Round Up

Total Depravity Is A Deplorable Doctrine – I recognize the weight of the doctrine of “total depravity”, the first of John Calvin’s Five Points. It stresses the radical corruption of the human nature, rendering him incapable of exercising saving faith and repentance and obedience to God’s righteous commands. I understand it, and I hate it.

Christ Before Pilate –  [Pilate] might have guessed that this carpenter from Nazareth could make a table or a chair, but it never entered his mind that “by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by Him, and for Him.” PDF Document

The Missing Ingredient In Many Sermons – I have seen this in some otherwise terrific sermons. Guys can be exegetically sound, communicate with clarity, illustrate with profundity, and then at the end of the sermon it tastes like grandma’s meatloaf: somewhat filling but not so memorable.

Five Truths About The Wrath Of God – We live in a day where we have set ourselves as the judge and God’s character is on trial. “How can hell be just?” “Why would God command the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites?” “Why does God always seem so angry?”

Quote:

I am dying willingly for God’s sake, if you do not hinder it. I beseech you, be not an unseasonable kindness to me. Suffer me to be eaten by the beasts, through whom I can attain to God. I am God’s wheat, and I am ground by the teeth of wild beasts that I may be found pure bread of Christ…. I long for the beasts that are prepared for me, and I pray that that may be found prompt for me. I will even entice them to devour me promptly…. Let there come on me fire and cross and struggles with wild beasts, cutting and tearing asunder…. Cruel tortures of the devil, may I but attain to Jesus Christ. – Ignatius

On The Depravity Of Man

Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived.” The great works of Christians down through the centuries are filled with the same testimony: man is the slave of sin, utterly undone outside of Christ. Even those whose theology did not measure up to the biblical standard could not help, in their prayers, to confess what they knew to be true: the fallen sons of Adam are dead in sin, incapable of even the first move toward God. Even more, they are filled with the effect of depravity and alienation from God: enmity and hatred toward His holy standards. This was a common element of Spurgeon’s preaching:

Now, the calling of the Holy Spirit is without any regard to any merit in us. If this day the Holy Spirit shall call out of this congregation a hundred men, and bring them out of their estate of sin into a state of righteousness, you shall bring these hundred men, and let them march in review, and if you could read their hearts, you would be compelled to say, “I see no reason why the Spirit of God should have operated upon these. I see nothing whatever that could have merited such grace as this – nothing that could have caused the operations and motions of the Spirit to work in these men.” For, look ye here. By nature, men are said to be dead in sin. If the Holy Spirit quickens, it cannot be because of any power in the dead men, or any merit in them, for they are dead, corrupt and rotten in the grave of their sin. If then, the Holy Spirit says, “Come forth and live,” it is not because of anything in the dry bones, it must be for some reason in His own mind, but not in us. Therefore, know ye this, men and brethren, that we all stand upon a level. We have none of us anything that can recommend us to God; and if the Spirit shall choose to operate in our hearts unto salvation, He must be moved to do it by His own supreme love, for He cannot be moved to do it by any good will, good desire, or good deed, that dwells in us by nature.

The “flip-side” of divine freedom is the fact that man, the great image-bearer of God, is a fallen creature, a slave to sin, spiritually dead, incapable of doing what is pleasing to God. Just as the great freedom of the Potter offends rebellious pots, so too does the Bible’s teaching on the inabilities of man due to sin. The fallen sons and daughters of Adam are most adept at finding ways to promote creaturely freedom at the cost of God’s freedom, while at the same time promoting the servitude of God to the whims and will of man. It would be humorous if it were not so serious: the pots gathering together and assuring each other that the Potter either doesn’t exist, or, at worst, will sit idly by while they take control and “run the show” themselves. Yet this is the impact of sin upon the thinking of man. Man suppresses the truth of his createdness and invariably attempts to find a means to “control” God. One wisely put it this way:

Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself….So it happens in estimating our spiritual goods. As long as we do not look beyond the earth, being quite content with our own righteousness, wisdom, and virtue, we flatter ourselves most sweetly, and fancy ourselves all but demigods. Suppose we but once begin to raise our thoughts to God, and to ponder his nature, and how completely perfect are his righteousness, wisdom, and power-the straightedge to which we must be shaped. Then, what masquerading earlier as righteousness was pleasing in us will soon grow filthy in its consummate wickedness. What wonderfully impressed us under the name of wisdom will stink in its very foolishness. What wore the face of power will prove itself the most miserable weakness. That is, what in us seems perfection itself corresponds ill to the purity of God.

