Wednesday, 17 October 2012

DEATH ALONE DISSOLVES THE MARRIAGE TIE

“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:15) that is, to follow him and, press to live with him if he have deserted her. But does he say anything about or sanction her marrying again? Where does he say that desertion dissolves the marriage tie? On the contrary, in the very same chapter he decides the exact opposite: “The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but,if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will, only in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 7:39) How clearly he decides the matter that death alone dissolves the marriage tie! By J.C. Philpot

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

"CAN TWO WALK TOGETHER, EXCEPT THEY BE AGREED?"

"Can two walk together, except they be agreed?" (Amos 3:3) -------------------- There was a time, child of God, when the world held in your heart the chief place. It was not so in God's heart. You and he were therefore at variance. But now, through grace, you are brought to make eternity your chief concern. You and God are agreed there; for in the mind of God eternity as much outweighs time as the stars in the midnight sky outweigh a grain of dust. There was a time when you loved the world and the things of time and sense; and earth and earthly things were your element and home. You and God disagreed upon that matter; because the Lord saw that the world was full of evil, whilst you saw it full of good. The Lord saw the world under His curse, and you loved its favour and its blessing-seeking madly and wickedly to enjoy that which God had denounced; therefore you could not agree. Thus you see that in order to be agreed with God, we must have God's thoughts in our heart, God's ways in our soul, and God's love in our affections. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord." (Isaiah 55:8) But they must become such; and when once God's thoughts become our thoughts and God's ways our ways; when once we have the mind of Christ and see with the eyes of God, then God and we become agreed, and being agreed, we can walk together. What is it to walk together? Why, it is to enjoy union, communion, fellowship, and friendship. Now as we are brought to agree with God, we walk with God. He has set up a mercy-seat on high, and when they thus agree, God and man may meet at the mercy-seat of the Redeemer. As the eyes are enlightened to see the truth of God; as the heart is touched to feel the power of God; and as the affections are drawn forth to love the things of God, we meet at the mercy-seat. It is sprinkled with blood; it contains and hides from view the broken tables of the law. There God meets man in gracious amity, and enables him to pour out his soul before him and to tell him his troubles, trials, and temptations. And every now and then he sweetly relieves by dropping in a gracious promise, applying some portion of his sacred truth, encouraging him to believe in his dear Son, and still to hope in his mercy. By J.C. Philpot

BLESSED IS HE, WHOSOEVER SHALL NOT BE OFFENDED IN ME"

"Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me." (Matthew 6:6) -------------------- What is the feeling of your heart toward Jesus? What is the solemn desire of your soul? That He would come and make your heart His abode? That He would visit your soul with the light of His countenance? That He would sprinkle His blood upon your conscience? That He would make Himself very near, very dear, and very precious? Do you count one word from His lips worth a thousand worlds? A smile of His countenance worth thousands of gold and silver? Then you are blessed. You are not stumbling upon the dark mountains of error. You are not stumbling at the perfections of the Son of God. You are not offended at a free gospel, an unconditional salvation. No; the Lord in mercy has slaughtered your prejudices, subdued your enmity, and brought you to receive the gospel as a little child. But some may say,
"I believe all this; but, then, I have doubts and fears whether the Lord has begun his work in me, whether I am one of his family. I cannot enjoy the power of truth as I could wish."
But does not the Lord say, "Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me"? You are not offended and stumbled at Jesus. And He that is not offended in Him, but is enabled to receive Him as the Christ of God, to look to Him, to believe in Him, and at times to feel Him precious — He comes under the blessing which maketh rich, and addeth no sorrow with it. By J.C. Philpot

"THEY THAT WAIT UPON THE LORD SHALL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH"

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength." (Isaiah 40:31) -------------------- How different the religion of a living soul is from the religion of a dead professor! The religion of a dead professor begins in self, and ends in self; begins in his own wisdom, and ends in his own folly; begins in his own strength, and ends in his own weakness; begins in his own righteousness, and ends in his own damnation. There is in him never any going out of soul after God, no secret dealings with the Lord, no actings of faith upon the divine perfections. But the child of God, though he is often faint, weary, and exhausted with many difficulties, burdens and sorrows; yet when the Lord does shew Himself, and renews his strength, he soars aloft, and never ceases to mount up on the wings of faith and love till he penetrates into the very sanctuary of the most High. A living soul never can be satisfied except in living union and communion with the Lord of life and glory. Everything short of that leaves it empty. All the things of time and sense leave a child of God unsatisfied. Nothing but vital union and communion with the Lord of life, to feel His presence, taste His love, enjoy His favour, see His glory - nothing but this will ever satisfy the wants of ransomed and regenerated souls. This the Lord indulges His people with. "They shall renew their strength." They shall not be always lying groaning on the ground, not always swooning away through the wounds made by sin, not always chained down by the fetters of the world, not always hunted in their souls like a partridge upon the mountains. There shall be a renewal of their strength; and in their renewal, "they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." By J.C. Philpot

"I WAS ALIVE WITHOUT THE LAW ONCE..."

