Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Jesus Christ is Not Politically Correct by John MacArthur

This article was posted, by The Washington Post, in the "On Faith" section of their website on Aug 14, 2009

Let's be brutally honest: most of Jesus' teaching is completely out of sync with the mores that dominate our culture.

I'm talking, of course, about the Jesus we encounter in Scripture, not the always-gentle, never-stern, super-lenient coloring-book character who exists only in the popular imagination. The real Jesus was no domesticated clergyman with a starched collar and genteel manners; he was a bold, uncompromising Prophet who regularly challenged the canons of political correctness.

Consider the account of Jesus' public ministry given in the New Testament. The first word of his first sermon was "Repent!"--a theme that was no more welcome and no less strident-sounding than it is today. The first act of his public ministry touched off a small riot. He made a whip of cords and chased money-changers and animal merchants off the Temple grounds. That initiated a three-year-long conflict with society's most distinguished religious leaders. They ultimately handed him over to Roman authorities for crucifixion while crowds of lay people cheered them on.
Jesus was pointedly, deliberately, and dogmatically counter-cultural in almost every way. No wonder the religious and academic aristocracy of his generation were so hostile to him.

Would Jesus receive a warmer welcome from world religious leaders, the media elite, or the political gentry today? Anyone who has seriously considered the New Testament knows very well that he would not. Our culture is devoted to pluralism and tolerance; contemptuous of all absolute or exclusive truth-claims; convinced that self-love is the greatest love of all; satisfied that most people are fundamentally good; and desperately wanting to believe that each of us is endowed with a spark of divinity.

Against such a culture Jesus' message strikes every discordant note.

Check the biblical record. Jesus' words were full of hard demands and stern warnings. He said, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" (Luke 9:23-25). "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple" (Luke 14:26).

At one point an unthinkable Roman atrocity took the lives of many Galilean pilgrims who had come to worship in Jerusalem. Pilate, the Roman governor, ordered his men to murder some worshipers and then mingled their blood with the sacrifices they were offering. While the city was still reeling from that awful disaster, a tower fell in the nearby district of Siloam and instantly snuffed out eighteen more lives.

Asked about these back-to-back tragedies, Jesus said, "Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:2-5).

Ignoring the normal rules of taste, tact, and diplomacy, Jesus in effect declared that all his listeners were sinners in need of redemption. Then, as now, that message was virtually guaranteed to offend many--perhaps most--of Jesus' audience.

Those with no sense of personal guilt--including the vast majority of religious leaders--were of course immediately offended. They were convinced they were good enough to merit God's favor. Who was this man to summon them to repentance? They turned away in angry unbelief.

The only ones not offended were those who already sensed their guilt and were crushed under the weight of its burden. Unhindered by indignation or self-righteousness, they could hear the hope implicit in Jesus' words. For them, the repeated phrase "unless you repent" pointed the way to redemption.

Elsewhere, Jesus made the promise of life and forgiveness explicit: "He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life" (John 5:24). "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand" (John 10:27-28).

That, of course, is the glorious message of the gospel, just as potent and just as relevant today as it was then. But the promise is for those who are weary of sin; those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:6); those who come to Christ with repentant hearts--not those who are convinced they are fundamentally good.

Proud people, including lots of religious people who call themselves Christians, don't really believe Christ's message at all. He said, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance" (Mark 2:17).

So what would Jesus say to a pluralistic, tolerant, self-indulgent society like ours? I'm convinced his approach today would be the very same strategy we see in the New Testament. To smug, self-satisfied, arrogant sinners (including multitudes on church rolls) his words would sound harsh, shocking, provocative. But to "the poor in spirit" (Matthew 5:3)--those who are exhausted and spent by the ravages of sin; desperate for forgiveness and without any hope of atoning for their own sin--Jesus' call to repentant faith remains the very gateway to eternal life.

This is a particularly hard message in cultures like ours that elevate self-love, self-esteem, or self-righteousness, but Jesus was absolutely clear, and these words do still speak to us: "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:14).

Dr. John MacArthur, pastor of 7,000-member Grace Community Church in Southern California, is a best-selling author of more than 200 books and study guides. His new book is "The Jesus You Can't Ignore: What You Must Learn from the Bold Confrontations of Christ."

Friday, May 21, 2010

For Pete's sake save Pete the Moose

Help Save Pete the Moose!

 Help Us to Save Pete the Moose!
Welcome to the Official Site of Pete the Moose in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom! The story of Pete and his human friend, David, is a unique tale. Pete was attacked by dogs and mauled when he was about 5 days old. Vermont Fish and Wildlife told the people who found Pete to let him die. They couldn't bear to just leave him there. So, they took him to a kind man named David Lawrence, and he nursed Pete back to health.
In saving his life & caring for him over 14 months, Pete & David forged a special friendship. But as a result of this same closeness, Pete LOVES people, and so he does not have the normal fear of Man that he should. It would have been VERY dangerous for him to be released back into the wild. So David found an enclosed, 600-acre ranch in the area that is fenced in. The Game Reserve is owned by another nice man named Doug, and he generously provided Pete a place where he (ironically)could live a wild life safe from hunters. Pete lives there along with about 120 other deer and moose that have also gotten thru the "State Designed and Approved" fence.

Enter the Bureaucrats... Now the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife wants to destroy Pete & the other animals there. Part of Pete's diet comes from from animal feed. Because of this, Vermont State Officials claim animals there could contract something called "Chronic Wasting Disease", a brain ailment that affects deer-like animals, and which can be spread animal-to-animal or via feed. And so the Dept of F&W would like to "remove" the deer and moose that now inhabit this property. And by "remove", they mean "kill". They have known about us all along, but they didn't care to try and help out a long time ago. Instead, they sat back and did nothing until now...

WE NEED YOUR HELP TO SAVE PETE! We DO NOT want Pete destroyed! We DO NOT want Pete in a zoo! And we want the Governor to put whatever promises he makes about what will happen to Pete to be put in writing! Read on below to learn the ways that YOU can help us to Save Pete the Moose!

Please go to to sign the ePetition!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Head Coverings for Women by George Mattern

Head Coverings are not required for all Christian women

It is evident that the question of head coverings is, indeed, a cultural issue confined to the Corinthian church--and not a requirement for all Christian women of all ages--for the following reasons:

If head coverings for women were a universal requirement, why are they mentioned only in the epistle to the Corinthians? Remember that the Christians of the first century did not have complete Bibles like we do today. Different epistles to different churches dealt with various issues that needed to be addressed and clarified for those specific churches. Universal principles are restated and reaffirmed by different epistles in a variety of contexts and applications. So, why does Paul not mention the requirement of women wearing head coverings when he writes to Timothy about church authority and function? Rread 1 Tim. 2:9-15, in which Paul specifically delineates the principles of female conduct in the church--you will find NO MENTION of a head covering requirement, although the universal principle of female submission is asserted clearly. Paul even talks about how women are to dress (vs. 9)--and he mentions hair in that verse--but he says nothing about a head covering. Would that not be the obvious place to find such a requirement, if it were intended to be universal...?

The UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE of women in submission to their husbands was and is the real issue. That's why Paul writes, "Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:3). He then goes on to explain that the wearing of head coverings "while praying" was a particular way that the Christian women in Corinth could demonstrate that principle in a manner that would be readily recognizable to the people in the surrounding culture.

The wearing of head coverings, then, is the concession made by Corinthian women to the accepted norms of their society, the violation of which would imply that women in the church were NOT in submission to their husbands. Unbelievers not being familiar with their attitudes and practices, the only effective way for Christians to exemplify their fidelity to this genuine principle of God's economy would be to cooperate with the cultural practices that signify such accord.

Here's another example (among many) of how believers made concessions on behalf of those around them. Paul wrote in 1 Cor. 7:19--"Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God." He insisted to the Judaizers in the church who wanted to impose circumcision as a condition of salvation: "If you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you" (Gal. 5:2). But, in Acts 16:3, Luke reports that Paul took Timothy "and circumcised him"--Why would he do that? Luke continues--"because of the Jews who were in those parts, for they all knew that his father was a Greek." Paul knew that circumcision and head coverings mean nothing in themselves--but he commanded both IN THE SPECIFIC SITUATIONS AND SETTINGS where those actions were the only way to externally demonstrate the much more important internal principle of SUBMISSION TO GOD. The Jews believed circumcision was still the physical proof that a man was in obedience to God, and without such evidence a Jewish Christian would have no opportunity to even begin to witness to his people about what constitutes true obedience to God. And how could the Corinthian church call its contemporaries to obedience of God's commands if, in their eyes, the church woman were in flagrant disobedience of Him...?

