Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Righteousness of Faith
by John Wesley
Prefaced & Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades

But what saith it The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: That is, the word of faith, which we preach."
The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans [1]

It was once believed by this editor, that I could not be a Christian, because God only wanted “good people”2, and as such a sinner (and the worst of ones) as myself was unworthy to be called a child of the most high God. It was only, when it was revealed unto me by a friend, that it was in fact the very people He wanted, were those that were dead in their sins, and would earn only eternal separation from Him, that He came to save. For His desire was for none to perish, but that all should be saved. [Read Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9]

Therefore, brethren, friends, readers, take solace and know this, that you are saved by grace. You cannot work your way into heaven. There is no road as such, for if there were, there would be no need of the new covenant. The living of the good way, would be enough. Additionally, there is no such thing as my good outweighs my bad, as all mankind is guilty of sin. If the law says it is so, then the law convicts us all. Recall if you will our Savior Christ Jesus said, that not one tittle or jot of the law shall pass. [Read Matthew 5:18; Luke 16:17]

Herein below then, is a sermon on the righteousness of faith. Read carefully, and think upon it today.

The Apostle does not here oppose the covenant given by Moses, to the covenant given by Christ. If we ever imagined this, it was for want of observing, that the latter as well as the former part of these words were spoken by Moses himself to the people of Israel, and that concerning the covenant which then was. (Read Deuteronomy 30:11, 12, 14.) But it is the covenant of grace [Read Acts 2:21; Hebrews 9:15], which God, through Christ, hath established with men in all ages, (as well before and under the Jewish dispensation, as since God was manifest in the flesh,) which St. Paul here opposes to the covenant of works, made with Adam while in Paradise, hut commonly supposed to be the only covenant which God had made with man, particularly by those Jews of whom the Apostle writes.

Of these it was that he so affectionately speaks in the begining of this chapter: "My heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they may be saved. For I bear them record, that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God's righteousness," (of the justification that flows from his mere grace and mercy, freely forgiving our sins through the Son of his love, through the redemption which is in Jesus,) "and seeking to establish their own righteousness," (their own holiness, antecedent to faith in "him that justifieth the ungodly," as the ground of their pardon and acceptance,) "have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God," and consequently seek death in the error of their life.

They were ignorant that "Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth;" -- that, by the oblation of himself once offered, he had put an end to the first law or covenant, (which, indeed, was not given by God to Moses, but to Adam in his state of innocence,) the strict tenor whereof, without any abatement, was, "Do this, and live;" and, at the same time, purchased for us that better covenant," Believe, and live;" believe, and thou shalt be saved[Read Romans 10:13]; now saved, both from the guilt and power of sin, and, of consequence, from the wages of it.

And how many are equally ignorant now, even among those who are called by the name of Christ! How many who have now a "zeal for God," yet have it not "according to knowledge;" but are still seeking "to establish their own righteousness," as the ground of their pardon and acceptance; and therefore, vehemently refuse to "submit themselves unto the righteousness of God!" Surely my heart's desire, and prayer to God for you, brethren, is, that ye may be saved. And, in order to remove this grand stumbling-block out of your way, I will endeavor to show, what the righteousness is, which is of the law; and what "the righteousness which is of faith.

The righteousness which is of the law saith, The man which doeth these things shall live by them. [Read Leviticus 18:5] Constantly and perfectly observe all these things to do them, and then thou shalt live for ever. This law, or covenant, (usually called the Covenant of Works,) given by God to man in Paradise, required an obedience perfect in all its parts, entire and wanting nothing, as the condition of his eternal continuance in the holiness and happiness wherein he was created. It required that man should fulfill all righteousness, inward and outward, negative and positive: That he should not only abstain from every idle word, and avoid every evil work, but should keep every affection, every desire, every thought, in obedience to the will of God: That he should continue holy, as he which had created him was holy, both in heart, and in all manner of conversation: That he should be pure in heart, even as God is pure; perfect as his Father in heaven was perfect: That he should love the Lord his God with all his heart, with all his soul, with all his mind, and with all his strength; that he should love every soul which God had made, even as God had loved him: That by this universal benevolence, he should dwell in God, (who is love,) and God in him: That he should serve the Lord his God with all his strength, and in all things singly aim at his glory.

These were the things which the righteousness of the law required, that he who did them might live thereby. But it farther required, that this entire obedience to God, this inward and outward holiness, this conformity both of heart and life to his will, should be perfect in degree. No abatement, no allowance could possibly be made, for falling short in any degree, as to any jot or tittle, either of the outward or the inward law. If every commandment, relating to outward things, was obeyed, yet that was not sufficient unless every one was obeyed with all the strength, in the highest measure, and most perfect manner. Nor did it answer the demand of this covenant, to love God with every power and faculty, unless he were loved with the full capacity of each, with the whole possibility of the soul. One thing more was indispensably required by the righteousness of the law, namely, that this universal obedience, this perfect holiness both of heart and life, should be perfectly uninterrupted also, should continue without any intermission, from the moment wherein God created man, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, until the days of his trial should be ended, and he should be confirmed in life everlasting. The righteousness, then, which is of the law, speaketh on this wise: "Thou, O man of God, stand fast in love, in the image of God wherein thou art made. If thou wilt remain in life, keep the commandments, which are now written in thy heart. Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart. Love, as thyself, every soul that he hath made. Desire nothing but God. Aim at God in every thought, in every word and work. Swerve not, in one motion of body or soul, from him, thy mark, and the prize of thy high calling; and let all that is in thee praise his holy name, every power and faculty of thy soul, in every kind, in every degree, and at every moment of thine existence. `This do, and thou shalt live:' Thy light shall shine, thy love shall flame more and more, till thou art received up into the house of God in the heavens, to reign with him for ever and ever.

