John Calvin: On hypocrisy

20 12 2011

“Men are indeed led by a divine instinct to condemn evil deeds; but this is only an obscure and faint resemblance of the divine judgment.  They are then extremely besotted, who think that they can escape the judgment of God, though they allow not others to escape their own judgment.”

-Calvin, Commentary on Romans 2.3





J.C. Ryle: “Suppose an unholy man went to Heaven…”

19 12 2011

Suppose for a moment that you were allowed to enter heaven without holiness. What would you do? What possible enjoyment could you feel there? To which of all the saints would you join yourself and by whose side would you sit? Their pleasures are not your pleasures, their tastes are not your tastes, their character not your character. How could you possibly be happy, if you had not been holy on earth?

Now perhaps you love the company of the light and careless, the worldly-minded and the covetous, the reveler and the pleasure-seeker, the ungodly and the profane. There will be none such in heaven.

Now perhaps you think the saints of God too strict and particular and serious. You rather avoid them. You have no delight in their society. There will be no other company in heaven.

Now perhaps you think praying and Scripture reading, and hymn singing, dull and melancholy and stupid work, a thing to be tolerated now and then, but not enjoyed. You reckon the Sabbath a burden and a weariness; you could not possibly spend more than a small part of it in worshipping God. But remember, heaven is a never-ending Sabbath. The inhabitants thereof rest not day and night, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,” and singing the praise of the Lamb. How could an unholy man find pleasure in occupation such as this?

Think you that such an one would delight to meet David and Paul and John, after a life spent in doing the very things they spoke against? Would he take sweet counsel with them and find that he and they had much in common? Think you, above all, that he would rejoice to meet Jesus, the crucified One, face to face, after cleaving to the sins for which He died, after loving His enemies and despising His friends? Would he stand before Him with confidence and join in the cry, “This is our God… we have waited for Him, we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Isaiah 25:9)? Think you not rather that the tongue of an unholy man would cleave to the roof of his mouth with shame, and his only desire would be to be cast out? He would feel a stranger in a land he knew not, a black sheep amid Christ’s holy flock. The voice of cherubim and seraphim, the song of angels and archangels, and all the company of heaven, would be a language he could not understand. The very air would seem an air he could not breathe.

I know not what others may think, but to me it does seem clear that heaven would be a miserable place to an unholy man. It cannot be otherwise. People may say, in a vague way, they “hope to go to heaven”, but they do not consider what they say…

read it all here





Horatius Bonar: Three Reasons to Fear Not From the Risen Jesus

19 12 2011

access his commentary here

I am the LIVING One.

Thus should the passage be read—’I am the first, and the last, and the living

One.’ Throughout Scripture the name of the Messiah is associated with life. He is—Jehovah—the I Am—the Being of beings—the Possessor of all life—the giver of all life—the living and the life-giving One. His association with death is only transient—and that for the purpose of overcoming death, and bringing life out of death. He is the PRINCE of life—He is the LIGHT of life—He is the BREAD of Life—He is the WATER of life. Everything connected with LIFE is linked with Him; for as the Father has life in Himself, so has He given to the Son to have life in Himself.

The words, “I am living One,’ would remind John of the many things which he himself had narrated, and of the many words he had recorded concerning Christ as the Life; for he, of all the evangelists, has brought this great truth before us. It was as the Living One that He said, ‘the Son quickens whom he will’ (John 5:21). ‘He who believes in me has everlasting life. This is the bread that came down from heaven, that if a man eats of it, he shall not die. If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever. Whoever eats my flesh, and drinks my blood, has eternal life’ (John 6:50-54).

Ah! Truly it was the living One who spoke such words as these; and it is as the living One that He utters them still. We fall at His feet, like John, as one dead! He lays His right hand upon us, and says to us, “fear not; I am the living One;’ it is not death, but life, that I have come to bring; and in beholding the glory of the living One, it is life, not death, that you should look for!

I WAS DEAD.

Or, more literally, ‘I became dead,’ I laid down my life. His word of cheer to John, then, is; ‘Fear not; I am He who died.’ The words here remind us of those of Paul—’Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is Christ who died.’ Yes; it was with the Christ who died, that Paul had to do; and it was with the Christ who died that John also had to do, though, in the blaze of the glory that now dazzled him, he seems to have lost sight of this. To this, however, the Lord recalls him, in order to reassure him. He takes him back to the cross, and reminds him of what he saw and heard there. He sends him to the tomb, that he may again look upon the dead body of his Master.