Practical Considerations
The practice of men removing their hats when praying (or entering a building, for that matter) is also a cultural concession by which we “respect what is right in the sight of all men” (Rom. 12:17). It is considered disrespectful to have a hat on at the dinner table (at least the way my dad taught me), or in various other situations, including public prayer.

As for prayer, it is likely that the conventions of modern society in this regard were heavily influenced by the Scriptures, particularly 1 Cor. 11. But, if Paul was giving a universal, inviolable moral principle when insisting that, “Every man who has something on his head while praying...disgraces his head” (1 Cor. 11:4), does that mean that a firefighter entering a burning building with his bunker gear--including a protective helmet “on his head”--should refrain from praying? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather “disgrace” my head than “lose” it...

Also, I have witnessed first hand how certain religious groups have taken the requirement for women to wear head coverings and pressed it to such a legalistic extreme that it would be laughable, if not for the pain and anguish such foolishness causes. As usual with human traditions, the fastidious Pharisees end up “straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel” because it is so easy to focus on things like wearing head coverings and tithing garden seeds while “neglecting the weightier provisions of the Law, like justice and mercy and faithfulness” (Mat. 23:23-24). Mennonite women are required to wear a head covering all the time—bud didn’t Paul specify that the covering was to be worn “while praying”? (1 Cor. 11:5). “Well,” retorts the fastidious Pharisee, searching desperately for a Biblical justification of his tradition—“Doesn’t the Scripture say, ‘Pray without ceasing’?” (1 Thes. 5:17). And so, armed with that doctrinal bludgeon, the leaders of such groups mercilessly beat upon the heads of women who do not conform to that tradition. And sadly, as Mark explained in his gospel, “there are many other things which they have received in order to observe” (Mk. 7:4).

And so, let any sincere Christians take heed to himself or herself--“beware and be on your guard against every form of greed” (Lk. 12:15)—in this case, “greed” for the personal merit, recognition, and approval arising from conformity to an outward tradition. In this and every other case, “greed...amounts to idolatry” (Col. 3:5), and self-idolatry is the most insidious and dangerous form of all. Many who would never think of bowing and worshipping before a golden image are all too eager to do just that in front of a mirror...

A Further Question
If head coverings are to be normative for all Christian woman on the basis of Paul's appeal to the purpose of God in creation (according to one interpretation of 1 Cor. 11:8-9), this inspires a crucial question:
Immediately after the Fall and God's pronouncement of the Curse, Genesis 3:21 says, "The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them." Since this was the beginning of humans wearing clothing, why did God not make a head covering for Eve, and command her and all of her daughters to wear such a covering as the universal "symbol of authority" (1 Cor. 11:10)...?

The answer to this question--and the reason why no woman was ever commanded to wear a "symbol of authority" on her head until the writing of 1 Corinthians--must be that such an accoutrement was specific to the culture and society of the city of Corinth. In appealing to the order and purposes of God in creation, Paul was validating the UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE of wives being in submission to their husbands--the demonstration of which was the wearing of a head covering by women IN CORINTH in that particular historical and cultural context.

To take this practice out of that historical context and make it a normative requirement for all Christian women is tantamount to manufacturing an unnecessary external ritualistic observance--which is another way to say that it is rendered meaningless because external ritualism has a tendency to obscure or marginalize the internal realities that the outward act is supposedly designed to signify.

This is certainly true of the multiplied man-made rituals that have defaced the pure skin of genuine religion with the ugly tattoo of human invention--but, it can also be an adverse effect associated with the gneuine ordinances givne to the Church by God. A prime example of this is baptism, which was originally intended to signify the positional "immersion" of a new believer into the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:3-7). But, when man tampers with God's valid "ordinance" and turns it into a "sacrament", it is divorced from its original intent and perverted into being a religious ritual performed by a person in order to gain merit or approval from God. This is the fertile seed-bed of the heresy of "Baptismal Regeneration" and many other abominations in the realm of human religious presumptuousness.

Another example of taking a physical act out of its historical context and improperly imposing it upon the entire church is foot washing. The washing of feet was a common necessity in ancient times, and a courtesy extended to visitors when they entered a home. In this age of modern footwear, however, it is unnecessary, but some have turned it into yet another religious ritual on the basis of Jesus' exhortation that "You also ought to wash one another's feet" (Jn. 13:14). It is painfully obvious that the Lord was not instituting a ritual for the whole church to observe, but rather using His act of washing the Disciple's feet as an EXAMPLE--in that historical context--of the UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE of selfless service rendered to others! To turn it into a relitious ritual, as usual, misses the whole point!!!

George Mattern 1/21/2010 1:24:06 AM

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Male Authority

Going back to Genesis to look for answers concerning male authority over women is critically important, because here is where the order of authority is established and given directly by God to Adam and Eve, which we all must abide by, which, btw, He does not change all throughout the entire Bible. God does not establish male rule and authority over women initially, then come to the church age and establish yet a new world order. The order of hierarchy is commensurate with the church age as that which was established from the very beginning. God is consistent. Men take responsibility over women from the clear passages of Genesis, and it is equally true and clearly spelled out in the rest of Scripture, that that domain and exercise of power is to be IN the home as well as IN the body of the church.

It is very apparent that God calls those in authority, in this case man, to be wise and loving to those whom he has rule over. In fact, men are supposed to love their wives as themselves. “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself (Eph 5:28).” Men are also told to love their wives as Christ loves the church. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Eph 5:25).”

If we take into account what it means to have genuine agape love for someone, anyone, be they our brothers and sisters in Christ, our neighbors or our husbands and wives, it means that we esteem them as greater than ourselves. The Bible tells us that, “…love does not seek its own (1Cr 13:5).” So, to truly be a leader and loving simultaneously it is imperative to have wisdom. Wisdom to know that it is impossible to Lord anything over anyone, because “Love does not brag and is not arrogant (1 Cor 13:4).”

More later...

Monday, May 10, 2010

How may we know whether we love God?

How May We Know Whether We Love God?
by Dr. Thomas Watson

He who loves God desires his presence. Lovers cannot be long apart; they soon have their fainting fits, for want of a sight of the object of their love. A soul deeply in love with God desires the enjoyment of Him in His ordinances, in word, prayer, and sacraments. David was ready to faint away and die when he had not a sight of God. "My soul fainteth for God" (Psalm 84:2). Such as care not for ordinances, but say, "When will the Sabbath be over?" plainly reveal their lack of love to God.

He who loves God does not love sin. "Ye that love the Lord, hate evil" (Psalm 97:10). The love of God, and the love of sin, can no more mix together than iron and clay. Every sin loved, strikes at the being of God; but he who loves God, has a hatred of sin. He who would part two lovers is a hateful person. God and the believing soul are two lovers; sin parts between them, therefore the soul is implacably set against it. By this try your love to God. How could Delilah say she loved Samson, when she entertained correspondence with the Phi­listines, who were his mortal enemy?

He who loves God is not much in love with anything else. His love is very cool to worldly things. His love to God moves swiftly, as the sun in the firmament; to the world it moves slowly, as the sun on the dial. The love of the world eats out the heart of religion; it chokes good affec­tions, as earth puts out fire. The world was a dead thing to Paul. "I am crucified to the world, and the world is crucified to me" (Gal. 6:14). In Paul we may see both the picture and pattern of a mortified man. He that loves God, uses the world but chooses God. The world engages him, but God delights and satisfies him. He says as David, "God my exceeding joy," the gladness or cream of my joy (Psalm 43:4).

He who loves God cannot live without him. Things we love we cannot be without. A man can do without music or flowers, but not food; so a soul deeply in love with God looks upon himself as undone without Him. "Hide not thy face from me, lest I be like them that go down into the pit" (Psalm 143:7). He says to Job, "I went mourning without the sun" (Job 30:28). I have starlight, I want the Sun of Righteousness; I enjoy the sweet presence of my God. Is God our chief good, and we cannot live without Him? Alas! how do they show they have no love to God who can do well enough without Him! Let them have corn and oil, and you shall never hear them complain of the lack of God.

He who loves God will be at any pains to get him. What pains the merchant takes, what hazards he runs, to have a rich return from the Indies! Jacob loved Rachel, and he could endure the heat by day, and the frost by night, that he might enjoy her. A soul that loves God will take any pains for the fruition of Him. "My soul follows hard after God" (Psalm 63:8). Love is pondus animae (Augus­tine). It is the weight which sets the clock going. It is much in prayer, weeping, fasting; it strives as in agony that he may obtain Him whom his soul loves. Plutarch reports of the Gauls, an ancient people of France, that after they had tasted the sweet wine of Italy, they never rested till they had arrived at that country.

