Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Word of God

Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God
Matthew 4:4

The Epistle of James 1:21

21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness, and superfluity of maliciousness, and receive with meekness the word that is grafted in you, which is able to save your souls.


We are required to prepare ourselves for it, to get rid of every corrupt affection and of every prejudice and prepossession, and to lay aside those sins which pervert the judgment and blind the mind. All the filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, before explained, must, in an especial manner, be subdued and cast off, by all such as attend on the word of the gospel.

We are directed how to hear it: Receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save our souls. In hearing the word of God, we are to receive it—assent to the truths of it—consent to the laws of it; receive it as the stock does the graft; so as that the fruit which is produced may be, not according to the nature of the sour stock, but according to the nature of that word of the gospel which is engrafted into our souls.

We must therefore yield ourselves to the word of God, with most the submissive, humble, and tractable of tempers; this is to receive it with meekness. Being willing to hear of our faults, and taking it not only patiently, but thankfully, desiring also to be molded and formed by the doctrines and precepts of the gospel. In all our hearing we should aim at the salvation of our souls. It is the design of the word of God to make us wise to salvation; and those who propose any meaner or lower ends to themselves in attending upon it dishonour the gospel and disappoint their souls. We should come to the word of God (both to read it and hear it), as those who know it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth, (See Romans 1:16)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Word of God

Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God
Matthew 4:4

The Epistle of James 1:19-20

19 Wherefore my dear brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath 20 For the wrath of man doth not accomplish the righteousness of God.


An angry and hasty spirit is soon provoked to ill things by afflictions, and errors and ill opinions become prevalent through the workings of our own vile and vain affections; but the renewing grace of God and the word of the gospel teach us to subdue these: Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath,

To the word of truth spoken of in the verse foregoing. And so we may observe, It is our duty rather to hear God’s word, and apply our minds to understand it, than to speak according to our own fancies or the opinions of men, and to run into heat and passion thereupon. Let not such errors as that of God’s being the occasion of men’s sin ever be hastily, much less angrily, mentioned by you (and so as to other errors); but be ready to hear and consider what God’s word teaches in all such cases.

This may be applied to the afflictions and temptations spoken of in the beginning of the chapter. And then we may observe, It is our duty rather to hear how God explains his providences, and what he designs by them, than to say as David did in his haste, I am cut off; or as Jonah did in his passion, I do well to be angry. Instead of censuring God under our trials, let us open our ears and hearts to hear what he will say to us.

It may be understood as referring to the disputes and differences that Christians, in those times of trial, were running into among themselves: and so this part of the chapter may be considered without any connection with what goes before. Here we may observe that, whenever matters of difference arise among Christians, each side should be willing to hear the other. People are often stiff in their own opinions because they are not willing to hear what others have to offer against them: whereas we should be swift to hear reason and truth on all sides, and be slow to speak any thing that should prevent this: and, when we do speak, there should be nothing of wrath; for a soft answer turneth away wrath. As this epistle is designed to correct a variety of disorders that existed among Christians, these words, swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, may be very well interpreted according to this last explication. And we may further observe from them that, if men would govern their tongues, they must govern their passions. When Moses’s spirit was provoked, he spoke unadvisedly with his lips. If we would be slow to speak, we must be slow to wrath.

Furthermore it is A very good reason is given for suppressing: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. It is as if the apostle had said, "Whereas men often pretend zeal for God and his glory, in their heat and passion, let them know that God needs not the passions of any man; his cause is better served by mildness and meekness than by wrath and fury.’’ Solomon says, The words of the wise are heard in quiet, more than the cry of him that ruleth among fools, (See Ecclesiastes 9:17)

Wrath while it may pretend to be raised by a concern for what is just and right, is not to be trusted. Wrath is a human thing, and the wrath of man stands opposed to the righteousness of God. Those who pretend to serve the cause of God hereby show that they are acquainted neither with God or his cause. Take heed then that his passion must especially be watched against when we are hearing the word of God. We are called upon to suppress other corrupt affections, as well as rash anger. (See 1 Peter 2:1-2)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Intolerant Christ
by J. Stuart Holden (1874-1934)
Edited by Doktor Riktor Von Zhades

"He that is not with Me is against Me." Matthew 12:30


I would if you will allow preface this sermon with a comment. Too often in these times we hear the above word in the title tossed around. To paraphrase a character from the movie “The Princess Bride”, “ I don’t think it means what most people think it means” Herein below find an interesting lesson into the persona that is Jesus Christ.

