These Treachorous Hearts

Posted in Richard Baxter on February 18, 2007 by Benji Magness

Take heed to yourselves, for you have a depraved nature, and sinful inclinations, as well as others. If innocent Adam had need of heed, and lost himself and us for want of it, how much more need have such as we! Sin dwelleth in us, when we have preached ever so much against it; and one degree prepareth the heart for another, and one sin inclineth the mind to more. If one thief be in the house, he will let in the rest; because they have the same disposition and design. A spark is the beginning of a flame; and a small disease may cause a greater. A man who knows himself to be purblind, should take heed to his feet. Alas! in our hearts, as well as in our hearers, there is an averseness to God, a strangeness to him, unreasonable and almost unruly passions! In us there are, at the best, the remnants of pride, unbelief, self-seeking, hypocrisy, and all the most hateful, deadly sins. And doth it not then concern us to take heed to ourselves? Is so much of the fire of hell yet unextinguished, that was at first kindled in us? Are there so many traitors in our very hearts, and is it not necessary for us to take heed? You will scarcely let your little children go themselves while they are weak, without calling upon them to take heed of falling. And, alas! how weak are those of us that seem strongest! How apt to stumble at a very straw! How small a matter will cast us down, by enticing us to folly; or kindling our passions and inordinate desires, by perverting our judgments, weakening our resolutions, cooling our zeal, and abating our diligence! Ministers are not only sons of Adam, but sinners against the grace of Christ, as well as others; and so have increased their radical sin. These treacherous hearts of yours will, one time or other, deceive you, if you take not heed. Those sins that seem now to lie dead will revive: your pride, and worldliness, and many a noisome vice, will spring up, that you thought had been weeded out by the roots. It is most necessary, therefore, that men of so much infirmity should take heed to themselves, and be careful in the oversight of their own souls.

Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor

I Must Tell So and So…

Posted in Martin Lloyd-Jones on February 18, 2007 by Benji Magness

Whenever you come across anything in any realm of life which pleases you and gives you great satisfaction, you feel you are bound to tell people about it, and you do. If you read a book that gives you something unusual, you say, ‘I must tell so and so. I must tell everybody’. The thing itself is so wonderful. If you see a wonderful bit of scenery you feel, ‘I must tell others about this. They must go and look at it’. Whatever it is, we always feel we cannot keep it to ourselves; we always want to share our blessings. Our Lord has put it once and for ever in the story of the woman and the lost coin. When she found it after considerable effort, she went to tell her neighbours, Come and rejoice with me, I have found it. The shepherd who has lost the sheep does the same thing, and the father who has lost the son, and who finds him, does the same. Here, then is this glorious gospel. You notice how Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 5: ‘For the love of Christ constraineth us’ [v.14]. He is like a man in a vice, and the vice is being screwed up and tightened up, until life is almost pressed out of him. What is pressing the Apostle? The love of Christ! This amazing thing! This gospel of reconciliation! This love of God! This love of God that sends His only Son, and even makes Him to be sin for us! Paul has seen it, and he wants everybody else to see it and to rejoice in it, and to glory in it, and to participate in it. The wonderful, glorious character of the gospel itself had made him a ‘debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, both to the wise, and to the unwise.

Martin Lloyd-Jones, Romans, Exposition of Chapter 1. ‘The Gospel of God’

Hellish Bullets

Posted in Charles Haddon Spurgeon on February 17, 2007 by Benji Magness

Edom’s princes saw the whole country left desolate, and counted upon its easy conquest; but there was one great difficulty in their way—quite unknown to them—”The Lord was there”; and in His presence lay the special security of the chosen land. Whatever may be the machinations and devices of the enemies of God’s people, there is still the same effectual barrier to thwart their design. The saints are God’s heritage, and He is in the midst of them, and will protect His own. What comfort this assurance yields us in our troubles and spiritual conflicts! We are constantly opposed, and yet perpetually preserved! How often Satan shoots his arrows against our faith, but our faith defies the power of hell’s fiery darts; they are not only turned aside, but they are quenched upon its shield, for “the Lord is there.” Our good works are the subjects of Satan’s attacks. A saint never yet had a virtue or a grace which was not the target for hellish bullets: whether it was hope bright and sparkling, or love warm and fervent, or patience all-enduring, or zeal flaming like coals of fire, the old enemy of everything that is good has tried to destroy it. The only reason why anything virtuous or lovely survives in us is this, “the Lord is there.”
If the Lord be with us through life, we need not fear for our dying confidence; for when we come to die, we shall find that “the Lord is there”; where the billows are most tempestuous, and the water is most chill, we shall feel the bottom, and know that it is good: our feet shall stand upon the Rock of Ages when time is passing away. Beloved, from the first of a Christian’s life to the last, the only reason why he does not perish is because “the Lord is there.” When the God of everlasting love shall change and leave His elect to perish, then may the Church of God be destroyed; but not till then, because it is written, JEHOVAH SHAMMAH, “The Lord is there.”

