Sunday, December 4, 2016



Of Prayer Part Two
by John Calvin Translated by Henry Beveridge - 1845
Prefaced and Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades



Preface
Brethren:

This editor has stated this before, but it is felt that it bares repeating. Back in 1969, the Doors put out an album called the Soft Parade. The title track opened with Jim Morrison sounding imitating a preacher of some sort, reflecting on his years in seminary school. In essence he stated that one could not “petition the Lord with Prayer”. However, those of us, that are of faith and in God’s word know better; for in fact, He encourages us to have a relationship with Him through prayer, and all our divers failings, temptations and tribulations be brought before Him via this medium. Additionally today, dear reader, it is suggested that one meditate on the following of scriptur James 1:6-8, 4:8, 5:16 Ephesians 4:14; 1Peter 4:7  Therefore please find herein below part two of John Calvin’s essay on prayer. - Doktor Riktor Von Zhades - Disciple of our Lord, Jesus Christ

The first rule of right prayer [ought to] be, to have our heart and mind framed as becomes those who are entering into converse with God. This we shall accomplish in regard to the mind, if, laying aside carnal thoughts and cares which might interfere with the direct and pure contemplation of God, it not only be wholly intent on prayer, but also, as far as possible, be borne and raised above itself. I do not here insist on a mind so disengaged as to feel none of the gnawings of anxiety; on the contrary, it is by much anxiety that the fervour of prayer is inflamed. Thus we see that the holy servants of God betray great anguish, not to say solicitude, when they cause the voice of complaint to ascend to the Lord from the deep abyss and the jaws of death. What I say is, that all foreign and extraneous cares must be dispelled by which the mind might be driven to and fro in vague suspense, be drawn down from heaven, and kept grovelling on the earth. When I say it must be raised above itself, I mean that it must not bring into the presence of God any of those things which our blind and stupid reason is wont to devise, nor keep itself confined within the little measure of its own vanity, but rise to a purity worthy of God.

Both things are specially worthy of notice. First, let every one in professing to pray turn thither all his thoughts and feelings, and be not (as is usual) distracted by wandering thoughts; because nothing is more contrary to the reverence due to God than that levity which bespeaks a mind too much given to license and devoid of fear. In this matter we ought to labour the more earnestly the more difficult we experience it to be; for no man is so intent on prayer as not to feel many thoughts creeping in, and either breaking off the tenor of his prayer, or retarding it by some turning or digression. Here let us consider how unbecoming it is when God admits us to familiar intercourse to abuse his great condescension by mingling things sacred and profane, reverence for him not keeping our minds under restraint; but just as if in prayer we were conversing with one like ourselves forgetting him, and allowing our thoughts to run to and fro. Let us know, then, that none duly prepare themselves for prayer but those who are so impressed with the majesty of God that they engage in it free from all earthly cares and affections. The ceremony of lifting up our hands in prayer is designed to remind us that we are far removed from God, unless our thoughts rise upward: as it is said in the psalm, "Unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul" (Read Psalm 25:1). And Scripture repeatedly uses the expression to raise our prayers meaning that those who would be heard by God must not grovel in the mire. The sum is, that the more liberally God deals with us, condescendingly inviting us to disburden our cares into his bosom, the less excusable we are if this admirable and incomparable blessing does not in our estimation outweigh all other things, and win our affection, that prayer may seriously engage our every thought and feeling. This cannot be unless our mind, strenuously exerting itself against all impediments, rise upward.

Our second proposition [is], that we are to ask only in so far as God permits. For though he bids us pour out our hearts (Read Psalm 62:8), he does not indiscriminately give loose reins to foolish and depraved affections; and when he promises that he will grant believers their wish, his indulgence does not proceed so far as to submit to their caprice1. In both matters grievous delinquencies are everywhere committed. For not only do many without modesty, without reverence, presume to invoke God concerning their frivolities, but impudently bring forward their dreams, whatever they may be, before the tribunal of God. Such is the folly or stupidity under which they labour, that they have the hardihood to obtrude upon God desires so vile, that they would blush exceedingly to impart them to their fellow men. Profane writers have derided and even expressed their detestation of this presumption, and yet the vice has always prevailed. Hence, as the ambitious adopted Jupiter as their patron; the avaricious, Mercury; the literary aspirants, Apollo and Minerva; the warlike, Mars; the licentious, Venus: so in the present day, as I lately observed, men in prayer give greater license to their unlawful desires than if they were telling jocular tales among their equals. God does not suffer his condescension to be thus mocked, but vindicating his own light, places our wishes under the restraint of his authority. We must, therefore, attend to the observation of John: "This is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us" (Read 1 John 5:14)2.

But as our faculties are far from being able to attain to such high perfection, we must seek for some means to assist them. As the eye of our mind should be intent upon God, so the affection of our heart ought to follow in the same course. But both fall far beneath this, or rather, they faint and fail, and are carried in a contrary direction. To assist this weakness, God gives us the guidance of the Spirit in our prayers to dictate what is right, and regulate our affections. For seeing "we know not what we should pray for as we ought," "the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Read Romans 8:26) not that he actually prays or groans, but he excites in us sighs, and wishes, and confidence, which our natural powers are not at all able to conceive. Nor is it without cause Paul gives the name of groanings which cannot be uttered to the prayers which believers send forth under the guidance of the Spirit. For those who are truly exercised in prayer are not unaware that blind anxieties so restrain and perplex them, that they can scarcely find what it becomes them to utter; nay, in attempting to lisp they halt and hesitate. Hence it appears that to pray aright is a special gift. We do not speak thus in indulgence to our sloths as if we were to leave the office of prayer to the Holy Spirit, and give way to that carelessness to which we are too prone. Thus we sometimes hear the impious expression, that we are to wait in suspense until he take possession of our minds while otherwise occupied. Our meaning is, that, weary of our own heartlessness and sloth, we are to long for the aid of the Spirit. Nor, indeed, does Paul, when he enjoins us to pray in the Spirit (Read 1 Corinthians 14:15), cease to exhort us to vigilance, intimating, that while the inspiration of the Spirit is effectual to the formation of prayer, it by no means impedes or retards our own endeavours; since in this matter God is pleased to try how efficiently faith influences our hearts.

