JESUS IS ON THE OUTSIDE OF EVERYTHING CORPORATE

JESUS IS ON THE OUTSIDE OF EVERYTHING CORPORATE

A.W. Pink

“I am thoroughly convinced that one of the chief hindrances today to many of the Lord’s people enjoying their inheritance is that they are in their WRONG PLACE, they are where Christ is not: he is on the outside of EVERYTHING CORPORATE.

To be where he is not is to miss the place of blessing, is to have our peace disturbed, and is to be corrupted by those who are not walking with Him. I am more firmly convinced today than I was 14 months ago that our place is on the ‘outside of the camp’. That is the place of reproach, loneliness, and of testing; but as it is the place where CHRIST is, it is, necessarily, the place of blessing, peace and joy”.
[A.W. Pink in his letter to the Colemans. Quoted from ‘The Life of Arthur W. Pink’ – Iain H. Murray]

“COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, AND BE YE SEPARATE, SAITH THE LORD! [2 Corinthians 6:17].

And what will follow when this Divine command is obeyed? Why, then we shall prove the truth of those words of Christ: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world HATETH you (John 15:19). WHICH “world” is specifically in view here? Let the previous verse answer: “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.”

WHAT “world” hated Christ and hounded Him to death? The RELIGIOUS world, those who pretended to be most zealous for God’s glory. So it is now. Let the Christian turn his back upon a Christ—dishonoring Christendom, and his fiercest foes and most relentless and unscrupulous enemies will be those who claim to be Christians themselves!

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you… for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad” (Matthew 5:11,12).

Ah, my brother, it is a healthy sign, a sure mark that you are profiting from the Word, when the religious world hates you. BUT IF, ON THE OTHER HAND, YOU STILL HAVE A “GOOD STANDING” IN THE “CHURCHES” OR “ASSEMBLIES” THERE IS GRAVE REASON TO FEAR THAT YOU LOVE THE PRAISE OF MEN MORE THAN THAT OF GOD! [Profiting from the Word]

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, AND TOUCH NOT the unclean thing.” [2Cor6:14,17]

O my Christian reader, seek grace to obtain the uncompromising spirit of Moses. When urged to worship God in “Egypt” (i. e. the white-washed “churches” OF THE WORLD), say it is impossible, for “what communion hath light with darkness!” when pressed to leave your children in a worldly Sunday School, to be instructed by those who have not the fear of God upon them, refuse, when invited to at least retain your membership in the HOLY SPIRIT-DESERTED “CHURCHES” and contribute of your means to their upkeep, decline to do so.

That going forth to meet the Lord is to be understood as expressing both external and internal action. Externally, it signifies separation from the world, especially its pleasures, for Christ will not be met with while we waste our time engaging in them. “Be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers… come out from among them” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17) must be heeded if we would “meet the Bridegroom.” More particularly, their going forth denoted a turning of their backs upon the apostate ECCLESIASTICAL SYSTEM: Christ had informed His disciples that he had abandoned a Judaism which had rejected Him (Matthew 23:37, 38), so if they would meet with Him, they too must “go forth unto Him outside the camp” (Hebrews 13:15). THE SAME IS TRUE NOW. [Practical Christianity]

[Writing to Lowell Green, September 2, 1934]
My earnest advice is for you to have little or NOTHING TO DO with the people of the religious world today. They CANNOT help you spiritually, and where they help not they are bound to HINDER! Be much in prayer and on your guard against a holier-than -thou attitude. if we are not very watchful, separation soon leads to self- righteousness. On the other hand, association with empty professors soon corrupts and paralyzes true spirituality.

Prayer, reading and meditation will do far more for your soul – with God’s blessing on the same – than attending meetings and being active in ‘Christian service’

THE REASON I AM STILL AROUND IS BECAUSE OF GOD’S IMMUTABILITY. AND IT’S THE REASON YOU ARE STILL AROUND AS WELL

THE REASON I AM STILL AROUND IS BECAUSE OF GOD’S IMMUTABILITY. AND IT’S THE REASON YOU ARE STILL AROUND AS WELL

compiled from the works of A.W. Pink

The very expression “the Grace of God” implies and denotes that the sinner’s condition is desperate to the last degree, and that God may justly leave him to perish; yea, it is a wonder of wonders that he is not already in hell.

“I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed!” [Mal. 3:6]

God is perpetually the same: subject to no change in His being, attributes, or determinations. Therefore God is compared to a rock (Deut 32:4, etc.) which remains immovable, when the entire ocean surrounding it is continually in a fluctuating state; even so, though all creatures are subject to change, God is immutable. Because God has no beginning and no ending, He can know no change. He is everlastingly “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17).

God has neither evolved, grown, nor improved. All that He is today, He has ever been, and ever will be. “I am the Lord, I change not” [Mal. 3:6] is His own unqualified affirmation. He cannot change for the better, for He is already perfect; and being perfect, He cannot change for the worse. Altogether unaffected by anything outside Himself, improvement or deterioration is impossible. He is perpetually the same. He only can say, “I am that I am” [Ex. 3:14]. He is altogether uninfluenced by the flight of time. There is no wrinkle upon the brow of eternity. Therefore His power can never diminish nor His glory ever fade.

God is immutable in His counsel. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Rom. 11:29). It must be so, for “He is in one mind, and who can turn Him? and what His soul desireth, even that He doeth” (Job 23:13). Change and decay in all around we see, may He who changeth not abide with thee. God’s purpose never alters. One of two things causes a man to change his mind and reverse his plans: want of foresight to anticipate everything, or lack of power to execute them. But as God is both omniscient and omnipotent there is never any need for Him to revise His decrees. No. “The counsel of the Lord standeth forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Ps. 33:11). Therefore do we read of “the immutability of His counsel” (Heb. 6:17).

Herein is solid comfort. Human nature cannot be relied upon; but God can! However unstable I may be, however fickle my friends may prove, God changes not. If He varied as we do, if He willed one thing today and another tomorrow, if He were controlled by caprice, who could confide in Him? But, all praise to His glorious name, He is ever the same. His purpose is fixed, His will stable, His Word is sure!

Nothing is more absurd than to imagine that anyone beloved of
God can eternally perish! God’s love for His Elect is immutable, irrevocable, and indestructible. His love is not like man’s. God’s love does not change, ever, under any circumstances or conditions. Having loved His own from eternity, He will never stop loving them in time. There is nothing we can do to destroy, or even lessen, the love of God for us [John 13:1]. “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee!” is His own unfailing Word! [Jer 31:3]

Here then is a rock on which we may fix our feet, while the mighty torrent is sweeping away everything around us. The permanence of God’s character guarantees the fulfillment of His promises: “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee” (Isa. 54:10).

Praise the Lord! 

GOD’S FAITHFULNESS OUR ONLY HOPE FOR THE COMING YEAR

GOD’S FAITHFULNESS OUR ONLY HOPE FOR THE COMING YEAR

by A.W. Pink

UNFAITHFULNESS is one of the most outstanding sins of these evil days. In the business world, a man’s word is, with exceedingly rare exceptions, no longer his bond. In the social world, marital infidelity abounds on every hand, the sacred bonds of wedlock being broken with as little regard as the discarding of an old garment. In the ecclesiastical realm, thousands who have solemnly covenanted to preach the truth make no scruple to attack and deny it. Nor can reader or writer claim complete immunity from this fearful sin: in how many ways have we been unfaithful to Christ, and to the light and privileges which God has entrusted to us! How refreshing, then, how unspeakably blessed, to lift our eyes above this scene of ruin, and behold One who is faithful, faithful in all things, faithful at all times.

“Know therefore that the Lord Thy God, He is God, THE FAITHFUL God” (Deut 7:9). This quality is essential to His being, without it He would not be God. For God to be unfaithful would be to act contrary to His nature, which were impossible: “if we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself” (II Tim 2:13). Faithfulness is one of the glorious perfections of His being. He is as it were clothed with it: “O Lord God of hosts, who is a strong Lord like unto Thee? or to Thy faithfulness ROUND ABOUT Thee?” (Psa 89:8). So too when God became incarnate it was said, “Righteousness shall be the girdle of His loins, and faithfulness the girdle of His reins” (Isa 11:5).

What a word is that in Psalms 36:5, “Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and Thy faithfulness unto the clouds.” Far above all finite comprehension is the unchanging faithfulness of God. Everything about God is great, vast, incomparable. He never forgets, never fails, never falters, never forfeits His word. To every declaration of promise or prophecy the Lord has exactly adhered, every engagement of covenant or threatening He will make good, for “God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?” (Num 23:19). Therefore does the believer exclaim, “His compassions fail not, they are new every morning: GREAT is Thy faithfulness” (Lam 3:22-23).

