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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Christlike Living in a Sinful World # 3

It makes no difference what a man believes, or what doctrines he holds

"It makes no difference what a man believes, or what doctrines he holds — it is only his conduct that counts." 

That is the way some people talk, as they sneer at Bible doctrines. But it does matter what one believes. Wrong believing leads to wrong living. The heathen worships a god conceived of as lustful, cruel, and unholy. The Christian worships a God, who is revealed as holy, righteous, pure, and good, and becomes holy, righteous, pure, and good.

Beliefs shape our lives. 
It is important, therefore, that we know the truths about the character and will of Christ, as our conception of Christ will imprint itself upon our life.

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" Colossians 3:16

"He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." Titus 1:9

"You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine." Titus 2:1
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The shadow!

"Shall we indeed accept good from God — and shall we not accept adversity?" Job 2:10

Shall we trust our Father only when our lives are filled with pleasant things — and then not trust Him also when a shadow falls over our hearts? Do you think that God is good — only when He makes all things please you?

Our call is to trust God at all times — whether good or bad. For even if sorrow should enter our home, He is able, even in the midst of sorrow, to make our home-life sweeter, purer, and more Christ-like. If we trust in God, then the shadow will be as rich a blessing to us as the light; and the sorrow will be steps upward, on which our feet may climb Heavenward!

"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight!" Proverbs 3:5-6 
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How to pray in our own Gethsemanes

"And being in agony — He prayed more earnestly!" Luke 22:44

This is the record of our Savior's Gethsemane experience. Like a bright lamp, this Scripture shines amid the olive trees of that garden — to show us the path to comfort in our time of sorrow. Never before nor since, has there been such grief as the Redeemer's that night — -but He found comfort in His prayer. His agony lessened as He prayed, until at last its bitterness was all gone — and sweet, blessed peace took its place.

The 'gate of prayer' is one of comfort. There is no other place for true comfort and help. We learn from our Lord's Gethsemane agony — how to pray in our own Gethsemanes.

God never blames us for asking to have the bitter cup removed, nor for the intensity of our prayers; but we must always pray with submission to His will. When we sincerely pray, "Not my will, but may Your will be done" — comfort comes, and then peace.
    ~  ~  ~  ~  ~
The Lord will provide!

"You have not passed this way before!" Joshua 3:4

"Abraham named the place Jehovah-Jireh (which means 'the LORD will provide')" Genesis 22:14

As you begin meditating on this verse, write deep in your heart this word with the strongest confidence: Jehovah-Jireh. This name tells you . . .
  that you can trust God always;
  that no promise of His ever fails;
  that He does all things well;
  that out of all seeming loss and destruction of human hopes, He brings blessing.

You have not passed this way before. There will be both sorrows and joys, both failures and successes. You cannot predict your future experiences. You cannot see the next step before your feet. Yet Jehovah-Jireh calls you to trust Him calmly. He bids you put away all anxieties and foreboding, because the Lord will provide!
~  ~  ~  ~  ~
Not what we HAVE or what we KNOW, but what we ARE!

We must strive to realize every longing for holiness and Christlikeness, which our hearts seek. Remember that it is character alone, which is the test of true living.
It is not knowledge; for knowledge will fail.
It is not money; for money cannot be taken into the eternal world.
It is not fame; for fame's laurels fade at the grave's edge.
It is not culture, or education, or refinement either.
It is our character alone — not what we HAVE or what we KNOW, but what we ARE — which we can carry with us into the eternal world.

"He who is unjust — let him be unjust still;
 he who is filthy — let him be filthy still;
 he who is righteous — let him be righteous still;
 he who is holy — let him be holy still."
    Revelation 22:11
~  ~  ~  ~  ~
Seeing through love's eyes

"Love . . . 
 no evil,
  bears all things,
  believes all things,
  hopes all things,
  endures all things."
1 Corinthians 13:5-7

Love does not suspect unkindness, in kind deeds.
Love does not imagine an enemy, in every friend.
Love does not fear insincerity, in sincere expressions of love.
Love does not question one's motives, nor discount their acts.

But love overlooks mistakes and hides human faults. It believes tries to think of others always at their best, not at their worst. It considers the best possibilities in people, what they may become through divine love and grace — and not merely what they now are. It is wonderful how seeing through love's eyes changes the whole view of earthly life, transforming it. If the heart is filled with suspicion, distrust, and doubts — the world grows very ugly. But love sees brightness, beauty, and hope everywhere!
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The shadow of God's wings

"How priceless is Your unfailing love! Both high and low among men find refuge in the shadow of Your wings!" Psalm 36:7

Is there a grief in your heart, which grows into a nagging pain? Is there a hint of a coming sorrow that you see looming over you? Remember that it is the shadow of God's wings — and so it is safe to receive. Crawl closer under them.

Earth has nothing so gentle as true mother-love; but God's wings that fold down over you, are gentler than even mother-love; and you can never get out from beneath them. They hold you close to the gentle heart of the divine Father. You need never be afraid while resting there. In all the universe, there is no harm that can come near you. From your eternal refuge, you can look out with confidence on the fury of earth's storms and be at peace. The wildest of them cannot touch you in your refuge!

"Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in You my soul takes refuge. I will take refuge in the shadow of Your wings until the disaster has passed." Psalm 57:1

"Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me under the shadow of Your wings" Psalm 17:8
~  ~  ~  ~  ~
If all people were angelic

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you — so you must love one another." John 13:34

"As I have loved you"
 means love which is sweet, fragrant, and gentle — to people who are rude and mean-spirited, selfish, and full of faults, with sharp corners and only partially sanctified lives.

If all people were angelic, and you were too — it would not be hard to love everyone; but as other people are not yet angelic, you will still have need of patience, even if you are angelic yourself, which is quite doubtful.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs." 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
~  ~  ~  ~  ~
The worst-tempered people
"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23
The worst-tempered people may be made gentle and loving in all their words, acts, and dispositions — by the renewing and transforming power of divine grace. God can take the jangled keys and put them in tune — if we will only put them into His hand.

