To Ponder:

The Family Disease: He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves, that they were righteous.” Luke 18:9. The sin which our Lord here denounces, is “self-righteousness.” We are all naturally self-righteous. It is the family disease of all the children of Adam. From the highest to the lowest–we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. We secretly flatter ourselves that we are not as bad as some, and that we have something to merit the favor of God. We forget the plain testimony of Scripture:   “Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.” “What is man, that he could be pure; or one born of woman, that he could be righteous?”   “There is no one righteous, not even one!” The true cure for self-righteousness, is self-knowledge. Once let the eyes of our understanding be opened by the Spirit–and we shall talk no more of our own goodness. Once let us see what sin there is in our own hearts, and what the holy law of God requires–and self-conceit will die. We shall lay our hand on our mouths, and cry with the leper, “Unclean, unclean!” Leviticus 13:45. “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32. “Christ died for the ungodly!” Romans 5:6. (J.C. Ryle)

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To Ponder:

Let us gather with grateful boldness around the infant in the manger, and behold our God! “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins!” Matthew 1:21. The great object of our Lord’s coming here was not to live, but to die. He appeared, not so much to subdue sin by His teaching, or to manifest goodness, or to perfect an example for us to imitate–but “to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” The modern teachers of error would thrust the substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus into the background–but our Lord placed it in the forefront. He came to take away our sins. Do not think of Jesus without remembering the design of His coming. We preach Christ–so do a great many more. But, “we preach Christ crucified!” 1 Corinthians 1:23. We preach, concerning our Lord–His cross, His blood, His death! Upon the blood of His cross we lay great stress, extolling much “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,” by putting away their sin “by the sacrifice of Himself.” We will not deny, or conceal, or depreciate His master-purpose–lest we be found guilty of trampling upon His blood, and treating it as an unholy thing. “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst!” 1 Timothy 1:15. (Charles Spurgeon, “Christ’s Incarnation, the Foundation of Christianity”)

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To Ponder:

Who but Christ? Think of GOD a moment. Your thoughts cannot reach Him. He is infinitely pure–the heavens are not clean in His sight. He even charges His holy angels with folly! That is one side of the picture. Now look at YOURSELF–a worm that has rebelled against its Creator, loathsome with sin, defiled through and through! When I see a beggar and a prince stand together, I see a distance–but ah! it is but an inch compared with the infinite leagues of distance in character and nature between God and the fallen man. Who but Christ could have lifted us up from so low an estate, to so high a condition; from fellowship with devils, unto communion with Jehovah Himself? The distance was inconceivable. We are lost in wonder at the greatness of the love that made it all to vanish. “Behold, how great a love the Father has bestowed on us–that we should be called children of God!” 1 John 3:1. (Charles Spurgeon, “Our Glorious Transforming”)

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To Ponder:

It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God! “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” Hebrews 10:31. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God, because, as He is the all-knowing and Almighty God, so He is the just and righteous God; and will be so forever, for He is the living God. His righteousness and justice are everlasting–and this makes Hell so dreadful. As it is the great comfort of believers to have such a Mediator and Surety, such a high priest to live forever to make intercession for them–so this is the great misery of lost sinners: to fall into the hands of that God, whoever lives to avenge Himself on their unbelief and rebellion. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God who knows all their sins, who is so holy–that He must punish them, who is so powerful–that He can punish them, who is so just–that He does punish all impenitent sinners forever! (Matthew Mead, “Falling into the Hands of the Living God!” 1629-1699)

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To Ponder:

“It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” Hebrews 10:31. How can it be consistent with the justice and righteousness of God to punish temporal sinning, with everlasting suffering; to inflict eternal vengeance, for momentary offences; to cast a sinner into unending misery, for committing a few sins here which quickly have an end?  This has made some conclude against the eternal duration of Hell’s torments–as if God were so merciful that He would not let the unrepentant lie under His wrath forever. But I answer this with the Apostle, “Is God unjust in bringing His wrath on us? Certainly not!” (Romans 3:5-6). God is holy, just, and righteous–even when He punishes momentary offences with everlasting torments. And this will appear, by considering the following: It is necessary for the governing of the world, that the penalty should be so stated. It is necessary for the preserving the authority of God’s law in its full force and vigor, and to render it more solemn and dreadful. The design of God is to have the punishment so great as to check all the temptations to sin which a man can have. There is in man since the fall, such a propensity to sensual things, that, without this fear of Hell, nothing is able to keep it down. Fleshly lusts are so pleasing to corrupt nature, that they need to be checked with the severest threatenings. Therefore, God has told us beforehand, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient!” Ephesians 5:6. God wisely balances the sinner’s delights with the fear of punishment, that by setting eternal pains against momentary pleasures, we may the better escape temptation. The pleasures of sin, which are but for a season–entail on us torments which are eternal! God has wisely left to our own choice whether we will have the passing pleasures of sin here on earth–or those eternal pleasures which come hereafter. Things at hand will far more prevail than things to come, if those eternal things are not considerably greater. Here on earth the pain is short, and so is the pleasure–but in the eternal world both the pain and the pleasure are eternal. In the wisdom of God, those who work out their salvation with fear and trembling here, should have pleasures at the right hand of God for evermore–and those who will have their sinful pleasures here, should have everlasting misery in the eternal world. (Matthew Mead, “The Eternal Duration of Hell’s Torments” 1629-1699)

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To Ponder:

“As God’s New Covenant people we are a people whose hearts have been tuned to know Him and to love His Law. We have been incorporated into a vast nation of followers of Christ. Our salvation is not intended merely to help us cope with life in the world. Our church is not just some spiritual ‘watering hole’ in the vast secular desert, unconnected to the ocean of God’s people all over the world. Living in God’s covenant demands a radically new understanding of the life of faith and the mission of the local church. Our experience of that new reality will be something less than full, rich, and abundant, as long as we allow the world or our own preconceptions and preferences to tell us otherwise.” “I Will Be Your God” T.M. Moore

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To Ponder:

“In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will.” Ephesians 1:11. God sustains, nourishes, and cares for everything He has made, even to the least sparrow. (Matthew 10:29) God’s providence, as it is taught in Scripture, is opposed to fortune and chance. There is no such thing as fortune or chance–these are pagan terms, with which the minds of the godly ought not to be occupied. All events are governed by God’s secret plan! They babble and talk absurdly who, in the place of God’s providence, substitute bare permission–as if God sat in a watchtower awaiting chance events, and His judgments thus depended upon human will. It is certain that not one drop of rain falls without God’s sure command. Nothing, including human suffering, happens by chance. God so regulates all things, that nothing happens but what He has knowingly and willingly decreed. Each year, month, and day is governed by a new, a special, providence of God! No creature has a force more wondrous or glorious than that of the sun. The sun does not daily rise and set by blind instinct of nature–but God Himself, to renew our remembrance of His fatherly favors toward us, governs its course. In times of adversity, believers comfort themselves with the solace that they suffer nothing except by God’s ordaining and command, for they are under His all-controlling hand. (John Calvin on Divine Providence)

 

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