Scripture abounds in illustrations of God’s faithfulness. More than four thousand years ago He said, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Gen 8:22). Every year that comes furnishes a fresh witness to God’s fulfillment of this promise. In Genesis 15 we find that Jehovah declared unto Abraham, “Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them… But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again” (vv.13-16). Centuries ran their weary course. Abraham’s descendants groaned amid the brick-kilns of Egypt. Had God forgotten His promise? No, indeed. Read Exodus 12:41, “And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.” Through Isaiah the Lord declared, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (7:14). Again centuries past, but “When the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman” (Gal 4:4).

God is true. His Word of Promise is sure. In all His relations with His people God is faithful. He may be safely relied upon. No one ever yet really trusted Him in vain. We find this precious truth expressed almost everywhere in the Scriptures, for His people need to know that faithfulness is an essential part of the Divine character. This is the basis of our confidence in Him. But it is one thing to accept the faithfulness of God as a Divine truth, it is quite another to ACT UPON IT. God has given us many “exceeding great and precious promises,” but are we really counting on His fulfillment of them? Are we actually EXPECTING Him to do for us all that He has said? Are we resting with implicit assurance on these words, “He is FAITHFUL that promised” (Heb 10:23)?

There are seasons in the lives of all when it is not easy, no not even for Christians, to believe that God IS faithful. Our faith is sorely tried, our eyes bedimmed with tears, and we can no longer trace the outworkings of His love. Our ears are distracted with the noises of the world, harassed by the atheistic whisperings of Satan, and we can no longer hear the sweet accents of His still small voice. Cherished plans have been thwarted, friends on whom we relied have failed us, a professed brother or sister in Christ has betrayed us. We are staggered. We sought to be faithful to God, and now a dark cloud hides Him from us. We find it difficult, yea, impossible, for carnal reason to harmonize His frowning providence with His gracious promises. Ah, faltering soul, severely tried fellow pilgrim, seek grace to heed Isaiah 50:10, “Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the Lord, and STAY UPON HIS GOD.”

When you are tempted to doubt the faithfulness of God, cry out, “Get thee hence, Satan.” Though you cannot now harmonize God’s mysterious dealings with the avowals of His love, wait on Him for more light. In His own good time He will make it plain to you. “What I do thou knowest not NOW but thou shalt know hereafter” (John 13:7). The sequel will yet demonstrate that God has neither forsaken nor deceived His child. ‘And therefore will the Lord WAIT that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgement: blessed are all they THAT WAIT FOR HIM” (Isa 30:18).

 “Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace,
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread,
Are rich with mercy, and shall break
In blessing o’er your head.”

“Thy testimonies which Thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful” (Psa 119:138). God has not only told us the best, but He has not withheld the worst. He has faithfully described the ruin which the Fall has effected. He has faithfully diagnosed the terrible state which sin has produced. He has faithfully made known his inveterate hatred of evil, and that He must punish the same. He has faithfully warned us that He is “a consuming fire” (Heb 12:29). Not only does His Word abound in illustrations of His fidelity in fulfilling His promises, but it also records numerous examples of His faithfulness in making good His threatenings. Every stage of Israel’s history exemplifies that solemn fact. So it was with individuals: Pharaoh, Korah, Achan and a host of others are so many proofs. And thus it will be with YOU, my reader: unless you have fled or do flee to Christ for refuge, the everlasting burning of the Lake of Fire will be your sure and certain portion. God IS faithful.

God is faithful IN PRESERVING His people. “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son” (I Cor 1:9). In the previous verse promise was made that God would confirm unto the end His own people. The Apostle’s confidence in the absolute security of believers was founded not on the strength of their resolutions or ability to persevere, but on the veracity of Him that cannot lie. Since God has promised to His Son a certain people for His inheritance, to deliver them from sin and condemnation, and to make them participants of eternal life in glory, it is certain that He will not allow any of them to perish.

God is faithful in DISCIPLINING His people. He is faithful in what He withholds, no less than in what He gives. He is faithful in sending sorrow as well as in giving joy. The faithfulness of God is a truth to be confessed by us not only when we are at ease, but also when we are smarting under the sharpest rebuke. Nor must this confession be merely of our mouths, but of our hearts, too. When God smites us with the rod of chastisement, it is FAITHFULNESS which wields it. To acknowledge this means that we humble ourselves before Him, own that we fully deserve His correction, and instead of murmuring, we thank Him for it. God never afflicts without a reason. “For THIS CAUSE many are weak and sickly among you” (I Cor 11:30), says Paul, illustrating this principle. When His rod falls upon us let us say with Daniel, “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces” (9:7).

“I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are right, and that Thou IN FAITHFIULNESS hast afflicted me” (Psa 119:75). Trouble and affliction are not only consistent with God’s love pledged in the everlasting covenant, but they are parts of the administration of the same. God is not only faithful notwithstanding afflictions, but faithful in sending them. “Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer My faithfulness to fail” (Psa 89:32-33). Chastening is not only reconcilable with God’s lovingkindness, but it is the effect and expression of it. It would much quiet the minds of God’s people if they would remember that His covenant love binds Him to lay on them seasonable correction. Afflictions are necessary for us: “In their affliction they will seek Me early” (Hosea 5:15).

God is faithful in GLORIFYING His people. “Faithful is He which calleth you, who also will do” (I Thess 5:24). The immediate reference here is to the saints being “preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” God deals with us not on the ground of our merits (for we have none), but for His own great name’s sake. God is constant to Himself and to His own purpose of grace: “whom He called… them He also glorified” (Rom 8:30). God gives a full demonstration of the constancy of His everlasting goodness toward His elect by effectually calling them out of darkness into His marvelous light, and this should fully assure them of the certain continuance of it. ‘The foundation of God STANDETH SURE” (II Tim 2:19). Paul was resting on the faithfulness of God when he said, “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (II Tim 1:12).

The apprehension of this blessed truth will PRESERVE US FROM WORRY. To be full of care, to view our situation with dark forebodings, to anticipate the morrow with sad anxiety, is to reflect poorly upon the faithfulness of God. He who has cared for His child through all the years will not forsake him in old age. He who has heard your prayers in the past will not refuse to supply your need in the present emergency. Rest on Job 5:19, “He SHALL deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee.”

The apprehension of this blessed truth will CHECK OUR MURMURINGSThe Lord knows what is best for each one of us, and one effect of resting on this truth will be the silencing of our petulant complainings. God is greatly honored when, under trial and chastening, we have good thoughts of Him, vindicate His wisdom and justice, and recognize His love in His very rebukes.

The apprehension of this blessed truth will beget increasing CONFIDENCE IN GOD“Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator” (I Pet 4:19). When we trustfully resign ourselves, and all our affairs into God’s hands, fully persuaded of His love and faithfulness, the sooner shall we be satisfied with His providences and realize that “He doeth ALL things well.”

THE LORD’S LEADING

THE LORD’S LEADING

A.W. Pink

“He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.” [Deut 32:10]

“He led him about.” The “finding” is not the end, but only the beginning of God’s dealings with His own. Having found him, He remains never more to leave him. Now that He has found His wandering child He teaches him to walk in the Narrow Way. There is a beautiful word on God “leading” in Hosea 11:3: “I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms. Just as a fond mother takes her little one, whose feet are yet too weak and untrained to walk alone, so the Lord takes His people by their arms and leads them in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Such is His promise: “He will keep the feet of His saints” (1 Sam. 2:9). There is a threefold “leading” of the Lord:

EVANGELICAL.—The Lord Jesus declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me” (John 14:6). But again He said, ‘No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him” John 6:44). Here then is how God leads: He leads the poor sinner to Christ. Have you, my reader, been brought to the Saviour? Is Christ your only hope? Are you trusting in the sufficiency of His precious blood? If so, what cause have you to praise God for having led you to His blessed Son!

DOCTRINAL.—The Lord Jesus declared, “When He the Spirit of truth is come, He will guide you into all the truth” John 16:13). We are not capable of discovering or entering into the Truth of ourselves, therefore do we have to be guided into it. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14). It is He who makes us to lie down in the “green pastures of Scripture and who leads us beside the “still waters” of His promises. How thankful we ought to be for every ray of light which has been granted us from the lamp of God’s Word.

PROVIDENTIAL.—”Thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night, to show them light, and the way wherein they should go” (Neh. 9:19). Just as Jehovah led Israel of old, so today He leads us step by step through this wilderness-world. What a mercy this is. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delighteth in his way” (Ps. 37:23). Yes, every detail of our lives is regulated by the Most High.

All my times are in Thy hand,
All events at Thy command,
All must come and last and end,
As doth please our Heavenly Friend.

IS CHRIST YOUR LORD?

IS CHRIST YOUR LORD?