And thus reminding him of the cross and tomb, He reproves his present terror, and makes him feel how unlikely, how impossible it was that any amount of ‘glory, and honor, and power, and majesty,’ such as that with which he was now surrounded, could alter the relationship between them, or make Him less the Christ whom he knew so well on earth; less the SAVIOR whom, as a sinner, he needed then, and needed still—less the LAMB of God that takes away the sin of the world—or make himself less the disciple whom Jesus loved—less the trusted one, to whom his Lord had confided that most precious of earthly deposits, His mother, when dying on the cross. It is as if He had said, ‘Fear not; I am the SAME Jesus whom you saw die upon the cross, whom you saw lying in Joseph’s tomb. Yes, fear not! I was dead.’

I AM ALIVE FOR EVERMORE.

‘Though I died once, yet I die no more—death has me no more—death has no more dominion over me—I LIVE forever!’ To have died, and yet to have triumphed over death—no, to have triumphed over it by dying, so that never again could death approach Him—this was the truth by which the risen Christ comforted His affrighted apostle. In DEATH He showed Himself the Lord of life! In LIFE He showed Himself the Lord of death! In dying, and living again, He showed Himself all that a sinner needs to give him boldness in his dealings with Him. This ever-living One, with whom death has now no more to do; this ever-living One, between whom and everything pertaining to death, a great gulf is fixed—He it is with whom we have to deal, in the great transactions of life and death.

He is made our Melchizedek—Priest and King—’after the power of an endless life;’ and the life which he possesses forever is something more than what He possessed before His death, or could possess simply as God—it is “resurrection life”, which only He who died could have, and with which He was filled for us in consequence of having died. That which we need, both for body and soul, is RISEN life, resurrection-life, the life of Him who has risen! And it is this that He so specially announces here when He says, ‘I am alive for evermore!’

Here John abruptly interposes his hearty and joyful “Amen!” as if this announcement were the one which he most rejoiced in, and which at once woke up an echo in his bosom. He hears the words, ‘I am alive for evermore;’ and appreciating something of the might import of these words, and looking forward into that long eternity, during which he was to be partaker of all the life which this risen One possessed, he exclaims, with eager gladness, ‘Amen!’

A sentiment like that which we always find used in the Old Testament in reference to kings—’Let the king live forever. Amen.’ It was in the eternity of this risen life of Christ that John rejoiced—in that same eternal life of the risen One let us rejoice, adding our Amen to that of the apostle, and saying, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives!’ Oh blessedness unspeakable! Oh consolation beyond all others! To be told that, in a dying world like ours, there is a living One like this—One all made up of life—One whom death can never touch—of whom no one can ever bring to you the tidings, “He is no more!”

No amount of death in us can affect Him, or prevent us receiving His endless life. Our death is swallowed up in this boundless life; so that, where ‘death’ has abounded, their ‘life’ abounds much more. This is the tree of life, whose leaves are health, whose fruit is immortality. Let us gather round and under this great ‘Plant of Renown’; from it to draw present life to our souls, and the assurance of resurrection to ourselves, and to all who have slept in Jesus!





To Hell with it… (or) why Americans are losing their belief in Hell

19 12 2011

Reasoning from their own experience and emotions, rather than from the Bible, many who call themselves evangelicals are just deciding that a “good” God would not send persons to hell — at least not anyone they know.

Undoubtedly, much of this can be traced to currents in the larger culture, where non-judgmentalism, a therapeutic view of life, and a thoroughly modern view of fairness lead many to reject hell as a place of everlasting torment and punishment for those who never come to faith in Christ.

As Professor Segal observed, “They believe everyone has an equal chance, at this life and the next.”  Thus, “hell is disappearing, absolutely.”

That this is true within the culture at large is not surprising.  But when those who claim identity as evangelical Christians begin to modify the doctrine, this should set off alarms.

