SEVEN STRANDS IN THE ROPE WHICH BIND THE ELECT TO GOD
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s hand.” – (John 10:27-29)
No stronger passage in all the Word of God can be found guaranteeing the absolute security of every child of God. Note the SEVEN STRANDS in the rope which binds them to God.
FIRST, they are Christ’s sheep, and it is the duty of the shepherd to care for each of his flock! To suggest that any of Christ’s sheep may be lost is to blaspheme the Shepherd Himself.
SECOND, it is said “They follow” Christ, and no exceptions are made; the Lord does not say they ought to, but declares they do. If then the sheep “follow” Christ they must reach Heaven, for that is where the Shepherd is gone!
THIRD, to the sheep is imparted “eternal life”: to speak of eternal life ending is a contradiction in terms.
FOURTH, this eternal life is “given” to them: they did nothing to merit it, consequently they can do nothing to demerit it.
FIFTH, the Lord Himself declares that His sheep “shall never perish,” consequently the man who declares that it is possible for a child of God to go to Hell makes God a liar.
SIXTH, from the SHEPHERD’S “hand” none is able to pluck them, hence the Devil is unable to encompass the destruction of a single one of them.
SEVENTH, above them is the FATHER’S “hand,” hence it is IMPOSSIBLE for them to jump out of the hand of Christ even if they tried to. It has been well said that if one soul who trusted in Christ should be missing in Heaven, there would be one vacant seat there, one crown unused, one harp unstrung; and this would grieve all Heaven and proclaim a disappointed God.
But such a thing is utterly impossible!
THE CHRISTIAN IN THE WRONG PLACE
“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’
ALL MEN HAVE NOT FAITH – FOR GOD GIVES IT NOT TO ALL MEN
No man can believe until God has given him faith. WHERE is your ‘proof-text’ for that preacher? Alright good, because I don’t want you to accept anything from me unless I can prove it by God’s Word. Do not accept anything from any preacher no matter who he is unless he gives you a “Thus saith the Lord!” to back it up with.
Now turn to Ephesians 2:8,9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Faith is not of yourselves. “Believing” is, just as seeing is (a gift). Now turn to II Thessalonians 3:1,2 and brothers and sisters in Christ, THIS is what I wish that you would pray for this preacher: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.” The word “men” is in italics here and it is correct because he is speaking of ‘men’ in the first part of the verse. “that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men for all men have not faith.” WHY do not all men have faith? Because God does not give it to all! THAT is the reason why all men do not believe. Well, you say, WHY does not God give it to all? You must ask Him.
Now I must pass on to something else – 2Peter 1:1 – “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have EXCERCISED like precious faith.” No, sir, it does not say that! “to them that have OBTAINED like precious faith!” From WHOM did they open it? The third verse tells us, “According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness.” It was His divine power that gave us all things that pertain to life and to godliness.
God foresaw and God forknew that not a single member of the human race ever would believe if He left them to themselves. Consequently in His own Sovereign Grace He purposed to give faith to His own elect. Well, you say, where is your proof of that? The first verse of Titus. I’m going to keep you close to the scriptures tonight: “Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, ACCORDING TO THE FAITH OF GOD’S ELECT” Their you have it staring you right in the face! It is coming at you like a cannonball. And you had better duck your head if you want to escape it! You had better bow before it! For God in His Word says, “the faith of God’s elect” and “all men have not faith” WHO do have? Those to whom God gives it! To whom does He give it? His elect! WHY does He give it to them and nobody else? That is His business and that is one of the things that is hard to the understood.
[Quoted from one of A.W. Pink’s transcribed sermons preached at the Tabernacle, Ashfield, New South Wales – June 1925]
THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE NUMBER SEVEN IN SCRIPTURE
Like nature, mathematics proves the existence of the spiritual, and in scripture numbers play a very important role. Numbers are very significant to the Jews. There is even a book called ‘Numbers’ in the Bible.
While we reject all forms of Pagan ‘Numerology’ as we do Astrology, we do not deny the significance of numbers in the Word of God!
