“Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thy hand upon me.” Ps.139:5
To be safe, we must look both ways before crossing the road. So it is good for us today, as we stand on the threshold of a new year, to see that our God has gone before us and is behind us. All the joys, and all the heartaches of this past year were purposed and attended by our sovereign God’s tender mercies. Let us look back with thanksgiving toward our Lord for his purpose, power, and provisions. He has brought us safely through another year closer to home.
As we look forward to the year ahead, let us have a good hope that our God reigns. That He makes everything beautiful in his time, and that He works all things together for good to them that love Him. Let us pray with David; “Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe:...” Ps 119:117. ~GE
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” Jn. 3:19-21.
Though the ramifications of this are far reaching, yet, the deed that men will not be reproved of as evil, is free will. The deed that those who come to Christ make manifest was wrought in God, is faith. ~GE
“Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think…” Eph. 3:20
Thank God our Lord does not limit His blessing to our asking or thinking. If He did, we would never be saved. Nor would we have the vast majority of the blessings we enjoy every day. However, that being so, anything and everything lacking in our relationship with God is on us, not Him. It is all because we do not believe as we ought. He is able. We don’t ask. James 4:2. Is there not still some thoughts of God being altogether such a one as ourselves (Ps. 50:21) that limit our expectations of His grace and glory? “Search me Oh God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:23-24. Lord, increase our faith and help thou our unbelief. ~GE
Zeros and Ones
I don’t know how it works, but I understand that every image on our computer screens is made up of a binary code of zeros and ones. In the same way, all the images men have of themselves is either zeros or ones. Grace reverses the order. In the sight of God Almighty, all the zeros become Ones, and all the ones become zeros. God hath chosen the things which are not, to bring to nought the things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. I Cor. 1:28-29. ~GE
“shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?” Amos 3:6b.
Oh, what comfort we have in knowing that our God is the first cause of all things. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Rom 8:28. He hath made everything beautiful in His time Eccl. 3:11. Faith simply waits upon the Lord.
Because the unbeliever has made God to be altogether such a one as themselves, they will sacrifice His sovereignty and omnipotence on the altar of human ‘love’. They say, ‘a loving God would not…’. Truth is, God is love, and everything that is, He has done perfect and right. ~GE
Sovereignty is Not Fatalism
Some will hear what we believe about our God being sovereign and conclude us to be fatalistic. What do they sacrifice by turning the sovereignty of God into fatalism? In short, God. His person. His love. His omniscience. His holiness. His wisdom. His tender mercies. His Divine purpose and glorious person. HE hath done whatsoever HE wills… Truly, Our God Reigns. Rejoice, “In The Lord”, always. ~GE
Who is Your Surety?
A Surety is one who makes another sure. For the believer, Christ is the only One that can make them sure before God. Also, He is the only One that can speak peace to their hearts as to having a sure hope. Why do our religious friends and family members desperately need to find some common ground with us? Why do they insist on calling us “brother” and expect us to delight with them in their religious activities? The answer is simple. Not having Christ as their Surety, they are looking to men to make them sure. “He that is surety for a stranger shall smart for it…” Ps. 11:15. GE
We are taught of God to love the brethren. And we are admonished to grow in our love, more and more. 1 Thes. 4:9-10. Any attempt to love that does not flow from God’s love for us in Christ, is sure to be a feigned, manufactured work of the flash. The first time that “love” is spurned or not properly appreciated, it will quickly turn to resentment or even hate. Many are afraid to love because of a bad experience in their past. Perfect love (God’s love for us) casteth out fear. 1 Jn 4:18. They say never to invest in a longshot, unless you can afford to lose your investment. Child of God, risk loving. You can afford to lose your investment. The wellspring from which you draw is inexhaustible. Swim in the ocean of God’s love, and you won’t have to fear drowning in a pond with your brother. ~GE
Christ Made Sin
“For He hath made Him sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”. 2 Cor 5:21.
Oh, what a great mystery. The sinless Son of God being made sin. We can only stand in awe of this glorious truth. Like everything about our God, it is unsearchable. As always, our understanding must be confined to what God has revealed in His Word.
Whatever Christ, “being made sin” means in the fullness of His substitution, we cannot doubt from Scripture that shame, sorrow and separation were experienced by Him to their fullest. “My wounds stink and are corrupt because of my foolishness. I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.” “For I am ready to halt, and my sorrow is continually before me. For I will declare mine iniquity; I will be sorry for my sin”. Ps 38:5-6, 17-18. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?” Ps. 22:1. “Out of the depths have I cried unto Thee, I am not able to look up”, was our Sin-Bearer’s cry.
If you paid the penalty for someone else’s crime, you could feel some sense of pride for such a selfless sacrifice. Or you could feel resentment that you were made to suffer unjustly. One thing you could never feel is shame, sorrow or separation from God.
