Thursday, July 20, 2017

Stop Loving the World - Chap 4

Stop Loving the World [ISBN 978-1-60178-118-5] by William Greenhill is an appended sermon to his book The Sound Hearted Christian and provides excellent advice on identifying and suppressing inordinate love of the world.  In this book Mr. Greenhill expounds 1 John 2:15, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" by properly distinguishing between the correct use of the world versus the undue love the world.

Mr. Greenhill notes that "even saints are prone to love the world" and that "[t]here is a great suitableness between the world and hour corrupt hearts and natures," (p. 2).  In Chapter 4 he gives directions for examining the Christian's heart for the love of the world.

First, he looks at the usefulness of applying the doctrine to not love the world:
  1. Examining the heart informs a Christian of the corruption of his nature, which is very prone to love the world and the things of the world (pp. 42-43).
  2. If those in a state of grace should not love the world, then there are very few who are truly in the state of grace because there are so few who do not love the world (pp. 43-44).
  3. If a Christian should not love the world, then those who are gracious and godly should be content with a little of the world (p. 44).
  4. Examining the heart serves to reprove professing Christians (pp. 44-45).
Next, the author provides probing questions to help the Christian examine his heart:
  1. Am I more concerned about the things of the world than I am for heaven and spiritual things? (p. 45-46)
  2. Does the world push aside and cut out the things that are of God? (pp. 46-48)
  3. Am I content with a little when it comes to matters of the soul? (pp. 48-49)
  4. In what then do I find most sweetness and contentment? (pp. 49-50)
  5. Do I use questionable or unlawful means to get the world?  Do I neglect lawful and unquestionable means that would get me heaven and spiritual things? (pp. 50-51)
  6. Do I love ideas, learning, wisdom of words, talents, gifts, and things of this nature? (pp. 51-52)
  7. Am I more grieved for the loss of outward, worldly things than I am for the loss of spiritual things? (p. 52)
Mr. Greenhill concludes this chapter with the following directions: "Honestly answering these several questions should help you know whether you love the world or not.  And if you find that your heart is set on this world, you are worthy of great blame," (p. 52).


***
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever," (1 John 2:15-17).

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Stop Loving the World - Chap 3

Stop Loving the World [ISBN 978-1-60178-118-5] by William Greenhill is an appended sermon to his book The Sound Hearted Christian and provides excellent advice on identifying and suppressing inordinate love of the world.  In this book Mr. Greenhill expounds 1 John 2:15, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" by properly distinguishing between the correct use of the world versus the undue love the world.

Mr. Greenhill notes that "even saints are prone to love the world" and that "[t]here is a great suitableness between the world and hour corrupt hearts and natures," (p. 2).  In Chapter 3 he describes the Christian's relationship to God's Creation.

First, the author looks at how a Christian should legitimately interact with the world:
  1. Christians may study the world and the works of God in the world (pp. 29-31).
  2. Christians may pray for the things of the world (pp. 31-32).
  3. Christians must follow a calling in this world (pp. 32-33).
Next, Mr. Greenhill lists six ways that the Christian can use God's creation well and right:
  1. Use all things for the end that God has made them (pp. 33-34).
  2. Walk with God in the use of the world and answer God's call (p. 34).
  3. Use the things of the world to promote spiritual good in ourselves and others (pp. 34-35).
  4. Use the world slightly and consider the things of God and of the soul as the main business (p. 35).
  5. Use the world in moderation, keeping the affection in check (pp. 35-36).
  6. Give a good and cheerful account to God concerning worldly possessions (p. 36).
He also shows us how to love good things in the world:
  1. Keep the good of creation in proper perspective (p. 37).
  2. Remember the right use of these good things (p. 37).
  3. Place the greatest Good (love to God) second to none (p. 38).
Finally, Mr. Greenhill gives five reasons why a Christian should not make his own wealth a goal in life:
  1. It is a heathenish thing to argue for the goodness of a calling from the gain of a calling (pp. 38-39).
  2. Christians must aim at the public good in their callings (p. 39-40).
  3. To make being rich a goal is against the great and glorious principle of the gospel, self-denial (p. 40).
  4. It is directly against Scripture for Christians to make earthly gain an end (p. 40).
  5. Christians should follow a calling to glorify God, whether there is gain or not (p. 41).
The author reminds Christians to "[l]et our moderation be toward things as if they were not ultimately ours," (p. 36).  He also encourages Christians to keep the right perspective:
"The things of the world feed our lusts and are stronger to set our corruptions to work than to further the good that is in us.  And because the things of the world divert us from God, discourage us toward good, or corrupt the good that is in us, therefore the Lord has forbidden us to love the world--even though there is some good in the world," (p. 37).


***

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever," (1 John 2:15-17).

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Stop Loving the World - Chap 2

Stop Loving the World [ISBN 978-1-60178-118-5] by William Greenhill is an appended sermon to his book The Sound Hearted Christian and provides excellent advice on identifying and suppressing inordinate love of the world.  In this book Mr. Greenhill expounds 1 John 2:15, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" by properly distinguishing between the correct use of the world versus the undue love the world.

Mr. Greenhill notes that "even saints are prone to love the world" and that "[t]here is a great suitableness between the world and hour corrupt hearts and natures," (p. 2).  In Chapter 2 he looks at reasons for not loving this world:
  1. Christians have a higher calling (p. 15).
  2. It is unreasonable (pp. 15-19).
  3. It is scandalous (pp. 19-20).
  4. It is idolatrous (p. 20).
  5. It is dangerous (pp. 20-22).
  6. It deals with the impossible (p. 22).
  7. It makes God the Christian's enemy (pp. 22-24).
  8. It debases our understanding (pp. 24-25).
  9. It is utterly destructive (pp. 25-26).
  10. It is hostile to godliness (pp. 26-27).
  11. It is the devil's trap (pp. 27-28).
  12. It leads to apostasy (p. 28).
The author states an obvious, but discredited, reality: "The things of God are better than the things of the world," (p. 18).



***

"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever," (1 John 2:15-17).

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Stop Loving the World - Chap 1

Stop Loving the World [ISBN 978-1-60178-118-5] by William Greenhill is an appended sermon to his book The Sound Hearted Christian and provides excellent advice on identifying and suppressing inordinate love of the world.  In this book Mr. Greenhill expounds 1 John 2:15, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world" by properly distinguishing between the correct use of the world versus the undue love the world.

Mr. Greenhill notes that "even saints are prone to love the world" and that "[t]here is a great suitableness between the world and hour corrupt hearts and natures," (p. 2).  In Chapter 1 he addresses what is meant by "the world" and what it is to love the world.

First, the world is (1) all things created by God, (2) the customs and fashions of men, and (3) the pomp and splendor of men (pp. 3-5).

Next, Mr. Greenhill describes what it means to love the world.  To love the world is:
  1. To hold it in high account (pp. 5-6)
  2. To fix your thoughts on it (pp. 6-7)
  3. To desire it (p. 7)
  4. To set your heart on the things of it (pp. 7-8)
  5. To employ your strength in, on, and about it (pp. 8-9)
  6. To watch for all opportunities and occasions to get the things of it (pp. 9-10)
  7. To endure great hardships for it (pp. 10-11)
  8. To favor it the most (pp. 11-13)
  9. To mourn and lament for the things of it that are taken away (p. 14)
  10. To be resolved to be rich and have it one way or another (p. 14)
This short book is not only very convicting, but it is also very helpful as it encourages the Christian to obey the first and greatest commandment to "love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all they soul, and with all thy mind," (Matt. 22:37).


