“The earth is the LORD’s” (Exodus 9:29) and He “renews the face of the earth” (Psalm 104:30).
There is an exquisite appropriateness in our celebrating the resurrection of Christ in the spring. When nature is waking to life again after her long winter of sleep, it is then that the thoughts of Christians everywhere are turned to the wonder of the Savior’s coming out of the tomb after His ordeal with sin and death. Christ’s resurrection was an act once accomplished at a given moment in history. It does not in any sense depend upon seasons or celebrations, nor does the miracle of the springtime add anything to the glory of the once-done deed.
The workings of God in nature do, however, cast a warm light upon His workings in redemption, and the springtime of life in the earth illustrates the miracle of life in the new creation. In midwinter we can see a dry and leafless tree and think what a change the spring will make in its condition. Surely if God can make such a difference in a tree, He can change the heart of a sinner, too. Nevertheless, it takes some faith to stand in a winter landscape surrounded by the chilly silence of snow and ice and believe that in a few short weeks every trace of frost will be gone, that the snow-covered hills will be dressed in green and the ice-blocked streams will be running swift and free again in the summer sun. Yet our confidence is never disappointed. (more…)
For the time will come when they will not tolerate sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and will turn aside to myths. — 2 Timothy 4:3-4.
A jellyfish is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little, delicate, transparent umbrella. Yet the same jellyfish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation. Alas! It is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is the widespread dislike of distinct biblical doctrine.
In the place of the Church’s once-strong views of truth, the idol of the day is a kind of Jellyfish Christianity – a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or sinew, without any distinct teaching about the atonement or the work of the Spirit, or justification, or the way of peace with God. It is a vague, foggy, misty Christianity, of which the only watchwords seem to be, “You must be liberal and kind. You must never condemn a man’s doctrinal views. You must consider everybody is right and nobody is wrong.” (more…)
“…Be gracious unto thee” (Numbers 6:25)
How sweet the Gospel is! But what makes the Gospel sweet? There is but one word which sheds a perfume through the whole—GRACE. Take grace out of the Gospel and you destroy the Gospel; you nullify and overthrow it; it is the Gospel no more. Grace pervades every part and every branch of the blessed Gospel; it is the life of the Gospel; in a word, it is the Gospel itself.
“Be gracious unto thee” is our petition to the LORD. In what, then, is God gracious? In a broken law? What does that know of grace? In New Year resolutions, creature performances, or human righteousness? Can the Lord, will the Lord, show Himself gracious in these things?
I read in Gulliver’s Travels where Jonathan Swift wrote satirically about a scientific project by the fictional Grand Academy of Lagado for “extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers.” Well, we might as well expect to make sunbeams out of cucumbers as to make grace out of the law; it is cold as cucumbers; there is no sun in it. Grace, to be grace, must come out of the Gospel. It is in the Gospel, and out of the Gospel it must come; and it does come, excluding all man-made righteousness and putting an extinguisher upon all human merit. As the Apostle argues: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace; otherwise work is no more work” (Rom. 11:6). (more…)
“Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” — 1 John 5:5
I set these words before you. I ask you to lay them to heart. Resolve, by the grace of God, to be an overcoming Christian.
I fear much for many professing Christians. I see no sign of fighting in them, much less of victory. They never strike one stroke on the side of Christ. They are at peace with His enemies. They have no quarrel with sin. I warn you, this is not Christianity. This is not the way to Heaven. (more…)
All things work together for good to them who love God and trust Him. The skeptic jeers at this, but the trusting Christian knows it from actual experience. It is often a dear-bought experience, for some of God’s truths are knocked into us by hard blows, and some lessons are spelled out through eyes cleansed with tears. Our perverse mistake is that we demand that God explain Himself at every step, instead of waiting for Him to unfold His intricate purposes at His own time and in His own way.
Twenty years ago in 1862, on a day of thick fog and storm, I ascended Mount Washington in New Hampshire by the old bridle-path. Over the slippery boulders we picked our toilsome way, unable to see anything but our surefooted horse and our guide. A sulky company were we when we reached the “Tip-Top House,” a simple stone lodge at the mountain summit.
“For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.”— Amos 9:9
Every sifting comes by divine command and permission. Satan must ask leave before he can lay a finger upon Job. Nay, more, in some sense our siftings are directly the work of heaven, for the text says, “I will sift the house of Israel.”
Satan, like a lowly serf, may hold the sieve, hoping to destroy the corn; but the overruling Hand of the Master is accomplishing the purity of the grain by the very process which the enemy intended to be destructive. To the precious, but much-sifted corn of the Lord’s floor: be comforted by the blessed fact that the Lord directs both threshing-stick and sieve to His own glory, and to your eternal profit.
Now large crowds were going along with Jesus; and He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.”
“Therefore, salt is good; but if even salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? It is useless either for the soil or for the manure pile; it is thrown out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 14:25-35).
You need to weigh in on the cost factor and count the costs of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. It will cost you popularity. It will cost you promotion perhaps at times. It will cost you an easy life. You will have to discipline yourself. You will have to buffet your body. You will have to say “No” to temptation. You will have to say “No” to this world. You will have to break with the crowd. You will have to be willing to stand alone for Christ. You will have to be willing to walk to the beat of a different drummer and to step out of the crowd even if no one follows after Jesus Christ. You will have to be willing to stand even if you were the only person in the world for Jesus Christ. That’s the cost factor.