In his book ‘Why four Gospels’ A.W. Pink writes concerning the number Seven–
“It is striking to discover how frequently this numeral is found here, and when we remember the significance of this numeral it is even more arresting. Seven is the number of perfection, and absolute perfection is not found until we reach God Himself. How wonderful, then, that in this Gospel which sets forth the Deity of Christ, the number seven meets us at every turn!
By seven different persons is the Deity of Christ confessed here, and, as we have seen seven times does He fill out the ineffable “I am” title. John records seven miracles performed by our Lord during His public ministry, no more and no less. Seven times do we read, “These things have I spoken unto you.” Seven times did Christ address the woman at the well. Seven times, in John 6, did Christ speak of Himself as “The Bread of Life.”
Seven things we read of the Good Shepherd doing for His sheep, and seven things Christ says about His sheep in John 10. Seven times does Christ make reference to “the hour” which was to see the accomplishment of the Work given Him to do. Seven times did He bid His disciples pray “in His name.” Seven times is the word “hate” found in John 15. There are seven things enumerated in John 16:13,14 which the Holy Spirit is to do for believers. There were seven things which Christ asked the Father for believers in John 17, and seven times over does He there refer to them as the Father’s “gift” to Him. Seven times in this Gospel do we read that Christ declared He spoke only the Word of the Father—John 7:16; 8:28; 8:47; 12:49; 14:10; 14:24; 17:8. Seven times does the writer of this Gospel refer to himself, without directly mentioning his own name. There are seven important things found in John which are common to all four Gospels. And so we might continue. Let the reader search carefully for himself and he will find many other examples”.
When man began to analyze and combine numbers, he developed other interesting symbols. He took the perfect world number FOUR and added to it the perfect divine number, THREE, and got SEVEN, the most sacred number to the Hebrews.
In the Book of Revelation the number SEVEN is used throughout. There are SEVEN churches, SEVEN Spirits, SEVEN stars, SEVEN seals, SEVEN trumpets, SEVEN vials, SEVEN personages, SEVEN dooms, and SEVEN new things. SEVEN symbolizes Spiritual Perfection. All of life revolves around this number. SEVEN is used over 700 times in the Bible. It is used 54 times in the Book of Revelation.
“In the days of the voice of the SEVENTH angel, when he shall begin to sound the mystery of God should be FINISHED.”
“And the SEVENTH angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne saying, It is DONE.” (Revelation 16:17)
The word CREATED is used SEVEN times in connection with God’s creative work. (Genesis 1:1; Genesis 1:21; 1:27 (three times); 2:3; and 2:4). God created all things in the beginning and then took six days of restoring His creation and then rested on the SEVENTH day. (Genesis 2:1-3). He appointed SEVEN days for the week, and most, if not all advanced nations reckon time in that way: SEVEN days to the week. Few ever stop to think of why there are SEVEN days in a week. Do atheists and infidels give God and the Bible credit for it?
There are SEVEN notes in the musical scale. All other pitches are only variations of these. When the musician uses the eighth note he goes back to “do” and starts over. Man named the notes but God fixed the sounds, even as God fixed the days of the week, and man named them.
On the day of atonement the high priest sprinkled the blood upon the mercy seat SEVEN times. (Leviticus 16:14) This is a picture of the COMPLETENESS of the redemptive work of Christ.
When Israel took the city of Jericho God told them to march around the city SEVEN times. Thus, on the SEVENTH day, when they marched around the city SEVEN times, they COMPLETED their marching. (Joshua 6:1-16)
There were SEVEN branches on the CANDLESTICK in the Holy Place in the Tabernacle and this pictures the COMPLETE light of God for the souls of man.
Solomon was SEVEN years in building the Temple and kept the Feast for SEVEN days. Job had SEVEN sons. When his friends came to visit him they sat SEVEN days and SEVEN nights in silence, and afterward they were required to offer a Burnt Offering of SEVEN bullocks and SEVEN rams. Naaman washed SEVEN times in the Jordan. The Saviour spoke SEVEN words from the Cross. SEVEN men of honest report were chosen to administer the alms of the church in Acts 6:1-7. There were SEVEN years of plenty and SEVEN years of famine in Egypt during the days of Joseph.