But we must strive ourselves to be sweet-tempered. We must watch the rising anger — and quickly choke it back. We must keep down our ugly disposition. We must learn to control ourselves, our tempers, our feelings, our passions, and our tongues. We must seek to develop the gentle virtues — and crowd out the thorns!This discipline is not easy, but the lessons can be mastered.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

~J. R. Miller~

(continued with # 4)

Christlike Living in a Sinful World # 2

Work for Christ

Many people think that work for Christ must be something great or public. They imagine that to minister to Christ they must . . .
  teach a Sunday School class,
  or join a missionary society,
  or go out to visit sick people,
  or go into hospitals or prisons on missions of mercy.
These are all beautiful and important ministries, and Christ wants some of you to do these things as well. But the very first place you are to serve Him, is in your own home! Let the blessed light of your life first be shed throughout that most sacred of all spots. Brightening that little place, you will be all the more ready to be a blessing outside. Those who are the best Christians at home — are also the best elsewhere.
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Much of our best praying

"Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the voice of my supplications!" Psalm 28:6

Every thought that flies through your brain, is heard in Heaven. God hears . . .
  your wishes,
  the longings of your heart,
  your aspirations, and
  hunger of your soul.

Do not grieve, then, if you cannot find words to tell God what you need, if you cannot put the hopes and hungers of your heart, into well-defined thoughts. When words and even thoughts fail, pray in silent yearnings, in unutterable longings — and God will understand just as well as if you spoke in ordinary language. Much of our best praying is done when we sit at God's feet and do not speak at all — but only let our hearts talk to God.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life!" Psalm 139:23-24
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Make the minutes beautiful

Scrupulous people are often laughed at.
"Why be so particular?
 Why be so conscientious about mere trifles?
 Why be so exacting and punctual in doing small duties?"

The answer is that in the matter of right and wrong — nothing is little; certainly nothing is insignificant. Duty is duty, whether it be the smallest, or the greatest task. You are on the highway to nobility of character, if you learn to be scrupulous concerning the smallest things. He who is careful in little things, rises a step higher every day. He who is faithful in little things, is then entrusted with larger responsibilities.

It is the small segments in life which are most important.
Look after the little things, and the greater aggregates will be right.
Make the minutes beautiful — and the hours and days will be radiant.

"Well done, good servant, because you have been faithful in a very little thing" Luke 19:17

"Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" Matthew 25:23

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Earth's saddest failure

"A bruised reed he will not break" Matthew 12:20

Christ is building His kingdom with earth's broken people. Men want only the strong, the successful, the victorious, the whole — in building their kingdoms. But God is the God of the unsuccessful, of those who have failed. Heaven is filled with earth's broken lives, and there is no bruised reed whom Christ cannot take and restore to glorious blessedness and beauty. He can take a life crushed by pain and sorrow — and make it into a harp whose music shall be all praise. He can liftearth's saddest failure up to Heaven's glory!

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 

~J. R. Miller~

(continued with # 3)

Christlike Living in a Sinful World

Reputation is what a man's neighbors and friends think of him.
Character is what the man IS.

Character is personal. It is not a possession we can share with someone else. We can give a hungry person part of our loaf of bread; we can divide our money with one who needs it; but character is something we cannot give away or transmit. The brave soldier cannot share his courage with the trembling recruit who fights by his side in the battle. The pure, gentle woman cannot give part of her purity and gentleness, to the defiled and hardened woman she meets.

Character is our own — a part of our very being. It grows in us over the years. Acts repeated become habits, and character is made up in the long run, of those habits which have been repeated so often, that they become a permanent part of our lives.

Sow a thought — and you will reap an act;
sow an act — and you will reap a habit;
sow a habit — and you will reap a character;
sow character — and you will reap a destiny!

As the tree falls — so must it lie;
As the man lives — so must he die!
As a man dies — such must he be;
All through the ages of eternity!
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Practical Kindness

"Love must be sincere." Romans 12:9

Kindness must be practical — not merely emotional and sentimental. It will not be satisfied merely . . .
  with good wishes,
  with sympathetic words,
  or even with prayers.
It should be put into some form that will do practical good.

There are times when even prayer is a mockery. At times it is our duty to answer our own prayers, to be the messengers we ask God to send to help others. We are God's messengers, when we find ourselves in the presence of human needs and sorrows, which we can supply or comfort. Expressions of pity or sympathy are mockeries — when we do nothing to relieve the distress.

"Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart." 1 Peter 1:22
~  ~  ~  ~  ~
God's clock!

"What I am doing you do not understand now — but afterward you will understand." John 13:7

In divine providence, nothing comes a moment too soon or too late — but everything comes in its own complete time. God's clock is never too slow. Every link of the chain of God's providence, fits into its own place.

We do not see God's hand at the time. Not until afterward, will you see that your disappointments, hardships, trials, and the wrongs inflicted on you by others — are parts of God's good providence toward you, and full of blessing. Not until afterward will you see it, but the "afterward" is secure to faithful followers of Christ. The "afterward" of every disappointment or sorrow — is blessing and good. We only need to learn to wait in patience for Him.

"And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Romans 8:28
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We must test all our pleasures and amusements by this rule:

"Lovers of pleasure — rather than lovers of God; having a form of godliness — but denying its power." 2 Timothy 3:4-5

Is the love of pleasure and amusement growing on you — gaining the power and authority over you?
Is it dulling the keenness of your zest for spiritual pleasures?
Is it making Bible study, prayer, communion with Christ, and meditation upon holy themes — less sweet enjoyments than they once were?
Is it making your hunger for righteousness, and for God — less intense?
Is it interfering with the comfort and blessing which you used to find in church services, or in Christ's work?

If so, there is only one thing to do — hurry . . .
  to return to God,
  to abandon the pleasure or amusement which is imperiling your soul, and
  to find in Christ, the joy which the world cannot give, and which never harms any aspect of life. 

We must test all our pleasures and amusements by this rule:
 Are they helping us to grow into Christ-likeness and spiritual beauty?

"All things are lawful — but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful — but not all things edify." 1 Corinthians 10:23
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Divine discontent!

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled!" Matthew 5:6

The ideal Christian life is one . . .
  of unquenchable thirst,
  of bottomless yearning,
  of divine discontent —
wooed ever on by visions of holier living, higher joy, and new attainments.

The trouble with too many of us, is that we are too satisfied with ourselves as we are. We have attained a small measure of peace, of holiness, of faith, of joy, of knowledge of Christ — and we are not hungering for the larger possible rewards. Pray for discontent with your spiritual state! With all the infinite possibilities of spiritual life before you, do not sit down on a little patch of dusty ground at the foot of the mountain, in restful contentment. Do not be content until you reach the mountain's summit!

