The Believer's Walk by Christ
God is high and holy; and yet the higher a man lifts up himself, the farther he is from God; and the lower a man humbles himself, the nearer he is to God. "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15).
There are three things I have learned, yet I find myself needing to be reminded of:
Pastor Bruce Crabtree
Confessing Christ is the whole of a person's life, revealing outwardly what God has worked inwardly. It is the confession by word, act, deed, and attitude, what God, by His Spirit, has created within our hearts. "One tree is not a forest," it has been said. So one public act is not a confession of Christ.
Pastor Henry Mahan
When the children of God see, hear, and are confronted with the "damnable heresies" of false prophets (2 Peter 2), they should have thoughts of pity and compassion, both for the deceivers and the deceived. And when these pitiful, perishing religionists will not receive us, nor our doctrine, nor our sovereign and gracious Lord, it is not ours to seek their personal destruction, to call down fire upon their heads. That is not the spirit and attitude of the saints (Luke 9:51-56).
If we be stoned like Stephen, that is alright; but we shall die with no stones in our hands. We shall leave these "Sauls of Tarsus" to the pleasure of our sovereign Lord. He just might make a "Paul" out of some of them. However, like Stephen, we shall, as God grants grace and the opportunity, speak plainly and boldly, both of them and to them, of their "stiff-necked" resistance and opposition to the truth, exposing, as best we can, their "damnable heresies" which destroy men's souls. And, we will not assist them (silence does assist them!), wish them well, or even permit them into our homes, it they come bringing and spreading their false religion (2 John 10-11).
We dare not help a man purchase a shotgun to blow our neighbor's head off, nor do we assist in doing that which is infinitely worse -- murder and destroy the immortal souls of men and women and boys and girls with lies and deception! Why is it that men find this so hard to understand? Why are they horrified and repulsed by physical murder, while showing total indifference to the spiritual slaughter of men's precious souls? Must it not be because they do not really believe? Is it not because spiritual and eternal things to them are merely dead doctrines, rather than living realities?
Pastor Maurice Montgomery
When the Word of God converts a person, it takes away from him his despair but not his repentance.
C. H. Spurgeon
Hypocrites swallow religion in lumps, inviting all to admire the quantity; but sincere believers quickly dissolve grace and truth into their lives, as men use sugar and tea, to sweeten all their common relationships. The believer flavors his ordinary life with grace, so that his wife, children, neighbors, and fellow workmen are better for it. A man's faith ought to be to him what the perfume is to the rose -- the necessary outcome of his existence.
The substitute for self is the Lord Jesus Christ Who has come into the place of self, filling up its room. In turning from self, we do not leave ourselves without an object to live for or to die for. We get One infinitely more worthy than we possessed before -- the Son of God.
We are not desirous of honor, esteem, and applause from men, for "we are what we are by the grace of God." God can take away what we have as easily as He gave it. We do not despise and provoke one another with our piety; nor do we want to appear to be wiser, richer in grace, nor more gifted than others; for we are less than the least of the saints. Nor do we envy the gifts, abilities, or grace of another. God will enlighten us, equip us, and bless us as He sees fit to use us.
Pastor Henry Mahan
I would tell you how it is with me if I could; at the best, it would be an inconsistent account. I am what I would not, and would what I cannot. I rejoice and mourn; I stand fast and am thrown down in the same moment. I am both rich and poor; I can do nothing; yet, I can do all things. I live by a miracle. I am opposed beyond my strength, yet I am not overpowered. I gain when I lose, and I often am a loser by my gains. IN A WORD, I AM A SINNER! A vile one; but a sinner believing in the Name of Jesus. I am a silly sheep, but I have a gracious, watchful Shepherd; I am a dull scholar, but I have a Master who can make the dullest learn. He still enables me, He still owns me. Oh, for a coal of heavenly fire to warm my heart, that I might praise Him as I ought!
God said concerning Caleb, "He followed me fully." Oh, for grace to imitate this man Caleb. To trust Christ completely! To lean on Him wholly! To follow Him fully! Regardless of cost or consequences! There is no other way to follow Christ. To follow Him partially is worse than not following Him at all!
Pastor Todd Nibert
TRUE RELIGION -- WHAT IT IS NOT AND WHAT IT IS
1. It is not outward religious behavior. "For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." For most people their religion is no more than an outward conformity to social standards of righteousness. Of this much you can be sure: true religion – whatever it is – it is not something that a lost, unregenerate man can produce.
Pastor Jim Byrd
DYING TO SELF
"If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself " Matthew 16:24
When you are forgotten, or neglected, or purposely set at naught, and you don't sting and hurt with the insult or the oversight, but your heart is happy, being counted worthy to suffer for Christ, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.