"I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died." (Romans 7:9) -------------------- The Apostle describes in his own case how men are affected toward the law before it enters as a condemning sentence into their heart. "I was alive without the law once." The law was hanging over him as a condemning sentence, as a minister of death, as a messenger of wrath, as a consuming fire, but he felt it not. As with a thunderstorm in the remote distance, he might hear the low mutterings of the thunder which once rolled over Sinai's fiery mount, or might see from far the play of those lightnings which scorched its top. But at present the storm was in the distance. He went about without thinking, or feeling, or fearing, or caring whether the law was his friend or enemy. In fact he rather viewed it as his friend, for he was using it as a friendly help to build up his own righteousness. He had gone to it, but it had not come to him; he knew its letter, but not its spirit; its outward commands, but not its inward demands. He therefore speaks of himself as being "alive without the law," that is, without any knowledge of what it was as a ministration of condemnation and death. But in God's own appointed time and way, "the commandment came;" that is, it came with power into his conscience. He found that he could keep every one of the commandments [or so he thought] but the tenth; for according to his apprehension and his interpretation of them, they did not extend beyond an external obedience. But the tenth commandment, "Thou shalt not covet," struck into the very depth of his conscience, for it was a prohibition from the mouth of God of the inward lusts of the heart, and that prohibition attended with an awful curse. Under this stroke sin, which before lay seemingly dead in his breast, revived like a sleeping serpent; and what was the consequence? It stung him to death, for he says, "And I died;" for the commandment which was ordained unto life he found to be unto death! Sin could not brook to be thwarted or opposed; it therefore rose up in enmity against God, took advantage of the commandment to rebel against the authority of Jehovah, and its guilt in consequence falling upon his conscience, made tender in the fear of God, slew him. It would not have done so had there been no life in his soul; but there being light to see and life to feel the anger of God revealed in the commandment, when the law came into his conscience as a sentence from a just and holy Jehovah, the effect was to produce a sentence of death in himself. And this experience which the Apostle describes as his own is what the law does and ever must do when applied to the conscience by the power of God. It kills, it slays the condemned sinner; it is a sentence of death in a man's own conscience, which only awaits the hour of death and the day of judgment to be carried into execution. By J.C. Philpot

"WE KNOW THAT WE HAVE PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE"

"We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren." (I John 3:14) -------------------- The Lord's people in their early days have a measure of heavenly love. Love [is] manifested in them [for] God's word, God's people, God's servants, and God's truth. There is in them, in their weakest and tenderest days, a separation from the world, a casting-in of their lot amongst the people of God, a going-out in the tenderness of their heart and affection towards them. We see this in Ruth: though she was a poor heathen idolatress, no sooner was her heart touched by the finger of God, than she clave to Naomi. Divine love can only spring from the teachings and operations of God upon the heart. Our "carnal mind is enmity against God" — nothing but implacable, irreconcilable enmity. But when the Lord is pleased to make himself in some measure, known to the soul; when he is pleased, in some degree, to unveil his lovely face, and to give a discovery of his grace and glory — immediately love springs up. He is so lovely an Object! As the Bride says, He is "altogether lovely." His beauty is so surpassing, his grace so rich, his mercy so free — all that he is and has is so unspeakably glorious — that no sooner does he unveil his lovely face, than he wins over all the love of the heart, takes possession of the bosom, and draws every affection of the soul to centre wholly and solely in himself. By J.C. Philpot

"IF ANY MAN COME TO ME, AND HATE NOT HIS FATHER..."

"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple." (Luke 14:26-27) -------------------- There is no middle path to heaven — there is no intermediate state between hell and heaven; no purgatory for that numerous class who think themselves hardly good enough for heaven, yet hardly bad enough for hell. No; there is no intermediate road nor state. We must win Christ as our own most blessed Jesus, and with Him enjoy the happiness and glory of heaven, or sink down to hell with all our sins upon our head beneath His most terrible frown. The soul then that has been charmed with the beauty and blessedness of Jesus longs to win Him, and that not for a day, month, or year, but for eternity; for in obtaining Him, it obtains all that God can give the soul of man to enjoy as created immortal and for immortality. Under the influence of His grace, it feels at times, even here below, all its immortal powers springing forth into active, heavenly life, and looks forward in faith and hope to a glorious eternity, where it will be put into possession of the highest enjoyment which God can give to man, even union with Himself by virtue of union with His dear Son, according to those wonderful words of the Redeemer himself — "That they all may he one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us" (John 17:21). By J.C. Philpot