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 3:12

~J. R. Miller~ 

(continued with # 2)

The Holy Spirit

Question: Does the Holy Spirit live in and remain with the believer, or does He come and go?

I know of no place in the Bible where it is recorded that He comes and goes from the believer. It is true that the Spirit of the Lord departed from King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14), but we have no reason to believe that Saul was a true believer, a regenerate man. The Holy Spirit dwells in the believer, according to the teaching of Jesus Christ (John 14:17). The believer may grieve Him (Ephesians 4:30), but the Bible does not say that the believer "grieves Him away," as it is sometimes quoted as saying. Indeed, it distinctly says that even though we grieve Him, we are "sealed for the day of redemption" (v. 30). The believer, through sin or worldliness, may lose the consciousness of the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God. However, losing the consciousness of His presence and power is one thing; actually losing His presence is another. The Holy Spirit may withdraw into the innermost sanctuary of the believer's spirit, behind the believer's conscious awareness of His indwelling, but He is still there.

There is, however, a work of the Holy Spirit upon a person that is short of regeneration, as in conviction. In such a case, He may come and go.

Question: Please discuss waiting on God for power for service.

Our Lord Jesus distinctly taught in Acts 1:8 that there is a definite endowment of power from the  Holy Spirit for those who seek it. The experience of thousands of ministers and other believers proves the same. This power is received under the following conditions:

First, that we rest absolutely on the finished work of Christ as the only basis for our acceptance before God.

Second, that we put out of our lives every known sin.

Third, that we surrender absolutely to God for Him to use us as he wills.

Fourth, that we openly confess our acceptance of Jesus Christ as our Saviour and Lord before the world.

Fifth, that we really desire this anointing.

Sixth, that we definitely ask for it.

Seventh, that we take by faith what we ask for (Mark 11:24; 1 John 5:14-15).

There does not need to be a long time of waiting. God is ready to give the Holy Spirit at once (Luke 11:13). Of course, waiting on God is something that every believer should practice. Undoubtedly, God gives His Spirit when people individually or together spend a longtime in prayer before Him, thus recognizing and acknowledging their dependence upon Him. However, the teaching that a person may have to wait a month or six months for "his Pentecost" has no foundation in the Bible.

~R. A. Torrey~

God Is At Work

Throughout the Bible, we observe God at work in people's lives. Sometimes He acts in dramatic fashion, as in parting the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape the Egyptian army. At other times it may appear as if He's not taking any action. Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that their brother needed His help, but Christ delayed before traveling to their home (John 11:3-6).

Our Father has given us the Holy Spirit to help us recognize His presence and handiwork. The Spirit cultivates spiritual discernment in us so we can understand when and where He's at work.

In addition to spiritual discernment, we must develop patience because the Lord operates according to His timetable, not ours. After being promised numerous descendants, Abraham had to wait until he and Sarah were beyond childbearing years before she conceived. Impatience can cause us to take matters into our own hands and make mistakes.

The Lord's efforts can bring delight, as was the case when Hannah bore a child (1 Sam. 1:27-2:1). His plan can also lead through painful times, which was Joseph's experience. Before the Lord elevated him to a position of authority to help his family, Joseph was sold into slavery and unjustly imprisoned.

Jesus told the disciples that His Father was always at work and so was He. We will be encouraged and strengthened in our faith when we recognize the ways in which God is operating. These glimpses of His handiwork will motivate us to stay the course and help us maintain a godly perspective on life.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Seeds We Are Scattering

"Do not be deceived! God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows—he will also reap!" Galatians 6:7