Truly recognizing one’s spiritual state is a gift of grace. Outside of God opening the eyes of the heart man thinks himself wonderfully pure, or at least acceptable in God’s sight. That is why the unregenerate person cannot understand the urgency of the gospel message: until they see the depth of their sin and the holiness of God, they find no reason to seek remedy for their condition.

Man’s religions consistently promote the myth of man’s autonomy: his absolute freedom to act outside of any eternal decree of God. “Man is the master of his destiny” seems to be the watchword of the religions of men, and even of many in Christendom today. How many times have you heard a preacher say, “In the matter of election, God has cast his vote for you, Satan has cast his against you, and now the final vote is up to you”? Such an assertion not only makes man’s choice equal with God’s, but it likewise places the final decision for what takes place in time squarely in the hands of man, not of God.
The Potter’s Freedom, pp. 75-77. – James White

We Are Not Neutral

Chapter 1 of Jeff Johnson’s upcoming book.  Having read several of Jeff’s books (The Fatal Flaw & The Kingdom of God), I’m looking forward to this one when it comes out.

“Let’s buy it, dad!” These were the words that darted out of my mouth as soon as I saw the cool yellow truck with its custom rims and ground effects. Immediately I could proudly see myself driving it to school. Not only was it cool, I couldn’t believe it was in my price range. This could be mine, so I thought.

My father responded with the dreaded but predictable words, “We need to test drive it first.” Though this sounds only reasonable, you must realize that I was young and poor. My parents promised to help me buy my first vehicle by doubling all the money I earned over the summer. I worked hard, but only saved $900.00. And even back in the early nineties, you could not expect much for $1,800.00. The last thing I wanted was some grandma wagon.

So when I saw this customized truck, I was ready to pull the trigger without any investigation. In fact, I didn’t want to test drive it, for deep down I knew it was too good to be true. If we happen to discover its mechanical problems, I knew my father would stand in the way of me being cool. You see, I thought if we bought it before we learned that it needed repairs, though more money would be needed to get the thing running, the most important thing would be accomplished – I would have a respectable looking ride to show off to all my friends. The truth is, I didn’t want to know the truth, for I assumed that the truth would stand in the way of my happiness.

As you can imagine, when we opened the hood, it was missing half of its engine. Yep, too good to be true. I ended up with my dad’s old, brown, farm truck – dependable but no ground effects.

I realize now that I was willing to overlook all the blaring red flags and knowingly do something foolish because of my foolish pride. My emotions, my pride, and my inverted values hindered my judgment. I was not objective or rational because I did not want to be objective or rational.

Foolishness is living in opposition to what we know to be true. I am afraid this irrational condition and manner of thinking is universally prevalent in all of us. We are not merely irrational every now and then. Without God, we live in a state of irrationality.

Only irrational fools would consistently and practically deny that 2 + 2 = 4. Not only is the answer to this equation a part of common sense, it is easily demonstrable and highly useful. If a postmodern thinker practically rejects the absolute and universal principles of mathematics, he may applaud himself for being consistent with his relativistic worldview, but in the process his checkbook will be a total mess. Regardless of what we claim we believe about the laws of math, we cannot live consistently without practically submitting ourselves to them. For this and many other reasons it is intellectually difficult to deny the absolute and universal nature of mathematics.

The same is true concerning the truth of Scripture. Scripture does not merely provide a few isolated, unrelated, and discounted truths; it gives us the only complete and cohesive worldview that provides meaning and rationale to the universe. In other words, without the Bible, nothing makes sense in the grand scheme of things. As the Psalmist says, “In your light we see light” (Ps. 36:9).

Yet, if the Bible provides us with the only cohesive system of thought, why is it so hated and rejected by so many? If it is impossible to disprove the truth claims of the Bible, why is it so despised and ridiculed by some of the brightest and smartest minds? Do you want to know the truth? The truth is that if people loved the truth, they wouldn’t reject the truth. The problem is not that the truth is irrational, but that fallen man is not without his personal biases and foolish pride. As we shall see in this chapter, people are selfish by nature, and their selfishness is the controlling influence in how they feel, think, and behave.