It is a straw man to say we have defiled the sacrifice by making Christ a sinner. Have we not learned from our own experience with sin that shame, sorrow and separation are the real burden of sin? Infinite sorrow and separation was His experience. When God saw the travail of His Soul, He was satisfied. ~GE
To be “quickened” is to be brought from death to life. We who are by nature dead in our trespasses and sins must be quickened together with Christ. In Psalm 119, David asked the Lord to quicken him. The great mystery and paradox of grace is that only those who are alive will ask to be quickened. David asked the Lord to: 1) quicken him in the way, v. 37; 2) quicken him in Righteousness, vs. 40; 3) quicken him according to God’s word, vs. 154; 4) quicken him according to God’s judgments; and 5) quicken him in God’s lovingkindness, vs. 159. It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing. Lord, quicken us. ~GE
Many people suffer the “tormentors” (Matt. 18:34) of an unforgiving heart. When the suffering becomes unbearable, they search the dark dungeons of their already enslaved heart for the ability and virtue to forgive. They may temporarily escape their prison cell only to be captured and returned. The problem is that the power to forgive cannot be found in a sinner’s heart. The ability to forgive is very simply the result of being forgiven. Look not on the offense, or offender you are trying to forgive. Rather, look at the offense of your own sin towards God, and His grace to forgive YOU through the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgiving will be easy in light of your own forgiveness. ~GE
“…ask and it shall be given you.”. Lk. 11:9
We teach our children to say, please and thank you. A wise parent will withhold favors from a child until they ask respectfully and respond gratefully. Children must be taught to not be presumptuous or demanding. They must be taught to acknowledge the authority of the giver. “If you then being evil, know HOW to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Ghost to them that ASK Him.” Lk 11:13. We do not “accept” anything from God. Certainly, we cannot demand anything from Him. We must humbly acknowledge His right to have mercy upon whom He will have mercy. Lepers beseech Him. They kneel down before Him and say, “If thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Mk. 1:40. Having received freely by His grace, they cannot help but “publish it much” what He did for them. V. 45. When He is pleased to give to the undeserving, their hearts are filled with thanksgiving. ~GE
“… be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” 1 Pet. 5:5b.
What a beautiful garment is humility. It is a simple garment. It’s not flashy. It does not draw attention to itself. It has no color or design that would appeal to fleshly eyes. It is a plain white robe. It covers the nakedness of the flesh with dignity and honor. It exalts not the glory of its wearer, but the glory of its giver. Oh, Lord, clothe us with humility. ~GE
“Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you”.
1 Pet. 5:7.
Only those who cannot care for themselves, will cast their care upon Christ. As long as we have any ability, any strength, any reliance upon the arm of flesh, we will continue to labor with our cares. Oh, what a mercy it is when we become heavy laden. When we are crushed by the weight of our cares. Only then will we find rest for our souls. Only then will we learn OF Christ, and in so doing, cast all our cares upon Him, who careth for us. ~GE
“It is expedient (profitable) for you that I go away.” Jn 16:7.
We might be tempted to think that those believers that walked and talked physically with the Lord Jesus Christ two thousand years ago had an advantage on us today. According to God’s Word, they did not. To the contrary, the eyes and ears of faith are much more reliable and discerning than those of the flesh. The written word of God is a “more sure word” than His audible voice. (II Pet. 1:19). Though the Lord Jesus Christ was the fulness of the Godhead bodily, He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh. (Col. 2:9, Rom. 8:3). Even the disciples, while beholding the physical form of the God/Man, often lost sight of His glory. The eyes and ears of faith always behold His glory, as the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:14). There will come a day soon when our faith will be turned to sight and our hope to experience. In that day, our eyes and ears will be part of a sinless, glorified body. We shall see Him as He is and be made like Him. On this side of heaven, the eyes and ears of faith are better than those of the flesh. ~GE
If a man derives no benefit in pleasure or profit from something, it is a waste of time to him. Is this not why the gospel is foolishness to the unbeliever? He does not see himself as a hell deserving sinner. Therefore, he has no need of a Savior. He is content with the material and temporal things of this life. Therefore, he has no need for that which is eternal and spiritual. Christ is of no interest to him because he finds no pleasure or profit in Him. Conversely, to the sinner and discontent, Christ is everything.
Don’t Eat the Blood
Why did God forbid His people from eating blood? (Lev. 17:10-11, Acts 15:20). The precious blood of Christ shed on Calvary’s Cross was not an offering made to man. God was doing business with God. Christ offered Himself without spot TO God. (Heb. 9:14). He entered into heaven and sprinkled His blood on the mercy seat not made with hands, obtaining eternal redemption for His people. (Heb. 9). The blood, as an atoning sacrifice, is not for us. It is for God. To believe that the death of Christ is an offering God is making to man, to be accepted or rejected by his free will, is to eat the blood. God’s judgment to man for eating blood is to be “cut off”. God said, “when I see the blood, I will pass over you.” (Ex. 12:13). God saw the travail of Christ’s soul and was satisfied. (Is. 53:11). Saving faith is not “applying the blood”. That’s already been done. Saving faith is being satisfied with that which God is satisfied, the atoning sacrifice Christ made of His precious blood to God. ~GE
2.2 billion people in this world identify themselves as “Christian”. When someone says to me, “I am a Christian”, I think to myself, I hope so, but I doubt it. Most people have no idea what Christian means. Of course, they would say that it means to be a follower of Christ. Sadly, most people think of “Christ” as nothing more than a surname for Jesus. If they truly believed that Jesus is the Christ, they would bow and rejoice in Him as the Sovereign, Omnipotent, Immutable, Anointed Messiah, and Successful Savior of His people. The One sent from heaven to accomplish the complete salvation of God's elect. The One who could not fail. What a great joy and comfort it is to have a Savior who is The Christ, the Son of the living God. ~GE
“…every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah.” Ps. 39:5b.
