True Patriotism!

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(Letters of John Newton)

Dear friend,
Allow me to say, that it excites both my wonder and concern, that a Christian minister such as yourself, should think it worth his while to attempt political reforms. When I look around upon the present state of the nation, such an attempt appears to me, to be no less vain and foolish, than it would be to paint the cabin—while the ship is sinking! Or to decorate the parlor—while the house is on fire!

When our Lord Jesus was upon earth, He refused to get involved in disputes or politics, “Friend, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?” Luke 12:14. “My kingdom is not of this world! If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight!” John 18:36. God’s children belong to a kingdom which is not of this world; they are strangers and pilgrims upon earth, and a part of their Scriptural character is, that they are the “quiet in the land.” Psalm 35:19.

Satan has many contrivances to amuse people, and to divert their thoughts from their real danger!

My dear sir, my prayer to God for you is—that He may induce you to employ the talents He has given you, in pointing out sin as the great cause and source of every existing evil; and to engage those who love and fear Him, (instead of wasting time in political speculations, for which very few of them are competent,) to sigh and cry for our abounding abominations, and to stand in the breach, by prayer, that God’s wrath may yet be averted, and our national mercies prolonged! This, I think, is true patriotism—the best way in which people in private life may serve their country.

I consider the ungodly as saws and hammers in the hand of the Lord. So far as they are His instruments, they will succeed—but not an inch further! Their wrath shall praise Him, and be subservient to His designs!

If our lot is so cast that we can exercise our ministry free from stripes, fines, imprisonments, and death—it is more than the gospel has promised to us! If Christians were quiet when under the cruel governments of Nero and other wicked persecutors, when they were hunted down like wild beasts—then we ought to be not only quiet but very thankful now! It was then accounted an honor to suffer for Christ and the ‘offence of the cross’!

Those are to be greatly pitied, who boast of their ‘liberty’—and yet they do not consider that they are in the most deplorable bondage as the slaves of sin and Satan, under the curse of God’s law and His eternal wrath! Oh! for a voice to reach their hearts, that they may know their true and dreadful state—and seek deliverance from their horrific thraldom! May you and I labor to direct them to the one thing, which is absolutely needful, and abundantly sufficient.

If I had the wisdom or influence to soothe the angry passions of mankind—I would gladly employ them! But I am a stranger and a pilgrim here in this world. My charter, my rights and my treasures, are all in heaven—and there my heart ought to be. In a very short time, I may be removed (and perhaps suddenly) into the unseen and eternal world—where all that now causes so much bustle upon earth—will be of no more importance to me—than the events which took place among the antediluvians!

In the hour, when death shall open the door into eternity—many things which now assume an ‘air of importance’, will be found as light and unsubstantial as a child’s dream!

How crucial then, is it for me—to be found watching, with my lamp burning, diligently engaged in my proper calling! For the Lord has not called me to set governments right—but to preach the gospel, to proclaim the glory of His name, and to endeavor to win souls! “Let the dead bury their own dead—but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God!” Luke 9:60. Happy is that servant, whom his Master finds so doing, when He returns!

As you have forced me to respond—both duty and love have obliged me to be faithful and free in giving you my thoughts.

I recommend you to the care and blessing of the great Shepherd and Savior; and remain for His sake, your affectionate friend and brother,
John Newton

You Are Nothing More Than a Devil

income-inequality-these-folks-have-investors-in-their-crosshairs(Samuel Davies, “Evidences of the Lack of Love to God” April 14, 1756)

“If anyone does not love the Lord–that person is cursed!” 1 Corinthians 16:22

What a monstrous soul you have within you . . .
which cannot love God;
which cannot love supreme excellence and all perfect beauty;
which cannot love your divine Parent, the Author of your mortal frame;
which cannot love your prime Benefactor and gracious Redeemer;
which cannot love Him, “in whom you live, and move and have your being;”
which cannot love Him, who alone is the proper happiness for your immortal spirit;
who can love a parent, a child, a friend, with all their infirmities–but cannot love God;
who can love the world; who can love even sinful pleasures–and yet cannot love God;
who can love everything that is lovely–but God, who is infinitely lovely;
who can love wisdom, justice, veracity, goodness, clemency, in creatures, where they are attended with many imperfections–and yet cannot love God, where all center and shine in the highest perfection!

What a monster of a soul is this!

