This Morning from Spurgeon

Morning, March 3

“I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.”

Isaiah 48:10

Comfort thyself, tried believer, with this thought: God saith, “I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” Does not the word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yea, is it not an asbestos armour, against which the heat hath no power? Let affliction come—God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayst stride in at my door, but God is in the house already, and he has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayst intrude, but I have a balsam ready—God has chosen me. Whatever befalls me in this vale of tears, I know that he has “chosen” me. If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sitteth by your side One whom thou hast not seen, but whom thou lovest; and ofttimes when thou knowest it not, he makes all thy bed in thy affliction, and smooths thy pillow for thee. Thou art in poverty; but in that lovely house of thine the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor. He loves to come into these desolate places, that he may visit thee. Thy friend sticks closely to thee. Thou canst not see him, but thou mayst feel the pressure of his hands. Dost thou not hear his voice? Even in the valley of the shadow of death he says, “Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.” Remember that noble speech of Caesar: “Fear not, thou carriest Caesar and all his fortune.” Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, his presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom he has chosen for his own. “Fear not, for I am with thee,” is his sure word of promise to his chosen ones in the “furnace of affliction.” Wilt thou not, then, take fast hold of Christ, and say—

“Through floods and flames, if Jesus lead,

I’ll follow where he goes.”

A Very Happy & Blessed Christmas

Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord

Heb 10:5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body have you prepared for me;
Heb 10:6 in burnt offerings and sin offerings you have taken no pleasure.
Heb 10:7 Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book.'”
Heb 10:8 When he said above, “You have neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings” (these are offered according to the law),
Heb 10:9 then he added, “Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second.
Heb 10:10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Rembrandt, 1632
Rembrandt, 1632 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Here’s two articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. What’s troubling about these statements is not the statements but the lack of application here in the UK. We shouldn’t kid ourselves, despite assurances from politicians (e.g. my MP), as the arrest of Tony Miano demonstrates, Christians are slowly losing the rights laid out in the UN Declaration below. I guess the Declaration is OK as long as it’s kept in a glass case or worshiped from afar. But it’s problematic for the State when several rights are set in conflict. Something has to give way because now the Government has or is creating a precedent for hierarchy of rights. It’s pretty clear that where and when Christian teaching is in conflict with other – more attractive – materialistic, homosexual or Islamic rights Christians will have to get used to the idea of giving way.

Critics are sure to come back and say something like ‘Christians have had it their way for far too long’. I can appreciate the sentiment even though it’s not actually true. But opponents of Christianity should realise that by allowing a Christian ‘influence’ to slip away they will be losing far more than they think they are gaining. At the heart of the Christian faith is fundamentally to be opposed to any oppression of thought. Becoming a Christian in the first place means thinking differently, counter-culturally to almost everyone else. By actually having as our ‘Ultimate Authority’ The Bible we are declaring complete independence of thought, certainly from the majority of people and especially from the State. Being a Christian means ‘not being like everyone else’. All those free thinkers aren’t free at all – they just think they are. The reality is that so-called ‘Free Thinkers’ are just like the rest and not having an individual thought at all.

Me, I’m glad to have the Bible as my ‘Ultimate Authority’ at least it’s being honest. What’s your ultimate authority when there’s nothing left to turn to? I’ll tell you, it’s yourself, just like everyone else. And why should I listen to someone that’s just like the rest?

Now Jesus, here’s someone to be trusted, followed, loved & obeyed. He stands out – not like anyone else at all! He gave His all for rebels and so as Jesus says ‘if the Son (Jesus) shall make you free, you shall be free indeed’.

Article 18

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Keeping the 10 Commandments – Part 2

Many people have the (mistaken) idea the 10 Commandments is a list that can be ticked in order to feel good. And let’s be honest, I suspect only a small minority would have any real inkling as to the commandments that relate to God. They all do of course, but the first four specifically relate to God. And so the majority completely miss the purpose of the law of God. It’s only the free Grace of God that permits any of us to see the real purpose of the law.

Reformed theology mostly puts forward three uses of the law. These are:

1) The law serves as a means to restrain sin.

2) The law shows people their sin and points them to Christ.

3) This third use of the law is for those who trust in Christ as a standard of living, though still driven to Christ for help to live Godly lives.