SEVEN times the Book of Life is mentioned in the Bible. The Book of Revelation is a Book of SEVENS. We have SEVEN churches, SEVEN seals, SEVEN Trumpets, SEVEN Personages, SEVEN vials (sic), SEVEN dooms, SEVEN new things. SEVEN SEVENS make up this Book . It is the COMPLETENESS of all things.
Jesus said to “forgive SEVENTY times SEVEN“ In other words, He is saying, “Keep on forgiving until you are complete.” Even the duration of Israel’s great punishments was based upon this law of SEVENS. Their captivity in Babylon was for SEVENTY years, ten periods of SEVENS. (Jeremiah 25:11-12; Daniel l9:2)
Life operates in a cycle of SEVENS. Changes take place in the body every SEVEN years. There are SEVEN bones in the neck, SEVEN bones in the face, SEVEN bones in the ankle, and SEVEN holes in the head. Most births are multiple of SEVENS. The hen sits three weeks (21 days); the pigeon two weeks (14 days); after having laid eggs for two weeks. Of 129 species of Mammalia (sic) the majority have a period from conception to birth of an exact number of weeks, a multiple of SEVEN.
Human physiology is constructed on a law of SEVENS. Children are born to mothers in a certain number of weeks usually 280 days, a multiple of SEVENS. Fevers and intermittent attacks of gout, ague, and similar complaints have a period of operation of SEVEN, FOURTEEN or TWENTY-ONE days knows as critical days.
All departments of nature are marked all over with mathematics. In this realm practically everything is in SEVENS. Notice next time the shape of frost when it crystallizes on the window. Notice the small snow flakes. It is wonderful how God formed everything in a pattern of SEVENS.
It would be well for the reader to always remember the SEVEN means COMPLETENESS or SPIRITUAL PERFECTION. Whenever you come to a SEVEN in the Word of God read the meaning and the message is plain.
Now isn’t that interesting?! Let men say what they may, but I am persuaded that nothing in Scripture is by chance or unintentional. Even the number 40 in Scripture is very significant of testing and trial, and you would be amazed at the occurrence of this number if you did a study on it.
CONTRARY TO POPULAR OPINION THE SCRIPTURES DO NOT TEACH THAT ADAM WAS SAVED
The careful reader will notice that the words “there is” have been supplied by the translators — unnecessarily, we feel. The fool does not say in his head, “There is no God”; rather he says in his HEART, “No God for ME. I decline allegiance to Him.” It is not intellectual unbelief denying the existence of Deity, but the enmity of a rebel who refuses to practically own or be in subjection to God. The original has it –“The fool hath said in his heart, No God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works” (Psalm 14:1).
It is not the denial of God’s EXISTENCE, but the affirmation that he desires no contact with him: “I desire no God; I would that He did not exist”. Most significant and noticeable is that change of number in the pronouns, though for some strange reason it appears to have escaped the notice of the commentators — at any rate none whom we have consulted makes any reference to it. The verses which follow give a full description of the deplorable condition of all mankind, and that is prefaced with a statement about “the fool.” Nor is there the slightest difficulty in identifying him. WHO is the fool of all fools? ADAM was the arch-fool. His heart had become devoid of wisdom. Thus was the father of our race. What could his children be like? Our verse answers, “They are corrupt”, and prove themselves to be so by doing abominable works.
We by no means share the popular idea that the Lord SAVED ADAM very soon after his fall; rather we take decided exception to that theory. We cannot find anything whatever in Holy Writ on which to base such a belief; in fact, we find much to the contrary. First it is clear that Adam’s sin was not one of infirmity, but instead a presumptuous one, pertaining to that class of willful sins and open defiance of God for which no sacrifice was provided (Exodus 21:14; Num. 15:30-31; Deut. 17:12; Heb. 10:26-29), and which was therefore an unpardonable sin.
There is not the slightest sign that he ever repented of his sin, nor any record of his confessing it to God. On the contrary, when charged with it, he attempted to excuse and extenuate it. Genesis 3 closes with the awful statement “So he DROVE OUT the man.” Nothing whatever is mentioned to Adam’s credit afterward: no offering of sacrifice, no acts of faith or obedience. Instead we are merely told that he knew his wife (4:1, 25), begat a son in his own likeness, and died (5:3-5). If the reader can see in those statements any intimation or indication that Adam was a regenerated man, then he has much better eyes than the writer — or possibly a more lively imagination.