He who is in love with God, never rests till he has a part in Him. "I sought him whom my soul loveth" (Song of Sol. 3:2). How can they say they love God, who are not industrious in the use of means to obtain Him? "A slothful man hides his hand in his bosom" (Pro. 19:24). He is not in agony, but lethargy. If Christ and salvation would drop as a ripe fig into his mouth, he would be content to have them; but he is loath to put himself to too much trouble. Does he love his friend, who will not undertake a journey to see him?

He who loves God prefers him before estate and life. (1) Before estate—"For whom I have suffered the loss of all things" (Phil. 3:8). Who that loves a rich jewel would not part with a flower for it? Galeacius, marcus of Vico, parted with a fair estate to enjoy God in His pure ordinances. When a Jesuit persuaded him to return to his popish religion in Italy, promising him a large sum of money, he said: "Let their money perish with them who esteem all the gold in the world worth one day's communion with Jesus Christ and his Holy Spirit." (2) Before life—"They loved not their lives to the death" (Rev. 12:11). Love to God carries the soul above the love of life and the fear of death.

He who loves God loves his favourites, the saints (I John 5:1). To love a man for his grace and the more we see of God in him, the more we love him, that is an infallible sign of love to God. The wicked pretend to love God, but hate and persecute His image. Does he love his prince who abuses his statue, or tears his picture? They seem indeed to show great reverence to saints departed; they have great reverence for Saint Paul, and Saint Stephen, and Saint Luke; they canonize dead saints, but persecute living saints; and do they love God? Can it be imagined that he loves God who hates His children because they are like God? If Christ were alive again, He would not escape a second persecution.

If we love God we cannot but be fearful of dishonoring him, as the more a child loves his father the more he is afraid to displease him, and we weep and mourn when we have offended him. "Peter went out and wept bitterly" (Matt. 26:75). Peter might well think that Christ dearly loved him when He took him up to the mount where He was transfigured, and showed him the glory of heaven in a vision. That Peter should deny Christ after he had received such signal tokens of His love, this broke his heart with grief. "He wept bitterly." Are our eyes dropping tears of grief for sin against God? It is a blessed evidence of our love to God; and such shall find mercy. "He shows mercy to thousands of them that love Him."

Use. Let us be lovers of God. We love our food and shall we not love Him that gives it? All the joy we hope for in heaven is in God; and shall not He who shall be our joy then, be our love now? It is a saying of Augustine, Annon pana satis magna est non amare te? Is it not punishment enough Lord, not to love thee? And again, Animam meam in odia haberem. I would hate my own soul if I did not find it loving God.

This was first published in his classic work A Body of Divinity in 1692.

God's Sovereignty and the Human Will by A.W. Pink

“It is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” Php 2:13.

Concerning the nature and the power of fallen man’s will, the greatest confusion prevails today, and the most erroneous views are held, even by many of God’s children. The popular idea now prevailing, and which is taught from the great majority of pulpits, is that man has a “free will”, and that salvation comes to the sinner through his will cooperating with the Holy Spirit. To deny the “free will” of man, i.e. his power to choose that which is good, his native ability to accept Christ, is to bring one into disfavour at once, even before most of those who profess to be orthodox. And yet Scripture emphatically says, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” Rom. 9:16. Which shall we believe: God, or the preachers?

But some one may reply, Did not Joshua say to Israel, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve”? Yes, he did; but why not complete his sentence? — “whether the gods that your fathers served which were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell” Joshua 24:15! But why attempt to pit scripture against scripture? The Word of God never contradicts itself, and the Word expressly declares, “There is none that seeketh after God” Rom. 3:11. Did not Christ say to the men of his day, “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life” John 5:40? Yes, but some did come to him, some did receive him. True and who were they? John 1:12,13 tells us: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”!

But does not Scripture say, “Whosoever will may come”? It does, but does this signify that everybody has the will to come? What of those who will not come? “Whosoever will may come” no more implies that fallen man has the power (in himself) to come, than “Stretch forth thine hand” implied that the man with the withered arm had ability (in himself) to comply. In and of himself the natural man has power to reject Christ; but in and of himself he has not the power to receive Christ. And why? Because he has a mind that is “enmity against him” Rom. 8:7; because he has a heart that hates him John 15:18. Man chooses that which is according to his nature, and therefore before he will ever choose or prefer that which is divine and spiritual, a new nature must be imparted to him; in other words, he must be born again.

Should it be asked, But does not the Holy Spirit overcome a man’s enmity and hatred when he convicts the sinner of his sins and his need of Christ; and does not the Spirit of God produce such conviction in many that perish? Such language betrays confusion of thought: were such a man’s enmity really “overcome”, then he would readily turn to Christ; that he does not come to the Saviour, demonstrates that his enmity is not overcome. But that many are, through the preaching of the Word, convicted by the Holy Spirit, who nevertheless die in unbelief, is solemnly true. Yet, it is a fact which must not be lost sight of that, the Holy Spirit does something more in each of God’s elect than he does in the non-elect: he works in them “both to will and to do of God’s good pleasure” Php 2:13.

In reply to what we have said above, Arminians would answer, No; the Spirit’s work of conviction is the same both in the converted and in the unconverted, that which distinguishes the one class from the other is that the former yielded to his strivings, whereas the latter resist them. But if this were the case, then the Christian would make himself to “differ”, whereas the Scripture attributes the “differing” to God’s discriminating grace 1 Cor. 4:7. Again; if such were the case, then the Christian would have ground for boasting and self-glorying over his cooperation with the Spirit; but this would flatly contradict Eph 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God”.

Let us appeal to the actual experience of the Christian reader. Was there not a time (may the remembrance of it bow each of us into the dust) when you were unwilling to come to Christ? There was. Since then you have come to him. Are you now prepared to give him all the glory for that Psa. 115:1? Do you not acknowledge you came to Christ because the Holy Spirit brought you from unwillingness to willingness? You do. Then is it not also a patent fact that the Holy Spirit has not done in many others what he has in you! Granting that many others have heard the Gospel, been shown their need of Christ, yet, they are still unwilling to come to him. Thus he has wrought more in you, than in them. Do you answer, “Yet I remember well the time when the Great Issue was presented to me, and my consciousness testifies that my will acted and that I yielded to the claims of Christ upon me”. Quite true. But before you “yielded”, the Holy Spirit overcame the native enmity of your mind against God, and this “enmity” he does not overcome in all. Should it be said, “That is because they are unwilling for their enmity to be overcome”. Ah, none are thus “willing” till he has put forth his all mighty power and wrought a miracle of grace in the heart.

But let us now inquire, What is the human will? Is it a self-determining agent, or is it, in turn, determined by something else? Is it sovereign or servant? Is the will superior to every other faculty of our being so that it governs them, or is it med by their impulses and subject to their pleasure? Does the will rule the mind, or does the mind control the will? Is the will free to do as it pleases, or is it under the necessity of rendering obedience to something outside of itself? “Does the will stand apart from the other great faculties or powers of the soul, a man within a man, who can reverse the man and fly against the man and split him into segments, as a glass snake breaks in pieces? Or, is the will connected with the other faculties, as the tail of the serpent is with his body, and that again with his head, so that where the head goes, the whole creature goes, and, as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he? First thought, then heart (desire or aversion), and then act. Is it this way, the dog wags the tail? Or, is it the will, the tail, wags the dog? Is the will the first and chief thing in the man, or is it the last thing — to be kept subordinate, and in its place beneath the other faculties? and, is the true philosophy of moral action and its process that of Gen. 3:6: ‘And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food’ (sense perception, intelligence), ‘and a tree to be desired’ (affections), ‘she took and ate thereof’ (the will).” (G.S. Bishop). These are questions of more than academical interest. They are of practical importance. We believe that we do not go too far when we affirm that the answer returned to these questions is a fundamental test of doctrinal soundness.1

1. The Nature Of The Human Will.

What is the Will? We answer, the will is the faculty of choice, the immediate cause of all action. Choice necessarily implies the refusal of one thing and the acceptance, of another. The positive and the negative must both be present to the mind before there can be any choice. In every, act of the will there is a preference — the desiring of one thing rather than another. Where there is no preference, but complete indifference, there is no volition. To will is to choose, and to choose is to decide between two or more alternatives. But there is something which influences the choice; something which determines the decision. Hence he will cannot be sovereign because it is the servant of that something. The will cannot be both sovereign and servant. It cannot be both cause and effect. The will is not causative, because, as we have said, something causes it to choose, therefore that something must be the causative agent. Choice itself is affected by certain considerations, is determined by various influences brought to bear upon the individual himself, hence, volition is the effect of these considerations and influences, and if the effect, it must be their servant; and if the will is their servant then it is not sovereign, and if the will is not sovereign, we certainly cannot predicate absolute “freedom” of it. Acts of the will cannot come to pass of themselves — to say they can, is to postulate an uncaused effect. “Ex nihilo nihil fit” — nothing cannot produce something.

