GRACE FOR TODAY

 

 

 

Daily Devotional Readings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donald S. Fortner, Pastor

Grace Baptist Church of Danville

2734 Old Stanford Road

Danville, Kentucky 40422-9438

 


 

Printed by Grace Baptist Church

By Gracious Permission From

Evangelical Press

16/18 High Street, Welwyn, Herts, AL6 9EQ, England

 

(c) Evangelical Press 1986

 

First published 1986

 

 

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

Fortner, Donald S.

                Grace For Today.

1. Devotional calendars.

                1. Title

                242’.2    BS390

 

ISBN O-85234-233-O

 

Typeset by Wagstaffs Typeshuttle, Henlow, Beds.


 

January 1

Psalm 86:11

Day 1

‘Teach me thy way, O Lord’

Read Psalm 1:1-6

There is no better way for us to begin this day and this year than by earnestly seeking the will of God in it. It is certain that God sovereignly accomplishes his will, his eternal purpose, in all things (Isa. 46:9-1 1). Nothing comes to pass in time except that which God purposed in eternity. Yet nothing is more important, and nothing more difficult, to a believer than seeking the will of God in making responsible choices and decisions about his actions in life. We know by painful experience that it is possible to make the wrong choices. We rejoice to know that God graciously overrules our errors in judgment for out spiritual, eternal good and for the glory of his own great name (Rom. 8:28). And we praise him for that! But when a believer walks contrary to the will of his Lord, he brings grief and trouble to himself. Be Wise, therefore, and seek grace both to know and do the will of God in all things.

‘Teach me thy way, O Lord.’ Do you desire, my friend, to know the will of God in all things? Then ask God himself to reveal his will to you, by his Spirit and by his Word. He alone can teach you his way and he will if you are willing to walk in it. ‘I will walk in thy truth.’ In essence, David is saying, ‘Lord, if you teach me your way, by your grace I will gladly walk in it. If you will mark out my path in providence, I will stick to it. ‘This is the attitude of submission and faith before the Lord. And where there is true faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and submission to his will, there will always be an acknowledgement of weakness and sin and the need for divine grace. ‘Unite my heart to fear thy name.’ We can walk in God’s will only as he gives us grace to do so. When we do make errors concerning the will of God, it is either because we have not earnestly sought his will, or else because we are rebellious to it. Of this one thing we can be sure: God always reveals his will to the person who is willing to (Prov. 3:5-6).


 

January 2

Hebrews 9:26

Day 2

‘He appeared to put away sin’

Read Isaiah 53:1-8

In his life of obedience to the law of God Christ established righteousness for us. But that righteousness is not sufficient, in and of itself, to make us acceptable to God. Sin must be punished. Justice must be satisfied. Every guilty sinner must be put to death. The only way God could both punish us for sin and save us from sin was by the infinitely meritorious, voluntary and efficacious death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Substitute. For the accomplishment of our salvation Christ became ‘obedient unto death, even the death of the cross’.

God made his Son to be sin for us. Christ had no sin of his own. He had no original sin and no actual sin. He was ‘holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sin.’ Yet he was made sin. By divine imputation, all the sin of all God’s elect was laid upon Christ our Substitute. Christ ‘his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree’.  This transfer of sin from us to our Substitute was so real and complete that the Son of God became sin for us! He even claimed our sin as his own, willingly assuming all responsibility for the sins of his people.

God the Son, being made sin, died as our Substitute. When God found sin on his Son, he cried out to his own holy law and inflexible justice: ‘Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow... smite the shepherd!’ Then and there all the sin of all God’s elect was slain, annihilated forever and taken away. Justice, being fully satisfied, forever sheathed its dreadful sword. Wrath, being completely spent upon Christ, is altogether absorbed in Christ for all his people. In so far as God’s law and justice are concerned, all of God’s elect have died. We died in Christ our Substitute.

In Christ all who believe are completely justified. His precious blood has forever washed away our sins, so that we are justly pardoned and forgiven. His life of righteousness has been imputed to us, so that we are perfectly holy in God’s sight. In Christ we have all that God in his law demands for our acceptance, complete satisfaction for sin and perfect righteousness.


 

January 3

Genesis 5:24

Day 3

‘Enoch walked with God’

Read Colossians 3:1-17

This is an astounding statement: ‘Enoch’,  a sinful man like you and me, ‘walked with God’! And ‘he had this testimony, that he pleased God’. In his daily life Enoch walked in company with the living God, living in God’s presence as his constant Friend, in whom he confided and by whom he was loved. What kind of man was Enoch? What kind of life did he live? The answer is clear: Enoch was a man of faith, and he lived a life of faith. He was not a sinless man. He did not live a higher life, a deeper life or a holier life than anyone else who lives by faith. It was not Enoch’s conduct, his personality, or his disposition that pleased God, but his faith in Christ (Heb. 11:5-6).

There was nothing at all remarkable about the character or works of this man Enoch by nature, which caused God to look upon him with pleasure. Enoch did not win God’s favor by something he did. God was pleased with Enoch, because Enoch believed God. He believed that which God has spoken. Enoch’s faith was the same as Abel’s before him and Noah’s after him. The faith by which Enoch walked with God and pleased God was the same faith that the dying thief possessed. And it is the faith of God’s elect today. My friend, walking with God is neither more nor less than believing God. The only way anyone can walk with God and please God is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. No man pleases God, but his Son. No man walks with God, but his Son. And the only way any fallen child of Adam can please God and walk with God is by faith in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Our sanctification, like our justification, is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We grow in grace as we grow in faith. Having begun in the Spirit, we are not now made perfect by the flesh. We do not begin and go a certain distance by faith in Christ, and then finish our course by the works of the law. To walk with God is to continue as we began ¾ by faith in Christ. ‘As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith.’


 

January 4

Job 14:14

Day 4

‘If a man die, shall he live again?’

Read I Thessalonians 4:13-18

With Paul, I say, ‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable’ (1 Cor. 15:19). If there were no eternal life in Christ, no eternal bliss of life with Christ in glory and no resurrection, the believer would be the most miserably frustrated person in the world. We would never have that which we most earnestly desire ¾ Christ. We would never enjoy that for which we are most ambitious ¾ Christ. We would never see the end of our hope ¾ Christ. We would never embrace Christ, or be embraced by him. My mind has never entertained a more cruel or miserable thought. What a tormenting supposition! But it is not so! I live in hope of the resurrection, and my hope is well founded. I have three good reasons for this good hope.

I have already been resurrected representatively. (Eph. 2:5-6; Rom. 8:29-30). When the Lord Jesus Christ arose from the grave, he arose as the Representative of his people. We were resurrected with Christ! His representative resurrection necessitates and guarantees the resurrection of his people. Christ was raised as the first fruits of them that sleep, and the full harvest must follow. Christ was raised as the second Adam and, as we have born the image of our first, covenant head, we must bear the image of the second. Our Lord’s covenant engagements as the Surety of his elect are not complete until we are raised from the dead (John 6:37-40).

I have already experienced the resurrection of Christ in regeneration. The new birth, regeneration, is the first resurrection. It is nothing less than life from the dead. Those who have experienced the first resurrection must experience the second. The second death has no power over us, because we have been raised to new life in Christ by the power of his grace (Rev. 20:6; John 5:25; 11:25-26).

I believe the revelation of God concerning the resurrection of our bodies. (John 5:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:35-41, 51-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18). I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God’ (Job 19:25-26).


 

January 5

1 Thessalonians 5:15-18

Day 5

‘Three delightful duties’

Read Philippians 4:4-13

Writing by divine inspiration, the apostle Paul admonishes all believers to do three things: ‘Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.’ Our God is so gracious to his people that he makes delight a duty! What could be more delightful and pleasant than constant joy, prayer and thanksgiving? May God give each of us a heart to engage eagerly in these three delightful duties.

‘Rejoice evermore!’ Our sins are forgiven. We have the righteousness of God in Christ imputed to us. We are accepted in the Beloved. We are children of God by faith in Christ, heirs of God and joint-heirs with his Son, Jesus Christ. That one who loved us and gave himself for us is the sovereign Ruler of the universe. Why should we mourn? ‘My Beloved is mine, and I am my Beloved’s.’ What then can keep me from rejoicing? I will rejoice in God my Savior at all times. I cannot rejoice in sorrow, pain and trouble. But I can rejoice in my God in the midst of sorrow, pain and trouble.

‘Pray without ceasing!’ Paul does not mean that we should always be engaged in audible prayer. His meaning is ‘Live constantly before God in conscious, believing dependence upon him.’ He is simply telling us to believe God at all times. When you are serving and worshipping the Lord, believe him, acknowledge your dependence upon the blood and righteousness of Christ for acceptance with God. When you sin, trust Christ for pardon. When you are tempted and tried, trust Christ for protection. When you work, trust Christ for strength. When you eat, acknowledge that you are fed by the hand of God’s goodness. In all things, willingly submit to and trust the wise, adorable, good providence of your God.

‘In everything give thanks!’ At all times, in all circumstances, give thanks to God. Faith can give thanks in all things, because faith realizes that whatever comes to pass comes to pass by the will of God. Give thanks, because, whatever your present circumstances, ‘This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.’


 

January 6

Acts 11:18

Day 6

‘The precious blood of Christ’

Read Exodus 12:1-14

We who believe know that we have been redeemed ‘with the precious blood of Christ’.  To us the Savior’s blood is truly precious. It has become common today for preachers to say very little about the blood. We are sometimes ridiculed for preaching blood atonement. We are told that such preaching is crude, outdated and insignificant in these modern times. And those who do preach about the blood, for the most part, make the blood of Christ to be a vain, insignificant thing, by denouncing its saving, redeeming efficacy.

We reverence the blood of Christ. We know that ‘without shedding of blood is no remission’ (Heb. 9:22). Why do we place such importance upon the blood of Christ and hold it to be a precious thing? The blood of Christ is precious, because it is the blood of the incarnate God (Acts 20:28). The blood poured out for our redemption at Calvary was the blood of a man, but that man is the eternal God! We have been justified by the blood (Rom. 3:24), reconciled to God by the blood (Eph. 2:13) and cleansed from all sin by the precious blood of Christ (I John 1:7). The blood of Christ has satisfied the wrath and justice of God’s holy law, so that through the blood God is both just and the justifier of every believer (Rom. 3:24-26). Every blessing of God’s grace in the everlasting covenant comes to us through the blood of Christ: redemption, pardon, peace, forgiveness, sanctification and glorification (Col. 1:14, 20; Heb. 10:10-14; 13:12). Our consciences are purged from guilt by our Savior’s precious blood (Heb. 9:12-14). Through the blood we have access to God (Heb. 10: 19-20). We who believe shall triumph over all our enemies, death, hell and the grave, by the blood (Rev. 12:1 1). We shall stand before the throne of God purified by the precious blood of Christ (Rev. 7:14). And we shall glorify Christ in heaven, singing his everlasting praise for the precious, redeeming blood (Rev. 5:9).

Nothing is more practical, more important, or more delightful to the people of God than the blood, the precious, effectual, cleansing, redeeming blood of Christ.


 

January 7

Acts 11:18

Day 7

‘Repentance unto life’

Read 1 Thessalonians 4:4-10

There is a repentance which is no sign or evidence of spiritual life at all. It is not a repentance produced in the heart by the Holy Spirit, but a repentance produced only in the emotions by human power. Legal fear, moral reformation, remorse for sin, a desire for heaven and a mere confession of sin are things often substituted for repentance. You may possess all these things and yet not have repentance unto life. These forms of repentance were found in Cain, Esau, Saul, Ahab, Judas, Simon Magus and Felix, but they all perished under the wrath of God. All temporary repentance is false repentance.

‘Repentance unto life’ is a gift of God’s grace. It is produced in the heart by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, through the revelation of Christ in the gospel (Zech. 12:10). This ‘repentance unto life’ basically involves four essential elements.

Repentance comes by the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8-14). The Holy Spirit convinces men of sin, their evil, vile, corrupt nature, causing the sinner to abhor not only his deeds, but himself as well. He convinces men of righteousness, showing sinners that they have no righteousness and that all righteousness is in Christ. And he convinces men of judgment, revealing God’s judgment of sin in Christ, the sinner’s Substitute, the accomplishment of redemption through his blood and that all unbeliever: must be judged for sin and condemned, even as the prince of this world has been judged. There must also be a conversion of the heart to God. The heart is repentant only when it is reconciled to God in his true character (I Thess. 1:9; 2 Cor. 5:20). When the sinner bows to Christ’s sovereign throne in loving adoration and devotion, he has ‘repentance unto life’.  True repentance is the commitment of the heart to Christ (Luke 14:25-33). True conviction always converts and true conversion always produces commitment. The truly repentant heart is committed to the will, the gospel, the church and the glory of Christ. And repentance involves continuation (Matt. 10:22; Luke 9:62). God’s people do persevere in the faith. They continue in the truth. They go on to the end of their journey following Christ, seeking Christ and trusting Christ.


 

January 8

Deuteronomy 33:13

Day 8

‘The precious things of heaven’

Read Romans 8:16-23

God has blessed all his elect with all spiritual blessings in Christ. He who gave us his Son has given us all things in his Son (Eph. 1:3; 1 Cor. 3:21; Rom. 8:32). Here are five of ‘the precious things of heaven’ specifically revealed to us.

1. Our precious savior. “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious” (I Pet. 2:7). Christ is the treasure hid in a field, the pearl of great price, for which every believer has gladly sold all that he has to obtain that treasure and have that pearl.