Nor is there a single word in Adam’s favor in later scriptures; rather is everything to his condemnation. Job denied that he covered his transgressions or hid his iniquity in his bosom “as Adam” did (31:33). The psalmist declared that those who judged unjustly and accepted the persons of the wicked should die like Adam (82:7), for the Hebrew word there rendered “men” is ADAM. In the New Testament he is contrasted in considerable detail with Christ (Rom. 5:12, 21; I Cor. 15:22, 45-47); and if he were saved, then the antithesis would fail at its principal point.
Moreover, such an anomaly—that the great majority of those whom he represented should eternally perish, while the responsible head should be recovered—is quite out of keeping with what is revealed of God’s justice. In I Timothy 2:14 specific mention is made of the fact that “Adam was not deceived,” which emphasizes the enormity of his transgression. In Hebrews 11 the Holy Spirit has cited the faith of Old Testament saints, and though He mentions that of Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others, He says nothing about Adam’s! His being omitted from that list is solemnly significant. After his being driven out of Eden, Scripture makes no mention of God having any further dealing with Adam!” – A.W. Pink
“Appeal is made by some to Genesis 3:21. But this far from conclusive that Adam was saved. Did not Jehovah clothe our first parents with skins for the purpose of teaching them the worthlessness of their fig-leaf aprons? As well as to teach us the need for a covering Divinely provided? The closing verse of Genesis 3 not only sets aside the conclusion which many have drawn from Gen 3:21, but, in the judgment of the writer, clearly evidences that Adam was not saved: “So He (the Lord God) DROVE OUT THE MAN! The only other references in Genesis to Adam after this are 4:1; 4:25,26; 5:1-5!” – A.W. Pink
If indeed God clothing our first parents as many suppose was their ‘salvation’ . . . does God save men and then drive them out from His presence?! (Gen 3:24)
Your servant for His sake
GOD HAS NEED OF NOTHING!
It is not uncommon to hear amongst Arminians that God when He had done creating all that He did – the heavens and the earth, etc realized that He was ‘lonely’. He yearned for somebody to love. If He had so wanted He could have created men as robots ‘programmed’ to love Him. But He wanted a being that would love Him freely of his own choice and ‘free-will’ and so he created man, blah blah.
Many even amongst true Christians swallow this ‘yarn’ blindly and do greatly err, neither knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God. [Matt 22:29]
But here is what A.W. Pink had to say regarding this misconception of a ‘lonely God’ –
THE SOLITARINESS OF GOD.
The title of this article is perhaps not sufficiently explicit to indicate its theme. This is partly due to the fact that so few today are accustomed to meditate upon the personal perfections of God. Comparatively few of those who occasionally read the Bible are aware of the awe-inspiring and worship-provoking grandeur of the Divine character. That God is great in wisdom, wondrous in power, yet full of mercy, is assumed by many to be almost common knowledge; but, to entertain anything approaching an adequate conception of His being, His nature, His attributes, as these are revealed in Holy Scripture, is something which very, very few people in these degenerate times have attained unto. God is solitary in His excellency. “Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” (Ex. 15:11).
“In the beginning, God” (Gen. 1:1). There was a time, if “time” it could be called, when God, in the unity of His nature (though subsisting equally in three Divine Persons), DWELT ALL ALONE. “In the beginning, God.” There was no heaven, where His glory is now particularly manifested. There was no earth to engage His attention. There were no angels to hymn His praises; no universe to be upheld by the word of His power. There was nothing, no one, but God; and that, not for a day, a year, or an age, but “from everlasting.” During a past eternity, GOD WAS ALONE: SELF-CONTAINED, SELF-SUFFICIENT, SELF-SATISFIED; IN NEED OF NOTHING.
Had a universe, had angels, had human beings been necessary to Him in any way, they also had been called into existence from all eternity. The creating of them when He did, added nothing to God essentially. He changes not (Mal. 3:6), therefore His essential glory can be neither augmented nor diminished.
