The path of the Christian is indeed a mysterious one, full of harmonious contradictions and heavenly paradoxes. He is never easy when at ease, nor without a burden when he has none. He is never satisfied without doing something, and yet is never satisfied with anything that he does. He is never so strong as when he sits still [Isaiah 30:7], never so fruitful as when he does nothing, and never so active as when he makes the least haste [Isaiah 28:16]. All outstrip him in the race, yet he alone gains the goal, and wins the prize. All are sure of heaven but himself, yet he enters into the kingdom, whilst they are thrust out. He wins pardon through guilt, hope through despair, deliverance through temptation, comfort through affliction, and a robe of righteousness through filthy rags. Though a worm and no man, he overcomes Omnipotence itself through violence; and though less than vanity and nothing [Isaiah 40:17 2 Corinthians 12:11], he takes heaven itself by force [Matthew 11:12.]
Thus amidst the strange contradictions which meet in a believing heart, he is never so prayerful as when he says nothing; never so wise as when he is the greatest fool; never so much alone as when most in company; and never so much under the power of an inward religion as when most separated from an outward one. Strange mysterious creature! He cannot live without sinning, yet cannot live in sin; cannot live without prayer, and yet for days together cannot pray; continually finds religion a burden, yet would not part with it for the world; lusts after sin as a delicious morsel, yet hates it with a perfect hatred; esteems Christ the Chiefest among ten thousand, and yet is at times tried with doubts whether He is a Saviour at all.
– J.C. Philpot
For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. (Ezekiel 36:24-28)
Here we have in this chapter that covenant of God’s Sovereign Free Grace which was ordained before the world began. This is that same covenant that David trusted upon His death bed saying “Thou hast made with me an everlasting covenant ordered in ALL THINGS and SURE!” (2 Samuel 23:5)
This covenant of God is an everlasting covenant, an eternal covenant which God made with Himself for all of His elect people. This eternal agreement, or decree of God in the Trinity of His Sacred persons was predestinated, planned and done in the purpose of God before the world began. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
Therefore, it is by this covenant promise of God through Jesus Christ that every believer may find perfect comfort and assurance of our salvation. (Hebrews 6:17-20) Behold that God has purposed to save us by His free grace for His own glory. God purposed to take us from the same lump of Adam’s fallen race. (v.24) God purposed that Jesus Christ should accomplish all our righteousness and redemption and that we should be cleansed from all our unrighteousness. (v.25) The Holy Spirit of God was purposed to come and give us a heart and live within us. (v.26-27) And seeing that this covenant promise was given to us before the world began, and having now experienced this work of grace in our hearts through faith in Christ, what then shall be able to disannul God’s purpose and oath? We may be confident that nothing and no one shall thwart or pervert God’s eternal covenant of Grace that He has purposed for every one of His elect people. For God has said “You shall be my people and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness” (v.28b-29a). And it is even the purpose of God that all of His saints loathe themselves for their sins. (v.31). And we most surely do loathe the old man of our nature and look only to Jesus Christ for all our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30).
Therefore God says to us his preachers: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1-2)
“All your children shall be taught of the Lord.” Isaiah 54:13
God’s teaching does not leave a man where it found him– dead, stupified, worldly, unfeeling, and carnal. If he is in distress, it does not leave him in distress; if he feels guilty, it does not leave him guilty; if he is in darkness, it does not leave him in darkness; but it lifts him out of these evils. Thus God’s people are continually led to come unto him for his instruction, because they feel that without his special teaching they can know nothing as they ought to know. No– the more they have, the more they want to have; for no sooner is the light withdrawn, than the darkness is more sensibly felt. If any text of scripture has been opened up to them, it makes them want to have others made known in a similar way; if they have had any consolation, and it is taken away, it makes them want it again. So that the more wise and spiritual God’s people become; the more foolish and carnal they appear in their own eyes; the stronger they are in the Lord and in the power of his might; the more sensibly do they feel the weakness of their flesh– and the more they are enabled to walk closely with the Lord, the more they discover the wretched wanderings of their base and sinful hearts.
Here, then, we see how God’s people are distinguished from all heady, high-minded professors. They grow upward– but God’s people grow downward. Special and divine teachings do not lead the soul into pride, arrogance, and presumption– but they lead to humility, simplicity, sincerity, contrition, brokenness of heart, low views of self, and admiring views of the Lord.
‘Natural wisdom’ only hardens a man’s heart, sears his conscience, and makes him more worldly-minded– spiritual teachings make the heart tender, the glory of God its great object, and spiritual communion with the Lord ardently desired.
– J.C Philpot
“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Gold and silver, those precious metals, take no injury, receive no spot of corruption from the vessel in which they are contained; let them be buried in the damp earth, no tarnish or rust forms upon them. So spiritually, the grace of God in the heart, surrounded as it is with corruption, is not tarnished by it, the heavenly treasure is not contaminated, though lodged in an earthen vessel.