2. The precious blood. ‘Ye know that ye were...redeemed... with the precious blood of Christ’ (I Peter- 1:18-19). The blood of Christ is precious because it is his blood, the blood of the God-man The blood was foreordained of God as the atonement, for our sins. The blood reveals our Savior’s love. The blood satisfies divine justice and removes our sin. The blood secures our forgiveness, pardon, justification and eternal glory. The blood was shed for us. All these things make the blood of Christ precious.

3. The precious promises of our God. In Christ ‘are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises’ (2 Peter 1:4). The promises of God are precious because they are God’s promises. They are unquestionable and sure. And they speak of exceedingly great and precious things: pardon, peace, protection, provision, preservation, providence, and perfection.

4. Our precious faith. By the gift of God’s grace, we ‘have obtained like precious faith’ with God’s elect (2 Peter 1: 1). The doctrine of faith, the gospel is precious. And the grace of faith is precious, precious because it is rare, it honors God and it saves the soul.

5. Our precious trials. ‘The trial of your faith, being much more precious than gold’ (I Peter 1:7), proves that your faith is genuine and reveals your Father’s love. The trial of faith is precious because it causes your love, faith and joy in Christ to grow; causes you to enjoy and anticipate your inheritance in heaven and will give you great cause to praise and honor God in heaven.


 

January 9

Acts 4:13

Day 9

‘They had been with Jesus’

Read Matthew 5:1-16

When Peter and John appeared before the Sanhedrin, the Scripture tells us ‘They took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.’ Those men, who had no reverence for God, no regard for Christ and no interest in the gospel, took notice of Peter and John as being men whose lives were evidently under the influence and control of Christ. Their communion and conversation with Christ so influenced their speech and conduct that even their enemies acknowledged them to be followers of Christ.

That fact is of great interest to me. It causes this question to pierce my heart: ‘What does my life say about the Christ whom I profess to trust, love and serve?’ Of this much I am sure if I truly know Christ, if I live in communion with Christ by faith, Christ will be, to some degree, manifest in my life. My attitude, my speech and my conduct will, in some measure, reflect him.

The true believer is a person in whom Christ dwells. The new birth is nothing less than Christ coming into a man’s heart, taking possession, ruling and causing that man to become a follower of him. Anything less than this is not Christianity. The new birth creates a desire in the heart to be like Christ, causing the person who is born again to seek and strive after the perfection of Christ’s character in himself. We know that this perfect conformity to Christ cannot be attained in this life. But that fact in no way hinders us from seeking it. The highest aspiration of the believing heart is to be like Christ. His submission and dedication to the will of God and the glory of God, his patience, love, kindness, tenderness and forgiveness, his self-denial, self-sacrifice, humility and unflinching boldness in the cause of God are things all of God’s people seek. Let us ever seek these things ardently. When we close our eyes in death, we shall have this blessed conformity to Christ!


 

January 10

Psalm 31:5

Day 10

‘Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord’

Read Exodus 15:1-19

Redemption is a two fold thing. There is redemption by price and redemption by power. This is beautifully set forth typically by God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from Egypt. The Israelites were sealed by blood and kept from the judgment of God. Then God stretched out his mighty arm and redeemed them from the bondage of Egypt.

The Lord Jesus Christ paid the price of our redemption at Calvary. God demanded a perfect righteousness. Therefore our Savior assumed our nature. As a man he became subject to the will and law of God in every point, working out a perfect righteousness as our Representative. But that was not enough. Divine justice demanded a full payment and satisfaction for our transgressions. This could only be accomplished by the death of the sinner. Therefore, ‘God made Christ to be sin for us.’ And in holy justice the Son of God died in our place upon the cross. God’s righteousness and justice were fully satisfied. The price of our redemption was Christ’s precious blood. Only by the payment of that price can God both be just and the justifier of the ungodly.

But still his people were under the bondage of sin. We were still under the tyranny of the law. We were still in captivity to Satan and our own lusts. There must also be a redemption by power. This redemption by power is the effectual application of the blood to our hearts in the new birth. It is accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ, through the operation of the Holy Spirit. At God’s appointed time he sends forth the Spirit of his Son into the hearts of his people that they might receive the adoption of sons. Mark it down as a sure fact: every soul that Jesus Christ redeemed by the price of his shed blood, he will also redeem by the power of his right arm.

Both are essential to salvation. We must have a suitable Substitute, to redeem us with the price of his own blood. And we must have a sovereign Deliverer to redeem us with the power of his right arm. By virtue of his shed blood, Jesus Christ sets the prisoner free. Let us give praise to our merciful Redeemer.


 

January 11

I John 4:14

Day 11

‘The Savior of the world’

Read John 3:11-21

The apostle John gives us an infallible declaration of our Savior’s purpose for coming into the world: ‘We have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.’ Our Lord Jesus Christ left us a marvelous example of faithfulness, love, humility and patience. But our Lord had a far more important reason for coming into the world than that of being a moral example for us to follow. The purpose of the incarnation is the salvation of sinners. The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.’ ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief’ (I Tim. 1: 15). Three things are clear.

This world is sinful, guilty and cursed. This is the true character of the world and all who are in it. ‘The whole world lieth in wickedness’ (I John 5:19). When John says that Christ is the Savior of the world, he is simply telling us that the grace of God is not limited to the nation of Israel alone. God sent his Son to save men and women out of the fallen mass of humanity, Gentiles as well as Jews. Christ came to save guilty sinners (John 3:14-18).

The Lord Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world. No one less than God himself could suffice to save us. But when God the Son enters into the world in human flesh to save fallen men, we are sure that the incarnate God cannot fail. ‘He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgement [righteousness] in the earth’ (Isa. 42:4). Christ was sent by the Father, because he volunteered to come into the world to save sinners by establishing righteousness and accomplishing redemption through his obedience as the sinner’s Substitute.

Jesus Christ is the Savior you need. You have no hope of salvation apart from Christ. You are guilty, helpless, perishing in sin. No one but Christ can save you. Christ alone is an all-sufficient Savior for sinners. His righteousness is all the righteousness you need. His blood is all the ransom God requires.


 

January 12

Matthew 6:5

Day 12

‘When thou prayest’

Read 2 Samuel 7:18-29

In personal, private prayer we commune with the eternal, triune God. Prayer is an acknowledgement of our weakness in the flesh because of sin, and of our need for constant supplies of divine grace. In private prayer we open our hearts to God and pour out our souls before him.

Let us never be pretentious and hypocritical before God in prayer. He sees all and knows all. ‘The Lord looketh on the heart. ‘God is not interested in how we speak to him, the length of our prayers, the frequency of our prayers, or even the words we use in prayer. God looks upon our hearts. He is interested in and has regard for the attitudes, the motives and the desires of our hearts.

True prayer, like all other graces and acts of worship, is a heart work. You may memorize little religious sayings and call them prayers. You may read and recite prayer books and think you are praying. You may repeat the earnest prayers of other people and suppose that you have prayed. But true prayed cannot be taught or learned by men any more than breathing can be. It is not an art or skill. Prayer is the breath of the renewed soul. Prayer is born in the heart by the grace of God. It is the power and grace of the Spirit in a man’s heart that teaches him to pray. Indeed, true faith is prayer and true prayer is faith. We ought to live in an unceasing attitude of prayer, always acknowledging our sin, always seeking God’s will, always trusting his grace. In this sense, let us ‘pray without ceasing’.  But let us never neglect private prayer. Truly, prayer is a source of strength and consolation to the believing heart. Above all things, our prayer life reveals our true heart attitude towards God and ourselves. What we are in prayer before God, we truly are. Our faith in Christ, our sense of our sinfulness and weakness in the flesh, our dependence upon God’s providence and our reverence for God are all manifest by our attitude about prayer.


 

January 13

Hebrews 7:22

Day 13

‘Surety of a better testament’

Read Jeremiah 32:37-40; Hebrews 8:10-12

The covenant of grace is that solemn agreement between the three persons of the Holy Trinity for the everlasting salvation of God’s elect. The covenant was ordered and made sure in all its details before the foundation of the world. The covenant is God’s immutable, unalterable purpose of grace towards his elect. It is sometimes called ‘the will,’ sometimes ‘the testament’ and sometimes ‘the covenant’ by the inspired writers. But it is clearly revealed, both in the Old and the New Testaments, that our salvation was planned, purposed and made sure in this everlasting covenant of grace by God’s eternal decree (Jer. 31:31-34; 32:38-40; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Tim. 1:9-10).

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Surety of the covenant. That is to say, God entrusted his glory, his grace and his elect people to his Son, who agreed to assume full responsibility for them, much like a man would entrust his sheep to the care of his son as a shepherd (John 6:37-40). A surety is a representative man, who lays himself under obligation for the one he represents (Gen. 43:8-9). In this sense Christ is our Surety. He drew near to God on our behalf, and laid himself under obligation to God for us, for our eternal salvation (Heb. 10:5-14).

Christ voluntarily became our Surety. Suretyship, to a man of honor, is a voluntary bondage (Prov. 6:1-2); and when Christ became our Surety in the covenant of grace, he voluntarily placed himself in bondage to his Father until his service was performed (Isa. 50:5-7; John 10: 16-18). In this sense, he became his Father’s Servant. Christ is an absolute Surety. Whatever God required for our salvation, Christ agreed to perform for us. He willingly became responsible to God for his people, for both righteousness and satisfaction. His work as the Surety of the covenant will not be complete until he presents all God’s elect before him in glory, ‘holy and without blame’.  Therefore he says, concerning his elect, ‘Them also I must bring.’ If so much as one of his elect should perish, he would be a failure and must bear the blame forever. And that cannot be!


 

January 14

Psalm 119:58

Day 14

‘According to thy word’

Read Lamentations 3:21-26

The apostle Paul, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, tells us plainly what God’s intention, purpose and design are in giving us the inspired volume of Holy Scripture: ‘Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope’ (Rom. 15:4).

1. The Word of God was written for our learning. It was not written simply for us to learn the facts of Bible history, the ways of morality, or even mere doctrinal truth. It is good to learn these things; but the intent of Scripture is far more practical and beneficial. The Word of God has been given to us so that we might learn the way of life, salvation and peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything in the book of God speaks about and reveals the Son of God (Luke 24:27, 44-47; John 5:39; Acts 10:43). The purpose of God in giving us his Word is that we might know his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and be saved by him.

2. God has given us the Scriptures to teach us patience. Patience is that calm, even temper and unruffled spirit with which believing men and women bear the evils of life. Our Lord’s admonition to us is ‘in patience possess ye your souls’ (Luke 21:19). Patience waits upon the Lord. Patience is resignation of the heart to the will of God (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:6). If we believe God, we can wait upon him with ease and expectation.

3. God has given us his Word so that we meant enjoy the comfort of the Scriptures. The fact that God is my Father fills me with comfort. The gospel of God, the character of God, the providence of God and the promises of God are wells of consolation for the believing soul.

4. God has given us this blessed volume so that we might live in the hope of the Scriptures. Faith primarily looks to the past, trusting what Christ has accomplished. Hope is based upon and arises from faith. Hope looks to the future, anticipating all that Christ has promised.


 

January 15

John 10:28

Day 15

‘They shall never perish’

Read Psalm 89:19-37

Our Lord here makes a blanket, unconditional promise to every true believer. It takes into consideration all times, all circumstances, all contingencies, all events and all possibilities. This promise takes in all the flock. Not one of Christ’s sheep will ever perish no, not even one. If you are a believer, if you trust the Lord Jesus Christ, if you have received eternal life, you will never perish. Christ himself has promised it! Nothing in you, nothing done by you, nothing in heaven, earth or hell will ever destroy your soul. Here are seven reasons why Christ’s sheep will never perish.

1. The Promise of God must be, fulfilled. God himself says, ‘They shall never perish.’ If one promise of God could be broken, no promise could be believed.

2. The purpose of God cannot be frustrated (John 6:37-40). God’s covenant cannot be made void. His elective purpose cannot be overturned. The suretyship engagements of Christ cannot be broken. The Good Shepherd must save his sheep. (John 10: 16).

3. The redemptive work of Christ cannot be nullified (Isa.53:10-11). That which Christ purchased, he must have. Otherwise he could never see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied.

4. The believer’s justification by God in Christ is an irreversible act of grace (Rom. 8:31-34). God will not impute sin to those whom he has justified in his Son (Rom. 4:8).

5. The work of God’s grace in the believer’s heart can never be defeated (Phil. 1:6). That which God has begun he will carry on to perfection. Nothing and no one can halt God’s work.

6. The intercessory work of our Lord Jesus Christ must prevail (John 17:9-11,15,20; 1 John 2:1-2). Those for whom the Son of God pleads cannot perish.

7. The seat of the Holy Spirit cannot be broken (Eph. 1: 13-14). God the Holy Spirit has sealed every believer unto the day of redemption, securing our glorious resurrection and eternal inheritance in Christ.


 

January 16

Revelation 7:17; 21:4

Day 16

There will be no tears in heaven

Read 2 Corinthians 4:1-18

All who enter eternal glory will shed many tears before they reach their home. Here we weep much because of our sin, our bereavements and our afflictions. Physical, mental, emotional and Spiritual pain bring living men to weep. Child of God, do not expect to be free from tears here. But on the other side of the grave, we shall weep no more!

To be sure, there are many things which would cause us to weep in heaven, were it not promised, ‘God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ Surely, we would weep over our many sins, the coldness of our hearts, our wasted opportunities and our indifference while we were upon the earth. But God will not allow it. Not one tear shall dim our vision of Christ over there.