***
"Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever," (1 John 2:15-17).

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Contentment, Prosperity, & God's Glory - Chapter 10

Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory [ISBN 978-1-601778-232-8] is book of sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs on achieving contentment during times of abundance which were compiled as an appendix to The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  The Rare Jewel helps the Christian to find contentment in times of want, while these follow-up sermons help the Christian to find contentment in times of prosperity.  In both books, Mr. Burroughs expounds Philippians 4:12, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

Mr. Burroughs succinctly concludes his thoughts from both aspects of Phil 4:12 -- "So put a gracious heart into any condition, full or empty, and grace will help him lie evenly whatever his condition," (p. 115).  So "whether in prosperity or adversity, the gracious man will still respond consistently before God" because "[e]xternal things cannot alter a heart full of grace," (pp. 118, 119).

"It is a great part of the glory of God to be unchangeable and yet to operate in the midst of changeable circumstances.  Likewise, it is a mark of the excellence of God's image in the hearts of His saints that in a variety of conditions they too would remain the same, to know how to be abased, and how to abound," (p. 119).

Thank you joining me on this journey through Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory.  May you carefully consider your Christian witness as you abound in the blessings of God.


***
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God," (2 Cor. 3:5).

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Contentment, Prosperity, & God's Glory - Chapter 9

Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory [ISBN 978-1-601778-232-8] is book of sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs on achieving contentment during times of abundance which were compiled as an appendix to The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  The Rare Jewel helps the Christian to find contentment in times of want, while these follow-up sermons help the Christian to find contentment in times of prosperity.  In both books, Mr. Burroughs expounds Philippians 4:12, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

In Chapter 9, Mr. Burroughs gives several applications for improving the prosperous condition of a Christian:
  1. All that has been said up [to] this point serves to rebuke those who are concerned only with learning how to gain abundance in the world but are not concerned with learning how to abound (p. 106).
  2. We are taught that an excellent thing religion is; it helps us in every condition (p. 107).
  3. Based upon what we have heard, there should be moderation in all our desires for the things in this world (p. 109).
  4. Any of you with rich friends now see the great need there is for you to pray for them (p. 110).
  5. In all your abundance, learn thoroughly your utter dependence upon God (p. 110).
  6. While you may be above in your abundance, let your hearts be attentive to the meager, low condition of others (p. 113).
  7. To those whom God has given these mercies...praise Him for His blessings, but especially praise Him if He has blessed His blessings to you (p. 113)
The author simply states the condition of most American Christians: "The life of many men and women is nothing more than learning how to better use their wealth," (p. 112).


***

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God," (2 Cor. 3:5).

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Contentment, Prosperity, & God's Glory - Chapter 8

Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory [ISBN 978-1-601778-232-8] is book of sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs on achieving contentment during times of abundance which were compiled as an appendix to The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  The Rare Jewel helps the Christian to find contentment in times of want, while these follow-up sermons help the Christian to find contentment in times of prosperity.  In both books, Mr. Burroughs expounds Philippians 4:12, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

In Chapter 8, Mr. Burroughs shows how Christians increase the guilt of the sins of abundance:
  1. The first condition is when you abuse your wealth in light of the suffering of others (p. 102).
  2. The second condition is when you abuse your wealth after God has raised you up from a poorer condition (p. 102).
  3. The third condition is when you abuse your wealth after God has preserved your riches through difficult times (p. 103).
  4. The fourth condition is when you abuse your wealth while ignoring the prodding of your conscience (p. 103).
  5. The fifth condition is if you are abusing mercies that were previously taken away, but have not been restored to you (p. 104).
  6. The sixth condition is if you are using your wealth for selfishness rather than service (p. 104).
  7. The seventh condition is if you forget previous promises you made to God when you wealth was threatened (p. 104).
  8. The final condition is when you ignore the means of grace to help you honor God with your wealth (p. 105).
The author clearly states a sobering thought for the full Christian:  "If you still enjoy your worldly goods, despite the fact that your consciences accuse you of being guilty of greatly abusing them, it is a wonder that God has not violently torn it all away from you--or torn you away from it," (p. 103).


***
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God," (2 Cor. 3:5).

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Contentment, Prosperity, & God's Glory - Chapter 7

Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory [ISBN 978-1-601778-232-8] is book of sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs on achieving contentment during times of abundance which were compiled as an appendix to The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  The Rare Jewel helps the Christian to find contentment in times of want, while these follow-up sermons help the Christian to find contentment in times of prosperity.  In both books, Mr. Burroughs expounds Philippians 4:12, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

In Chapter 7, Mr. Burroughs mentions several lessons for learning to be full.  A Christian must learn:
  1. The source from where all his good comes (p. 93)
  2. The fear of God (p. 94)
  3. That the very preservation of the world is through the mediation of Jesus Christ (p. 95)
  4. Unworthiness (p. 95)
  5. The vanity of created things, as well as the uncertainty of them (p. 96)
  6. That all things are only talents (p. 97)
  7. That man is born to hard work (p. 98)
  8. That God very seldom entrusts His own people with these outward comforts (p. 98)
  9. The excellence of true riches, namely, spiritual riches (p. 99)
  10. That the least sin is a greater evil than all earthly prosperity can be good (p. 99)
  11. That we are not ourselves for our abundance (p. 100)
  12. That we should desire a measure of grace proportionate to whatever we possess, so that whatever we have will not harm us rather than turning out for our good (p. 100)
  13. That God has set this time of your life as the time to provide for eternity (p. 100)
The author concludes by saying that a Christian needs to "be serious-minded, ...remove much of the vanity and frivolity from your spirits, ...[and] "be cautious of spending so much time in the use and enjoyment of the things of this world if they hinder you in the least in fulfilling the great work for which you live: the advancement of the gospel and your own spiritual good," (p. 100).


***
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God," (2 Cor. 3:5).

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Contentment, Prosperity, & God's Glory - Chapter 6

Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory [ISBN 978-1-601778-232-8] is book of sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs on achieving contentment during times of abundance which were compiled as an appendix to The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  The Rare Jewel helps the Christian to find contentment in times of want, while these follow-up sermons help the Christian to find contentment in times of prosperity.  In both books, Mr. Burroughs expounds Philippians 4:12, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

In Chapter 6, Mr. Burroughs states that a "godly man's heart goes further than natural wisdom is able to teach.  He learns to sanctify the name of God in the estate and outward blessings he has received from God," (p. 76).  A godly man learns:
  1. To abound by being faithful (p. 76)
  2. How to be full by regularly (p. 76)
  3. By seeking to preserve his comforts and enrich himself by sharing what he has (p. 78)
  4. By learning how to have comfort by his riches by putting his affections for those riches to death (p. 80)
  5. By sanctifying all that he has by the Word and prayer (p. 83)
  6. By increasing his humility (p. 87)
  7. By accounting it better to lose for God, and return to God, than to gain for himself, and keep to himself (p. 89)
  8. By raising his heart, in a holy way, above all his abundance (p. 90)
  9. By abounding in holiness (p. 90)
  10. By being aware and sensible of his dependence on God in the height of his prosperity as he is in the depth of his adversity (pp. 91-92)
The author gives a clear picture of the Christian who has learned to be full: "If a man appreciates what he has through the lens of the Word of the promise or by the Word of the gospel, where Jesus Christ is revealed to us, his ability to profit from things he enjoys becomes transformed by Jesus Christ, the Word who sanctifies everything to us," (p. 85).  He also convicts us that "[t]he more any man has, the more need he has to pray; therefore, rich men need to pray more than poor men.  Few of you think so, and even fewer of you do so," (pp. 86-87).