A decent summary of the three uses can be found at The Reformed Reader. A different or amended view, that I came across via Monergism, by Bill Baldwin can be found here. I also came across an article by Greg Bahnsen that readers may find helpful but without subscribing to his view of Theonomy. And so to:

The law that Points to Christ – the second use

For now then, let’s concentrate on the work of the law that convicts of sin – the second use – as it’s this one that’s probably misunderstood the most. I’ll maybe try to come back to the other two later.

The Law must point outside of ourselves, so that it’s an objective standard, and not some inner feeling. Feelings may come into it but that cannot be the primary mover.

The verse that clearly portrays this aspect of the law is found in Gal. 3:23-24

23 But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.

24 Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

10 Commandments

The word Tutor (above in Bold), Guardian or Schoolmaster, as some other translations have it, refers to the work of a slave ‘responsible for a child’s training, especially for pointing out and punishing misbehavior. Like a guardian, the law pointed out sin and punished it’. (From Reformation Study Bible – Resources for Gal 3:24 Bible Gateway) As the Apostle Paul says in Romans 3:19 ‘Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

And this is exactly our position by nature before God. And make no mistake, it’s an act of boundless mercy for God to make us aware of the fact. Many, most it seems, carry on as if there is no God, no Judgement and no Lawgiver to whom we are accountable.

If you are overwhelmed with the profound sense that ‘something is wrong’ inside, with you, then it’s not counselling you need to overcome feelings of guilt, but a Saviour, a Rescuer to whom you must flee in Faith & Repentance. The feelings you may have point to the FACT that you like the rest of humanity are lawbreakers. This is true whether you feel it or not. So having tears and a sense of unworthiness might be good but they will not save you. Only a person can do that.

We should also be aware that the law is an expression of the Holy & Righteous Character of God and because of this He has the right to demand of His creatures perfect compliance with that law. This isn’t to do with the ‘compliant’ child because none of us are compliantbut are in fact lawbreakers – every last one of us. As God, He rightfully demands perfection of His creatures. ‘Nobody is perfect’ I hear you cry. And that is the point. Nobody is perfect – except Jesus. And so as James says: ‘For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it’ James 2:10.

Read the Sermon on the Mount in Mathew chapters 5 – 7 (another part of the Bible that people take as a ‘rule for living’ that without Christ is pure law) for an exposition of the 10 Commandments and you will find that it’s not just about an outward morality – many manage that to some extent – but goes to the very fibre of our being to explore motives and the working of the inner life that only God sees! As John says in 1 John 1:8 ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us‘. And verse 10 ‘If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

So then, if we say we have just one tiny sin we have condemned ourselves as lawbreakers and under the wrath of almighty God. It will do no good to compare your performance with others – rapist, murderers and the like. The uncomfortable truth is that we all fall under the condemnation of the law of God. None of us keep the 10 Commandments.

Now here’s the Good News

Unless the above has been taken to heart, that is, the realisation your own righteousness might just as well be filthy rags in the sight of God, the Good News will not be good news. The Self Righteous see no need of ‘Good News’. They see no need of a Saviour.  It’s a delusion to think keeping part of the law – any part – will earn any favour with God.

The Law points towards another – not us. Salvation must come from outside ourselves. We simply do not have the resources to save ourselves either in terms of what we do or what we are. But God in Christ provides all we need. We need righteousness. We have none. God provides it in Christ.

Sin Must be dealt with

Sin however, must be dealt with. God cannot simply right off the debt. Someone must pay. And this is what God does through the Cross of Christ. The Cross is not a lesson in passive suffering, an example for us to follow. No. The Cross is where Jesus bore the punishment for sinners. It’s what theologians call Penal Substitutionary Atonement.

And so as another verse says: Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. And I trust by now the following verses will have real eternal significance – even for you!

Rom 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–
Rom 3:22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction:
Rom 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Rom 3:24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,
Rom 3:25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
Rom 3:26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

I said far more than I intended and there are probably many questions in your mind. I have no doubt left things out but in closing 3 simple truths:

1. God demands you keep His Law – this is impossible! You are a sinner under the wrath of God.

2. Jesus has kept the Law.

3. You need to call upon Jesus for Salvation – He is able to Save! He died on the Cross but Rose from the dead and is a living Saviour!

Happy New Year 2012

Happy New Year to everyone.

Many thanks for visiting & commenting and some of you actually liked it. May God richly bless you in the New Year.

Here’s the text of C H Spurgeon’s Evening devotional for December 31st:

“The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.” –Jeremiah 8:20
Not saved! Dear reader, is this your mournful plight? Warned of the judgment to come, bidden to escape for your life, and yet at this moment not saved! You know the way of salvation, you read it in the Bible, you hear it from the pulpit, it is explained to you by friends, and yet you neglect it, and therefore you are not saved. You will be without excuse when the Lord shall judge the quick and dead. The Holy Spirit has given more or less of blessing upon the word which has been preached in your hearing, and times of refreshing have come from the divine presence, and yet you are without Christ. All these hopeful seasons have come and gone–your summer and your harvest have past–and yet you are not saved. Years have followed one another into eternity, and your last year will soon be here: youth has gone, manhood is going, and yet you are not saved. Let me ask you–will you ever be saved? Is there any likelihood of it? Already the most propitious seasons have left you unsaved; will other occasions alter your condition? Means have failed with you–the best of means, used perseveringly and with the utmost affection–what more can be done for you? Affliction and prosperity have alike failed to impress you; tears and prayers and sermons have been wasted on your barren heart. Are not the probabilities dead against your ever being saved? Is it not more than likely that you will abide as you are till death for ever bars the door of hope? Do you recoil from the supposition? Yet it is a most reasonable one: he who is not washed in so many waters will in all probability go filthy to his end. The convenient time never has come, why should it ever come? It is logical to fear that it never will arrive, and that Felix like, you will find no convenient season till you are in hell. O bethink you of what that hell is, and of the dread probability that you will soon be cast into it!Reader, suppose you should die unsaved, your doom no words can picture. Write out your dread estate in tears and blood, talk of it with groans and gnashing of teeth: you will be punished with everlasting destruction from the glory of the Lord, and from the glory of His power. A brother’s voice would fain startle you into earnestness. O be wise, be wise in time, and ere another year begins, believe in Jesus, who is able to save to the uttermost. Consecrate these last hours to lonely thought, and if deep repentance be bred in you, it will be well; and if it lead to a humble faith in Jesus, it will be best of all. O see to it that this year pass not away, and you an unforgiven spirit. Let not the new year’s midnight peals sound upon a joyless spirit! Now, NOW,NOW believe, and live.


The Queen’s Christmas Speech 2011

Last evening at church our Pastor mentioned in his sermon the Queen’s speech (Elizabeth II) and how she had very strongly mentioned The Lord Jesus Christ. Wanting to check it out for myself I can confirm The Queen, contrary to many a spineless politician, spoke of Christ as a unique person. And in the context it’s not possible to interpret unique in the sense that we are all unique but clearly that Jesus is the Saviour and is Christ The Lord. There can only be one Lord – and It’s Jesus. You will find the full text of her speech HERE. But I’ve taken the liberty of posting the last few paragraphs below. To be honest I’m not really a Monarchist (I like the history though) but from the speech below we perhaps do have a Monarch whose faith truly is in Christ. Here’s a high-profile figure not afraid, or bound by ridiculous political correctness, diversity or intolerant tolerance to speak of faith in Christ and her own need of a Saviour and of forgiveness. God bless you.

Finding hope in adversity is one of the themes of Christmas. Jesus was born into a world full of fear. The angels came to frightened shepherds with hope in their voices: ‘Fear not’, they urged, ‘we bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

‘For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour who is Christ the Lord.’

Although we are capable of great acts of kindness, history teaches us that we sometimes need saving from ourselves – from our recklessness or our greed.

God sent into the world a unique person – neither a philosopher nor a general, important though they are, but a Saviour, with the power to forgive.

Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.

In the last verse of this beautiful carol, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, there’s a prayer:

O Holy Child of Bethlehem,

Descend to us we pray.

Cast out our sin

And enter in.

Be born in us today.

It is my prayer that on this Christmas day we might all find room in our lives for the message of the angels and for the love of God through Christ our Lord.

I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”

Perspectives on Death

Yesterday I observed two quite different perspectives on death. Both the deaths of elderly people. One I knew, the other I didn’t.