Arthur W. Pink

We do not ask: Is Christ your “Savior”?— but is He, really and truly, your Lord? If He is not your Lord, then He is most certainly not your “Savior.” Those who have not received Christ Jesus as their “Lord” and yet suppose Him to be their “Savior,” are deluded, and their hope rests on a foundation of sand.

Multitudes are deceived on this vital point, and therefore, if the reader values his or her soul, we implore you to give a most careful reading to this little tract. When we ask, is Christ your Lord? we do not inquire, Do you believe in the Godhead of Jesus of Nazareth? The demons do that (Mat 8:28-29) and yet perish notwithstanding! You may be firmly convinced of the Deity of Christ, and yet be in your sins. You may speak of Him with the utmost reverence, accord Him, His divine titles in your and yet be unsaved. You may abominate those who traduce His person and deny His divinity, and yet have no spiritual love for Him at all.

When we ask, Is Christ your Lord, we mean, does He in very deed occupy the throne of your heart, and does He actually rule over your life? “We have turned everyone to his own way” (Isa 53:6) describes the course which we all follow by nature. Before conversion every soul lives to please self. Of old it was written, “every man did that which was right in his own eyes,” and why? “In those days there was no King in Israel” (Jdg 21:25). Ah! that is the point we desire to make clear to the reader. Until Christ becomes your King (1Ti 1:17; Rev 15:3), until you bow to His scepter, until His will becomes the rule of your life, self dominates, and thus Christ is disowned.

When the Holy Spirit begins His work of grace in a soul, He first convicts of sin. He shows me the real and awful nature of sin. He makes me realize that it is a species of insurrection, a defying of God’s authority, a setting of my will against His. He shows me that in going my “own way” (Isa 53:6), in pleasing myself, I have been fighting against God. As my eyes are opened to see what a lifelong rebel I have been, how indifferent to God’s honor, how unconcerned about His will—I am filled with anguish and horror, and made to marvel that the thrice Holy One has not long since cast me into Hell. Reader, have you ever gone through this experience? If not, there is very grave reason to fear that you are yet spiritually dead!

Conversion, true conversion, saving conversion, is a turning from sin to God in Christ. It is a throwing down of the weapons of my warfare against Him, a ceasing to despise and ignore His authority. New Testament conversion is described thus: “Ye turned to God from idols to serve [to be in subjection to, to obey] the living and true the God” (1Th 1:9). An “idol” is any object to which we give what is due alone unto God supreme place in our affections, the molding influence of our hearts, the dominating power of our lives. Conversion is a right about face, the heart and will repudiating sin, self, and the world. Genuine conversion is always evidenced by “Lord what wilt Thou W have me to do?” (Act 9:6); it is an unreserved surrendering of ourselves to His holy will. Have you yielded yourself to Him? (Rom 6:13)

There are many people who would like to be saved from Hell, but who do not want to be saved from self-will, from having their own way, from a life of (some form of) worldliness. But God will not save them on their terms. To be saved, we must submit to His terms: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord [having revolted from Him in Adam], and He will have mercy upon him” (Isa 55:7). Said Christ, “Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath [all that is opposed to Me], he cannot be My disciple” (Luk 14:33). Men must be turned [by God] “from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God,” before they can “receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified” (Act 26:18).

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him” (Col 2:6). That is an exhortation to Christians, and its force is—Continue as you began. But how had they “begun”? By receiving “Christ Jesus the Lord,” by surrendering to Him, by subjecting themselves to His will, by ceasing to please themselves. His authority was now owned. His commands now became their rule of life. His love constrained them to a glad and unreserved obedience. They “gave their own selves to the Lord” (2Co 8:5). Have you, my dear reader, done this? Have you? Do the details of your life evidence it? Can those with whom you come into contact see that you are no more living to please self (2Co 5:15)?

Oh my reader, make no mistake upon this point: a conversion which the Holy Spirit produces is a very radical thing. It is a miracle of grace. It is the enthroning of Christ in the life. And such conversions are rare indeed. Multitudes of people have just sufficient “religion” to make them miserable. They refuse to forsake every known sin, and there is no true peace for any soul until he does. They have never “received Christ Jesus the Lord” (Col 2:6). Had they done so, “the joy of the LORD” would be their strength (Neh 8:10). But the language of their hearts and lives (not their “lips”) is, “we will not have this man to reign over us” (Luk 19:14). Is that your case?

The great miracle of grace consists in changing a lawless rebel into a loving and loyal subject. It is a “renewing” of the heart, so that the favored subject of it has come to loathe what he loved, and the things he once found irksome are now winsome (2Co 5:17). He delights “in the law of God after the inward man” (Rom 7:22). He discovers that Christ’s “commandments are not grievous” (1 Jo 5:3), and that “in keeping of them there is great reward” (Psa 19:11). Is this your experience? It would be if you received Christ Jesus THE LORD!

But to receive Christ Jesus the Lord is altogether beyond unaided human power. That is the last which the unrenewed heart wants to do. There must be a supernatural change of heart before there is even the desire for Christ to occupy its throne. And that change, none but God can work (1 Co 12:3). Therefore, “Seek ye the LORD while He may be found” (Isa 55:6). Search for Him with all your heart (Jer 29:13).

Reader, you may have been a professing Christian for years past, and you may have been quite sincere in your profession. But if God has condescended to use this tract to show you that you have never really and truly “received Christ Jesus the Lord,” if now in your own soul and conscience you realize that SELF has ruled you hitherto, will you not now get down on your knees and confess to God. Confess to Him your self-will, your rebellion against Him, and beg Him to so work in you that, without further delay, you may be enabled to yield yourself completely to His will and become His subject, His servant, His loving slave, in deed and in truth?

Christ will not save any who have not submitted to Him as King!

The of way salvation is falsely defined. In most instances the modern “evangelist” assures his congregation that all any sinner has to do in order to escape hell and make sure of heaven is to “receive Christ as his personal Savior.” But such teaching is utterly misleading. No one can receive Christ as his Savior while he rejects Him as Lord! It is true, the preacher adds, that the one who accepts Christ should also surrender to Him as Lord, but he at once spoils it by asserting that though the convert fails to do so, nevertheless heaven is sure to him.

That is one of the devil’s lies! Only those who are spiritually blind would declare that Christ will save any who despise His authority and refuse His yoke: why, my reader, that would not be grace, but a disgrace–charging Christ with placing a premium on lawlessness!

It is in His office of Lord that Christ maintains God’s honor, subserves His government, enforces His Law; and if the reader will turn to those passages (Luke 1:46-47; Acts 5:31; 2 Peter 1:11; 2:20; 3:1) where the two titles occur, he will find that the order is always “Lord and Savior,” and not “Savior and Lord.” Therefore, those who have not bowed to Christ’s sceptre and enthroned Him in their hearts and lives, and yet imagine they are trusting in Him as their Savior are deceived, and unless God disillusions them, they will go down to the everlasting burnings with a lie in their right hand (Isa. 44:20). Christ is “the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9), but the attitude of those who submit not to His Lordship is–“We will not have this Man to rule over us” (Luke 19:14). Pause then, my reader and honestly face the question: Am I subject to His will? Am I sincerely endeavoring to keep His commandments?

“Lord and Savior”

In every passage of the New Testament where these two titles occur together, it is “Lord and Savior,” and never “Savior and Lord.” The mother of Jesus averred, “My soul does magnify the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46, 47). Unless Jehovah had first become her “Lord,” most certainly He would not have been her “Savior.” No spiritual mind that seriously ponders the matter can have any difficulty in perceiving this. How could the thrice holy God save one who scorned His authority, despised His honor, and flouted His revealed will? It is indeed infinite grace that God is ready to be reconciled to us when we throw down the weapons of our rebellion against Him, but it would be an act of unrighteousness, a putting a premium upon lawlessness, were He to pardon any sinner before he was first reconciled to His offended Maker.

In 2 Peter 1:10 the saints of God are bidden to make their “calling and election sure” (and this, by adding to their faith the other graces enumerated in verses 5 to 7), and are assured that if they do so they shall never fail, for so an entrance shall be ministered unto them abundantly “into the everlasting kingdom of our (1) Lord and (2) Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:11): that is, an abundant entrance should be given them now into His kingdom of grace, and hereafter into His kingdom of glory. But what we would particularly note is the order in which Christ’s titles are here mentioned: it is not “our Savior and Lord” as the corrupt preaching and teaching of this degenerate day presents it; but instead, “Lord and Savior,” for He becomes the Savior of none until the heart and will unreservedly receive Him as Lord.