The Lord our God will remove us from every source of pain and grief. He will remove us from all sin and remove all sin from us! Well may I cease to weep when I have ceased to sin. And he will give us all that our hearts desire. There will be no weeping over lost reward in that land to which we are going. Our reward will be full, perfect and satisfying. We shall see Christ! We shall be like Christ. We shall love Christ perfectly, serve him unceasingly, worship him without sin, know him fully, rest in him completely and enjoy him entirely! We shall have Christ! All that he is and all that he has will be ours! And we shall cease to weep forever!

Will you be among that happy company? Not everyone will be there. No one deserves to be there. Yet we are told that there will be a great multitude there which no man can number. All who are washed in the blood of Christ and clothed in his righteousness will be there. All who are chosen of God, for whom the celestial city was prepared, will be there. All who trust Christ alone as Lord and Savior will be there, but no one else. Will you be there?


 

January 17

John 18:8

Day 17

‘Let these go their way’

Read Romans 3:20-31

Our Lord Jesus Christ was in the garden and the soldiers came to arrest him. When they came to take him away, our Savior gave this commandment to the soldiers concerning his beloved disciples: ‘If therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: that the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.’

Do you see the love and care which our Lord manifested towards his people, even in the hour of his trial? His love is strong as death. He voluntarily gives himself up to the enemy, but demands that his people be set free as a condition of his surrender. As a sheep before shearers is dumb, he opens not his mouth for his own sake; but for the sake of his disciples he gives a commandment of sovereign authority. This is love, constant, free, self-denying, unchanging love. But there is far more here than is to be found upon the surface.

This is a beautiful picture of our great Substitute in his work of redemption. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep, but the condition is this: those sheep for whom he died must therefore go free. Our Surety was bound and slain for us and justice demands that those for whom he stands as a Substitute must be set free to go their way. In the midst of Egyptian bondage, that voice rings out as a word of power: ‘Let these go their way.’ Out of the slavery of sin, out of the bondage of Satan, out from under the curse of the law the redeemed of the Lord Must Come. He says, upon the merits of his own infinite sacrifice, ‘Let these go their way. ‘With the eye of his justice upon the blood of his Son, the Lord God says of all his elect, ‘Let these go their way. Deliver them from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.’ The thunder-cloud of divine wrath burst upon our Savior’s head as he hung upon the cross of Calvary, and God’s elect, his chosen sheep, those sinners who, being called by his grace, believe on Christ, shall never be smitten by the bolts of the law’s justice and vengeance. They must go free!


 

January 18

Romans 5:19

Day 18

‘The obedience of one’

Read Romans 5:12-21

The essence of the gospel is substitution. The everlasting salvation of God’s elect is in no way dependent upon, or attributed to, anything done by us. ‘Salvation is of the Lord!’ God’s gift of eternal life, all the blessings of grace in this life and all the blessedness of eternal glory in the life to come are freely bestowed upon every believing sinner only as the result of the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Substitute. We could never earn or merit everlasting salvation. But the Lord Jesus Christ has earned the eternal salvation of God’s elect. God in justice, righteousness and truth must reward his Son with the salvation of every soul for whom he lived, died and rose again. ‘For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.’ As we were made sinners in the eyes of God’s law and justice by the sin and fall of our father Adam, though we had not yet committed any actual sin of our own, even so we are made righteous by the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ as our Substitute, though we have no actual righteousness of our own.

By his obedience in life as our Representative, Christ brought in all everlasting righteousness for us. God in his law required that we live in perfect righteousness, entirely without sin, loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbors as ourselves. This is what Christ has done for us. In him all who believe have perfectly obeyed God’s law. By his obedience in death, the Son of God satisfied the penalty of the law against sin as our Substitute. He was made to be sin for us by divine imputation. And, when he was made to be sin for us, our Substitute received the wages of sin ¾ death. In him all who believe died under penalty of God’s law. Now God imputes the righteousness of his Son to every believer. In exactly the same way as Christ was made to be sin for us and was rewarded with death because of sin, we are made to be the righteousness of God in him. Being righteous in Christ, we shall be rewarded for his perfect righteousness with eternal glory.


 

January 19

John 14:1

Day 19

‘Let not your heart be troubled’

Read John 14:18-27

These are words of love and concern. They are the gentle words of our faithful Friend. But they are words of reproof. Our Lord is telling us that believing hearts ought never to be anxious, fearful and worried. He would have us cast our care upon him and trust him to provide for us and protect us in all things (I Peter 5:6-7). When our hearts are troubled there is trouble in our hearts. I know that whenever my heart is troubled with worry, anxiety and fear my trouble can be traced to some evil thing in my heart.

Pride is a terrible source of heart trouble, It is pride that causes us to rebel against God’s providence. Most of our sorrows arise from within. ‘When self is conquered, sorrow is to a great extent banished from the human heart’ (Spurgeon). We shall find no comfort for our hearts until our pride is broken and our hearts are subdued (job 1:20-22; 2:9-10).

Unbelief is the root of all heart trouble. Worry, anxiety and fear are the fruits of unbelief. If I believe God there is nothing I can reasonably fear, worry about or anxiously consider (Matt. 6:25-34). One old preacher said, ‘I dare not fret any more than I dare curse and swear.'

Covetousness is a real, though unacknowledged, cause of heart trouble. Our hearts are troubled because we want God to do what he has not done or give what he has riot given. That is covetousness (Phil. 4:11).

Envy, the desire of another person’s ease, wealth or position, causes a believer’s heart great trouble (Ps. 73:1-3). Envy is the most loathsome, vicious child pride ever sired. As a moth eats cloth, so envy eats a man. It is the most cruel, destructive passion of the human heart.

Self-pity is the sum of all these evils. Usually troubled hearts are peevish, self-willed, self-pitying hearts. The spirit of Christ is humility, not pride; faith, not unbelief; contentment, not covetousness; peace, not envy; self-denial, not self-pity. If you would be free of heart trouble, believe Christ and walk in the spirit of Christ.


 

January 20

Acts 9:31

Day 20

‘Walking in the fear of the Lord’

Read Proverbs 1:7-31

Believers are men and women who walk in the fear of the Lord. God’s people do not have a slavish dread of God. We are not afraid to speak to him and about him. We are not afraid that he will become angry with us, disinherit us, or punish us for sin. Faith in Christ removes that kind of terrifying fear. Yet the believer does not think, talk about, or seek to God carelessly, flippantly, without reverence for his infinite, glorious, righteous being. A true heart knowledge of the triune God will produce godly fear in a man’s heart.

The fear of the Lord is simply reverence for him. It is much like the reverence a son has for his father, involving both love and respect. God has won the admiration of his children’s hearts, causing us to reverence him. We reverence his name, his being, his Word and his works. All that God is, all that has to do with him, all that he says and all that he does is held in high esteem by those who know him.

This fear of The Lord shows itself in many ways. To fear God is to hate evil. The man who knows God hates the evil of his own heart and life, hates the evil performed by others and hates the evil of false doctrine, which robs God of his glory. ‘Those who fear the Lord are careful not to offend him. We cherish our fellowship with the eternal God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And we take care not to grieve and offend him, because we want nothing to hinder the fellowship we enjoy. The heart that fears the Lord withholds nothing from him, no matter how dear and valuable, when he calls for it. To fear the Lord is to worship him. It is to worship God, as he is revealed in Scripture, in our hearts. Such fear of the Lord is progressive. Believers walk in the fear of the Lord. The more a man knows him, the more he fears him. God grant that I may be found ‘walking in the fear of the Lord’.  Amen.


 

January 21

John 11:50

Day 21

‘One man should die for the people’

Read 2 Corinthians 5:11-21

The heart of the gospel is redemption and the essence of redemption is substitution. The deepest, most profound, most mysterious and most edifying subjects in all the Word of God is set forth in these words: ‘He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him!’ Substitution is the foundation truth of Christianity. This is the rock upon which our hopes are built. This is the only hope of the sinner and the only true joy of all saints.

The most marvelous thing that ever took place upon the earth, the most stupendous thing ever executed by the power of heaven was this: Jesus Christ, God the eternal Son, was made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him!

These two things, Christ being made sin and us being made righteousness, could only be accomplished by substitution. There was no possible way for the Lord of glory to be made sin, except by imputation. And there is no way by which any man can be made righteousness, except by imputation. It is a legal matter. At Calvary Christ became sin for us, and we became righteousness in him. As surely as Christ was made sin, all of those for whom he died are made righteous.

Of this we may be sure: for that, multitude of sinners for whom Jesus died there is no possibility of condemnation! ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus ... For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh.'

Child of God, we can never understand the depths of wisdom and grace revealed in the substitutionary death of Christ. But we who have seen him dying in our stead should never cease to worship, adore, love and trust our merciful Redeemer.


 

January 22

Galatians 5:17

Day 22

‘Ye cannot do the things that ye would’

Read Psalms 73:1-28

There is a terrible, unceasing struggle in my soul. Being born again by almighty grace, I believe a new heart and a new will, a new, heaven-bent nature created in me by the Spirit of God. I long for and seek after righteousness. Above anything in the world, I want to be perfectly free of sin and conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the desire of every saved sinner. But I cannot do the things I would. I find a law in my members that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. I find in my soul iniquity, transgression and sin far more hideous and ignominious than the profane acts of ungodly men. Lying, theft, drunkenness, adultery and murder are only isolated acts of evil. But my sin is ever before me! I want to pray, but there is too much selfish lust in my prayers to call them prayers. I want to worship God in the Spirit, but there is too much pride in my worship to call it worship. I want to be completely free of all earthly care, trusting God in all things, but there is too much unbelief and selfish resentment towards God’s providence to call my faith faith or my submission submission. I want to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength, and my neighbor as myself, but there is too much concern for self to call my love love.

Like all believers in this world, I am a man with two natures, two principles, warring against one another continually; and those two natures are the flesh and the Spirit. The flesh is evil, only evil, and ever seeks evil. The Spirit is righteous, only righteous, and ever seeks righteousness.

This constant warfare between the flesh and the Spirit makes me do three things: (1) I denounce all personal righteousness, for I have none, and confess my sin. (2) I trust Christ alone for all my righteousness before God. And (3) I live in hope of that day when I shall drop this robe of flesh and be like my Savior, holy, blameless and unreproveable before God.


 

January 23

Psalm 65:4

Day 23

‘Blessed is the man whom thou choosest’

Read Ephesians 1:3-14

Divine election is a constant theme of thanksgiving and praise throughout the Word of God. The blessedness of being one of God’s elect fills every believer’s heart with praise to God. Those who were chosen by God in eternal love and given to Christ as his sheep in the covenant of grace have been redeemed by the Savior’s precious blood John 10: 11, 14,15,26). Divine providence rules all things, sovereignly working all things together for the good of God’s elect (Rom. 8:28-30). The Lord Jesus Christ prays and makes intercession for God’s elect (John 17:9,20). Satan has no power over the souls and eternal destiny of God’s elect, who are kept and preserved by the power of God (Luke 22:31-32; 1 Peter 1:5). Sin will never be charged to God’s elect, because all God’s elect have been perfectly justified by his grace through the blood of Christ (Rom. 3:24; 4:8). All of God’s elect, without exception, will be glorified, presented before the presence of God himself, ‘holy and without blame’, being perfectly righteous through the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to them (Eph. 1:4). In the last day, every one of God’s elect will enter into and possess that kingdom prepared for them before the world began, as ‘heirs of’ God and joint-heirs with Christ’ (Rom. 8:17). Yes, God’s elect people will possess that eternal inheritance to which we were eternally predestinated (Eph. 1: 11). When David thought on all these things his heart broke out in praise to God for his eternal, electing love: ‘Blessed is the man whom thou choosest!’

If you are one of God’s elect all these blessings, and many more, are yours. If you are not among God’s elect none of these blessings will ever be yours. All the blessings of grace flow down to men from the throne of God through the elective purpose of God (Eph. 1:3-6). If you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, if you bow to Christ as your Lord in faith, trusting his blood and righteousness, you are one of God’s elect. If you believe not, you are not elect John 10:26).


 

January 24

Romans 8:34

Day 24

‘Who is he that condemneth?’

Read Roman 8:28-39

For some the answer to that question is not hard to find: you are condemned already! It is commonly thought that man is on a sort of spiritual probation. But such is not the case. Hear the Word of God: ‘He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed on the name of the only begotten Son of God . . . He that believeth not . . . shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him’ (John 3:18, 36). You are condemned already because of your sin. You must be pardoned, or forever die! Awake now and flee to Christ. He alone can pardon you and free you from condemnation.

There is no possibility of condemnation for those who are in Christ. There are many who would condemn the true believer if they could. God’s people often meet with their enemies in this world and those wicked men would delight to sentence us to condemnation. Satan, that archenemy of our souls, would condemn us if it were in his power. Sometimes our own consciences condemn us. But, blessed be God, ‘if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things!'

God alone has the power to condemn us, but he will not. He has declared that he will never condemn any who trust in his Son. He who has the power of condemnation is our Savior. He knows that we are so perfectly justified that we cannot be condemned. We raise the bold challenge: ‘Who is he that condemneth?’ With confident joy we reply, ‘No one can condemn us!’ With unshaken faith we declare, ‘There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.’ Does anyone ask, ‘What is the grounds of this confidence?’ Paul states it plainly: ‘it is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of the Father who also maketh intercession for us.’ Christ died as our Substitute; we cannot die. Christ has risen for our justification; we are justified. Christ is seated at the right hand of God; the work of our redemption is finished and accepted. Christ makes intercession for us; he must prevail; we must be saved.


 

January 25

Acts 8:30

Day 25

‘Understandest thou what thou readest?’