How you doin? ‘Oh it’s a bit weird, my Nan died yesterday and it feels a bit strange. I don’t know. It’s all weird. But I guess that’s life’. I didn’t know her and I don’t know the person I spoke to that well.

The other I knew and her son is a very good friend of mine. ‘Mike, she’s gone, she’s gone home. She hasn’t gone down – she’s gone up. The family was all there at the end, it was powerful’.

And by powerful he meant God was in the situation. Maybe it doesn’t come across so well but it seems to me that one is at best resignation to a sad fact, and hopeless. The other, filled with hope through the Gospel of Jesus.

It doesn’t matter who we are, our background, wealth, position, you name it, we all have to pass the way of death. Will your end be hopeless or full of hope? And just so there’s no misunderstanding – the Bible uses the word hope with confident certainty.

Comments on Comments

I had a series of comments with Waalid that should you wish can be read HERE. I closed the comment on the post as I felt they were getting nowhere. Waalid decided to respond through another (non-Islamic related) post HERE. I thought he might respond. He hasn’t, and so I’ve no way of knowing if he read them. In response to his determination to reply I decided to turn them into a blog post. See below with my reply. BTW I am assuming English is not his first language. Please also note in the first set of comments his name is Walid and in the ones below it’s Waalid. I’ve no explanation for this.

Waalid writes:

Hi Mike,

After I showed you interisting point about trinity, I was surprise that you Disabled The COMMENTS”, on your post BBC ‘Life of Mohammed’ Observations Part 2

Dont be Afread of the TRUTH, just open your brain, We dont follow relegion because our fathers did but because our heart open for it.

In your last post before you disbled the comment you said:

“The doctrine of the Trinity is not illogical as you suggest”

I didnt comment that it was illogical but I commented about you sayin trinity is difficult to understand – incomprehensible even.

As god will be not fair If he asks people to beleive in a difficult principle, especially if you know that the first followers of prophets are not the elite but the poor and farmers that never gone to schools because they dont have an ego to stop them from following the truth.

I Travel in Africa and saw how much money the church is taking from poor people in the name of Jesus, give 10% of it to some hungry people and for the rest, go visit the castles in Vatican and you will understand that it turned in to a corporation.

I dont Accept anyone between me and My Lord, either he want to be in the middle because he wants to make money or good intention.

And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided.

My Reply to Waalid

Hi Waalid.

Sadly Christians can do bad things. Do Muslims do bad things? BTW it was Part 1 I disabled not Part 2.

I disabled comments because it seemed that particular discussion was going nowhere because you will not accept that what the Koran says about the Trinity is incorrect – that’s my point. And since you raise it I could charge you with the same – you should not be afraid of the Truth. Would you be afraid to leave Islam and become a Christian? If you are not saying it was illogical why use the logic of 3 = 1. I’ll ask you again have you read the Athanasian Creed – I doubt it. In fact I doubt you read anything other than your own religious writing & perhaps ‘Christian’ heresies that I would happily condemn with you. I’d like you to prove me wrong. I’m not a Catholic so I agree with you on that one. That is not what we are talking about. I’ll refer you to my two options again:

There are only two options. Option 1, either Islam or Christianity is true, there can only be one. Or, option 2, neither of them is true. If it is option 2, we should all find something better to do with our lives. But if it’s option 1; we need to think about which one is true. That’s not being Islamophobic that’s being a seeker after Truth.

The Truth is only found in Jesus Christ, the only Saviour for sinners. I know that Jesus loves me and has paid the price for my sins (that doesn’t make me perfect) on the Cross and has in fact done everything necessary for my Salvation and will take me home to be with Him in Heaven. Why on earth would I want to become a Muslim with Jesus as my Saviour. Can Mohammed save anyone – no he can’t. Did Mohammed die for the sins of anyone – no he didn’t. You can’t even be sure your own (fictional) God will save you so why would any thinking person using their brain (unless deceived) even give Islam a second thought.

Jesus told the Truth when He said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) If only you were to turn to The Lord Jesus Christ for Salvation – you would then find Him (Jesus) to be your all in all. You would know the immense blessing, and relief, of not having to work your way to heaven and you would be joining many ex Muslims that have found The TRUTH to be found Only in Jesus Christ. Will you not consider Christ? Will you not turn to Him? I pray that you will.