The same principal is clearly illustrated in passages where other titles of Christ occur. Take the opening verse of the New Testament, where He is presented as “Jesus Christ (1) the son of David, (2) the son of Abraham.” Waiving now the “dispensational” signification of these titles, let us view them from the doctrinal and practical viewpoint, which should ever be our first consideration. “Son of David” brings in the throne; it emphasizes His authority; it demands allegiance to His scepter. And “son of David” comes before “son of Abraham!”

In 2 Peter 3:18 God’s people are exhorted to “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Here again God’s order is the very opposite of man’s. Nor is this merely a technical detail, concerning which a mistake is of little moment. No, the subject of which we are now treating is basic, vital, fundamental, and error at this point is fatal. As we have said before, those who have not submitted unto Christ as Lord, but are trusting in Him as “Savior” are deceived, and unless God graciously disillusions them, will go down to their everlasting burnings with a lie in their right hand (Isaiah 44:20).

RIGHTLY INTERPRETING THE ‘ALL THINGS’ IN SCRIPTURE

RIGHTLY INTERPRETING THE ‘ALL THINGS’ IN SCRIPTURE

A.W. Pink

ALL THINGS”! Those two words supply an example of something to which we allude in these pages every once in a while, and which requires to be frequently emphasized in this age of shallowness; namely, the danger there is of being MISLED BY THE SOUND OF CERTAIN EXPRESSIONS IN THE SCRIPTURES through failing to ascertain their real sense.

Among professing Christians, there are not a few superficial people who imagine that the bare quoting of a verse is sufficient to prove their point and silence an opponent, whether that verse be relevant or not, whether the letter of it accords with, or contradicts other passages.

There are others who, in a mistaken zeal for the integrity and authority of the Word, suppose it would be a perversion or denial of it, to place a different meaning upon what appears to be its obvious signification. Luther’s tenacious insistence that Christ’s words concerning the sacramental bread, “this is my body”—must be understood literally, is a case in point. In like manner, it is supposed that when a verse says “all men” or “all things,” that “IT MEANS WHAT IT SAYS” and is to be understood universally.

“Behold, I have told you ALL THINGS ahead of time” (Mark 13:23): surely it is obvious that those words are not to be taken without any limitation.

“Come, see a man, who told me ALL THINGS I ever did” (John 4:29) is not to be understood absolutely.

“ALL THINGS are lawful unto me” (1 Corinthians 6:12) would flatly contradict many passages if it were regarded without any qualification.

When the apostle said, “I am made ALL THINGS to all men” (1 Corinthians 9:22), his words must be explained in the light of what immediately precedes.

“But you have an unction from the Holy One, and you know ALL THINGS” (1 John 2:20) surely does not mean we know everything knowable; for if it did, it would be affirming that those Christians were omniscient.

The words “ALL THINGS,” like all others in Scripture, require interpreting!

“With God ALL THINGS are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Doubtless, it will appear to some of our readers that we rob the statement of much of its preciousness, if we affirm that it cannot be taken without any limitation, yet such is the case! God Himself has plainly told us in His Word that there are some things which He CANNOT do. “God cannot be tempted with evil” (James 1:13), He “cannot deny” Himself (2 Timothy 2:13), He “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), and thankful we are that He cannot. That He is UNABLE to do so, only demonstrates His ineffable holiness and absolute perfection.

“With God all things are possible.” Is this the same as “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14). No, it is not. Nothing can baffle His wisdom, nothing can impede His power, nothing can prevent the outworking of His eternal purpose. The context is speaking of the difficulty of a rich man entering the kingdom. But God can change the heart of a miser, incline the will of the covetous. No sinner is beyond the reach of His grace.

“And we know that ALL THINGS work together for good to those who love God” (Romans 8:28). That too must be understood in the light of its CONTEXT. From verse 16 to the end of the chapter, Paul showed that the AFFLICTIONS to which the saints are exposed in this life, are in no way incompatible with the favor of God unto them. Their sufferings bring them into fellowship with Christ (Romans 8:17). There is no proportion between their afflictions—and their future glory (Romans 8:18-25). Suitable aids are furnished them (Romans 8:26-27). They contribute to our weal. They do not and cannot separate from the love of God (Romans 8:29-39). Thus the “all things” has reference to the “sufferings of this present time” (Romans 8:18).

“God has not made a promise that all the SINS of believers shall work for their good” (Thomas Manton, 1620-1677), to have done so had opened a wide door for carelessness and presumption. Such would be contrary to the analogy of the Word, where threatenings are uniformly made against sin. It would be opposed to the qualification here: “love to God” is our duty and is exercised in obedience and not in sinning. As a fact, the sins of believers are not always overruled for “good” (Jeremiah 5:25; 1 Corinthians 3:15).

“He who spared not his own Son—but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us ALL THINGS?” (Romans 8:32). God has not only given His own Son for His people to discharge their obligations, but He has also given Him to them (as the “with him” clearly implies) to ENRICH them. They are made partakers of His life (Colossians 3:4), of His righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6, Romans 5:19), of His Spirit (Romans 8:9). Christians are “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6) and have been given Christ’s own status and standing before God (1 John 4:17).

Christ is the “appointed heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2) and believers are “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17). God has given Christ to us as a “Covenant,” as a “head” of influence, as our great High Priest. Christ is both the security and the channel of every mercy: God supplies our every need “according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). The “all things” of Romans 8:32 is the “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Of Christ’s fullness “have all we received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). We shall yet share His “glory” (John 17:24).

“For ALL THINGS are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And you are Christ’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23). The Corinthians had yielded to a narrow and sectarian spirit and were pitting one apostle against another, when in reality, their respective ministries were designed for the good of all God’s people alike (Ephesians 4:11-13): the epistles of Peter are as truly the property of the Gentile saints—as those of Paul’s belong to Hebrew believers. From that, the apostle proceeds to make a larger inventory of the Christian’s riches. Not only are all ordinances and the ministries of all God’s servants the common property of His whole family—but so is “the world,” for it exists for their sakes (2 Corinthians 4:15) and is to be “used” – though NOT “ABUSED” – by them (1 Corinthians 7:31).

“Life” is theirs, in contrast from the unregenerate who merely exist (1 Timothy 5:6). “Death” is theirs, for it gives entrance into unclouded bliss. “Things present, or things to come” (1 Corinthians 3:22) are theirs (1 Timothy 4:8). “For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36).

This is one of the few passages where “all things” is to be understood WITHOUT ANY RESTRICTION. That is not an arbitrary assertion of ours—but one required by the general tenor of Scripture, and by the immediate context.

In Romans 9-11, God is set forth as the sovereign Determiner of all creatures and events, and the supreme Disposer of them, who “works ALL THINGS after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11). Everything that happens in the universe is of God’s ordination, is through His operation, and is unto His glory in its termination. As CREATOR, God is the originating cause of all creatures; as PROVIDER, God is their sustaining cause; as GOVERNOR, God is the determining cause of their end.

“Be obedient in all things” (2 Corinthians 2:9): do not pick and choose between God’s commandments, but “have respect unto all Your commandments” (Psalm 119:6).

“Grow up into him in ALL THINGS, which is the head, even Christ” (Ephesians 4:15). Be SYMMETRICAL Christians, flourishing in every grace – in knowledge, faith, love, humility, meekness, patience, self-denial, gentleness, temperance.

“Giving thanks always for ALL THINGS unto God” (Ephesians 5:20): happily recognize and gratefully acknowledge that the very things which cross our wills, and which nature dislikes, are appointed by unerring Wisdom and infinite Love.

“I can do ALL THINGS [appointed by God] through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). That is, His grace is sufficient for every need.

How much confusion is avoided, how many erroneous understandings obviated, if we only go to the trouble of ascertaining the subject under discussion, attend carefully to the context, and, especially, compare one part of Scripture with another.

To cite only one more case in point: “WHATEVER you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). They are sadly mistaken who suppose that promise has no RESTRICTIONS: it must be qualified by James 1:6-7; 4:3; 1 John 3:22, 5:14. 

SUICIDE AND THE SAINT

SUICIDE AND THE SAINT

Scanned and edited from the writings of A.W. Pink by Michael Jeshurun

“And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped Him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, Thou Son of the most high God? I adjure Thee by God, that Thou torment me not. For He said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.” [Mark 5:2-8]

That the man, above recorded, was not only a demoniac, or man possessed with demons, but also a maniac, or mad-man, is evident from the text of v. 15, in which it is said, the people saw him “sitting, and clothed and in his RIGHT MIND.” And it is very evident that the expression in his right mind” can have no reference to the work of the Holy Spirit in him as a sanctified soul, although it may be so spiritualized; for of this secret and Divine work, the common people or unconverted Gadarenes could be no judges, nor could it be cognizible to their senses; but the plain and obvious meaning of the text is this: that the man was restored to the use of his natural faculties, that his mind was both sound and intelligent.