We ought to be cautious when speaking to one another that we do not exaggerate our accusation with words like, always and never. God never exaggerates. If He said, “every man”, then there are no exceptions. If He said, “altogether”, then it is everything about every man. Our very best efforts are vanity (empty) of any righteousness before God. They are infected with enough sin to send us to hell. We need a righteousness performed by the Perfect Man. The One who emptied Himself bearing all our sins in His body, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
Solomon and His Wives
I have learned to quit trying to figure out how and why believers from the past could have tolerated some of the gross errors they did. Suffice it to say, they were sinners like us. As for Solomon and his shameful end, could it be that the Lord is giving us yet another picture of Christ? Solomon (the wisest man that ever lived) loved many strange (pagan) women. He clave unto these in love. He had 700 wives (the number of completion). In the end, his wives led him into idolatry, and he died in shame. Out of love for His church, Christ bore in His body all the sins of His pagan wife and died in shame to redeem her. ~GE
Let us go into the house of the LORD.” Ps. 122:1.
We are quick and committed to do whatever is necessary to care for the needs of our flesh. When hungry, we eat. When sick, we seek medications and doctors. When weary, we rest. Oh, that the Lord would give us such a concern for our souls. If He does, we will satisfy our hunger and thirst for righteousness by feeding on the Bread of Life. We will seek the Great Physician and look to the Balm of Gilead for our sin sick souls. We will cease from our labors and rest our weary souls in The One who finished the work. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Jn. 3:6. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. Rom 8:5. ~GE
Blessings and Curses
To God’s elect, everything is a blessing. Everything is purposed by their Heavenly Father for their good and for His glory. (Rom 8:28) Through faith, they can be thankful in all things, knowing that “all things” are the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning them. (1 Thes 5:18) To the reprobate, in the end all will be curses. All the privileges, benefits, and goodness of God they enjoy in this world will only add to the weight of judgment they will suffer for not believing on the One who provided them. Let us look in faith to the One who promised; I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jer 29:11) ~GE
Why do we believe something we cannot see? Something even contrary to our experience. One reason, because God said so. Faith simply believes God. We cannot see it, nor is it consistent with our experience, but all those in Christ are without sin (Justified) before God. “Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment.: because as He is, so are we in this world.” Jn. 4:17. How can this be? “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified.” Heb 10:14. “Who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification.” Rom 4:25. ~GE
The Gospel of God
Three times in I Thes. 2, Paul speaks of the gospel as the “Gospel of God”. It is God the Father’s gospel in election. It is God the Son’s gospel in redemption. It is God the Holy Spirit’s gospel in revelation and regeneration. Oh, what good news. In perfect unity, the Triune Godhead cannot fail in making The Gospel of God, our gospel. ~GE
It is All About a Marriage
Before time ever was, God the Father chose a bride for His Son. In the fullness of time, God the Son redeemed that bride to Himself. Throughout time, God the Holy Spirit is bringing that bride into a loving union with her Bridegroom. When the last of Christ’ bride is brought to faith in her Husband, time will be no more. Then will be the culmination of all things at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Yes, it’s all about a marriage, made, and forever secure in heaven… all to the glory of God. ~GE
Is Faith a Work?
No. God-given, saving faith is the opposite of work. It is, by its very nature, the complete absence of any work. Saving faith can only boast in the work of the One from whom they received it. It glories in Christ for all its hope in salvation. There will be no salvation without it, and no flesh can glory in it. ~GE
To be justified before God, is to stand in His holy presence without sin. We believe that all of God’s elect are justified in Christ. Though justification is a forensic term, to the child of God, it is much more than a legal standing. To them, this justification is immutably and eternally secure. As the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, Christ is their Surety before God. Rev. 13:8. As their sin bearing substitute, Christ went to Calvary’s cross to fulfill in time what He had purposed in eternity. Thus, He justified them by His blood. Rom. 5:8-9. Then, through the miracle of the new birth, He gave them faith, without which no man will be justified before God. Rom.3:26,28; Gal.3:24. Walking by faith in Christ, they continue to rejoice in their sinless perfection before God. Rom. 1:17. They wait for that day when they will see their Lord as He is and be made like Him, without sin, justified in their experience. 1 Jn. 3:2. ~GE
Whenever the manifestation of sin is seen as the problem, we will focus our attention on the symptom rather than the cause. We will try to clean up the outside of the cup while the inside remains full of corruption. Let us be careful not to whitewash tombs and call it life. Sin is a problem of the heart. Circumcision of the heart is a work of grace not performed by the hands of man. It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing. Create in me a clean heart, O God. A broken and contrite heart He will not despise, because it is He that made it.