1 Editor’s notation - Be careful for what you pray for. If I might be allowed to digress from the reading above with personal relation of a story. One time this editor and family were hurting in a big way. It is recalled that while walking down the road to the rail station, I uttered in a voice of desperation “ oh Lord, I don’t need a lot of lotto (that is a lottery), just a little bit would do nicely. The next day my winning ticket yielded one dollar. One could picture in one’s mind, God, saying, “I gave you what you wanted, now get to the back of the prayer line”
2 Editor’s notation - Take heed in the scripture the words “according to His will”. This is say, not to seek vain things, or treasures that will canker and be moth eaten by the whims of this carnal world

Sunday, November 27, 2016





Of Prayer Part One
by John Calvin Translated by Henry Beveridge - 1845
Prefaced and Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades

Preface
Brethren:

It behooves us to continually have communication with our Father. It is not, as some might suggest to be a waste of time as He already knows our needs and will gladly provide them for us. Nay, it is because He wants to be in commune with us, not for His sake but for ours. It is for our joy, and to be as He is, and as such to emulate the Father, one must speak with Him.

Likewise when we pray, we demonstrate our trust in Him. To know that they will indeed be answered, and said answer will be the best decision for us. Remember that the expectation of answered prayer is all we ask of Him. His answers will be forthcoming, perhaps immediately, perhaps later onward, but they will be answered. Such is the nature of our Father who wishes us to seek Him, in all things, and in all things seek Him in prayer. - Dr. Riktor Von Zhades - Disciple in the service of our Lord, Christ Jesus.

[In every era throughout history], we can clearly see how completely destitute man is of all good, how devoid of every means of procuring his own salvation. Hence, if he would obtain succour in his necessity, he must go beyond himself, and procure it in some other quarter. It has farther been shown that the Lord kindly and spontaneously manifests himself in Christ, in whom he offers all happiness for our misery, all abundance for our want, opening up the treasures of heaven to us, so that we may turn with full faith to his beloved Son, depend upon him with full expectation, rest in him, and cleave to him with full hope. This, indeed, is that secret and hidden philosophy which cannot be learned by syllogisms: a philosophy thoroughly understood by those whose eyes God has so opened as to see light in his light (Read Psalm 36:9). But after we have learned by faith to know that whatever is necessary for us or defective in us is supplied in God and in our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom it hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell, that we may thence draw as from an inexhaustible fountain, it remains for us to seek and in prayer implore of him what we have learned to be in him. To know God as the sovereign disposer of all good, inviting us to present our requests, and yet not to approach or ask of him, were so far from availing us, that it were just as if one told of a treasure were to allow it to remain buried in the ground [Read Matthew 13:43-45]. Hence the Apostle, to show that a faith unaccompanied with prayer to God cannot be genuine, states this to be the order: As faith springs from the Gospel, so by faith our hearts are framed to call upon the name of God (Read Romans 10:14). And this is the very thing which he had expressed some time before, viz., that the Spirit of adoption, which seals the testimony of the Gospel on our hearts, gives us courage to make our requests known unto God, calls forth groanings which cannot be uttered, and enables us to cry, Abba, Father (Read Romans 8:26).

To prayer, then, are we indebted for penetrating to those riches which are treasured up for us with our heavenly Father, [ Read Matthew 6:19-21]. For there is a kind of intercourse between God and men, by which, having entered the upper sanctuary1, they appear before Him and appeal to his promises, that when necessity requires they may learn by experiences that what they believed merely on the authority of his word was not in vain. Accordingly, we see that nothing is set before us as an object of expectation from the Lord which we are not enjoined to ask of Him in prayer, so true it is that prayer digs up those treasures which the Gospel of our Lord discovers to the eye of faith. The necessity and utility of this exercise of prayer no words can sufficiently express. Assuredly it is not without cause our heavenly Father declares that our only safety is in calling upon his name, since by it we invoke the presence of his providence to watch over our interests, of his power to sustain us when weak and almost fainting, of his goodness to receive us into favour, though miserably loaded with sin; in fine, call upon him to manifest himself to us in all his perfections. Hence, admirable peace and tranquillity are given to our consciences; for the straits by which we were pressed being laid before the Lord, we rest fully satisfied with the assurance that none of our evils are unknown to him, and that he is both able and willing to make the best provision for us.

1 Editor’s thought - That we may now enter into the holy of holies without the need of a priest to speak on our behalf, for we already have a high priest, that has sacrificed Himself on our behalf, and as such has declared us to be righteous to the Father, by that sacrifice. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. - Hebrews 4:15-16

Sunday, November 13, 2016




A Time For Thanksgiving
by Samuel Logan Brengle (1860-1936)
Edited & Prefaced by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades

Brethren:
A brief comment to the preface this morning. In all things whether good or bad remain steadfast in your confession of Him. For He that brought you through each event is faithful to continue to do it. His love for you extends beyond your wildest imaginations. Therefore seek to give thanks at all times.

