"Then they will go away to eternal punishment — but the righteous to eternal life!" Matthew 25:46
The lost sinner takes the greatest of all risks — he risks suffering the torments of Hell forever, rather than yield himself to God.
He is in DANGER — the greatest possible danger; for he has broken God's law, is under its curse, and cannot possibly be saved — unless its demands are met, and its penalty endured.
How can he meet its demands? He is insolvent, and has nothing to pay.
How can he endure its penalty, which is to be punished with everlasting destruction?
The penalty due to sin — is Hell.
Hell is torment, wrath, despair!
Just and infinite wrath!
If even the thought of these things is dreadful — then what must it be to actually endure them — and endure them forever, without hope, or mitigation, or end!
O what a fearful thing — to be in danger of Hell-fire! O how terrible the thought of being shut up in black despair, with devils and damned souls — the refuse of God's creation!
Hell is God's prison — where all His enemies are confined!
It is the place of punishment — where everyone suffers the just desert of his crimes!
It is a place horrible beyond description — beyond conception!
O, lost sinner! Hell is a dreadful place! To be damned is a terrible doom! It is forever! Yes, the worm that torments you — will never die; and the fire that punishes you — will never be quenched!
If you, my dear friend, live — neglecting God — walking in your own ways, and gratifying only your own passions and propensities — then you must go to Hell, and suffer God's just wrath — the punishment due to you for your sins!
God asks you, "Why will you die?" Why do you prefer . . .
death — to life,
damnation — to salvation,
Satan — to Jesus,
Hell — to Heaven?
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An unsaved person's perspective of Christians
I do not believe that you Christians believe your own creed — for if you were persuaded that things really are as your Bibles teach, and that we poor lost people were really going to such a dreadful place as you say Hell is — then you would act more humanely toward us.
If you saw our houses on fire — you would run and help us to put the fire out; or if you saw us in danger of death — you would try to do something to save us. But you pretend to believe that we are going to Hell, and that Hell burns with fire and brimstone forever, and that once there we can never get out — and yet you talk to us about all sorts of things — but never say one word to us about saving our souls from this terrible doom!
So I have reasoned thus: either you Christians don't believe what you say — or else you must be the most hardened and unfeeling wretches in the universe! Now, as I don't believe that you are such cruel, hardened, and unfeeling people as this supposes — then I must conclude that, with all your talk — you Christians don't really believe what your Bibles teach!
For if you really believe what you say about sin, and Hell, and our danger — then you would act differently; and if you have a spark of kindness in your hearts — you would try to save us from such a dreadful doom. And, on the other hand, if you do notbelieve what you profess — then you Christians cannot be honest; and to say the least, there must be a great deal of hypocrisy among you.
Now, I honestly tell you that these are the things which have stumbled me more than anything, and until I can see you Christians act differently — I will not be persuaded to believe what your sort of folks say.
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"Henceforth, I no longer call you servants — but I have called you friends." John 15:15
Friends! What — the friends of Jesus! Yes!
And does He love us as His friends? Yes!
And does He treat us as His friends? Yes!
And does He expect us to walk with Him, and converse with Him, and confide in Him as His friends? Yes!
Precious Lord Jesus,
how astonishing is Your love,
how vast is Your condescension,
how amazing is Your grace . . .
to call such insignificant worms, such ungrateful sinners, such utterly unworthy creatures — Your friends!
Yes, henceforth, Jesus . . .
treats us as His friends,
walks with us as His friends,
communes with us as His friends, and
will take us to dwell in Heaven with Him forever as His friends!
Blessed, blessed forever be the Lord, for His free and sovereign grace!
Henceforth, by the grace of God — I must be a new man, walking by a new rule, and aiming at a new end!
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We must continually come to Him!
One great part of the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart is to . . .
strip us of self,
lead us to feel our own weakness, and
bring us as poor sinners to look to Jesus alone, as our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
And just in proportion as we feel our need of Christ, and realize our absolute nothingness without Christ — shall we prize Him, enjoy Him, and exercise dependence upon Him.
O how little do many of us know our need of Christ, and therefore it is that we . . .
make so little use of Christ,
receive so little from Christ,
and do so little for Christ!