[However], the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise: Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven that is, to bring down Christ from above;" (as though it were some impossible task which God required thee previously to perform in order to thine acceptance;) "or, Who shall descend into the deep that is, to bring up Christ from the dead;" (as though that were still remaining to be done, for the sake of which thou wert to be accepted;) "but what saith it The word," according to the tenor of which thou mayest now be accepted as an heir of life eternal, "is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith which we preach," -- the new covenant which God hath now established with sinful man, through Christ Jesus. By "the righteousness which is of faith" is meant, that condition of justification, (and, in consequence, of present and final salvation, if we endure therein unto the end,) which was given by God to fallen man, through the merits and mediation of his only-begotten Son. This was in part revealed to Adam, soon after his fall; being contained in the original promise, made to him and his seed, concerning the Seed of the Woman, who should "bruise the serpent's head." (Read Genesis 3:15.) It was a little more clearly revealed to Abraham, by the angel of God from heaven, saying, "By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, that in thy seed shall all the nations of the world be blessed." (Read Genesis 12:15, 18.) It was yet more fully made known to Moses, to David, and to the Prophets that followed; and, through them, to many of the people of God in their respective generations. But still the bulk even of these were ignorant of it; and very few understood it clearly. Still "life and immortality" were not so "brought to light" to the Jews of old, as they are now unto us "by the gospel."

Now, this covenant saith not to sinful man, "Perform unsinning obedience, and live." If this were the term, he would have no more benefit by all which Christ hath done and suffered for him, than if he was required, in order to life, to "ascend into heaven, and bring down Christ from above;" or to "descend into the deep," into the invisible world, and "bring up Christ from the dead." It doth not require any impossibility to be done: (Although to mere man, what it requires would be impossible; but not to man assisted by the Spirit of God:) This were only to mock human weakness. Indeed, strictly speaking, the covenant of grace doth not require us to do anything at all, as absolutely and indispensably necessary in order to our justification; but only, to believe in Him who, for the sake of his Son, and the propitiation which he hath made, "justifieth the ungodly that worketh not," and imputes his faith to him for righteousness. Even so Abraham "believed in the Lord, and he counted it to him for righteousness." (Read Genesis 15:6.) "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of faith, -- that he might be the father of all them that believe, -- that righteousness might be imputed unto them also." (Read Romans 4:11.) "Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it," i.e., faith, "was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed," to whom faith shall be imputed for righteousness, shall stand in the stead of perfect obedience, in order to our acceptance with God, "if we believe on him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered" to death "for our offences, and was raised again for our justification:" (Read Romans 4:23-25:) For the assurance of the remission of our sins, and of a second life to come, to them that believe.

What saith then the covenant of forgiveness, of unmerited love, of pardoning mercy "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." In the day thou believest, thou shalt surely live. Thou shalt be restored to the favour of God; and in his pleasure is life. Thou shalt be saved from the curse, and from the wrath of God. Thou shalt be quickened, from the death of sin into the life of righteousness. And if thou endure to the end, believing in Jesus, thou shalt never taste the second death; but, having suffered with thy Lord, shalt also live and reign with him for ever and ever

1 There is no occasion to seek high or low for the saving power; the word of reconciliation is nigh. The way of salvation is now both plain and easy. The law is magnified and made honorable by the death of Christ; and the doctrine of faith in his death and resurrection is fully proclaimed, and amply proved to be effectual to the purpose for which it was revealed. By the preaching of the Gospel the doctrine of salvation is nigh thee, and the saving influence is at hand: it is in thy mouth, easy to be understood, easy to be professed: and in thy heart, if thou art upright before God, sincerely desiring to be saved on his own terms, not striving to establish thy own method of justification by the law, which must for ever be ineffectual, but submitting to the method of justification which God has. - Adam Clarke - Theologian
2This is a lie from the father of all lies Satan. Surely he says, that you are not worthy to be saved.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

God Glorified In Man's Dependence
Part 2
by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades
29 That no flesh should rejoice in his presence.30 But ye are of him in Christ Jesus, who of God is
made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.31 That, according as it is
written, He that rejoiceth, let him rejoice in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:29-31

Man's redemption is often spoken of as a work of wonderful power as well as grace. The great power of God appears in bringing a sinner from his low state, from the depths of sin and misery, to such an exalted state of holiness and happiness. "And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power" (Read Ephesians 1:19). We are dependent on God's power through every step of our redemption. We are dependent on the power of God to convert us, and give faith in Jesus Christ, and the new nature.

