28 August 2016

“Gloried in, or else despised"

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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 59, sermon number 3,350, "Stewards."
"The apostle was anxious to be rightly accounted of, and well he might be; for ministers are not often estimated rightly: as a rule, they are either gloried in, or else despised."

At the commencement of our ministry, when our stores are fresh, and our energies are full; when we blaze and flash, and spend much time in the firework factory, people are apt to think us wonderful beings; and then the apostle’s word is needed: “Therefore let no man glory in men” (1 Cor. iii. 21).

It is not true, as flatterers insinuate, that in our case the gods have come down in the likeness of men; and we shall be idiots if we think so. In due time foolish expectations will be cured by disappointment, and then we shall hear unwelcome truth, mingled with unrighteous censure.

The idol of yesterday is the butt of to-day. Nine days, nine weeks, nine months, or nine years; be it more or less, time works disenchantment, and changes our position in the world’s account. The primrose-day is over, and the nettle months are come. After the time of the singing of birds has passed away, we come nearer to the season of fruit; but the children are not half so pleased with us as when they wandered in our luxuriant meadows, and strung our daisies and buttercups into crowns and garlands.

In our more autumnal years the people miss our flowers and greenery. Perhaps we are becoming sensible that it is so. The old man is solid and slow; whereas, the young man rode upon the wings of the wind. It is clear that some think too much of us, and some think too little of us; it would be far better if they accounted of us soberly “as the ministers of Christ.”

It would be for the advantage of the church, for our own benefit, and for the glory of God, if we were put in our right places and kept there, being neither over-rated, nor unduly censured, but viewed in our relation to our Lord, rather than in our own personalities. “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ.”

We are ministers. The word has a very respectable sound. To be a minister is the aspiration of many a youth. Perhaps if the word were otherwise rendered, their ambition might cool. Ministers are servants; they are not guests, but waiters; not landlords, but labourers.

The word has been rendered “under-rowers,” men who tug the oar on the lowest bench. It was hard work to row a galley: those rapid strokes consumed the life-forces of the slaves. There were three banks of oars: those on the upper bank of oars had the advantage of fresh air; those who were beneath were more closely shut in; but I suppose that the lowest bank of rowers would be faint with heat, as well as worn out with sore travail.

Brethren, let us be content to wear out our lives even in the worst position, if by our labour we can speed the passage of our great Caesar, and give speed to the trireme of the church in which he has embarked. We are willing to be chained to the oar, and to work on through life to make his barque cleave the waves. We are not captains, nor owners of the galley, but only the oarsmen of Christ.

21 August 2016

The government of God

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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Treasury of David, Psalm 99, verse 4, Hendrickson Publishers.
"God is the king, the mercy-seat is his throne, and the sceptre which he sways is holy like himself. His power never exerts itself tyrannically; he is a sovereign, and he is absolute in his government, but his might delights in right, his force is used for just purposes only." 

Men in these days are continually arranging the Lord's government, and setting up to judge whether he does right or not; but saintly men in the olden time were of another mind, they were sure that what the Lord did was just, and instead of calling him to account they humbly submitted themselves to his will, rejoicing in the firm persuasion that with his whole omnipotence God was pledged to promote righteousness, and work justice among all his creatures. 

"Thou dost establish equity." Not a court of equity merely, but equity itself thou dost set up, and that not for a time or upon an occasion, but as an established institution, stable as thy throne. Not even for the sake of mercy does the Lord remove or injure the equity of his moral government: both in providence and in grace he is careful to conserve the immaculate purity of his justice. 

Most kingdoms have an establishment of some kind, and generally it is inequitable; here we have an establishment which is equity itself. The Lord our God demolishes every system of injustice, and right alone is made to stand. "Thou executest judgment and righteousness in Jacob." 

Justice is not merely established, but executed in God's kingdom; the laws are carried out, the executive is as righteous as the legislative. Herein let all the oppressed, yea, and all who love that which is right, find large occasion for praise. Other nations under their despots were the victims and the perpetrators of grievous wrong, but when the tribes were faithful to the Lord they enjoyed an upright government within their own borders, and acted with integrity towards their neighbours. 