Must it not be a devil–to be capable of such unnatural horrendous wickedness?
Can you be easy, while you have such a soul within you?
What a load of guilt must lie upon you!

If love to God is the fulfilling of the whole law–then the lack of love must be the breach of the whole law. You break it all at one blow! Your life is but one continued, uniform, uninterrupted series of sinning! The lack of love to God diffuses a malignity through all you do!

Now, I appeal to you yourselves–is not this a very dangerous situation? While you are destitute of sincere love of God–can you flatter yourselves that you are fit for Heaven?

What! fit for the region of divine love?

What! fit to converse with a holy God, and live forever in His presence?

What! fit to spend an eternity in His holy service?

Can you be fit for these things–while you have no love to Him?

Certainly not!

You must perceive yourselves to be fit for destruction–and fit for nothing else!

You are devilized already! Lack of love to God is the grand constituent of a devil, the worst ingredient in that infernal character. And must you not then be doomed to that everlasting fire–which is prepared and fit for the devil and his angels?

“If anyone does not love the Lord–that person is cursed!” 1 Corinthians 16:22

When She Kisses You!

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(Francis Quarles, 1592-1644)

Do you think, my soul, to be made happy by the smiles of the world–or unhappy by her frowns?

When she fawns upon you, she deludes you.

When she kisses you, she betrays you.

Like Jael, she brings the milk in a lordly dish, and bears a hammer in her deadly hand.

Trust not her flattery, O my soul–nor let her malice move you.

Her music is your enchantment, and her sweetness is your snare!

She is the highway to eternal death!

“Worldliness is the most thronged road to everlasting ruin!” J.A. James

“The spirit of the world is eating out the very heart and life of true godliness!” George Everard

“Refined worldliness is the present snare of the Church of God!” Horatius Bonar

“The world is a sea, where we are tossed upon the surging waves of sorrow, and often in danger of shipwreck! The world is a wilderness, full of fiery serpents!” Thomas Watson

Do Christians Have the Right To Disobey?

persecuted2The Bible speaks very clearly about the relationship between the believer and the government. We are to obey governmental authorities, and the government is to treat us justly and fairly. Even when the government does not live up to its role, we are still to live up to ours. Finally, when the government asks us to do something that is in direct disobedience to God’s Word, we are to disobey the government in faithful confidence of the Lord’s power to protect us.

Whether the Bible uses the terms “master,” “ruler,” “government,” or any other name for an established authority, the instruction is always the same – obey. We must remember that God created the authorities ruling over us just as He created us. As Paul wrote to the Romans, “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 13:1-2). Peter wrote, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right” (1 Peter 2:13-14). Both Peter and Paul also remind slaves repeatedly to be obedient to their masters for the same reasons (Ephesians 6:5-8; Colossians 3:22-25; 1 Timothy 6:1-2; 1 Peter 2:18-20; Titus 2:9-11).

The instructions to government “masters” are just as clear and just as numerous. Jesus modeled the behavior and attitude every leader or authority should take. “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’” (Matthew 20:25-28). A government or authority exists to serve those governed.

Many times, however, a government will stray from its purpose and become oppressive. When that happens, we are still to live in obedience. “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God” (1 Peter 2:18-19). Both Jesus and Paul used taxes as a way to illustrate this. The Roman government taxed the Jews unjustly and many of the tax collectors were thieves. When asked about this dilemma, Jesus took a coin and said, “‘Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?’ ‘Caesar’s,’ they replied. Then he said to them, ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s’” (Matthew 22:20-21). Evidently, the believers in Rome were still asking the same question because Paul instructed them on the matter. “This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing” (Romans 13:6).

In the Old Testament, Daniel is a model we should use when it comes to our relationship with government. The Babylonians were given authority over the Jews because of the Jews’ disobedience. Daniel worked himself into the highest levels of this pagan and unbelieving government. Although the rulers respected Daniel’s God, their lives and actions show they did not believe. Daniel served the king as a true servant when he requested the wise men not be executed for failing to interpret the king’s dream. Instead, he asked for the key to interpret the dream from God and saved those, including himself, who would have been executed. While Daniel was in the royal court, his three friends refused to bow to the idol erected by King Nebuchadnezzar and were sentenced to death in the furnace (Daniel 3:12-15). Their response was confident faith. They did not defend themselves, but instead told the king their God would save them, adding that even if He didn’t, they still would not worship or serve Nebuchadnezzar’s gods (Daniel 3:16-18).