Man is Not Neutral

The Bible describes this as depravity. Depravity is an inner heart condition that prevents us from loving any truth that is in opposition to our internal desire to be independent, free, and self-governing. Because we are born depraved, with a fallen nature, we hate the God of the Bible. We may love a god of our own imagination – a god that we can control. This is because we naturally want to be in control of our own destiny. If we want to go to heaven, then we can work our way there. If we want to go to Hell and hang out with our drinking buddies, then that is what we will do. But to lovingly submit every detail of our lives, thoughts, and beliefs to the absolute, sovereign God is not enticing in the least.

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Spurgeon Thursday

First off, let me apologize for not posting Spurgeon on a regular basis lately.  My work schedule has been extremely rough for the past month, but hopefully that is past and this feature of my blog will get back on track.  Now, on to the feature…

LACKING MOISTURE

NO. 2845

A SERMON

PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, AUGUST 29, 1903.

DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,

AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 20, 1888.

And some fell upon a rock, and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away because it lacked moisture.” Luke 8:6.

spurgeon5IN this parable of the sower, there is great discrimination of character, not only between those who bring forth fruit and those who bring forth none, but also between those who bring forth fruit in different degrees—not only between the fruitful and the fruitless—but  also between various forms of fruitlessness. The reasons are given, not in bulk, but in detail—why this failed, and that failed, and the other failed. All this points to discrimination in hearing. When there is discrimination  in the preacher, as there should always be, there should be an equal discrimination  in the hearer, and each one should try to take to himself that special part of the Word which is intended for him.

The true preacher, especially our great Lord and Master, resembles a portrait  painted by a real artist which always looks at you, no matter where you are in the room—to the right, or to the left of it, its eyes seem to be fixed upon you. So does our Lord, whenever He preaches, look at us. May He look at us in that way just now and may we catch His eyes as He gazes upon us—and  may the preacher also seem to be looking straight at you, because you are on the watch for that particular part of the Truth  which especially concerns you! If there is anything hopeful and cheering in the sermon, may it come to you who are mourning and doubtful! If there is anything awakening, may it come to those of you who happen to be tinged with self-confidence!

Coming to our text, I think it suggests to us three observations.  First,  let us note well that there is a reception of the Word of God which fails to be effectual. Secondly, we shall enquire why it fails in these cases. And, thirdly, we shall consider how this failure is to be avoided.

I. First,  THERE IS A SOWING THAT COMES TO NOTHING. There is even a reception of the Seed into the soil which disappoints the sower.

This failure was not because the Seed was bad. It was the same Seed which, in the good soil, produced thirty,  sixty, or a hundredfold. You know that, sometimes, when we do not succeed in impressing our hearers, we condemn ourselves, perhaps very justly. If men are not saved, the preacher must not put the blame upon Divine Sovereignty—he must blame himself. He must also ask himself, “Have I really preached the Truth?  Have I preached it in a right spirit? Have I preached different Truths in due proportion?  Have I given the most weight to that which is of primary importance and have I put that which is secondary in its proper position?” We poor sowers often chastise ourselves for our failures, or, if we do not, we ought to do so—otherwise  we shall never improve. God help us to preach better, to love men’s souls more and to be more earnest in seeking to bring them to Christ! I mean this wish for myself and for all of you who love the Lord.

But there was no fault to be found with the Seed that fell on the rock, although it did not result in a harvest. The Seed was good, thoroughly good. The sower got it from his Master and his Master’s granary contains no Seed which will not grow. True preachers can say with the Apostle Peter, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables.” We have preached to you the Word of God, so that whenever we put our head upon our pillow, we can truly say that we have not preached what we thought,  or what we imagined, but we have declared what we believe to be revealed in this blessed Book of God. That is the Good Seed that we sow and if it does not grow in you, it is not the fault of the Seed, it is your own fault. There is something about you that hinders it. Will you think of that, dear Hearer, if you are unconverted?

