as grace in my life.

 

I’m wondering if the same early-alert for my benefit is not being offered me by Charles Spurgeon.  Anyway, it’s caught my attention.  Spurgeon discusses first the “delightful and profitable occupation” of reading Christian biographies.   However, it is not only the great heroes of faith in which God is at work.  Spurgeon directs us to look also to our own lives and “forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:2).

 

“Ought we not to look upon our own history as being at least as full of God, as full of His goodness and of His truth, as much a proof of His faithfulness and veracity, as the lives of any of the saints who have gone before? We do our Lord an injustice when we suppose that He wrought all His mighty acts, and showed Himself strong for those in the early time, but doth not perform wonders or lay bare His arm for the saints who are now upon the earth. Let us review our own lives. Surely in these we may discover some happy incidents, refreshing to ourselves and glorifying to our God. Have you had no deliverances? Have you passed through no rivers, supported by the divine presence? Have you walked through no fires unharmed? Have you had no manifestations? Have you had no choice favours? The God who gave Solomon the desire of his heart, hath He never listened to you and answered your requests? That God of lavish bounty of whom David sang, “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things,” hath He never satiated you with fatness? Have you never been made to lie down in green pastures? Have you never been led by the still waters? Surely the goodness of God has been the same to us as to the saints of old.”

 

Curiously (or Providentially), I am finding Spurgeon’s challenge to take inventory and “not forget” echoed on a few fronts.  I’m reading in Deuteronomy these days.  It’s Moses’ swan song really.  He condenses the previous 40 years into a single history to both remind and encourage Israel who are now on the doorstep of Canaan, the promised land.  “Forget not” (4:9, 4:23, 6:12, 8:11, 8:14, 8:19, 9:7) and “remember” (5:15, 7:18, 8:2, 8:18, 15:15, 16:3, 16:12, 24:18, 24:22) are major themes that keep running through the book of Deuteronomy.  In Moses’ instructions to the Jewish nation, I am reminded again to forget not.  Moses first reminds the Israelites of the singularity of Yahweh, but then gives this sobering warning:

 

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life (Deut. 4:7-10).

 

I want to heed this message because it is coming to me from a third source also as I am reading through Paul E. Miller’s book “A Praying Life.”  In his chapters on cynicism (a trait, I confess, I recognize all too well), Miller challenges the cynic to a watchful optimism and to “trust that God sees what I see.  In fact he sees beyond what I see.  He sees the whole story and is completely trustworthy to be at work on a grand scale, in the minutia, and even in my own life” (p.84).  Miller would have me, the cynic, be on the lookout for those in whom God is working, a reminder that Aslan’s on the move not only on the world’s stage, but in the very details of my life.  In response to this awareness, Miller directs the believer to cultivate a thankful spirit:

 

“Now years later, I still begin my [morning] prayer times by reflecting… I drift through the previous day and watch God at work.  Nothing undercuts cynicism more than a spirit of thankfulness.  You begin to realize that your whole life is a gift” (p.89).

 

This resonates with me as Dana and I have been reminded again and again during the past 5-7 years in which our family’s manufacturing business has been reeling from the effects of the housing crisis.  The verses that convicted us early on in this trial were also from Deuteronomy – 28:47-48.  These verses were given as a warning to Israel of the lack to come, if they did not serve the Lord their God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity.   Knowing I am the child of this same Yahweh, I discern His heart from these verses—it is pleasing to Him when we respond in joy and gladness when He brings us abundance.  To do this at all well, I must train myself to note and recite the litany of the Lord’s work in my life, His goodness, truth, faithfulness, and veracity, as Spurgeon puts it. 

 

This is easier said than done for us creatures of clay.  How many of us upon reading Spurgeon’s questions or in wanting to praise God in our own prayer closets come up blank?  How can that possibly be?  The Lord works daily in our lives, personally on our behalf and that of our families, yet we come up blank when trying to enumerate his goodnesses in our lives?  I am ashamed to even write it.  But I write with purpose: to remind myself of my infinite tendencies to forget and to challenge myself to keep my eyes peeled and to not only articulate, but also write down the steady stream of graces I receive from the hand of my careful and faithful Father.

 

Spurgeon concludes with a reminder that our “remembering” is to the greater glory of God:

 

“Let us, then, weave His mercies into a song. Let us take the pure gold of thankfulness, and the jewels of praise and make them into another crown for the head of Jesus. Let our souls give forth music as sweet and as exhilarating as came from David’s harp, while we praise the Lord whose mercy endureth for ever.”

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beggar
Pastor Alistair Begg invites all who will, to come to Christ, but he gives this warning:  Those who would come to Christ must come to him as beggars, begging for a crust of bread.  Of course, this is the difficulty of the gospel for many.   We want so desperately to make the case for ourselves, to present our well-lived lives (if they are well-lived) and deny the sin that so easily entangles.  For those of us tempted to underestimate the affront that our sin is to a holy God, Pastor James MacDonald reminds us we need only consider the dire means by which our sins were paid.

In truth, there is not a thing we bring to the table of our salvation, nothing to recommend us before the throne of God.  This, of course, includes our very faith which is “not your own doing; it is the gift of God.[1] Until God caused light to shine in my darkened understanding or made my blind eyes see the truth of my sin and the glory of the Gospel, until he breathed onto the dry, dead bones of my soul, neither repentance nor faith could be born in my heart and life would not have occurred.  After all, I was dead in my trespasses and sins, [2] and dead men are unable to seek or choose or believe lest they first be quickened.

 —

Charles Spurgeon would have us marvel at this, though:  We come as beggars, but are adopted as children, and there is nothing our Father will withhold from his children.  Spurgeon’s own wonder at this, excerpted from the on-line devotional Morning and Evening, is shared by Nick Roarke on his wonderful blog Tolle Lege:

 

“And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them.” — John 17:22

banquet table“Behold the superlative liberality of the Lord Jesus, for He hath given us His all. Although a tithe of His possessions would have made a universe of angels rich beyond all thought, yet was He not content until He had given us all that He had.

It would have been surprising grace if He had allowed us to eat the crumbs of His bounty beneath the table of His mercy; but He will do nothing by halves, He makes us sit with Him and share the feast.

Had He given us some small pension from His royal coffers, we should have had cause to love Him eternally; but no, He will have His bride as rich as Himself, and He will not have a glory or a grace in which she shall not share.

He has not been content with less than making us joint-heirs with Himself, so that we might have equal possessions. He has emptied all His estate into the coffers of the Church, and hath all things common with His redeemed.

There is not one room in His house the key of which He will withhold from His people. He gives them full liberty to take all that He hath to be their own; He loves them to make free with His treasure, and appropriate as much as they can possibly carry.

The boundless fullness of His all-sufficiency is as free to the believer as the air he breathes. Christ hath put the flagon of His love and grace to the believer’s lip, and bidden him drink on for ever.

For could he drain it, he is welcome to do so, and as he cannot exhaust it, he is bidden to drink abundantly, for it is all his own. What truer proof of fellowship can heaven or earth afford?

When I stand before the throne
Dressed in beauty not my own;
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart;
Then, Lord, shall I fully know—
Not till then—how much I owe.

–Charles Spurgeon, “June 30 –  Morning” in Morning and Evening (Geanies House, Fearn, Scotland, UK: Christian Focus, 1994),  382.

[Hymn: When This Passing World is Done]

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