Though all are born "dead in trespasses and sins;" in another sense, when a baby is born—its life is only a patch of soil in which, as yet, nothing is growing. A mother's hand is the first to plant seeds there—in the looks of tender love which her eyes dart into the child's soul, in her smiles and caresses and croonings, and her thousand efforts to reach the child's heart and shape its powers; and then in the lessons which she teaches.
All the members of the household soon become sowers also on this field; as the life begins to open, every one is dropping some seed into the mellow soil. In a little while, hands outside the home begin to scatter seeds in the child's mind and heart. The street, the playground, the school; later, books, papers, and pictures contribute their portion. As the years advance, theexperiences of life—the joys, temptations, tasks, trials, sorrows—all bring their influences. Somewhat in this way, the character of the mature man—is the growth of seeds sown by a thousand hands in the life from infancy.
All our thoughts, words, and acts—are seeds. They have in them a quality which makes them grow where they fall, reproducing themselves. This is true of the good we do. The mother's teachings enter the mind and heart of her child as mere seeds; but they reappear in the life of the son or daughter, in later years, in strength and beauty, in nobleness of character, and in usefulness of life. Not only is this strange power in the mother's words; her acts, her habits, her tones of voice, the influences that go forth from her life—are also seeds, having in them a vital principle. Where they lodge—they grow.
You can never lose your mother! She may die, and her body may be buried out of your sight, and laid away in God's acre. You will see her face and hear her voice no more; no more will her hand scatter the good seeds of truth and love, upon your life's garden. But you have not lost her! Your mind and heart are full of the seeds which fell from her hand along the years. These you never can lose. No hand of death can root them out of your life. They have grown into the very fibers of your character. They reappear in your habits, your dispositions, your feelings and opinions, your modes of thought, your very phrases and forms of speech! You can never lose your mother; the threads of her life are woven inextricably into your life!
The same is true of the sowings of every life. All the noble things that fall from your hands, as you travel along life's paths, are seeds, and will not die. The good things we do, with the true words we speak, with the faithful example we show, with all the influences of our life that are Christlike, are living seeds which we sow in the lives of others. They will not fall into the ground and perish. They will stay where they drop, and you will find them again after many days. They will germinate and grow, and yield a harvest!
One has said: "When men do anything for God—the very least thing—they never can know where it will end, nor what amount of work it will do for him." Go on doing the little things, no matter how small, only making sure that you breathe love into them. Let them fall where they may, no matter into what heart, no matter how silently, no matter how hopeless may seem the soil into which they drop, no matter how you yourself may appear to be forgotten or overlooked as you do your deeds of kindness, and speak your words of love. These words and deeds and influences of yours are living seeds, and not one of them shall perish!
The same is true, however, of the evil things we do. They, too, have in them the quality of life and reproductiveness. If only our good things were seeds, this truth would have unmingled encouragement for us. But it is startling to remember, that the same law applies to the evil things. The man who writes an wicked book, or paints an unholy picture, or sings an impure song—sets in motion a procession of unholy influences which will live on forever! He, too, will find his evil words again in the hearts of men, long, long afterwards; or see his unclean picture reproduced on men's lives, or hear his unholy song singing itself over again in the depths of men's being!
The evil that men do—lives after them! "Bury my influence in my grave with me!" said a wicked man, dying with bitter remorse in his soul. But that is impossible. Sometimes men who have been sowing evil, wake up to the consciousness of the harm they have been giving to other lives, and go back over their paths, trying to gather up the seeds of sin which they have cast into human hearts. But the effort is unavailing, as no one can take out of men's minds and hearts—the seeds of evil he has dropped there!
We ought to lay this truth seriously to heart, and remember it continually. If we did, it would make us more holy while we live. We are apt to speak heedless words, whose influence is evil, and to do things which touch other lives and do not leave blessing. There are many people moving these days among the debased—fallen, we call them—fallen from purity, from honesty, from sobriety. We should never forget that all of these, in one sense, were once unstained and unfallen; and that there was a first yielding to temptation, and a first tempter.
Somebody offered the boy the first drink. It seemed a little thing—but the act was a seed; and if you would see its harvest, look at the poor, miserable drunkard, who now staggers about the streets, a pitiable ruin of a life which might have been noble and godlike in its strength and beauty.
Somebody whispered into the ears of the innocent girl the first word which solicited her to evil. It was only a word—but it was a seed of wickedness; and if you would see its awful harvest, look at the wretched creature who now walks the streets—a sad wreck of the womanhood which God made to wear the beauty and radiance of pure and holy motherhood, and be a center of blessing in a happy home.
When we think of this quality in all our words, touches, acts, looks, and influences—how serious a thing it is to live and mingle with others! No act is more solemn, than the taking into our life of a new friend or companion—one who is to listen to our words, to see the things we do, to receive instruction, advice, or counsel from us, to be influenced by our life. When God sends to us a friend or a new acquaintance—someone who is brought thus into the range of our influence, he has a purpose in so doing. He wants us to be a blessing to the person. He wants us to speak wholesome words, to give wise counsel, and to exert an uplifting influence, leaving impressions upon the life which shall add to its beauty and blessing.
But suppose that we fail in this, and that, instead, we give wrong touches to the life, drop the evil seeds, exert an unwholesome influence, leave corrupt impressions; what must our accounting be—when we stand before God? The new life that comes into the circle of your friendship, companionship, or acquaintanceship, comes as a sacred trust, with a holy charge from Christ, whose the life is. You become in a very sacred sense, its guardian. Your mission is to do it good, to be a blessing to it, to drop into it only seeds of purity, truth, holiness, and love. Woe be to you—if the seeds your hand lets fall are seeds of evil, which shall grow into wickedness or marring!
We are not done with life—when we die! We shall meet our acts and words and influences again. "Do not be deceived! God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows—he will also reap!" Galatians 6:7. He shall reap the same that he sows—and he himself shall be the reaper! 
We go on carelessly, never dreaming that we shall see our seeds again, or have anything more to do with them. Then some day we come upon an ugly plant growing somewhere; and when we ask, "What is this vile plant?" The answer comes, "I am one of your plants. You dropped the seed which grew into me!" We must beware what we do. We shall have to eat the fruit—that grows from our sowing and planting! 
There are many phases of this truth. Jesus said, "With what measure you mete—it shall be measured to you again." A man who is cruel—reaps cruelty. A man who is merciful—finds mercy. David unsheathed the sword in wrong against a subject—and the sword departed not from his house forever. He dishonored the happy home of another—and his own home was dishonored. Paul was a persecutor—and persecution followed him until it smote him to death. 
The seed that we sow in others, sooner or later comes back again to our own bosom. What we sow—that we reap! 
We cannot sin against others, hurting them only—and receiving no hurt to ourselves. We are not merely sowers of seed in other lives; but while we are scattering the seed in the field of our neighbor, we are sowing also in our own field. There are two harvests. He who corrupts another life—makes his own life more corrupt than before. The tempter may cause the fall and ruin of another soul—but the evil in himself has become more evil in his doing so. Every good thing we do, strengthens the good that is in us; and every wrong thing makes the wrong in us more dominant. 
Nor is this all. There is a law of divine justice in this world, in which God requites to every man according to his deeds. We are not living under a reign of chance. It is not merely accidental that certain people who do wrong receive punishment; and that certain people who do good receive reward. Sometimes it seems as if the law of justice did not work universally—that some who do wrong are not requited, and that some who do good receive no reward. But this inequality of justice is only apparent. Life does not end at the grave! If it did, we might say that the Lord's ways are not always equal. God's dealings with men, are not closed in this earthly life! The story is continued through eternity! 
If the Bible narrative of Joseph ended with the boy being carried into Egypt as a slave, or with the slave-lad cast into prison on false charges—we would grieve over the terrible wrongs done to an innocent person and left unrequited. But when we read the story through to the end, all such feelings vanish! 
It is likewise in this present life--wrong often seems to go unpunished, and virtue unrewarded. But our present lives, are simply unfinished life-stories. There are other chapters which will be written in eternity. When all has been completed, there will be no inequality, no injustice. All virtue will have its full reward--and all sin will receive its due punishment. 
There is one other phase of this teaching. The final harvest that comes from our sowing—is in our own character. It is not only a reward to be put into our hand in heaven, which is promised—something which is to be given to us. The reward will be in us! It will consist in likeness to Christ
Just so, the requital for wrong-doing, will not only be punishment inflicted upon the wrong-doer, but the evil itself wrought into permanence in his life! An eternal punishment for unforgiven sin—will be eternal sinning! Very solemn are the words, "Let him who does wrong—continue to do wrong; let him who is vile—continue to be vile; let him who does right—continue to do right; and let him who is holy—continue to be holy!" Revelation 22:11.
The truest reward for a godly life—is godliness wrought into the character! The truest retribution for a wicked life—is to be left to sin forever—in the ways the sinner has chosen and learned in this world! 
Familiar but solemnly true, are these sentiments:
"Sow a thought—and you will reap an act;
 Sow an act—and you will reap a habit;
 Sow a habit—and you will reap a character;
 Sow a character—and you will reap a destiny!"
"It is appointed unto men once to die—and after that to face judgment!" Hebrews 9:27

~J. R. Miller~


Question: Is hell a place or a state of the soul?