In the passage above cited, the Church of Christ is presented with one of the most remarkable cases in the Book of God, of the preservation of a soul under great tribulation, from the act of self-destruction; of the miraculous deliverance of a child of God, under derangement of mind, from the dreadful crime of SUICIDE. In this affecting narrative, the Christian world is presented with an extraordinary display of the preservation of one of God’s elect (a lunatic) from the commission of suicide, though continually incited to the same, by a host or legion of devils! Of a man in whom the words of the apostle were most truly exemplified, PRESERVED IN CHRIST JESUS, and (then) called ” (Jude 1). And, my brethren, if the soul of the “elect” be thus wondrously preserved in Christ Jesus BEFORE calling, or before the spiritual and saving manifestation of Christ to the soul, how much rather when that soul is sensibly and savingly sanctified by the Presence and Indwelling of God? “Know ye not (says the apostle to the Church at Corinth) that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.

Think for a moment, my Christian friends, of the deplorable state and condition of this poor Maniac, and yet (O amazing truth) a vessel of God’s boundless and eternal mercy. Behold a man, whom no man could tame; fierce and ramping as a lion; a man isolated from his fellow-men, mad, forsaken, desolate; a miserable and terrific outcast; a man, literally full of Devils! Look to his habitation, among the corpses of the dead; and mark, this was not an occasional retreat, but his very dwelling-place; “who had his dwelling among the tombs.” Look too at the state of his body; naked, bleeding, and wounded: to the state of his mind- “crying continually”; driven about with a tempest, sometimes furiously rushing upon the mountains; at others, prowling and weeping among the tombs.

Poor man! And hadst thou no friend to pity thee, none to speak peace to thy bleeding soul? Alas, who dared approach? For he was full of devils (it is worthy to note that no sooner were these spirits permitted to enter the swine, than they led them to instant destruction!) spirits of the damned bent on destruction, and were urging their victim continually to the commission of SUICIDE, “by cutting himself with stones.”

Poor man! And hadst thou no eye to pity thee? Blessed be God! The eternal Jehovah was thy refuge; His everlasting arms were underneath; and therefore the gates of hell could not prevail. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plague: O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from Mine eyes.” O the safety of the soul that is wrapped up in the “bundle of life,” and embosomed in the heart of God! Many waters cannot quench the flame of heavenly love, nor can the floods of hell extinguish it. Such an one may be persecuted of devils, but he shall not be forsaken; cast down of hell, but not destroyed. Sooner or later the sweet music of this precious promise shall ring in his ears, and bring peace and consolation to his afflicted soul: “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of My righteousness.”

O, my Christian brethren, could we have stood upon an elevation and beheld the ravings of this poor Maniac, how affecting had been the sight, how afflictive the contemplation! Now, prowling like a wolf among the dwellings of the dead; then, furiously rushing up and down the mountains, crying, weeping, bleeding. Why does he not plunge from off the mountain’s brow and end his wild career? The arm of Omnipotence restrains him. Why not bleed to death of his wounds? An unseen hand binds them up. But how can mortality sustain such a conflict? The arms of God are underneath; and “Mercy (in Christ) embraceth him on every side.” Nature exhausted, he sinks upon the ground and falls insensibly to sleep. The rains drench his skin, the winds blow, (he hears them not), the tempest rages, and now the rays of the sun dart upon his defenceless head; and yet, he still survives! A spark of heavenly, unextinguishable flame, tossed upon the rude ocean of turbulent and tormenting devils!

Poor and afflicted Child of Mercy! And wherefore thus grievously afflicted and tormented? That in the inscrutable decrees of Jehovah, he might become a Barnabas, a son of CONSOLATION! A pastor after God’s own heart, a feeder of the flock of Christ: “and he departed and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.” A Preacher, not like many of the day who thrust themselves into the Ministry, the leprosy of whose presumption is stamped of God upon their foreheads, but a Minister of the Sanctuary, chosen of the Father, ordained of the Spirit, and sent forth of the Son, to testify of the remorseless tyranny of Satan, the helplessness and wretchedness of man, and the abundant and exceeding riches of the sovereign grace of God; a man of deep and heartfelt experience; a guide to the blind, and a champion for the truth; a preacher inspired of the Spirit, entrusted and empowered of God. But, poor afflicted Child of Mercy! wherefore wast thou thus grievously tried and tormented ? That the power, grace, and glory of God may be transcendently manifest: that in the ages to come, the Church might behold (in this poor Maniac) a bright and living Epistle of the preservation of ALL God’s blood-bought Family FROM THE APPALLING CRIME OF SUICIDE. 

O, my Brethren, how full of sweet and heavenly consolation is the deliverance of this Demoniac to all the distressed and persecuted people of God! Behold a man without human control, without the restraint of human reason, and carried away by Devils as a flood, and yet PRESERVED FROM SUICIDE. Can a stronger case be possibly conceived, or can its parallel be found ?

Poor and afflicted child of God, hast THOU a Legion of Devils in thy soul? THOU SHALT NEVER COMMIT SUICIDE!

Art thou driven as with a tempest night and day; Thou no house, no home? Thou shalt never commit suicide. Art thou deprived of reason, and is thy body naked, bleeding, wounded? Thou shalt never commit suicide; for the Spirit of the Lord shall go forth with healing in His wings, and shall pluck thee out of many waters: He shall bear thee as an olive branch through the windows of heaven, and place thee, as the trophy of Mercy, in the bosom of thy God. “And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” [Isaiah 35:10]

Tossed as a wreck, (with helm of reason lost) little did this Maniac dream of the mercies that awaited him on high: but no sooner has the appointed moment of deliverance arrived, than the Sun of righteousness dispels the gloom: and in His glorious beams the holy Dove descends, broods over her adopted child, and plucks Her darling from the lions. “Sing O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified Himself in Israel.” [Isaiah 44:23] Poor afflicted child of God, dost thou sometimes fear the violence of temptation will lead thee to the commission of Suicide?! Behold a man in whom a legion of Devils appeared to have full sway, a fierce and ramping Maniac; in a word, a man who seemed forsaken of God, and given up to hell, and yet preserved from Suicide. Hitherto thou shalt come, Satan, but no further, and here (TOUCH NOT HIS LIFE) shall thy proud waves be stayed.

Again, the apostle propounds this question to the Church; “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” and then replies, “In ALL these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us:” but do I TRIUMPH in tribulation, if tribulation drives me to SUICIDE?

And lastly, it is the office of the Holy Spirit to work repentance (The dying thief repented, and made a confession to the glory of God!) for sin in the souls of ALL His saints. But how can there be repentance of that sin which carries me as a criminal before the Judge, and presents me reeking with the blood of life? Is there repentance in the grave? The Word says, No! Where then stands my unrepentant soul? Thus the CRIME OF SUICIDE CARRIES THE OFFENDER BEYOND THE PALE OF MERCY (it carries him before God in the very commission of his sin), seals his awful doom, and apportions him eternally with all the sons of perdition. Like Judas and Ahithophel, that man perishes in his iniquity.

SUICIDE IS SELF-MURDER, and is one of the most desperate crimes which can be committed. Inasmuch as this sin precludes repentance on the part of its perpetrator, it is beyond forgiveness. Such creatures are so abandoned by God as to have no concern for their eternal salvation, seeing they pass into the immediate presence of their Judge with their hands imbrued in their own blood. Such are self-murderers, for they destroy not only their bodies but their souls, too.

Now the Spirit testifies, that “all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” [2Tim 3:16] My Christian Brethren, have you a single case in the Divine Record of a saint’s falling into Suicide? I say, have you a single case in the whole Bible of a saint’s having fallen into the commission of that dreadful sin? YOU HAVE NONE! You may search from Genesis to Revelation, but you will find none. Now, if the thing were possible, we ought to have an example, seeing the Word of God is given for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be “thoroughly furnished,” but behold, we have NOT ONE!

What, then, is the common inference or conclusion to be drawn from this memorable fact? The conclusion, I apprehend, will be thus: THAT THE CHILD OF GOD, OR SPIRITUAL BELIEVER IN CHRIST, IS NEVER PERMITTED TO FALL INTO SUICIDE.

But some say, Did not Samson commit Suicide? By no means. He died as a martyr, fighting in the cause of God. He fell contending with the world, and went triumphantly to glory. O there is a mighty difference in dying to the confusion of God’s enemies, and falling as a Suicide to the confusion of friends! When Samson contended with a thousand of his foes, his life was prolonged; but in this, his last conflict, he fought, fell, and conquered as in a moment. Grasping the pillars upon which the house stood, Samson cried unto his God; and having received power from on high (the sanction of the HOLY ONE!) he bowed his head and yielded up the ghost. Like his blessed Lord and Master (of whom he was a glorious type) he overcame most in his death. Samson died a blessed martyr in the cause of God; he fell not into Suicide. Did Stephen shrink to declare the truth in the very teeth of his enemies? So neither did Samson shrink from the pillars of the house, though like Stephen, he were to be stoned to death. Thus fell these champions of the faith, scorning bodily deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. “He that hateth his life in this world,” said our blessed Lord to His disciples, “shall keep it unto life eternal.”