C.H. Spurgeon

No Matter When…Where…How..What…

Posted in David Brainerd on February 17, 2007 by Benji Magness

April 12. This morning the Lord was pleased to lift up the light of his countenance upon me in secret prayer, and made the season very precious to my soul. Though I have been so depressed of late, respecting my hopes of future serviceableness in the cause of God; yet now I had much encouragement. I was especially assisted to intercede and plead for poor souls, and for the enlargement of Christ’s kingdom in the world, and for special grace for myself, to fit me for special services. My faith lifted me above the world, and removed all those mountains over which of late I could not look. I wanted not the favor of man to lean upon; for I knew that Christ’s favor was infinitely better, and that it was no matter when nor where, nor how Christ should send me, nor what trials he should still exercise me with, if I might be prepared for his work and will.

David Brainerd, The Life and Diary of the Rev. David Brainerd with Notes and Reflections

Digging Up Treasures Through Prayer

Posted in John Calvin on February 17, 2007 by Benji Magness

To prayer, then, are we indebted for penetrating to those riches which are treasured up for us with our heavenly Father. For there is a kind of intercourse between God and men, by which, having entered the upper sanctuary, they appear before Him and appeal to his promises, that when necessity requires they may learn by experiences that what they believed merely on the authority of his word was not in vain. Accordingly, we see that nothing is set before us as an object of expectation from the Lord which we are not enjoined to ask of Him in prayer, so true it is that prayer digs up those treasures which the Gospel of our Lord discovers to the eye of faith. The necessity and utility of this exercise of prayer no words can sufficiently express. Assuredly it is not without cause our heavenly Father declares that our only safety is in calling upon his name, since by it we invoke the presence of his providence to watch over our interests, of his power to sustain us when weak and almost fainting, of his goodness to receive us into favour, though miserably loaded with sin; in fine, call upon him to manifest himself to us in all his perfections. Hence, admirable peace and tranquillity are given to our consciences; for the straits by which we were pressed being laid before the Lord, we rest fully satisfied with the assurance that none of our evils are unknown to him, and that he is both able and willing to make the best provision for us.

John Calvin, Institutes

The Legitimate Monarch

Posted in Athanasius on February 17, 2007 by Benji Magness

A very strong proof of this destruction of death and its conquest by the cross is supplied by a present fact, namely this. All the disciples of Christ despise death; they take the offensive against it and, instead of fearing it, by the sign of the cross and by faith in Christ trample on it as on something dead. Before the divine sojourn of the Savior, even the holiest of men were afraid of death, and mourned the dead as those who perish. But now that the Savior has raised His body, death is no longer terrible, but all those who believe in Christ tread it underfoot as nothing, and prefer to die rather than to deny their faith in Christ, knowing full well that when they die they do not perish, but live indeed, and become incorruptible through the resurrection. But that devil who of old wickedly exulted in death, now that the pains of death are loosed, he alone it is who remains truly dead. There is proof of this too; for men who, before they believe in Christ, think death horrible and are afraid of it, once they are converted despise it so completely that they go eagerly to meet it, and themselves become witnesses of the Savior’s resurrection from it. Even children hasten thus to die, and not men only, but women train themselves by bodily discipline to meet it. So weak has death become that even women, who used to be taken in by it, mock at it now as a dead thing robbed of all its strength. Death has become like a tyrant who has been completely conquered by the legitimate monarch; bound hand and foot the passers-by sneer at him, hitting him and abusing him, no longer afraid of his cruelty and rage, because of the king who has conquered him. So has death been conquered and branded for what it is by the Savior on the cross. It is bound hand and foot, all who are in Christ trample it as they pass and as witnesses to Him deride it, scoffing and saying, “O Death, where is thy victory? O Grave, where is thy sting?

Athanasius, On the Incarnation

Mud Pies

Posted in C.S. Lewis on February 17, 2007 by Benji Magness

Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory