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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Self-Examination

This brief excerpt comes from a tract written by Jonathan Edwards titled Christian Cautions or The Necessity for Self-Examination.

His text came from Psalm 139:23-24; Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

I am not trying to be morbid but as I was reading his tract this one point caught my attention. Take a look at it and see what you think.

Here is Mr. Edwards:

Examine yourselves, whether all the ways in which you live, are likely to be pleasant to think of upon a death-bed. Persons often in health allow and plead for those things, which they would not dare to do, if they looked upon themselves as shortly about to go out of the world. They in a great measure still their consciences as to ways in which they walk, and keep them pretty easy, while death is thought of as at a distance: yet reflections on these same ways are very uncomfortable when they are going out of the world. Conscience is not so easily blinded and muffled then as at other times.
Consider therefore, and inquire diligently, whether or no you do not live in some practice or other, as to the lawfulness of which, when it shall come into your minds upon your death-bed, you will choose to have some further satisfaction, and some better argument than you now have, to prove that it is not sinful, in order to your being easy about it. Think over your particular ways, and try yourselves, with the awful expectation of soon going out of the world into eternity, and earnestly endeavor impartially to judge what ways you will on a death-bed approve of and rejoice in, and what you will disapprove of, and wish you had let alone.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Excerpts from a Jonathan Edwards sermon

In 1734 Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon to his congregation at Northampton titled, A Divine And Supernatural Light, Immediately Imparted To The Soul By The Spirit Of God, Shown To Be Both A Scriptural And Rational Doctrine.


His text was Mat. 16:17; And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.


There are three excerpts that I would like to share with you in this blog, they are somewhat lengthy and if you are like me you will need to read them more than once in order to fully digest them.


This first excerpt is from the introduction portion of the sermon;

What had passed in the preceding discourse naturally occasioned Christ to observe this; because the disciples had been telling how others did not know him, but were generally mistaken about him, divided and confounded in their opinions of him: but Peter had declared his assured faith, that he was the Son of God. Now it was natural to observe, how it was not flesh and blood that had revealed it to him, but God; for if this knowledge were dependent on natural causes or means, how came it to pass that they, a company of poor fishermen, illiterate men, and persons of low education, attained to the knowledge of the truth; while the scribes and Pharisees, men of vastly higher advantages, and greater knowledge and sagacity in other matters, remained in ignorance? This could be owing only to the gracious, distinguishing influence and revelation of the Spirit of God. Hence, what I would make the subject of my present discourse from these words, is this DOCTRINE, That there is such a thing as a spiritual and divine light, immediately imparted to the soul by God, of a different nature from any that is obtained by natural means.


The second reading comes from his first point;

...He (Spirit of God) acts in the mind of a saint as an indwelling principle...he unites himself with the mind of a saint, takes him for his temple, actuates and influences him as a new supernatural principle of life and action. There is this difference, that the Spirit of God, in acting in the soul of a godly man, exerts and communicates himself there in his own proper nature. Holiness is the proper nature of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit operates in the minds of the godly, by uniting himself to them, and living in them, exerting His own nature in the exercise of their faculties.

The third and final excerpt comes from Mr. Edwards closing words of the sermon;

 This light, and this only, has its fruit in an universal holiness of life...It shows God as worthy to be obeyed and served. It draws forth the heart in a sincere love to God, which is the only principle of a true, gracious and universal obedience; and it convinces of the reality of those glorious rewards that God has promised to them that obey him.


Some supporting scriptures that came to my mind as I read this message; 

But as many as received him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name:  Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.    John 1:12-13

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.                             John 3:3-7

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. Rom 8:9
 
Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures.                           James 1:18

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:  Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
1 Pet 1:22-23

My own observations:

I could not help but ask myself ; do I have this supernatural light imparted in my soul? Am I born from above? Am I born of God? Is this indwelling principle of life in me? Has He united Himself to me? Has Christ been revealed in me, has He been formed in me? These are fair questions for each of us.

Paul exhorted the Corinthian church; "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"

Peter said in his letter to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure". 