THERE is something bewildering in the endless variety of Christ s character. The many-sidedness and withal the perfect symmetry of His life has always puzzled men even while it persuaded them. At one time He is the Man of gentleness, calling the weary and heavy-laden with a voice which thrills with sympathy and is irresistible in its wooing winsomeness. At another time He is the Man of sternness, denouncing insincerity with a voice now vibrant with passion, and flashing the light of a pure indignation upon all that is unholy and untrue. At one time it is His lowliness, and at another His loftiness which sets Him forth in compelling vividness as "not of this world." At one time the closeness of His intimacy with common men and their interests invests Him with a magnetic attraction to which all hearts respond; while at another His remoteness and unapproachableness inspire with a sense of reverent awe those who venture nigh.

And yet despite all, or perhaps because of all the perplexing variations of His revealed nature there is a something about Christ which seems to harmonize these apparent contradictions into one unique perfection. In Nature the many-hued rays unite in forming the bright beam of light, and what at first seem mutually contradictory are discovered as being in reality mutually complementary. So is it in Christ. The conjunction of apparently irreconcilable qualities in a beauty which is the light and life of men, goes far to attest the reality alike of His humanity and His divinity. Without these mystifying anti-theses which abound in Him it would be hard to recognize Him as fulfilling His own claims. The preciousness and fairness of a jewel is only discerned by means of its many facets; and new brilliance and beauty only break forth as the gem is held at changing angles to the light.

It is with the desire of new and enriching discovery in Christ that we think upon the quality of intolerance which, though often overlooked by His people, nevertheless, characterized in marked fashion all His life and work for men; and is of deep and real significance to us all. For He changes not with the fleeting years.

Now at first sight the use of such a word as intolerance to describe Christ is almost repugnant to us. It sounds harsh; for we are accustomed to think of Him as of One so full of love as to be without asperities of any kind. Of broader mind and more charitable judgment than any who preceded or who have succeeded Him, can it be that we find anything akin to intolerance in Him? Is He not too large and generous to have aught of the smallness of mind by which we usually identify the intolerant man today? Is not the divine nature too ample to admit of what at any time seems petulant and impatient? For we do not usually commend intolerance as being the quality of the truly great. On the contrary, we rather pity the man who is so small as to be intolerant of all but his own views and his own order, and who intolerantly excludes and condemns those who are not in agreement with him. And in this we do well. For nothing is so unseemly and unlovely as an intolerant man, who is commonly but an ignorant one.

But herein lies the essential difference between the intolerance of Christ and of all others most of all of His professed disciples. Their intolerance is the expression of imperfect and fragmentary knowledge. His is the intolerance of One Who knows! He knows the why and wherefore of the mission on which He has been sent by the Father. He knows the subtlety and strength of the sin which He has come to combat for and in men. He knows the wide range of possibility in every life to which He makes appeal, the full value of the capacity and aptitude which He seeks to deliver from the grip of destructive forces. He knows the grieved love of the sadly-wronged God, and the yearning of the Father-heart over the alienated affection of the deceived child. And, knowing all this, He would be less than divine were He not intolerant of all that arrays itself against God's purpose of recovery and deliverance, of all that binds and blinds men to their true life, of all that impairs and incapacitates them, of all that deceives and denies them, of all that outrages the love which is everlasting in its patience and faith.