Additionally, this sermon as you shall read below is based on verses from Psalms and 1 Thessalonians. It is herein suggested that you also consider in your meditations upon today’s sermon that you read Matthew 6:25-34 - Dr. Riktor Von Zhades - Humble Servant of Christ

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." - Psalm 100:4

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

As lilies of the valley pour forth perfume, so good hearts pour forth thanksgiving. No mercy is too small to provoke it, no trial too severe to restrain it. As Samson got honey from the carcass of the lion he slew, and as Moses got water from the flinty rock, so the pure in heart are possessed of a sort of heavenly alchemy, a divine secret by which they get blessing out of all things, and for which there is giving of thanks.

A jubilant old saint in Boston came down to hoary hairs in deepest poverty and had to live on the charity of such friends as God raised up, and He raised them up. Bless His name! He who fed Elijah in the wilderness by the brook and in the poverty-stricken home of the desolate widow, found a way to feed His child in Boston. God is not blind, nor deaf, nor indifferent, nor indigent[Read 1 Peter 5:7]. He is not "the silent God" that some people in their self-conceit and wayward unbelief suppose. He knows how to be silent, and how to hide Himself from the proud in heart. But He cannot hide Himself anywhere in His big universe from childlike faith and pure, obedient, long-suffering, patient love. Hallelujah!

This old saint believed, obeyed and rejoiced in God, and He raised up friends to supply her needs. Now, one day one of them went upstairs with a dinner for the old lady, and as she came to the door, she heard a voice within, and thinking there was a visitor present, and delicately wishing that her charity should not be a cause of embarrassment, she stopped and listened. It was the voice of the old Christian at her table, and she was saying, "O Father, I do thank Thee with all my heart for Jesus and this crust!"

I heard of a rich man the other day who killed himself because he feared he might become poor. He was poor. Jesus said, "A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth," and no more does a man's real riches, but rather in the spirit with which he possesses them.

Heaven is not parceled off into lots and estates. The angels own nothing and yet they possess all things and are eternally rich. And so with the true saint that trusts God and loves and obeys and is thankful.

The stars in their courses fight for him. He is now in harmony with the elemental and heavenly forces and the eternal laws of the universe of God, and all things work together for his good[ Read Psalm 34:9-10]. Not a hair of his head falls without God's notice. Not a desire rises in his heart but God's great heart throbs responsive to fulfil it, for does not the Psalmist say, "He will fulfil the desires of them that fear Him"? Not simply the fervent prayer, but the timid, secret desire that has not been voiced in prayer, shall be fulfilled. And how dare God do that? Because a holy fear will not allow a desire that is not in harmony with God's character and the interests of His Kingdom.

Napoleon gave blank checks on his bank to one of his marshals. One complained to the Emperor that the drafts made were enormous and should not be allowed. "Let him alone; he trusts and honors me, and I will trust him," said Napoleon. God puts all things at the command of His saints, and trusts them while He asks them to trust Him. Why, then, should we not be thankful?

Nothing will keep the heart so young and banish carking care so quickly, and smooth the wrinkles from the brow so certainly, and fill the life with such beauty, and make one's influence so fragrant and gracious, and shed abroad such peace and gladness, as this sweet spirit of thankfulness.

This spirit can and should be cultivated. There is much in the lot of each of us to be thankful for. We should thank him for personal liberty, and for the measure of health we have. There is a good old soul up the Hudson who for thirty years or thereabout has been lying in bed, while her bones have softened, and she is utterly helpless and always in pain, but she praises and praises and praises God.

We should thank Him that we are not insane, that our poor minds are not unbalanced and rent and torn by horrid nightmares and dreads and nameless terrors and deep despair and wild and restless ravings. We should thank Him for the light and blessings of civilization, past mercies, present comforts and future prospects, food, with the appetite to eat it, and the power to digest it, raiment to wear, books to read, the Church, The Salvation Army, the open Bible, the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Fountain opened for sin and uncleanness, the glorious possibility of escape from the penalty and the power, the consequences and the character of sin, for home and friends, and heaven bending over all, with God's sweet invitation, "Come !" Truly we have much to thank God for, but if we would be thankful, we must set our hearts to do it with a will. We grumble and complain without thought, but we must think to give thanks. To murmur and repine is natural1, to give thanks to really give thanks is supernatural, is gracious, is a spirit not earth-born, but comes down from God out of heaven, and yet, like all things from God, it can be cultivated.

Know this, that if you are not thankful your heart is yet bad, your soul unclean, for good hearts and pure souls are thankful. So go to the root of the matter and get rid of sin and get filled with the Holy Spirit. Flee to Jesus for riddance from the unholy spirit, and the subtle selfishness that possesses you. And when this change has taken place the joy of Jesus will be poured into the heart, and praise will well up and bubble forth in thanksgiving as an unfailing fountain of sweet waters, filling it with joy, and earth, your little corner of earth, with peace, and gladdening all who see and hear. But if that change has not fully taken place in you, do not withhold the praise that is God's due, but think of His loving kindness and tender and multiplied mercies, and begin to thank Him now, and your very giving of thanks will help to hasten the change. Begin now! Praise the Lord!