In all ages, however, there have been those who contended for the absolute freedom or sovereignty of the human will. Men will argue that the will possesses a self-determining power. They say, for example, I can turn my eyes up or down, the mind is quite indifferent which I do, the will must decide. But this is a contradiction in terms. This case supposes that I choose one thing in preference to another, while I am in a state of complete indifference. Manifestly, both cannot be true. But it may be replied, the mind was quite indifferent until it came to have a preference. Exactly; and at that time the will was quiescent, too! But the moment indifference vanished, choice was made, and the fact that indifference gave place to preference, overthrows the argument that the will is capable of choosing between two equal things. As we have said, choice implies the acceptance of one alternative and the rejection of the other or others.

That which determines the will is that which causes it to choose. If the will is determined, then there must be a determiner. What is it that determines the will? We reply, The strongest motive power which is brought to bear upon it. What this motive power is, varies in different cases. With one it may be the logic of reason, with another the ice of conscience, with another the impulse of the emotions, with another the whisper of the tempter, with another the power of the Holy Spirit; whichever of these presents the strongest motive power and exerts the greatest influence upon the individual himself, is that which impels the will to act. In other words, the action of the will is determined by that condition of mind (which in turn is influenced by the world, the flesh, and the Devil, as well as by God), which has the greatest degree of tendency to excite volition. To illustrate what we have just said let us analyze a simple example —

On a certain Lord’s day afternoon a friend of ours was suffering from a severe headache. He was anxious to visit the sick, but feared that if he did so his own condition would grow worse, and as the consequence, be unable to attend the preaching of the Gospel that evening. Two alternatives confronted him: to visit the sick that afternoon and risk being sick himself, or, to take a rest that afternoon (and visit the sick the next day), and probably arise refreshed and fit for the evening service. Now what was it that decided our friend in choosing between these two alternatives? The will? Not at all. True, that in the end, the will made a choice, but the will itself was moved to make the choice. In the above case certain considerations presented strong motives for selecting either alternative; these motives were balanced the one against the other by the individual himself, i.e., his heart and mind, and the one alternative being supported by stronger motives than the other, decision was formed accordingly, and then the will acted. On the one side, our friend felt impelled by a sense of duty to visit the sick; he was med with compassion to do so, and thus a strong motive was presented to his mind. On the other hand, his judgment reminded him that he was feeling far from well himself, that he badly needed a rest, that if he visited the sick his own condition would probably be made worse, and in such case he would be prevented from attending the preaching of the Gospel that night; furthermore, he knew that on the morrow, the Lord willing, he could visit the sick, and this being so, he concluded he ought to rest that afternoon. Here then were two sets of alternatives presented to our Christian brother: on the one side was a sense of duty plus his own sympathy, on the other side was a sense of his own need plus a real concern for God’s glory, for he felt that he ought to attend the preaching of the Gospel that night. The latter prevailed. Spiritual considerations outweighed his sense of duty. Having formed his decision the will acted accordingly, and he retired to rest. An analysis of the above case shows that the mind or reasoning faculty was directed by spiritual considerations, and the mind regulated and controlled the will. Hence we say that, if the will is controlled, it is neither sovereign nor free, but is the servant of the mind.

It is only as we see the real nature of freedom and mark that the will is subject to the motives brought to bear upon it, that we are able to discern there is no conflict between two statements of Holy Writ which concern our blessed Lord. In Matt. 4:1 we read, “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil”; but in Mark 1:12,13 we are told, “And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness. And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan”. It is utterly impossible to harmonize these two statements by the Arminian conception of the will. But really there is no difficulty. That Christ was “driven”, implies it was by a forcible motive or powerful impulse, such as was not to be resisted or refused; that he was “led” denotes his freedom in going. Putting the two together we learn, that he was driven, with a voluntary condescension thereto. So, there is the liberty of man’s will and the victorious efficacy of God’s grace united together: a sinner may be “drawn” and yet “come” to Christ — the “drawing” presenting to him the irresistible motive, the “coming” signifying the response of his will — as Christ was “driven” and “led” by the Spirit into the wilderness.

Human philosophy insists that it is the will which governs the man, but the Word of God teaches that it is the heart which is the dominating centre of our being. Many scriptures might be quoted in substantiation of this. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” Prov. 4:23. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders”, etc. Mark 7:21. Here our Lord traces these sinful acts back to their source, and declares that their fountain is the “heart”, and not the will! Again; “This people draweth nigh unto me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” Matt. 15:8. If further proof were required we might call attention to the fact that the word “heart” is found in the Bible more than three times oftener than is the word “will”, even though nearly half of the references to the latter refer to God’s will!

When we affirm that it is the heart and not the will which governs the man, we are not merely striving about words, but insisting on a distinction that is of vital importance. Here is an individual before whom two alternatives are placed; which will he choose? We answer, the one which is most agreeable to himself, i.e., his “heart” — the innermost core of his being. Before the sinner is set a life of virtue and piety, and a life of sinful indulgence; which will he follow? The latter. Why? Because this is his choice. But does that prove the will is sovereign? Not at all. Go back from effect to cause. Why does the sinner choose a life of sinful indulgence? Because he prefers it — and he does prefer it, all arguments to the contrary not withstanding, though of course he does not enjoy the effects of such a course. And why does he prefer it? Because his heart is sinful. The same alternatives, in like manner, confront the Christian, and he chooses and strives after a life of piety and virtue. Why? Because God has given him a new heart or nature. Hence we say it is not the will which makes the sinner impervious to all appeals to “forsake his way”, but his corrupt and evil heart. He will not come to Christ, because he does not want to, and he does not want to because his heart hates him and loves sin: see Jer 17:9!

In defining the will we have said above, that “the will is the faculty of choice, the immediate cause of all action.” We say the immediate cause, for the will is not the primary cause of any action, any more than the hand is. Just as the hand is controlled by the muscles and nerves of the arm, and the arm by the brain; so the will is the servant of the mind, and the mind, in turn, is affected by various influences and motives which are brought to bear upon it. But, it may be asked, Does not Scripture make its appeal to man’s will? Is it not written, “And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” Rev. 22:17? And did not our Lord say, “ye will not come to me that ye might have life” John 5:40? We answer; the appeal of Scripture is not always made to man’s “will”; other of his faculties are also addressed. For example: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” “Hear and your soul shall live.” “Look unto me and be ye saved.” “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved.” “Come now and let us reason together”, “with the heart man believeth unto righteousness”, etc., etc.

2. The Bondage Of The Human Will.

In any treatise that proposes to deal with the human will, its nature and functions, respect should be had to the will in three different men, namely, unfallen Adam, the sinner, and the Lord Jesus Christ. In unfallen Adam the will was free, free in both directions, free toward good and free toward evil. Adam was created in a state of innocency, but not in a state of holiness, as is so often assumed and asserted. Adam’s will was therefore in a condition of moral equipoise: that is to say, in Adam there was no constraining bias in him toward either good or evil, and as such, Adam differed radically from all his descendants, as well as from “the Man Christ Jesus.” But with the sinner it is far otherwise. The sinner is born with a will that is not in a condition of moral equipoise, because in him there is a heart that is “deceitful above all things and desperately wicked”, and this gives him a bias toward evil. So, too, with the Lord Jesus it was far otherwise: He also differed radically from unfallen Adam. The Lord Jesus Christ could not sin because he was “the Holy One of God.” Before he was born into this world it was said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” Luke 1:35. Speaking reverently then, we say, that the will of the Son of Man was not in a condition of moral equipoise, that is, capable of turning toward either good or evil. The will of the Lord Jesus was biased toward that which is good because, side by side with his sinless, holy, perfect humanity, was his eternal Deity. Now in contradistinction from the will of the Lord Jesus which was biased toward good, and Adam’s will which, before his fall, was in a condition of moral equipoise — capable of turning toward either good or evil — the sinner’s will is biased toward evil, and therefore is free in one direction only, namely, in the direction of evil. The sinner’s will is enslaved because it is in bondage to and is the servant of a depraved heart.