But, in the next place, the failure was not from lack of receptiveness. Those hearers who are like the Seed sown on the rock, do receive the Seed. We are expressly told that by our Lord, Himself—“They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the Word with joy.” We have hearers who take in all we say, perhaps too readily. They hear indiscriminately. There are some hearers who are like a sponge—they suck up all—good,  bad and indifferent. If they hear of a clever, oratorical preacher, they speedily run after him. What he preaches, or whether he preaches with the Holy Spirit sent down from Heaven, is not a matter about which they enquire. They have not much depth of earth, but what little earth there is takes in the Seed. There is not enough depth of earth for the Seed to really bear fruit, yet they do, in some sort of fashion, receive it. I am not going to pile up indiscriminate censure upon this receptiveness. It is a briar upon which a rose may grow but, still, it is a briar until it is properly grafted. Receptiveness may easily be carried too far and men may even ruin themselves by being too ready to receive what they hear—not  by being too ready to rightly receive the real Word of Truth, but by receiving it in the wrong fashion. Do they disbelieve what you say? No, they are not earnest enough to do that! Do they doubt what you preach? No, they have not gone so far aside as that. Do they argue against the Gospel? Oh, no—they have not fallen into that form of depravity! They take in what they hear. They do not do much with it. There is not Grace enough in their heart, after they have nominally received the Word, to cause it to grow. There is a lack somewhere—not a lack of receptiveness, but a lack in another direction.

The failure, also, was not caused through  lack of heat. There was a hard rock with a little soil upon it, just enough to take in the Seed. That rock needed to be broken up, ground to powder and made into good soil, but as it was not broken up—when the sun shone, the rock refracted and reflected all the heat and gave great warmth to the soil in which the seed was lying—so that it grew very fast, for it was in a kind of hothouse. We have many hearers who, if enthusiasm could save them, would have been saved long ago. On Sundays they are very soon warmed up, and there is so little of them that the heat of the sun soon penetrates to their rocky nature. The heat is refracted and straightway they are all in a blaze. I know them, they are very nice people to preach to. How excited they grow! They are ready enough to shout, “Hallelujah!” They speedily receive the Word, but there is no depth about them, so they do not retain it. They will do anything that we want them to do. They are not only enthusiastic, but they soon grow fanatical. I am not blaming them for this. If there were something  else to go with it, it would be a good thing.

The gardener or florist likes a good bottom heat to make his plants grow rapidly, but if it is all heat—if it is a dry heat and nothing else, very soon they are scorched to death. The little moisture that was in them at first, makes them grow rapidly, but when that is exhausted, they are soon withered. I do not deny that it is quite a pleasure to meet with a warm-hearted man. We have plenty of people about who are either cold or only lukewarm. If they give you their hand, you feel as if you had laid hold of a fish, it is so cold. We like to meet with hearers who respond to our appeals with kindly friendliness and who, when the Word is brought  before them, display a warmth of feeling towards it. These are very hopeful people. I cannot say more about them. Their name is Hopeful, but they do not always grow into Faithful.  They give us great encouragement,  but, alas, they often cause us great discouragement.

Then, again, this failure was not caused through  lack of joy, for we are told by our Savior that they received the Word with joy. Oh, they are so happy! They feel that they are saved and they are full of joy! And the main reason why they believe that they are saved is that they are so happy. Well, there is something in being joyful. I do not like to see people who seem to have a religion that disagrees with them. True religion does, indeed, make us glad. But then, my dear Friends, if your only evidence of the possession of Grace is that you are so happy, you may be unhappy tomorrow—and what will be your state then? Our human nature is so constructed and our body has so much influence upon our mind and soul, that we can soon become very low in spirit and scarcely know why we are in such a condition! That joy is part of the fruit of the Spirit, I cheerfully acknowledge, but there are many joys that are not fruits of the Spirit at all, for they are earth-born and carnal. And there is often a so-called religious joy which is the fruit of carnal excitement and supposed conversion—not the result of a real saving knowledge of God.

Perhaps if these people had received the Word with sorrow—if  they had received it with a broken heart and a contrite spirit—if  they had received it tremblingly, in the very depth of their souls. If they had gone home to cry to God in secret prayer instead of rejoicing in open exultation, there might have been evidences in them of a deeper, surer, truer  and more abiding work. These people had joy and plenty of it. I am not saying anything against their joy—it was not the point in which they failed. They failed somewhere else, as I shall try to show you presently.