That kingcraft which delights in cunning, favouritism, and brute force is as opposite to the divine kingship as darkness to light. The palace of Jehovah is no robber's fortress nor despot's castle, built on dungeons, with stones carved by slaves, and cemented with the blood of toiling serfs. The annals of most human governments have been written in the tears of the downtrodden, and the curses of the oppressed: the chronicles of the Lord's kingdom are of another sort, truth shines in each line, goodness in every syllable, and justice in every letter. 

Glory be to the name of the King, whose gentle glory beams from between the cherubic wings.

14 August 2016

Possessing our possessions

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 35, sermon number 2,086, "Taking possession of our inheritance."
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"Brethren, here is an inheritance so broad, and wide, and lasting; why do you not hasten to take it? There is holiness, do you not want it? There is serenity, do you not desire it? There is joy unspeakable and full of glory, do you not wish for it? There is usefulness, do you not hunger for it?" 

This is the reason why some are so indifferent: they are ignorant: they do not even know that these choice blessings are to be had. But all that any child of God was, you may be; all the joy and bliss and holiness ever enjoyed on earth, you may enjoy. The land is before you; go in to possess it.

Do not be without the knowledge of Christ Jesus your Lord, for in him is “joy unspeakable, and full of glory.” Some of our dear friends hear a doctrine which is gospel and water; and they really do not know what the undiluted gospel is. The doctrines of grace are the cream which many cautious preachers skim from the milk of the Word lest it should prove too rich for the stomachs of their hearers.

A solid portion of Calvinistic doctrine is like a joint of nourishing meat, and the people of this generation are such babes that they cannot digest it. “It is too rich for me!” cries one. I know it, I know it. But I pray the Lord to make you grow into men, who can enjoy the fat things full of marrow and the wines on the lees well refined.

There are glorious truths of which beginners know nothing, and through not knowing of them they miss much joy. Full many a child of God goes fretting and worrying when he ought to be singing and rejoicing, and would be so if he knew what God has provided for him.

Many do not possess the land because of unbelief.  “Alas! it seems too good to be true.”

“I’m a poor sinner and nothing at all.” 

Yes, that is quite true; but are you going to sing that one line for ever? Is that your style of singing?—one line for ever? If our leader, just now, when we sang the hymn, had kept on with—“Behold, what wondrous grace!” “Behold, what wondrous grace!” it would have been very sweet: but I should have pulled his coat-tail and said, “Go on with the whole verse.” So, in this case, you say—

“I’m a poor sinner and nothing at all.” 

Why not go on to sing—

“But Jesus Christ is my all in all”?

You are empty, but Jesus fills you. You are in prison, but Jesus sets you at liberty. Why not rejoice in that liberty? The Lord deliver us from unbelief, for it is enough to shut any man out of the inheritance. Many are indolent, Oh, the laziness of some of God’s people! I will not enlarge upon this matter, probably you know something about it yourselves.

Lastly, the indecision of a great many is another cause why they do not possess the land. There is a hesitancy to go up and seize it. They mean to be better Christians before they die. I wonder how many Christians here would like to finish their lives to-day! Would your life, if now ended, be a life worth living?

Suppose it were now threatened to be cut short, would you not pray with anguish, “Lord, let me live a little longer, that I may distribute more of my money to thy cause, may bear better testimony to thy truth and may set my house in order”? Set your house in order at once, my brother. Give away a full portion of your substance immediately. Begin to work for Jesus at once.

Why should you hesitate? You blame the sinner when he delays; surely the saint is to be blamed, too, when he also lingers.

07 August 2016


Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 33, sermon number 1,971, "The blood shed for many."

"Our Saviour meant us to maintain the doctrine of his death, and the shedding of his blood for the remission of sins, even to the end of time, for he made it to be of perpetual remembrance."

We drink this cup “until he come.” If the Lord Jesus had foreseen with approbation the changes in religious thought which would be brought about by growing “culture,” he would surely have arranged a change of symbols to suit the change of doctrines.

Would he not have warned us that, towards the end of the nineteenth century, men would become so “enlightened” that the faith of Christendom must of necessity take a new departure, and therefore he had appointed a change of sacramental memorials? But he has not warned us of the coming of those eminently great and wise men who have changed all things, and abolished the old-fashioned truths for which martyrs died.

