Injustice is more than a political dysfunction. It is a spiritual evil, a denial of God. And by now the mess we’ve made is so far advanced, so systemic, so overwhelming, its beyond our correction. – Ray Ortlund Sr., Isaiah: God Saves Sinners
Wesley and Whitefield may preach better than I can, but they cannot preach a better gospel. – C.H. Spurgeon
There was no abasement ever so deep as Christ’s was, in a double regard. First, None ever went so low as he, for he suffered the wrath of God, and bore upon him the sins of us all; none was ever so low. And then in another respect his abasement was greatest because He descended from the highest top of glory; and for Him to be man, to be a servant, to be a curse, to suffer the wrath of god, to be the lowest of all – Lord, wither doest Thou descend? – Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed
Shall God be abased and man proud? – Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed
There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us. – Richard Sibbes, The Bruised Reed
Please pray for me that I never serve what I have not partaken of myself. Also never expect others to taste and see that He is good while your lips smack of the world and your breath reeks of idolatry.
A man preacheth that sermon only well unto others which preacheth itself in his own soul. And he that doth not feed on and thrive in the digestion of the food which he provides for others will scarce make it savoury unto them; yea, he knows not but the food he hath provided may be poison, unless he have really tasted of it himself. If the word do not dwell with power in us, it will not pass with power from us. And no man lives in a more woeful condition than those who really believe not themselves what they persuade others to believe continually. The want of this experience of the power of gospel truth on their own souls is that which gives us so many lifeless, sapless orations, quaint in words and dead as to power, instead of preaching the gospel in the demonstration of the Spirit. – John Owen in The True Nature of a Gospel Church
If we meditate and really see our idols for what they are, glory will be given to God.
Go look in the mirror, you are not all that. You have flaws. Hair grows where it shouldn’t. You are not that intelligent, there is always a more intelligent gent. We think we are something because we compare ourselves to men lesser than us, but it is not men with whom we will finally deal.
Look at your clothes. Right now they are in style, next year they will be stupid. If they are ‘timeless’ and remain cool, they will fall apart or you will stain them. It is because you are not all that that your clothes will stain due to: 1) your being a klutz or 2) your body leaving skid marks or pit yellowing.
Your car, its value decreases exponentially once you take it off the lot. It is a hungry god that you must consistently feed. If you opt not to buy the wheels, stereo, chrome accessories, upgraded parts, and dice for your rear view mirror you still have to wash it and give it gas to drink.
My iPod was the coolest when it came out. It was the limited U2 edition. One with a color display came out a few months later, then one with video capabilities, and finally the iPod touch. If technological gods are so amazing why are there always upgrades?
Truly I can only see the foolishness of such idols in the superior light of Jesus’ splendor. So once my blind eyes have been opened to see Jesus and I notice the lie that is in my hand, I think on it rightly. I loose no-gods for the God. With David Livingstone I exclaim:
For my own part, I have never ceased to rejoice that God has appointed me to such an office. People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay? Is that a sacrifice which brings its own blest reward in healthful activity, the consciousness of doing good, peace of mind, and a bright hope of a glorious destiny hereafter? Away with the word in such a view and with such a thought! It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to waver and the soul to sink; but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice.
So after having cast your idols aside and clinging to Christ, think of the foolishness of your idols and reckon that you have lost nothing and thereby gained everything in Jesus.
This one may be coming soon to an Overflow service near you!
Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy by Joseph Hart
Come, ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.
Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome,
God’s free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Every grace that brings you nigh.
Come, ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you’re better,
You will never come at all.
View Him prostrate in the garden;
On the ground your Maker lies.
On the bloody tree behold Him;
Sinner, will this not suffice?
Lo! th’ incarnate God ascended,
Pleads the merit of His blood:
Venture on Him, venture wholly,
Let no other trust intrude.
Let not conscience make you linger,
Not of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
Near the end of this passage there are two big assemblies gathered for a great tribunal before Yahweh. One assembly is a group of sinners, the blind and deaf whom God has chosen as servants to know, believe, and understand that God is God. They are the redeemed, the elect, the called, the ones of who God is their Savior. They serve as God’s witnesses. The other throng is made up of sinners as well, heathen idol worshippers scrambling to gather a credible witness for their case. So how is it that a group of redeemed sinners serve as witness for God? What makes our testimony valid? Our history shows us anything but fine witnesses by virtue of our character.
Lets say O.J. has supposedly done it again, you pick what ‘it’ is exactly. He has two witnesses that serve as character references; Micheal Vick and Mike Tyson. You get the point? But lets say that we are ten years from now and Vick is an ardent supporter of PETA, carries a little handbag with a pomeranian named Pookey inside of it, and has a secret identity as ‘PETA Man’ tackling animal abusers and giving the dogs to deserving, caring children. Tyson starts taking responsibility, talking like a man, and walks dangerous streets punching women-abusing men in the throat. Vick and Tyson then testify that the reason for all the changes that have occurred in their lives are owing to the influence of one man – O.J. Simpson.
The redeemed are witnesses to the fact that God is God not because of something in themselves, but by virtue of the acts God has wrought upon them. As you look at those whom God has chosen, created, formed, called, redeemed, protected, saved, and gathered… the only explanation is God. We were blind and deaf! I am what I am by the grace of God. I am not perfect, but everything within me that is admirable and praiseworthy, all the progress, and all that is truly good is the work of God. It is no burden to be a witness, rather it is a great privilege for God to demonstrate his power in us, a power which none can thwart.
While studying Isaiah today I came accross this sermon excerpt from Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s “I will pour Water” in Ray Ortlund Jr.’s commentary on Isaiah.
When two travellers are going through the wilderness, you may know which of them is thirsty, by his always looking out for wells. How gladly Israel came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and seventy palm trees! So it is with thirsty believers; they love the Word, read and preached, they thirst for it more and more. Is it so with you, dear believing brethren? In Scotland long ago, it used to be so. Often, after the blessing was pronounced, the people would not go away till they heard more. Ah! children of God, it is a fearful sign to see little thirst in you[.] I do not wonder much when the world stay[s] away from our meetings for the Word and prayer; but, ah! when you do.
The full sermon is available here.
One Day by J. Wilbur Chapman
One day when Heaven was filled with His praises,
One day when sin was as black as could be,
Jesus came forth to be born of a virgin,
Dwelt among men, my Example is He!
Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sins far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
One day He’s coming-O glorious day!
One day they led Him up Calvary’s mountain,
One day they nailed Him to die on the tree;
Suffering anguish, despised and rejected:
Bearing our sins, my Redeemer is He!
One day they left Him alone in the garden,
One day He rested, from suffering free;
Angels came down o’er His tomb to keep vigil;
Hope of the hopeless, my Savior is He!
One day the grave could conceal Him no longer,
One day the stone rolled away from the door;
Then He arose, over death He had conquered;
Now is ascended, my Lord evermore!
One day the trumpet will sound for His coming,
One day the skies with His glories will shine;
Wonderful day, my belovèd ones bringing;
Glorious Savior, this Jesus is mine!