Then, His intolerance is not only the expression of His knowledge but of His love. It were impossible to think of Him as the true lover of men, apart from just this unaccommodating austerity, which at all times declares absolute truth in its tonic bitterness. There is an intolerance in moral and spiritual issues, which is the only possible voice by which love can declare itself, and by which truth can win recognition for itself. And this is the intolerance of the Son of God. The scientist is inspired to intolerance in his unresting fight with the deadly diseases in the world, just because he knows the virulence of the foe, and wants to benefit man kind by its complete conquest. Were he more tolerant he would be less benevolent. The artist is intolerant of ugliness and discord by reason of the fine sensibilities of his nature. He feels with an exquisite pain anything which outrages the canons of beauty and taste. Hence his protests, often it is to be feared ineffectual despite their sincerity. But notwithstanding his failure to secure a popular verdict, he must lift up his voice and declare the faith that is in him; for intolerance is part of his nature, and is of the very essence of his art. The statesman too(as distinguished from the mere politician) is intolerant of anything which threatens or imperils his country; and we applaud the rare self-sacrificing service by which his intolerance makes itself known.

Indeed, less than intolerance, when the issue involved affects adversely the life of the nation, would be treachery. And just as their intolerance attests the reality and worth of these and many others who could similarly be cited, so the intolerance which is everywhere discernible in Christ goes far to proclaim His divinity. It is seen, for instance, in the high claims which He makes for Himself. "I am the Bread of Life"; "I am the Light of the World"; "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." That He can make such claim without any loss of modesty or show of mere egotism, that He can so declare Himself without any toleration of possible rival, is expressive of an undisturbed consciousness of divinity in short, that He has indeed come from God to men, and that He is God s full and final word to them. His quiet and altogether seemly intolerance with regard to His own office and work, is the unfaltering Evangel, that

"God hath other words for other worlds;
But for this world the Word of God is Christ."

How intolerant, too, is He in the commands which He lays upon men. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God "; and again, "If any man come unto 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"; and again, "Follow thou Me." He would save men from self-love which is self-destruction; from absorption in the deteriorating lower things of life, into which it is so easy to fall, and from which it is so hard to rise; from devotion to even the best things of which the human heart is capable, but which, unrelated to the central governing affection for which we have been made, make for our undoing; and from the worship of idols which tend to become ideals, bringing the whole of life under their sway. And only an intolerant demand for whole-hearted allegiance and discipleship could be an effective Gospel unto such a redemption. He cannot be Lord at all if He is not Lord of all.

The same intolerance marks His imposition of self-discipline upon His followers. "If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee. If thine hand offend thee, cut it off and cast it from thee." Sin is the enemy ; and, in respect of it, any toleration is at once disloyal and disastrous. And conscience and memory unite in confirmation of this His intolerance, hailing it as being the only effective way of dealing with sin s defiling enslavements. Were Christ to be in any degree less intolerant in the matter of sin, or to impose a less harsh and rigorous discipline upon those who would follow Him, conscience would shrink from accepting Him. For there is that within every man in regard to his own sin which, at any rate in his best moments (and never let us forget that it is then we are most truly ourselves), shrinks and recoils from any thing like temporizing or excusing of the wilful transgression. Nothing but the drastic, the radical, the intolerant, can ever satisfy the clamant need of the human soul in its sin-created agony. It turns from any cheap and easy way of peace with an instinctive refusal which is self-protective. It is drawn to Christ by the intolerant conditions upon which alone His power of deliverance may be known.

But it is, perhaps, most conspicuously in His discriminating division of men that this spirit and quality is seen in Christ. He banishes all uncertainty and disposes of all ambiguity and that for all time in declaring that "he that is not with Me is against Me." In moral issues mere neutrality is quite impossible; and it is of the very nature of love to make this indubitably clear. Nor can this issue be evaded. Men must take sides when brought within the zone of Christ’s compelling personality and mission. There is always "a division among the people because of Him." For while there is so much in Christ to quicken love and stimulate faith, there is always much to stagger the unwilling and unready. The intolerance which brooked no dissuasion from the pathway of redeeming sacrifice; which turned a deaf ear to affectionate entreaty, and with steadfast face set out on the pilgrimage of the Cross, nor rested until all was accomplished, now seeks the highest place in the hearts of men. For this is the intolerance of a hungering love. Obviously it is destructive of self-interest, of sinful affection, of unholy thought and action, of worldly compliance, and of all that is frequently found in usurpation of the throne of God in the lives of men. The issue is thus always between self-will and the will of God.