1 Editor’s thought - When we do so, we see the world and our circumstances through the eyes of the flesh. However the eyes of the spirit see them in the spiritual realm and as such are not troubled. As spoken by our Savior “Be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world” - John 16:33

Sunday, November 6, 2016



Blameless, but not Faultless
An Excerpt from the The New Testament Holiness Ed. 1902
by Thomas Cook
Edited & Prefaced by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades

Brethren:

While this particular sermon does not cite a specific scripture upon which it is based, it can be put forth herein that the Book of Leviticus Chapter 19 verse 2, can be used in this preface as a scriptural reference.

“Speak unto all the Congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy”

Therefore friends, let us seek to emulate our Creator, acting upon holiness, as to the best of our ability. Take heed that we do not use it as license to lord over others, but as an inspiration to those that are in need of hearing the Gospel of Christ. [Read 1 Peter 2:9, 16]

Additionally walking in this holiness is by extension, also walking in the love of Christ. Always remember the words of our Savior as found in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 22 verses 34-40, when queried by the scribes as to which commandment was the greatest of all.

“34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” 37 Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

So now, please find below the Sunday Sermon as written by Thomas Cook. It is hoped that it will serve as a good word to the reader. - Dr. Riktor Von Zhades - A humble servant of our Savior Christ Jesus
C. H. Spurgeon once wrote as follows: "There is a point of grace as much above the ordinary Christian as the ordinary Christian is above the world." Of such he says: "Their place is with the eagle in his eyrie, high aloft. They are rejoicing Christians, holy and devout men doing service for the Master all over the world, and everywhere conquerors through Him that loved them." The experience to which Mr. Spurgeon refers has been described as the higher life, entire sanctification, Christian perfection, perfect love, the rest of faith, and by numerous other names or terms. Modes of expression have been selected by various Christians which have best coincided with their theological views. There may be shades of difference in their import, but, generally speaking, the terms mean one and the same thing. We do not contend for names. It is immaterial which expressions are employed; the main point is, do we possess the experience designated by these terms, and which is recognized and professed by Christians representing all our Churches? A profound and widespread interest has been awakened in this subject, and one of the most hopeful signs of the times is the obvious endeavor which is being made by teachers of various schools of thought to preserve the "unity of the spirit,"and harmonize any conflicting view which may remain.

When used in a general sense, the word "holiness" includes whatever is connected with Christian life and character. Thus interpreted, it may be applied to any and all stages of religious life and development. But the term is used in a more definite sense to describe an experience distinct from justification -- a sort of supplemental conversion, in which there is eliminated from the soul all the sinful elements which do not belong to it, everything antagonistic to the elements of holiness implanted in regeneration. It includes the full cleansing of the soul from inbred sin, so that it becomes pure or free from sinful tendency. Says Thomas Carlyle: "Holy in the German language, Heilig, also means healthy; our English word whole, all of one piece, without any hole in it, is the same word. You could not get any better definition of what holy really is than healthy, completely healthy." We do not say that this definition embraces all that we mean by holiness [for] it does not. The experience includes also the gracious endowment of perfect love, and the abiding fullness of the Holy Spirit. To explain more in detail in what sense the Scriptures teach this to be a present duty and privilege and to meet the difficulties of those who really and honestly desire to understand the doctrine, is our purpose in these pages. To hit a mark we must know where it is. We walk faster when we see plain, definite steps. We must know what we want, and seek that. Unless we can separate the experience from its accidental surroundings, confusion is sure to follow. We may not be able to understand the doctrine in all its relations and bearings, but we need to have before our minds some distinct point of attainment. Just as the pressing of men to an immediate and definite point of conversion produces immediate and definite results, so it is with Christians. When a definite point is presented as immediately attainable, distinct and definite experiences follow. Prayer is no more at random. The blind man cried for "mercy," but "mercy" was too general a prayer. Jesus wanted to know what special kind of mercy the man desired. When he asked for mercy which took the form of the gift of sight, that special bestowal was granted.

It will help us to understand what holiness is if we mention a few things which are often mistaken for it. It is told in the life of Tauler that a layman, rich in the grace of God, who had heard him preach, asked him, "Sir, I beg you for God's sake to preach us a sermon showing us how a man may attain to the highest and utmost point it is given to us to reach in this present time." Tauler's discourse giving his answer was in twenty-four divisions. All who seek the highest degree of holiness feel that there must be limitations. To be holy is to be, blameless, but not faultless.

Grace does not make men infallible. Sin has so perverted our moral and spiritual powers, that we shall never in this present life be free from infirmities of human nature. Whatever our experience of the grace of God may be, the liability to error will cling to us until this mortal puts on immortality. Infirmities have their ground in our physical nature, aggravated by intellectual deficiencies. They are the outflow of our imperfect moral organization-the scars of sin which remain after the wound has been healed. Smallpox may be healed, but it leaves its mark. A cut limb may be cured, but the scar remains for ever. The pitcher of our human nature, which was broken when Adam fell, may be put together again, but it will never have the true ring it had before it was broken. To regain that it must be handed over to the Potter to be ground to powder and entirely reconstructed. Then, when death has reduced us to dust, and the Divine Potter has re made us, body as well as soul, we shall be "presented faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy;" but "until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," all we can hope for is to be
preserved without blame.