It is a work of creation: "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature" (Read 2 Corinthians 5:17). "We are created in Christ Jesus" (Read Ephesians 2:10). The fallen creature cannot attain to true holiness, but by being created again. "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness." (Read Ephesians 4:24). It is a raising from the dead. "Wherein ye also are risen with him, through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead" (Read Colossians 2:12-13). Yea, it is a more glorious work of power than mere creation, or raising a dead body to life, in that the effect attained is greater and more excellent. That holy and happy being, and spiritual life which is reached in the work of conversion, is a far greater and more glorious effect, than mere being and life. And the state from whence the change is made, of such a death in sin, and total corruption of nature, and depth of misery, is far more remote from the state attained, than mere death or nonentity. It is by God's power also that we are preserved in a state of grace. "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation." (Read 1 Peter 1: 5). As grace is at first from God, so it is continually from him, and is maintained by him, as much as light in the atmosphere is all day long from the sun, as well as at first dawning, or at sunrising.

Men are dependent on the power of God, for every exercise of grace, and for carrying on the work of grace in the heart, for the subduing of sin and corruption, and increasing holy principles, and enabling to bring forth fruit in good works, and at last bringing grace to its perfection, in making the soul completely amiable in Christ's glorious likeness, and filling of it with a satisfying joy and blessedness; and for the raising of the body to life, and to such a perfect state, that it shall be suitable for a habitation and organ for a soul so perfected and blessed. These are the most glorious effects of the power of God, that are seen in the series of God's acts with respect to the creatures.

Man was dependent on the power of God in his first estate, but he is more dependent on his power now; he needs God's power to do more things for him, and depends on the more wonderful exercise of his power. It was an effect of the power of God to make man holy at the first; but more remarkably so now, because there is a great deal of opposition and difficulty in the way. It is a more glorious effect of power to make that holy that was so depraved, and under the dominion [Read Romans 6:19-21, 7:13-20] of sin, that to confer holiness on that which before had nothing of the contrary. It is a more glorious work of power to rescue a soul out of the hands of the devil, and from the powers of darkness, and to bring it into a state of salvation, than to confer holiness where there was no prepossession or opposition. "When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armor wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils" (Read Luke 11:21-22). So it is a more glorious work of power to uphold a soul in a state of grace and holiness, and to carry it on till it is brought to glory, when there is so much sin remaining in the heart resisting, and Satan with all his might opposing, than it would have been to have kept man from falling at first, when Satan had nothing in man.

They are also dependent on God for all, as they have all through him. It is God that is the medium of it, as well as the author and fountain of it. All that we have, wisdom, and the pardon of sin, deliverance from hell, acceptance in God's favor, grace and holiness, true comfort and happiness, eternal life and glory, we have from God by a Mediator, which Mediator we have an absolute dependence upon as he through whom we receive all. So that here is another way wherein we have our dependence on God for all good. God not only gives us the Mediator, and accepts his mediation, and of his power and grace bestows the things purchased by the Mediator, but he is the Mediator. [Read Galatians 3:20; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6]

Our blessings are what we have by purchase; and the purchase is made of God, the blessings are purchased of him, and God gives the purchaser; and not only so, but God is the purchaser. Yea, God is both the purchaser and the price; for Christ, who is God, purchased these blessings for us, by offering up himself as the price of our salvation. He purchased eternal life by the sacrifice of himself. "He offered up himself" (Read Hebrews 7:27) and "He hath appeared to take away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Read Hebrews 9:26). Indeed it was the human nature that was offered; but it was the same person with the divine, and therefore was an infinite price; it was looked upon as if God had been offered in sacrifice.

As we thus have our good through God, we have a dependence on God in a respect that man in his first estate had not. Man was to have eternal life then through his own righteousness; so that he had partly a dependence upon what was in himself; for we have a dependence upon that through which we have our good, as well as that from which we have it; and though man's righteousness that he then depended on was indeed from God, yet it was his own, it was inherent in himself; so that his dependence was not so immediately on God. But now the righteousness that we are dependent on is not in ourselves, but in God. We are saved through the righteousness of Christ: he is made unto us righteousness; and therefore is prophesied of under that name, "the Lord our righteousness" (Read Jeremiah 23:6). In that the righteousness we are justified by is the righteousness of Christ, it is the righteousness of God: "That we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (Read 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Thus in redemption we have not only all things of God, but by and through him: "But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." (Read 1 Corinthians 8:6).

Sunday, March 12, 2017

God Glorified In Man's Dependence
Part 1
by Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades

29 That no flesh should rejoice in his presence.30 But ye are of him in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.31 That, according as it is written, He that rejoiceth, let him rejoice in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:29-31

Those Christians to whom the apostle directed this epistle dwelt in a part of the world where human wisdom was in great repute; as the apostle observes in the 22d verse of this chapter, "The Greeks seek after wisdom." Corinth was not far from Athens, that had been for many ages the most famous seat of philosophy and learning in the world.

The apostle therefore observes to them, how that God, by the gospel, destroyed and brought to nought their human wisdom. The learned Grecians, and their great philosophers, by all their wisdom did not know God: they were not able to find out the truth in divine things. But after they had done their utmost to no effect, it pleased God at length to reveal himself by the gospel, which they accounted foolishness. He "chose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and the base things of the world, and things that are despised, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought the things that are." [Read 1 Corinthians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 2:14] And the apostle informs them why he thus did, in the verse of the text; That no flesh should glory in his presence.