Hell, meaning the final abode of satan and the unrepentant, is plainly declared in the Bible to be a place prepared for the devil and his angels. For a more thorough discussion of this topic and supporting Scripture passages, please refer to the following sections in this book: "The Devil," and "Eternal Punishment," and "Heaven."

Question: Please explain Psalm 139:8: "If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there." I cannot imagine God's presence in hell.

The word translated "hell" in this passage does not mean hell in the sense of the abode of the lost. It means the place where all are dead were before our Lord's ascension. (It is rendered as "Sheol" in the New American Standard Bible and the Revised Version. This is not a translation. It is the actual Hebrew word used.) Both the righteous and unrighteous dead went to Sheol - the righteous to that portion of Sheol known as paradise, and the unrighteous to the place of suffering. Since God is everywhere, He must in some sense be present even in hell, but He certainly does not manifest His presence there as He does in heaven, or even as He  does on earth.

~R. A. Torrey~

Running To and Fro Like Ants Upon a Heap!

"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side.
 The rich man also died and was buried." 6:22

Observe how all classes alike come to the grave. Lazarus died--and the rich man also died. As different and divided as they were in their lives--they had both to drink of the same cup at the last. Both went to the 'house appointed for all living'. Both went to that place where rich and poor meet together. Dust they were--and unto dust they returned.

This is the lot of all men. After all our scheming, and contriving, and planning, and studying--after all our inventions, and discoveries, and scientific attainments--there remains one 'enemy' we cannot conquer and disarm--and that is Death!

The chapter in Genesis, which records the long lives of Methuselah, and the rest who lived before the flood, winds up the simple story of each, by two expressive words, "He died." And now, after thousands of years, what more can be said of the greatest among ourselves? The histories of Washington, and Napoleon, and Shakespeare arrive at the same humbling conclusion. The end of each, after all his greatness, is just this, "He died."

Death is a mighty leveler! He spares none, he waits for none! He will not tarry until you are ready. He will not be kept out by doors, and bars, and bolts. The Englishman boasts that his home is his castle--but, with all his boasting, he cannot exclude death. An Austrian nobleman forbade death to be named in his presence. But named or not named, it matters little--in God's appointed hour, death will come!

One man rolls lazily along the road in the smoothest and handsomest carriage which money can procure; another toils wearily along the path on foot--yet both are sure to meet at last in the same long home!

One man, like Absalom, has fifty servants to wait upon him and do his bidding; another has none to lift a finger to do him a service--but both are traveling to a place where they must lie down alone!

One man is the owner of millions; another has scarcely a dollar that he can call his own property--yet neither one nor the other can carry one penny with him into the unseen world.

One man is the possessor of half a county; another has not so much as an inch of land--and yet 'six feet' of dirt will be amply sufficient for either of them at the last!

One man pampers his body with every possible delicacy, and clothes it in the richest and softest apparel; another has scarcely enough to eat, and seldom enough to put on--yet both alike are hurrying on to a day when "ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,"shall be proclaimed over them!

Fifty years hence, none shall be able to say, "This was the rich man's bone--and this the bone of the poor man."

Reader, I know that these are ancient things. I do not deny it for a moment. I am writing stale old things that all men know--but I am also writing things that all men do not feel. Oh, no! if they did feel them, they would not speak and live as they do.

We see 'death' gradually thinning our congregations; we miss face after face in our assemblies; we know not whose turn may come next! We only know as the tree falls--there it will lie, and that "after death comes the judgment!"

Oh, that men would learn to live--as those who must one day die! Truly it is poor work to set our affections on a dying world and its short-lived comforts--and lose a glorious immortality! Here we are toiling, and laboring, and wearying ourselves about trifles, and running to and fro like ants upon a heap--and yet after a few years we shall all be gone, and another generation will fill our place!

Live for eternity, reader! Seek a portion which can never be taken from you!

~J. C. Ryle~

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Heaven # 3

Heaven (continued)

Question: Will we recognize our loved ones in heaven?

Most assuredly, we will. The apostle Paul, in writing to the believers of Thessalonica, told  them not to sorrow over their loved ones, from whom they would be separated for a time, as those who have no hope sorrow over the loss of their loved ones (1 Thessalonians 4:13). He went on to say that Jesus Himself is coming back again and that our loved ones who have fallen asleep in Jesus will be raised first. Then we who are alive will be transformed and caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air (vv. 14-18). The whole reason for this exhortation was to let the believers know that when we are caught up together with our loved ones, we will be with them again. Furthermore, Moses and Elijah appeared to the three disciples who were with Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration, and were recognized by them (Matthew 17:1-4). If we will recognize those whom we have never known in the flesh, how much more will we recognize our loved ones!

Question: Can a person be happy in heaven if he knows his loved ones are in hell?

Yes. A real Christian's supreme joy is in Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:37). The love that he has for even the dearest of his earthly loved ones is nothing compared with the love that he has for Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is in heaven. Jesus will satisfy every longing of the heart that really knows Him.

Furthermore, if any of our loved ones end up in hell, they will be there simply because they persistently rejected and trampled underfoot that  One who is the supreme object of our love (Hebrews 10:29). They will be with the devil and his angels because they chose to cast in their lot with them, and we will recognize the justice of it and the necessity of it. Many people will not allow themselves to believe in eternal punishment because they have unrepentant friends and loved ones. However, it is far better to recognize the facts, no matter how unwelcome they may be, and to try to save our loved ones from the doom to which they are certainly hurrying, than it is to quarrel with facts and seek to remove them by shutting our eyes to them. If we love Jesus Christ supremely, if we love Him as we should love Him, and if we realize His glory and His claims upon men as we should realize them, we will say, if the dearest friend we have on earth persists in trampling Christ underfoot, that he ought to be tormented forever. If, after men have sinned and merited God's terrible wrath, God still offers them mercy and makes the tremendous sacrifice of His Son to save them, and if, after all of this, they still despise that mercy, trample God's Son underfoot, and are consigned to everlasting torment, anyone who sees as he ought to see will say, "Amen. True and righteous are Your judgments, O Lord!" (Revelation 16:7).