In what does the sinner’s freedom consist? This question is naturally suggested by what we have just said above. The sinner is “free” in the sense of being unforced from without. God never forces the sinner to sin. But the sinner is not “free” to do either good or evil, because an evil heart within is ever inclining him toward sin. Let us illustrate what we have in mind. I hold in my hand a book. I release it; what happens? It falls. In which direction? Downwards; always downwards. Why? Because, answering the law of gravity, its own weight sinks it. Suppose I desire that book to occupy a position three feet higher; then what? I must lift it; a power outside of that book must raise it. Such is the relationship which fallen man sustains toward God. While divine power upholds him, he is preserved from plunging still deeper into sin; let that power be withdrawn, and he falls — his own weight (of sin) drags him down. God does not push him down, any more than I did that book. Let all divine restraint be removed, and every man is capable of becoming, would become, a Cain, a Pharaoh, a Judas. How then is the sinner to me heavenwards? By an act of his own will? Not so. A power outside of himself must grasp hold of him and lift him every inch of the way. The sinner is free, but free in one direction only — free to fall, free to sin. As the Word expresses it: “For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness” Rom. 6:20. The sinner is free to do as he pleases, always as he pleases (except as he is restrained by God), but his pleasure is to sin.

In the opening paragraph of this chapter we insisted that a proper conception of the nature and function of the will is of practical importance, nay, that it constitutes a fundamental test of theological orthodoxy or doctrinal soundness. We wish to amplify this statement and attempt to demonstrate its accuracy. The freedom or bondage of the will was the dividing line between Augustinianism and Pelagianism, and in more recent times between Calvinism and Arminianism. Reduced to simple terms, this means, that the difference involved was the affirmation or denial of the total depravity of man. In taking the affirmative we shall now consider,

3. The Impotency Of The Human Will.

Does it lie within the prince of man’s will to accept or reject the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour? Granted that the Gospel is preached to the sinner, that the Holy Spirit convicts him of his lost condition, does it, in the final analysis, lie within the power of his own will to resist or to yield himself up to God? The answer to this question defines our conception of human depravity. That man is a fallen creature all professing Christians will allow, but what many of them mean by “fallen” is often difficult to determine. The general impression seems to be that man is now mortal, that he is no longer in the condition in which he left the hands of his Creator, that he is liable to disease, that he inherits evil tendencies; but, that if he employs his powers to the best of his ability, somehow he will be happy at last. O, how far short of the sad truth! Infirmities, sickness, even corporeal death, are but trifles in comparison with the moral and spiritual effects of the Fall! It is only by consulting the Holy Scriptures that we are able to obtain some conception of the extent of that terrible calamity.

When we say that man is totally depraved, we mean that the entrance of sin into the human constitution has affected every part and faculty of man’s being. Total depravity means that man is, in spirit and soul and body, the slave of sin and the captive of the Devil — walking “according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” Eph 2:2. This statement ought not to need arguing: it is a common fact of human experience. Man is unable to realize his own aspirations and materialize his own ideals. He cannot do the things that he would. There is a moral inability which paralyses him. This is proof positive that he is no free man, but instead, the slave of sin and Satan. “Ye are of your father the Devil, and the lusts (desires) of your father ye will do” John 8:44. Sin is more than an act or a series of acts; it is a state or condition: it is that which lies behind and produces the acts. Sin has penetrated and permeated the whole of man’s make up. It has blinded the understanding, corrupted the heart, and alienated the mind from God. And the will has not escaped. The will is under the dominion of sin and Satan. Therefore, the will is not free. In short, the affections love as they do and the will chooses as it does because of the state of the heart, and because the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked “There is none that seeketh after God” Rom. 3:11.

We repeat our question; Does it lie within the power of the sinner’s will to yield himself up to God? Let us attempt an answer by asking several others: Can water (of itself) rise above its own level? Can a clean thing come out of an unclean? Can the will reverse the whole tendency and strain of human nature? Can that which is under the dominion of sin originate that which is pure and holy? Manifestly not. If ever the will of a fallen and depraved creature is to me God-wards, a Divine power must be brought to bear upon it which will overcome the influences of sin that pull in a counter direction. This is only another way of saying, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me, draw him” John 6:44. In other words, God’s people must be made willing in the day of his power Psa. 110:3. As said Mr. Darby, “If Christ came to save that which is lost, free will has no place. Not that God prevents men from receiving Christ — far from it. But even when God uses all possible inducements, all that is capable of exerting influence in the heart of man, it only serves to show that man will have none of it, that so corrupt is his heart, and so decided his will not to submit to God (however much it may be the devil who encourages him to sin) that nothing can induce him to receive the Lord, and to give up sin. If by the words, ‘freedom of man’, they mean that no one forces him to reject the Lord, this liberty fully exists. But if it is said that, on account of the dominion of sin, of which he is the slave, and that voluntarily, he cannot escape from his condition, and make choice of the good — even while acknowledging it to be good, and approving of it — then he has no liberty whatever (italics ours). He is not subject to the law, neither indeed can be; hence, they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”

The will is not sovereign; it is a servant, because influenced and controlled by the other faculties of man’s being. The sinner is not a free agent because he is a slave of sin — this was clearly implied in our Lord’s words, “If the Son shall therefore make you free, ye shall be free indeed” John 8:36. Man is a rational being and as such responsible and accountable to God, but to affirm that he is a free moral agent is to deny that he is totally depraved — i.e., depraved in will as in everything else. Because man’s will is governed by his mind and heart, and because these have been vitiated and corrupted by sin, then it follows that if ever man is to turn or me in a God-ward direction, God himself must work in him “both to will and to do of his good pleasure” Php 2:13. Man’s boasted freedom is in truth the “bondage of corruption”; he “serves divers lusts and pleasures.” Said a deeply taught servant of God, “Man is impotent as to his will. He has no will favourable to God. I believe in free will; but then it is a will only free to act according to nature (italics ours). A dove has no will to eat carrion; a raven no will to eat the clean food of the dove. Put the nature of the dove into the raven and it will eat the food of the dove. Satan could have no will for holiness. We speak it with reverence, God could have no will for evil. The sinner in his sinful nature could never have a will according to God. For this he must be born again” (J. Denham Smith). This is just what we have contended for throughout this chapter — the will is regulated by the nature.

Among the “decrees” of the Council of Trent (1563), which is the awed standard of Popery, we find the following: —

If any one shall affirm, that man’s free will, moved and excited by God, does not, by consenting, cooperate with God, the mover and exciter, so as to prepare and dispose itself for the attainment of justification; if moreover, anyone shall say, that the human will cannot refuse complying, if it pleases; but that it is inactive, and merely passive; let such an one be accursed!

If anyone shall affirm, that since the fall of Adam, man’s free will is lost and extinguished; or, that it is a thing titular, yea a name, without a thing, and a fiction introduced by Satan into the Church; let such an one be accursed!

Thus, those who today insist on the free will of the natural man believe precisely what Rome teaches on the subject! That Roman Catholics and Arminians walk hand in hand may be seen from others of the decrees issued by the Council of Trent: — “If any one shall affirm that a regenerate and justified man is bound to believe that he is certainly in the number of the elect (which, 1 Thess. 1:4-5 plainly teaches. A.W.P.) let such an one be accursed”! “If any one shall affirm with positive and absolute certainty, that he shall surely have the gift of perseverance to the end (which John 10:28-30 assuredly guarantees, A.W.P.); let him be accursed”! In order for any sinner to be saved three things were indispensable: God the Father had to purpose his salvation, God the Son had to purchase it, God the Spirit has to apply it. God does more than “propose” to us: were he only to “invite”, every last one of us would be lost. This is strikingly illustrated in the Old Testament. In Ezra 1:1-3 we read, “Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, the Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all his people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem which is in Judah, and build the house of the Lord God of Israel.” Here was an “offer” made, made to a people in captivity, affording them opportunity to leave and return to Jerusalem — God’s dwelling place. Did all Israel eagerly respond to this offer? No indeed. The vast majority were content to remain in the enemy’s land. Only an insignificant “remnant” availed themselves of this overture of mercy! And why did they? Hear the answer of Scripture: “Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all whose spirit God had stirred up, to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem” Ezra 1:5! In like manner, God “stirs up” the spirits of his elect when the effectual call comes to them, and not till then do they have any willingness to respond to the Divine proclamation.

The superficial work of many of the professional evangelists of the last fifty years is largely responsible for the erroneous views now current upon the bondage of the natural man, encouraged by the laziness of those in the pew in their failure to “prove all things” 1 Thess. 5:21. The average evangelical pulpit conveys the impression that it lies wholly in the power of the sinner whether or not he shall be saved. It is said that “God has done his part, now man must do his.” Alas, what can a lifeless man do, and man by nature is “dead in trespasses and sins” Eph 2:1! If this were really believed, there would be more dependence upon the Holy Spirit to come in with his miracle working power, and less confidence in our attempts to “win men for Christ.”