As Mr. Hunt so plainly pointed out, Samson certainly was not guilty of this enormous sin; instead, he died as a godly hero for the good of Israel. It is to be carefully noted that the life of Samson ended by his calling upon the Lord! His last act is one of PRAYER, and it was in direct answer thereto that supernatural strength was granted unto him, so that “the dead which he slew at his death, were more than they which he slew in his life” (Judges 16:28, 30).

But it will be asked, Have not the saints of God ever attempted Suicide ? Most certainly they have; both before and after calling. Like the poor Demoniac recorded by Matthew (chap. 17: 15) they have oftentimes sought their own destruction; but, through Mercy, have, as oftentimes, been wonderfully delivered. “Thou shalt not die, but live, and declare the works of God.” [Psalm 118:17]

“Sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law but under grace.” “Destitute, afflicted, tormented.” One of the dear children of God determines upon self-destruction: carried as by a flood, she steals along the river’s brink, selects the fatal spot, and is just about to plunge into the stream, when suddenly the voice of God is heard; in an instant, Satan flees, the soul is set free, and Christ resumes His throne. O Satan, “thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall, but the Lord helped me!” “The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.” Another child of God draws the knife, but the weapon fails. Another grasps the cup of poison, but his hand so trembles that he cannot hold it to his lips. Another takes a halter and looks for a beam, but is prevented he knows not how. Another suspends his body from a door, but soon the fastening fails, and he drops to the floor.

Carnal professors, whose hearts have been “swept and garnished” by themselves, never dream of such temptations as these, and are ready to reproach and accuse the children of God when thus exercised; but let such professors remember God hath not spoken in vain, “when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” Carried by this flood, David fell into adultery and murder; and poor boasting Peter cursed and swore, and declared he knew not his Lord and Master. Merciful God! What ways and means hast Thou devised to prove the unchangeableness of Thy sovereign mercy, the immutability of Thy Covenant love! My Covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of My lips.” [Psalm 89:34]

PROFESSORS ARE NOT ALWAYS REGENERATED POSSESSORS

But, it may be asked, are there not instances of men celebrated for knowledge of Divine mysteries, and of most exemplary conduct, falling into the crime of Suicide? The fact is notorious, and cannot be denied: but that we may reply to the question effectually, let us turn to the Word of truth, the unerring testimony of God. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity (Christ dwelling in my soul) I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” In other words, though I be ever so gifted, and have not grace, I am nothing.

As a preacher I may be greatly attractive to my hearers; as “one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument;” but if Christ be not formed in my soul “the hope of glory” I am nothing. Even David, that eminent man of God, was deceived in this matter. He took a man of gifts, for a man of grace; but as he advanced in the Divine life, God showed him greater things. He went to the house of God with Ahithophel and took sweet counsel together, and thought him a dear brother in the Lord; but in time of temptation this high-sounding professor (this cymbal of the Sanctuary) fell away. He sided with Absalom in the rebellion, pleaded against the sweet singer of Israel, and sought to compass the death of the king, by the very son of his bowels! I say, therefore, though men be gifted to speak as with the tongues of men and of angels, and draw the eyes of the Church upon them as the beloved of God, if they be not TEMPLES OF THE HOLY GHOST (truly “born of God”), in time of temptation they fall away.

There is more than one instance of suicide recorded in the Bible, and most solemn and instructive is their testimony. There are three cases in all, and each of them was that of a PROFESSOR, who belonged EXTERNALLY to the people of God; but in none of them can it be fairly shown that he was a REGENERATED  soul.

The first was Saul, the apostate king. It is true that for a brief season he seemed to run well—but the evil spirit which troubled him, his rank disobedience to the Lord, his murderous designs upon David, and his consulting with the witch of Endor—all clearly marked him out as a son of Belial, before he took his own life (1 Chron. 10:4).

The second was Ahithophel, who basely deserted David and befriended Absalom in his insurrection (2 Sam. 17:23).

The third was Judas, the traitorous Apostle, who, though he deceived his fellows, was denominated by Christ as “a devil” (John 6:70).

Rightly has it been said “These stand forth as so many monuments of the power of Satan, the strength of despair, and the indignation of the Almighty.” This, in itself, is quite sufficient in our judgment to settle the matter – that the only ones mentioned in Scripture who directly took their own lives, were not believers – but UNBELIEVERSLet the reader carefully ponder that fact. But that is negative evidence; the positive, as we shall see, is equally conclusive.

But before weighing that, perhaps a word or two should be said upon what the Spirit has chronicled about Jonah, for the nearest approach to a saint actually committing suicide is his, for he distinctly bade the sailors in the ship “take me up and cast me forth into the sea” (Jonah 1:12). But observe, first, that was designed for THEIR good, “So shall the sea be calm UNTO YOU!” Second, Jonah did not himself jump overboard. Third, as in the case of Samson, the providence of God had designed that he should be a remarkable type of Christ. Finally, remember that God MIRACULOUSLY DELIVERED HIMas though to show us that He will not, under any circumstances, allow one of His own to destroy himself.

The same feature appears most conspicuously in the case of Job. It should be pointed out first, that the situation of that patriarch was a most desperate one and his sufferings almost unprecedented. Second, he was tempted, yes urged by his wicked wife, to resort unto extreme measures, “curse God, and die” (2:9). Third, poor Job ardently longed for death, as that which would put a happy end to his miseries. This is clear from his own words, “O that I might have my request, and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; that He would let loose His hand and cut me off” (6:8, 9). This is recorded, we need hardly say, for OUR ADMONITION, and not for OUR IMITATION. Fourth, yet though he was peeved at death’s delay, and fretful because life still remained in him, nevertheless the fact remains that HE DID NOT destroy himself. The Lord’s qualification to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; but save his life” (2:6)—makes it clear that while He allows the Devil to sorely BUFFET a saint, he cannot take his LIFE.

“Is suicide A SINor not? Is rebellion a sin, unbelief a sin, despair a sin? Then suicide must be a SIN OF SINS; for it is the last fruit, the highest summit of those sins. Can a man who commits it be said to die in faith, or hope, or love? Where is receiving the end of faith, the salvation of the soul, (1 Peter 1:9), if a man dies in unbelief, as a suicide must do? How can his hope be “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” (Heb. 6:19) if it breaks in the storm? And where is love, when he bids defiance to the Almighty by breaking through the bounds of life and death which He has set up? Evidently he dies in sin, and in a sin for which he can have no repentance, for he cuts himself off from repentance by that same act by which he cuts himself off from life” (J. C. Philpot, Gospel Standard, 1861).

How each of us, then, needs to earnestly pray, “Hold Thou me up and I shall be safe!” [Psalm 119:117]. It is nothing but Sovereign Grace which makes any of us to differ. Probably there are very few Christians but at one time or other seriously pondered suicide, yet the Lord in His covenant-faithfulness either renewed their graces, changed their intentions, or thwarted their efforts – as He did more than once with the hymn-writer of blessed memory, William Cowper. And to those Christians who are fearful lest such a terrible ending as suicide should be their lot, we close by reminding them of the sure promises of the preserving hand of the Most High over His saints. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous—but the Lord DELIVERETH HIM out of them ALL” (Psalm 34:19). “Who are KEPT by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (1 Peter 1:5).

“We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God KEEPETH HIMSELF, and that wicked one toucheth him not” (1 John 5:18). These are strong testimonies to show that Jehovah will not allow Satan to prevail over any of His chosen ones.

 

STRENGTHENING THE HANDS OF THE MOURNERS IN ZION 

STRENGTHENING THE HANDS OF THE MOURNERS IN ZION

A.W. Pink

“Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees.

Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; He will come and save you.” [Isaiah 35:3,4]

It is the duty of the preacher to faithfully warn the young convert that the peace, joy and assurance which usually follows the first realization of sins’ forgiveness, will in turn be succeeded by fierce temptations, inward conflicts, sad failures which will produce grief, darkness, and doubtings. It was so with Abraham, with Moses, with Job, with Peter, with Paul; yea, with all the saints whose biographies are recorded at any length in the Scriptures. Great changes are to be expected in the young convert’s feelings and frames, so that his comforts are dampened, and the dew of death seems to settle upon his graces. A deeper realization of his awful depravity—what he is by nature—will make him groan and cry out “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24); yet that only makes way for a fuller and further weaning from self.