~R. A. Torrey~

Bodily Resurrection of Jesus Christ

"Why is the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ so important?"

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important event in history, providing irrefutable evidence that Jesus is who He claimed to be – the Son of God. The resurrection was not only the supreme validation of His deity; it also validated the Scriptures, which foretold His coming and resurrection. Moreover, it authenticated Christ’s claims that He would be raised on the third day (John 2:19-21; Mark 8:319:3110:34). If Christ’s body was not resurrected, we have no hope that ours will be (1 Corinthians 15:13, 16). In fact, apart from Christ’s bodily resurrection, we have no Savior, no salvation, and no hope of eternal life. As the apostle Paul said, our faith would be “useless” and the life-giving power of the gospel would be altogether eliminated. 

Because our eternal destinies ride on the truth of this historical event, the resurrection has been the target of Satan’s greatest attacks against the church. Accordingly, the historicity of Christ’s bodily resurrection has been examined and investigated from every angle and studied endlessly by countless scholars, theologians, professors, and others over the centuries. And even though a number of theories have been postulated that attempt to disprove this momentous event, no credible historical evidence exists which would validate anything other than His literal bodily resurrection. On the other hand, the clear and convincing evidence of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is overwhelming. 

Nonetheless, from the Christians in ancient Corinth to many today, misunderstandings persist relative to certain aspects of our Savior’s resurrection. Why, some ask, is it important that Christ’s body was resurrected? Couldn’t His resurrection have just been spiritual? Why and how does the resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantee the bodily resurrection of believers? Will our resurrected bodies be the same as our earthly bodies? If not, what will they be like? The answers to these questions are found in the fifteenth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, a church that he established several years earlier during his second missionary journey.

In addition to growing factions in the young Corinthian church, there was rampant misunderstanding of some key Christian doctrines, including the resurrection. Although many of the Corinthians accepted that Christ has been resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:1, 11), they had difficulty believing others could or would be resurrected. The continuing influence of Gnostic philosophy, which held that everything spiritual was good whereas everything physical, such as our bodies, was intrinsically evil, was essentially responsible for their confusion regarding their own resurrection. The idea of a detestable corpse being eternally resurrected was, therefore, strongly opposed by some and certainly by the Greek philosophers of the day (Acts 17:32).

Yet, most of the Corinthians understood that Christ’s resurrection was bodily and not spiritual. After all,resurrection means “a rising from the dead”; something comes back to life. They understood that all souls were immortal and at death immediately went to be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). Thus, a “spiritual” resurrection would make no sense, as the spirit doesn’t die and therefore cannot be resurrected. Additionally, they were aware that the Scriptures, as well as Christ Himself, stated that His body would rise again on the third day. Scripture also made it clear that Christ’s body would see no decay, a charge that would make no sense if His body was not resurrected. Lastly, Christ emphatically told His disciples it was His body that was resurrected: “A spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39). 

Again, however, the Corinthians’ concern was regarding their personal resurrection. Accordingly, Paul tried to convince the Corinthians that because Christ rose from the dead, they also would rise from the dead some day, and that the two resurrections – Christ’s and ours – must stand or fall together, for “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised” (v.13).

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive” (vv. 20-22). 

When Jesus Christ was resurrected, He became the “first fruits” of all who would be raised (see also Colossians 1:18). The Israelites could not fully harvest their crops until they brought a representative sampling (first fruits) to the priests as an offering to the Lord (Leviticus 23:10). This is what Paul is saying in verses 20-22; Christ’s own resurrection was the “first fruits” of the resurrection “harvest” of the believing dead. The “first fruits” language Paul uses indicates something to follow, and that something would be His followers – the rest of the “crop.” This is how Christ’s resurrection guarantees ours. Indeed, His resurrection requires our resurrection.

And to allay their concerns regarding connecting the spirit to what was deemed an undesirable body, Paul explained to them the nature of our resurrected bodies and how they would differ from our earthly bodies. Paul likened our deceased earthly bodies to a “seed,” and God would ultimately provide another body (vv. 37-38) that would be like Christ’s glorious resurrected body (1 Corinthians 15:49; Philippians 4:21). Indeed, just as with our Lord, our bodies which are now perishable, dishonored, weak, and natural will one day be raised into bodies that are imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). Our spiritual bodies will be perfectly equipped for heavenly, supernatural living.

God's School for His Children!

"Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered." Hebrews 5:8

"Our Savior learned obedience by the things which He suffered--and so must we. Affliction, if patiently endured, and sanctified to us--is a great purifier of our corrupted natures. It will teach us excellent things." (George Whitefield)

"Christian experience is only learned in the school of affliction." (George Whitefield)

"God loves His own children too well to exempt them from affliction. It is a blessed thing when our trials cure our earnest love for perishable worldly things." (William S. Plumer)

"Affliction is the school in which great virtues are acquired, in which holy characters are formed." (Hannah More)

"Afflictions are sent for this end, to bring us to the throne of grace, to teach us to pray, and to make the Word of God's grace precious to us. It has always been to the advantage of God's people to be afflicted. Many are taught with the briars and thorns of affliction, who would not learn otherwise." (Matthew Henry)

"No man, without trials and temptations, can attain a true understanding of the Holy Scriptures. I never knew the meaning of God's Word, until I came into affliction. I have always found it one of my best school-masters." (Martin Luther)

"If this experimental acquaintance with the Bible is the result of affliction--then welcome the discipline whose rod of correction blossoms into such golden fruit! Let God's dealings with us be ever so dark, painful, and afflicting--it is utterly impossible that anything can be against the best interests of a believer in Christ." (Octavius Winslow)

"Affliction is God's flail to thresh off our husks!" (Thomas Watson)

"Let any Christian view his own life, and see how nearly his whole spiritual progress has been made in the seasons of trial. It is by their private afflictions chiefly that individuals grow in grace." (R.L. Dabney)

"I bear my willing testimony to the blessing that affliction and trial have been to me. I owe more to God's furnace and the file, than I can ever describe!" (C.H. Spurgeon)

"There are no lessons so useful as those learned in the school of affliction." (J.C. Ryle)

"We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him!" Learn how little cause we have then to be discontented at outward trials and afflictions! What! Shall we be discontented at that which works for our good? If one friend should throw a bag of money at another, and in throwing it, should graze his head, he would not be troubled much, seeing by this means he had got a bag of money. So the Lord may bruise us by afflictions--but it is to enrich us. These afflictions work for us an exceeding weight of glory--and shall we be discontented?" (Thomas Watson)

"We are only scholars. It rests with the Great Teacher to decide which lesson shall come next--a hard one or an easy one." (William Ward)

"God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in His holiness!" Hebrews 12:10 

~J. R. Miller~

Monday, April 27, 2015

Heaven # 2

"Question: What must one do to get to heaven?