EXPERIMENTAL SALVATION

If salvation implies a previous state from which it is a deliverance, then I say that it is childish folly to talk of being saved if we know nothing experimentally of what we are saved from. All doctrines, notions, forms, creeds, ordinances and ceremonies short of this manifested salvation are as the dust of the balance, and as the driven stubble before the wind. What, for instance, is election, except it be revealed to my soul that I was elected before the foundation of the world? What is redemption to me, except the atoning blood of the Lamb be sprinkled on my conscience? What is the everlasting love of a Triune Jehovah, unless that eternal love be shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Ghost? To see these things revealed in the Bible is nothing. To hear them preached by one of God's ministers is nothing. To receive the truth into our judgment and to yield to them an unwavering assent is nothing. Thousands have done this who are blaspheming God in hell. A man must have salvation as an internal reality, as a known, enjoyed, tasted, felt and handled possession, or he will never enter into the kingdom of heaven. By J.C. Philpot

FREE GRACE

I admire and love the grace of God; and the longer I live, the more do I love and admire it. My sins, my corruptions, my infirmities make me feel my deep and daily need of it; and as its freeness, fulness, suitability and inexpressible blessedness are more and more opened up to my heart and conscience, so do I more and more cleave to and delight in it. What, in fact, is there which you can substitute for it? I assume that you have some concern about religion; that the solemn realities of eternity press with more or less weight on your conscience, and that you are awakened to see the evil of sin and your own evil case as sinners. I speak not to stocks and stones; I speak to you who desire to fear God and to have your hearts right before Him. If you have no concern about the salvation of your soul, you will love many things far beyond free grace. Money, dress, amusements, the pleasures that present themselves on every side, though hollow as the tomb and vain as a drunkard's mirth, will so charm your mind and occupy your thoughts that Christ and His gospel will have no place in your conscience. But if you have any anxiety about your eternal condition, and are brought to cry, What shall I do to be saved? then I ask you, what can you put in the place of free grace? Surely, you cannot be so foolish as to put your own works in its stead. Surely, you cannot be so ignorant of your ruined condition before God, and of what is revealed in the Scriptures of the way of salvation by the atoning blood of Jesus, as to substitute the words and works of man for the words and works of the God-Man? You may doubt your own interest in His atoning blood; but you do not doubt that salvation is all of grace, and that if saved your soul can be saved by grace alone. And why not YOU be saved? What countless trophies has grace already at the Redeemer's feet! What hosts of ruined wretches, of souls sunk beyond all other help or hope, has free grace sought out, rescued from their destructions, plucked from the jaws of hell, and ransomed from the hand of him that was stronger than they, so that they have come and sung in the height of Zion, and flowed together to the goodness of the Lord! Look at Paul. Where can we find among the sons of men a parallel to the great Apostle of the Gentiles? What a large capacity! What a powerful intellect he naturally possessed, but how subdued and subjugated it became by grace, and how devoted to the glory of God and the advancement of His dear Son! How grace arrested him at Damascus' gate, cast him down body and soul at the Redeemer's feet, translated him from the power of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear Son, and changed a bloodthirsty persecuter of the church of Christ into a minister and an apostle, the greatest ever seen. As such, what a deep humility, thorough disinterestedness, noble simplicity, godly zeal, unwearied labours distinguished him from first to last-a course of more than thirty years. How in his inspired writings he pours, as it were, from his pen the richest streams of heavenly truth! With what clearness, power, and savour he describes and enforces the way of salvation through the bloodshedding and obedience of the Son of God, the blessings of free grace, the glorious privileges of the saints, and the things that make for their happiness and holiness! How in every epistle it seems as if his pen could hardly drop a line without in some way setting forth the infinite grace, the boundless mercy, and unfathomable love of God, as displayed in the gift of His dear Son, and the blessings that flow to the church through His blood and love. But look not at Paul only. View the jewels on every side that grace has set in the Redeemer's crown out of the most depraved and abject materials! Who, for instance, were those Ephesians to whom Paul wrote that wonderful epistle? The most foolish and besotted of idolators, so infatuated with their image which fell down from Jupiter-most probably some huge meteoric stone, that had falled from the sky-that they spent two hours until they wearied out their throats with crying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians!; men debased with every lust, ripe and ready for every crime. How rich, how marvellous the grace that changed worshippers of Diana into worshippers of Jehovah, brutal howlers into singers who made melody in their heart to the Lord (Ephesians 5:19), and magicians, full of curious arts and Satanic witchcraft, into saints built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets! Now cannot the same grace, that did so much for them, do the same or similar things for us? Is the nature of man now less vile, or is the grace of Christ now less full and free? Has the lapse of 1800 years raised man out of the depths of the Fall, eradicated sin from his constitution, cleansed the foul leprosy of his nature, and purified it into holiness? Let the thin sheet of decent morality and civilization be taken off the corpse, and here it lies in all its hideous ghastliness. Human nature is still what it ever was dead in trespasses and sins. Or has time, which changes so many things on earth, changed things in heaven? Is not God the same gracious Father, Jesus the same compassionate Saviour, the Holy Spirit the same heavenly Teacher? Is not the gospel the same glad tidings of salvation, and the power of the gospel the same to every one that believeth? Then why should not we be blessed with the same spiritual blessings as the saints at Ephesus? Why may not the same Jesus be to us what He was to them the same Spirit to do for us and in us what He did for and in them and the same grace save and sanctify us which saved and sanctified them? Here and here alone is our strength, our help, our hope, our all. By J.C. Philpot