Very often the young Christian is allowed by God to sink yet lower in his experience. Satan is let loose upon him and sin rages fiercely within him, and strive and pray as he may, it often obtains the upper hand over him. Guilt weighs heavily on his conscience, no relief is granted from any source until he now seriously questions the genuineness of his conversion and greatly fears that Satan has fatally deceived him. He feels that his heart is as hard as the nether millstone, that faith in him is dead, that there is no help and no hope for him. He cannot imagine that one who has been born again and is indwelt by the Holy Spirit could be so enslaved by sin. If God were his Father, He would surely hear his cries and grant deliverance from his spiritual enemies. But the heavens are as brass over him until the very breath of prayer seems frozen within him.

Hoping against hope he seeks relief from the pulpit. But in vain. The sermons he hears only aggravate his woes for they depict the Christian’s experience as vastly different from his own: they deal with the bright side and say little or nothing on the dark side. If he converses with the professing Christians of the day he is likely to get laughed at, and told to cease being occupied with himself and look only to Christ, to lay hold of the promises of God and go on his way rejoicing. That is the very thing he most of all desires: “to will IS present” with him, “but how to perform that which is good” he “finds NOT” (Rom. 7:18). Poor soul! is there no one that understands his case? no one qualified to minister comfort to him? Alas, alas, there are few indeed in this frothy age.

Here, again, experimental preaching is urgently needed, preaching which enters into the very experiences described above—experiences shared, in some measure, by all quickened souls while they are in this “Wilderness of Sin.” But O what wisdom from on High (not from books!) is needed if, on the one hand, the “smoking flax” is not to be “quenched” and the “bruised need” not broken—and, on the other hand, sin be not made light of, failures be not excused, and the standard of holiness be not lowered. The pulpit should declare frankly that there are times when the mind of the believer is filled with deep distress, that there are seasons when the light of God’s countenance is turned away from His people, and the Devil is permitted to sorely wound them, tell them that they have committed the unpardonable sin, and that there is no hope for them; but that such experiences are no proof at all that they are still unregenerate.

The preacher has to bear steadily in mind that if there are among his hearers carnal professors who are ready to seize eagerly anything which would bolster them up in their false assurance, there are also feeble and ailing babes in Christ which require tender nursing (Isa. 60:4; 1 Thess. 2:7), and little ones of God’s family who lack assurance, and because of this think the worst of themselves. It is therefore wise business to “take forth the precious from the vile” (Jer. 15:19): that is, by a discriminating ministry expose and terrify the sin-hardened, but speak words of comfort to the real mourners in Zion. “In our congregations there are wheat and chaff on the same floor: we cannot distinguish them by name, but we must by character” (Matthew Henry).

We must make it clear that those who regard sin lightly, have not the fear of God before their eyes; those not grieved because they find so much in their hearts opposed to Divine holiness, are unregenerate—no matter how much head-knowledge of the Truth they possess or how loud be their Christian profession.

It is at this very point that the true under-shepherd of Christ stands out in marked contrast from the “hireling” of the flock, concerning whom God says, “Ye have made the heart of the righteous sad, whom I have not made sad; and strengthened the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life” (Ezek. 13:22). On the one hand, the regenerate are “made sad” by pratings about “the victorious life,” or “the second blessing,” or “the baptism of the Spirit.” These blind leaders of the blind claim to have so “got out of Romans 7 into Romans 8,” to have so left behind them all inward conflicts and agonizing doubtings, as to virtually have entered into the state of the glorified—causing real Christians to conclude that they know nothing of that Gospel which is “the power of God unto salvation” and must be complete strangers to a miracle of grace within them.

On the other hand, these false prophets declare that all who have “accepted Christ as their personal Saviour” are saved, even though they have not yet received the second blessing, that they are justified though not “entirely sanctified.” They assure the godless, the worldling, the pleasure-intoxicated, that they may be saved at this very moment on the sole and simple condition that they believe God so loved them as to give His Son to die for them. Thus peace is assured to the unconcerned “when there is no peace,” the hearts of the careless are hardened, and the wicked are promised life without any regard to God’s demand that they must “forsake” their idols. “Nor can anything strengthen the hands of sinners more than to tell them they may be saved in their sins without repentance; or that there may be repentance, though they do not return from their wicked ways” (Matthew Henry).

The duty of God’s servants is clearly enough defined in this respect: “They shall teach My people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean” (Ezek. 44:23). Surely it is of vast importance that a deeply exercised soul should know whether or not his sins have been cleansed by the blood of Christ. But for that, teaching is necessary, teaching from a Divinely-qualified teacher; for if an inexperienced “novice” lays his hand to such a task he will only make bad matters worse and add to the fearful confusion which now prevails on every side. Only one who has himself sailed much in these deep waters is fitted to serve as pilot to floundering ships; none but one who had been harassed by Satan as Bunyan had, could have written “The Pilgrim’s Progress.”

“That we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (2 Cor. 1:4) states the principle. One who has actually suffered from a serious disease is best fitted to recognize symptoms of it in others and recommend the remedies which he found most efficacious. Furthermore, one must be personally taught by the Spirit before he can explain to sin-sick and Satan tormented souls the “mystery of the Gospel”— the strange paradoxes of the Christian life.

It is one thing to read “for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:10), it is quite another matter to prove the truth of it in actual experience. Nor is that statement any more paradoxical than the fact that it is the spiritually “poor” who are spiritually rich (Matt. 5:3). And equally true is it that those who most clearly perceive their filthiness and mourn over their pollution are they who have the best evidence that their sins have been washed away; as the most humble souls are the ones who most bewail their pride.

Seven HUMAN Looks

Seven HUMAN Looks

Arthur Pink

We continue to write upon “Looking,” for, said the prophet, ” Mine EYE affecteth mine HEART” (Lam 3:51). John Bunyan (1620-1677) wrote impressively on “Eyegate” and showed what a large part it played in admitting enemies into the CITY OF MANSOUL. The HEART has no more influential gate than the eyes; and if we are wise, we shall do as the patriarch and make “a covenant” with them (Job 31:1). Guard your EYE — and thereby safeguard your HEART.

Blessed are they who use their EYES to noble purpose, but better to have been born blind than PERVERT such a gift! Observation exerts a considerable influence upon the inner man, and therefore is no small factor in molding the life. But alas, observation is not always rightly used: instead of evoking reflectiveness, drawing out sympathy, and leading to kindly deeds — only too often it excites our corruptions and issues in evil works. Whether observation affects us for good or evil, depends not only upon the OBJECTS CONTEMPLATED, but also upon our REFLECTIONS on and reactions to the same.

1. The look of FAITH. “And the LORD said unto Abram…Lift up now your eyes, and look from the place where you are northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it” (Gen 13:14-15). That was in sharp contrast with the greed of his nephew, Lot, who “lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan” (verse 10), which was the look of covetousness. God here made a great promise and gift to His servant, and bade Abraham view his fair heritage, for it was a land flowing with milk and honey. As he gazed upon such an attractive portion, his heart would indeed be affected by a sense of the LORD’s goodness and magnanimity.

And so should it ever be with us. As we behold the wondrous handiwork of God all around us in the realm of creation, we should admire His wisdom, be awed by His power, and adore the grace of Him who “giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17) — to evoke thoughtfulness, regale our senses, and minister so freely to our needs. God’s workmanship in nature should fill us with wonderment and gratitude.

2. The look of DISOBEDIENCE. “But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” (Gen 19:26). Solemn indeed is that, and chronicled for our admonition. God had given express command, “Look NOT behind you” (verse 17), but Lot’s wife disregarded His injunction. In unbelief and love to Sodom, she looked back and probably attempted to return there, for in Luke 17:31-32, we find that our Lord pointed His prohibition, “Let him likewise not RETURN BACK” with the warning, “Remember Lot’s wife.”

This incident is recorded to show us the peril of HANKERING AFTER FORBIDDEN AND FORSAKEN OBJECTS, and to make us fear and tremble, lest after having escaped the corruption which is in the world through the knowledge of Christ, we are again entangled therein, and overcome, only to find our latter end is worse than the beginning (2 Peter 2:20). Lot’s wife was turned into a pillar of salt as a lasting monument of God’s displeasure against apostates. True conversion is the renouncing of the world, the flesh, and the devil; and it is at our peril that we lust after the things we have abandoned. As Matthew Henry (1662-1714) says, “Drawing back is to perdition, and looking back is TOWARDS it.”