To get to heaven, a person needs to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, surrender to Him as his Lord and Master, and openly confess Him as such before the world. Jesus Christ said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). He also said, "I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved" (John 10:9). When a person receives Jesus, he immediately becomes a child of God, an heir of God, and a joint heir with Jesus Christ (John 1:12; Romans 8:16-17).

Anyone can know whether or not he is already on the way to heaven by simply asking himself these questions: "Have I received Jesus Christ? Have I taken Him as my Sin-Bearer, the One who bore my sins in His own body on the Cross? (Isaiah 53:6: 1 Peter 2:24; Galatians 3:13). Am I trusting God to forgive my sins because Jesus Christ bore them for me? Have I taken Jesus Christ as my Lord and Master? Have I surrendered my mind to Him so that it may be renewed by Him, and my life to Him so that He may guide me in everything? Am I confessing Him as my Saviour and my Lord before the world as I have opportunity?"

If anyone can answer yes to these simple questions, he may know he is on the way to heaven. Of course, if one has really received Jesus as his Lord and Master, he will prove it by studying His Word day by day in order to know His will, and by doing His will as he finds it revealed in the Bible.

Question: Is the Bible an all-sufficient guide t heaven?

It is. It tells each on of us what sort of a place heaven is and just how to get there. There is not a thing a person needs to know about the road to heaven that is not plainly stated in the Bible. It is the only Book in the world that reveals Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Himself is the way to heaven (John 14:6).

~R. A. Torrey~

Do Not Lie To Each Other

Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9,10 NIV)

Christ Himself, when He was here, never failed to let people know that when they entered that door, or that straight and narrow way, they were in for trouble. Now that may sound like a very terrible thing to say, especially to you young Christians who are not far inside the door, but be perfectly clear about it; the Lord Jesus never deceived anybody about this, never at all. He let people know that to “follow Him,” as He put it at that time, involved them in difficulty and suffering and persecution and trial and a lifelong thing. There is a cost here, a great cost. And we shall discover that while there are the compensations, for there are undoubtedly the compensations in this life and the mighty compensations for eternity, this is a way which is not easy for the natural man by any means. This work of the Holy Spirit is drastic, exacting, and very trying to the flesh. Make no mistake about it; it will take all the energy that the Holy Spirit Himself has to accomplish this work. It really will. So the Lord Jesus has not left us in any doubt about this.

But note, and I am glad the Apostle Paul puts it like this, because it is so true to experience, “The new man who is being renewed.” Notice, first there was a precise and definite transaction, “Ye put off” and “ye put on,” but now the work that is going on is not a single act of a single moment and a single day, but it is something that is going on in us.

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Question: Is heaven a place or a state of the soul?

Jesus Christ plainly declared that heaven is a place. In John 14;2, He said, "I go to prepare a place for you." To make it even plainer, He added in the next verse that when the place is prepared, He will come again and receive us to Himself, so that "where" He is, we may be also (v. 3). Furthermore, we are distinctly told that when Jesus Himself left this earth, He went into heaven, from where He had come. (John 13:3; Acts 1:9-11; Ephesians 1:20-21).

The blessedness of heaven will not all be due to the character of the place. It will be even more blessed because of the state of mind that those who inhabit heaven will be in. Nevertheless, heaven is a place, a place more beautiful than any of us can imagine. All earthly comparisons necessarily fail. In our present state, every sense and faculty fail. In our present state, every sense and faculty of perception is blunted by sin and by the disease that results from sin. In our redeemed bodies, every sense and faculty will be enlarged and will exist in perfection. There may be new senses, but what they may be, we cannot of course now imagine. The most beautiful sights that we have ever seen on earth are nothing compared with what will greet us in that fair "city which as foundations" (Hebrews 11:10). Heaven will be free from everything that curses or mars our lives here. There will be no menial, grinding toil, no sickness or pain, no death, no funerals, and no separations (Revelation 21:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). Above all, there will be no sin. It will be a place of universal and perfect knowledge, universal and perfect love, and perpetual praise (1 Corinthians 13:12; 1 John 3:2; 4:8; Revelation 7:9-12). It will be a land of melody and song.

~R. A. Torrey~

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Divine Gardener

We may think that our lot is especially hard — and may wish that it were otherwise. We may wish that we had a life of ease and luxury, amid softer scenes — with no briers or thorns, no worries or provocations. We think that then we would be always gentle, patient, serene, trustful, happy. How delightful it would be — never to have a care, an irritation, a trouble, a single vexing thing!

But the fact remains — that the place in which we find ourselves — is the very place in which the Master desires us to live our life! There is no haphazard in God's world. God leads every one of His children by the right way. He knows where and under whatinfluences, each particular life will ripen best.

One tree grows best in the sheltered valley, another by the water's edge, another on the bleak mountain-top swept by storms. Every tree or plant is found in the precise locality to enhance its growth. And does God give more thought to trees and plants — than to His own children? No!

He places us amid the circumstances and experiences in which our life will grow and ripen the best. The peculiar trials to which we are each subjected — is the exact discipline we each need to bring out the beauties and graces of true spiritual character in us. We are in the right school. We may think that we would ripen more quickly — in a more easy and luxurious life. But God knows what is best for us — He makes no mistakes!

There is a little fable which says that a primrose growing by itself in a shady corner of the garden, became discontented as it saw the other flowers in their mirthful beds in the sunshine, and begged to be moved to a more conspicuous place. Its prayer was granted. The gardener transplanted it to a more showy and sunny spot. It was greatly pleased — but a change came over it immediately. Its blossoms lost much of their beauty, and became pale and sickly. The hot sun caused them to faint and wither. So it prayed again to be taken back to its old place in the shade. The wise gardener knows best, where to plant each flower.