Read Acts 8:26-39

It is good to read the Bible regularly, learn the facts of Bible history, memorize as much of the Bible as you can and study the blessed doctrines of the Bible. But it is quite possible to do all of these things and yet gain no spiritual benefit from the Word of God. The Word of God will be of benefit to our souls only to the degree that we understand it. Such understanding in the Scriptures is, and can only be gained, by the gracious instruction of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 2:11-16).

A man has understanding in the Scriptures to the degree that he sees Christ in everything and sees everything in Christ. Philip gave the eunuch understanding in the Scriptures when he ‘preached unto him Jesus’.  He preached Christ, nothing but Christ, and that gave the eunuch understanding. In the Word of God, Christ alone is pre-eminent. The Bible is a book about the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is the whole counsel of God, and the whole counsel of God is Christ (Acts 20:26-27; 1 Cor. 2:2; 9:16).

I have understanding in the Scriptures to the degree that my understanding creates in me a humble, submissive, obedient, faith in Christ. This eunuch showed his understanding in the Word by his willing surrender to believer’s baptism, the ordinance of Christ.

We have understanding in the Word of God to the degree that our understanding causes us to rejoice in Christ. Once this man understood the Scriptures, ‘He went on his way rejoicing.’ Spurgeon said, ‘The faith of the Scriptures leads joy by the hand, and chases away despair.'

I have understanding in the Scriptures to the degree that my understanding causes me to seek the salvation of others. This eunuch carried the gospel with him back to Africa. Once a man learns the gospel, he has got to tell it to others.

And I have understanding in the Scriptures to the degree that I have a message for all people at all times. I have a message of salvation, life, comfort, peace and joy to all people, in every circumstance of life. My message to you is the message I have received - Christ crucified.


 

January 26

Hebrews 2:4

Day 26

‘Gifts of the Holy Ghost’

Read I Corinthians 12:29-13:13

There is much talk today about the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. Many claim to possess these gifts. And some of God’s people are confused about them. I want to answer briefly some questions you might have about the gifts of the Spirit.

What miraculous gifts did the apostles possess by the Holy Spirit? As you read through the book of Acts you will see that the apostles had the ability to speak in tongues. (They could preach the gospel to men in foreign languages which they never learned.) The apostles cast out demons. They healed the sick. They did not try to heal the sick; they did it. Every time an apostle of Christ commanded a man to be healed, that man was immediately healed, no matter what his disease. Neither the poison of serpents nor deadly mixtures could harm them, as Paul demonstrated to the astonishment of men on the island of Melita. And they raised the dead to life. All of the apostles possessed all of these gifts. And they all exercised them with absolute efficacy. I defy anyone to find such a man today.

Why were the gifts given? These gifts were bestowed upon the apostles to prove and confirm them before men as the inspired messengers of the enthroned Messiah (Joel 2:28-32; Matt. 11:2-5; Acts 2:14-36; Heb. 2:3-4).

Is there any place for these gifts in the church of Christ today? No, these miraculous apostolic gifts ceased with the apostolic age. In Acts 8:5-18 we read of the apostles coming to Samaria to communicate the gift of the Holy Spirit to the believers there. Philip, though he possessed those gifts, could not communicate them, because Philip was not an apostle. If the gifts could only be communicated by an apostle, they must have ceased when the last of the apostles died. There is no need for such gifts today. We have the complete inspired revelation of God in Holy Scripture (2 Peter 1:9-2 1). Since there are no forthcoming revelations from God, there is no need for miraculous signs to confirm such revelations. The Word of God is complete, final and sufficient.


 

January 27

1 John 2:3

Day 27

‘We know him’

Read Romans 10:11-17; Jeremiah 9:23-24

So long as men are ignorant of the Lord Jesus Christ they cannot be saved. It is not enough that men and women be sincere. They must know Christ as he is revealed in Holy Scripture, or they will perish in unbelief. Our Lord himself declares, ‘This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent’ (John 17:3). In order to have true saving faith in Christ a man must have a true gospel knowledge of Christ. Gospel knowledge is essential to saving faith (Rom. 10:9-17).

True faith knows, acknowledges and trusts the Lord Jesus Christ in the supreme dignity of his person. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the infinite, incomprehensible, eternal God, who is moved by nothing and touched by nothing. He is also God incarnate, God in our nature, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh, the man who is touched with the feeling of our infirmities, because he was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.

Faith knows, embraces and trusts Christ, receiving the salvation done by his performance. Faith does not, in any way, accomplish salvation. Our salvation was accomplished entirely by the work of our Lord Jesus. Faith, trusting Christ, simply receives what he has done as our Substitute. We receive his righteousness, the righteousness which he performed for us, by faith. We receive redemption and the forgiveness of sins: that which he purchased by his precious blood, by faith.

Saving faith knows Christ as Lord and bows to him in the sovereign dominion of his position. Faith submits to the sovereign rule of the sovereign Christ, willingly. Faith does not rebel against sovereignty; it rejoices in it.

True faith knows Christ and rests in the sure deliverance of his power. He cannot fail. He is able to save to the uttermost all who come to God by him. All power is in the hands of him who is our Savior. Therefore our hearts safely trust him.


 

January 28

Galatians 1:15

Day 28

‘It pleased God’

Read Romans 9:11-26

Though to many Paul’s conversion, his experience of grace, might seem extraordinary, he tells its us that the method of God’s grace with him was a pattern, revealing the method of God’s grace with all his elect (I Tim.1: 16). The apostle also tells us plainly what the order and method of God’s grace is: ‘When it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, to reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood’ (Gal. 1: 15-16). This is the way God saves sinners. The order of grace never changes. The method of grace never varies.

Salvation begins in the will and pleasure of God: ‘When it pleased God’.  The source of saving grace is the will of God. The cause of salvation is not the will of man, but the will of God (Rom. 9:11-18). Having willed to save some of Adam’s fallen race, God separated his own elect from the rest of mankind: ‘Who separated me from my mother’s womb.’ This act of separation is God’s unconditional election of his people in Christ, before the foundation of the world (2 Thess. 2:13;2 Tim. 1:19). The phrase ‘from my mother’s womb’ implies the fact that this election took place before we had done anything good or bad. It is teaching God’s sovereignty in election (Jer. 1:4-5). Then, at the time appointed, God calls all of his elect by effectual and irresistible grace: ‘And called me by his grace’.  Those who were sanctified in the womb of election are given life by the call of the spirit. This call of the Spirit is always effectual because, in calling his elect to life and faith, God graciously reveals his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in his elect: ‘To reveal his Son in me’.  Salvation comes when Christ is revealed. As the result of this revelation of Christ in the heart, God makes his elect people willingly obedient servants to his Son. God’s purpose was that Paul should willingly serve him, and serve him he did. Good works will never cause God to be gracious; but God’s grace always causes his people to walk willingly in good works.


 

January 29

Romans 14:10

Day 29

‘The judgment seat of Christ’

Read 2 Corinthians 5:1 -11

Though today God is longsuffering with men and is giving the fallen sons of Adam space for repentance, there is a Day of Judgment and righteous retribution coming (Rev. 20:11-14). God does not delay his judgment because he lacks the will or the power to judge men, but because he has an elect people whom he has determined to save. As soon as he has saved the last of his elect, judgment will come (2 Peter 3:8-15).

According to the revelation of Holy Scripture, the judge of all men in that great day will be the man, Christ Jesus (Matt. 13:41-43; 25:31-32; John 5:22-29; Acts 10:42; 17:30-31; Rom. 14:9-12; 2 Cor. 5: 10). The Judge of the world in that last great day will be the Son of man who is the Son of God. This judgment of men by Christ will be both righteous and impartial. All men will receive the exact penalty or reward of strict justice. The wicked will be judged in strict righteousness according to their works and receive in a body the just reward of their evil deeds. There will be degrees of punishment in hell, because there are degrees of wickedness. Those who sin against greater light will receive greater condemnation (Matt. 11:20-24). The righteous will also be judged in strict righteousness according to their works and receive in body the just reward of their righteous deeds. There will be no degrees of reward for the righteous, because there are no degrees of righteousness. All righteous men are perfect men. These are God’s elect, redeemed, justified and sanctified by Christ. There is no evil recorded against them because the righteous obedience of Christ to the law is imputed to them (Rom. 5:19). That same law and justice that demand the eternal punishment of every unbeliever also demand the eternal bliss and glory of every believer, whose names are written in the book of life, because in Christ, by his righteousness and shed blood, every believer is worthy of heaven’s eternal inheritance.


 

January 30

Psalm 51:3

Day 30

‘My sin is ever before me’

Read Psalm 32:1:11

The words are used throughout the Bible to describe the moral depravity of our race. God’s judgment falls upon men because of iniquity, transgression and sin.

Iniquity is the perverseness of my righteousness. It is missing the mark, failing short of that which is required by the law of God. How far short do we fall? ‘We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags’ (Isa. 64:6). My best thoughts, best ambitions, best desires and best deeds are so polluted with sin that in the sight of God they are as vile and obnoxious as discarded menstruous cloths.

Transgression is the perverseness of my evil works. It is the contemptuous disregard of God’s law, walking contrary to the law and violating the law by willful rebellion. Every thought, word and deed that is contrary to the law of God is transgression. It is the breaking of God’s law.

Sin is the perverseness of my being. This is what I am. This is the source of all transgression and iniquity. My heart by nature is a foul, polluted cesspool in which every manner of evil imaginable grows (Matt. 15:19). It is a garrison of enmity against God (Rom. 8:7). The evil I do is terrible; but the evil that I am is worse by far. I hate what I do; but I hate what I am more.

If we would obtain mercy from God, we must confess our sin. (Prov. 28:13; 1 John 1:9). This is more than merely saying, with Judas, ‘I have sinned.’ It is a heartfelt acknowledgement of our guilt and depravity. We must acknowledge the evil of our righteousness, the evil of our wickedness and the evil of our nature, so that we take sides with God against ourselves (Ps. 51:1-5).

I rejoice to know and to declare to you that through the merits of Christ’s righteousness and shed blood God is faithful and just to forgive iniquity, transgression and sin. (Exod. 34:6-7; 1 John 1:9). This is the good news and glad tidings of the gospel. If we acknowledge and confess our sin God will forgive our sin. The blood of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, cleanses us from all sin.


 

January 31

Titus 1:1

Day 31

‘The faith of God’s elect’

Read Philippians 3:1-14

Almost all men have faith of one kind or another and there are many who profess faith in Christ. But it is evident that the faith produced by modern-day evangelism is not true saving faith, because it does not produce the same characteristics as that faith taught and exemplified in the Word of God. That faith which is produced by the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the gospel will always be distinguished from false faith by at least five things.

1. True faith produces a heart truly before God over sin. (Ps. 51:1-5, 17). Whenever a man sees himself in the light of God’s glory shining upon him through the cross of Christ, he will cry out with the publican, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner!’ This is where repentance begins. Christ revealed in the heart breaks the heart (Zech. 12: 10).

2. True faith causes the heart, to bow willingly to Christ’s absolute sovereignty and Lordship in all things. (Luke 14:25-33). The believer’s submission to Christ is far from perfect; but it is a sincere, willing surrender of the heart to Christ. In our inmost being we voluntarily commit ourselves and all things to the disposal of our gracious Sovereign.

3. Truth faith looks to Christ alone for all things. True faith trusts Christ alone. Faith has two hands. With one hand she strips away all the filthy rags of her own righteousness; and with the other she puts on the righteousness of Christ. Faith sees ‘Jesus only’.  Faith wraps itself up in Christ (I Cor. 1:30).

4. True faith will persevere and continue to believe regardless of circumstances. (Heb. 11:13). False faith fluctuates. True faith is steady, continual and relentless. The rougher the storm, the firmer faith clings to Christ. True faith never gives up.

5. True faith produces a heart of sincere love for the people of God. (1 John 4:8; 5: 1). False faith strives to produce love and pretends to love. But love is natural to true faith. Love for the brethren flows as naturally from the believing heart as water flows from the spring.


 

February 1

John 13:15

Day 32

‘I have given you an example’

Read, John 13:1-17, 31-35

Believer, never allow anyone to bring you into bondage again. Having been redeemed by the blood of Christ, and having your conscience purged from the guilt of sin by the application of Christ’s blood to your heart, you are entirely, completely free from the law. You owed the law of God a life of perfect righteousness. Do you trust Christ? He is the Lord our Righteousness’. By his obedience to God as your Representative, Christ did what you could never do. He magnified the law and made it honorable in his life. That righteous life God imputes to you. You are perfectly righteous in Christ. You also owed the law death. Had you died, your death must have been eternal, because you could never satisfy the law’s infinite justice. But Christ, the God-man, died as your Substitute, bearing your sin and, by his one sacrifice for sin, he satisfied the very justice of God. So far as God’s law is concerned, you are a dead man. The law has no claim upon you. You died in Christ. There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus!’ It would be as foolish for you to try to obey the law for yourself’, as it would for you to try to atone for your own sins (Rom. 6:14; 7:1-4; 10:4; Gal. 3:24-26; 5:1-4; Col. 2:14- 16).

Someone will come along and try to trick you. He will say, ‘Well, if you do not live by the law of Moses, you're an antinomian. You believe every man should do that which is right in his own eyes.’ If you wish to be polite to the legalist (I do not suggest that you should be), you may reply, ‘No my friend, we have a law to live by. Our Lord commanded us to love one another. That is our law.’ Then the poor bondman will argue, ‘But love is a nebulous law. YOU still must live by the rule of the Ten Commandments.’ If your patience is not worn out, you might want to answer that objection too: ‘Love is not nebulous at all. We have Christ as our example. He has shown us exactly how to love. Christ is the pattern we copy and the example we follow. I am quite sure that I am safe following my Lord.'


 

February 2

Hebrews 11:6

Day 33

‘How can I please and honor God?’