We know from the testimony of scripture that the Lord Jesus Christ died on Calvary’s cross to redeem His elect. We believe that He was successful in that purpose. Do I have any evidence that I am one for whom He died? Yes. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Heb 11:1. Faith believes ON the Lord Jesus Christ for all one’s righteousness and justification before God. Faith believes IN the Lord Jesus Christ as the Sovereign Son of God. Saving faith is happy to be completely shut up TO Christ for all one’s acceptance before God. Faith looks to and loves Christ AS one’s life. Saving faith rejoices in believing God. It rests all its hopes in the precious promises of God, which are ALL; Yea (yes) and Amen (sure) IN Christ. 2 Cor. 1:20. ~GE
God Uses Means
The sovereignty of our God is not a static, lifeless fatalism. The fact that our God is sovereign in accomplishing his purpose through the free, uncoerced acts of sinful men, makes Him more glorious. As we look at things in time, there seems to be infinite possibilities of cause-and-effect. Yet, our eternal God uses all these means to fulfill His predetermined Divine will and purpose. “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain onto it”. Ps 139:6. His purpose in the saving of his people is also accomplished through means. Let us not diminish the importance of prayer and preaching in the saving of God’s elect. Let us not forget that without the means of the cross no one would be saved. ~GE
When God Speaks
Our lives are filled with many voices, responsibilities and opportunities competing for our attention. Prioritizing our limited time requires wisdom and discernment. Some things seem important; much is frivolous. There is one voice that is never frivolous. “Wisdom (God’s Word, written and Living) is the principal thing…get wisdom… exalt her… she is thy life”. Prov. 4. “The word of God is quick and powerful…” Heb. 4:12 When the Spirit of God gives ears to hear the voice of God, all other clamoring voices fade away. When God speaks, He always reveals the grace and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith always hears and sees Christ with urgency “Unto Thee will I cry, O Lord my rock; be not silent to me: lest if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.” Ps. 28:1. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish”. Jn 10:27-28 ~GE
For the child of God, saving grace extends to and strengthens in the hour of death. In Acts 7, Stephen was called on by God to endure a cruel and painful departure from this world. Yet, the Lord gave him: 1) a good confession; 2) a fresh filling of the Holy Ghost; 3) eyes of faith to see heaven open and Christ standing as his Advocate; 4) the grace to ask for grace; and 5) a spirit of forgiveness to his murderers. May the Lord grow us in His grace and in the knowledge of Christ until the day of our departure when we shall like Stephen, “fall asleep”. ~GE
Christ Our Hiding Place
We learn very early in life to escape our fears by hiding or lying. As we grow older, nothing really changes. Men’s hiding places are no more secure than a child’s blanket. Their lies are no more convincing to God than a child’s quick and sheepish denial of guilt. God says, “judgment also will I lay to the line and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” Is. 28:17. Henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. Let us flee to Christ our City of Refuge where the avenger of blood cannot enter. Let us be lovers of Him who is the Truth, lest we are sent a strong delusion and believe the lie. ~GE
“No man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed.” I Cor. 12:3
The word “accursed” is the word “anathema”. It means to suffer the wrath of God without any hope of redemption. To even suggest that Christ may have in some way suffered the wrath of God for one soul who will not be eternally redeemed, is to call Jesus Christ “accursed”. If it is not the Spirit of God that speaketh such, then we know from which spirit this confession is made. ~GE
A Glorious Paradox
Believers on the one hand are nothing but sin, and on the other hand they have no sin. This is one of the great mysteries of the gospel that keeps God’s people humble, yet hopeful. It causes them to cast all their care on the One that cares for them. It leads them to have no confidence in the flesh, yet to come boldly before the throne of grace. It is the reason they can mourn and rejoice at the same time. It shows them their inability to satisfy any part of God’s law, and it frees them from the condemnation of the law. It causes them to bow in humble worship as mercy beggars, yet they hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. They are nothing, yet have everything. They are hell deserving, yet heaven bound. They are in abject poverty, and they are infinitely and eternally rich. To the natural man, these things are a contradiction. To the child of God... they are his life. ~GE
“Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, it is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35
When Paul summarizes his council to the Ephesian elders, this was his last word to them. It is obvious by the way he spoke that this was a very well-known and often repeated truth the disciples had heard the Lord speak. Since this is the only place these words are found in the Bible, we do not know the exact context in which our Lord spoke them. Paul, however, spoke these words to pastors caring for the needs of the sheep in their flocks. May the love of God constrain us to be givers, not takers as we care for one another. This wonderful liberating truth can only apply in our relationships with other men. As for our relationship with God, we are always takers. He is the one giving to our needs. He needs nothing from us. In another place the Lord said, “Freely you have received, freely give.” Matt. 10:8. ~GE
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Acts 16:31
Yes, this is the command of God for all men everywhere. However, we must not isolate this command from the very next verse. “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord”. In order for this poor suicidal soul to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, he had to know who He was and what He had done. Our call for men to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ may sound like the cry of all so-called Christianity. But the command to believe is not detached from declaring His glorious person and accomplished work, from the Word of the Lord. The difference is who, and what we are calling on men to believe. We call on men to believe that Jesus (the successful, sin-bearing, Savior of His people), Is the Christ (the anointed, promised, Messiah, intercessor, and Surety of God’s elect), the Son of God (the uncreated, eternal, Sovereign in all things). If the Spirit of God is pleased to give irresistible, saving faith, sinners will believe and be saved. ~GE
It is unfortunate that we most often use the word hope to express our desire for something that may or may not happen. The believer’s hope is not a wish or desire for the unknown. It is a joyful and confident expectation in a personal God who has made precious promises to His children. A sure hope is what God given saving faith produces in the heart. The Lord calls it a good HOPE, a lively HOPE, a better HOPE, an anchor for our soul. It is Christ in you, THE HOPE of glory. ~GE
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool. Prov. 28:26b.
We hear men say, “Follow your heart”. When God makes you to be a sinner, you know your heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. As we grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, we become more painfully experienced with deceitfulness of our sinful hearts. The rest of the verse quoted above says, “but whosoever walketh wisely, he shall be delivered”. To walk wisely is to look to and trust in Christ. To be delivered is to have our hearts exposed and to have Christ revealed. Don’t follow your heart, follow Christ. ~GE
The Effects of Light
“…Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil.” Jn. 3:19. The irreligious hate the Light because it exposes their lawless living as sin. The religious hate the Light because it exposes their law keeping as sin. The sinner loves the Light because He is the only hope they have for their sin. ~GE
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Ps. 51:12.
First, we learn from this scripture that the reason God does not despise a “broken spirit and contrite heart” is because it is OF God. We do not come to God With a broken spirit and contrite heart. We come to God For it.