***
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God," (2 Cor. 3:5).

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Contentment, Prosperity, & God's Glory - Chapter 5

Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory [ISBN 978-1-601778-232-8] is book of sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs on achieving contentment during times of abundance which were compiled as an appendix to The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  The Rare Jewel helps the Christian to find contentment in times of want, while these follow-up sermons help the Christian to find contentment in times of prosperity.  In both books, Mr. Burroughs expounds Philippians 4:12, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

In Chapter 5, Mr. Burroughs details the several ways in which the excellency of learning to be full can be seen:
  1. It shows great nobility in the heart of man (p. 66).
  2. Whatever grace such a man has is much more evident than other men's graces and is more beautiful (p. 67).
  3. It is an excellency because it is so rare (p. 67).
  4. It is proof that someone is strong in grace when he is full and has learned how to be full--that is, how to be moderate in his prosperity (p. 68).
  5. A person who has learned to be full is in a position to do a great deal of good (p. 70).
  6. When it comes time for you to die, oh how sweet you will die when you can say, "Oh, Lord, remember me for this good." (p. 71)
  7. If God should ever bring affliction into your life, you would find sweetness and comfort in the fact that you have used your prosperity well (p. 72).
  8. This is the way that God attains His purpose and the purpose of His creatures (p. 72).
The author exhorts that "God highly esteems those who constantly render to Him the rent of praise and honor for the many enjoyments they have in the world.  This cannot help but bring you a great deal of comfort and shows the excellency of learning how to be full," (p. 73).


***

"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God," (2 Cor. 3:5).

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Contentment, Prosperity, & God's Glory - Chapter 4

Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory [ISBN 978-1-601778-232-8] is book of sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs on achieving contentment during times of abundance which were compiled as an appendix to The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  The Rare Jewel helps the Christian to find contentment in times of want, while these follow-up sermons help the Christian to find contentment in times of prosperity.  In both books, Mr. Burroughs expounds Philippians 4:12, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

In Chapter 4, Mr. Burroughs notes several reasons for the necessity of learning to be full.  If those who are full do not learn how to be full:
  1. Then they will be guiltier of abusing the gifts of God than others (p. 53).
  2. Then they will be guilty of sinning against God's mercy more than others (p. 54).
  3. Then they will grow extremely wicked (p. 56).
  4. Then their portion will be in this life (p. 58).
  5. Then their possessions will be cursed to them (p. 60).
  6. Then their evil hearts will be revealed (p. 62).
  7. Then they will do a great deal of harm in the place where they live, not only to themselves but to others (p. 63).
  8. Then the unbelievers' full estate will endanger their salvation exceedingly (p. 64).
  9. Then death will be made more terrible for them (p. 65).
The author reminds the Christian that "[y]ou were made for eternity, and those created things were not.  Therefore, if your hope is in this world only, you are a wretched creature," (p. 58).  He concludes by noting that "Christ tells us what a rich man is: one who trust in his riches," (p. 64)...and that "you must be called to an account for all the things that you enjoy," (p. 65). 


***
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God," (2 Cor. 3:5).

Monday, June 5, 2017

Contentment, Prosperity, & God's Glory - Chapter 3

Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory [ISBN 978-1-601778-232-8] is book of sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs on achieving contentment during times of abundance which were compiled as an appendix to The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  The Rare Jewel helps the Christian to find contentment in times of want, while these follow-up sermons help the Christian to find contentment in times of prosperity.  In both books, Mr. Burroughs expounds Philippians 4:12, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

In Chapter 3, Mr. Burroughs gives various reasons why it is difficult to learn how to abound:
  1. Because we are mostly flesh; there is more flesh than spirit in us (p. 37).
  2. Because in prosperity there are more duties required of us than in adversity (p. 37).
  3. Because there are a variety of temptations that go along with a full condition (p. 39).
  4. Because fullness not only provides a temptation to sin but also provides fuel for all kinds of lusts (p. 42).
  5. Because a full condition is in danger of hindering those graces that are distinctly Christian (p. 44).
  6. Because of the solemn and frequent charges God gives to His people to take heed to themselves when they are full (p. 46).
  7. Because the Bible does not show that a full condition ever turned any soul to God or was the means of doing so, when that person had not turned to God before (p. 48).
  8. Because most of God's children who were brought into a full condition became worse for it than better (p. 49).
  9. Because God uses affliction and not abundance as a tool for sanctification (p. 50).
The author warns that a "wealthy man's estate is a temptation to pride, to uncleanness, or to overindulgence...Fullness will feed those lusts if you have not learned how to be full," (pp. 41, 42).


***
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God," (2 Cor. 3:5).

Friday, June 2, 2017

Contentment, Prosperity, & God's Glory - Chapter 2

Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory [ISBN 978-1-601778-232-8] is book of sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs on achieving contentment during times of abundance which were compiled as an appendix to The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  The Rare Jewel helps the Christian to find contentment in times of want, while these follow-up sermons help the Christian to find contentment in times of prosperity.  In both books, Mr. Burroughs expounds Philippians 4:12, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

In Chapter 2, Mr. Burroughs gives several evidences that indicate when a Christian has learned how to be full:
  1. When he has learned to set a suitable price on his fullness (p. 13).
  2. When he learns how to be full when he can discern the best use of what he has--that is, when he can tell how best to distribute the fullness God gives him (p. 17).
  3. When he can use the comforts he has received but does so in a way that avoids the evil temptations that go along with them (p. 19).
  4. When he knows how to be full when he can keep under his command everything he enjoys, and he can retain command over his own spirit in what he enjoys (p. 21).
  5. When he can use the gifts of God and yet remain ready to part with all his comforts if God calls for them (p. 23).
  6. When he can make all his fullness to further grow in all his graces--to act upon his graces, to exercise his graces, and to draw forth his graces (p. 26).
  7. When his fullness leads him to the source of his fullness--that is, when his grace leads him to God (p. 27).
  8. When he can spread out all his fullness and offer it to God for His use--that is, when he can improve what he has to serve God (p. 28).
  9. When he uses the things of this world as if he did not use them (p. 29).
  10. When he knows how to make use of his worldly comforts, yet is able to do so in such a way that he is not hindered by the afflictions or troubles that go along with those comforts (p. 31).
  11. When he knows his own heart in the midst of his abundance (p. 33).
The author encourages the reader to recognize that "[y]ou have finally learned how to abound when your heart can pass quickly through created things and move on to enjoy God as your most prized possession," (p. 28).


***
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God," (2 Cor. 3:5).

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Contentment, Prosperity, & God's Glory - Intro

Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory [ISBN 978-1-601778-232-8] is a book of sermons by Jeremiah Burroughs on achieving contentment during times of abundance which were compiled as an appendix to The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.  The Rare Jewel helps the Christian to find contentment in times of want, while these follow-up sermons help the Christian to find contentment in times of prosperity.  In both books, Mr. Burroughs expounds Philippians 4:12, "I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."

The doctrine presented in Contentment, Prosperity, and God's Glory is that "[a] Christian is taught by God to know how to be full," (p. 9).  Jeremiah Burroughs notes that "[i]t is a better lesson for one to learn how to honor God in fullness than it is to learn how he can get full...You are therefore full because you have all things that are necessary, even though you may not have everything on which you have set your eye...It's a good sign of grace to be more concerned about how to abound than how to get abundance--to be more careful to use what you have for God than to maintain it for yourselves," (pp. 10-11).

In the following chapters he will address:
  1. What Learning to Be Full Means
  2. The Difficulty of Learning to Be Full
  3. The Necessity of Learning to Be Full
  4. The Excellency of Learning to Be Full
  5. The Mystery of Learning to Be Full
  6. Lessons for Learning to Be Full
  7. Increasing the Guilt of Sins of Abundance
  8. Applications for Improving Prosperous Conditions
  9. Concluding Words on Contentment
The author commends the reader to make "a good interpretation of God's mercies and dealings toward you.  Have good thoughts of God and make good interpretations of His dealings toward you," (p. 7).