And, once more, they did not fail from lack of eagerness and speed in receiving the Truth.  They received it at once and the Seed sprang up at once. Just because they had no depth of earth, it sprang up all the faster. The Seed that fell upon the shallow soil covering the rock grew quickly—it sprang up because of the very absence of the element that was necessary to bring it to perfection! I believe in instantaneous  conversion. I believe that the new birth must be instantaneous, that there is a moment in which a man is dead and another moment in which he is alive and that, just as there is a certain instant in which a child is born, so there is an instant in which we become the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. But there is also a supposed conversion which is undone as quickly as it is done. There are to be found, in some churches, men who have grown wonderfully fast. They were drunks a fortnight ago and they are taking the lead among experienced Christians today! Well, it may rightly be so. God acts according to His own Sovereign will and He can work such wonders of Grace and miracles of mercy. But it may turn out that a thing that grows very fast does so because it will not stand fast and will not last long. We have to deal with so many who are always procrastinating  and putting off and, therefore, it seems a good fault when men are hasty about these things—it  is a blessed fault, if a fault at all! Yet it did so happen that while these people were excellent in that direction, they failed in another, and failed in a fatal way, of which I have now to speak.

II. That brings me to ENQUIRE WHY THESE PEOPLE MADE SUCH A SAD FAILURE?

The seed that fell on the trodden  path,  while they were lost to the farmer, did feed the birds, at any rate. But these on the rock did not. They quickly sprang up, and were soon withered and good for nothing. They promised much, but it came to nothing at all. And, in this way, some of those who appear to be the most hopeful, may cause us most grief by being our greatest disappointments.

Now why was this? Luke tells us, and no other Evangelist tells us, that it was because they “lacked moisture.”

Does not this mean, first of all, that they lacked the influences of the Divine Spirit? When we speak of spiritual dew, we refer to the operation of the Holy Spirit. When we talk of the river of the Water of Life, we mean those sacred things which come streaming down to us from the Throne of God through the working  of the Spirit of God. These people lacked that moisture. They were converted, so far as they were converted at all, through  the eloquence of the preacher— and a man who is converted by eloquence, can be unconverted by eloquence! Or they were converted by the zeal and earnestness of Christian  people. But if you were converted by one man, another  man can unconvert you. All that is of man is sure to be unraveled as all the spinning and the weaving of earthly machinery can be pulled to pieces. But the work of God’s Grace endures forever. Have you, my dear Hearer, felt the power of the Holy Spirit first withering you up? “The grass withers, the flower fades because the Spirit of the Lord blows upon it.” Has He ever dried up, in you, all that was of yourself and turned the verdant meadow into a barren wilderness? It must be so with you at first—there  is no sure work which does not begin with emptying and pulling down. Was the Spirit of God ever so worked in you as a spirit of bondage, shutting you up in prison under the Law, fixing your hands in handcuffs and your feet in fetters, putting  you in the stocks and leaving you there? If you have never known anything about that experience, I am afraid you have, up to now, “lacked moisture.”

Then, when the Spirit of God comes to a soul that is thus broken down, He reveals Christ as a Savior for that sinner, a full Savior for the empty sinner! And oh, how sweetly does the soul rejoice as it perceives the suitability,  fullness and freeness of Christ—and looks to Jesus and trusts Him! Have you ever felt that sacred moisture which softens the heart so that it sweetly yields to Christ, that moisture which refreshes the heart and makes it bloom again with a holy hopefulness and delight in Christ? O my dear Hearers, what we say about the Holy Spirit is no mere talk—it is a matter of fact! “You must be born-again,”  born from above! You must be partakers of the Spirit of God, or else all your religion, however beautiful it may appear to be, will wither when the sun has risen with burning heat.

Now, my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, you find that everything goes ill with you when you lack moisture. One of our Brothers  sometimes says to me, after a service, “Oh, Sir, there will be good done today, for there was dew about!” I know what he means and hope you also do. You have a little flower at home which you keep in the window, a geranium, or perhaps a fuchsia. You set great store by it because of its associations. But perhaps you have been out for a week and when you come back it looks so drooping that it seems as if it must die—and you soon discovered the reason why. It was quite dry—“it  lacked moisture.” You gave it some water and it soon began to revive. These plants are kept alive by moisture. But when they lack moisture, the more the sun shines upon them, or the warmer the room is, the worse it is for them. They need moisture and so do we, poor plants that we are. We need the Holy Spirit and if the Lord does not water us daily from the living springs on the hilltops of Glory, we shall certainly die! So take heed, Brothers and Sisters, that you do not lack the moisture of the Holy Spirit’s gracious influence.