Read 1 John 3:1-5, 16-24

Every believer is concerned about this question. I do not think it is beyond reason or revelation to say that this is the heart and desire of every child of God. While we live in this world, we want to please and honor the God of all grace. Is there any clear, biblical answer to this question: ‘How can I please and honor God?'

Many tell us that in order to please God we must physically separate ourselves from the world. Every believer understands that God’s children are to be separate and distinct from the unbelieving world. We live by principles, motives and desires that the world can never comprehend. But if all it takes to please God is to alter our dress code, change our outward habits and live in seclusion from the world then anyone can please him. It takes only self-discipline, not grace. Moralists and monks have been doing these things for centuries.

Others tell us that to honor God we must live by the law of, God. It is true, if anyone could live by the law, God would be please with him, for that man would live in sinlessness and righteousness. He would be a perfect man. But God can never be pleased with a mere attempt to live by the law, no matter how sincere that man may be who tries to do so.

Some tell us that the way to please and honor God is to live a holy life. That would be a great thing. But who can do it? Of course, everyone has his own standards of holiness. Some even think they really do live in holiness. But the only true standard of holiness is God himself’.  When holiness is understood, we see the utter futility of trying to perform holiness for ourselves.

We do not need to search for an answer to this question: ‘How can I please and honor God?’ We need not be confused by the confused opinions of men. The Lord has not left us in darkness. We please God and honor God by faith. All who believe Christ, trusting his righteousness, his blood, his providence, his grace and his intercession please and honor God, for God is pleased with his Son.


 

February 3

John 10:28

Day 34

‘I give unto them eternal life’

Read Ephesians 1:15-23

Eternal life is the gift of God’s grace in Christ. It comes to men freely, as a matter of pure grace. Man does not have eternal life by nature. Eternal life does not evolve from man’s sinful heart by some mysterious process of ‘spiritual evolution’.  It is given to men. It is performed in the heart by the power of God’s sovereign grace. It is in no way a matter of debt or reward. ‘The gift of God is eternal life.’ There was nothing in our hearts or conduct which caused God to bestow eternal life upon us (Jer. 31:3; Eph. 2:1-4). And there is nothing in the believer’s heart or conduct which can cause God to take away the gift of eternal life (Isa. 54: 10). It is contrary to the nature of God to take away his gifts so freely bestowed upon his people in Christ (Rom. 11:29). This gift of eternal life, so freely given, is an irreversible gift. Acknowledge that eternal life is entirely the gift of God, in no way earned by or dependent upon the goodness of man, and it must be concluded that those to whom eternal life is given are eternally secure in Christ (Eccles. 3:14).

Eternal life must, of necessity, be eternal. Any child, whose reason is not perverted with human religion, readily sees that eternal life cannot be temporary. It cannot come to an end. If I have received from God the gift of eternal life, it is not possible for me, by any act or upon any grounds, to lose it and perish.

The believer’s life must be eternal, because it is a life in union with the Lord Jesus Christ. We who believe are so really and truly joined to Christ that we cannot possibly perish unless he also perishes. Our union with Christ is a vital life union, immutable and indestructible. We are married to Christ, bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh (Eph. 5:30). We are members of his body, the church (Eph. 1:23). Can you imagine Christ with a maimed body? Perish the thought! Yet his body would not be complete if so much as one member of his body were lost. All who are in Christ have eternal life; and they are all eternally secure in him.


 

February 4

Genesis 18:19

Day 35

A word about ministering to your children

Read Psalm 127:1-5

All believing parents are concerned about the souls of their children. We want to see them converted, saved by the grace of God, united to Christ in eternal life. But we must be careful, especially careful with young children, not to push them into a profession of faith before their hearts are renewed by the grace of God.

We dare not set any limitations upon the grace of God. God saves his elect when he will. But the gospel of Christ is not addressed to children and youths who are incapable of making moral, reasonable, responsible decisions for themselves. The gospel is addressed to mature men and women who are capable of understanding their moral responsibility before God. The age of such maturity varies with individuals. But I think that a child who still requires the direction of his parents to determine what he should eat, where he should go, what he should wear and what he can do is incapable of understanding his moral responsibility before God.

Free-willism, easy believism and decisionism are as deadly to children as to adults. Every pastor who honestly deals with the souls of men knows that the vast majority of children who make professions of faith prove to be false. Children are especially susceptible to emotional fears of hell and the pressure to please parents, preachers and teachers. If you try, you can get your children to make a profession of faith. Do not be guilty of such treason to their souls. Wait on God to do his work of grace.

How should we minister to our children? Teach them the gospel. No one can be saved apart from a heart knowledge of gospel truth. Pray for them. Commit your children to the hands of God. Seek his grace for them. Set before them an example of faith in Christ and commitment to the gospel. As our children grow to maturity, nothing will so much influence them as the example we set before them. Wait for God to be gracious. If our sons and daughters are chosen of God and redeemed by Christ they will be born again by the Holy Spirit, at God’s appointed time.


 

February 5

Acts 9:26

Day 36

‘Saul assayed to join himself to the disciples’

Read Ephesians 4:1-16

Saul had been converted by the grace of God on the Damascus Road. He had publicly confessed faith in Christ at Damascus, both by personal testimony and by public baptism. Then he came to Jerusalem and ‘he assayed to join himself to the disciples’.  That is to say, he applied for membership in the church at Jerusalem. The despised church of God, which Saul once hated above all people upon the earth, he now loved above all people. No sooner did he return to Jerusalem than he found the place where God’s people met in the name of Christ and publicly identified himself with them by uniting with the congregation there.

Saul joined the church voluntarily. He was not recruited in a “church membership drive". No one put any pressure on him, or even asked him, to join the church. Being a believer, Saul wanted to be numbered with God’s people. He considered it a privilege and an honor. ‘To be joined to a church is to become an open subject of Christ’s kingdom, a citizen of the heavenly Jerusalem, one of the family of God, and a member of the body of Christ visibly’ John Gill).

Saul was fully qualified to unite with the church at Jerusalem. It is true, he had been a blasphemer and a persecutor, and his former reputation was well known. But God had forgiven him, cleansed him in the blood of Christ and received him. Therefore he was accepted by the church as a brother, beloved in Christ. He professed faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and was baptized as a believer. Nothing more was required to qualify him for membership in the church, and nothing less could be accepted. Church membership is for baptized (immersed) believers only.

By uniting with the local assembly at Jerusalem, Saul publicly demonstrated his commitment to those people, to their Lord and to the gospel they were commissioned of God to preach. Uniting publicly with a local assembly, the believer says, ‘My heart is joined to you in Christ by the grace of God.’ If you are a believer, it is both your privilege and your responsibility to confess Christ by baptism and unite with his people.


 

February 6

Isaiah 40:l

Day 37

‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God’

Read Isaiah 40:1-11

This is the charge which God gives to all who preach the gospel. The prophets of God are preeminently messengers of comfort (Isa. 52:7). We come to men in the name of God and proclaim to all who will receive it a message of blessed comfort in Jesus Christ.

Here is a word of comfort: the great God calls us ‘my people’! All men and women belong to God. He who created us owns us. But there are some people in this world who are especially loved of God and belong to him, as children to a father, as a wife to her husband. God says, of all who are saved by his grace, you are ‘my people’. We belong to him by special election, by particular purchase, by gracious regeneration, by his distinguishing call, by the faith which he has given us and by the bond of love which he has created.

It would seem that nothing could be more blessed than this: God says of us, you are ‘my people’.  Yet, here is something even more blessed and comforting: the eternal, sovereign, triune God says to us, I am ‘your God’! The almighty, infinite, incomprehensible God condescends to be the personal possession of every believing sinner! He is God. I rejoice in that. But he is my God! That gives me comfort. Child of God, try to get a heart grip on this truth: God almighty is your God!

And our great God desires and, delights in the comfort of his people! Just as a father finds happiness in the comfort of his children, our Father delights in our comfort. He sent his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world to comfort mourning sinners (Isa. 61:1-3; Luke 4:17-2 1). The primary work of the Holy Spirit in this world is that of a Comforter (John 14:16; 16:17). Our heavenly Father sovereignly arranges all the affairs of providence for the spiritual, eternal comfort of his people. Let every believer grasp this blessed truth: our great God delights in our comfort John 14:1-3).


 

February 7

Isaiah 40:2

Day 38

‘Iniquity is pardoned’

Read Psalm 130:1-8

We are slow to receive it, and preachers are often afraid to proclaim it, but there is blessed comfort for sinners in the gospel. God commands his servants twice to proclaim that comfort. He says, emphatically, ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.’ And he tells us plainly that the only source of comfort for sinners is the gospel of effectually accomplished redemption. ‘speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem [the people whom he has chosen], and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins’ (Isa. 40:1-2). If you trust Christ, if you cast all your hope upon his righteousness and shed blood, if you are a guilty, helpless sinner whose only hope is an all-sufficient Substitute, this gospel is for you.

Your warfare is accomplished. By the sacrifice of his own beloved Son, God has ended his controversy with you. God reconciled his people to himself, satisfying his law and justice in the life and death of Christ as the sinner’s Substitute (2 Cor. 5:17-2 1). He sends his Spirit, applying the blood of Christ to the hearts of men by the gospel, creating faith and reconciling our hearts to him by irresistible grace and power (Col. 1:21). Peace was made by the blood of Christ. Peace is received and enjoyed by faith in that blood.

Your iniquity is pardoned. God has fully put away the sins of all his people by the sacrifice of his Son (Heb. 9:12). God will never hold any believing sinner accountable for sin. He held his Son accountable for us, and punished our sins to the full satisfaction of his justice in his Son.

You have received of the Lord’s hand double for all your sins. The justice of God which demanded your eternal ruin has been satisfied by the blood of Christ so that in Christ you are not only pardoned but also made perfectly righteous by divine imputation. Rather than being an enemy of God, subject to and deserving his wrath, grace has made you an heir of God, fully deserving of all his benefits in Christ.


 

February 8

1 Corinthians 4:7

Day 39

‘Who maketh thee to differ?’

Read Matthew 11:20-30

The whole human race is divided by God into two categories: those who are his people and those who are not his people; those who are elect and those who are reprobate; sheep and goats. This distinction between men was made by God in eternity and it is an irreversible distinction. Sheep will never become goats, and goats will never become sheep. The elect of God will never become reprobates and reprobates will never become the elect of God. Between the two there is a great gulf fixed. If any of Adam’s fallen race is so infinitely blessed of God as to be numbered among God’s people, his elect, his sheep, surely a soul to whom God has been so gracious will gladly acknowledge that the only thing distinguishing between him and those who are damned is the distinguishing grace of God (I Cor. 4:7). ‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake, is the cry of every saved sinner. All who are saved by grace fully recognize, and rejoice in the fact, that grace alone has distinguished them from the rest of Adam’s fallen race.

We who believe belong to God, we are Christ’s sheep by a distinguishing election. We became the Lord’s sheep by his own eternal choice. In the covenant of grace, God branded us as his sheep, set a hedge about us and secured our eternal salvation in Christ (John 10; 16). The Lord says of his sheep, ‘I know them’ John 10:27). And his knowledge of his sheep is that peculiar knowledge of his own elective purpose and omniscient love. We are his, too, by a distinguishing purchase. Christ laid down his life for his sheep, in the place of his sheep, in our stead. Christ died as a Substitute for his sheep, to redeem them particularly. He died instead of his sheep dying. Because he died for us, we shall not die John 10: 11, 15). And we belong to him by a distinguishing call. ‘He calls his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.’ His gracious call is personal, particular and powerful. When he calls, his sheep follow. This call of grace always results in eternal life.


 

February 9

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13

Day 40

How should the people of God treat those
men who preach the gospel to them?

Read Hebrews 13:7-19

The tendency among men is either to treat God’s servants with contempt, as the judaizers at Galatia did Paul (Gal. 4:16), or regard them with an adoring, worshipful reverence, as Cornelius did Peter (Acts 10:25). Both of these attitudes are wrong. The faithful gospel preacher is only a man; therefore he must not be placed on a pedestal to be worshipped and followed blindly. But he is God’s man, God’s messenger to men; therefore he must not be despised, ignored and treated with contempt, Paul tells us plainly how the people of God should treat faithful preachers (pastors, evangelists, missionaries).

A faithful pastor is one who labors among God’s people. He is not a lazy sluggard, but a diligent laborer. His time, energy and attention are consumed by the ministry of the gospel. He studies, prays and preaches, watching over the souls of God’s elect as one who must give account. He has little time for anything other than the work of the gospel. Such a man, who spends his life serving the interest of men’s souls, should be highly honored by those for whom he labors (2 Thess. 3: 1, Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Cor. 9:9-14).

‘Know them which labour among you.’ God’s people should make it their business to become personally, even intimately, acquainted with faithful gospel preachers, especially their own pastor. Get to know the man who ministers to you. Try to know what his personal needs are, so that you can supply those needs. Try to find a way to assist him and relieve him of unnecessary burdens, so that he may more fully give himself to the work of the gospel. ‘Esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.’ Every faithful gospel preacher deserves and should have the high esteem and sincere love of God’s people, because of the work which he performs. He is God’s spokesman and representative to you, and he should be treated as such. Those churches which develop such an attitude towards the servants of God will in great measure ‘be at peace among themselves’.


 

February 10

Galatians 5:1

Day 41

‘Be not entangled again with the
yoke of bondage’

Read Colossians 2:6-23

Legalism is natural to man. And even among those who know better, there is ever a tendency to return to the spirit of legalistic religion. Let us beware of the evils of legalism and resist every tendency of the flesh to return to law religion.