Just so, God, 
The divine Gardener, knows where His people will best grow into what He would have them to be. Some require the fierce storms; some will only thrive in the shadow of worldly adversity; and some come to ripeness more sweetly under the soft and gentle influences of prosperity — whose beauty, rough experiences would mar. The divine Gardener knows what is best for each one!

There is no position in this world in the allotment of Providence, in which it is not possible to be a true Christian, exemplifying all the virtues of godliness. The grace of Christ has in it, potency enough to enable us to live godly — wherever we are called to dwell. When God chooses a home for us — He fits us for its peculiar trials.

God adapts His grace to the peculiarities of each one's necessity. For rough, flinty paths — He provides shoes of iron. He never sends anyone to climb sharp, rugged mountain-sides, wearing silken slippers. He always gives sufficient grace. As the burdens grow heavier — the strength increases. As the difficulties thicken — He draws closer. As the trials become sorer — the trusting heart grows calmer.

Jesus always sees His disciples, when they are toiling in the waves — and at the right moment He comes to deliver them. Thus it becomes possible to live a true and victorious life — in any circumstances.

Christ can as easily enable Joseph to remain pure and true in heathen Egypt — as Benjamin in the shelter of his father's love. The sharper the temptations — the more of divine grace is granted. There is, therefore, no environment of trial, or difficulty orhardship — in which we cannot live beautiful lives of Christian fidelity and holy conduct.

Instead, then, of yielding to discouragement when trials multiply and it becomes hard to live right, or of being satisfied with a very faulty life — it should be our settled purpose to live, through the grace of God — a patient, gentle and unspotted life — in the place, and amid the circumstances, He allots to us. The true victory is not found in escaping or evading trials — but in rightly meeting and enduring them.

The questions should not be, "How can I get out of these worries? How can I get into a place where there shall be no irritations, nothing to try my temper or put my patience to the test? How can I avoid the distractions that continually harass me?" There is nothing noble in such living.

The questions should rather be, "How can I pass through these trying experiences — and not fail as a Christian? How can I endure these struggles — and not suffer defeat? How can I live amid these provocations, these testings of my temper — and yet live sweetly, not speaking unadvisedly, bearing injuries meekly, returning gentle answers to insulting words?" This is the true problem of Christian living.

~J. R. Miller~

You Say You Want to be Like Christ

"The Son of Man did not come to be served — but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many!" Matthew 20:28 

The art of photography is now so perfect, that the whole picture of a large newspaper can be taken in miniature so small, as to be carried in a little pendant — and yet every letter and point be perfect.

Just so, the whole life of Christ is photographed in one little phrase, "not to be served — but to serve."
He came not to be served; if this had been His aim — He would never have left heaven's glory, where He lacked nothing, where angels praised Him and ministered unto Him. He came to serve. He went about doing good. He altogether forgot Himself. He served all He met — who would receive His service. At last He gave His life in uttermost service — giving it as a sin-atoning sacrifice for others. He came not to be served — but to serve.

You say you want to be like Christ. You ask Him to print His own image on your heart. Here, then is the image! It is no vague dream of perfection that we are to think of — when we ask to be made like Christ. The Catholic monks thought that they were becoming like Christ — when they went into the wilderness, away from men, to live in cold cells. But that is not the what this picture suggests. "To serve" — that is the Christlike thing! Instead of fleeing away from the world — we are to live among men, to serve them, to seek to bless them, to do them good, to give our life for them!

~J. R. Miller~

Guardian Angels

Question: Please explain Matthew 18:10: "Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven." Does every child have a guardian angel?

This seems to be the plain teaching of the text. Some explain the text in another way. They say that the angels of the children that are spoken of here are the departed spirits of the children in the glory. However, there is not a hint anywhere in the Bible that the departed spirits of human beings are angels. All through the Bible, the clearest distinction is kept between angels and men. The old hymn, " I Want to Be an Angel," has no warrant whatsoever in Scripture.

The angels of the children that are spoken of here are the angels who watch over the children. It is the office of angels to minister on behalf of those who will be heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). According to the Bible, each child seems to have a guardian angel, and these angels occupy a position of special favor and opportunity before God. They stand in His very presence and always behold the face of the Father.

The Heathen

Question: How is God going to judge the heathen? Can the heathen be saved by following the best spiritual light they have?

God will judge the heathen in righteousness, according to the light they have had. Those who have sinned without knowing the law revealed to Moses will also perish without the law, and those who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law (Romans 2:12).

The heathen are not without spiritual light. The fact that they do by nature the things required in the law shows that they have a law, though not the law revealed to Moses (Romans 2:14-16). If any heathen were to perfectly live up to the light he has, he would undoubtedly be saved by doing so, but no heathen has ever done this. The twelfth through sixteenth verses of Romans 2 are often taken as teaching that the heathen are to be saved by the light of nature. However, anyone who will read the passage carefully in its context will see that Paul's whole purpose was not to show how the heathen are saved by keeping the law written in their hearts but to show that all are under condemnation - the Jew because he has not lived up to the law given by revelation, and the Gentile because he has not lived up to the law written in his heart. The conclusion of the matter is given in Romans 3:22-23: "For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

The verses that follow this passage point out the only way of salvation: free justification by God's grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus on the basis of His atoning death. Each person secures for himself this justification by faith in Christ (vv. 24-25). No one will be saved except through personal acceptance of Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. There is not a line of Scripture that holds out a ray of hope to anyone who dies without accepting Jesus Christ.

There are those who believe that people who die without hearing of Jesus Christ in this world will have an opportunity to hear of Him and to accept or reject Him in some future state. However, the Bible does not say so; this is pure speculation without a word of Scripture to support it. There are also those who believe that the heathen who would have accepted Christ if He had been presented to them will be treated as if He had been presented to them and they had accepted Him, but this is all pure speculation.

All that the Bible teaches is that no one can be saved without personal acceptance of Christ, and it is wisdom on our part to do everything in our power to see that the heathen have the opportunity to accept Christ in this present life. We do not have one word of Scripture to support us in the hope that if we neglect our duty here, the heathen will have an opportunity to accept Christ in some future age or state.

~R. A. Torrey~