When addressing the unsaved, preachers often draw an analogy between God’s sending of the Gospel to the sinner, and a sick man in bed, with some healing medicine on a table by his side: all he needs to do is reach forth his hand and take it. But in order for this illustration to be in any wise true to the picture which Scripture gives us of the fallen and depraved sinner, the sick man in bed must be described as one who is blind Eph 4:18 so that he cannot see the medicine, his hand paralysed Rom. 5:6 so that he is unable to reach forth for it, and his heart not only devoid of all confidence in the medicine but filled with hatred against the physician himself John 15:18. O what superficial views of man’s desperate plight are now entertained! Christ came here not to help those who were willing to help themselves, but to do for his people what they were incapable of doing for themselves: “To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house” Isa. 42:7.

Now in conclusion let us anticipate and dispose of the usual and inevitable objection — Why preach the Gospel if man is powerless to respond? Why bid the sinner come to Christ if sin has so enslaved him that he has no power in himself to come? Reply: — We do not preach the Gospel because we believe that men are free moral agents, and therefore capable of receiving Christ, but we preach it because we are commanded to do so Mark 16:15; and though to them that perish it is foolishness, yet, “unto us which are saved it is the power of God” 1 Cor. 1:18. “The foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” 1 Cor. 1:25. The sinner is dead in trespasses and sins Eph 2:1, and a dead man is utterly incapable of willing anything, hence it is that “they that are in the flesh (the unregenerate) cannot please God” Rom. 8:8.

To fleshly wisdom it appears the height of folly to preach the Gospel to those that are dead, and therefore beyond the reach of doing anything themselves. Yes, but God’s ways are different from ours. It pleases God “by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” 1 Cor. 1:21. Man may deem it folly to prophesy to “dead bones” and to say unto them, “O, ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord” Ezek. 37:4. Ah! but then it is the word of the Lord, and the words he speaks “they are spirit, and they are life” John 6:63. Wise men standing by the grave of Lazarus night pronounce it an evidence of insanity when the Lord addressed a dead man with the words, “Lazarus, Come forth.” Ah! but he who thus spake was and is himself the Resurrection and the Life, and at his word even the dead live! We go forth to preach the Gospel, then, not because we believe that sinners have within themselves the power to receive the Saviour it proclaims, but because the Gospel itself is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth, and because we know that “as many as were ordained to eternal life” Acts 13:48, shall believe John 6:37 10:16 — note the shall’s!) in God’s appointed time, for it is written, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power” Psa. 110:3!

What we have set forth in this chapter is not a product of “modern thought”; no indeed it is at direct variance with it. It is those of the past few generations who have departed so far from the teachings of their scripturally instructed fathers. In the thirty nine Articles of the Church of England we read, “The condition of man after the fall of Adam is such, that he cannot turn and prepare himself by his own natural strength and good works to faith, and calling upon God: Wherefore we have no power to do good works, pleasant and acceptable to God, without the grace of God by Christ preventing us (being beforehand with us), that we may have a good will, and working with us, when we have that good will” (Article 10). In the Westminster Catechism of Faith (adopted by the Presbyterians) we read, “The sinfulness of that state whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the wont of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually” (Answer to question 25). So in the Baptists’ Philadelphian Confession of Faith, 1742, we read, “Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from good, and dead in sin, is not able by his own strength to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto” (Chapter 9).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010



In the previous studies we have had in review some of the wondrous and lovely perfections of the divine character. From this most feeble and faulty contemplation of His attributes, it should be evident to us all that God is--First, an incomprehensible Being, and, lost in wonder at His infinite greatness, we are constrained to adopt the words of Zophar, "Canst thou by searching find out God? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is high as heaven; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea" (Job 11:7-9). When we turn our thoughts to God's eternity, His immateriality, His omnipresence, His almightiness, our minds are overwhelmed.

But the incomprehensibility of the divine nature is not a reason why we should desist from reverent inquiry and prayerful strivings to apprehend what He has so graciously revealed of Himself in His Word. Because we are unable to acquire perfect knowledge, it would be folly to say we will therefore make no efforts to attain to any degree of it. It has been well said:

"Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued, investigation of the great subject of the Deity. The most excellent study for expanding the soul is the science of Christ and Him crucified and the knowledge of the Godhead in the glorious Trinity" (C. H. Spurgeon).

Let us quote a little further from this prince of preachers:

"The proper study of the Christian is the Godhead. The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can engage the attention of a child of God is the name, the nature, the person, the doings, and the existence of the great God which he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity. Other subjects we can comprehend and grapple with; in them we feel a kind of self-contentment, and go on our way with the thought, 'Behold I am wise.' But when we come to this master science, finding that our plumbline cannot sound its depth, and that our eagle eye cannot see its height, we turn away with the thought, 'I am but of yesterday and know nothing'" (Sermon on Mal 3:6).

Yes, the incomprehensibility of the divine nature should teach us humility, caution, and reverence. After all our searchings and meditations we have to say with Job, "Lo, these are parts of His ways: but how little a portion is heard of Him?" (26:14). When Moses besought Jehovah for a sight of His glory, He answered him, "I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee" (Exo 33:19), and, as another has said: "The name is the collection of His attributes." Rightly did the Puritan John Howe declare:

"The notion therefore we can hence form of His glory, is only such as we may have of a large volume by a brief synopsis, or of a spacious country by a little landscape. He hath here given us a true report of Himself, but not a full; such as will secure our apprehensions--being guided thereby from error, but not from ignorance. We can apply our minds to contemplate the several perfections whereby the blessed God discovers to us His being, and can in our thoughts attribute them all to Him, though we have still but low and defective conceptions of each one. Yet so far as our apprehensions can correspond to the discovery that He affords us of His several excellencies, we have a present view of His glory."

As the difference is indeed great between the knowledge of God which His saints have in this life and that which they shall have in Heaven, yet, as the former should not be undervalued because it is imperfect, so the latter is not to be magnified above its reality. True, the Scripture declare that we shall see "face to face" and "know" even as we are known (1 Cor 13:12). But to infer from this that we shall then know God as fully as He knows us is to be misled by the mere sound of words, and to disregard the restriction of that knowledge that our finiteness necessarily requires. There is a vast difference between the saints being glorified and their being made divine. In their glorified state, Christians will still be finite creatures, and therefore, never able to fully comprehend the infinite God.

"The saints in heaven will see God with the eye of the mind, for He will be always invisible to the bodily eye. They will see Him more clearly than they could see Him by reason and faith, and more extensively than all His works and dispensations had hitherto revealed Him. But their minds will not be so enlarged as to be capable of contemplating at once, or in detail, the whole excellence of His nature. To comprehend infinite perfection, they must become infinite themselves. Even in Heaven, their knowledge will be partial, but at the same time their happiness will be complete, because their knowledge will be perfect in this sense, that it will be adequate to the capacity of the subject, although it will not exhaust the fulness of the object. We believe that it will be progressive, and that as their views expand, their blessedness will increase. But it will never reach a limit beyond which there is nothing to be discovered, and when ages after ages have passed away, He will still be the incomprehensible God." (John Dick, 1840).

Secondly, from a review of the perfections of God, it appears that He is an all-sufficient Being. He is all-sufficient in Himself and to Himself. As the First of beings, He could receive nothing from another, nor be limited by the power of another. Being infinite, He is possessed of all possible perfection. When the Triune God existed all alone, He was all to Himself. His understanding, His love, His energies, found an adequate object in Himself. Had He stood in need of anything external He would not have been independent, and therefore He would not have been God. He created all things, and that for Himself (Col 1:16), yet it was not in order to supply a lack, but that He might communicate life and happiness to angels and men, and admit them to the vision of His glory. True, He demands the allegiance and services of His intelligent creatures, yet He derives no benefit from their offices; all the advantage redounds to themselves (Job 22:2-3). He makes use of means and instruments to accomplish His ends, yet not from a deficiency of power, but oftentimes to more strikingly display His power through the feebleness of the instruments.

The all-sufficiency of God makes Him to be the Supreme Object which is ever to be sought unto. True happiness consists only in the enjoyment of God. His favour is life, and His lovingkindness is better than life. "The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him (Lam 3:24). His love, His grace, and His glory are the chief objects of the saints' desire and the springs of their highest satisfaction.

"There be many that say, Who will show us any good? Lord, lift Thou up the light of Thy countenance upon us. Thou hast put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased." (Psa 4:6,7).

Yea, the Christian, when in his right mind, is able to say:

"Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation." (Hab 3:17,18).