When your good is evil spoken of, when your wishes are crossed, your advice disregarded, your opinions ridiculed, and you refuse to let anger rise in your heart, or even defend yourself, but take it all in patient, loving silence, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.
When you lovingly and patiently bear any disorder, any irregularity, and unpunctuality, or any annoyance; when you can stand face to face with waste, folly, extravagance, and spiritual insensibility, enduring it as Christ Jesus endured it, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.
When you no longer care to hear yourself in conversation, or to record your own works, or itch after commendation, when you can truly love to be unknown, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.
When you see your brother prosper and have his needs met, and can honestly rejoice with him in spirit and feel no envy nor question God, while your own needs are far greater and you are in far more desperate circumstance, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.
When you can receive correction and reproof from one of less stature than yourself, and can humbly submit inwardly as well as outwardly, finding no rebellion or resentment rising up within your heart, THAT IS DYING TO SELF.
Eph 4: 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.
If I am somebody special, as religion would have folks believe, and you can't spell church without me, then I will expect to be treated like the dignitary that I am (Matt. 23:6). If I am overlooked or neglected in some way, I will quickly be offended, and will be quick to make it known.
But if I am nothing, you will have a hard time offending me. If all that I am, have, and know is of free grace, then I will not covet what I do not have, wish to be what I am not, or envy those who know more than I. If I deserve Hell, then when I am slighted somehow, whether intentionally or not, I will count it a small thing. If I love you, and prefer your honor to my own, I will be careful to cover your faults, and always think the best of you.
As a vessel by the scent thereof tells what liquor is in it, so should our mouths smell continually of that mercy wherewith our hearts have been refreshed: for we are called vessels of mercy.
The failure of most preachers is traced not to the fact that they do not have a pastor's head, voice, and energy, but they do not have a pastor's heart! The failure of most church members and professing christians to be a blessing to family, friends, and outsiders is not that you do not have the proper doctrine, the proper moral integrity and enthusiasm for the truth, but you don't have the proper attitude and love for others! If you don't really love people (sinners and saints), they sense it; and they not only won't love you, they won't listen to you. If you are not really concerned about the everyday problems and burdens of others, they don't want to hear you talk about their spiritual problems. Most fundamental, separated religionists I know are of a big head, a big mouth, and a small heart. They want to talk about the "things of the Lord," but have little concern for the things of others. Don't blame all your loneliness on the gospel. Much of it is caused by an unlovely personality.
WHAT WOULD IT TAKE?
Over the years I have with deep regrets watched a number of people leave the gospel. I confess that the departure of some of them from the gospel of God's grace always makes me think of Christ's words to the disciples on one occasion, "Will ye also go away?" Will I? Will you?
EXPLAIN AWAY....IF YOU CAN
There are always many who stand ready and waiting to explain away every passage of scripture that gives God all the glory in salvation like a lawyer trying to cast doubt in the minds of a jury as to the guilt of his client when the evidence against him has been unmistakably clear and condemning. Were it not for the Spirit of God, all people would fall victim to these blind and deceptive interpreters of scripture because their reasonings are logical and pleasing to the natural, unregenerate man's mind. Most people do readily receive their perverted distortions of what God has said but thank God, not all do. Christ said, "my sheep hear MY voice" and "a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him; for they know not the voice of strangers." Many preachers, people, and writers set forth outwardly impressing arguments against the doctrines of God's sovereign grace; but they are all like the man who used the glass hammer on the anvil. They wrest the scriptures to their own destruction and the destruction of others. So subtle and cunning is their deception and so sincere and zealous are their efforts (thinking they do God a favor) that "IF IT WERE POSSIBLE" they would deceive the very elect of God. But God gives His people an ear to hear and a heart of believe His Word. All things which glorify Him in their salvation they hold fast to. The people of God know that divine sovereignty, predestination, election, particular redemption, effectual calling, preservation and perseverance and many other God-exalting truths are not salvation. Christ is! But they know that all these truths of scripture are everywhere joined to Christ and by them God reveals and reflects the glory of His grace.
"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom" (Psalm 90:12). This heavenly arithmetic is seldom considered, even by the wise! But in the light of the fact that "the days of our years" are passing away so quickly, wouldn't we be wise to so think of and measure our time that we may apply our hearts to Jesus Christ, who is true wisdom? "For whoso findeth Me findeth life and shall obtain favor of the Lord" (Proverbs 8:35).
There are two ways by which a believer may testify to the grace of God: 1) the testifying of the gospel by which he is saved, 2) his life lived in conformity with the gospel he claims to believe. A life that is inconsistent with the gospel is just as awful as a sermon that is inconsistent with the gospel. A life of selfishness is as evil as a gospel of self-righteousness. Let each of us seek the Lord for grace to live what we say we believe!