Brethren, I do not believe in the wisdom of these men and their changes I abhor; but had there been any ground for such changes, the Lord’s Supper would not have been made of perpetual obligation. The perpetuity of ordinances indicates a perpetuity of doctrine. But hear the moderns talk—“The Apostles, the Fathers, the Puritans, they were excellent men, no doubt, but then, you see, they lived before the uprise of those wonderful scientific men who have enlightened us so much.”

Let me repeat what I have said. If we had come to a new point as to believing, should we not have come to a new point as to the ordinances in which those beliefs are embodied? I think so. The evident intent of Christ in giving us settled ordinances, and especially in settling this one which so clearly commemorates his bloodshedding, was that we might know that the truth of his sacrifice is for ever fixed and settled, and must unchangeably remain the essence of his gospel.

Neither nineteen centuries, nor nineteen thousand centuries, can make the slightest difference in this truth, nor in the relative proportion of this truth to other truths, so long as this dispensation lasts. Until he comes a second time without a sin-offering unto salvation, the grand work of his first coming must be kept first and foremost in all our teaching, trusting and testifying.

As in the southern hemisphere the cross is the mariner’s guide, so, under all skies, is the death of our Redeemer the polestar of our hope upon the sea of life. In life and in death we will glory in the cross of Christ and never be ashamed of it, be we where we may.

04 August 2016

"Let your light so shine before men..."

by Phil Johnson

From 2006 to 2012, PyroManiacs turned out almost-daily updates from the Post-Evangelical wasteland -- usually to the fear and loathing of more-polite and more-irenic bloggers and readers. The results lurk in the archives of this blog in spite of the hope of many that Google will "accidentally" swallow these words and pictures whole.

This feature enters the murky depths of the archives to fish out the classic hits from the golden age of internet drubbings.

The following excerpt was written by Phil back in May 2008. It was the first of a 3-part series in which Phil offered his thought on Matthew 5:16.

As usual, the comments are closed.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)

That's a familiar verse that practically interprets itself, with a command ("Let your light so shine before men"); an explanation of what the command entails ("[Let your light shine so] that [people can] see your good works"); and a reason for the command ("[So that people will] glorify your Father . . . in heaven.")

Despite the simplicity of that verse, there's a lot of misunderstanding nowadays about what it means and what it demands of us. The passage and its context are often cited by those who seem to think it's a call for Christians to harness the political process. It seems like every time I hear anyone talk about "salt and light" nowadays, it's someone trying to rally Christians for political activism or persuade evangelical church members to sign onto some boycott, petition, or letter-writing campaign—as if lighting and salting the culture were nothing other than consolidating the evangelical movement behind a political agenda and then making our voices heard in the political process.

But if you look at this passage carefully in its context, it is not talking about political activism at all. It's not talking about using our clout as a voting bloc, or organizing mass boycotts and protests, or electing Christians to public office. It's talking about holy living at the individual level.

Please understand: I have no objection to Christians who run for political office. I have no doubt that God calls some of His people to serve in government, just as He calls some to serve in business, some to teach in universities, and others to work in every segment of society. All society is salted with Christians, and each one ought to have a beneficial effect in his circle of influence, no matter how big or how small that circle of influence may be. Collectively, we all benefit and preserve and season society as a whole. That truth is certainly what this text is about.

But our influence as Christians is most effective at the personal, grassroots level. There's no suggestion in our text that the church's mission is to commandeer the machinery of secular politics in order to wield our influence through political force or clout. If you have the idea that's the best way (or the main way) the church is supposed to influence society, I think you're missing the point of the text.

I hope you vote. I hope you're a good citizen in every way. And I hope you use your vote conscientiously and with discernment. But if your hope for the future of our society rests in the democratic process, or if you think the fortunes of the church rise or fall according to which party is in power, you need to look again at how the people of God have historically made their influence felt in society. You'll discover that those times when the church has grown the most and when revival has spread furthest are times when believers have been most concerned about personal holiness and evangelism.

Political clout is not what we need to influence a hostile secular society like the one in which we live today. All the power and all the politics and all the public policies in the world will never force unbelievers to yield their hearts to Christ as Lord.