This small booklet is a quick read, but will provide a life-time of godly guidance and conviction as the Christian conforms to the image of Christ.


***
"Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God," (2 Cor. 3:5).

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Sons of God

In order to explain the giants found in Genesis 6:4, "There were giants in earth in those days;", some Christians have interpreted the phrase "sons of God" from verse 2 to be fallen angels, or demons that mated with human females and created an offspring called giants or Nephilim.  I don't believe that this definition of the sons of God is biblically accurate.  I believe that the sons of God are believers from the godly line of Seth and the daughters of men are unbelievers.  Samuel E. Pierce (1746-1829) addresses this issue in An Exposition of the Epistle of I John [ISBN 1-888514-01-9] when he defines the two sorts of people in our world as seen in 1 John 3:10 (pp. 399-400):

"I am in proceeding with the subjects before me, 1. To show, that there are two sorts of persons, or people, in our world: one are the children of God, the other are the children of the devil.  The original terms of distinction were, the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent.  "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel," Gen. iii. 15.

Adam is called the son of God .  Luke iii. 38.  It is said of Seth, he had a son born unto him, whom he called Enos.  It is added, then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.  In the margin it is, or, to call themselves by the name of the LORD.  Gen. iv. 26.  And in the 6th chapter of Genesis, those who were professors of Christ are distinguished from the serpent's seed, by this title, the sons of God.  And by their intermarriages with the Cainites, brought on that universal corruption of men, and the worship of God, as brought the deluge of waters upon the world of the ungodly.  When that catastrophe was finished, and the earth renovated, there was the same distinction of the two distinct seeds found upon the earth.  They were so distinguished, the one from the other, they could not be blended; there was no uniting so as to become one; it was wholly impossible; they were distinguishable even by their actions, and by their motives from whence they acted; as also the end to which their actions tended.  This is the subject on the which the apostle is not treating.  He viewed it to be of importance, then; it must be of the same importance now.  The title of the children of God, is of vast importance: it is delightful; it is refreshing; it is encouraging; it is strengthening and serves to be very invigorating to the mind."

Mr. Pierce is obviously not under the impression that the "sons of God" are fallen angels.


***
"In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother," (1 John 3:10).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Discourse Concerning Love - Chapter 7

I'm reading through A Discourse Concerning Love by Nathaniel Vincent.   This book (ISBN 1-57358-079-1) was originally printed in 1684 and reprinted in 1998 by Soli Deo Gloria Publications.  In this work, Mr. Vincent expounds Ephesians 4:16 "Maketh increase of the body, unto th edifying of itself in love."

Mr. Vincent argues that "a deadly damp has seized on love" and that the "Church's pulse beats in disorderly fashion" because "love is the cause of her [the Church's] increase and edification," (p. 1).  The author shows that the Church edifies itself in love in four propositions (pp. 2-3):
  1. "The Church of Christ is compared to a body."
  2. "This body of Christ is imperfect in this world, and therefore should be continually increasing."
  3. "The body of Christ should diligently endeavor to edify itself."
  4. "The more love abounds among the members of the church, the more the whole body will be edified."
In Chapter 7, the author identifies the vanity of excuses that are made for the want of love:
  1. "Some say they are bound to contend earnestly for the faith, and therefore mildness and love in this case are but urged unseasonably," (p. 89).
  2. "Others say they will not halt between two opinions," (p. 89).
  3. "Others plead that they are for a thorough reformation, and the purging of all impurities out of the Church of Christ; and they cannot endure such as do things by halves only," (p. 90-91).
  4. "Others say, 'What, shall we love a company of apostates, who are for returning to the onions and garlic of Egypt, and will receive the mark of the Beast itself?'" (p. 91).
  5. "Others say that many who pretend to religion and conscience are schismatic and rebellious, and loving and countenancing them only hardens and encourages them in their pernicious ways, to the prejudice both of Church and state," (p. 92).
Finally, the author gives five uses of love for application:
  1. of information -- love is the more excellent way (p. 94)
  2. of caution -- to what is contrary to love, to sinful self-love, to scandalizing anyone, and to the unbridled tongue (pp. 95-103)
  3. of exhortation -- to abound in love because God is love, Christ the Head is full of love, love is preferred before faith and hope, love is a debt, and greater love is more universal (pp. 103-105).
  4. of direction -- observe your own defects in love, consider how much Christ is concerned for His members, search the Scriptures for true knowledge, be humble and self-denying, and mark those who cause division and avoid them (pp. 105-106).
  5. of consolation -- the Church of Christ shall be upheld, the love of Christ towards His Church is unchangeable, and heaven will have no want of love (p. 107-108).
This concludes my chapter-by-chapter overview of Mr. Vincent's A Discourse Concerning Love.  I pray that you find it edifying to your soul and helpful to your walk with Christ.


***
"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent," (Rev. 2:4-5).

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Discourse Concerning Love - Chapter 6

I'm reading through A Discourse Concerning Love by Nathaniel Vincent.   This book (ISBN 1-57358-079-1) was originally printed in 1684 and reprinted in 1998 by Soli Deo Gloria Publications.  In this work, Mr. Vincent expounds Ephesians 4:16 "Maketh increase of the body, unto th edifying of itself in love."

Mr. Vincent argues that "a deadly damp has seized on love" and that the "Church's pulse beats in disorderly fashion" because "love is the cause of her [the Church's] increase and edification," (p. 1).  The author shows that the Church edifies itself in love in four propositions (pp. 2-3):
  1. "The Church of Christ is compared to a body."
  2. "This body of Christ is imperfect in this world, and therefore should be continually increasing."
  3. "The body of Christ should diligently endeavor to edify itself."
  4. "The more love abounds among the members of the church, the more the whole body will be edified."
In Chapter 6, the author demonstrates how love is from the Church's edification.  "A Christian edifies himself and others by love," (p. 75).  First, he shows how a Christian loves himself:
  1. "The more he loves, there is the great light in him," (p. 75).
  2. "The more a Christian loves, there is the more of God's image in him," (p. 75).
  3. "The more a Christian loves, the more firm is his evidence that he is indeed a Christian," (p. 76).
Next, Mr. Vincent shows that a Christian also loves others for the Church's edification:
  1. "Love makes us concerned for the whole Church of Christ, and enlarged in our supplications and intercessions for it," (p. 76).
  2. "Love strongly inclines us unto peaceableness, and what is for the Church's peace is for her edification," (p. 77).
  3. "Love makes Christians condescend and yield one to another, that hereby edification may be promoted," (p. 78).
  4. "Love makes Christians highly esteem the pastors and builders of the Church for their work's sake; and hereby edification is promoted," (p. 79).
  5. "Love will constrain the pastors and builders of the Church to mind their work to purpose," (p. 80).
Finally, he looks at 1 Cor. 13:4-7 to show how evident love is for edification:
  1. "Love suffers long and is kind," (p. 81).
  2. "Love envies not," (p. 82).
  3. "Love vaunteth not itself, neither is it puffed up," (p. 83).
  4. "Love does not behave itself unseemly," (p. 83).
  5. "Love seeks not her own, and consequently inclines us to edify and seek the good of others," (p. 84).
  6. "Love is not easily provoked," (p. 85).
  7. "Love thinks no evil," (p. 85).
  8. "Love rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth," (p. 86).
  9. "Love is for the Church's edification," (p. 87).
  10. "Love edifies, for it bears and endures all things," (p. 88).
Mr. Vincent concludes with the following plea to the Church:
"O Love!  How much want is there of you in the Church of Christ!  And how much does the Church feel for this want!  It groans, it languishes, it dies daily because of your absence.  Return, O Love, return!  Repair breaches, restore paths to dwell in, edify the old ways and places, and raise up the foundations of many generations, for after all the most politic contrivances, you will be found the master-builder," (p. 88).