1. The spirit of legalism causes us to seek assurance on the basis of our own works. Assurance that is based on works is false assurance. The believer’s assurance is in the person and work of Christ alone. Trusting him, we have assurance.

2. The spirit of legalism causes us to neglect our duties and responsibilities because of our personal feelings of inadequacy and insufficiency. Many refuse to receive the Lord’s Supper, as he has commanded us, because they feel unworthy. Many refuse to exercise gifts God has given them to preach, teach, lead the congregation in prayer, or sing, because they do not feel worthy. Who is worthy of such things? No man is in himself. But our worthiness and sufficiency are in Christ.

3. The spirit of legalism causes men to motivate God’s people with threats of punishment and promises of reward. We see people beginning to neglect church attendance, fall off in their giving and neglecting other matters of personal responsibility, so we begin to scold them and warn them that they are in danger of being lost. Then they do those things they had previously neglected, not because they love Christ, but out of a sense of duty to prove they are saved. Is this not pure legalism?

4. The spirit of legalism causes us to set up rules of life for God’s people which God has not given in his Word. It is the height of self-righteousness and pride for men and churches to add to the Word of God rules of life, ‘acceptable Christian behavior’, for men and women who belong to God.

5. The spirit of legalism causes us to set ourselves up as judges of God’s saints. Legalism produces such monstrous pride in men that they judge God’s people by the inch-long yardstick of their own supposed ‘holiness’.  May God save us from this spirit of legalism.


 

February 11

Acts 10:34

Day 42

‘God is no respecter of persons’

Read Colossians 3:1-14

These words do not mean, as many imagine, that God treats all men alike in providence and grace. He does not. ‘God’s grace is his own; and he dispenses it according to his own sovereign will and pleasure’ (Charles Simeon). God sovereignly distinguishes men from one another (I Cor. 4:7), in election (2 Thess. 2:13), in redemption (John 10: 11, 15, 26), in providence (Rom. 8:28) and in his saving grace (2 Tim. 1:9). The illustrations of God’s distinguishing grace in the Scriptures are numerous. The Lord accepted Abel but not Cain. He chose Isaac and rejected Ishmael. God loved Jacob and hated Esau. God gives light and withholds light, gives grace and withholds grace entirely according to his own sovereign will, without any regard to man’s person (Matt. 11:20-26).

The text simply means that God has no regard for those things that distinguish men from one another in this world: wealth or poverty, morality or immorality, learning or ignorance, race or face, God does not prefer any man or despise any man because of his earthly condition. God’s grace is entirely free and sovereign. He says, ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy... and whom he will he hardeneth’ (Rom. 9:15-18). No earthly condition, hereditary descent, outward circumstance or religious heritage will secure God’s saving grace, or even make a man a likely candidate for salvation. And none of these things will keep God from saving any man, or make him less likely to be saved than others.

'God is no respecter of persons,’ and neither should we be. There is no place in the church of God for the honoring of human flesh. We court none and we despise none. We receive as brethren all who worship our God. All are to be treated with equal love, care and esteem. Rich and poor, black and white, male and female - are all equals in Christ.


 

February 12

John 10:27

Day 43

‘My sheep’

With these two simple words our Lord distinguishes his people from all the rest of mankind. Let men deny it as they will, and let them denounce me for preaching it if that gives them pleasure, but the God of the Bible does distinguish between men. He chooses some and passes by others. He redeems some and leaves others under the curse of the law. He calls some and rejects others. He saves some and damns others. Grace is God’s prerogative. He has mercy on whom he will have mercy.

Our Lord makes this very plain. He said to the unbelieving Jews, who refused to believe him, ‘Ye are not of my sheep.’ And he told them plainly that God had not given them the gift of faith, because they were not numbered among his sheep. ‘Ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.’ The gift of faith, like all other gifts of grace, is reserved for the Lord’s sheep, God’s chosen, covenant people (Eph. 1:3-6).

'If you are a believer, one of that great multitude to whom God has given faith in Christ, it is because you are one of his sheep, elect and precious to the Lord. God our Savior says of you, you are my sheep’.  Truly, his grace is ‘amazing grace’.  In everlasting love, by sovereign, deliberate choice, the Son of God has distinguished you from all other people and made you to be his sheep, his own peculiar possession!

The Lord Jesus Christ has special grace reserved for his sheep. He does many things for his sheep, which he does not do for other men. He agreed in the covenant of grace to save his sheep John 10: 16). He laid down his life in the place of his sheep (John 10: 11, 15). Our Lord prays for his sheep (John 17:9-11, 15, 20). The Son of God calls his sheep to himself (John 10:3). The Good Shepherd knows his sheep, gives eternal life to his sheep, protects his sheep, provides for his sheep, preserves his sheep and holds his sheep in his almighty hand John 10:27-30). What a privilege it is for a believing sinner to look upon the incarnate God and say, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd,’ and to hear him say, ‘My sheep'!


 

February 13

Revelation 22:4

Day 44

‘They shall see his face.’

Read Revelation 5:1-14

This is the great object of our hope, the great desire of our hearts, the great joy of heaven and the great fullness of our heavenly reward. The very Christ who died in our place at Calvary, fully satisfying the wrath and justice of God for us, will be seen by us.

We shall literally see his face. It is delightfully true that we shall see and enjoy many things in heaven. But that which is now desired, and will then be enjoyed, above all else is the sight of Christ Himself. It seems to me that our text also implies a spiritual sight of Christ, which is far sweeter. In the next world we shall have a greater ability to see Christ than we now possess. We shall see him perfectly and know him fully. And our vision of him will be uninterrupted. The paradise of God is a heaven of pure, intense, eternal, perfect, spiritual fellowship with Christ.

In that future estate of glory and bliss we shall have a clear, undimmed vision of Christ, because everything which now hinders our sight of him will be removed. Our many sins, our earthly cares and our sorrows in this world now prevent us from seeing our Lord as we desire. But then there will be nothing between us and our Savior. In glory there will be nothing in our hearts to rival Christ. We shall love him as he ought to be loved, perfectly. Christ will not only be supreme, he will be all.

Why do we consider this vision of Christ the greatest bliss of heaven? Why do we place such importance upon this one aspect of our heavenly inheritance? The reason is just this: when we see the Lord’s face our salvation will be complete. Every evil thing will be completely eradicated from us. When we see his face we shall be conscious of his favor. And when these eyes see his face a complete transformation will take place. ‘We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.’ We shall see things as he sees them. We shall think as he thinks. Our will will be one with his will. Our hearts will be one with his heart. Then, when we see his face, we shall be perfectly satisfied.


 

February 14

John 11:36

Day 45

‘Behold how he loved him!’

Read I John 4:7-19

It might well be said of each blood-bought believer, ‘Behold how he loved him!’ Child of God, Jesus Christ loves you eternally. There never was a time when he did not love you. His love for his own is without beginning and without end. It is eternal.

The Son of God loves his own peculiarly. I know that God is good and kind to all men. His benevolence reaches to all his creatures. But there is a special, family love which God has for his own elect. He loved Jacob but not Esau.

The Lord loves his people perseveringly. Though we sinned in Adam, were born in sin and lived in sin by deliberate choice, his love for us was never broken. Though we sin still, after experiencing his grace, his love does not cease or grow cold. His love is patient, longsuffering, lasting and enduring. God will never cease to love those whom he has always loved. His love is immutable.

Our Savior loves us sacrificially. ‘Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us.’ He so loved us that he voluntarily laid down his life in our place! So mighty is his love that, when he knew the price of our souls was his own precious blood, he willingly poured out his life’s blood to redeem us!

The Lord Jesus Christ loves all of his people saving. The love of Christ for us is much more than a wishful emotion. He so loves his own that he desires their salvation. And what he desires he has the power and wisdom to accomplish. His love is not helpless, but powerful. He will not stand idly by and allow one soul whom he loves to perish, when he has the power to save that soul!

And the Lord Jesus Christ loves his people satisfyingly. His love will be satisfied. He will never lose the object of his love. The love of Christ will in the end conquer the hearts of all his elect. This special, free and sovereign love of Christ’s will satisfy all his people. He will give us all that we can need or desire for all of eternity. He will withhold no good thing from his own. In that great day which is yet to come, God’s creation will stand back in awe and wonder and say, concerning his redeemed people, ‘Behold how he loved them!'


 

February 15

Hebrews 9:24

Day 46

‘To appear in the presence of God for us’

Read Psalm 89:19-36

Everywhere in the Scriptures the work of the Lord Jesus Christ is set forth as the work of a Substitute, one who stands in the place of another.

Christ stood as our Substitute in eternity past, as our Surety in the everlasting covenant of grace (Heb. 7:22). Before we had ever sinned, he stood as our ransom. Before we ever broke God’s law, he stood as our righteousness. God the Father gave our souls, along with all the hosts of his elect, into the hands of Christ as the Surety of the covenant before the world began John 6:39; 2 Tim. 1:9).

Christ stood in our place as our federal Head and Representative as he lived in this world. The sinless life of Christ was as necessary for our redemption as his death. In his life, Christ fulfilled the holy law of God, establishing perfect righteousness for us, without which we could never be accepted before God. By his life, he brought in an everlasting righteousness for his people. His name is ‘the Lord our Righteousness’ (Jer. 23:6).

The Son of God stood in our place at Calvary. He died under the penalty of God’s law, bearing our sin, our shame, our guilt and the wrath due to us. He died in our place, so that we should never be required to die (Gal. 3:13; 2 Cor. 5:21).

Jesus Christ the righteous stands in our place today as our Advocate in heaven (I John 2:1-2). His five precious wounds, the merits of his righteousness and the merits of his blood effectually secure our present and eternal welfare. God will not charge us with sin and the law cannot require punishment upon us, because Christ, the risen Lord, our Substitute, stands today as our Advocate with the Father.

And the Lord Jesus Christ himself will stand in our place, as our Substitute before God, in the Day of Judgment (Heb. 2:13). When God examines us, he will behold no spot or blemish in us, because his own Son performed in our place perfect righteousness and obedience, and thoroughly washed away our sins. Trusting Christ as our Substitute, we may fully expect to hear him say to us, ‘Well done!'


 

February 16

Jeremiah 23:6

Day 47

‘The Lord our Righteousness’

Read Isaiah 45:20-25

There are some who teach that Christ was the sinner’s Substitute only in his sacrificial work upon the cross. We are told that the righteous life of our Lord Jesus Christ has nothing to do with our redemption and salvation, that his righteousness as a man had no merit and efficacy for his people, but that it only made him a suitable sacrifice for sin. This doctrine is contrary to the plain statements of Holy Scripture. Paul tells us that “As by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous (Rom). 5:18-19).

The righteous life of our Lord Jesus Christ was as necessary for our redemption and salvation as his death. In order for God’s elect to be saved, accepted with God, our sin had to be put away and we had to be made perfectly righteous. In his life of obedience as a man, Christ perfectly obeyed the law of God as our Representative and Substitute. The law of God requires not only that we be without sin, but also that we be completely obedient to holiness, that we love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and beings, and our neighbors as ourselves. This righteousness Christ has performed for us as our Substitute. In him we obeyed the law of God perfectly. Christ is the end of the law for righteousness.’ When God imputed the righteousness of Christ to us, he was ‘made unto us righteousness'; and we have been made the righteousness of God in him’.

This righteousness which Christ performed is the only righteousness God will accept. It is the only righteousness there is, and we must have it. This is that ‘holiness without which no man shall see the Lord’.  We delight to renounce all personal righteousness and call him ‘the Lord our Righteousness’.  Having established righteousness for us, Christ was ‘obedient unto death, even the death of the cross’, as our Substitute; and by his death he put away our sins.


 

February 17

Romans 10:10

Day 48

‘With the heart man believeth’

Read Jeremiah 17:5-14

'If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus; and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’ This is the one thing that is essential: you must believe in thine heart’.  I urge you to ‘examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith’.  I would do nothing to rob any true believer of the joy of confident assurance. But I must warn all men to guard against religious presumption. It is Satan’s cheap counterfeit.

False faith can be very deceptive. False faith produces good works. It excites the emotions. It reforms the outward life. It performs deeds of religion. It causes sorrow for sin. It speaks well of Christ. It does works of charity. It trembles under the preaching of the gospel. False faith gains high offices in the church. It secures peace of mind. It walks in the company of great preachers. False faith even holds out to the Day of Judgment (Matt. 7;22-23). My friend, beware of false faith! Remember Lot’s wife, Judas, Simon, Demas and Diotrephes. Be not numbered among them.

True faith is the heart knowledge of, trust in and submission to the Lord Jesus Christ. God has revealed Christ to us in the gospel, by which we know our desperate need and his saving power and fairness. Trusting Christ alone as our all-sufficient Savior, we commit ourselves, body and soul, to him. And where there is true faith, there is the submission of heart to Christ as our sovereign Lord and King. This faith comes not by heredity, nor by the logic and persuasiveness of the preacher. It is the gift of God. Christ is reveled in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

This heart faith can be known by those who possess it. Have we believed? If so, we have firmly cordially and voluntarily received Christ in all his offices. To them that believe, Christ is precious. Heart faith purifies the heart and weans it from the world. Heart faith works by love, lives in hope and rests in Christ. This is true faith. This is heart faith. Forsaking all I take Him.


 

February 18

Isaiah 52:7

Day 49

‘Thy God reigneth!’

Read Isaiah 40:12-31

This one thing characterizes every true and faithful preacher of the gospel: in declaring the good tidings of gospel truth and saving grace, he will declare unto men, ‘Thy God reigneth!’ Sooner or later, either in mercy or in wrath, God will make all men see and confess that “The most High ruleth!” (Dan. 4:17, 25, 32.) Any preacher who denies God’s absolute, total, universal sovereignty is a false prophet. And any proud sinner who rebels against the gospel revelation of God’s sovereign character does not know God. Every sinner who is taught of God will gladly confess with Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:34-35).