In which words may be observed,

1. What God aims at in the disposition of things in the affair of redemption, viz., that man should not glory in himself, but alone in God; That no flesh should glory in his presence,-that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

2. How this end is attained in the work of redemption, viz., by that absolute and immediate dependence which men have upon God in that work for all their good.

First. All the good that they have is in and throught Christ; He is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. All the good of the fallen and redeemed creature is concerned in these four things, and cannot be better distributed than into them; but Christ is each of them to us, and we have none of them any otherwise than in him.[Read Isaiah 64:6] He is made of God unto us wisdom: in him are all the proper good and true excellency of the understanding. Wisdom was a thing that the Greeks admired; but Christ is the true light of the world, it is through him alone that true wisdom is imparted to the mind. It is in and by Christ that we have righteousness-. it is by being in him that we are justified, have our sins pardoned, and are received as righteous into God's favor. It is by Christ that we have sanctification: we have in him true excellency of heart as well as of understanding; and he is made unto us inherent, as well as imputed righteousness. It is by Christ that we have redemption, or actual deliverance from all misery, and the bestowment of all happiness and glory. Thus we have all our good by Christ, who is God. Another instance wherein our dependence on God for all our good appears, is this, That it is God that has given us Christ, that we might have these benefits through him; he of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, &c. It is of him that we are in Christ Jesus, and come to have an interest in him, and so do receive those blessings which he is made unto us. It is God that gives us faith whereby we close with Christ.

There is an absolute and universal dependence of the redeemed on God. The nature and contrivance of our redemption is such, that the the redeemed are in every thing directly immediately, and entirely dependent on God: they are dependent on him for all, and are dependent on him every way.

The several ways wherein the dependence of one being may be upon another for its good, and wherein the redeemed of Jesus Christ depend on God for all their good, are these, viz., that they have all their good of him, and that they have all through him, and that they have all in him: that he is the cause and original whence all their good comes, therein it is of him; and that he is the medium by which it is obtained and conveyed, therein they have it through him; and that he is that good itself that is given and conveyed, therein it is in him.

Now those that are redeemed by Jesus Christ do, in all these repects, very directly and entirely depend on God for their all. The redeemed have all their good of God; God is the great author of it; he is the first cause of it, and not only so, but he is the only proper cause. It is of God that we have our Redeemer: it is God that has provided a Saviour for us. Jesus Christ is not only of God in his person, as he is the only begotten Son of God, but he is from God, as we are concerned in him, and in his office of Mediator; he is the gift of God to us: God chose and anointed him, appointed him his work, and sent him into the world. And as it is God that gives, so it is God that accepts the Saviour. As it is God that provides and gives the Redeemer to buy salvation for us, so it is of God that salvation is bought: he gives the purchaser, and he affords the thing purchased.

It is of God that Christ becomes ours, that we are brought to him, and are united to him: it is of God that we receive faith to close with him, that we may have an interest in him. "For by grace ye are saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" [Read Ephesians 2:8]. It is of God that we actually do receive all the benefits that Christ has purchased. It is God that pardons and justifies, and delivers from going down to hell, and it is his favor that the redeemed are received into, and are made the objects of, when they are justified. So it is God that delivers from the dominion of sin, and cleanses us from our filthiness, and changes us from our deformity. [Read 2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15] It is of God that the redeemed do receive all their true excellency, wisdom, and holiness; and that two ways, viz., as the Holy Ghost, by whom these things are immediately wrought, is from God, proceeds from him, and is sent by him; and also as the Holy Ghost himself is God, by whose operation and indwelling [Read John 14:17], the knowledge of divine things, and a holy disposition, and all grace, are conferred and upheld.

And though means are made use of in conferring grace on men's souls, yet it is of God that we have these means of grace, and it is God that makes them effectual. It is of God that we have the holy Scriptures; they are the word of God. It is of God that we have ordinances, and their efficacy depends on the immediate influence of the Spirit of God. The ministers of the gospel are sent of God, and all their sufficiency is of him. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" [Read 2 Corinthians 4:7]. Their success depends entirely and absolutely on the immediate blessing and influence of God. The redeemed have all.

Of the grace of God. It was of mere grace that God gave us his only begotten Son. The grace is great in proportion to the dignity and excellency of what is given: the gift was infinitely precious, because it was a person infinitely worthy, a person of infinite glory; and also because it was a person infinitely near and dear to God. The grace is great in proportion to the benefit we have given us in him: the benefit is doubly infinite, in that in him we have deliverance from an infinite, because an eternal misery; and do also receive eternal joy and glory. The grace in bestowing this gift is great in proportion to our unworthiness to whom it is given; instead of deserving such a gift, we merited infinitely ill of God's hands. The grace is great according to the manner of giving, or in proportion to the humiliation and expense of the method and means by which way is made for our having the gift. He gave him to us dwelling amongst us; he gave him to us incarnate, or in our nature; he gave him to us in our nature, in the like infirmities, in which we have it in our fallen state, and which in us do accompany, and are occasioned by the sinful corruption of our nature. He gave him to us in a low and afflicted state; and not only so, but he gave him to us slain, that he might be a feast for our souls.