Second, we are taught of the Holy Spirit that a true broken spirit and contrite heart is one that does not work as it ought. A broken spirit and contrite heart is incapable of feeling the sorrow for sin it ought to feel. It is not capable of properly feeling or expressing love and faith and rejoicing in Christ as it ought. It sees itself deceitful and desperately wicked. Jer. 17:9. Because it’s “broken”, it is incapable of working anything righteous or acceptable to God. It is forced to look in faith outside of itself to the Lord Jesus Christ for all its acceptance before God. This is a work of grace performed by God in the new birth. ~GE
It is not either/or. It is both. The believer’s experience is both Romans 7 and Romans 8. Unable to see or do anything good in the flesh, we flee in faith to Christ in whom there is nothing but good. Perfectly sinful in ourselves, and perfectly holy in Christ at the same time. “For we have sinned: in those is continuance, and we shall be saved.” Is. 64:5.
A dear sister recently went home to be with the Lord. She had suffered many afflictions in her body for many years. The believers who knew her were greatly encouraged by the faith and faithfulness the Lord gave her. His strength was made perfect in her weakness. Her pastor said something to me every believer would want to be said of them. He said, “The closer she got to heaven, the more of heaven she brought to earth”. Oh Lord, make it so for each of us. ~GE
Surely, we are all guilty of having asked God for things, “amiss that we may consume it upon our lust”. James 4:3. Thankfully, our Heavenly Father in His infinite wisdom and love says; no, my child, that is not what you need. Is there anything we can ask of God to which He will never say no? Yes, there is. Ask for forgiveness, mercy, grace, faith, wisdom, love, righteousness, peace, hope, light, knowledge. In short, ask for Christ and with Him will come exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think…” Eph. 3:20. One of the reasons the Lord lets us labor in prayer is to bring us to see and to seek the weightier matters, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. ~GE
Most will make a work out of faith. In doing so, they are denying the very essence of faith. Faith by definition is the absence of works. Faith is the opposite of works. Where one is, the other is excluded. Faith only exists where there is no hope of making any contribution to one’s salvation. Saving faith is resting in the glorious person and finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its only boast is in Him and His work. That faith is all of grace. ~GE
Christ Came to Save Sinners
The real problem men have in believing the gospel is that they do not see themselves as sinners. The only reason men do not believe themselves to be sinners is because they have not met Christ. Men by nature compare themselves to themselves, and being deceived believe themselves to be getting better. Or, they compare themselves to others and proudly conclude themselves to be better. If the One who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and higher than the heavens, ( Heb. 7:26) ever shines his lovely face on them, they will agree with Job, “Behold I am vile” (Job 40:4). This is why we must always preach Christ and him crucified. As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness so must the Son of Man be lifted up. Oh, for the grace to join our voice with John the Baptist in declaring; “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” Jn. 1:29. ~GE
Pride Goeth Before Destruction
The humility that religion promotes is feigned. In fact, “pride compasseth them about as a chain” Ps 73:6. This pride is perfectly consistent with a freewill gospel. If you believe that your salvation had anything to do with a decision you made, you have a reason to be proud. God gives grace to the humble, and God must give grace to be humble. True humility is not superficial religiosity. True humility is to make one boast in the Lord. Ps. 34:2. It is to ascribe to Christ all the glory for all salvation. It is to believe yourself to be a sinner dependent on Christ alone for all your righteousness before God. True humility can only be found where Christ is lifted up. May the Lord give us grace to be humble. ~GE
The Will of God
The Lord taught us to pray; “thy will be done, on earth even as it is in heaven.” The scriptures speak of God’s will as “secret” and “revealed”. Deut. 29:29. The secret will of God is everything He does in time to fulfill His eternal purpose. “He hath made everything beautiful in His time… so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” Eccl. 3:11. The revealed will of God begins with believing on the Lord Jesus Christ and continues with all that He has commanded. Lord, give us the faith to trust you in all the secret works of thy perfect providence, and give us the grace to obey you in all you have revealed. This is the Spirit in Heaven which God puts in the hearts of His children upon the earth. ~GE
“Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire…” Ex 12:9.
Christ is our Passover Lamb. On Calvary’s Cross the fire of God’s wrath fell on Him to satisfy Divine Justice. Any attempt to understand or apply any scriptures apart from the Cross, is to eat it raw. The Cross of Christ is offensive to the natural man. Any attempt to water it down to accommodate man’s pride and self-righteousness, is to sodden it with water. Let us be determined not to know anything, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. ~GE
Recently I had two conversations about the gospel with two separate individuals. They both ended the same way. After it was clear that we did not agree on anything concerning the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, both men said; “well, at least we are brothers in Christ”. Oh, how I wish they had said anything else. I had rather they accused me of not being saved. This parting statement revealed two things to me. One, they thought our differences were minor. They could not see that we worshipped two different Gods. Two, they needed my affirmation of their salvation. So it is with those who have a false gospel. They are unable to make righteous judgments and they need the affirmation of men for their assurance. Lord, give us clarity on discerning truth from error, and allow us not to find comfort anywhere outside of Thee.
“faith…is the evidence of things not seen.”
