Archive for April, 2011

We are told that when the band of men and officers approached his Master, in order to take Him prisoner, Judas "stood with them." Yet this was a man who for three years had been a constant companion of Christ, had seen His miracles, had heard His sermons, had enjoyed the benefit of His private instruction, had professed himself a believer, had even worked and preached in Christ’s name! "Lord," we may well say, "what is man?" From the highest degree of privilege down to the lowest depth of sin, there is but a succession of steps. Privileges misused seem to paralyze the conscience. The same fire that melts wax, will harden clay.

Let us beware of resting our hopes of salvation on religious knowledge, however great; or religious advantages, however many. We may know all doctrinal truth and be able to teach others, and yet prove rotten at heart, and go down to the pit with Judas. We may bask in the full sunshine of spiritual privileges, and hear the best of Christian teaching, and yet bear no fruit to God’s glory, and be found withered branches of the vine, only fit to be burned. "Let him that thinks he stands, take heed lest he fall." (1 Cor. 10:12.) Above all, let us beware of cherishing within our hearts any secret besetting sin, such as love of money or love of the world. One faulty link in a chain-cable may cause a shipwreck. One little leak may sink a ship. One allowed and unmortified sin may ruin a professing Christian. Let him that is tempted to be a careless man in his religious life, consider these things, and take care. Let him remember Judas Iscariot. His history is meant to be a lesson.

Source: J.C. Ryle, John 18

Calvin remarks on the course of a backslider, "At first the fault will not be very great; next, it becomes habitual; and at last, after the conscience has been laid asleep, he who has accustomed himself to despise God will think nothing unlawful, but will dare to commit the greatest wickedness."

Henry remarks, "The sin of lying is a fruitful sin, and therefore exceeding sinful. One sin needs another to support it, and that needs another."


In regard to Jesus’ command to the soldiers that they allow his disciples to leave  Gethsemane so that their faith would not be tested beyond their current ability to endure and so none of them be lost, J.C. Ryle writes:

We need not hesitate to see in this incident an instructive type of all our Savior’s dealings with His people even at this day. He will not allow them "to be tempted above that which they are able to bear." He will hold the winds and storms in His hands, and not allow believers, however sifted and buffeted, to be utterly destroyed. He watches tenderly over every one of His children, and, like a wise physician, measures out the right quantity of their trials with unerring skill. "They shall never perish, neither shall any one pluck them out of His hand." (John 10:28.) Forever let us lean our souls on this precious truth. In the darkest hour the eye of the Lord Jesus is upon us, and our final safety is sure.

Source: J.C. Ryle, John 18

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But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved … so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God … so that no one may boast.

(Ephesians 2:4-9)

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God in our conversion, by the exceeding greatness of his power, as he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, actually worketh faith and repentance to us, gives them unto us, bestows them on us; so that they are mere effects of his grace in us. And his working in us infallibly produceth the effect intended, because it is actual faith that he works, and not only a power to believe.

Source: John Owen, The Nature, Causes, and Means of Regeneration.

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In that moment Jesus hears his own word of power: the word of power that holds the merciful centurion in existence, the word of power that causes the hammer to be. He’s speaking it all into being: the soldiers, the priests, the thieves, the friends, the mothers, the brothers, the mob, the wooden beams, the spikes, the thorns, the ground beneath him, and the dark clouds gathering above. If he ceases to speak they will all cease to be. But he wills that they remain. So the soldiers live on, and the hammers come crashing down.

Source: Rick Gamache, The Father’s Cup: A Crucifixion Narrative

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The stone tomb became the womb through which the new creation was born into this world on the third day in the Person of Jesus Christ.

source: Resurrection and the New Creation: An Easter Sermon – Rev. C. R. Biggs

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John Wesley writing to John Trembath (August 17, 1760), a young minister who was a poor preacher:

What has exceedingly hurt you in time past, nay, and I fear, to this day, is lack of reading.

I scarce ever knew a preacher who read so little.

And perhaps, by neglecting it, you have lost the taste for it.

Hence your talent in preaching does not increase.  It is just the same as it was seven years ago.  It is lively, but not deep; there is little variety; there is no compass of thought.

Reading only can supply this, with meditation and daily prayer.

You wrong yourself greatly by omitting this.

You can never be a deep preacher without it, any more than a thorough Christian.

Oh begin!  Fix some part of every day for private exercise.  You may acquire the taste which you have not; what is tedious at first will afterward be pleasant.

Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily.

It is for your life; there is no other way; else you will be a trifler all your days, and a pretty, superficial preacher.

Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow.

Do not starve yourself any longer.

Take up your cross and be a Christian altogether.

Then will all the children of God rejoice (not grieve) over you, and in particular yours.

Quoted in D. A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge, Letters Along the Way (Wheaton, 1993), p. 169. The original letter can be read here.