The principle of true love to the brethren, is the love of God, that love which produceth obedience (1 John 5:2). "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep His commandments." When people are free to form their connections and friendships, the ground of their communion is in a sameness of inclination. The love spoken of is spiritual. The children of God, who therefore stand in the relation of brethren to each other, though they have too many unhappy differences in points of smaller importance, agree in the supreme love they bear to their heavenly Father, and to Jesus their Saviour; of course they agree in disliking and avoiding sin, which is contrary to the will and command of the God whom they love and worship. Upon these accounts they love one another, they are like-minded; and they live in a world where the bulk of mankind are against them, have no regard to their Beloved, and live in the sinful practices which His grace has taught them to hate. Their situation, therefore, increases their affection to each other. They are washed by the same blood, supplied by the same grace, opposed by the same enemies, and have the same heaven in view; therefore, they love one another with a pure heart fervently.
"Thy people shall be made willing " (Psalm 110:3). God's elect worship and serve Him with willing hearts. We willingly believe, willingly worship, willingly give, and willingly do what we can for the glory of God. It is God who, by effectual grace, makes us willing; but we are willing servants of the Most High God! Any worship, service, or gift offered to God that is not done with a willing heart is an abomination to Him.
If I should demand of any, for what cause especially man came into the world; he would answer with the psalmist, God did not create man in vain. Did He create man to heap up wealth together? No, for the apostle saith, "we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out. And, having food and raiment, let us be therewith content" (1 Tim. 6:6-8). Did he create him to hawk after power and principality? No, for Nebuchadnezzar lusting after these, lost no less than his kingdom. Did He create him to eat, drink, and play? No, for Seneca, though an heathen saith, I am greater, and born to greater things, than that I should be a vile slave of senses. What then is the proper end of man? That we should live to the praise of the glory of his grace wherewith he hath made us freely accepted in his Beloved (Eph. 1:6).
The Christian's temper God-ward is evidenced by humility. He has received from Gethsemane and Golgotha such a sense of the evil of sin, and of the holiness of God, combined with his matchless love to sinners, as has deeply penetrated his heart; he has an affecting remembrance of the state of rebellion and enmity in which he once lived against this holy and good God; and he has a quick perception of the defilements and defects which still debase his best services. His mouth is therefore stopped as to boasting; he is vile in his own eyes, and is filled with wonder, that the Lord should visit such a sinner with such a salvation. He sees so vast a disproportion between the obligations he is under to grace, and the returns he makes, that he is disposed, yea constrained, to adopt the apostle's words without affectation, and to account himself less than the least of all saints; and knowing his own heart, while he sees only the outside of others, he is not easily persuaded there can be a believer upon earth so faint, so unfruitful, so unworthy as himself. Yet, though abased, he is not discouraged, for he enjoys peace. The dignity, offices, blood, righteousness, faithfulness, and compassion of the Redeemer, in whom he rests, trusts, and lives, for wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, are adequate to all his wants and wishes, provide him with an answer to every objection, and give him no less confidence in God, than if he were sinless as an angel: for he sees, that though sin has abounded in him, grace has much more abounded in Jesus
I have found, in my own spiritual life, that the more rules I lay down for myself, the more sins I commit. The habit of regular morning and evening prayer is indispensable to a believer's life, but the prescribing of the length of prayer, and the constrained remembrance of so many persons and subjects, may gender unto bondage, and strangle prayer rather than assist it. To say I will humble myself at such a time, and rejoice at such another season, is nearly as much an affectation as when the preacher wrote in the margin of his sermon, "Cry here," "Smile here." Why, if the man preached from his heart, he would be sure to cry in the right place, and to smile at a suitable moment; and when the spiritual life is sound, it produces prayer at the right time, and humiliation of soul and sacred joy spring forth spontaneously, apart from rules and vows. The kind of religion which makes itself to order by the Almanac, and turns out its emotions like bricks from a machine, weeping on Good Friday, and rejoicing two days afterwards, measuring its motions by the moon, is too artificial to be worthy of my imitation.
Charles H. Spurgeon
When you give alms, or do any act of charity, wait on God, do it as unto him, give to a disciple in the name of a disciple, to the poor because they belong to Christ; do it not for the praise of men, but for the glory of God, with a single eye, and an upright heart, direct it to Him, and then your alms as well as your prayer, like those of Cornelius, come up for a memorial before God (Acts 10:4). Beg of God to accept what you do for the good of others, that your alms may indeed be offerings (Acts 24:17). May it be an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God (Phil. 4:18).
The true "man after God's own heart" is the man who is more concerned with the glory of God than anything or anyone else. God's glory is His own chief concern and that to which everything has its purpose. He who cares more for God than man is God's man.