Popular imagination, as far as it is exercised at all with regard to Him, conceives God as One Whose love is to be looked for in His kindly indulgence of human frailty, and Whose benign kindness and good nature accepts any kind of homage. We are in deadly peril of drugging ourselves into the very sleep of death by drinking in, as though it were the Water of Life, a distorted idea of His graciousness. As though this was His only quality! We forget the jealousy of a love which said of old, "Thou shalt have none other gods but Me." And there is, perhaps, nothing so calculated to arouse and sting us into a true understanding of things as this word of Christ s intolerance, "He that is not with Me is against Me." As the sleeper in the snow is rudely awakened by his rescuer, whose violent methods, at first resented by the disturbed slumberer, afterwards evoke his gratitude, so does Christ force us to face the facts of our life and His.

It is the vogue amongst people to-day to profess a non-committal attitude toward Christ, as though they were in some uncertainty as to His reality, and as though the scales of their moral judgment had not yet swung in His favour. They imagine themelves to be in a neutral position with not a little complacent superiority. Christ, however, intolerant of anything insincere and pretentious, plainly declares that not " with " Him, such ones are "against" Him. There is a pathetic folly in imagining ourselves to be judging Christ, when all the time He is actually judging us, and when our lives are faithfully recording the judgment. And so with men and Christ. Every day of our lives is really a judgment-day, which reveals the hidden man of the heart, and records his determining attitude toward the Son of Man.

Dear reader a post-script

It would be well to note that God is indeed love, but He is likewise first and foremost righteous and as such, as the author above has made clear, He is indeed “intolerant” of sin.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Word of God
Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God
Matthew 4:4
The Epistle of James 1:17

17 Every good giving and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.


A worthy statement upon which one might also contemplate this day.

"As the sun is the same in its nature and influences, though the earth and clouds, oft interposing, make it seem to us as varying, by its rising and setting, and by its different appearances, or entire withdrawment, when the change is not in it; so God is unchangeable, and our changes and shadows are not from any mutability or shadowy alterations in him, but from ourselves.’’
Richard Baxter - Theologian 1615- - 1691

The Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. What the sun is in nature, God is in grace, providence, and glory; aye, and infinitely more. For, every good gift is from him. As the Father of lights, he gives the light of reason. The inspiration of the Almighty giveth understanding, (See Job. 32:8). He gives also the light of learning: Solomon’s wisdom in the knowledge of nature, in the arts of government, and in all his improvements, is ascribed to God. The light of divine revelation is more immediately from above. The light of faith, purity, and all manner of consolation is from him. So that we have nothing good but what we receive from God, as there is no evil or sin in us, or done by us, but what is owing to ourselves. We must own God as the author of all the powers and perfections that are in the creature, and the giver of all the benefits which we have in and by those powers and perfections: but none of their darknesses, their imperfections, or their ill actions are to be charged on the Father of lights; from him proceeds every good and perfect gift, both pertaining to this life and that which is to come. As every good gift is from God, so particularly the renovation of our natures, our regeneration, and all the holy happy consequences of it, must be ascribed to him.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Word of God

Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God

Matthew 4:4

The Epistle of James 1:12

12 Blessed is the man, that endureth tentation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.


It is not the man who suffers only that is blessed, but he who endures, who with patience and constancy goes through all difficulties in the way of his duty. Afflictions cannot make us miserable, if it be not our own fault. A blessing may arise from them, and we may be blessed in them. They are so far from taking away a good man’s felicity that they really increase it. Sufferings and temptations are the way to eternal blessedness: When he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, dokimos genomenos —when he is approved, when his graces are found to be true and of the highest worth (so metals are tried as to their excellency by the fire), and when his integrity is manifested, and all is approved of the great Judge. Note hence: To be approved of God is the great aim of a Christian in all his trials; and it will be his blessedness at last, when he shall receive the crown of life. The tried Christian shall be a crowned one: and the crown he shall wear will be a crown of life. It will be life and bliss to him, and will last for ever. We only bear the cross for a while, but we shall wear the crown to eternity. This blessedness, involved in a crown of life, is a promised thing to the righteous sufferer. It is therefore what we may most surely depend upon: for, when heaven and earth shall pass away, this word of God shall not fail of being fulfilled. But withal let us take notice that our future reward comes, not as a debt, but by a gracious promise. Our enduring temptations must be from a principle of love to God and to our Lord Jesus Christ, otherwise we are not interested in this promise: The Lord hath promised to those that love him. Paul the Apostle wrote that a man may for some point of religion even give his body to be burnt, and yet not be pleasing to God, nor regarded by him, because of his want of charity, or a prevailing sincere love to God and man, (See 1 Corinthians 13:3). The crown of life is promised not only to great and eminent saints, but to all those who have the love of God reigning in their hearts. Every soul that truly loves God shall have its trials in this world fully recompensed in that world above where love is made perfect.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Word of God

Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God
Matthew 4:4

The Epistle of James 1:5

5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, which giveth to all men liberally, and reproacheth no man, and it shall be given him.


Consider and meditate in your hearts also the asking by Solomon for wisdom and how our creator richly blessed him most abundantly.

Prayer is a duty recommended also to suffering Christians; and here the apostle shows: What we ought more especially to pray for—wisdom: If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God. We should not pray so much for the removal of an affliction as for wisdom to make a right use of it. And who is there that does not want wisdom under any great trials or exercises to guide him in his judging of things, in the government of his own spirit and temper, and in the management of his affairs? To be wise in trying times is a special gift of God, and to him we must seek for it. It is not said, "Let such ask of man,’’ no, not of any man, but, "Let him ask of God,’’ who made him, and gave him his understanding and reasonable powers at first, of him in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Let us confess our want of wisdom to God and daily ask it of him.

Herein then is something in answer to every discouraging turn of the mind, when we go to God, under a sense of our own weakness and folly, to ask for wisdom. He to whom we are sent, we are sure, has it to give: and he is of a giving disposition, inclined to bestow this upon those who ask. Nor is there any fear of his favours being limited to some in this case, so as to exclude others, or any humble petitioning soul; for he gives to all men. If you should say you want a great deal of wisdom, a small portion will not serve your turn, the apostle affirms, he gives liberally; and lest you should be afraid of going to him unseasonably, or being put to shame for your folly, it is added, he upbraideth not. Ask when you will, and as often as you will, you will meet with no upbraidings. And if, after all, any should say, "This may be the case with some, but I fear I shall not succeed so well in my seeking for wisdom as some others may,’’ let such consider how particular and express the promise is: It shall be given him. Justly then must fools perish in their foolishness, (See Proverbs 1:22; Proverbs 15:2) if wisdom may be had for asking, and they will not pray to God for it.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Word of God

Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God

Matthew 4:4

The Epistle of James 1:3-4

3 Knowing that the trying of your faith bringeth forth patience, 4 And let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking nothing.


There must be patience: The trial of faith worketh patience. The trying of one grace produces another; and the more the suffering graces of a Christian are exercised the stronger they grow. Tribulation worketh patience, (See Romans 5:3). Now, to exercise Christian patience aright, we must: Let it work. It is not a stupid, but an active thing. Stoical apathy and Christian patience are very different: by the one men become, in some measure, insensible of their afflictions; but by the other they become triumphant in and over them. Let us take care, in times of trial, that patience and not passion, be set at work in us; whatever is said or done, let patience have the saying and doing of it: let us not allow the indulging of our passions to hinder the operation and noble effects of patience; let us give it leave to work, and it will work wonders in a time of trouble.

We must let it have its perfect work. Do nothing to limit it nor to weaken it; but let it have its full scope: if one affliction come upon the heels of another, and a train of them are drawn upon us, yet let patience go on till its work is perfected. When we bear all that God appoints, and as long as he appoints, and with a humble obedient eye to him, and when we not only bear troubles, but rejoice in them, then patience hath its perfect work.

When the work of patience is complete, then the Christian is entire, and nothing will be wanting: it will furnish us with all that is necessary for our Christian race and warfare, and will enable us to persevere to the end, and then its work will be ended, and crowned with glory. After we have abounded in other graces, we have need of patience, (See Hebrews 10:36). But let patience have its perfect work, and we shall be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.