The grace of God in bestowing this gift is most free. It was what God was under no obligation to bestow: he might have rejected fallen man, as he did the fallen angels. It was what we never did any thing to merit; it was given while we were yet enemies, and before we had so much as repented. It was from the love of God that saw no excellency in us to attract it; and it was without expectation of ever being requited for it. And it is from mere grace that the benefits of Christ are applied to such and such particular persons. Those that are called and sanctified are to attribute it alone to the good pleasure of God's goodness, by which they are distinguished. He is sovereign, and hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will, he hardens.

Man hath now a greater dependence on the grace of God than he had before the fall. He depends on the free goodness of God for much more than he did then: then he depended on God's goodness for conferring the reward of perfect obedience: for God was not obliged to promise and bestow that reward: but now we are dependent on the grace of God for much more: we stand in need of grace, not only to bestow glory upon us, but to deliver us from hell and eternal wrath. Under the first covenant we depended on God's goodness to give us the reward of righteousness; and so we do now. And not only so, but we stand in need of God's free and sovereign grace to give us that righteousness; and yet not only so, but we stand in need of his grace to pardon our sin, and release us from the guilt and infinite demerit of it.

And as we are dependent on the goodness of God for more now than under the first covenant, so we are dependent on a much greater, more free and wonderful goodness. We are now more dependent on God's arbitrary and sovereign good pleasure. We were in our first estate dependent on God for holiness: we had our original righteousness from him; but then holiness was not bestowed in such a way of sovereign good pleasure as it is now. Man was created holy, and it became God to create holy all the reasonable creatures he created: it would have been a disparagement to the holiness of God's nature, if he had made an intelligent creature unholy. But now when a man is made holy, it is from mere and arbitrary grace; God may forever deny holiness to the fallen creature if he pleases, without any disparagement to any of his perfections.

And we are not only indeed more dependent on the grace of God, but our dependence is much more conspicuous, because our own insufficiency and helplessness in ourselves is much more apparent in our fallen and undone state, than it was before we were either sinful or miserable. We are more apparently dependent on God for holiness, because we are first sinful, and utterly polluted, and afterwards holy: so the production of the effect is sensible, and its derivation from God more obvious. If man was ever holy and always was so, it would not be so apparent, that he had not holiness necessarily, as an inseparable qualification of human nature. So we are more apparently dependent on free grace for the favor of God, for we are first justly the objects of his displeasure and afterwards are received into favor. We are more apparently dependent on God for happiness, being first miserable, and afterwards happy. It is more apparently free and without merit in us, because we are actually without any kind of excellency to merit, if there could be any such thing as merit in creature excellency. And we are not only without any true excellency, but are full of, and wholly defiled with, that which is infinitely odious. All our good is more apparently from God, because we are first naked and wholly without any good, and afterwards enriched with all good.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Be Ye Also Ready
By Matthew Henry
Edited by Dr. Rikor Von Zhades

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

40 Be ye also prepared therefore: for the Son of man will come at an hour when ye think not.
The Gospel According to Luke 12:40


This may be understood either of a readiness to meet the Lord in the way of his judgments, and of a preparation for death, and the last judgment, which lies in the righteousness of Christ imputed, and his grace imparted: and to have a comfortable view of the one, and a gracious experience of the other, as they will engage to the performance of good works, to which such are ready; so they make meet for the coming of Christ, be it in what way, and whensoever it will: and the rather, a concern should be had for such a preparation. Which as it is said to be like a thief in the night, expresses the suddenness of it, may excite to watchfulness and readiness; which readiness is to be understood, not of a readiness to do the will and work of God, though this is absolutely necessary; as to watch and pray, to hear the word preached, to confess Christ, and give a reason of the hope that is in us, to communicate to the support of the cause and interest of Christ, and to suffer for his sake; but of a preparedness to meet the Lord in the way of his judgments, when desolating judgments are coming on the earth, such as these in Jerusalem; by faith and trust in the power, providence, and care of God; by humiliation before him, and resignation to his will: and if this can be applied to a readiness for a future state after death; for the second coming of Christ, and last judgment, This lies not in a dependence on the absolute mercy of God; nor in an external humiliation for sin; nor in an abstinence from grosser sins, or in mere negative holiness; nor in any outward, legal, civil, and moral righteousness; nor in a submission to Gospel ordinances; nor in a mere profession of religion; but in being in Christ, having on his righteousness, and being washed in his blood; and also in regeneration and sanctification, in having true knowledge of Christ, and faith in him; for all which it becomes men to be concerned, as also all believers to be actually, as well as habitually ready; being in the lively exercise of grace, and cheerful discharge of duty, though without trusting to either. And such a readiness in either branch of it, is not of themselves, but lies in the grace of God, which gives a meetness for glory; and in the righteousness of Christ, the fine linen, clean and white, which being granted by him, his people are made ready for him: and as for their faith, and the exercise of it, and their constant performance of duty, these are not from the strength of nature and the power of freewill, but from the Spirit of God and his grace; who makes ready a people prepared for the Lord, and all according to the ancient settlements of grace, in which provision is made for the vessels of mercy, afore prepared for glory: though there should be a studious concern in men for such readiness, for nothing is more certain than death, and nothing more uncertain than when it will be; and after death, no readiness can be had, but he that is then righteous, shall be righteous still, and he that is filthy, shall be filthy still(a), and a deathbed is by no means to be trusted to; and though a person may not be snatched away suddenly, but may have space given him to repent, yet if grace is not given him, to repent and believe in Christ, he never will; the grave is ready for men, and in a little time all will be brought to this house, appointed for all living, where there is no wisdom, knowledge, and device; and
therefore whatever we are directed to do, should be now done, with all that might, and strength, and grace, that is given us; to which may be added, that after death comes judgment; the day is fixed, the judge is appointed, and all must stand before his judgment seat; and nothing is more sure than that Christ will come a second time, to judge both quick and dead; and happy will those be that are ready; they will be received by Christ into everlasting habitations, and be for ever with him: and miserable will those be, who will not be ready, who will not have the oil of grace in their hearts with their lamps, nor the wedding garment on them; they will be shut out, and bid to depart into everlasting burnings: how fit and proper is such an advice and exhortation as this, "be ye also ready"