We come to Him at first — as poor, lost, helpless sinners — that we may be saved by His merit and mercy. And as believers, we must continually come to Him . . .
with all our burdens — that He may bear them;
with all our cares — that He may manage them;
with all our sorrows — that He may sanctify them;
with all our foes — that He may conquer them;
with all our sins — that He may cleanse them; and
with all our needs — that He may supply them.
All that we need is in Christ — and it is in Christ, for us. Our sense of our need of Christ, if it is deep and increasing — will lead us to daily come to Christ for all our supplies.
Our deep necessity fits us for Christ — and His infinite fullness fits Him for us!
Our trials, troubles, temptations, disappointments, and vexations are to teach us our need of Christ; and drive us continually to Him.
There is often much prayer — and yet little communion with Christ. We should realize that He is giving us His whole attention. He expects us to tell Him . . .
all that troubles us,
all that grieves us,
all that pleases us,
all that we need,
and all that we desire.
We should keep back nothing from Him — but speak to Him freely on every subject, and every circumstance. He is always with us, listening to us, and sympathetically entering into all our concerns!
We must be intimate with Christ.
We must walk with Him.
We must carry everything to Him.
We must seek all we need from Him.
We must be constantly . . .
going to Christ,
conversing with Christ,
and obtaining from Christ —
if we would receive the consoling influences of His love!
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Let us often think of home!
"I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!" Psalm 23:6
Notice, David's expectation for eternity. Not in the sheepfold in the wilderness — but in the house of the Lord! The dwelling-place of God — the family residence of the Father of mercies, and His beloved children. In that house, we shall have . . .
all our desires gratified,
all our prayers answered, and
our highest expectations more than realized!
There we shall dwell in peace, united to all the saints, and enjoying the society of all the ransomed brethren! All friendship will be unchangeable, and fellowship perpetual and pure.
There we shall dwell and worship — and our worship will be spiritual, pure, and perfect!
There we shall dwell and enjoy — and our enjoyments will be dignified, delightful, and eternal.
There we shall dwell and obey — and our obedience will be perfect, hearty, and perpetual.
There, we shall dwell and rest — and our rest will be sweet, refreshing, and satisfying.
There will be no wilderness storms there.
There will be no cruel, crafty, malignant foes there.
O glorious prospect! O sweet anticipation!
In our Father's house are many mansions — and all those mansions will be occupied, for . . .
every one beloved and chosen by the Father,
every one for whom Jesus became a substitute and sacrifice,
every one ever born of the Spirit — will be there!
All God's children shall be there — not one of them lost!
All God's sheep shall be there — not one hoof left behind!
There the Eternal Father will be surrounded by, and enjoy the society of all His happy family.
There the glorious Savior will see of the travail of His soul — and be fully and forever satisfied.
There the Holy Spirit will fill all His temples, and enjoy His divine workmanship, and the presence of all whom He has prepared for glory.
There, Jehovah, at home with His people — will manifest forth His glory, and pour floods of light, love, and blessing upon them forever!
Well then may the Psalmist say, "In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures!"
Let us often think of home! This vain world is not our rest. Here on earth, we have no continuing city. Home, the home of the believer's heart — is in the skies . . .
where Jesus is,
where Jesus reigns,
where love is perfect,
where there is always a full tide of joy,
where God displays all his glory,
where grace satisfies the utmost desires of every renewed soul.
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Such I may have been — but for free and sovereign grace!
"By the grace of God — I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10
Consider what you were — before saved by sovereign grace. Your heart was enmity against God, deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked! You did not have one pure desire, one holy thought, or one feeling of love to God.
Further, what would you have been — but for the grace of God? Look at the vilest, the most debased, the most debauched of our race — and you may truly say, "Such I may have been — but for free and sovereign grace!"
"By the grace of God — I am what I am!" 1 Corinthians 15:10
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The benefits of prayer
Prayer carries every burden to the Lord — -and leaves it there.
Prayer goes to the Lord . . .
with every need — to have it supplied;
with every enemy — to have it conquered;
with every corruption — to have it subdued;
with every trouble — to have it sanctified,
and with every promise — to have it fulfilled.
Prayer . . .
affects God's heart with a groan,
opens God's hand with a cry, and
obtains the most costly blessings with a tear!
While a man can pray . . .
he can never sink,
he can never be wretched,
he can never perish!
Reader, get and maintain a spirit of prayer; it will . . .
ease your mind,
quell your fears, and
fortify your soul against the sorest trials!