Before his fall Adam was complete in his mental structure1, in the enthronement of his moral sense, and in the harmony and balance of all his faculties. He could reason rightly and always judge correctly, and therefore was adapted to the law of perfect obedience. He might be without fault, and because he might be was required to be so. But through lack of knowledge, defective memory, a fallible judgment, slowness of understanding, and numerous other infirmities, we are as liable to err as it is natural for us to breathe; and every error is a breach of the perfect law which allows no deviation from perfect rectitude. It is because it is impossible for us to keep the old Adamic law -- the law of innocence, or the Paradisaical law, as it is called -- of which every mistake and infirmity is a breach, that we are placed under another law -- the law of the second Adam, the Lord from heaven. This law is graciously adapted to our diminished moral and intellectual capacity, dwarfed and crippled as it is by original and actual sin. "Love is the fulfilling of the law." "Fulfil ye the law of Christ, the perfect law of liberty." The only perfection possible on earth is a perfection of love; of motive, [or] of intention. [Read 1 Corinthians 13:1] Perfect love is not always successful achievement; it is childlike purpose, a sincere aim in all we do to please God.

The world often blames His people when He does not. Those around us look at outward appearances; God looks at the heart. They see what we do; He sees why we do it. What a mercy it is He did not command us to walk before the world and be perfect! Walk before Me is the command; and all who love Him with a perfect heart, and thus know "truth in the inward parts," are accepted of Him as fulfilling the law.



1 Editor’s thought - Adam was indeed God’s ultimate creation, because he was complete in the holiness given him as he was made in the image of our Creator. - Dr. RVZ

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Christ's Greatest Trophy
by J. C. Ryle (1816-1900)
Edited and Prefaced by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades

Brethren:
What you are about to read and to study this Sunday, is based on the Gospel of Luke 23:39-43. This editor here, has always maintained the idea that the thief, was one of Christ’s first redeemed of sinners. This is to say that He recognized his sin, confessed it, sought and asked for forgiveness, which our Savior immediately granted, even though He Himself was suffering on the cross.

The blood that covers our sins, and is the atonement of the aforementioned, is powerful. One is here reminded of the old hymn; “
there is power, power, wondrous working power, in the blood of the lamb.”

And also a Gospel song;
“And I know, yes I know, Jesus blood can make the vilest sinner clean”1

So herein below is a sermon which indeed expounds, so much better than this editor could ever hope to do, about the cleansing power of the blood of Christ.

39 And one of the evildoers, which were hanged, railed on him, saying, If thou be that Christ, save thyself and us. 40 But the other answered, and rebuked him, saying, Fearest thou not God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? 41 We are indeed righteously here: for we receive things worthy of that we have done: but this man hath done nothing amiss. 42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me, when thou comest into thy kingdom. 43 Then Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with me in Paradise.

There are few passages in the New Testament which are more familiar to men’s ears than the verses which head this message. They contain the well known story of ‘the penitent thief.’

And it is right and good that these verses should be well known. They have comforted many troubled minds; they have brought peace to many uneasy consciences; they have been a healing balm to many wounded hearts; they have been a medicine to many sin–sick souls; they have smoothed down not a few dying pillows. Wherever the gospel of Christ is preached, they will always be honored, loved and had in remembrance.

I wish to say something about these verses. I will try to unfold the Leading lesson which they are meant to teach. I cannot see the peculiar mental state of anyone into whose hands this message may fall. But I can see truths in this passage which no man can ever know too well. Here is the greatest trophy which Christ ever won; [That Christ had the power and willingness to save sinners]

This is the main doctrine to be gathered from the history of the penitent thief. It teaches us that which ought to be music in the ears of all who hear it: it teaches us that Jesus Christ is ‘mighty to save’ (Read Isaiah 63:1).

I ask anyone to say whether a case could look more hopeless and desperate than that of this penitent thief once did.

He was a wicked man, a malefactor, a thief, if not a murderer. We know this, for such only were crucified. He was suffering a just punishment for breaking the laws. And as he had lived wicked, so he seemed determined to die wicked, for at first, when he was crucified, he railed on our Lord.

And he was a dying man. He hung there, nailed to a cross, from which he was never to come down alive. He had no longer power to stir hand or foot. His hours were numbered; the grave was ready for him. There was but a step between him and death.

If ever there was a soul hovering on the brink of hell, it was the soul of this thief. If ever there was a case that seemed lost, gone and past recovery, it was his. If ever there was a child of Adam whom the devil made sure of as his own, it was this man.

But see now what happened. He ceased to rail and blaspheme, as he had done at the first; he began to speak in another manner altogether. He turned to our blessed Lord in prayer. He prayed Jesus to ‘remember him when He came into His kingdom’. He asked that his soul might be cared for, his sins pardoned and himself thought of in another world. Truly this was a wonderful change!

And then mark what kind of answer he received. Some would have said he was too wicked a man to be saved; but it was not so. Some would have fancied it was too late, the door was shut, and there was no room for mercy; but it proved not too late at all. The Lord Jesus returned him an immediate answer, spoke kindly to him, assured him he should be with Him that day in paradise, pardoned him completely, cleansed him thoroughly from his sins, received him graciously, justified him freely, raised him from the gates of hell, gave him a title to glory. Of all the multitude of saved souls, none ever received so glorious an assurance of his own salvation as did this penitent thief. Go over the whole list, from Genesis to Revelation, and you will find none who had such words spoken to him as these ‘Today shall you be with Me in paradise.’

I believe the Lord Jesus never gave so complete a proof of His power and will to save, as He did upon this occasion. In the day when He seemed most weak, He showed that He was a strong deliverer. In the hour when His body was racked with pain, He showed that He could feel tenderly for others. At the time when He Himself was dying, He conferred on a sinner eternal life.