1.The Lord Jehovah is the eternal, self-existent God: “I blessed the most High, and I praised and honoured him that liveth forever.” God alone is eternal. He is before all things and by him all things exist. God alone is independent. All things are dependent upon and affected by God; but he is not dependent upon or affected by anything.

2. The Lord our God is a God with everlasting dominion: “Whose dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom is from generation to generation.” The God we worship and trust is the sovereign, reigning Monarch of the universe. He sits upon an indisputable, incontestable throne and rules over all things by sovereign right. He is God.

3. Man is nothing: “All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing.” We are nothing in ourselves, only what God allows us to be. And we are nothing in comparison with God. All men together are only loathsome worms, withering grass and less than nothing.

4. God’s infinite power is at work, sovereignty accomplishing his will:’ He doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth.’ With unexplainable, sovereign, infinite power and wisdom, God so governs all things and all beings that all either willingly or unwillingly accomplish his eternal purpose.

5. The will of God is irresistible and unimpeachable: ‘None can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?’ God has his way in all things.


 

February 19

John 11:40

Day 50

‘If thou wouldest believe’

Read Mark 5:35-6:6

Every believer’s great desire is to see the glory of God. Almost every time we pray, whether in the public assembly of God’s church or in private, we repeat the prayer of Moses: ‘I beseech thee, show me thy glory’ (Exod. 33:18). We do not always use his words, but the prayer is the same: ‘Lord, show us your glory.’ Is this your desire? It is mine. Why is it then that we seem to see the glory of God so little? Our Lord tells us very plainly, Jesus said, ‘said I not unto thee, that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?’ This was a gentle, but firm reproof. If Martha had simply believed she would have seen the glory of God in her brother’s sickness and death, as well as in his resurrection. What a reproof this is to us today! If we did but believe in God, as he ought to be believed, if we implicitly trusted him in all things, as we say we do, we should see his glory in all things.

Faith sees the glory of God in the gospel (Rom. 3:23-26). Believing God we see the glory of his wisdom and truth, justice and mercy, righteousness and grace in saving sinners by the doing and dying of the Lord Jesus, the sinner’s Substitute.

Faith sees the glory of God in providence (Rom. 8:28; 1 1:36). Confident trust and assurance of God’s sovereign rule over all things causes the believer to see God’s glory in all things. We see his glory either in the immediate event or the prospective outcome. But in all, faith sees the glory of God’s wisdom, power and grace in providence. In all that he does, (creation, redemption, providence and salvation), God’s glory is seen by those who believe. And faith will see the glory of God in the resurrection.

Yet the primary force of our Lord’s reproof is this: if we did but believe we should see the glory of God working in our midst (Mark 6:5-6). ‘Unbelief is so vile and venomous an evil that it transfuseth a kind of dead palsy into the hands of omnipotency’ (John Trapp). Christ can do all things by his absolute power. But he can do nothing for unbelievers. He cannot, because he will not. May God give us faith to believe, so that we may see the glory of God working in our midst!


 

February 20

Romans 8:4

Day 51

‘Fulfilled in us’

Read Galatians 3:1-13

The law of God is holy, just and good. We love the law and honor the law, as the revelation of God’s righteousness and justice. But we recognize the fact that fallen men can never fulfill the requirements of God’s holy law by their own works. ‘Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight’ (Rom. 3:20). Yet we know also that until the law is perfectly fulfilled, no sinner can be saved. ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die’ (Ezek. 18:20). God will not lessen his requirements, or bend his law, even to save his own elect. The law must be fulfilled. Both its requirements of righteousness and justice must be satisfied. The only way fallen, sinful men can ever fulfill the law and be saved is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the sinner’s Substitute.

We fulfill the law’s purpose by faith. The law of God was our schoolmaster. Its one and only purpose was to bring us to the Lord Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by faith in him. Once we come to Christ, once we trust the Son of God, as our Lord and Savior, the law has nothing more to do with us. Its purpose has been served (Gal. 3:24-26).

By faith in the Lord Jesus Christ we fulfill the law’s requirement of perfect righteousness. We have no righteousness of our own. But we trust the Lord Jesus who lived in righteousness as our Representative. And trusting him, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to us (Rom. 3:22; 5:19).

And we fulfill the law’s demand that justice be satisfied by faith in Christ. Sin must be punished. The sentence of the law must be fully executed upon every transgressor. And it is done. Divine justice was fully satisfied for every believer by Christ, the sinner’s Substitute (Rom. 8:1-4). Since Christ died, God is both just and the justifier of all who believe (Rom. 3:24-26). Faith in Christ does not ignore the law, defile the law, lessen the law, or make the law void. Indeed, by faith ‘we establish the law’ (Rom. 3:31).


 

February 21

Job 1:8

Day 52

‘A perfect and an upright man’

Read Romans 7:14-25

This is the testimony of God himself concerning his servant job: ‘There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.’ I cannot question these facts. Job was God’s servant. He feared God and hated evil. He was a perfect and upright man. These things do not describe Job’s actions, but the reigning characteristics of his heart, ‘for the Lord looketh on the heart’.

I know that Job was a perfect man, because God says he was. But I also know that he was not a sinless man in the flesh, because he confessed, ‘I have sinned’ Job 7:20). He said, ‘If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse’ Job 9:20). The doctrine of sinless perfection in the flesh (and those who claim to be without sin claim perfection) is contrary to everything revealed in the Word of God. Those who boast of possessing such perfection expose both their ignorance and their corruption. Those who suppose they are equal to the demands of the law of God are ignorant of the law. And those who claim to be perfect, without sin, are vile, wicked, perverse men. They are liars, claiming what they know is false to be the truth and declaring that God himself is a liar (I John 1:8-10). What can be more wicked?

What does the Bible mean when it uses the word ‘perfect’ to describe those who believe God? The word is used in four ways. Usually, as in Job 1:8, it means ‘sincere’.  God’s people are not deceitful, hypocritical or pretentious. Sometimes perfect means ‘mature’ James 3:2). That person who has learned to bridle his tongue by the grace of God is a mature believer. He is not a babe in Christ, but a man. Frequently, the word ‘perfect’ refers to the believer’s positional holiness, sinlessness, and blamelessness before the law of God by the atonement of Christ and the imputation of his righteousness (Ezek. 16:14). And the word ‘perfect’ describes the ultimate glorification of all believers in Christ, when we shall be made entirely conformed to the image of Christ in heaven body, soul and spirit (Phil. 3:12).


 

February 22

Galatians 3:13

Day 53

‘Christ hath redeemed us’

Read Hebrews 10:1-14

With those four words Paul states the whole doctrine of redemption as it is revealed in the New Testament. Christ alone is our Redeemer. Christ bore our sins. Christ endured the wrath of God, Christ satisfied the claims of justice against us, as our Substitute. The work of redemption was fully accomplished. ‘Christ hath redeemed us.’ Nothing is left to be done by us. Christ has done all. The blood of Christ poured out in death for the atonement of sin accomplished an effectual redemption. ‘Christ hath redeemed us.’ Our Lord did not provide for redemption or make redemption a possibility for all men, leaving it into the hands of man’s free will to comply with his work and make it effectual. Redemption was performed by Christ alone. Redemption was accomplished at Calvary. And that redemption accomplished at Calvary was an effectual atonement for sin.

The apostle Paul also makes it plain that the benefits of Christ’s atonement are designed for and limited to God’s elect. ‘Christ hath redeemed us.’ God plainly says, regarding the death of his Son, ‘For the transgression of my people was he stricken’ (Isa. 53:8). The Bible nowhere states, nor does it anywhere imply, that the Lord, Jesus Christ shed his blood and died to redeem all men from the curse of the law. I do not believe that doctrine which says that Judas was redeemed by Christ. It is not possible that our Lord died as a Substitute in Judas’ place, hearing the curse of the law for him. Any who embrace such a doctrine must also embrace one of three absurd and blasphemous conclusions: (1) Either Judas is in heaven, which is to deny the Word of God; or (2) Christ failed to redeem the ones for whom he died and failed in his work of redemption as the sinner’s Substitute; or (3) the justice of God his fallen to the ground, for if God punishes both the sinner and the sinner’s Substitute for the same offense he would mock his own justice. This is the doctrine of Scripture: ‘Christ hath redeemed us!’— All God’s elect, all who believe.


 

February 23

Mark 5:36

Day 54

‘Only believe’

Read John 3:11-21

Self-righteousness is like the mole: drive it out of one hole, and it will quickly find another in which to make its den. We have fairly well beaten it out of the den of good works as a ground of hope before God. But it has found another hiding place. The dark den where self-righteousness hides with little possibility of detection is called by many names: ‘fitness for faith’,  ‘conditions of conversion’,  ‘suitability for salvation’, and ‘qualifications for grace’.  No matter what name you hang over the hole, it is a den of iniquity. It teaches sinners that in order to have true faith in Christ there are certain conditions that must be met. The doctrine goes like this: ‘salvation is by grace alone. It is not what you do, but what Christ has done that saves you. But before you can truly trust Christ and be saved, you must be terrified with conviction, you must weep and mourn over your sin, you must desire holiness, you must repent, you must long for Christ, you must come to see yourself as a lost sinner and then earnestly seek the Lord.'

This doctrine may sound good on the surface, but it is only a roundabout way of preaching salvation by works. There are no prerequisites, no conditions, qualifications to be met by sinners before they trust Christ. The gospel of Christ is addressed to sinners as sinners, not awakened sinners, not sensible sinners, not convicted sinners, not lost sinners, not repentant sinners - just sinners! God does not command sinners to feel a certain way, experience something or come to realize something about themselves. God commands sinners to ‘believe on his Son, Jesus Christ’. The moment a preacher places any condition or qualification of any kind upon the sinner before he can trust Christ and be saved, he ceases to preach a gospel of pure grace. Repentance, conviction of sin, lamentation and sorrow over sin are not prerequisites for coming to Christ and trusting him. These things do not precede faith. They are the results of faith (Zech. 12: 10; John 16:7-14).


 

February 24

Mark 16:15-16

Day 55

The mission of Christ’s church

Read Romans 1:1 -17

We do not need to form a committee to investigate the responsibility of the church in the ‘80s’.  Our Lord has told us exactly what we are to do. He said, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned’ (Mark 16:15-16). The Word of God tells us exactly what we are to do and exactly how we are to do it. Nothing is left to guesswork. Neither our work nor the method by which we are to perform it is to be determined by time, place, circumstances or human opinion.

The singular purpose for our existence in this world is the salvation of God’s elect for the glory of his great name. We are on the trail of Christ’s sheep. We have no other object or goal. As our Lord Jesus Christ was sent to redeem God’s elect, he has sent his church to gather those redeemed ones to their Savior John 20:21). We must never be turned aside from this great work.

The singular method of biblical evangelism is gospel preaching. When our Lord told us to go into all the world, he did not tell us to entertain the world, to change the world, to provide counseling for the world, to educate the world or to get control of political offices so that we could rule the world. Our Lord said, ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel.’ The only method of evangelism that God will own and honor for the salvation of sinners is that which he has ordained: gospel preaching! Other things may charm sinners and console sinners, but only gospel preaching will convert sinners.

And the singular message of the gospel is Jesus Christ and him crucified (I Cor. 1: 30-2:5). Rowland Hill was correct when he said, ‘Any message which does not contain the three ‘R’s’ [Ruin by the Fall, Redemption by the blood, and Regeneration by the Holy Spirit] ought never to have been preached.’ It is our business to preach the gospel with simplicity and clarity, declaring to men how that God saves sinners through the merits of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.


 

February 25

1 John 4:1-3

Day 56

‘Antichrist’

Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17

If I understand the Word of God correctly, Antichrist is not a single man who will suddenly appear upon the earth in the last day. Antichrist is a system of religion which is opposed to the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ. It had already begun in John’s day (I John 2:18). Our Lord told us that the false religion of Antichrist would be such a cunning, crafty deception that were it possible it would deceive the very elect people of God (Matt. 24:24). And the apostle Paul informed us that, as the end draws near, God will take away his restraining hand, allowing the religion of Antichrist to spread throughout the world with signs and lying wonders, ‘because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (2 Thess. 2:3-12). Without the least hesitancy or fear of error, I warn you that the religion of modern fundamentalism, free-willism, easy-believism and decisionism is the religion of Antichrist.

It is not my desire to stir up strife and division among men. But it is my desire and responsibility to tell you the truth and to warn you of the deceptive delusion of Antichrist religion. Love for the honor of God, love for the truth of God and love for your souls constrains me to speak plainly. Any doctrine that lowers the character of God, his total sovereignty, his absolute righteousness or his strict justice, is Antichrist. Any doctrine that exalts and honors human flesh is Antichrist. Any doctrine that diminishes or adds to the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ, his righteousness, his satisfaction, his intercession or his efficacy, is Antichrist. And any doctrine that attributes salvation in any measure to the will of man or the works of man is Antichrist.


 

February 26

1 Peter 1:23

Day 57

‘Born again... by the word of God’

Read I Peter 1:13-25

It is necessary, because God says it is necessary, for sinners to hear the Word of God in order to be saved. In these days, since the completion of the inspired volume of Holy Scripture, God never saves men apart from the hearing of the Word (I Cor. 1:21; James 1: 18; Rom. 10: 17). If any dare argue with God, so that he may defend his system of theology, he is a brazenly foolish rebel against God. Those who defy God, I know, will not hear me, but you can be sure of this: where there is no gospel preaching there is no faith in Christ, and where there is no faith in Christ, there is no life in Christ. In his own sovereign purpose and grace God has so highly exalted his Word that he will not save his own elect without the preaching of the gospel. Yes, God’s elect will be saved, but not apart from the hearing of the Word. If need be, God will have a faithful preacher stoned to death and raise terrible persecution to scatter his people, so that those whom he has ordained to eternal life may hear the Word of life (Acts 11: 19-21); but God will not save sinners apart from the ministry of the Word.