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 4:6-7
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His love uses the rod — as well as gives the kiss!
"God is love!" 1 John 4:16
That is, in Christ, God is love.
All that God does for His children — is in love!
All that He withholds from us — is in love!
And all that He requires of us — is in love!
His precepts are from love — as much as His promises!
His warnings are as much from love — as His invitations!
His prohibitions are as much from love — as His permissions!
His love uses the rod — as well as gives the kiss!
His love withholds — as well as gives!
All, all, is done in love!
O sweet and blessed representation of Jehovah! How can I be justified in complaining of any of His dealings? In Jesus,
all His thoughts, are loving thoughts;
all His words, are loving words; and
all His works, are loving works.
In giving, or withholding — He manifests His love.
In afflicting, or restoring — He alike displays His love.
Every pain, and every pleasure — is from His love.
Every storm, and every sunbeam — is from His love.
The fruitful shower, and the destroying hurricane — are ruled and overruled by divine love, for the good of the believer in Jesus.
"The Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son!" Hebrews 12:6
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I will come forth as gold!
"When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold!" Job 23:10
The Lord puts all of His people into His furnace! Some are long in melting and refining — and with others the work is quick. But long or short, the Lord will keep His people in the fire — until they are purified! A genuine Christian loses nothing in the furnace, but his dross. He comes forth bettered, purified, refined. He is more humble, his faith is more simple, and his life more spiritual. He shines like molten gold, and reflects the image of the great Refiner.
"He will sit as a Refiner and Purifier of silver; He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver." Malachi 3:3
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I am God's child!
"We are the children of God!" Romans 8:16
Never let us forget or lose sight of this — but let us live, walk, and act under the impression that, "I am God's child!"
He knows me — and knows all about me.
He loves me — and loves me with the same love with which He loves His only-begotten Son.
He cares for me — and so cares for me that I ought not to be anxious about anything.
He is with me — and will never for one moment trust me out of His sight, or out of the reach of His hand.
He appoints my daily lot — and will overrule everything for my eternal welfare!
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"Now he is comforted!" Luke 16:25
Poor suffering Lazarus had little comfort on earth — but he has plenty in Heaven. The discomfort he suffered here — must make his comfort there tenfold more sweet!
As it was with him, so will it be with us — we shall not lack comfort for long. We have much to comfort us now, even in our worst seasons — but the best is yet to come! The God of all comfort, who sends down drops of comfort now — will soon call us up to enter into the torrents of the fullness of His joy forever! Weeping may endure for a night — but joy comes in the morning. Soon our sufferings and sorrows will be forever ended!
"God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain!" Revelation 21:4
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That I may know Him!
Paul desired seven things especially — and they all referred to Christ, and they are all named in his epistle to the Philippians, and I propose to glance at them. Let us compare ourdesires with his as we go on, and may the Holy Spirit bless our brief meditation on the subject.
First, he says, "that I may K
the object of his trust,
the subject of his ministry,
and the joy of his heart!
But he knew that there was much in Christ with which he was unacquainted. He knew but in part. He desired, therefore, to know more of . . .
the glory of His person,
the riches of His grace,
the magnificence of His work,
the excellency of His natures,
the majesty of His kingdom!
Everything in Christ interested Paul. Creation was good — and grace was better; but Christ was best of all. He was never wearied . . .
of thinking of Christ,
of speaking of Christ,
of learning of Christ.
He went on with his work, he went on his way — with the desire constantly rising in his heart, "That I may know Him!"
Beloved, how is it with you? Do you sympathize with Paul in this desire of his heart? Is it your daily wish, ardent desire, and constant aim — to know more of Jesus?
Throughout eternity we shall be learning Christ!
He is the lesson placed before us in the church on earth;
and He is the lesson placed before the church in Heaven.
Time is given us to learn Christ — and, blessed be God,
eternity will be given to us to learn even more of Christ!
Nothing endears eternity to me like this — it will be spent in learning, enjoying, and honoring Christ!
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Can we ever reach the promised land?
Life is but a journey — a journey from the present fleeting world, to the eternal world.
"By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night." Exodus 13:21
Israel needed a GUIDE in their journey from the wilderness to the promised land.
They had a long journey before them, which would take them forty years.
They had to travel by a strange path, on which they had never trodden before.