Now, have I not a right to say, ‘Christ is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him?’ (Read Hebrews 7:25) Behold the proof of it. If ever sinner was too far gone to be saved, it was this thief. Yet he was plucked as a brand from the fire.

Have I not a right to say, ‘Christ will receive any poor sinner who comes to Him with the prayer of faith, and cast out none?’ Behold the proof of it. If ever there was one that seemed too bad to be received, this was the man. Yet the door of mercy was wide open even for him.

Have I not a right to say, ‘By grace you may be saved through faith, not of works fear not, only believe?’, [Read Romans 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:5, 8].Behold the proof of it. This thief was never baptized; he belonged to no visible church; he never received the Lord’s Supper; he never did any work for Christ; he never gave money to Christ’s cause! But he had faith, and so he was saved.

Have I not a right to say, ‘The youngest faith will save a man’s soul, if it only be true,? Behold the proof of it. This man’s faith was only one day old; but it led him to Christ, and preserved him from hell.

Why then should any man or woman despair with such a passage as this in the Bible? Jesus is a Physician who can cure hopeless cases. He can quicken dead souls, and call the things which be not as though they were.

Never should any man or woman despair! Jesus is still the same now that He was eighteen hundred years ago, [Read Hebrews 13:8]. The keys of death and hell are in His hand. When He opens none can shut.

What though your sins be more in number than the hairs of your head? What though your evil habits have grown with your growth, and strengthened with your strength? What though you have hitherto hated good and loved evil all the days of your life? These things are sad indeed, but there is hope, even for you. Christ can heal you, Christ can raise you from your low estate. Heaven is not shut against you. Christ is able to admit you, if you will humbly commit your soul into His hands.

Are your sins forgiven? If not, I set before you this day a full and free salvation. I invite you to follow the steps of the penitent thief come to Christ and live. I tell you that Jesus is very pitiful, and of tender mercy, [Read Luke 1:77-79]. I tell you He can do everything that your soul requires. Though your sins be as scarlet, He can make them white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool, [See footnote below].Why should you not be saved as well as another? Come unto Christ and live.

Are you a true believer? If you are, you ought to glory in Christ. Glory not in your own faith, your own feelings, your own knowledge, your own prayers, your own amendment, your own diligence., [ Read Proverbs 3:5]. Glory in nothing but Christ. Alas, the best of us know but little of that merciful and mighty Savior. We do not exalt Him and glory in Him enough. Let us pray that we may see more of the fullness there is in Him.

Do you ever try to do good to others? If you do, remember to tell them about Christ. Tell the young, tell the poor, tell the aged, tell the ignorant’ tell the sick, tell the dying—tell them all about Christ. Tell them of His power, and tell them of His love; tell them of His doings, and tell them of His feelings; tell them what He has done for the chief of sinners; tell them what He is willing to do to the last day of time; tell it them over and over again. Never be tired of speaking of Christ. Say to them broadly and fully, freely and unconditionally, unreservedly and undoubtingly, ‘Come unto Christ, as the penitent thief did; come unto Christ, and you shall be saved.’, [Read Romans 10:13]



1 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins were as crimson, they shall be made white as snow: though they were red like scarlet, they shall be as wool” -Isaiah 1:18

Sunday, October 23, 2016




God is Worth of Confidence
by Albert Barnes 1798-1870
Prefaced & Edited by Dr. Riktor Von Zhades

Brethren:

Recently, a very good friend of mine had confided and placed in my trust an episode of a crisis of faith. Both he and his spouse had been, these past few months on an emotional roller coaster ride. I will not expound upon the reasons and circumstances as to the what and why, but suffice to say, they were drained, and their faith and trust in Him were basically extinguished. He confessed that his flame, if it even existed at all, was in his words, the size of the pilot light on a stove.

He questioned God for the reasons, and felt, that he had heard no answers, other than silence. Stating such, he reasoned to himself that the answer was no. (One might digress herein that sometimes the answers to prayers, are indeed no). By this past midweek, he had pretty much given up, and had decided to forgo his daily readings and studies until such time as he could feel restore his belief, if ever he could restore it. It was made known to him that such was not a good idea, and in fact quite the opposite should be done, and that is to run towards our God, and not away. Yet he was rather inconsolable. What, he asked had he done, that had made God turn from him, and allowed him to suffer.

However there is good news! That same day (during that midweek day, later on of course), he received very good news, a blessing of huge proportions from those who had somehow found out about his plight. Needless to say, as he had immediately contacted me, he was stunned by this news. For surely said he, “that he could not fathom HOW anyone would have known, and more incredibly, WHY anyone would be willing to help.” This man is slowly back on his way towards restoration. He has confessed his doubts, has sought forgiveness for them, and thanked Him for such mercy in resolving the situation.