Why did these people lack it? There was moisture in the air. It is evident that the other Seed which brought forth thirty, sixty, or a hundred-fold,  had moisture. Yet this, which was in the same air as the other,  “lacked moisture.”  There were morning dews and there were mists and rains, yet these Seeds on the rock “lacked moisture.”  The reason was that there was a lack of power to retain the moisture in the soil. When it came down, it ran off again, or speedily evaporated because there was a rock and only a very little earth on the top of it to hold the moisture, and all that came there soon disappeared.  There are many persons who seem to be like this rocky soil—they  have no receptiveness for the Divine Spirit—they seem to manage to do without Him.

Now let me warn you of certain things that indicate a lack of moisture. The first is Doctrine without  feeling. You believe the Bible Doctrine concerning Christ. I am glad that you do, but dry Doctrine, without the bedewing influence of the Spirit of God, is just a granite rock out of which you will get nothing whatever. You say that you believe the Doctrine of Human Depravity, but have you ever really felt it and mourned over it? You say that you believe the Doctrine of Redemption,  but have you ever proved the power of the precious blood of Jesus? Have you ever been melted at the sight of the Cross? You say that you believe the Doctrine of Effectual Calling, but have you been effectually called by Grace? You say that you believe the Doctrine of Regeneration,  but have you been born-again?  If not, you lack moisture. I have known some Brothers and Sisters who have been so “sound” that they have been nothing but sound. “Sixteen ounces to the pound,” they said they were. I thought that they were 17 ounces to the pound and that the last bad ounce spoilt the other sixteen! You may be wonderfully orthodox  and yet be lost! That hard pan of rock must be broken up and ground to powder, that the moisture may get to the Seed. Of what use is Doctrine without  feeling?

It is equally worthless where there is experience without  humiliation.  I mean that some talk about having felt this, and having felt that—and  they boast of it. Some of them have even thought that they have become perfect—and  they glory in it. Well, they lack moisture! As soon as you get side by side with them, you feel a need of something, you do not quite know what it is. It is dry experience. Perhaps it is boiling hot, but it is very dry. There is no bowing before the Lord in a humble confession of unworthiness. There is no understanding  of what it is to feel the sentence of death in our- selves, that we should loathe ourselves, as condemned criminals ought to do. I pray the Lord to save us from an experience, however perfect it seems, which is not moist, which has not a living tenderness worked into it by the power of the Spirit of God. Avoid, then, experience without  humiliation.

Also shun practice without heart-love. I have known some Brothers and Sisters who have been most exact and precise in all their conduct. I have thought  that they scarcely ever sinned and I have not wondered that they did not because there did not seem to be enough juice in them to sin. They did not appear to have any human nature in them. They were just like dry pieces of leather—never  excited, never getting  into a bad temper—they have not seemed to have any temper, either bad or good. They never say a word too hastily. They always measure things out very exactly, yet a lack of love is a fatal lack. I knew one whom I greatly esteemed as a minister of the Word for many years. I esteemed him for his regularity of conduct. I believe that he got up to the tick of the clock, that he had family prayer to the tick of the clock and that he did everything in the same methodical manner. I remarked to him once, “There are many people, round about your Chapel, who are living in the depths of sin. Do you ever get any of them into your place of worship?” “No,” he replied, “I do not want to get them in.” I asked, “Why?” “Well,” he answered, “they are mostly harlots and thieves. What could I do with such people?”

Then I saw that it was possible to be regular, precise and good up to a certain point, and yet to have no moisture. And as the moisture was not there, of course no thief or harlot would go to hear him—he was too dry for them. It is an awful thing to have a Pharisaic practice—perfect when looked at by the casual eye, yet without  the life and light of love—and, therefore, lacking moisture.

Beware, dear Friends, of a belief that never had any repentance connected with it, for that is another way in which the lack of moisture is manifested. There are some people who are willing to believe a great deal, but you never hear of them groaning  because of sin, or confessing it with a broken heart in true humility before God. To trust in repentance without faith would be ruinous to the soul—but to have a kind of faith without repentance, would also be ruinous. If faith never has tears in its eyes, it is a dead faith. He who has never wept because of his sin, has never really had his sin washed away. If your heart has never been broken on account of sin, I will not believe that it was ever broken from sin. And if your heart is not broken from your sin, you are still at a distance from your God and you will never see His face with acceptance.

Beware, also, of a confidence that is never associated with self-diffidence. Yes, my dear Sir, speak as boldly as you will, be as brave as you may for your Master, but, at the same time, be very lowly in spirit.  Let your own weakness be seen, as well as your Master’s strength. While you glory in Christ’s merits, confess your own sinfulness and admit that in yourself, you are nothing.  We can never have too much confidence in God, but, unless it is associated with deep self- distrust, it will lack moisture and it will never produce any real harvest unto God.