Thirdly, from a review of the perfections of God, it appears that He is the Supreme Sovereign of the universe. It has been rightly said:

"No dominion is so absolute as that which is founded on creation. He who might not have made any thing, had a right to make all things according to His own pleasure. In the exercise of His uncontrolled power, He has made some parts of the creation mere inanimate matter, of grosser or more refined texture, and distinguished by different qualities, but all inert and unconscious. He has given organization to other parts, and made them susceptible of growth and expansion, but still without life in the proper sense of the term. To others He has given not only organization, but conscious existence, organs of sense and self-motive power. To these He has added in man the gift of reason, and an immortal spirit, by which he is allied to a higher order of beings who are placed in the superior regions. Over the world which He has created, He sways the scepter of omnipotence. 'I praised and honoured Him that liveth for ever, whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation: and all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and He doeth according to His will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay His hand, or say unto Him, What doest Thou?'-- Daniel 4:34-35" (John Dick).

A creature, considered as such, has no rights. He can demand nothing from his Maker; and in whatever manner he may be treated, has no title to complain. Yet, when thinking of the absolute dominion of God over all, we ought never to lose sight of His moral perfections. God is just and good, and ever does that which is right. Nevertheless, He exercises His sovereignty according to His own imperial and righteous pleasure. He assigns each creature his place as seemeth good in His own sight. He orders the varied circumstances of each according to His own counsels. He molds each vessel according to His own uninfluenced determination. He has mercy on whom He will, and whom He will He hardens. Wherever we are, His eye is upon us. Whoever we are, our life and everything is held at His disposal. To the Christian, He is a tender Father; to the rebellious sinner He will yet be a consuming fire. "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Tim 1:17).



It is sad indeed to find so many professing Christians who appear to regard the wrath of God as something for which they need to make an apology, or who at least wish there were no such thing. While some who would not go so far as to openly admit that they consider it a blemish on the divine character, yet they are far from regarding it with delight; they like not to think about it, and they rarely hear it mentioned without a secret resentment rising up in their hearts against it. Even with those who are more sober in their judgment, not a few seem to imagine that there is a severity about the divine wrath that makes it too terrifying to form a theme for profitable contemplation. Others harbor the delusion that God's wrath is not consistent with His goodness, and so seek to banish it from their thoughts.

Yes, many there are who turn away from a vision of God's wrath as though they were called to look upon some blotch in the divine character or some blot upon the divine government. But what saith the Scriptures? As we turn to them we find that God has made no attempt to conceal the facts concerning His wrath. He is not ashamed to make it known that vengeance and fury belong unto Him. His own challenge is:

"See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand. For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever. If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me" (Deut 32:39-41).

A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness. Because God is holy, He hates all sin; and because He hates all sin, His anger burns against the sinner (Psa 7:11).

Now the wrath of God is as much a divine perfection as is His faithfulness, power, or mercy. It must be so, for there is no blemish whatever, not the slightest defect in the character of God; yet there would be if "wrath" were absent from Him! Indifference to sin is a moral blemish, and he who hates it not is a moral leper. How could He who is the Sum of all excellency look with equal satisfaction upon virtue and vice, wisdom and folly? How could He who is infinitely holy disregard sin and refuse to manifest His "severity" (Rom 11:22) toward it? How could He, who delights only in that which is pure and lovely, not loathe and hate that which is impure and vile? The very nature of God makes Hell as real a necessity, as imperatively and eternally requisite, as Heaven is. Not only is there no imperfection in God, but there is no perfection in Him that is less perfect than another.

The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is the displeasure and indignation of divine equity against evil. It is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. It is the moving cause of that just sentence which He passes upon evildoers. God is angry against sin because it is a rebelling against His authority, a wrong done to His inviolable sovereignty. Insurrectionists against God's government shall be made to know that God is the Lord. They shall be made to feel how great that Majesty is which they despise, and how dreadful is that threatened wrath which they so little regarded. Not that God's anger is a malignant and malicious retaliation, inflicting injury for the sake of it, or in return for injury received. No, though God will vindicate His dominion as the Governor of the universe, He will not be vindictive.

That divine wrath is one of the perfections of God is not only evident from the considerations presented above, but is also clearly established by the express declarations of His own Word. "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven" (Rom l:18). Robert Haldane comments on this verse as follows:

"It was revealed when the sentence of death was first pronounced, the earth cursed, and man driven out of the earthly paradise, and afterwards by such examples of punishment as those of the Deluge, and the destruction of the Cities of the Plain by fire from heaven, but especially by the reign of death throughout the world. It was proclaimed in the curse of the law on every transgression, and was intimated in the institution of sacrifice, and in all the services of the Mosaic dispensation. In the eighth chapter of this epistle, the Apostle calls the attention of believers to the fact that the whole creation has become subject to vanity, and groaneth and travaileth together in pain. The same creation which declares that there is a God, and publishes His glory, also proves that He is the Enemy of sin and the Avenger of the crimes of men...But above all, the wrath of God was revealed from heaven when the Son of God came down to manifest the divine character, and when that wrath was displayed in His sufferings and death, in a manner more awful than by all the tokens God had before given of His displeasure against sin. Besides this, the future and eternal punishment of the wicked is now declared in terms more solemn and explicit than formerly. Under the new dispensation, there are two revelations given from heaven, one of wrath, the other of grace."

Again, that the wrath of God is a divine perfection is plainly demonstrated by what we read in Psalm 95:11: "Unto whom I sware in My wrath." There are two occasions of God's "swearing": in making promises (Gen 22:16), and in pronouncing judgments (Deut 1:34ff). In the former, He swears in mercy to His children; in the latter, He swears to deprive a wicked generation of its inheritance because of murmuring and unbelief. An oath is for solemn confirmation (Heb 6:16). In Genesis 22:16 God says, "By Myself have I sworn." In Psalm 89:35 He declares, "Once have I sworn by My holiness." While in Psalm 95:11 He affirms, "I swear in My wrath." Thus the great Jehovah Himself appeals to His "wrath" as a perfection equal to His "holiness": He swears by the one as much as by the other! Again, as in Christ "dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily" (Col 2:9), and as all the divine perfections are illustriously displayed by Him (John 1:18), therefore do we read of "the wrath of the Lamb" (Rev 6:16).

The wrath of God is a perfection of the divine character upon which we need to frequently meditate. First, that our hearts may be duly impressed by God's detestation of sin. We are ever prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss over its hideousness, to make excuses for it. But the more we study and ponder God's abhorrence of sin and His frightful vengeance upon it, the likely are we to realize its heinousness. Secondly, to beget a true fear in our souls for God: "Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:28-29). We cannot serve him "acceptably" unless there is due "reverence" for His awful Majesty and "godly fear" of His righteous anger; and these are best promoted by frequently calling to mind that "our God is a consuming fire." Thirdly, to draw out our souls in fervent praise for our having been delivered from "the wrath to come" (1 Thess 1:10).

Our readiness or our reluctancy to meditate upon the wrath of God becomes a sure test of our hearts' true attitude toward Him. If we do not truly rejoice in God, for what He is in Himself, and that because of all the perfections which are eternally resident in Him, then how dwelleth the love of God in us? Each of us needs to be most prayerfully on his guard against devising an image of God in our thoughts which is patterned after our own evil inclinations. Of old the Lord complained, "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself" (Psa 50:21). If we rejoice not "at the remembrance of His holiness" (Psa 97:12), if we rejoice not to know that in a soon-coming Day, God will make a most glorious display of His wrath by taking vengeance upon all who now oppose Him, it is proof positive that our hearts are not in subjection to Him, that we are yet in our sins, and that we are on the way to the everlasting burnings.

"Reioice, 0 ye nations [Gentiles] with His people, for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and will render vengeance to His adversaries" (Deut 32:43). And again we read--

"I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are His judgments. for He hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of His servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia" (Rev 19:1-3).

Great will be the rejoicing of the saints in that day when the Lord shall vindicate His majesty, exercise His awful dominion, magnify His justice, and overthrow the proud rebels who have dared to defy Him.

"If Thou, LORD, shouldest mark [impute] iniquities, 0 Lord, who shall stand?" (Psa 1303). Well may each of us ask this question, for it is written, "the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment" (Psa 1:5). How sorely was Christ's soul exercised with thoughts of God's marking the iniquities of His people when they were upon Him! He was amazed and very heavy (Mark 14:33). His awful agony, His bloody sweat, His strong cries and supplications (Heb 5:7), His reiterated prayers ("If it be possible, let this cup pass from Me"), His last dreadful cry ("My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?") all manifest what fearful apprehensions He had of what it was for God to "mark iniquities." Well may poor sinners cry out, "Lord, who shall stand," when the Son of God Himself so trembled beneath the weight of His wrath. If thou, my reader, hast not "fled for refuge" to Christ, the only Saviour, "how wilt thou do in the swelling of the Jordan?" (Jer 12:5).