So today, with this in mind we read as sermon, based on the The Book of Job Chapter 22:21

Therefore acquaint thyself, I pray thee, with him, and make peace: thereby thou shalt have prosperity.
GNV Translation Ed. 1599

Please! You be careful! And with Him be at peace for in them, shall good come to you
Hebrew Interlinear Translation (Scripture 4 All Website)

The case to which the text refers was this: Eliphaz—who addresses these words to Job— supposed that he was wholly a stranger to the true God; that he had altogether erroneous views of his government; that he regarded him as harsh and severe in his administration, and as unworthy of confidence. In his sufferings, Job had at some times indulged in remarks of considerable severity on the divine dealings. This was by no means the prevailing character of the man; but it was so interpreted by his friends, and Eliphaz now designs to assure him that he could never find peace until he should become more acquainted with the divine character, and should feel that God was worthy of confidence. He proceeds, therefore, in a.most beautiful manner to exhort him to be reconciled to God, and portrays the benefits which would result from such reconciliation. The meaning is, 'Become truly acquainted with the character and government of God. You have now no just views of him. You regard him as harsh, severe, tyrannical. You murmur, and complain, and are wretched.- Estranged from him, you must be miserable. But it is not too late to repent and return to him; and in so doing you will find peace.' Eliphaz—however improperly he applied this to Job—has here stated a doctrine which has been confirmed by all the subsequent revelations in the Bible, and by all experience, that happiness follows reconciliation with God, and that true peace is found only there. This doctrine must have been understood as early as religion was known after the fall. Man became alienated from God by the apostasy, and consequently miserable; and peace was to be found again only by reconciliation with him.

There are two great difficulties in the minds of men. The one is, they have no just views of the character and government of God; and the second is, if his true character is made known to them, they have no pleasure in it—no confidence in it. Both these difficulties must be removed before man can he reconciled to his Maker. No small part of the difficulty will be removed if we can show him that the character of God is such as to deserve his confidence.

I believe that the great difficulty with men is, that they have no confidence in God. This is the source of all our woe. Man" does not believe that the God of the Bible is worthy to be the Sovereign of the universe; that his government is equal; and that the terms of his favors are the best that could be. He confides in his own understanding rather than in God; forms his own plan of religion rather than embrace the one which God has revealed; and relies on his own merits for salvation rather than on the merits of him whom God has sent. .He goes not to him in perplexity; asks not his support in sickness; relies not on him in-the hour of death. The great evil in this world is a want of confidence in God; —a want of confidence producing the same disasters there which it does in a commercial community, and in the relations of domestic life. The great thing needful to make this a happy world is to restore confidence in the Creator—confidence, the great restorer of happiness every where. [Read Hebrews 10:22-23]


Now, men can never be reconciled to God unless this confidence shall be restored. You and your neighbor are at variance. The dispute has been bitter and long. There has been a misunderstanding, and dissatisfaction, and a lawsuit, and a long strife resulting in a confirmed alienation. Now, suppose, in this difficulty, you are wholly right, and your neighbor wholly wrong. You have really done him no injury. You have not been unwilling to be on terms of friendship with him. But a long train of circumstances, which you could not have well controlled, has operated to make him misunderstand your character, or suspect your motives. Evil minded men have for their own ends misrepresented you. They have reported to him things which you have not said, and they have magnified trifles until they seem to be mountains. Affairs have come to such a state, that he has no confidence in you, and believes your character to be wholly unworthy of respect. Now what is to be done in the case to bring about reconciliation? Not that you are to change your character. Not that you are to make acknowledgments where no wrong has been done. It is to restore to his mind just confidence in yourself— to explain matters; to show him what you are; to undo the evils which busy-bodies have done in giving him a wrong impression of you ;—and if, back of all this, he has had hard thoughts of you without the show of reason, and simply because he does not like a character of honesty and truth, he is to lay all that aside. Then peace would be restored. This is what is to be done in religion. It-is to convince men that God is worthy of confidence ;—and that all that has been said by infidels, and skeptics, and scoffers against him, is unjust and wrong; and then, if back of all these false representations of the character of God, you have been cherishing, any feelings hostile to his real character, to entreat you to lay them aside. This would be reconciliation. Why should a man wish to cherish any hard thoughts of God without the shadow of reason of hating Him?

[An additional] source of liability to error in judging of the character of God is, that we always regard ourselves as the aggrieved and injured party. We do not allow ourselves to suppose it possible that God should be right and we wrong;. but whatever injury is done, we allow ourselves to suppose has been done by him. If God treats us as if we were great sinners, we do not allow ourselves for a moment to suppose that we are such, but instantly revert to our ideas of our own morality and integrity; if he threatens to punish us forever in hell, we do not allow ourselves for a moment to suppose that we deserve such a treatment; but regard it at once as proof that he is arbitrary and stern; and while this is the case, how is it possible for a man to put confidence in God, or to feel that he ought to be reconciled to him? His opposition he regards as in no small degree meritorious; and he feels that he would be wanting in self-respect to cherish any other views of his Maker than he actually does.

It is not merely that we-do not understand his true character, but it is that we are not pleased with that character when it is understood. We have by nature no pleasure in God. He is too holy, too just, too pure, too true, to satisfy creatures such as we are; and there is no fact better established, in the history of man, account for it as you may, and draw what inferences from it you choose, than that man by nature has a strong opposition to the character of God, even when that character is understood. He does not like to retain him in his knowledge. He loves sin too much, and hates restraint, and desires his own gratification, and has no sympathy with the divine perfections and attributes. Now, with this state of mind, he looks on God and all that he does, through a distorted medium^ and is constantly seeking some ground of accusation; something that shall to him answer the purpose of self-defense.

[However], faith rests mainly on God's own word; on the testimony of himself in regard to his real character and plans; on the assurances which [is found] there, that, notwithstanding all the difficulties in the case, he is holy, true, just, good, and worthy of universal love and confidence. It is the assurance of him who knows his own character, and who declares most solemnly that all that he does is consistent with the rules of eternal equity and right. He has given what [one should] believe to be a revelation of his character, and has made such declarations respecting it as to claim the confidence of mankind. Here my mind rests. Conscious of my liability to err; knowing how short-sighted I am; feeling that man must be incompetent to sit in judgment on the government and plans of God; and knowing that there may be developments yet that shall make all that is now dark, clear; all that is obscure, light, [therefore] I put my trust in his assurances, and the mind finds repose. But [it is to be found] also in his government, as it is actually administered, not a little to confirm this confidence, and to calm the distresses of the soul.