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

"VISIT ME WITH THY SALVATION"

"Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation." (Psalm 106:4) -------------------- How is a man brought and taught to want to be "visited with" God's salvation? He must know something first of condemnation. Salvation only suits the condemned. "The Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost;" (Matthew 18:11) and therefore salvation only suits the lost. A man must be lost-utterly lost-before he can prize God's salvation. And how is he lost? By losing all his religion, losing all his righteousness, losing all his strength, losing all his confidence, losing all his hopes, losing all that is of the flesh; losing it by its being taken from him, and stripped away by the hand of God. A man who is brought into this state of utter beggary and complete bankruptcy - to be nothing, to have nothing, to know nothing, he is the man, who in the midnight watches, in his lonely hours, by his fireside, and at times, well - nigh night and day, is crying, groaning, begging, suing, seeking, and praying after the manifestation of God's salvation to his soul. "O visit me with thy salvation." He wants a visit from God; he wants God to come and dwell with him, take up his abode in his heart, discover Himself to him, manifest and reveal Himself, sit down with him, eat with him, walk with him, and dwell in him as his God. And a living soul can be satisfied with nothing short of this. He must have a visit...something that shall do his soul good; he wants something that shall cheer, refresh, comfort, bless, and profit him, remove his burdens, and settle his soul into peace. And therefore he wants a visitation that the presence and power, the mercy and the love of God should visit his soul. By J.C. Philpot

PROFESSORS AND POSSESSORS

The religious professor receives doctrines because he sees them in the Bible. The believer not only sees them in the Book, but he feels them in his heart, put there by the Holy Spirit. The believer gets at truth through trouble. He arrives at the banquet of mercy through sharp pangs of hunger. He lays hold of the robe of righteousness, chilled by nakedness. He comes to the cross because he is guilty and there is nowhere else to go. Thus the religionist and the believer (however they may resemble one another) have an eternal distinction which the hand of God has drawn between the living and the dead. By J.C. Philpot

"THE DESIRE OF OUR SOUL"

"The desire of our soul is to thy Name, and to the remembrance of thee." (Isaiah 26:8) -------------------- How sweet and expressive is the phrase, "The desire of our soul"! How it seems to carry our feelings with it! How it seems to describe the longings and utterings of a soul into which God has breathed the spirit of grace and mercy! "The desire of our soul" - the breathing of our heart, the longing of our inmost being; the cry, the sigh, the panting of our new nature; the heavings, gaspings, lookings, longings, pantings, hungerings, thirstings, and ventings forth of the new man of grace - all are expressed in those sweet and blessed words, "The desire of our soul"! And what a mercy it is, that there should ever be in us "the desire" of a living soul; that though the righteous dealings of God are painful and severe, running contrary to everything nature loves; yet that with all these, there should be dropped into the heart that mercy, love, and grace, which draw forth the desire of the soul toward the Name of God. This is expressed in the words that follow, "With my soul have I desired thee in the night"! If you can say no more about the work of grace upon your heart than that - can you really use these words as descriptive of feelings experienced within, "With my soul have I desired thee in the night"? Is your soul longing after the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it ever in the night season panting after the manifestation of his presence? Hungering and thirsting after the dropping-in of some word from his lips, some sweet whisper of his love to your soul? These are marks of grace. The carnal, the unregenerate, the ungodly, have no such desires and feelings as these; there is nothing in their heart corresponding with "the desire of the soul" unto the Name of God. But it is the case with all the righteous; for "the desire of the righteous shall be granted." (Proverbs 10:24). By J.C. Philpot