3. The look of CURIOSITY. “And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bore unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land” (Gen 34:1). So far as Scripture informs us, she was the only daughter he had, and with so many brothers, was probably petted and spoiled. Born just before Joseph (Gen 30:21-24), she could not have been more than fifteen or sixteen; and therefore, her MOTHER was more to blame than she was. The Hebrew for “went out to see the daughters of the land” implies “to look about with them.” Probably it was some occasion of public festivity, and unrest and discontent with the tent possessed her; and a spirit of inquisitiveness moved her to mix with the ungodly and to look at the customs and fashions of the heathen. The sequel was disastrous, for not only did she lose her honor, but her conduct led to her brothers committing murder.

For young girls to get away from the eyes of their mothers and go out unchaperoned is highly dangerous, because of their inexperience of the world, their ignorance of the artifices of unscrupulous men, and their proneness to be easily deceived by flatterers. Let young women bear in mind that God has inseparably linked together “discreet, chaste — keepers at home” (Titus 2:5)!

4. The look of CONTEMPT. “And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth” (1 Samuel 17:42). Goliath could scarcely believe his eyes when he saw this stripling advancing toward him, and “looked about” for one whom he deemed more “worthy of his steel.” He was expecting to be confronted with the champion of Israel’s army; and thus, when he perceived that an unarmed shepherd-boy had entered the lists against him, the Philistine utterly despised him. Therein he made the fatal mistake of underestimating his enemy. David indeed had no coat of armor upon him, but, what was infinitely preferable, he was clothed with “the whole armor of God” (Eph 6:11, 13). He might be totally unacquainted with the arts of warfare, but he knew from personal experience that JEHOVAH fails no one who really trusts Him. Said he, “You come to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied” (1 Samuel 17:45); and the giant fell before him.

Learn, then, that might cannot prevail over weakness — when that weakness leans upon the Almighty!

5. The look of DISCONTENT. “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought…and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit” (Ecc 2:11). That was the disappointing discovery made by the one man whom God permitted to obtain everything which the carnal heart craves. The force of his honest acknowledgment is the better perceived by observing what he tells us in the nine verses preceding, and then listening to his summing up: “And whatever my eyes desired, I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for mine heart rejoiced in all my labor” (Ecc 2:10). But having realized his ambitions and gratified every desire, he found that so far from their affording him any real and lasting satisfaction, they still left an aching void within.

Mere THINGS — however costly or lovely in themselves — cannot meet the real needs of the soul. The heart was made for God, and He alone can fill it. SELF’S enjoyment of the joys of this earth, leaves nothing but emptiness behind. The thirst of the soul, cannot be quenched by the cisterns of this world. Gold can purchase nothing, but what proves to be vanity. Christ alone “satisfies the longing soul” (Psalm 107:9).

6. The look of HUMILIATION. “Hearken to me, you that follow after righteousness, you that seek the LORD…and to the hole of the pit whence you are dug” (Isa 51:1). That is very necessary if a humble spirit is to be preserved in the child of God. It is a most beneficial exercise to look back and view our origin, and behold what we were when the hand of divine mercy was first laid upon us. “Wherefore remember,” says the apostle, “that you being in time past Gentiles in the flesh…That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph 2:11-12).

Remember it to your shame. Look to the “horrible pit and the miry clay” (Psalm 40:2), out of which the God of all grace brought you, that you may be confounded and never more open your mouth boastfully (Ezekiel 16:63). Daily ponder the question, “Who makes you to differ from another?” (1 Corinthians 4:7) — not only from those who are hastening to destruction, but from what you were YOURSELF only a short time since! Let such a look humble you into the dust!

7. The look of HOPE. “Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.” (Jon 2:4). That is, though because of my reprehensible conduct, You no longer view me with approbation and delight; nevertheless, I will not give way to despair, but cast myself upon Your mercy. Those words, “I will look again toward your holy temple,” show that his faith laid hold of that statement: “and shall pray unto the LORD toward the city which Thou hast chosen, and toward the house that I have built for Thy name: Then hear Thou in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.” (1 Kings 8:44-49 and compare 2 Chronicles 20:9).

When a captive in Babylon, Daniel had acted on the same (Dan 6:10), and now the chastened prophet made it HIS confidence. Though in the whale’s belly, he refused to abandon hope. He “remembered the LORD: and his prayer came in unto Him, into His holy temple” (Jon 2:7). He remembered His grace, His faithfulness, His power, His past mercies — and turned unto Him the eyes of expectation; and he was miraculously delivered! Oh, what encouragement is there here for every failing saint who is tempted to despond.

Sighing in Prayer

Sighing in Prayer

A. W. Pink

The exercises of soul and pangs of heart find expression in sighs and sobs, in moans and groans, yet such as mere nature never produced. The word “sigh” has a much stronger force in its Scriptural usage than in our ordinary conversation, or we should say, in more modern speech, for three hundred years ago it signified a lament rather than a mark of peevishness. “And the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage” (Ex. 2:23), the meaning of which is explained in the next verse: “And God heard their groaning.” Their “sighing” expressed their suffering and sorrow under the oppression of their Egyptian taskmasters. So again, we read that the sorely afflicted Job declared “For my sighing cometh before my meat, and my roarings are poured out like the waters” (Job 3:24). So by prayer sighs we intend those agitations and breathings of soul which are virtually synonymous with groans.

A “sigh” is an inarticulate declaration, and indistinct cry for deliverance. The saints are sometimes so opposed and troubled that they cannot find language suited to their emotions: where words fail them, the thoughts and feelings of their hearts find expression in sighs and cries. The workings of a Christian’s heart under the pressure of indwelling sin, the temptations of Satan, the opposition of the ungodly, the burden of uncongenial society, the wickedness of the world, the low state of the Cause of Christ on earth, are variously described in Scripture. Sometimes he is said to be “in heaviness” (1 Pet. 1:6), to “cry out of the depths” (Psa. 130:1), to “roar” (Psa. 38:8), to be “overwhelmed” (Psa. 61:2), to be “distracted” (Psa. 88:13). The tossings and anguish of his soul are depicted as “groanings” (Rom. 8:23).

The groanings of the believer are not only expressive of sorrow, but also of hope, of the intensity of his spiritual desires, of his panting after God, and his yearning for the bliss which awaits him on high (2 Cor. 5:2,4). Such exercises of soul are peculiar to the regenerate, and by them the Christian may identify himself. If the reader now be the subject of sorrows and sighs to which he was a total stranger while in a state of nature, then he may be assured he is no longer dead in sins. If he finds himself groaning over the infection of his heart and those workings of inward corruption which prevent his perfectly loving and uninterruptedly serving God as he longs to do, that is proof that a principle of holiness has been communicated to his soul. If he mourns over the lustings of his flesh against that principle of holiness, then he must be alive unto God.

The worldling will groan over the common troubles of life, such as financial loss, pain of body, the death of a loved one, but that is only the voice of nature. But the worldling never weeps in secret over the coldness of his heart or the workings of unbelief. “Groans” or “sighs” are the evidences of spiritual life, the pantings of holiness, hungering and thirsting after righteousness. They are, as Mr. Winslow expressed it, “The ruled chimings of Heaven.” They are the sure pledges of deliverance (2 Cor. 5:4). They are the marks of the Christian’s union with Him who was “The Man of Sorrows.”

Before Christ healed the deaf man, we read that “He sighed” (Mark 7:34), which expressed His deep sympathy with the sufferer, as one “touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” And again, when the Pharisees came to Him, “tempting Him” by asking a sign from heaven, we are told that Christ “sighed deeply in His spirit” (Mark 8:11,12), which denoted His holy indignation at their sin, godly sorrow for their persons, and grief within His own soul, for He “suffered” when He was “tempted” (Heb. 2:18). His holiness felt contact with evil.

“The nearer anyone is to heaven, the more he desires to be there. Because Christ is there. For the more frequent and steady are our views of Him by faith, the more do we long and groan for the removal of all obstructions and hindrances. Groaning is a vehement desire, mixed with sorrow, for the present want of what is desired” (John Owen).

Now the spiritual sighs and groanings of the Christian are interpreted by God as prayers! Those sacrifices which are acceptable to Him are “a broken and a contrite heart” (Psa. 51:7). Sobbings of soul are of great price in His sight (Psa. 61:8). The believer’s moans are intelligible language to heaven: “the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping” (Psa. 6:8): that “weeping” possesses an appeal unto Him which the eloquence of professional praying does not. “Lord, all my desire is before Thee, and my groaning is not hid from Thee” (Psa. 38:9).

Our tears speak to Him of godly sorrow, our moans as the breathings of a contrite spirit. “From heaven did the Lord behold the earth: to hear the groaning of the prisoner” (Psa. 102:20). Here then is consolation: God is privy to our secret sighs, Christ is touched with them (Heb. 4:15), they ascend as petitions to heaven, and are the sure pledges of deliverance.

Praise the Lord!