Beware, also, of action without spirituality.  We have many people of that kind. They are very active in serving God in one way and another. Would that all were—if it were in a right spirit! They are busy from morning to night, but there is no prayer and no dependence upon God mingled with their efforts—that will not do. That is all wasted activity. However busy we may be, we shall effect nothing  unless we receive from the Holy Spirit  all the power with which we work and are dependent upon Him for the success of every word  we say. Beware of having  so much to do that you really do nothing at all because you do not wait upon God for the power to do it right.

Then there is another dry thing, namely, zeal without communion with God. Zeal for extending the Kingdom of Christ, zeal for spreading the denomination, zeal for the advance of a particular  sect, zeal that is intolerant,  probably, but, all the while, no careful walking according to God’s Word, no observing what God would have us to be zealous about, no humbling of ourselves in the Presence of the great Lord of all, and no bathing of ourselves in the river of the Water of Life by fellowship with God.

Thus I might keep on showing you various ways in which people may have a great deal that is very good, yet it will all come to nothing  because they lack moisture. But the seed cannot assimilate the dry earth until it is mixed with water and held in solution, and spiritual life can only be fed by Truth held in solution by the Holy Spirit. When He softens and prepares us, then our roots and rootlets  take up the true nutriment  and we grow.

In the case of the seed upon the rocky ground,  there was, also, a deficiency of sensitive vitality. The seed grew for a time, and then became dry—and  are there not multitudes of people, in our Churches now, who are just like that? They are as dry as old hay, they have withered away. We cannot turn them out, but, oh, that we could turn life into them! Oh, that the Water of Life might flow all about them, so that they might live and bring forth fruit unto God!

I have said enough, if God shall bless it, to set many people searching their hearts to see whether  this sacred moisture is there.

III. Now, to close, we are to CONSIDER HOW THE EVIL IS TO BE AVOIDED.

Well, first, let us one and all cry to God to break up the rock. Rock, rock, rock, will you never break? We may scat- ter the Seed upon you, but nothing  will come of it till that rock is broken. The great steam-plow needs to be driven right through  men’s hearts till they are torn in sunder and the old rock of nature is ground to powder, made soft and turned into good soil. Dear Friend, do pray to God to make sure work of you. As far as you are concerned, the one thing you have to do is to believe in Christ Jesus, that you may be saved. But a part of the process of your salvation is the taking out of you the heart of stone and the giving to you of a heart of flesh. There is no true growing unless this takes place.

The next thing is, look well to spirituality. This moisture was a very subtle thing. Men might easily overlook that dampness in the atmosphere and in the soil which was all-essential. Who can tell you what unction is? Yet a sermon with- out unction is a poor, worthless thing. There is a certain secret something which distinguishes a true Christian from a worldling or a mere professor—see that you have it. Do not be content with the Creed, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, or anything  else that is visible, but say, “Lord,  give me the moisture that I need. Give me that secret something without which I shall be lacking the very thing which I most need.” You cannot see your soul. You cannot  fully tell what it is. Yet you know that it is a something that keeps your body alive and when that something is gone, the body becomes dead—so is all religion dead until it receives the life which comes from the moisture that so many lack.

That leads me further to say, look to the Holy Spirit. Be very tender towards the Holy Spirit. We preach Christ to you, as we are commanded to do, but we do not want you ever to forget the blessed Spirit, without whom nothing saving can ever be worked in you! You cannot make yourself to be born-again. Even the faith that saves is the work of the Spirit of God, if it is the faith of God’s elect. Be zealous and tender, therefore, and walk carefully in reference to the Spirit of God lest you grieve Him.

Then I would say, next, try to avoid all dry heat. Do not work yourself up into a frenzy and think that there is any- thing saving in it. The heat of excitement may be necessary, just as dust flies from the wheels of a chariot when it moves swiftly, but, as the dust does not help the chariot, but is a nuisance to those who are riding in it, so is it with excitement. It does not help the true movement and it is a nuisance to those who are living near to God.

Lastly,  be constantly looking for that Divine mystery of secret vitality  which is called in the text, “moisture.” I commend to you this prayer, “Lord,  give me this blessed moisture. Saturate  me through  and through  with the heavenly dew, the Divine rain, that I may grow and bring forth fruit to the Glory of Your holy name.” God bless you, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.