Numerous foes would endeavor to obstruct their progress.
Many dangers lined the way.
And they had evil and deceitful hearts!
Fellow-Christians — is it not even so with us? We are going on a journey to a country of which the Lord our God has told us.
The journey is long and trying. It takes some twenty, some forty, and some sixty years to travel from earth to Heaven.
It is a strange path. A path which no one knows — a path we have never trodden before. A path which by nature we could never find, and from which we are prone to turn aside.
We are surrounded by numerous foes, visible and invisible:
The WORLD frowning as a determined persecutor, or fawning as a base deceiver — is our foe. Now by its sneers, sarcasms, or sword — and then, by its gilded vanities, flesh-pleasing baits, and blandishments — it endeavors to turn us aside from the right ways of the Lord.
SATAN and his hosts — crafty, cunning, cruel, united, persevering and determined — set themselves to terrify and drive us back, or to allure us from the way.
And worst of all, in our own natures, we have a determined foe who is . . .
Yes, the FLESH lusts against the Spirit. We find a law in our members warring against the law of our minds.
The world, the flesh, and the devil all combine to . . .
oppose our progress,
hinder us in our march, and,
if possible, to destroy us in the wilderness!
Then, there are so many dangers:
the towering rocks of presumption,
the quagmires of doubt and fear,
the pitfalls of error,
the ravines of willful sin,
the fiery-flying serpents of temptation,
the scorpions of indulged lust,
the sunshine — and the shade;
the barren sands — and the verdant valleys;
the granite rocks — and the flowing streams
— all of them have dangers concealed in them! Nor can we be trusted alone for one moment — if we are to be safe. Worst of all, there are our distrustful and deceitful hearts!
With . . .
so long a journey,
so strange a path,
such numerous foes,
so many dangers, and
such unbelieving hearts —
can we ever reach the promised land? Can we?
Not if left to ourselves! Not if led only by Moses. We must have a guide . . .
who well knows the road;
who can conquer our many foes;
who can lead us safely through all our dangers,
who can bear with our stubborn hearts and lives!
We need a guide . . .
whose wisdom is perfect,
whose power is almighty,
whose care is constant,
whose patience is immutable,
whose mercy endures forever!
God provided just what the Israelites needed in the wilderness — a guide to lead them by day and night. He went before them — pointing out the road, clearing it of insurmountable difficulties, and conducting them in it.
This is just what our good and gracious God does for us! He is really present with us — though unseen by us. He is never far from any one of us. He marks out our road, He removes every real impediment out of our way, and conducts us step by step in the path to the promised land!
Naturally we do not know the right path; left to ourselves, we would choose the short-cut, the smooth path, and well-frequented road. But He leads us in a zig-zag way, by arough and uneven road — where there are but few fellow-travelers. His choice is best. The way He points out is the only right one. It is to humble us, and test us, and show what is in our hearts. It is that we may walk by faith — and not by sight. It is to teach us our need of Himself — and to lead us to cleave unto Him. "For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death", through death, and beyond it!
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go! I will guide you with My eye!" Psalm 32:8
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"That I may WIN Christ!" Philippians 3:8
Paul was not merely satisfied to know Christ, as the property of someone else; he wanted Christ as his own! He was not only willing to receive Christ as a free gift — but he would win Christ as a prize!
Was Christ to be run for — then he would run.
Was Christ to be wrestled for — then he would wrestle.
Were there any means by which Christ could be obtained, however painful, however costly, however difficult — then Paul would use them!
Did he believe? It was that he might win Christ.
Did he pray? It was that he might win Christ.
Did he preach? It was that he might win Christ.
Did he crucify the old man, mortify the flesh, beat his body and make it his slave? It was that he might win Christ.
Did he suffer the loss of all things, and count them but dung and dross? It was that he might win Christ.
Did he subject himself to stripes, imprisonment, hunger, cold, nakedness, and a martyr's death? It was that he might win Christ.
To possess Christ was his one object, his ruling desire!
Reader, is it your main object and desire?
Are you prepared to part with all to win Christ?
Would you take Christ — in exchange for ease, reputation, wealth, labors, sufferings, yes, even death itself? Paul was; and if you are not, his estimates of Christ and yours cannot be the same.
My soul, I charge you — let this be your object, let this be your aim, always and everywhere: to "win Christ!"