After the Medes conquered Babylon, Daniel continued to serve faithfully and to rise in power within the government. Here, Daniel faced the same dilemma when the governors and satraps tricked the king into signing a decree “…that whoever petitions any god or man for thirty days, except you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions” (Daniel 6:7). Daniel responded by directly, and in full view of everyone, disobeying the order. “Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Daniel 6:10). Daniel was completely loyal to any ruler placed over him until that ruler ordered him to disobey God. At that moment, when a choice had to be made between the world and God, Daniel chose God. As should we all.

GotQuestions

If we, as Christians, continue to rebel against the ordinances that have been set in place (regardless of your opinions), then we will undergo the worst persecution the church has ever seen.

Romans 13:1-2

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.

A Cross of Their Own Choosing

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(Thomas Watson, “The Art of Divine Contentment“)

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have  a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content–whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” Philippians 4:11-12

Paul knew how to manage in every state–he learned to be content whatever his circumstances.
If he was in prosperity, he knew how to be thankful.
If he was in adversity, he knew how to be patient.
He was neither lifted up with prosperity–nor cast down with adversity.

A Christian should be content in any and every situation. Many are contented in some conditions–but not in every condition. They can be content in a wealthy state. When they have the streams of milk and honey–now they are content. But if the wind turns and is against them–now they are discontented. While they have a silver crutch to lean upon–they are contented; but if God breaks this crutch–now they are discontented.

Many would be content with their affliction–if God would allow them to pick and choose. They could better endure sickness–than poverty; or bear loss of estate–than loss of children. If they might have a cross of their own choosing, they would be content.

But a contented Christian does not desire to choose his cross–but leaves God to choose for him. He is content both for the kind of the afflictions, and the duration of the afflictions, which God gives him. A contented man says, “Let God apply whatever medicine He pleases, and let it lie on as long as He desires. I know when it has done its cure, and eaten the venom of sin out of my heart–that God will take it away.”

A contented Christian, being sweetly captivated under the authority of the Word, desires to be wholly at God’s disposal, and cheerfully lives in whatever circumstances that God has placed him in. “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) He does not only submit to God’s dealings, but rejoices in them!

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Deuteronomy 32:35 (King James Version) 35. To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.

I read throughout the Bible where God punished Israel (and even other heathen countries) for their rebellion against Him and His laws. And I also read where eventually they cry out to God for repentance. They come to the place where they realize that they have wronged God and turn back and beg for mercy. Of course, God stays His hand and gives them relief from their punishment and all is rosy for a while.

I look at society today and see a completely different sort. I see a people who are so intelligent and logical that they can explain the most horrendous events away and never be none the wiser as to their origins.

I see a people who not only have the greatest hate for God, but seem to get offended at the drop of a hat when He is mentioned.

I see a society that sneers at the Christian and detests his existence.

If you mention that pandemics and suffering originate from the sovereign hand of God, they laugh you to scorn and pity your ignorance (Eph. 4.18).

What has changed? Why don’t people throw themselves to their knees in remorse and cry out for mercy anymore?

It’s the same God that runs the show. It’s the same God that is growing angrier by the day over man’s rebellion. It’s the same God that keeps the fires of hell stoked for the day of Judgment.

Yet, man as a whole, just carries on as if life is bliss and all is well in heaven and earth.

I like how Jonathan Edwards relates the picture of a spider being held over the fire. My wife hates spiders with a passion. She would rather put up with thousands of mosquitoes rather than live with one spider. I picture her having to hold a big, juicy, squirming spider by the leg as it frantically tries to crawl back onto her hand. I know for a fact that it wouldn’t be too long before she hurled that vial creature into the consuming flames.

Man is indeed walking through life with a countdown timer ticking. Second by second, tick by tick, man is creeping ever closer to the day he will stand before God and give account for his life on earth. Yet, life seems to continue as normal. Yes, we have quarantines, isolation, social distancing, etc., but how many of us have had genuine thoughts of repentance, reform or revival these last weeks? How many of us have literally been stopped in our tracks by this whole trial and looked up?

Not very many I’m afraid. If the church isn’t turning to God and crying out for reform, then why should the world? All the world sees is a disobedient church rebelling against the orders from our local governments and doing what they can to skirt the rules. How does this make Christ look, seeing as we are supposed to represent Him?

Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God should be listened to by all, saved and unsaved. At this time of year, as we inch closer to remembering Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, shouldn’t we be focusing on allowing this wake-up call to cut through the cobwebs and mental fog and really shake us up?

What’s so different between this calamity and those we read about in the Bible? Same God. Same sin. Yet, we seem to feel like this is just a virus and it doesn’t really concern us (Prov. 28. 14).

At no other time in history are we as a society faced with so much that can confuse, deceive and destroy us. Some between 40 to 60% of everything we’re told online is fake. The problem is, which part? It is virtually impossible to figure out what’s true and what’s false. And in doing so, you will run into many sources that make their stance sound like the real one. Argh! Even when it comes to Scripture. If you look online you will literally find hundreds or even thousands of interpretations regarding Revelations and eschatology. How on earth can anyone find the truth anymore?

I have had many conversations with Christians in person and online and I have only found a very small few that I can actually talk too and agree on most everything. Notice I said, ‘most everything’. But then there’s those who call themselves Christians and believe such erroneous ideas that you stand back and shake your head in disbelief. Just because one calls himself ‘Christian’, doesn’t mean he’s saved. That’s for sure!

In my experience, one truth seems to outweigh everything else when it comes to God. That truth is His absolute sovereignty. God is supreme and all-powerful and in control of the good and the bad. Every creature is on a leash and He controls them all. There is no such things as free will and there is no such thing as some sort of battle between good and evil. God controls the devil and allows him to do His bidding just as He does everyone else, and no one, no matter how powerful he is, can operate outside His sovereignty.

This truth separates the true believer from the false convert. The true believer will embrace God’s sovereignty and rest in its comforting shadow, while the false convert will fight and struggle against it.

This deception has all but ruined the church, but it has done something amazing. It has revealed the tares and separated them off from the wheat. Now we can tell them apart! Now we can know who’s genuinely saved and who’s faking it.

Unfortunately the world doesn’t care about the wheat and the tares and all they see is a bunch of hypocrites.

At this time of year, when we celebrate God’s wrath passing us over and the the beautiful work of Jesus Christ washing us clean from all sin, we must ensure that we act in such a way that brings glory to Jesus Christ and makes the world take notice. They do watch us and they are aware of the fakery of the church. I see this all the time in satires and jokes.

Jesus deserves to be held in such high regard that any notion of sin would be so abhorrent that we would run away from the temptation faster than a COVID-19 symptom party. Paul speaks of carrying around the dying body of Jesus Christ in his daily life. How would that change your way of doing things if you were given the task of carrying the bleeding Lamb of God around all day? Everytime you went to sin, you saw Him staring at you through swollen eyes? Everytime you wanted to sin, you would hear a whisper from bleeding cracked lips, “Don’t”.

I think more of us need this daily reminder. We take life to flippantly. We waste way to much time and leave far too much behind us on a day to day basis. This, I suppose is the downside to eternal security. We don’t have to do anything to earn or secure our salvation, so most, if not all of us, become complacent and comfortable. This is indeed a tragedy. Instead we are suppose to be running the race, spreading the seed of the Gospel to all mankind, and being the ACTIVE ambassadors we were commissioned to be.

Yes, the sinner is in the hand of an angry God, and the more he sins the greater God’s hatred and disgust grows against him, but we as Christians are supposed to be the light that shines in the darkness that gives the lost a beacon of hope to latch onto. If we adopt the dimmer switch of compromise, then when the darkness thickens, the lost won’t see you.

 

A Deadly Enemy!

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(William Sprague, “Lectures on Revivals of Religion”)

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?
Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4  

Beware of the world!

Everyone who has made much progress in the Christian life, has been taught by his own experience that the world is a deadly enemy to the believer’s growth in grace.

The cares of the world are exceedingly apt to mar the Christian character.

But there are, in addition . . .
the pleasures of the world,
the honors of the world,
the riches of the world,
all of which in turn seize hold of the heart with a mighty grasp.

Sometimes the world laughs and scoffs at the Christian, and tries to persuade him that he is giving himself to fanaticism and folly.

Sometimes it flatters and caresses him, and by its artful blandishments, seeks to draw him aside from the plain path of duty.

Indeed the world will assume any form, or morph into anything, to draw the Christian away from God and from duty.

How important then that you be on guard against this dangerous enemy! Beware especially against the levities and amusements of the world; for this is the point at which you are most in danger.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16