In the absence of faith men look to their works, their feelings, experience, and the affirmation of other men for the evidence of their salvation. When there is discrepancy between these outward evidences and the clear teaching of scripture, the natural man will ignore and outright reject God’s truth to find comfort in these false hopes. Faith believes God (Period). It hangs all the hopes of salvation on the glorious person and accomplished work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has no place to go for evidence of Him other than the Word of God. Feelings come and feelings go, and feelings are deceiving; my warrant is the Word of God. Naught else is worth believing. ~GE
Love is the original cause, high calling, and conclusion of our salvation. It is the meat of the gospel. It is who our God is and shall always be. The highest and most inexpressible glory of this love will always be the sacrifice He made for His church on Calvary’s Cross. “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” I Jn. 4:10. His love is irresistible. It always moves its objects to love Him in return. Love is the fulfilling of the law, and by His Spirit is perfected in our unfeigned love for the brethren. “Beloved let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” 1 Jn. 4:7. ~GE
No Respecter of Persons
Our God has one standard to which He holds all men. His Holy nature will not allow Him to make any exceptions. There will be no appeals allowed for His righteous judgment. We must be found in Christ (the Perfect Man Ps. 37:37) or we will be found wanting, having fallen short of His glory. The clearest evidence of this is the cross. When Christ Jesus, God’s Darling Son, was made sin, the Father could show no mercy. He could make no exceptions. His Holiness required death. The full fury of His wrath must be poured out. The sword of His justice must be wet. Here is the sinner’s Hope. The fire of God’s wrath has been quenched. It consumed the Sacrifice… and the Sacrifice consumed it. ~GE
Her Warfare is Accomplished
Multitudes around the world will be celebrating the Resurrection of Christ this Sunday. Or will they? Does a recognition of its historical fact warrant a celebration? Does a failed attempt to redeem mankind warrant a celebration? Not any more than a nation who lost a war could celebrate even one battle in which they prevailed. As Americans we continue to celebrate the end of WWII more than 75 years later. In contrast, no celebrations are had for pulling out of Vietnam in 1975. If the whole cause of the war is lost, there can be no celebration. The vast majority of people who celebrate “Easter” do not believe the reason for the resurrection. They cannot celebrate a warfare that is accomplished. They do not believe that death is swallowed up in victory. For the redeemed child of God, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ is all the evidence they need to prove Christ was successful in what He came to do, save His people from their sins. It is the cause of our everlasting worship and praise. “O sing unto the Lord a new song; for He hath done marvelous things: His Right Hand and His Holy Arm, hath gotten Him the victory.” Ps. 98:1. ~GE
“… I have lent him to the Lord…” 1 Sam. 1:28
These words were spoken by Hannah to Eli, in reference to Samuel, the child for which she had asked the Lord. It would be a grave mistake for us to interpret “lent” as we typically use it. She was not saying that she planned to come get him back at some point. Her meaning is (I am returning to the Lord, that which I received from Him by petition.) The only thing we have to offer God is that which we have received from Him. Whether it be faith, prayer, worship, giving, service, praise, thanksgiving, or love, we are simply returning to Him that which we have received from Him. A parent wants a child to experience the joy of giving them a gift on their birthday, but must first give that child money to buy the gift. Everything we are or do is to the glory of His grace. ~GE
Almost or Fully Persuaded
“…almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian”. Acts 26:28. Most of the sermons preached from this verse connect the word “almost” with Christian. Almost is an adverb. Adverbs modify verbs. The verb in this statement is “persuaded”, not Christian. Agrippa was not saying, he was almost a Christian. He was saying, "I am not fully persuaded”. Herein is the difference for us, oh child of God. Being taught of God we are fully persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that He is able to keep that which we have committed (entrusted the salvation of our souls) unto Him against that day. If we look at our lives, we are likely to think, maybe I’m just almost a Christian. But when we consider Whom we have believed, we say with confidence, “I am fully persuaded that what He has promised, He is able also to perform.” Rom 4:21. ~GE
“Fear not Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.” Gen. 15:1
All the blessings of God come in and with the Blesser Himself. Oh, for the grace to seek His face. If He is pleased to cause His face to shine upon us, exceeding will be our reward. When seeking His hand to relieve the thorn in our flesh, let us be content with; “my grace is sufficient for thee”. ~GE
We may be tempted, in our very limited understanding, to think of heaven as an improved version of this life. Perish the thought. Heaven will be nothing like this world. He will make all things new. Truly, eye has not seen, nor has ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things that He has prepared for them that love Him. When caught up to paradise, Paul heard words that were “unspeakable”. There are no words in any language among men adequate to describe heaven. When we see Christ in the fulness of His glory, the Lord will give us a heavenly language to praise Him as we ought. “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face…” I Cor. 13:12. ~GE
The lie from the Accuser of the Brethren is not that we have transgressed God’s law. The lie is that we can fix it. ~GE
Peace is Better
“The peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:7
Usually, this verse is thought to mean that the peace of God is too great to be understood. Surely there is some truth to that, for the peace of God is a miracle of grace in the heart ministered by the Holy Spirit. Like everything else our God does, it is unsearchable and passed finding out. Rom 11:33. However, there is something more glorious and liberating to be seen in this passage of scripture. The word “passeth” means to be higher than, better, or more excellent. The Lord is telling us that in Christ Jesus there is something better than understanding. How often we sacrifice the peace of God for understanding. We become disquieted and fearful in our attempt to understand and control our circumstances. Oh to be careful for nothing, to make our request known onto God through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Then the peace of God which far exceeds any understanding will keep our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ~GE