Christ in the heart is not defiled by the inward workings of depravity, and by the base thoughts that strive perpetually against his grace, any more than the gold of the Bank of England is defiled by the dark and damp cellars in which it is stowed. And what a mercy it is, that our corruptions cannot tarnish the grace of God; that our unbelief cannot mix with, and adulterate the faith of God’s elect; that our despondency cannot spoil and ruin a gospel hope; that our deadness, darkness, coldness, and rebellion cannot mingle with and defile the love of God in the soul!
This heavenly treasure remains still as unpolluted and pure as when God first put it there; being a part of “the divine nature,” it remains uncontaminated by the filth and corruption that surround it. Is not this a mercy for God’s tried people, that spiritual knowledge, living faith, gospel hope, heavenly love, and the fruits and graces of God’s Spirit in the soul can never be defiled; but, like the streams of a fountain, are ever gushing forth in pure water?
What a blessing it is, that the pure grace of God in a man’s heart cannot be contaminated by the filthy streams that are dashing from a vile nature against it, like the torrents of water from a fire-engine against a burning house, but remains as pure as when God the Spirit first breathed it into the soul.
– J.C Philpot
Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified.(Isaiah 60:21)
This surely was God’s Sovereign will from all eternity that all His chosen people should be righteous. God has decreed that His elect should be holy and without blame and put them in union with Jesus Christ His Son. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
Therefore these who shall be righteous were planted in Christ as their federal head and were before the foundation of the world “accepted in the beloved.” Yet this righteousness that God decreed must also be performed by Jesus Christ in time. For we read of God’s Sovereign counsel and will that all He has purposed in eternity must be accomplished in time. (Isaiah 46:10; 55:11; Psalm 33:9)
Therefore Jesus has come into the world according to the scriptures to accomplish the righteousness of His church. (Daniel 9:24) This work of salvation is the work of Christ’s own hands. Christ said,“Lo I come in the volume of the book it is written of me to do thy will O God.” Christ “delighted” to do the will of God and by the “which will we are sanctified through offering of the body of Christ once for all”. (Hebrews 10:7-8)
Behold how we were born in the blackness and darkness of sin, yet God has purposed that we should be righteous and blameless by the work of Jesus Christ alone. (Titus 3:3-7; Ezekiel 36:29-32)) We sat in darkness but now the Light of the gospel has risen upon our hearts and revealed that Christ has by His one offering put away our sins and has reconciled us to God. (Isaiah 60:2) Jesus our federal head has brought in everlasting righteousness by His obedience to God. Therefore rejoice all you who believe on Him alone, for God has also decreed that we should inherit the land for ever, which is eternal life (John 10:28; 1 Peter 1:4) And this is inheritance is most sure even because our salvation is eternally in union with the glory of God. All our salvation is for this purpose: “that I may be glorified.”(Ephesians 1:6;12;14) Shall God’s glory fail? No! And neither shall our salvation which God purposed, Christ accomplished and the Holy Spirit applies and Keeps.
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Remember to pray for those saints who are in great affliction and cast down by the trials and troubles of this present time. Let us weep with those who weep and pray that God would comfort them with the gospel of Jesus Christ. For to the saint there is no other comfort that soothes our hearts and dries our tears than to hear of God’s Sovereign eternal electing Love that stirs our hearts to Love God. It is Christ’s one offering for sin that gives us joy and peace no matter our circumstance. It is the message of the Holy Spirit’s keeping power and grace that assures us that no matter what men do, or how Satan roars against us, we are sure of eternal life and glory in Christ.
Believer, when He shall appear then will all sorrow cease, all tears will be wiped away by the tender hand of Christ. Then we shall forever worship Christ in peace and love. Let us therefore look in hope for this day that is soon to come.
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1)
Believers in this world are often surrounded by darkness. We are often pierced by the dark accusations of Satan. We are often caught in the dark snares of this world’s allurements and the darkness of our own sinful flesh seems to hide the face of God from our view.
But here God calls forth the Light of His gospel to Arise and Shine out of darkness in our hearts. This light is Jesus Christ the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person. (2 Corinthians 4:6) Jesus Christ our redeemer is the light of the world and the light was the life of men. (John 8:12) May God the Holy Ghost cause the light of Christ to arise and shine in our heart. May His word shine as the noon day sun in its strength in order to dispel the darkness that shrouds our hearts and minds. Behold my soul the glory of God that shines from the cross of Christ. Look and see how that He has triumphed over all thy sins by His suffering God’s wrath in my stead. See the light of how that He crushed the head of thy accuser by His one offering for our sins.(Hebrews 10:14) Christ in victory sat down on the right hand of God having purged our sins. What darkness of condemnation can abide seeing that God has justified thee? What wicked accusation will stand seeing God has accepted Christ and we are in union with Him? (Romans 8:31-19)
Arise and shine thou Blessed redeemer upon the snares of this world. By the light Thine inheritance prepared for us, expose the vanity of this fleeting world and all its vexing treasures. (Ecclesiastes 1:2) Give to me the light of faith and love Christ and Hope for that bright world to come that is reserved in heaven for me. (1Peter 1:3-5) Let this light cause me to count all the worlds kin, treasures and allurements as dung that I may win Christ and be found in Him. (Philippians 3:8-9)
Arise and shine in my heart thou blessed Sun of Righteousness and reveal the truth that “in my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” Give me such warmth of thy love and grace so that I should loath myself and my sin but find all my joy and contentment in Christ’s perfect righteousness. (Ezekiel 36:24-31)
Oh my soul are you troubled? Hope thou in God for His Light, even Jesus Christ the glory of God is risen on thee. Even upon me by His Free Grace and where His Light is risen, no darkness is able to abide.
Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples. (Matthew 26:33-35)
I have secretly boasted to myself that I was a brave, skilled, confident Christian Sailor while my feet were firmly planted on land; but when at sea, when land was no longer in sight, when the Son hid his face behind the clouds, when the dark storm surged and the mighty waves swelled, when the lightning flashed and the thunder clapped, when the winds howled and the boat began to rock—then reality slapped me silly, and the heart of the brave, skilled, confident sailor was forced to confess that he sails much better on land than he does at sea.
Surely one who is only a mere professor of faith in Christ may live at ease with this world. He may love the world and be loved by the world. He is not offended by their temptations to depart from Christ and His church. And the world is not offended by his gospel or his Christ.
But this is not so with us who are true possessors of faith in Jesus Christ. We cannot live in peace with this world for they are an enemy of our Lord and our soul. (John 15:18-21) We cannot be at peace with this world even because we have been given a new heart that is “created after God in true holiness” and this world “lieth in wickedness”. (Ephesians 4:24; 1John 5:19) This world hates and is offended by our Lord Jesus Christ and the gospel of the free and Sovereign Grace of God. (Romans 9:33; Galatians 5:11) The world is content to believe in the anti-Christ of free will works religion. For their Christ died for all men but saved none of them except that man exercise his free will or do some work of obedience to the law. But our gospel is an offence to this world because it declares that God is Sovereign in the salvation of men. (Jonah 2:9) Our Gospel declares that before the world began the Father chose, elected and decreed to save a people. The Father gave them to Jesus Christ in a covenant of Grace to be their Savior. The Son of God was made flesh to obtain righteousness and redemption for all those the Father gave Him. (Ephesians 1:3-6) And we know that He was successful in his work. Jesus did redeem all this elect people and provide for them the righteousness of God. God the Holy Spirit is sent to quicken them from the dead and give them faith in Christ. (Isaiah 42:4) Therefore we are sure that all those the Father chose, and the Son redeemed the Holy Spirit of God shall call by our gospel and everyone of them shall come to Christ. (John 6:37-40)
Believer let us not be deceived by the pretend affection of this lost world. Let us not be allured by their baits and temptations by which they seek to separate us from our Lord Jesus Christ. Remember what our Lord told us about this world. “I pray not for the world but for those thou hast given me; for they are thine.” “I have given them (the elect, true believers in Christ) thy word and the world hath hateth them because they are not of the world. Believer in Christ we are dead to this world and the world is dead to us. This world will never be a friend of grace. It will never be a friend of Christ and therefore anyone who is a friend to the world is an enemy of Christ. (James 4:4)
Therefore Jesus said “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.”(Luke 14:26)
Are you a friend of this world or are you a Servant of Christ? May God call out His people to Himself and keep us from this enemy and its temptations.
– Fred Evans
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)
We are often confused as to how God will perform what He has promised us in His word. God surely has promised us that “All things will work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28) God has promised to answer our prayers and give us all things that we need. “Ask and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7) Yet in the believer’s life we find that our experience seems contrary to His promises. We are surrounded by troubles and evils both without and within. We are often cast down and full of grief and sorrow. We cry with Asaph in Psalm 73: I know you are good to Israel (your elect) but as for me my foot nigh well slipped. My faith is almost gone because all I can see is the wicked prosper and the righteous suffer.
But believer remember that we are not to live by sight but rather by faith in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit tells us that the just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17) Believer no matter our circumstance, no matter our outward or inward struggles, God is faithful. He that hath begun a good work in you SHALL perform it. Not maybe perform it, not perhaps perform it, but He SHALL perform it. This good work of our salvation was purposed of God the Father in our election. It was accomplished by the work of Jesus Christ the Son upon the cross, and it was applied by the Power of the Holy Spirit to life and faith in Christ. So then no matter our trouble or tears or trials or sufferings in this life, all things shall work together to bring us to experience our eternal inheritance. (1 Peter 1:2-9)
Believer our Lord hears our prayers. (Proverbs 15:29) For if God has given us His own Son, how shall He not freely give us all things that are good for us and glorify His Holy Name? (Romans 8:31-32)
Let us then set our affection on Jesus Christ our Lord who first loved us. Let us trust in His word and faithfulness rather than in what we see or feel. This fleshly nature of sin still resides in us and our heart of flesh is deceitful and wicked. Therefore we should not trust it nor should we hear its cries of unbelief and fear. Trust in the Lord for He has set His word above His name and all His glory rest upon Him performing it. (Numbers 23:19)
Why should we ever doubt our Great and Loving Lord? I confess that I cannot tell how God will work all things together for my good. I am not called to explain the providence of God but just to believe God no matter the providence. (Proverbs 3:5-6)