God was under no constraint, no obligation, no necessity to create. That He chose to do so was purely a sovereign act on His part, caused by nothing outside Himself, determined by nothing but His own mere good pleasure; for He “worketh all things after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11). That He did create was simply for His manifestative glory. Do some of our readers imagine that we have gone beyond what Scripture warrants? Then our appeal shall be to the Law and the Testimony: “Stand up and bless the Lord your God forever and ever: and blessed be Thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise” (Neh. 9:5). God is no gainer even from our worship. He was in no need of that external glory of His grace which arises from His redeemed, for He is glorious enough in Himself without that. What was it moved Him to predestinate His elect to the praise of the glory of His grace? It was, as Ephesians 1:5 tells us, according to the good pleasure of His will.
We are well aware that the high ground we are here treading is new and strange to almost all of our readers; for that reason it is well to move slowly. Let our appeal again be to the Scriptures. At the end of Romans 11, where the apostle brings to a close his long argument on salvation by pure and sovereign grace, he asks, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him, and it shall be recompensed to him again?” (vv. 34,35). The force of this is, it is impossible to bring the Almighty under obligations to the creature; God gains nothing from us. If thou be righteous, what givest thou Him? Or what receiveth He of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man (Job 35:7,8), but it certainly cannot affect God, who is all-blessed in Himself. When ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10)—our obedience has profited God nothing.
Nay, we go further: our Lord Jesus Christ added nothing to God in His essential being and glory, either by what He did or suffered. True, blessedly and gloriously true, He manifested the glory of God to us, but He added nought to God. He Himself expressly declares so, and there is no appeal from His words: “My goodness extendeth not to Thee” (Ps. 16:2). The whole of that Psalm is a Psalm of Christ. Christ’s goodness or righteousness reached unto His saints in the earth (Psa. 16:3), but God was high above and beyond it all, God only is the “Blessed One” (Mark 14:61, Gr.).
It is perfectly true that God is both honored and dishonored by men; not in His essential being, but in His official character. It is equally true that God has been “glorified” by creation, by providence, and by redemption. This we do not and dare not dispute for a moment. But all of this has to do with His manifestative glory and the recognition of it by us. Yet had God so pleased He might have continued alone for all eternity, without making known His glory unto creatures. Whether He should do so or not was determined solely by His own will. He was perfectly blessed in Himself before the first creature was called into being.
And what are all the creatures of His hands unto Him even now? Let Scripture again make answer: “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance: behold, He taketh up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before Him are as nothing; and they are counted to Him less than nothing, and vanity. To whom then will ye liken God? or what likeness will ye compare unto Him?” (Isa. 40:15-18). That is the God of Scripture; alas, He is still “the unknown God” (Acts 17:23) to the heedless multitudes. “It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in: that bringeth the princes to nothing; He maketh the judges of the earth as vanity” (Isa. 40:22,23).
HOW VASTLY DIFFERENT IS THE GOD OF SCRIPTURE FROM THE GOD OF THE AVERAGE PULPIT!
Nor is the testimony of the New Testament any different from that of the Old: how could it be, seeing that both have one and the same Author! There too we read, “Which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords: Who only bath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man bath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting, Amen” (1 Tim. 6:16). Such an One is to be revered, worshipped, adored. He is solitary in His majesty, unique in His excellency, peerless in His perfections. He sustains all, but is Himself independent of all. He gives to all, but is enriched by none.
SUCH A GOD CANNOT BE FOUND OUT BY SEARCHING; HE CAN BE KNOWN, ONLY AS HE IS REVEALED TO THE HEART BY THE HOLY SPIRIT THROUGH THE WORD. It is true that creation demonstrates a Creator, and that, so plainly, men are “without excuse;” yet, we still have to say with Job, “Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of Him? but the thunder of His power who can understand?” (26:14). The so-called argument from design by well-meaning “Apologists” has, we believe, done much more harm than good, for it has attempted to bring down the great God to the level of finite comprehension, and thereby has lost sight of His solitary excellence.
Analogy has been drawn between a savage finding a watch upon the sands, and from a close examination of it he infers a watch-maker. So far so good. But attempt to go further: suppose that savage sits down on the sand and endeavors to form to himself a conception of this watch-maker, his personal affections and manners; his disposition, acquirements, and moral character—all that goes to make up a personality; could he ever think or reason out a real man—the man who made the watch, so that he could say, “I am acquainted with him?” It seems trifling to ask such questions, but is the eternal and infinite God so much more within the grasp of human reason? No, indeed! The God of Scripture can only be known by those to whom He makes Himself known.