***
"Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.  Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent," (Rev. 2:4-5).

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A Discourse Concerning Love - Chapter 5

I'm reading through A Discourse Concerning Love by Nathaniel Vincent.   This book (ISBN 1-57358-079-1) was originally printed in 1684 and reprinted in 1998 by Soli Deo Gloria Publications.  In this work, Mr. Vincent expounds Ephesians 4:16 "Maketh increase of the body, unto th edifying of itself in love."

Mr. Vincent argues that "a deadly damp has seized on love" and that the "Church's pulse beats in disorderly fashion" because "love is the cause of her [the Church's] increase and edification," (p. 1).  The author shows that the Church edifies itself in love in four propositions (pp. 2-3):
  1. "The Church of Christ is compared to a body."
  2. "This body of Christ is imperfect in this world, and therefore should be continually increasing."
  3. "The body of Christ should diligently endeavor to edify itself."
  4. "The more love abounds among the members of the church, the more the whole body will be edified."
In Chapter 5, the author looks at the properties of love found in the Scriptures:
  1. "Love must proceed from a pure heart," (p. 70).
  2. "Love must be joined with a good conscience," (p. 70).
  3. "Love must flow from faith unfeigned," (p. 71).
  4. "Love must be fervent," (p. 71).
  5. "Christians' love mus be brotherly," (p. 71).
  6. "Love should be extended so as to become universal; and the more extensive it is, the more it makes a man resemble God Himself," (p. 72).

***
"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching," (Heb. 10:24-25).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A Discourse Concerning Love - Chapter 4

I'm reading through A Discourse Concerning Love by Nathaniel Vincent.   This book (ISBN 1-57358-079-1) was originally printed in 1684 and reprinted in 1998 by Soli Deo Gloria Publications.  In this work, Mr. Vincent expounds Ephesians 4:16 "Maketh increase of the body, unto th edifying of itself in love."

Mr. Vincent argues that "a deadly damp has seized on love" and that the "Church's pulse beats in disorderly fashion" because "love is the cause of her [the Church's] increase and edification," (p. 1).  The author shows that the Church edifies itself in love in four propositions (pp. 2-3):
  1. "The Church of Christ is compared to a body."
  2. "This body of Christ is imperfect in this world, and therefore should be continually increasing."
  3. "The body of Christ should diligently endeavor to edify itself."
  4. "The more love abounds among the members of the church, the more the whole body will be edified."
In Chapter 4, Mr. Vincent explains his fourth proposition that love is exceedingly for the Church's edification.  First, he notes the four types of love: (1) Carnal and impure, (2) Natural love, natural affection, (3) Civil, and (4) A love which is spiritual (pp. 54-57).  He then goes on to explain the nature of the love which is spiritual:
  1. "Love is a grace wrought by the God of all grace," (p. 57).
  2. "Love is in obedience to the divine command," (p. 57).
  3. "Love implies a mortification of contrary passion," (p. 58).
  4. "Love implies an inclination to union," (p. 58).
  5. "Love enlarges the heart and frees it from the bonds of selfishness, and makes us desire others' welfare as well as our own," (pp. 59-60).
  6. "Love is the fulfilling of the law, the doing of which is so much for our neighbor's benefit," (p. 60).
Finally, the author expounds on what it means to love your neighbor:
  • "Love has a regard to the honor and authority of others," (p. 61).
  • "Love has a regard to the lives of others," (p. 62).
  • "Love will not violate others' chastity," (p. 62).
  • "Love will not steal away the substance of another," (p. 63).
  • "Love is very tender of others' names and reputations," (p. 64).
  • "Love is contented with its own, and hinders us from coveting what belongs to another," (p. 65).
  • "Love breeds sympathy when our fellow Christians are in misery," (p. 65).
  • "Love makes us delight in the communion of the saints," (p. 66).
  • "Love causes a joy in the good of others," (p. 67).
  • "Love covers a multitude of sins and infirmities," (p. 67).
  • "Love is projecting and designing the good of others," (p. 69).

***
"And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching," (Heb. 10:24-25).

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Discourse Concerning Love - Chapter 3

I'm reading through A Discourse Concerning Love by Nathaniel Vincent.   This book (ISBN 1-57358-079-1) was originally printed in 1684 and reprinted in 1998 by Soli Deo Gloria Publications.  In this work, Mr. Vincent expounds Ephesians 4:16 "Maketh increase of the body, unto th edifying of itself in love."

Mr. Vincent argues that "a deadly damp has seized on love" and that the "Church's pulse beats in disorderly fashion" because "love is the cause of her [the Church's] increase and edification," (p. 1).  The author shows that the Church edifies itself in love in four propositions (pp. 2-3):
  1. "The Church of Christ is compared to a body."
  2. "This body of Christ is imperfect in this world, and therefore should be continually increasing."
  3. "The body of Christ should diligently endeavor to edify itself."
  4. "The more love abounds among the members of the church, the more the whole body will be edified."
In Chapter 3, Mr. Vincent explains his third proposition that the body of Christ should diligently endeavor to edify itself by showing what foundation the Church is to edify itself:
  1. "The knowledge of God is called a foundation," (p. 47).
  2. "Christ the Rock is called a foundation," (p. 47).
  3. "The doctrine of the apostles and prophets is also called a foundation," (p. 47).
  4. "Obedience and good works are called a foundation," (p. 48).
Next, he tells what the end goal of this edification of the Church must be:
  1. "The Church must edify itself that it may grow stronger," (p. 48).
  2. "The Church must edify itself that it may become larger," (p. 48).
  3. "The Church must edify itself that it may become more beautiful and glorious," (p. 48).
Finally, the author gives three uses for application:
  1. "It is matter of great lamentation that the Church at present is so far from edifying itself that it is doing quite the contrary," (p. 50).
  2. " of advice.  Let the Church's edification be minded.  Let all study and follow the things that make for peace, and things wherewith on my edify another (Romans 14:19)," (p. 50).

***
"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ," (1 Cor. 12:12).

Thursday, May 4, 2017

A Discourse Concerning Love - Chapter 2

I'm reading through A Discourse Concerning Love by Nathaniel Vincent.   This book (ISBN 1-57358-079-1) was originally printed in 1684 and reprinted in 1998 by Soli Deo Gloria Publications.  In this work, Mr. Vincent expounds Ephesians 4:16 "Maketh increase of the body, unto th edifying of itself in love."