(a) 1 See Hosea 14:10; 1 John 9-10

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Sunday Sermon
Having the Form,  But Denying the Power 
(Part 1)
by B.H. Carroll  
Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades

-Having a form of Godliness but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. - 
2 Timothy 3:5

Everything in this world takes on a form, and the form serves an excellent purpose; it  is by no means to be despised, but the form by itself is nothing. You may understand  the two thoughts by selecting from a tree a ripe hickory nut, fully ripe. Now, there is  a form around it; that form is for its protection; first, the form of the hull, and then of  the shell, but sometimes you find one that has an external seeming, yet it feels very  light and there is nothing in it; now, there is a mere form -- an empty shell.

The apostle here declares that in the last days there shall be a class of Christians who  have the form of Godliness, but who deny its power, or, as he expresses it they profess that they know God, but in works they deny it, and that here may be no misunderstanding about this class, he describes their characteristics. (Titus 1:16;)

They are selfish people; they love themselves; they love silver; covetous -- that is what the word in the original means, lovers of silver-they are proud, heady,  unthankful people; they receive favors and are not grateful for them. They have no  respect for the relations of life; as children, they are disobedient to their parents; as  wives, they are disobedient to their husbands; as those who have entered into a  covenant, they break the agreements that they have made with other people’; nothing  binding; no sort of an agreement that is made with them will hold. (James 5:12;) They consider not that they are bound by obligations into which they enter with other men; they are  treacherous; they are blasphemers; they love pleasure more than they love God. ( 2 Timothy 3:4;)  Now, those are some of the characteristics of these people.

He says that when that class prevail it makes perilous times, hazardous, dangerous  times; when those who claim to be Christians are only shells, empty shells; when they  have the form of Godliness and deny its power; when they profess to be Christians  and in their lives go directly contrary to the teachings of Christianity. (Matthew 23:27;) If he is an old  man and a Christian, he will be sober, grave, temperate, sound in the faith; if she is  an old woman, she, too, will be sober and grave, and a thoughtful teacher of younger  women, and if she be a young woman and a Christian, she will be chaste and  discreet, and love her husband, and love her children, and will regard it as a religious  obligation to take due care of her home; if it is a servant and a Christian, that servant  will be impelled by his Christianity to do faithful, honest service for the wages that are  paid; not answering back to his employer, not stealing little things, purloining; not one  who serves as under the eye of another, an eye servant, but one who, whether the  master is present and looking on or not, for conscience’s sake renders a faithful  amount of work for the compensation which is paid. (Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 4:11; Galatians 6:6;)

Now, it does seem to me that there is an opportunity at this time in the world for the  highest and holiest demonstration of Christianity ever known in the case of  employees. There is a vast deal of unhealthy sentimentalism prevalent, that kind of  sentimentalism which encourages a man to think that an employer is necessarily a  tyrant; that an employer is necessarily an oppressor of the poor. Oh! What a  revolution it would work, if throughout the length and breadth of this land today all  employees who claim to be Christians would for Christ’s sake do genuine honest  work when they are paid to do the work; that they would give fair service, and that  they would not rely upon this unhealthy sentimentalism that leads men to think that a  contract does not mean anything; that a man’s obligation amounts to nothing; that a  question of honor is nothing ( Leviticus 19:15;)

I do not hesitate to say today that if I were not a preacher, and I knew how to  perform such service, I would like to be for a short time a cook, just to show what  honest, faithful service ought to be in that department, in order to adorn the principles  of the Christian religion. There is a state of demagogism prevalent which arises from the dominion of politics that is absolutely sapping the vitals of a sturdy, rigorous manhood.

Christianity does teach a man to be honest; it does teach that he shall give fair service  for a fair compensation; it does teach that men as they get older should become riper  for salvation; it does teach that in the home its graces should be illustrated; it does  teach that in matters of obligation and word we should be faithful; and this is true,  sound doctrine, the doctrine preached by the apostle, and who, while himself poor  and a laborer, took that high moral ground that if a man would not labor he should  not eat; that he was not entitled to it, and I do believe that if we would, for Christ’s  sake, frown down upon beggary as coming from strong men, that kind of sponging  on others when there is strength in the right arm, when there is ability to render good  service; I believe if we would, for Christ’s sake, frown down upon it, that we would  have a more vigorous, sturdy manhood among our people.