Nor is God known by the intellect. “God is Spirit” (John 4:24), and therefore can only be known spiritually. But fallen man is not spiritual, he is carnal. He is dead to all that is spiritual. Unless he is born again supernaturally brought from death unto life, miraculously translated out of darkness into light, he cannot even see the things of God (John 3:3), still less apprehend them (1 Cor. 2:14). The Holy Spirit has to shine in our hearts (not intellects) in order to give us “the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). And even that spiritual knowledge is but fragmentary. The regenerated soul has to grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus (2 Pet. 3.18).
The principal prayer and aim of Christians should be that we “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10)
NEED FOR UPHOLDING GRACE
The Lord is very jealous of His honour and will not share His glory with another. His people profess to believe that as a cardinal truth, yet they are apt to forget it. They, too, are human, and prone to hero-worship, prone to idolatry, prone to render unto the creatures that to which the Lord alone is entitled. Hence it is they so frequently meet with disappointment, and discover their beloved idol is, like themselves, made of clay. For his own people, God has chosen “the foolish things of this world,” the “weak things,” the “base things” and “things which are not” (mere “nobody’s”), “that no flesh should glory in His presence” (1 Cor. 1:27-29).
And he has called sinful though regenerated men, and not holy angels, to be the preachers of His Gospel, that it might fully appear that “the excellency of the power” in calling sinners out of darkness into His marvelous light lies not in them nor proceeds from them, but that He alone gives the increase to the seed sown by them: “so then neither is he that planteth (the evangelist) anything, neither he that watereth (the teacher), but God” (1 Cor. 3:7).
It is for this reason that God suffers it to appear that the best of men are but men at the best. No matter how richly gifted they may be, how eminent in God’s service, how greatly honored and used of Him, let His sustaining power be withdrawn from them for a moment and it will quickly be seen that they are “earthen vessels.” No man stands any longer than he is supported by Divine grace. The most experienced saint, if left to himself, is immediately seen to be as weak as water and as timid as a mouse.
“Man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Ps. 39:5). Then why should it be thought a thing incredible when we read of the failings and falls of the most favored of God’s saints and servants? Noah’s drunkenness, Lot’s carnality, Abraham’s prevarications, Moses” anger, Aaron’s jealousy, Joshua’s haste, David’s adultery, Jonah’s disobedience, Peter’s denial, Paul’s contention with Barnabas, are so many illustrations of the solemn truth that “there is not a just man upon earth that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20).
Perfection is found in Heaven, but nowhere on earth except in the Perfect Man.
GOD CAN ONLY BE KNOWN BY SUPERNATURAL REVELATION
God can only be known by means of a supernatural revelation of Himself. Apart from the Scriptures, even a theoretical acquaintance with Him is impossible. It still holds true that “the world by wisdom knew not God” (1 Cor. 1:21). Where the Scriptures are ignored, God is “the unknown God” (Acts 17:23). But something more than the Scriptures is required before the soul can know God, know him in a real, personal, vital way.
This seems to be recognized by few today. The prevailing practice assumes that a knowledge of God can be obtained through studying the Word, in the same way as a knowledge of chemistry may be secured by mastering its textbooks. An intellectual knowledge of God maybe; not so a spiritual one. A supernatural God can only be known supernaturally (i.e. known in a manner above that which mere nature can acquire), by a supernatural revelation of Himself to the heart. “God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). The one who has been favoured with this supernatural experience has learned that only “in Thy light shall we see light” (Psa. 36:9).
God can only be known through a supernatural faculty. Christ made this clear when He said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). The unregenerate have no spiritual knowledge of God. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). Water, of itself, never rises above its own level. So the natural man is incapable of perceiving that which transcends mere nature. “This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God” (John 17:3). Eternal life must be imparted before the “true God” can be known. Plainly is this affirmed in 1 John 5:20, “We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true.” Yes, an “understanding,” a spiritual understanding, by new creation, must be given before God can be known in a spiritual way.