Mr. Vincent argues that "a deadly damp has seized on love" and that the "Church's pulse beats in disorderly fashion" because "love is the cause of her [the Church's] increase and edification," (p. 1).  The author shows that the Church edifies itself in love in four propositions (pp. 2-3):
  1. "The Church of Christ is compared to a body."
  2. "This body of Christ is imperfect in this world, and therefore should be continually increasing."
  3. "The body of Christ should diligently endeavor to edify itself."
  4. "The more love abounds among the members of the church, the more the whole body will be edified."
In Chapter 2, Mr. Vincent explains his second proposition that the body of Christ is imperfect in this world:
  1. "The number of the Church's members is not yet completed," (p. 27).
  2. "Those members who actually are of the Church are imperfect, the very best of them, as long as they remain in this world," (p. 29).
First, the author shows how the church should be continually increasing:
  1. "Prayer should be constant and very fervent for this increase," (p. 32).
  2. "The promises of the Church's increase are to be believed and pleaded," (p. 32).
  3. "The Church is to be increased by the powerful preaching of the gospel," (p. 33).
  4. "The avoiding of scandal does much for the Church's increase," (p. 34).
  5. "The Church is mightily increased by the exemplary conduct of her members," (p. 34).
Second, Mr. Vincent shows that as the Church increases in numbers, all the members should increase more in grace and goodness.  He notes that grace is increased in the Church members several ways:
  1. "It is increased by a serious and frequent engaging in those ordinances which He has instituted," (p. 35).
  2. "Grace is increased by the improving of providence," (p. 35).
  3. "The covenant of grace is to be studied, and the promises applied, in order for a Christian to increase," (p. 36).
  4. "Grace is increased by having recourse unto that fullness which dwells in Christ," (p. 36).
  5. "All impediments of increase must be carefully shunned, such as pride, sloth, earthliness, or carnal and corrupt affections," (p. 37).
Then, he gives several reasons why the Church should be continually increasing:
  1. "This increase is for the Father's glory," (p. 37).
  2. "This increase of the Church is for the honor of Christ, the Church's Head," (p. 38).
  3. "In this increase of the Church, the operation of the Spirit is very illustrious," (p. 38).
  4. "This increase is for the Church's advantage; therefore it should be pursued," (p. 39).
  5. "The world benefits by the Church's increase," (p. 39).
  6. "The angels themselves are concerned with the increase of the Church," (p. 39).
Finally, Mr. Vincent gives three uses for application:
  1. "of reproof to whose who hinder the Church's increase," (p. 40).
  2. "of encouragement unto the Church of Christ notwithstanding her imperfection," (p. 42).
  3. "of advice to the Church of Christ, and all her true members," (p. 44).

***
"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ," (1 Cor. 12:12).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

A Discourse Concerning Love - Chapter 1

I'm reading through A Discourse Concerning Love by Nathaniel Vincent.   This book (ISBN 1-57358-079-1) was originally printed in 1684 and reprinted in 1998 by Soli Deo Gloria Publications.  In this work, Mr. Vincent expounds Ephesians 4:16 "Maketh increase of the body, unto th edifying of itself in love."

Mr. Vincent argues that "a deadly damp has seized on love" and that the "Church's pulse beats in disorderly fashion" because "love is the cause of her [the Church's] increase and edification," (p. 1).  The author shows that the Church edifies itself in love in four propositions (pp. 2-3):
  1. "The Church of Christ is compared to a body."
  2. "This body of Christ is imperfect in this world, and therefore should be continually increasing."
  3. "The body of Christ should diligently endeavor to edify itself."
  4. "The more love abounds among the members of the church, the more the whole body will be edified."
In Chapter 1, the author explains his first proposition by showing the great resemblance between the Church of Christ and a body:
  1. "The life of the body depends upon its conjunction with the head.  Christ is the Church's life, and the Church could no more live without Christ than a body could remain alive after the head was severed from it," (p. 5).
  2. "The head has a mighty influence upon the body.  There is a powerful influence from Christ upon His Church; and what good it does is done by virtue of this influence," (p. 5).
  3. "The body has many members, and these members have different offices.  The Church likewise has various members, and their different stations, relations, and callings diversify their work and duties," (p. 6).
  4. "The body is fitly joined; and thus fitly joined is the Church of Christ," (pp. 6-7).
  5. "The body is compact together, and so is the Church of Christ," (p. 7).
  6. "God has set the members in the body as it pleased Him; the different gifts and graces which are in the Church of Christ, and the members of it, are according to God's will and pleasure," (p. 8).
  7. "In the body, nourishment is conveyed upon the part, and the whole is hereby sustained...The Church of Christ has food to eat which the world knows not of.  It has a spiritual sense, a spiritual appetite, and its food is spiritual," (p. 9).
  8. "In the body, the members and parts are operative and active for the good of the whole.  In the church there is is an energeia, an effectual working in the measure of every part, that the whole may be increased," (p. 10).
  9. "The whole body, as well as all its members, is animated by one soul; and the Church, with all its true members, is animated by one and the same Spirit," (p. 10).
  10. "The body is under the soul's conduct and command; the Church is conducted and ruled by the Spirit of Christ," (p. 11).
Next, Mr. Vincent shows what kind of body the Church of Christ is:
  1. "The church [sic] is a body of men," (p. 12).
  2. "The Church is a body governed by the best laws [for the] Lord Himself is their lawgiver; and He is holy and just," (p. 13).
  3. "The Church is the wisest body and society in the world," (p. 14).
  4. "The Church is a body of great beauty and excellency," (p. 15).
  5. "The Church is a body of great strength; for this body is strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might," (p. 16).
  6. "The Church is a body to whom the whole is beholden," (p. 17).
  7. "The Church is a body that will at length, by many degrees, be made more glorious than 'tis at present," (p. 17).
Under this first proposition, Mr. Vincent notes three uses for application:
  1. "Let the Church, and all the members of it, consider their relation unto Christ their Head, and do that duty which such a relation calls for," (p. 18).  "The members of Christ should (1) love Him in great sincerity, (2) endeavor to promote His honor and glory, (3) obey all His commands, (4) live by faith upon Him, and (5) do nothing unbecoming His members," (pp. 19-21).
  2. "Let the members of this body, the Church, consider the relation they have one to another," (p. 21).
  3. "Let the world take heed how they deal with the Church, which is the body of Christ," (p. 26).
Under the second use for application, the author entreats the members of the Church to follow these counsels:
  1. "Let not higher members despise the lower," (p. 22).
  2. "Let not the lower members of the Church be discontent," (p. 22).
  3. "Let the members of the Church be sensible of the need in which stand, one of another...God has ordered it so in His Church that, as the members are to have their main and principal dependence upon Christ their Head, so they are to have some kind of dependence upon one another," (p. 23).
  4. "Let the members of the Church 'have the same care one for another that they have for themselves' (1 Cor. 12:25)," (p. 24).
  5. "Let the members of the Church sympathize with suffering members," (p. 24).
  6. "Let the members of the Church be concerned about fellow members who are sinfully distempered," (p. 24).
  7. "If one member of the Church is honored, all the members should rejoice with it," (p. 25).
  8. "Let there be no discord among the members of the Church, but they should perfectly agree together," (p. 25).

***
"For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ," (1 Cor. 12:12).

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Student or Servant?

In his sermon "The Anointing at Bethany" on 03/26/17, Pastor Mark Fitzpatrick of Arann Reformed Baptist Church looks at John 12:1-8.  As he looks at Mary and Martha in this passage, he answers the question of whether or not it is better to be a student or servant of Christ:

"For Mary and Martha it was not just a miracle [the raising of Lazarus]; it was a restoration to the one that they loved.  Again, Martha is seen as the servant; Martha served.  It is good to be a servant of Christ; it is better to a student of Christ.  And that's lesson of Mary and Martha.  Martha the servant; Mary the student--better to be a student of Christ.  We all find it by nature easier to do things, than to learn.  We are workers rather than students.  But the greatest honor we can give to Christ is to learn of Him; giving attention to His Word.  Giving attention to how the Word describes Him is the greatest worship we can give to Christ.  That's why in Matthew 11, Christ exhorts us in verse 29 to "learn of Me".  [Christ says to] learn of Me, study Me, learn what I am; I am meek and lowly in heart and ye shall find rest unto your souls--the added promise to what it is to learn of Jesus Christ.  The reason we become so dissatisfied, quite often, is we concentrate on the outward things, but there is no satisfaction to the soul in that.  [There is] no satisfaction to the soul in concentrating as Martha did on the outward things.  She was not dealing with the heart issue; she was not dealing with her soul.  Mary dealt with the soul; Mary fed the soul.  While Martha was feeding Christ, Christ was feeding Mary.