When the Lord sent Peter to Cornelius with the Gospel, the Holy Spirit told him, “Nothing Doubting”. Acts 11:12. Oh that we could always live with nothing doubting. By God’s grace we do believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the successful Savior of sinners. Yet the sin that doth so easily beset us is unbelief. Unbelief is the fountain that feeds all the polluted streams of sin. Lord, increase our faith. Help thou our unbelief. Our warrant for faith is the Word of God. Oh, that the Lord would speak to our hearts those precious words, “Nothing Doubting”. ~GE
Love Your Enemies
“I say unto you, love your enemies…” Matt. 5:44
How do I know if I love my enemies? Regardless of who they are or what they have done, do I desire the truest good for them? If so, what is the greatest good that could happen to them? Would it not be for God to save them? Jonah revealed his lack of love for his enemies by wanting revenge and retribution on Nineveh. Is there a single person on the face of this earth for whom your soul would not rejoice, if the Lord would be pleased to pour out His Spirit and grace on them? (And that, in a measure beyond anything you have ever known) Yes, child of God, you would rejoice. There is no greater evidence of grace in the believer’s heart that they love not only their enemies, but all men. ~GE
The Sprinkling of the Blood of Jesus Christ
I Peter 1:2
“Sprinkling” sounds so gentle and controlled. In fact, the word means to spurt or splatter. The crime scene surrounding the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ was violent and savage. Like in the Old Testament sacrifices, there was blood everywhere. The scriptures speak of the “shedding” of blood. This word means to “gush out”. He was as a Lamb to the slaughter. Is. 53:7. We hid as it were our faces from Him. Is. 53:3. To clean up or lessen the bloody horrors of the crucifixion is to lessen its meaning. The closest we can get to understanding how God views sin is the splattering of the precious blood of Christ as of a slaughtered lamb that was without blemish and without spot. I Peter 1:19. Surely, Adam must have been horrified at his first sight of blood. Only then could he see the difference in coats of skin and fig leaves. ~GE
My Little Children
Saving faith is not a character trait in which we glory. It is a humble confession of our complete dependence on Christ for everything. When a child is afraid, is it to their glory to hide behind their mother’s skirt? Is it a picture of strength for them to get in the arms of their father and bury their little face in his neck? No. It is to the parent’s glory to protect and comfort the child. Though we completely understand such behavior from a little child, would it not be shameful for an older child or an adult to act this way? It is to our shame that we remain so weak and dependent. It is to our Lord’s glory that He never says, “grow up”. To the contrary, He says, Suffer (do not hinder) the little children to come unto me, for such is the Kingdom of Heaven. Mk 10:14. Truly, His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Most gladly therefore we glory in our infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon us. 2 Cor. 12:9. ~GE
Conviction of Sin
Men do not need the Holy Spirit to feel guilt and shame when they transgress God’s moral law. For that, they have a conscience. Rom. 2:14-15. What we need the Holy Spirit to do, is convict us of the sin in our righteousnesses. The law of sin, written on the new heart, tells us that when we would do good, evil is ever present with us. Only then will we flee to our Sinless Substitute for all our acceptance before God. Thank God that in Christ Jesus we are free from the law of sin and death. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus. Rom. 7: 21-8:1. ~GE
You do not have to tell a believer that Grace is no license to sin, any more than a husband’s trust gives a loving wife freedom to be unfaithful.
Reformed or Transformed
Some men like to identify themselves after a 500-year-old religious movement. They call themselves and their gospel, “Reformed”. Much could be said about the futility of trying to reform error. Be that as it is, let us rejoice that our gospel is infinitely older than 500 years. Let us seek our Lord, not in the opinions of “reformers”, but in the inspired word of God. Let us prove what is the acceptable will of God by a renewed mind, transformed in Christ Jesus. ~GE
“…I will do to thee all that thou requirest:…” Ruth 3:11
These precious words of life were spoken by Boaz to Ruth. More importantly, they are spoken by our Kinsman Redeemer to all those lying at His feet. Notice first, I will do To thee. A few verses later, Naomi would confirm this promise by telling Ruth; “sit still”. In order for Boaz to fulfill his duty as Ruth’s Kinsman Redeemer, Ruth must be passive. Only by God’s grace can we sit still while the Lord Jesus Christ does a work To us. Second, Boaz said to Ruth; “all that thou REQUIREST.” Boaz did not say; I will do what you ask, as if to respond to her request. He said, I will do all that you REQUIRE. Like this poor Moabite widow, we require a mighty man of wealth who is able to redeem us unto Himself. Like Ruth, all those who are passive in the required work done To them, find themselves in the lineage of the Lord Jesus Christ. ~GE
While in unpleasant circumstances, we may say, “I wish…”. However, at the same time we are thankful that our wish is NOT His command. We know that all our circumstances are ordered perfectly by God for our good and for His glory. Faith rejoices to be at His command, and would wish it no other way. ~GE
We learn very early in life to escape our fears by hiding or lying. As we grow older, nothing really changes. Men’s hiding places are no more secure than a child’s blanket. Their lies are no more convincing to God than a child’s quick and sheepish denial of guilt. God says, “judgment also will I lay to the line and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” Is. 28:17. Oh, that Christ would be our hiding place, and that our love for The Truth would save us from that strong delusion, lest we believe the lie. ~GE
Where Does Grace Lead?
Some people would have us believe that if we preach pure grace, it will lead people to licentious living. They say if we remove the law as a guide or motivation for Christian living, people will have nothing to keep them holy. They say to tell a person to just follow Christ does not provide enough structure and will lead people to careless living. Is that where the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ Jesus leads? Grace preachers have always been, and always will be, falsely accused of this devilish lie. The apostle Paul spent much time defending the gospel of grace against this lawmongers view of self-righteousness. “What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.” Rom. 6:15. No, grace does not lead to sin: grace leads to Christ. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made us free from the law of sin and death.” Rom. 8:2. “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Gal. 5:1. ~GE
“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Col. 2:3.