If God has revealed Himself to you dear reader, He has given you a sight of yourself, for in His light we “see light.” A most humbling, painful, and never-to-be-forgotten experience this is. When God was revealed to Abraham, he said, “I am but dust and ashes” (Gen. 18:27). When He was revealed to Isaiah, the prophet said, “Woe is me for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isa. 6:5). When God revealed Him-self to Job, he said, “I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:6)—note, not merely I abhor my wicked ways, but my vile self. Is this your experience, my reader? Have you discovered your depravity and lost condition? Have you found there is not a single good thing in you? Have you seen yourself to be fit for and deserving only of hell? Have you, truly? Then that is good evidence, yea, it is proof positive that the Lord God has “found” you.
If we took a survey of everything on the earth — we could find nothing so vile as sin. The basest and most contemptible thing in this world, has some degree of worth in it, as being the workmanship of God. But sin and its foul streams have not the least part of worth in them. Sin is WHOLLY EVIL without the least mixture of good — it is VILENESS IN THE ABSTRACT.
Sin’s heinousness appears in its AUTHOR: “The one who practices sin is of the Devil; for the Devil has sinned from the beginning.” Sin is the Devil’s trade, and he practices it incessantly!
SIN IS THE SOURCE OF ALL OUR MISERIES. All evil and wretchedness are its fruits. There is . . .
no distress of the mind,
no anguish of the heart,
no pain of the body
— but is due to sin!
All the MISERIES which mankind groans under, are to be ascribed to sin!
SIN IS THE CAUSE OF ALL DIVINE PUNISHMENTS: ” Thy way and thy doings have procured these things unto thee; this is thy wickedness (punishment).” Had there been no sin, there would have been . . .
no insane asylums,
no eternal Hell!
Yet who lays these things to heart?
“The deceitfulness of sin!” SIN ASSUMES MANY GARBS. When it appears in its nakedness — it is seen as a black and misshapen monster! How God Himself views it, may be learned from the various similitudes used by the Holy Spirit to set forth its ugliness and loathsomeness. Sin is likened to the SCUM of a seething pot in which is a detestable carcass — and to a dead and rotting body!
There is a far greater malignity in sin than is commonly supposed, even by the majority of church members. Men regard sin as an INFIRMITY, and term it a HUMAN FRAILTY or HEREDITARY WEAKNESS. The majority regard sin as a MERE TRIFLE.
Tens of thousands of RELIGIONISTS see so little FILTH in sin, that they imagine a few tears will wash away its stain. They perceive so little CRIMINALITY in it, that they persuade themselves that a few good works will make full reparation for it.
All comparisons fail to set forth the horrible malignity in THAT ABOMINABLE THING WHICH GOD HATES. We can say nothing more evil of sin, than to term it what it is!
WHAT SOME OLDER DIVINES SAID CONCERNING SIN –
Men tell us in these days that sin is what you think it is. Well, it is not. Sin is what God thinks it is. You may think according to your own conscience. God thinks according to His. – John G. Lake
Any concept of grace that makes us feel more comfortable sinning is NOT biblical grace. God’s grace never encourages us to live in sin, on the contrary, it empowers us to say no to sin and yes to truth. — Randy Alcorn
Evangelical repentance is repentance of sin as sin: not of this sin nor of that, but of the whole mass. We repent of the sin of our nature as well as the sin of our practice. We bemoan sin within us and without us. We repent of sin itself as being an insult to God. Anything short of this is a mere surface repentance, and not a repentance which reaches to the bottom of the mischief. Repentance of the evil act, and not of the evil heart, is like men pumping water out of a leaky vessel, but forgetting to stop the leak. Some would dam up the stream, but leave the fountain still flowing; they would remove the eruption from the skin, but leave the disease in the flesh. — Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Sin is not to be ignored, nor minimised. It is the most patent fact in life, the darkest experience in the history of the race. It is the root of all the world’s tragedies. It is that which makes “conscience a thousand swords,” “the torture of an inward hell,” “the worm that doth begnaw the soul.” — James M. Campbell
People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated. — D.A. Carson
Sin and the child of God are INCOMPATIBLE. They may occasionally meet; BUT THEY CANNOT LIVE TOGETHER IN HARMONY! — John R. W. Stott