...If we only come [to church] with the outward--doing our duty and going to church, that's all outward.  Lots of people see going to church as doing service to God--that's outward.  No, we are here this morning by God's grace to learn more of Jesus Christ; to be satisfied more with Jesus Christ; to find rest in Him.  If we leave [church] without not knowing more of that we have missed the whole point because Christ's great call, His invitation, is to find peace and rest in Him."


***
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light," (Matthew 11:28-30).

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Biblical Look at Death

In his sermon "Mary and the Love of Christ (2)" on 02/26/17, Pastor Mark Fitzpatrick of Arann Reformed Baptist Church looks at John 11:28-37.  In this passage, Mr. Fitzpatrick marvels at the fact that Jesus weeps at Lazarus's death, even though He knows that He will raise Lazarus:

"Death should make us weep.  We do mourn.  Yes, we don't mourn as those who have no hope, but it's unnatural not to mourn.  If the Son of God wept at the presence of death, we should weep.  There can be a false spiritually which makes you aloof...death should make us grieve; death should make us sorrow.  Of course, not to the point of desperation where we give up, but death is not the revealed will of God.  Yes, it is His sovereign will, but God's revealed will is life.  God created humanity to live, not to die.  God created the animals to live, not to die.  Death is an evil thing.  That's why we rejoice that our Savior has overcome death.  Where, O death, is thy sting?  Where, O grave, is thy victory?  Thanks be unto God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."


***
"Jesus wept," (John 11:35)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Learning the Truth

In An Exposition of the Epistle of I John [ISBN 1-888514-01-9], Samuel E. Pierce (1746-1829) describes how Christians truly learn of Christ from 1 John 2:7.

First, he notes what this verse does not mean:

"And ye need not that any man teach you.  It could not be with any design to cast off all preaching and ordinances which are for the spiritual instruction of the people of the Most High God.  The gifts which our Lord Jesus Christ, since he entered into heaven, hath bestowed and still continues to bestow on his ministering servants, are expressly said to be for the edifying of the body of Christ, Eph. iv. 12, consequently our apostle does by no means intend the setting these aside.  No; he does not," (p. 285).

Then, Mr. Pierce shows that the persons so taught are to be preserved from error:

"When we see the glory of Christ, the excellency of his righteousness, the virtue and efficacy of his blood and sacrifice, in the light, and are led into the true knowledge and apprehension of the same, by the intuitive light and teaching of the Holy Spirit, the whole of these important verities appear far more glorious, and important, than all these do, when only spoken of, and taught us by the mere teaching of men.  And while we are not to despise the teaching of men, so far as it is in real unison and conformity to the written and revealed word, and will of God, yet it is the unction, or teaching of the Holy Ghost, which only can make the outward teaching and preaching of the gospel profitable to our souls: for it is he only who can lead us into the life-giving meaning of it, so as that we may be quickened up into real communion with the Lord thereby.

Such as the Lord teacheth, he gives them to distinguish truth from error.  He keeps them in the Truth, and hereby he preserves them from error.  He gives them to value Truth as truth.  He gives them to know, the scriptures are the sacred and grand repository of all Truth--That Christ is the Jewel in this glorious cabinet--That in Him are contained all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge--All which is set before us, in the ever-blessed gospel.  It should here be observed, that whilst no man is to be looked on as infallible, nor any, or every thing he says to be so, yet every one, so far as he hath received the knowledge of the Truth, or, any one single truth into his mind, as the Lord the Spirit hath taught it him, so far he is infallibly taught.  Which most especially appears, when the Truth and the person's spiritual apprehensions of the same, are altogether congenial with the written word.  For whatsoever we receive for Truth into our minds, which is not exactly as the word of God expresses and states it, is not the teaching of the Spirit of God," (p. 288-89).

Similarly, Pastor Mark Fitzpatrick of Arann Reformed Baptist Church makes the same observation in his sermon "The Triumphal Entry" on 03/26/17.  As he looks at John 12:9-22, he notes that it is the Holy Spirit which gives true believers understanding:

First he reads John 7:38-39 -- "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.  (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)"  Next he reads John 12:16 -- "These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him."

Then Mr. Fitzpatrick concludes:
"When Christ was glorified, [He] sent the Spirit to give them understanding of all these things.  It's amazing that even the disciples, at this point, didn't really get it.  You see, without the Spirit of God, we will never understand.  See 1 Cor. 2:14 which says the man without the Spirit does not accept the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, neither can he understand them because they are spiritually discerned; they are spiritually understood.  We know (we experience as believers ourselves) that when we came to faith, the Bible became clear to us in a way that it was never clear before.  Suddenly we understand it; we get it. We get the simplicity of the Gospel.  We see it.  We see our own sin; we see our rebellion.  We see the righteousness in salvation, the humility of Christ.  We see these things as they meet our need."


***
"But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him," (1 John 2:27).

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Fighting Temptation

In his book Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, Thomas Brooks reminds believers that Satan must have permission from God and permission from the believer himself before Satan can do anything against the believer's happiness:

"Satan has only a persuading sleight, not an enforcing might.  He may tempt us -- but without ourselves he cannot conquer us; he may entice us -- but without ourselves he cannot hurt us.  Our hearts carry the greatest guilt in every sin.  Satan can never undo a man without himself...And as Satan must have permission from God, so he must have permission from us.  When he tempts us, we must assent; when he makes offers, we must hearken; when he commands, we must obey, or else all his labor and temptations will be frustrated, and the evil that he tempts us to shall be put down only to his account" (Kindle location 3281-3307).

Next he encourages believers to resist temptation:

"Make strong and constant resistance against Satan's temptations.  Make resistance against temptations by arguments drawn from the honor of God, the love of God, your union and communion with God; and from the blood of Christ, the death of Christ, and the glory of Christ; and from the voice of the Spirit, the counsel of the Spirit, the comforts of the Spirit, the presence of the Spirit, the seal of the Spirit, the whisperings of the Spirit, the commands of the Spirit, the assistance of the Spirit, the witness of the Spirit; and from the glory of heaven, the excellency of grace, the beauty of holiness, the worth of the soul, and the vile or bitterness and evil of sin -- the least sin being a greater evil than the greatest temptation in the world.

And see that you make constant resistance, as well as strong resistance.  Satan will come on with new temptations when old ones are weak...When you have overcome one temptation, you must be ready to enter the battle with another.

...remember, that it is dangerous to yield to the least sin -- to be rid of the greatest temptation.  To take this course were as if a man should think to wash himself clean in ink, or as if a man should exchange a light cross, made of paper, for an iron cross, which is heavy, toilsome, and bloody.  The least sin set home upon the conscience, will more wound, vex, and oppress the soul, than all the temptations in the world can...He who will yield to sin to be rid of temptation, will be so much the more tempted -- and the less able to withstand temptations," (Kindle locations 2519-2537).

Then Mr. Brooks continues to teach believers how to fight Satan:

"He who fights against Satan, in the strength of his own resolutions, constitution or education, will certainly fly and fall before him.  Satan will be too hard for such a soul, and lead him captive at his pleasure...If ever you would be too hard for Satan, and after all his assaults, have your bow abide in strength, then take to yourself the Word of God, which is 'the two-edged sword of the Spirit, and the shield of faith, whereby you shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the devil' (Eph. 6:17)," (Kindle location 3328, 3347).