No doctrine stands alone.  There is no way to modify belief in hell without modifying the Gospel itself, for hell is an essential part of the framework of the Gospel and of the preaching of Jesus.  Hell cannot be remodeled without reconstructing the Gospel message.

Here is a sobering thought:  Hell may disappear from the modern mind, but it will not disappear in reality.  God is not impressed by our surveys.

read the whole thing here





R.C. Sproul on Hell

19 12 2011

There is no biblical concept more grim or terror-invoking than the idea of hell. It is so unpopular with us that few would give credence to it at all except that it comes to us from the teaching of Christ Himself.

Almost all the biblical teaching about hell comes from the lips of Jesus. It is this doctrine, perhaps more than any other, that strains even the Christian’s loyalty to the teaching of Christ. Modern Christians have pushed the limits of minimizing hell in an effort to sidestep or soften Jesus’ own teaching. The Bible describes hell as a place of outer darkness, a lake of fire, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, a place of eternal separation from the blessings of God, a prison, a place of torment where the worm doesn’t turn or die. These graphic images of eternal punishment provoke the question, should we take these descriptions literally or are they merely symbols?

I suspect they are symbols, but I find no relief in that. We must not think of them as being merely symbols. It is probable that the sinner in hell would prefer a literal lake of fire as his eternal abode to the reality of hell represented in the lake of fire image. If these images are indeed symbols, then we must conclude that the reality is worse than the symbol suggests. The function of symbols is to point beyond themselves to a higher or more intense state of actuality than the symbol itself can contain. That Jesus used the most awful symbols imaginable to describe hell is no comfort to those who see them simply as symbols.

read it all here





John Donne: Death, thou shalt die!

19 12 2011

John Donne was an English poet writting in the 1500′s. It is hard to find a more sexually immoral man in the history of English literature (quite an accomplishment!) However, he did experience a heart conversion through the Gospel, after which he became an ordained minister. His sermons can be quite difficult, but nevertheless intensely powerful. He was well aware of the immensity of his own sin, but through the grace of the Gospel he was also keenly aware of the infinite mercy of Christ the savior. Below is a poem he wrote on Christ’s victory over death (1 Cor 15.55; Rev 21.4). Enjoy the poem. I draw special attention to the last line, which is the defiant cry of the Christian at the hour of their own death. By this he shows that man’s greatest fear has no power over him

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

John Donne, Divine Sonnet X





Spurgeon: Will your life stand the test of eternity?

19 12 2011

A fine little sermon by the famous English Baptist, Charles Spurgeon

NO ONE HERE requires to be told that this is the name of Jesus Christ, which “shall endure for ever.” Men have said of many of their works, “they shall endure for ever;” but how much have they been disappointed! In the age succeeding the flood, they made the brick, they gathered the slime, and when they had piled old Babel’s tower, they said, “This shall last for ever.” But God confounded their language; they finished it not. By his lightnings he destroyed it, and left it a monument of their folly. Old Pharoah and the Egyptian monarchs heaped up their pyramids, and they said, “They shall stand for ever,” and so indeed they do stand; but the time is approaching when age shall devour even these. So with all the proudest works of man, whether they have been his temples or his monarchies, he has written “everlasting” on them; but God has ordained their end, and they have passed away. The most stable things have been evanescent as shadows, and the bubbles, of an hour, speedily destroyed at God’s bidding. Where is Nineveh, and where is Babylon? Where the cities of Persia? Where are the high places of Edom? Where are Moab, and the princes of Ammon? Where are the temples or the heroes of Greece? Where the millions that passed from the gates of Thebes? Where are the hosts of Xerxes, or where the vast armies of the Roman emperors? Have they not passed away? And though in their pride they said, “This monarchy is an everlasting one; this queen of the seven hills shall be called the eternal city,” its pride is dimmed; and she who sat alone, and said, “I shall be no widow, but a queen for ever,” she hath fallen, hath fallen, and in a little while she shall sink like a millstone in the flood, her name being a curse and a byword, and her site the habitation of dragons and owls. Man calls his works eternal—God calls them fleeting; man conceives that they are built of rock—God says, “Nay, sand, or worse than that—they are air.” Man says he erects them for eternity—God blows but for a moment, and where are they? Like baseless fabrics of a vision, they are passed and gone for ever. Read the rest of this entry »