Now, do not misunderstand me. While I have not, as a Christian, one atom of  respect for the demagogy that is debauching the morals of the masses of the people  --not an atom--  neither have I for that power of wealth, for that power of  monopoly that would, under the guise of contract, grind a man to powder and crush  his very soul out of him. ( 2 Peter 2:19;) What I mean to say is, that it is a practical teaching of  Christianity and one that is too much ignored, that for Christ’s sake we ought to be  faithful men and women in every department of life. It is contrary to the life of Jesus  Christ and His precepts to make religion a cloak for idleness in any direction, or for a trifling character. ( Galatians 5:13; James 1:25; James 2:12; 1 Peter 2:16;)

I thought it right --I thought the times called for the pressing of this primal thought of  the text, that a man who professes to be a Christian and has a form of Godliness is  under obligation to recognize the power of that Christianity in the little things of life,  and in the business of life, and in our homes, and in all of our social interchanges. ( 1 Corinthians 10:31;)

Unquestionably that is the teaching of Jesus Christ and all His apostles and we can  be faithful to Jesus by attending to the smallest details of household affairs. We can  recognize the light of the authority of Jesus Christ by being careful concerning the  most insignificant duty of this life, and it is by the massing together of these little things  that a great character is ever formed. A great character is never formed by an  exceptional act; it is never brought about by some sensational surrounding; it is the  development, it is the outgrowth of habit, and by attention to everything that is right in  the sight of God, making His teachings the rule of our life in the most infinitesimal affairs. (a)

(a) Editor’s notation - In order to fully appreciate this last sentence, it is suggested the reading of Psalm 119 in its entirety. Focus on such words/expressions  as, precepts, instruction, your ways, your words. In it the Psalmist David gives glory to God by living his life according to His Word. 
Dr. RVZ – Servant of the King Jesus Christ

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Christ Revealing the Father
by F.B. Meyer (1847-1929)

Philip saith unto Him, Lord, shew us the Father and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father - John 14:8-9

The longing of the universal heart of man was voiced by Philip, when he broke in, rather abruptly, on our Lord's discourse with the challenge that He should answer all questions, dissipate all doubt, by showing them the Father. Is there a God? how can I be sure that He is? what does He feel toward us?--these are questions which men persistently ask, and wait for the reply. And the Master gave the only satisfactory answer that has ever been uttered in the hearing of mankind, when He said in effect, "The knowledge of God must be conveyed, not in words or books, in symbols or types, but in a life. To know Me, to believe in Me, to come into contact with Me, is to know the deepest heart of God. 'He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?'"

It bore witness to the possible growth of the human soul. Only three short years before, as we are told in the first chapter of this Gospel, Christ had found him. At that time he was probably much as the young men of his age and standing. Not specially remarkable save for an interest in, and an earnestness about, the advent of the Messiah; his views, however, of his person and work were limited and narrow: he looked for his advent as the time for the reestablishment of the kingdom of David, and deliverance from the Roman yoke. But three years of fellowship with Jesus had made a wonderful difference in this young disciple. The deepest mysteries of life and death and heaven seemed within his reach. He is not now content with beholding the Messiah, he is eager to know the Father, and to stand within the inner circle of His presence-chamber.

The highest watermark ever touched by the great soul of Moses was when he said, amid the sublimities of Sinai, "I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory." But in this aspiration Philip stands beside him. There is a close kinship between the mighty lawgiver and the fishermen of Bethsaida. How little there is to choose between, "Show me Thy glory," and "Show us the Father." Great and marvelous is the capacity of the soul for growth!

It truly interpreted the need of man.--"It sufficeth us." From nature, with all her voices that speak of God's power and Godhead; from the page of history, indented with the print of God's footprints; from type and ceremony and temple, though instituted by God Himself; even from the unrivalled beauty of our Saviour's earthly life--these men turned unsatisfied, unfilled, and said, "We are not yet content, but if Thou wouldest show us the Father, we should be."
And would it not suffice us?--Would it not be sufficient to give new zest and reality to prayer, if we could realize that it might be as familiar as the talk of home, or like the petitioning of a little child? Would it not suffice to make the most irksome work pleasant, if we could look up and discern the Father's good pleasure and smile of approval? Would it not suffice to rob pain of its sting, if we could detect the Father's hands adjusting the heat of the furnace? Would it not suffice to shed a light across the dark mystery of death, if we felt that the Father was waiting to lead us through the shadows to Himself? How often the cry rises from sad and almost despairing hearts, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us."
But surely this request was based on a mistake: Philip wanted a visible theophany, like that which Moses beheld, when the majestic procession swept down the mountain pass; or as the elders saw, when they beheld the paved sapphire work; or after the fashion of the visions vouchsafed to Elijah, Isaiah, or Ezekiel. He wanted to see the Father. But how can you make wisdom, or love, or purity visible, save in a human life?

Yet this is the mistake we are all liable to make. We feel that there must be an experience, a vision, a burst of light, a sensible manifestation, before we can know the Father. We strain after some unique and extraordinary presentation of the Deity, especially in the aspect of Fatherhood, before we can be completely satisfied, and thus we miss the lesson of the present hour. Philip was so absorbed in his quest for the transcendent and sublime, that he missed the revelations of the Father which for three years had been passing under his eyes. God had been manifesting His tenderest and most characteristic attributes by the beauty of the Master's life, but Philip had failed to discern them; till now the Master bids him go back on the photographs of those years, as fixed in his memory, to see in a thousand tiny illustrations how truly the Father dwelt in Him, and lived through His every word and work.