Do you believe the words of Jesus? if you do – turn to Him and put your faith in Him alone.

My Final Reply to Waalid

Hi again Waalid,

I just realised what an interesting post this was to leave a comment on.

Did you know that one of Augustine’s major pieces of writing was On The Trinity (De Trinitate). Augustine (354-430). You will notice this was many years before Mohammed (570-632) came on the scene!

Here is a link to Augustine The Trinity: a Summary:

and here’s another (Readable summary) link:

Augustine – Quotes from the Confessions

Cover of Confessions (Oxford World's Classics)

The church book club have just gone through the first 5 books (chapters) of Augustine’s Confessions. We intend to read through to book 9 as a group but I’d like read right through them. I’ve previously dipped very briefly into a few on-line versions but never actually read through them. There’s nothing – in my opinion – quite like having a book to read. The translation we are using is by Henry Chadwick and is proving to be very readable in terms of text. I’m really enjoying the book. Before we quote – and comment – from the text, two preliminary observations might be in order. i) Augustine noted what we might call the mundane or ordinary and sees God at work in these in a very powerful and humbling way. ii) Some of the things could have been written yesterday as comment on human behaviour. People are still the same, nothing has changed except maybe the clothes!

A few choice quotes

Book iv (30) p. 70. ‘I had my back to the light and my face towards the things which are illuminated. So my face, by which I was enabled to see the things lit up, was not itself illuminated’

People look out on creation and see its wonders but completely fail to be themselves enlightened at all. Or even to see the beauty of Jesus but again it’s not their own illumination and are still in their sins. And as Augustine said previously ‘…while travelling away from the truth I thought I was going towards it. Book iii (12) p. 43.

Augustine was given amazing insight into his own soul and into ours too. It’s no wonder this book is a classic. Augustine was taken in by the Manichees cult for about 9 years and Faustus one of their most able leaders came on the scene.  Augustine was beginning to question the truthfulness of their teachings to which he writes (Book iv section iv 10 p. 77 & 76):

‘When he came, I found him gracious and pleasant with words. He said the things they usually say, but put it much more agreeably. But what should the most presentable waiter do for my thirst by offering precious cups? My ears were already satiated with this kind of talk, which did not seem better to me because more elegantly expressed. Fine style does not make something true, nor has a man a wise soul because he has a handsome face and well chosen eloquence. They who promised he would be so good were not good judges. He seemed so prudent and wise because he charmed them by the way he talked.’

A quotation with his view of God (Book i p.4 & 5, iv (4).

‘Who then are you my God? What, I ask, but God who is Lord? For ‘who is the Lord but the Lord’, or ‘who is God but our God? (Psalm 17:32). Most high, utterly good, utterly powerful, most omnipotent, most merciful and most just, deeply hidden yet intimately present, perfection of beauty and strength, stable and incomprehensible, immutable and yet changing all things, never new, never old….’

Finally, Book i p. 5, v (5):

‘…’Say to my soul, I am your salvation‘ (Psalm 34:3). Speak to me so that I might hear.’

The Gospel Simply Stated

I’m going to assume my ‘audience’ is someone with very little knowledge of the Christian faith and what they do ‘know’ is probably wrong or hopelessly skewed in the wrong direction. Imagine you are in a lift or something or time is short and you only have a few moments to impart the Christian Gospel. What would you say. I’m not addressing the incredible fact that God the Holy Spirit can use anything – even our foolishness and errors to bring people to Himself. However, we do have a responsibility to impart His message as it is the ordinary means by which He saves. Here’s my first attempt. To be honest it isn’t easy. 100 words doesn’t go very far. Feel free to comment. Have I met the criteria. Can it be done? If you are not a Christian reading this – what do you think? I could do it in fewer words, ‘believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved’ (Acts 16.31). That’s not the challenge though.

The Gospel Message in 100 Words

The Bible is a message from the Creator of all things. God gave a command to Adam & Eve, the first humans, but they rebelled and evil entered the world destroying a perfect relationship. Their offspring through the ages, us, also have this sinful nature. God must judge us when we die because of our wicked nature. But God is so full of love that He sent a rescuer. This Saviour had to die a terrible death as a substitute. His name is Jesus, and everyone calling upon Him for help and forgiveness will be rescued and taken to heaven.