"When I consider how the goodness of God is abused by the greatest part of mankind, I cannot but be of his mind that said, The greatest miracle in the world is God's patience and bounty to an ungrateful world. If a prince hath an enemy got into one of his towns, he doth not send them in provision, but lays close siege to the place, and doth what he can to starve them. But the great God, that could wink all His enemies into destruction, bears with them, and is at daily cost to maintain them. Well may He command us to bless them that curse us, who Himself does good to the evil and unthankful. But think not, sinners, that you shall escape thus; God's mill goes slow, but grinds small, the more admirable His patience and bounty now is, the more dreadful and unsupportable will that fury be which ariseth out of His abused goodness. Nothing smoother than the sea, yet when stirred into a tempest, nothing rageth more. Nothing so sweet as the patience and goodness of God, and nothing so terrible as His wrath when it takes fire" (William Gurnall, 1660).

Then "flee," my reader, flee to Christ; "flee from the wrath to come" (Matt 3:7) ere it be too late. Do not, we earnestly beseech you, suppose that this message is intended for somebody else. It is to you! Do not be contented by thinking you have already fled to Christ. Make certain! Beg the Lord to search your heart and show you yourself.

A Word to Preachers--Brethren, do we in our oral ministry, preach on this solemn subject as much as we ought? The Old Testament prophets frequently told their hearers that their wicked lives provoked the Holy One of Israel, and that they were treasuring up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath. And conditions in the world are no better now than they were then! Nothing is so calculated to arouse the careless and cause carnal professors to search their hearts, as to enlarge upon the fact that "God is angry with the wicked every day" (Psa 7:11). The forerunner of Christ warned his hearers to "flee from the wrath to come" (Matt 3:7). The Saviour bade His auditors, "Fear Him, which after He hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear Him" (Luke 12:5). The Apostle Paul said, "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Cor 5:11). Faithfulness demands that we speak as plainly about hell as about heaven.



By "us" we mean His people. Although we read of the love which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom 8:39), Holy Writ knows nothing of a love of God outside of Christ. "The LORD is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works" (Psa 145:9), so that He provides the ravens with food. "He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil" (Luke 6:35), and His providence ministers unto the just and the unjust (Matt 5:45). But His love is reserved for His elect. That is unequivocally established by its characteristics, for the attributes of His love are identical with Himself. Necessarily so, for "God is love." In making that postulate it is but another way to say God's love is like Himself, from everlasting to everlasting--immutable. Nothing is more absurd than to imagine that anyone beloved of God can eternally perish or shall ever experience His everlasting vengeance. Since the love of God is "in Christ Jesus," it was attracted by nothing in its objects, nor can it be repelled by anything in, of, or by them. "Having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end" (John 13:1). The "world" in John 3:16 is a general term used in contrast with the Jews, and the verse must be interpreted so as not to contradict Psalms 5:5; 6:7; John 3:36; Romans 9:13.

The chief design of God is to commend the love of God in Christ, for He is the sole channel through which it flows. The Son has not induced the Father to love His people, but rather was it His love for them which moved Him to give His Son for them. Ralph Erskine said:

"God hath taken a marvellous way to manifest His love. When He would show His power, He makes a world. When He would display His wisdom, He puts it in a frame and form that discovers its vastness. When He would manifest the grandeur and glory of His name, He makes a heaven, and puts angels and archangels, principalities and powers therein. And when He would manifest His love, what will He not do? God hath taken a great and marvellous way of manifesting it in Christ: His person, His blood, His death, His righteousness."

"All the promises of God in Him [Christ] are yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God" (2 Cor 1:20). As we were chosen in Christ (Eph 1:4), as we were accepted in Him (Eph 1:6), as our life is hid in Him (Col 3:3), so are we beloved in Him--"the love of God which is in Christ Jesus": in Him as our Head and Husband, which is why nothing can separate us therefrom, for that union is indissoluble.

Nothing so warms the heart of the saint as a spiritual contemplation of God's love. As he is occupied with it, he is lifted outside of and above his wretched self. A believing apprehension fills the renewed soul with holy satisfaction, and makes him as happy as it is possible for one to be this side of heaven. To know and believe the love which God has toward me is both an earnest and a foretaste of heaven itself. Since God loves His people in Christ, it is not for any amiableness in or attraction about them: "Jacob have I loved." Yes, the naturally unattractive, yes, despicable, Jacob--thou worm Jacob." Since God loves His people in Christ, it is not regulated by their fruitfulness, but is the same at all times. Because He loves them in Christ, the Father loves them as Christ. The time will come when His prayer will be answered, "that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me" (John 17:23). Only faith can grasp those marvellous things, for neither reasoning nor feelings can do so. God loves us in Christ. What infinite delight the Father has as He beholds His people in His dear Son! All our blessings flow from that precious fountain.

God's love to His people is not of yesterday. It did not begin with their love to Him. No, "we love Him, because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19). We do not first give to Him, that He may return to us again. Our regeneration is not the motive of His love, rather His love is the reason why He renews us after His image. This is often made to appear in the first manifestation of it, when so far from its objects being engaged in seeking Him, they are at their worst.

"Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread My skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the LORD GOD, and thou becamest [manifestatively] Mine" (Eze 16:8).

Not only are its objects often at their worst when God's love is first revealed to them, but actually doing their worst, as in the case of Saul of Tarsus. Not only is God's love antecedent to ours, but also it was borne in His heart toward us long before we were delivered from the power of darkness and translated into the Kingdom of His dear Son. It began not in time, but bears the date of eternity. "I have loved thee with an everlasting love" (Jer 31:3).

"Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins' (1 John 4:10). It is clear from those words that God loved His people while they were in a state of nature, destitute of all grace, without a particle of love towards Him or faith in Him; yes, while they were His enemies (Rom 5:8,10). Clearly that lays me under a thousand times greater obligation to love, serve, and glorify Him than had He loved me for the first time when my heart was won. All the acts of God to His people in time are the expressions of the love He bore them from eternity. It is because God loves us in Christ, and has done so from everlasting, that the gifts of His love are irrevocable. They are the bestowal of "the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." The love of God indeed makes a change in us when it is "shed abroad in our hearts," but it makes none in Him. He sometimes varies the dispensations of His providence toward us, but that is not because His affection has altered. Even when He chastens us, it is in love (Heb 12:6), since He has our good in view.

Let us look more closely at some of the operations of God's love. First, in election. "We are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit [His quickening] and belief of the truth" (2 Thess 2:13).

There is an infallible connection between God's love and His selection of those who were to be saved. That election is the consequence of His love is clear again from Deuteronomy: "The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people" (7:7). So again: "In love, having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will" (Eph l:4,5).

Second, in redeeming. As we have seen from 1 John 4:10, out of His sovereign love God made provision for Christ to render satisfaction for their sins, though prior to their conversion He was angry with them in respect to His violated Law. And "how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom 8:32)--another clear proof that His Son was not "delivered up" to the cross for all mankind. For He gives them neither the Holy Spirit, a new nature, nor repentance and faith.

Third, effectual calling. From the enthroned Saviour the Father sends forth the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). Having loved His elect with an everlasting love, with lovingkindness He draws them (Jer 31:3), quickens into newness of life, calls them out of darkness into His marvellous light, makes them His children. "Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (1 John 3:1). If filiation does not issue from God's love as a sure effect, to what purpose are those words?

Fourth, healing of backslidings: "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely" (Hosea 14:4), without reluctance or hesitation. "Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it" (Song 8:7). Such is God's love to His people--invincible, unquenchable. Not only is there no possibility of its expiring, but also the black waters of backsliding cannot extinguish it, nor the floods of unbelief put it out.

Nothing is more irresistible than death in the natural world, nothing so invincible as the love of God in the realm of grace. Goodwin remarked:

"What difficulties does the love of God overcome! For God to overcome His own heart! Do you think it was nothing for Him to put His Son to death? ... When He came to call us, had He no difficulties which love overcame? We were dead in trespasses and sins, yet from the great love wherewith He loved us, He quickened us in the grave of our corruption: 'lo, he stinketh'-- even then did God come and conquer us. After our calling, how sadly do we provoke God! Such temptations that if it were possible the elect should be deceived. It is so with all Christians. No righteous man but he is scarcely saved (1 Peter 4:18), and yet saved he is, because the love of God is invincible--it overcomes all difficulties."

An application is hardly necessary for such a theme. Let God's love daily engage your mind by devout meditations on it so that the affections of your heart may be drawn out to Him. When cast down in spirit, or in sore straits, plead His love in prayer, assured that it cannot deny anything good for you. Make God's wondrous love to you the incentive of your obedience to Him--gratitude requires nothing less.