He warns believers to keep watch:

"...If you would not be taken in any of Satan's snares, then keep a strong, close, and constant watch (1 Thess. 5:6).  A sleepy soul that will not watch against temptations, will certainly fall before the power of temptations.  Satan works most strongly on the imagination, when the soul is drowsy...Watchfulness includes a waking, a rousing up of the soul.  It is a continual, careful observing of our hearts and ways, in all the turning of our lives -- that we still keep close to God and his Word...Watchfulness is the heart busied and employed with diligent observation of what comes from within us, and of what comes from without us and into us," (Kindle location 3446-3455).

Finally, he exhorts believers to remember:

"A soul high in communion with God may be tempted -- but will not be easily conquered...Communion with God is very inflaming, elevating and strengthening...If you would not be taken in any of Satan's snares, then do not engage Satan in your own strength -- but be every day drawing new virtue and strength from the Lord Jesus.  Certainly that soul that engages against any old or new temptation without new strength, new influences from on high -- will fall before the power of the temptation.

...Ah, souls! remember this, that your strength to stand and overcome must not be expected from graces received in the past -- but from the fresh and renewed influences of heaven.  You must lean more upon Christ than your duties; you must lean more upon Christ than upon your spiritual tastes and discoveries: you must lean more upon Christ than upon your graces, or else Satan will lead you into captivity," (Kindle location 3464-3488).


***
"Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak," (Matt. 26:41).

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Vain Thoughts

In his book Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, Thomas Brooks counsels the believer to consider how his vain thoughts disrupt the worship of God.

First, Mr. Brooks looks at the device of Satan:  "Oh! the vain thoughts that Satan casts in, do so distaste my soul, and so grieve, vex, perplex, and distract my soul, that they even make me wary of holy duties, yes, of my very life," (Kindle location 1845).

The author then proceeds to give remedies against Satan's device of vain thoughts:
  1. "To have your hearts strongly affected with the greatness, holiness, majesty, and glory of that God before whom you stand, and with whom your souls converse in religious services.  Oh! let your souls be greatly affected with the presence, purity, and majesty of that God before whom you stand...There is nothing that will contribute so much to the keeping out of vain thoughts, as to look upon God as an omniscient God, an omnipresent God, an omnipotent God, a God full of all glorious perfections, a God whose majesty, purity, and glory will not allow him to behold the least iniquity," (Kindle location 1853).
  2. "To be faithful in religious services, notwithstanding all those wandering thoughts the soul is troubled with.  This will be a sweet help against them: for the soul to be resolute in waiting on God, whether it be troubled with vain thoughts or not," (Kindle location 1862).
  3. "That those vain and trifling thoughts that are cast into our souls, when we are waiting upon God in this or that religious service, if they be not cherished and indulged -- but abhorred, resisted, and disclaimed; they are not sins upon our souls, though they may be troubles to our minds; they shall not be put upon our accounts, nor keep mercies and blessings from being enjoyed by us...It is not Satan casting in of vain thoughts that can keep mercy from the soul, or undo the soul -- but the lodging and cherishing of vain thoughts...Vain thoughts pass through the best hearts; they are lodged and cherished only in the worst hearts," (Kindle location 1862-1881).
  4. "That watching against sinful thoughts, resisting of sinful thoughts, lamenting and weeping over sinful thoughts, carries with it the sweetest and strongest evidence of the truth and power of grace, and of the sincerity of your hearts, and is the readiest and the surest way to be rid of them (Psalm 139:23)," (Kindle location 1881).
  5. "To labor more and more to be filled with the fullness of God, and to be enriched with all spiritual and heavenly things.  What is the reason that the angels in heaven have not so much as an idle thought?  It is because they are filled with the fullness of God (Eph. 3:19)...Oh, then, lay up much of God, of Christ, of precious promises, and choice experiences in your hearts -- and then you will be less troubled with vain thoughts," (Kindle location 1899-1908).
  6. "To keep up holy and spiritual affections; for such as your affections are, such will be your thoughts...Those who are frequent in their love of God and his law, will be frequent in thinking of God and his law," (Kindle location 1908).
  7. "To avoid multiplicity of worldly business.  Oh, let not the world take up your hearts and thoughts.  Souls which are torn in pieces with the cares of the world will be always vexed and tormented with vain thoughts in all their approaches to God," (Kindle location 1908).

***
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ," (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

What Wicked Men Truly Lack

In Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices, Thomas Brooks notes that the eighth device of Satan is to present the outward mercies that vain men enjoy and the outward miseries they are freed from while they walk in the ways of sin.  Brooks's fourth remedy to this device is to consider (Kindle location 932):

"That the lack of wicked men, under all their outward mercy and freedom from adversity, is far greater than all their outward enjoyments.  They have many mercies, yet they lack more than they enjoy.  The mercies which they enjoy are nothing to the mercies they lack.  It is true, they have honors and riches, and pleasures and friends, and are mighty in power; their family is established, and their offspring are before their eyes.  'Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.'  'They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance.  They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ.'  'They spend their days in wealth, their eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than heart can wish: and they have no bands in their death--but their strength is firm; they are not in trouble as other men.'

Yet all this is nothing to what they lack.  They lack a saving interest in God, Christ, the Spirit, the promises, the covenant of grace, and everlasting joy.  They lack acceptance and reconciliation with God; they lack righteousness, justification, sanctification, adoption, and redemption.  They lack the pardon of sin, and power against sin, and freedom from the dominion of sin.  They lack that favor with God, which is better than life, and that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory, and that peace which passes understanding, and that grace, the least of which is more worth than heaven and earth.  They lack a house that has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.  They lack those riches that perish not, the glory that fades not, that kingdom that shakes not.

Wicked men are the most needy in the world, yes, they lack those two things that should render their mercies sweet, that is, the blessing of God, and contentment with their condition!"


***
"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee," (Hebrews 13:5).

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Backsliding Resolved

In his book Getting Back in the Race: The Cure for Backsliding [ISBN 978-1-936760-35-0], Joel Beeke defines backsliding as "a season of increasing sin and decreasing obedience in those who profess to be Christians," (p. 16) and outlines the signs of a backsliding believer [see my first post here].  Then he lays out how Christians cure backsliding (pp. 43-65):

True Repentance which involves:
  1. Recognition of your sinful condition
  2. Remembrance of your past obedience
  3. Searching out sin--"You know there cannot be any true, spiritual revival of grace while unrepentant sin remains undiscovered in your heart," (p. 47).
  4. Grieving over sin
  5. Confessing your sin
  6. Fleeing from sin--"But godly repentance includes both turning from sin and turning to God.  It flees from sin with the heart," (p. 49).
  7. Pursuing righteousness
True use of the Means of Grace:
  1. The means of the Word of God
  2. The means of prayer
  3. The means of public worship--"Much backsliding could be avoided or remedied simply by faithful participation in a faithful church," (p. 57).
  4. The means of affliction
  5. The means of spiritual desertion
  6. The means of human accountability
True Reaffirmation of Faith through:
  1. The Father
  2. The Son
  3. The Holy Spirit
Mr. Beeke rightly notes that "the backslider's fundamental problem is one of misplaced trust (Hosea 2:5, 8, 12)," (p. 62).  Therefore, he concludes that "[i]n order to know God in utter dependence, you must also know yourself.  You must know your utter inability to do any good apart from his grace.  You must know the dire straits in which your backsliding has put you.  You must know the horrible offense of your sins against God...But you must also know the infinite riches of grace in Jesus Christ...Dependence means that we build our lives and hopes on a fountain outside ourselves: the only reliable foundation is our triune God," (pp. 63-64).


***
"Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up," (Hos. 6:1).