When something is hidden, it is both secret and safe. So it is with the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. God has hidden them in Christ. They can only be known as He reveals the person of His Son. The hidden treasures of God are also eternally safe. They cannot be lost, destroyed, or altered. They are forever secure in the Son of God, who is Himself that treasure. He is the Pearl of great price. He is the Treasure faith lays up in heaven, where no thief can approach, nor moth corrupt. Where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also. May the Lord set our affection on things above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. ~GE
It is a very good thing to feel safe. However, it is much better to be safe. April 15, 1912, everyone on the “unsinkable” Titanic felt safe. They were living life as if there was no tomorrow. Tragically, for over 1500 poor souls, there would be no tomorrow. In contrast, the disciples were on a rickety wooden boat crossing the sea of Galilee when suddenly they were in a “great tempest”. Fearing they were about to die, they cried out to the Lord who was asleep in the boat. “Lord, save us: we perish”. After rebuking them for their fear and lack of faith, He immediately calmed the seas and straightway they were safe on the other side. On one boat, people felt safe but were not. On the other boat, men did not feel safe but were. What made the difference? Who made the difference? If the Lord Jesus Christ is in our boat, we are safe, even when the seas are turbulent. Whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. Pr. 29:25b. The oceans of this world are full of stately vessels filled with careless souls, oblivious to the destruction that is just below the surface of their shallow religion. Their porters assure the passengers that once you pay your fare, you are guaranteed safe passage to the other side. The truly safe boats are usually small unimpressive vessels of just a few “fellows on the ship”. On these little boats the Lord is resting because He has finished His work to pay in full the fare for all on board. ~GE
The Effects of Light
“…Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than Light, because their deeds were evil.” Jn. 3:19. The irreligious hate the Light because it exposes their lawless living as sin. The religious hate the Light because it exposes their law keeping as sin. The sinner loves the Light because He is the only hope they have for their sin. ~GE
How foolish would it be to say to a man on his deathbed; “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. Yet those who mind the things of the flesh deny that they are dying men with such a shortsighted and foolish philosophy of life. In contrast, they that are after the Spirit, mind the things of the Spirit. Their affections are set on things above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Like their father Abraham, they are looking in faith for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. For them, it is not the journey, it is the destination.
Which of us has not over-indulged at a good meal and thought we would never have to eat again? Of course, we know that our bodies will quickly absorb and deplete the energy of that food so that in a little while we will be hungry again. So, it is with the gospel. When the Lord is pleased to feed our souls on Christ, we may be tempted to think that will carry us all the way to glory. But, as in physical food, our flesh will soon deplete that grace and leave us in want of more of Christ. Manna, however sweet and filling, spoils the next day. How blessed it is that our Lord causes His people to continually hunger and thirst after Righteousness, that they may be filled. Lord, give us this day our daily bread. ~GE
God commands the impossible. Believe, come, repent, abide are all commands that the natural man is incapable of doing. What God requires; God must provide. How wise is our God who makes all of our salvation His doing. Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness. Ps. 143:8. Turn us again, Oh God, and cause Thy Face to shine; and we shall be saved. Ps. 80:3. We come to Christ for faith, not with faith. Truly, He gets all the glory in all of our salvation. ~GE
Handfuls of Purpose
Boaz (Ruth’s kinsman redeemer) instructed his reapers to; “let fall some of the Handfuls of Purpose” for Ruth to glean. At the end of the day, she took home to Naomi an ephah of barley. Vs. 17. The ephah is one of two primary units of dry measurements given to us in scripture. The other is the omer. An omer was the amount of manna the Israelites were to gather each day for each man. It is the “tenth part” of an ephah. Ex. 16:36. What a wonderful picture of the child of God gathering their Daily Bread which has fallen from the purposed Hand of God. On the last day we shall go home to glory with a full measure (10X) of Christ’s likeness revealed in and to us. Walking by faith now, we receive one handful at a time. We wait for that day when we shall see His face in righteousness. We shall be satisfied when we awake with His likeness. (Ps. 17:15). ~GE
In 1808 a lawyer made this accusation against Robert Hawkers Christ centered preaching. “His preaching encourages sin in that it makes a man rely fully on Christ so that he does not strive to mend his own unrighteousness.” I love Mr. Hawker’s reply. “Only in finding Christ have I been taught the lesson of ‘denying ungodliness and worldly lust, and living soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world.”’ ~GE
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ exists in two realms. First, there is the eternal church. This church consists of all the elect of God, chosen in Christ before the world began. Only God knows all the members of this church. It is to us, the “invisible church”. Not one member can be added to this church. Neither can one be detracted from it. It is a perfect church, to which nothing we do here (good or bad) can affect.
Then there is the visible church. Local assemblies that gather for public worship. Unlike the perfect, eternal church, this church is far from perfect. Made up of sinners, and impaired with tares, it has proven to be vulnerable, fragile, and individually temporal. Its health (good or bad) is very much affected by its members. The visible churches of Christ are few in this world and far between. Our gratitude to God for this rare gift will be seen in our efforts to protect and promote the health of this body. It is the closest thing we have in this world to the family we shall spend eternity with in the next. As we look in faith for that eternal city whose builder and maker is God, let us be diligent to labor faithfully with trowel and sword building one another up in the faith of the Lord Jesus. ~GE