These apostles, under the influence of the Holy Spirit,  were writing to the people in the church. They took none of their hearers/readers soul condition for granted. They assumed nothing. You and I know that no one can examine ourselves except ourselves(and we're pretty poor at that). In the last day we must not be found lacking the very thing we profess to have!



 

Monday, July 5, 2010

Rock of Ages

Rock of Ages
by Augustus Toplady and Thomas Hastings


Rock of ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood, From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure, Save from wrath and make me pure.

Could my tears forever flow, Could my zeal no languor know,
These for sins could not atone - Thou must save and Thou alone;
In my hand no price I bring, Simply to Thy cross I cling.

While I draw this fleeting breath, When my eyes shall close in death;
When I rise to worlds unknown And behold Thee on Thy throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee!




Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. Exodus 17:6

And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by Me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: And it shall come to pass, while My glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with My hand while I pass by: And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see My back parts: but My face shall not be seen. Exodus 33:21-23

Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect: for all His ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is He.       Deuteronomy 32:3-4

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.                 1 Corinthians 10:4

From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.                     Psalm 61:2

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Augustine quote

You awake us to delight in Your praise; for You made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless, until it rest in You.                      Augustine - Confessions Book One

This quote (perhaps his most famous) from Augustine's writings brings to my mind certain passages of scriptures. Do you see a connection between his quote above and the passages below? Perhaps this quote brings other scriptures to your mind. Feel free to share.


But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us,  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.           Ephesians 2:4-7



Wilt Thou not revive us again: that Thy people may rejoice in Thee? Psalm 85:6

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9


Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for Thou hast created all things, and for Thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:11

Come unto Me, all ye that labor 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

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Augustine

 Excerpt from Augustine's Confessions Book One

Augustine lived from 354 to 430 AD. I am only vaguely familiar with him but what I have read of his writings are incredible. His Confessions are sort of the equivalent of our personal journals (assuming you have a journal). They are an inward glimpse into the soul of a sinner transformed by the grace of God. Below is a brief example of his writings, he wrote in Latin so his writings have been translated into English by different men over the centuries. My copy is in old English so I've taken liberty by changing the 'thees' and 'thous'. I hope you enjoy it.


What are you then, my God? what, but the Lord God? For who is Lord but the Lord? or who is God save our God? Most highest, most good, most potent, most omnipotent; most merciful, yet most just; most hidden, yet most present; most beautiful, yet most strong; stable, yet incomprehensible; unchangeable, yet all-changing; never new, never old; all renewing, and bringing age upon the proud, and they know it not; ever working, ever at rest; still gathering, yet nothing lacking; supporting, filling, and overspreading; creating, nourishing, and maturing; seeking, yet having all things. You love, without passion; are jealous, without anxiety; repents, yet grieves not; are angry, yet serene; changes Your works, Your purpose unchanged, receives again what you find, yet did never lose; never in need, yet rejoicing in gains; never covetous, yet exacting usury. You receive over and above, that You may owe; and who has aught that is not Yours? You pay debts, owing nothing; remit debts, losing nothing. And what had I now said, my God, my life, my holy joy? or what says any man when he speaks of You? Yet woe to him that speaks not, since mute are even most eloquent.


Oh! that I might rest on You! Oh! that you would enter into my heart, and inebriate it, that I may forget my ills, and embrace You, my sole good?

Psalm 33

Psalm 33
 
Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright.  Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto Him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.  Sing unto Him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.  For the word of the LORD is right; and all His works are done in truth. He loves righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.  He gathers the waters of the sea together as an heap: He lays up the depth in storehouses.  Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him.  For He spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.


The LORD brings the counsel of the heathen to nought: He makes the devices of the people of none effect.   The counsel of the LORD stands for ever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations.  Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.

The LORD looks from heaven; He beholds all the sons of men.  From the place of His habitation He looks upon all the inhabitants of the earth.  He fashions their hearts alike; He considers all their works.  There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength.  An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.  Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear Him, upon them that hope in His mercy;  To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.


Our soul waits for the LORD: He is our help and our shield.  For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name.  Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.