What is Man?

Paul WasherI recently had the opportunity to listen to two sermons by Paul Washer on the book of Ephesians.  As usual, they have challenged me to rethink how I think about God and who He is.  I’ve included a partial transcript I made of the second sermon.  I’ve included the audio files of both sermons and you can listen to them by clicking on the links provided at the bottom of this page.

From Ephesians 1, Part 2:

When does God get scandalous for man?  When does God become scandalous for man?  When we talk about His love? No.  When we talk about His mercy? No.  When do people get angry when we talk about God?  When we talk about His righteousness.  Now think about that.  When you say that God is righteous, men get angry.  Now why would men get angry at the idea of a righteous God?  Because man is not righteous.

What is the great scandal about the Law of God?  When I’m speaking, especially at universities, I hear people say all the time – “I don’t want to hear about the Law of God!”  “Why, I ask?”  “Because it suppresses me, it oppresses me and holds me down.”  I had a student actually stand up and say that one time.  I asked him, in front of the entire audience, please explain to me which law is oppressive?  Which one do you hate?  Is it ‘love your neighbor as yourself?’  Is it ‘you shall not lie or bare false witness?’  Is it ‘you shall not commit adultery and steal another mans wife or that you should not reduce another human being to an object to be used for your sexual pleasure?’  Exactly which law is it that oppresses you  and if God’s law does oppress you, then what does that say about you?

You see, the reason why men are hostile towards God is this, God is good, and men are not.  When we talk about this mass of humanity we are talking about a mass of people given over to corruption, hostile towards God and hostile towards His law.  But also we are talking about a humanity that loves evil and refuses reconciliation.  Now think about that, a humanity that not just loves evil, but a humanity that refuses reconciliation. 

Humanity cannot come to God.  Men cannot come to God on their own.  When I say that people respond, “Well, if men cannot come to God on their own, then God is wrong in judging them in the same way we would be wrong for judging a man who was blind for not being able to read a sign on the road.  What do you mean, man cannot come to God?”  I mean that because Jesus said that. But what is the explanation and why is such a man held guilty?  Man cannot come to God because man will not come to God and he will not come to God because he hates Him.  He hates Him because He is good.

Have you ever seen an old lady whose face is etched with bitterness and you say to her, “Ma’am, you must forgive your husband.”  She responds, “I cannot forgive him.”  Now, she speaks the same language as her husband and they live in the same house.  She is not saying she cannot, she is saying she will not and why will she not?  Because of her hostility towards her husband.

What about a political prisoner who is in chains?  The king comes down to the dungeon and says, “I will throw open the door, all you have to do is bow your knee to me and acknowledge my sovereignty.”  The prisoner leaps up, grabs the door, slams it closed and says “I would rather rot in prison than bow my knee to you.”

That is man.

Jesus said this in John 3:19-20:

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

Light came into the world.  I’m always hearing people say that if the believers would just live like Jesus then people would be converted.  No, you would have a lot of believers crucified.  Jesus came into the world and what did the world do?  They crucified him!  Why?  He gives us the reason: 

…that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

Jesus said in John 6:44:

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.

In John 6:65:

And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”

I want to read a paragraph that I have written here in my notes to make myself as clear as possible.

When the scriptures speak about election, it is not in the context of a mass of humanity victimized by the devil, that wants to be saved, but lacks the faculties to do so.  That is the way, a lot of times, men are presented; victims.  No that is not the context.  The context is this.  It is in the context of a mass of humanity that is morally corrupt, hostile towards God, that rejects every offer of redemption and that would rather spend an eternity given over to corruption and the misery’s of hell than to be subject to God in heaven.

One of the reasons why certain people have so much difficulty with election and they have so much difficulty with hell is because they think man is good, that there is something good in man that wants God.  There is a little spark, there is a little something, there’s got to be some goodness in there somewhere.  Therefore they say hell is immoral, how could God throw man in hell?  What you need to understand is that that is not true.  Hell is moral because man is immoral.  The only reason they may look a little moral in the context of present society is because the grace of God is restraining their evil.  But if God where to pull back, man would become monsters of iniquity.  So every time you see some vile crime that comes out on the local news, or some atrocity committed by some government that is beyond the mind to comprehend, realize that that is you apart from the grace of God.

Ephesians 1, Part 1

Ephesians 1, Part 2