Are you straining after the vision of God, startled by every footstep, intently listening till the very atmosphere shall become audible, expecting an overwhelming spectacle? In all likelihood you will miss all. The kingdom comes not with outward show. When men expected Christ to come by the front door, He stole in at the back. Whilst Philip was waiting for the Father to be shown in thunder and lightning, in startling splendor, in the stately majesty that might become the Highest, he missed the daily unfolding of the Divine Nature that was being afforded in the Life with which he dwelt in daily contact.

Philip's request emphasized the urgent need of the ministry of the Holy Spirit.--"If ye had known Me". . . the Saviour said. "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me?" They failed to know the Father, because they failed to know Christ, and they failed in this because they knew Him only after the flesh. They were so familiar with Him as their Friend, His love was so natural, tender, and human, He had become so closely identified with all their daily existence, that they did not recognize the fire that shone behind the porcelain, the Deity that tabernacled beneath the frail curtains.

Often those who dwell amid the loveliest or grandest scenery miss the beauty which is unveiled to strangers from a distance. Certain lives have to be withdrawn from us before we understand how fair they were, and how much to us. And Jesus had to leave His disciples before they could properly appreciate Him. The Holy Spirit must needs take of the things of Christ, and reveal them, before they could realize their true significance, symmetry, and beauty.
Two things are needful, then: first, we must know Christ through the teaching of the Holy Ghost; and next, we must receive Him into our hearts, that we may know Him, as we know the workings of our own hearts. Each knows himself, and could recognize the mint-mark of his own individuality; so when Christ has become resident within us, and has taken the place of our self-life, we know Him as we know ourselves. "What man knoweth the things of man save the spirit of man which is in him?--but we have the mind of Christ?"

He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father."

He did not rebuke the request, as unfit to proffer, or impossible to satisfy. He took it for granted that such a desire would exist in the heart, and that His disciples would always want to be led by Him into the Father's presence. In this His ministry resembled that of the great forerunner, who led His disciples into the presence of the Bridegroom, content to decrease if only He might increase. The Master's answer was, however, widely different from John's. The forerunner pointed to Jesus as He walked, and said, "Behold the Lamb of God"; Jesus pointed to Himself, and said, "I and My Father are One; to have seen Me is to have seen the Father; to have Me is to possess the Father."

It troubled the Lord greatly that He had been so long time with them, and yet they had not known Him; that they had not realized the source of His words and works; that they had concentrated their thought on Him, instead of passing, as He meant them to do, from the stream to the source, from the die to the seal, from the beam of the Divine Glory to its Sun. He bade them, therefore, from that moment realize that they knew and had seen the Father in knowing and seeing Himself. Not more surely had the Shechinah dwelt in the tabernacle of old, than did it indwell His nature, though too thickly shrouded to be seen by ordinary and casual eyes.

Let us get help from this. Many complain that they know Christ, pray to Christ, are conscious of Christ, but that the Father is far away and impalpable. They are therefore straining after some new vision or experience of God, and undervaluing the religious life to which they have already attained. It is a profound mistake. To have Jesus is to have God; to know Jesus is to know God; to pray to Jesus is to pray to God. Jesus is God manifest in the flesh. Look up to Him even now from this printed page, and say, "My Lord and my God."

Jesus is not simply an incarnation of God in the sense in which, after the fashion of the Greek mythology, gods might come down in the likeness of men, adopting a disguise which they would afterward cast aside; Jesus is God. All the gentle attributes of His nature are God's; and all the strong and awful attributes of power, justice, purity, which we are wont to associate with God, are His also.

Happy is the moment when we awake to realize that in Jesus we have God manifest and present; to know this is the revelation of the Father by the Son, of which our Saviour spoke in Matthew 11:27.

This Gospel is the most lucid and profound treatise in existence on His inner life. It is the revelation of the principles on which our Saviour lived. So absolutely had He emptied Himself that He never spake His own words: "The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of Myself." He never did His own works: "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. . . . The Father abiding in Me doeth His works." This was the result of that marvellous self-emptying of which the Apostle speaks. Our Lord speaks as though, in His human nature, He had a choice and will of His own. "Not My will, but Thine be done," was His prayer. Perhaps it was to this holy and divine personality that Satan made appeal in the first temptation, bidding Him use His powers for the satisfaction of His hunger, and in independence of His Father's appointment. But however much of this independence was within our Lord's reach, He deliberately laid it aside. Before He spoke, His spirit opened itself to the Father, that He might speak by His lips; before He acted. He stilled the promptings of His own wisdom, and lifted Himself into the presence of the Father, to ascertain what He was doing, and to receive the inflow of His energy (Read John 5:19; John 12:44, John 12:49).

These are great mysteries, which will engage our further consideration. In the meanwhile, let us reason that if our Lord was so careful to subordinate Himself to the Father that He might be all in all, it well becomes us to restrain ourselves, to abstain from speaking our own words or doing our own works, that Jesus may pour His energies through our being, and that those searching words may be fulfilled in us also, "Striving according to His working, which worketh in Me mightily."