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The most solemn of all days in Israel was the great day of atonement, the only day in the year on which the high priest entered into the Most Holy Place in the Temple. Before he approached that mysterious sanctuary, the law enjoined that he should divest himself of his costly garments, and clothe himself from head to foot in a plain white linen dress. He then took the vessel with the sacrificial blood in his hand, and, thrilling with sacred awe, drew back the veil, in order, humbly and devoutly, to approach the throne of grace, and sprinkle the atoning blood. He remained no longer in the sacred place than sufficed to perform his priestly office. He then came out again to the people, and, in Jehovah’s name, announced grace and forgiveness to every penitent soul.

Once more we return to the road to the cross, and in spirit mingle with the crowd proceeding to the place of execution. They are just passing the rocky sepulchers of the kings of Israel. The ancient monarchs sleep in their cells, but a dawning resurrection gleams upon their withered remains when the Prince of life passes by. The procession then enters the valley of Gehenna, which once reeked with the blood of the sacrifices to Moloch. But there is another still more dreadful Gehenna; and who among us would have escaped it, had not the Lamb of God submitted to the sufferings which we now see Him enduring.

In that mourning group you see only the first divinely quickened germs of the future kingdom of the divine Sufferer. From a few, a multitude that no man can number will before long proceed.

… the summit of Mount Calvary—Golgotha—horrifying name—the appellation of the most momentous and awful spot upon the whole earth. Behold a naked and barren eminence, enriched only by the blood of criminals, and covered with the bones of executed rebels, incendiaries, prisoners, and other offscourings of the human race. An accursed spot, where love never rules, but where naked justice alone sits enthroned, with scales and sword, and from which every passerby turns with abhorrence, a nocturnal rendezvous of jackals and hyenas. This place, so full of horrors, becomes transformed into "the hill from where comes our help," whose mysteries many kings and prophets have desired to see, and did not see them.

See His holy arms forcibly stretched out upon the cross—His feet laid upon each other. Thus Isaac once lay on the wood on Mount Moriah. But the voice that then called out of Heaven, saying: "Lay not your hand upon the lad!" is silent on Calvary. The executioners seize the hammer and nails. But who can bear to look upon what further occurs? The horrible nails from the forge of Hell, yet foreseen in the sanctuary of eternity, are placed on the hands and feet of the righteous Jesus, and the heavy strokes of the hammer fall. Do you hear the sound? They thunder on your heart, testifying in horrible language of your sin, and at the same time of the wrath of Almighty God.

Source: Friedrich Krummacher, ‘The Crucifixion’ The Suffering Saviour: Meditations on the last days of Christ.

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… we have formerly seen that the good shepherd calleth to him by name every sheep of his flock, (John 10:3)

That voice of the shepherd, therefore, enters into Mary’s heart, opens her eyes, arouses all her senses, and affects her in such a manner, that she immediately surrenders herself to Christ.

Thus in Mary we have a lively image of our calling; for the only way in which we are admitted to the true knowledge of Christ is, when he first knows us, and then familiarly invites us to himself, not by that ordinary voice which sounds indiscriminately in the ears of all, but by that voice with which he especially calls the sheep which the Father hath given to him.

Source: John Calvin on John 20:14

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… the faith which appeared to be destroyed was, as it were, concealed and buried in his heart. The same thing happens sometimes with many persons; for they grow wanton for a time, as if they had cast off all fear of God, so that there appears to be no longer any faith in them; but as soon as God has chastised them with a rod, the rebellion of their flesh is subdued, and they return to their right senses. It is certain that disease would not, of itself, be sufficient to teach piety; and hence we infer, that, when the obstructions have been removed, the good seed, which had been concealed and crushed, springs up. We have a striking instance of this in David; for, so long as he is permitted to gratify his lust, we see how he indulges without restraint. Every person would have thought that, at that time, faith had been altogether banished from his mind; and yet, by a short exhortation of the Prophet, he is so suddenly recalled to life, that it may easily be inferred, that some spark, though it had been choked, still remained in his mind, and speedily burst into a flame. So far as relates to the men themselves, they are as guilty as if they had renounced faith and all the grace of the Holy Spirit; but the infinite goodness of God prevents the elect from falling so low as to be entirely alienated from God. We ought, therefore, to be most zealously on our guard not to fall from faith; and yet we ought to believe that God restrains his elect by secret bridle, that they may not fall to their destruction, and that He always cherishes miraculously in their hearts some sparks of faith, which he afterwards, at the proper time, kindles anew by the breath of his Spirit.

Source: John Calvin on John 20:26

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"This hour was predestined,

and because predestined it was prophesied:

prophecy depends on predestination."

"Gethsemane and Calvary marked high noon in the world’s long day …"

Source: Frederick Leahy, ‘This is your hour, and the power of darkness’ in The Cross He Bore

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