The government of God is one of law; always presumptive proof that a government is worthy of confidence. It is not a government of mere will, or caprice; not a government of passion, and therefore not one of arbitrary tyranny. Where there is law which is known, and which is rigidly adhered to, there may be confidence. It shows that the sovereign has confidence himself in his own principles; that he is willing that they should be known; that he does not mean to be governed by caprice. He publishes his principles of administration, and submits them to the -world; and in such a fact there, is proof that there is stability. A mob is, governed by no law; a tyrant is controlled by no principle but his will; or if laws are proclaimed, they are proclaimed only to be set aside by caprice. But it is not so with God. His is a government of law, and has been from the beginning. We know what he requires; we know what he will do in given circumstances. Those laws are not set aside by will; they are not disregarded by caprice or passion. In such a government there is presumptive ground, at least, for confidence.

That government is stable and firm. What it is in one place it is in another. What he requires of one he requires of all; what he forbids in one place he does every where. What he prohibits in heaven, he does on earth and in hell; what he approves in heaven, he approves in all worlds. What in one generation he approves or forbids, he approves or forbids in all; what in one complexion or climate, he does every where. Virtue that he rewards in one age, he rewards in all; and vice that he punishes in one clime, he punishes every where. The deed that excites his displeasure beneath rags, excites his displeasure beneath the purple; and the victim that he smiles upon on the throne, pleases him not less in the cottage. The light which comes to our eye from the Sun, is governed by the same laws as the light which is borne from the remotest star; and the same laws apply to water on the rose-bud and in the dew-drop which control it in the deep ocean. We know, therefore, what to expect. We see a government that is settled and firm; and such a government has at least some of the elements to produce confidence. [Read Hebrews 13:8 James 1:17]

All the operations of his government, and all his laws, tend to promote the welfare of his subjects. None are originally designed to produce misery; none do produce misery except when violated. There are, for example, certain laws pertaining to health. They require temperance, purity, industry, absence from exciting and violent passions. All these laws tend to the welfare of the individual, and if obeyed, injure no one. There are certain laws pertaining to the acquisition of property. These laws, if obeyed, injure no one, but would promote the welfare of all. These are laws requiring truth, honesty, temperance, chastity, love, kindness, charity. None are injured by their observance. None ever have been. None ever will be. It is a matter of the clearest demonstration,, that if all those laws had been observed in the exact sense of their requirements from the creation of the universe, no one would have been injured by them; and you cannot find one of the laws of his kingdom whose observance would not have been attended with benefit, or where its violation has not been, an injury sooner or later. This is so clear that it needs no argument; and is not such a government worthy of confidence? Has it not a claim on the love and obedience of those who are its subjects? To see the full force of this, you have only to remember that it was in the power of God to have made laws directly the reverse, and to have so ordained them that the observance of each one would have been followed with a sigh or a groan. When I suffer, therefore, and when, under the influence of suffering, I am disposed to complain of God, let me remember that that suffering is somehow connected with the violation of law, and that the Creator has ordained no law, in the exact observance of which such misery would have followed. la such a God, and in such a government, can we see no reasons for confidence?


[There is] one other remark only to make now—for the time will not admit of more. It is, that they who know most of the character and government of God, and who are best qualified to judge, repose most entire confidence in him. Angels in heaven doubt not his goodness, and mercy, and truth, and in their bosoms there dwells no distrust. Multitudes on earth who were once alienated and even miserable because they were alienated; who murmured against God, and who, in murmuring, found no relief; and who rebelled in the day of adversity, and thus plunged themselves into deeper sorrows, have returned, and now see that he is worthy of their highest trust. Since their return; since they have become 'acquainted' with him, they have been at peace. They have not doubted that he was qualified to rule ; and they have committed to him the interest dearest to mortals—the interest of the immortal soul—and felt that all was safe. Prophets and apostles did this; confessors and martyrs did it; and there are tens of thousands now on earth, and millions in heaven who have done it. God they have found true to his promises. The afflicted have found him a support; the dying have leaned on his arm; and the living now find him all that the heart desires to find in their God. I make use of this as an argument. It is the argument of history; of experience. You will not doubt that it is a legitimate argument, for they have had all the feelings of distrust, and complaining, and murmuring, which any can have now, and they have passed through all the circumstances which we can conceive of to test our confidence in God. It has been enough. They have been upheld, and have found it true that he would 'never leave nor forsake them.'

[Henceforth let us make it our] duty to be reconciled to God; a duty to him, for his government is just and right, and opposition to him is wrong. [For] it is unwise to maintain the state of mind in which many indulge; chafed and fretted against God, and yet using no means to ascertain his true character, and to be at peace. The world is doing its Creator great injustice. It charges him with cruelty and wrong; holds him to be unworthy of confidence and love; is filled with hard thoughts and fretted feelings; and is venting complaints and murmuring. Thousands murmur in their hearts; thousands complain openly; thousands curse him on his throne. What a [sad] world [indeed], for it is foolish as well as wicked to resist him. What can resistance avail against almighty power?! Justice and wisdom, truth and love constrain us, therefore, say to each one of you, 'Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace!'