God’s exaltation of his Word inspires his people in evangelism. We know that without the preaching of the gospel men will perish. We know also that God has a people in this world whom he will save. Therefore we go out into all the world, by whatever means God makes available to us, and preach the gospel to all men. We know that our labor will not be spent in vain (Isa. 55:11). This high value which God places upon his Word, and which we also place upon it, gives us a sense of reverence for the ministry of the Word. To other men, even the most religious, the ministry of the Word is a convenience. If they hear the gospel, that’s good; but if they miss hearing the Word of God preached, they think they suffer no great loss. God’s people know the Word is vital. It is their soul’s food. They cannot live without it. They want to hear God speak, and they know that God speaks through his servants as they preach the Word.


 

February 27

James 1:18

Day 58

‘Of his own will begat us’

Read Ephesians 2:1-10

Without question, the Word of God plainly teaches us that the source and cause of salvation is the sovereign will and pleasure of God (Rom. 9:16). The will of man is in no way the cause of salvation. Man’s will has nothing more to do with the accomplishment of salvation than his works. ‘Salvation is of the Lord’ ¾ entirely of the Lord! Yes, man must believe. Man’s will must be incurred towards Christ. The sinner must willingly repent, believe and bow to the Lord Jesus Christ. These things are acts of the human will. They are all necessary for salvation. No man will ever be saved whose will is in rebellion to God. God will have a willing people to worship him. However, man’s will is not the cause of God’s saving grace. The cause of grace is the will of God alone and it is the grace of God that causes his people to be willing in the day of his power (Ps. 65:4; 110: 3).'Whosoever will’, let him come to Christ and be saved, and let him know assuredly that grace has made him willing to come. Otherwise he would never have the will to come.

I contend that every saved sinner gladly acknowledges the fact that the cause of, and reason for his salvation, is not his will, but God’s will. Paul’s experience of grace was a pattern, showing forth the experience of believers (I Tim. 1: 16) and it is certain that Paul’s will was not the cause of his salvation. Read Acts 9, and you will see that Paul’s will did not even co-operate with God’s will in saving him. Paul’s will was the destruction of all who worshipped Christ and the utter annihilation of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ from the earth. Grace absolutely arrested Paul. By irresistible power and grace, God made Paul fall to the ground and revealed his Son in him. Not until God had put him down in the dust on the Damascus road was Paul willing to hear his voice and trust his Son. Any man who experiences the grace that Paul experienced will gladly acknowledge what Paul acknowledged: ‘When it pleased God ... he revealed his Son in me.'


 

February 28

Ephesians 1:3-14

Day 59

Why does God save sinners?

Read Psalm 8:1-9

We rejoice to know that God saves sinners. We rejoice to know that God saves sinners by grace through the merits of a Substitute. And we rejoice to know that God’s grace is both eternal and immutable. But why does God save sinful men? He had no mercy upon the angels that fell. Why is he gracious to us? Paul gives us the answer repeatedly: ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ... to the praise of the glory of his grace... that we should be to the praise of his glory... unto the praise of his glory.’

1. God saves us because it was his eternal pleasure to bless us with his grace. God passed by the angels that fell; but ‘he hath blessed us’.  God passed by multitudes of fallen men; but he ‘hath blessed us’.  The cause of God’s blessing upon us is not in us, but in himself alone. Every saved sinner knows and acknowledges that fact. We do not deserve God’s favor. ‘He hath mercy on whom he will have mercy.'

2. God saved us so that we might bless him. Paul is calling us to bless God who hath blessed us. We can add nothing to God’s glory, happiness or majesty. God is totally independent and self-sufficient. But we can bless God, that is to say, we can speak well of him ‘who hath blessed us’.  We bless God by simply trusting him. We bless God by celebrating his many glorious attributes. We bless God by faith in his Son. And we bless God by entertaining great thoughts of him.

3. God saved us to the praise of the glory of his grace. The ultimate end of all things is the glory of God. He could as well be glorified in our damnation as in our salvation. Like Pharaoh, we could have been monuments to the glory of God’s justice by our ruin. But, blessed be his name, God has chosen to save us, that we might be ‘to the praise of the glory of his grace!’ (See Ps. 106:8.) May God give us grace even now to praise and magnify his grace.


 

February 29

Ephesians 1:3-14

Day 60

How does God save sinners?

Read Psalm 116:1-19

In this marvelous doxology Paul gives praise to the three persons of the eternal Trinity, (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), for the infinitely wise and gracious salvation of all the elect. In his adoration and praise to God, Paul proclaims to all men the method of God’s saving grace. He tells us how it is that God saves sinners.

1. God saves sinners by his own sovereign and eternal purpose of grace (3-6). Here are five things God did for all his elect in Christ before the world was created. He blessed us with all spiritual blessings in him. In Christ all of God’s elect have every spiritual blessing which holiness can require, which grace can give and which sinful men can need. He chose us in eternal election. God’s ultimate end in our election is that we (the objects of his love) should be perfectly holy and blameless in his sight. He predestinated us to be his own dear children. He adopted us into his family. Having adopted us, God sovereignly predestinated all things for us, securing our eternal enjoyment of his grace. He accepted us in the Beloved. Before the world was made, before we became sinners, God accepted us in Christ.

2. God saves sinners by a legal and effectual blood atonement (6-12). All of those who were chosen by God in eternity were in time redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. In great wisdom, prudence and grace, God found a way to be both just and the justifier of his elect. He made Christ our Substitute. Charging Christ with our sin, and punishing him for sin, God fully redeemed and forgave all his elect when Christ died in our place.

3. God saves sinners by the irresistible power and grace of the Holy Spirit (13-14). In the fullness of time every sinner chosen by God and redeemed by Christ is called by the Spirit through the gospel. All who are called believe. All who believe are sealed by the Spirit. And all who are sealed will enter into eternal glory.


 

March 1

Galatians 6:2

Day 61

‘Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ’

Read I John 4:7-21

These Galatians had foolishly been trying to bear the heavy burden of the Mosaic Law. They had entangled themselves again with the yoke of bondage. They endeavored to establish righteousness for themselves by the works of the law. None of them said, ‘We are saved by our own works.’ Satan does not work in such an open manner. These lawmongers at Galatia were saying, ‘We are saved by grace, but only if we keep the law.’ Others of them said, ‘We are saved by grace alone, in so far as our justification is concerned; but in order to be sanctified we must keep the law as a rule of life.’ In reality their doctrine was the same. They were attempting to mix law and grace. They had forsaken the gospel way of salvation by grace alone.

Now Paul says to them, ‘Do you want a law to live by? Then live by the rule of the law of Christ ¾ love.’ Here is a law which is a living principle. It touches the heart, influences the life, honors God and is sympathetic towards and helpful to men. The whole law is fulfilled in this one thing ¾ love. Without it, all the pretentious, self-righteous piety which men claim to possess is hypocrisy.

It seems quite remarkable to me that those self-righteous people who apparently want all men to know that they make the law of Moses their rule of life usually forget that which is the essence and spirit of the law - love. They are so righteous that they become stern, hard, severe, critical and judgmental, which is being unrighteous. Even the righteousness of the Mosaic Law is a righteousness of love. But I have never found one of those self-righteous legalists who was tender-hearted, kind and gentle. He looks at the killing letter of the law and becomes as hard and stern as death.

My friends, let this be the law by which we live: ‘Love one another.’ Reject that which is hard, stern and severe. ‘Be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.'


 

March 2

Matthew 25:31

Day 62

‘The throne of his glory’

Read Psalm 2:1-12

In my mind’s eye, I see the Lord Jesus Christ sitting upon his throne in glory, in the blessed serenity of his total sovereignty. He is not weak, frustrated and anxious, as some have pictured him, not knowing if he will be able to accomplish his purpose. Rather, he is calm, content and peaceful, knowing that by virtue of his sovereign power ‘the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.’ Behold his transcendent glory! He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the sovereign Monarch of heaven and earth. His empire is as limitless as the universe. His dominion is from everlasting to everlasting. His kingdom rules over all! Everything belongs to him. Everything is governed by him. Everything does his bidding. He is God over all and blessed forever.

Standing before his throne are all those angelic, heavenly creatures who anxiously ‘ worship and serve him. They cast their crowns before him in adoring reverence. In that same great assembly I see all of God’s elect who have already entered the heavenly city. They too cast their crowns before his feet and sing the songs of redeeming love. I see beneath his blessed feet the earth, which has become his footstool. His saints upon the earth worship, adore and honor him as the rightful sovereign of the universe and the rightful Lord of their hearts. They live in hopeful expectation of his glorious advent.

But then I see before this great King all the elements of the world, all the beasts of the field, all those fallen sons of Adam who wage their warfare against his throne, all the spirits of the damned in hell, the demons of hell and the prince of darkness himself. My heart begins to melt in fear for the safety of the great King’s throne, his kingdom, his glory and my own soul. But all my fears are immediately silenced. All those evil men, the demons of hell, those forces of evil and Satan himself have a bit of iron in their mouths and a bridle of steel; and he who holds the reins of that bridle is the King himself! Christ is on his throne!


 

March 3

Philippians 2: 11

Day 63

‘Jesus Christ is Lord!’

Read Isaiah 45:5-25

This is the result of our Savior’s finished work of righteousness and redemption on the earth as our Substitute. Paul is telling us that all the vast empire of God’s creation has been placed under the dominion of the God-man, our Savior. He is telling us that there is no limit to the realm and sphere of our Redeemer’s total sovereignty. He is Lord of all. Christ is Lord of all people, Lord of all things and Lord of all events. The Lord God has given to his Son ‘a name which is above every name’; and the name he has given him is ‘Lord Supreme’.

Jesus Christ is Lord over all people upon this earth. He is Lord over the righteous and the wicked, the living and the dead, the believing and the unbelieving (Rom. 14:9). Believers recognize, acknowledge and willingly surrender to his lordship. Unbelievers deny it and rebel against it. But he is none the less Lord. All are under his control, do his bidding, perform his will and accomplish his purpose, always and in all things.

Jesus Christ is Lord over all the powers of darkness (Col. 2:15). Those souls damned forever in hell, the demons of hell and Satan himself are all under the dominion of King Jesus. Not one of our Lord’s enemies can breathe or move, except by his permission: and even then their moves are governed by him to accomplish nothing but good for his people and the eternal purpose of God (Job 1: 12; 2:6).

Jesus Christ is Lord over all the affairs of providence (Isa. 53: 10- 12; Rom. 8:28; Heb. 1: 1-3). I rejoice to tell you that there is no place in this universe, from the throne of God in the highest glory to the lowest pit of deepest hell, where Jesus Christ does not rule in total, absolute, sovereign power. God’s creation is not out of control. Nothing is thrown into confusion. Jesus Christ is Lord. His purpose is being accomplished.

And Jesus Christ is Lord over all the vast regions of heaven (Heb. 12: 10.) The King of the City Beautiful is Immanuel, God in our nature. The light of that city is Christ himself. The reward of heaven is Christ. All the songs of the redeemed in heaven shall be praises to the Lord the Lamb forever.


 

March 4

1 John 5:7

Day 64

The doctrine of the Trinity is an essential element of gospel truth

Read Ephesians 4:1-16

The doctrine of the Trinity is often represented as a speculative point of theology, which must not be pressed too tenaciously. But we cannot place too much importance upon it. It is an essential element of gospel truth. It is interwoven in every aspect of our salvation, all the doctrines of the gospel and the experience of God’s people. We cannot do without it. As soon as a man is convinced of his sinful and miserable condition by nature, he perceives that there is a divine person whom he has offended and that there is need for another divine person to make satisfaction for his offenses and that there is need for a third divine person to give him life eternal, to regenerate, sanctify and preserve him.

As you read the Bible, it becomes obvious to your mind, if you are a believer, that all three of the divine persons of the Holy Trinity are actively engaged in the salvation of your soul. This fact is no where more clearly revealed than in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (1:3-14). Our salvation was planned by God the Father in his eternal purpose of grace: ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him: in love having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.’ Our salvation was purchased by God the Son in his substitutionary sacrifice at Calvary: ‘In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.’ And our salvation was performed in our hearts by the gracious, effectual work of God the Holy Spirit who gave us faith in Christ: ‘Ye were scaled with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance...'


 

March 5

John 20:28

Day 65

‘My Lord and my God’

Read John 20:19-31

There are many who think they do honor to the Lord Jesus Christ when they say that ‘Christ is like God’, or that ‘Christ is a God.’ They do him no Honor at all. Their pretended honor is naked blasphemy! Their religion is a mockery of the Lord Jesus Christ, for he claimed that he is very God of very God. Did he say, ‘Before Abraham was, I AM'? (John 8:58.) Did he not declare, ‘I and my Father are one'? (John 10:30.) While our Savior lived upon this earth, he claimed to possess the attributes of God: righteousness, infinity, eternity, omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence. And he fully demonstrated the truthfulness of his claims.

The Word of God expressly declares that, Jesus Christ is God: ‘Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever’ (Ps. 45:6; Heb. 1:8). ‘Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us’ (I. John 3:16).'Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever’ (Rom. 9:5). ‘Without controversy great is the mystery of’ godliness: God was manifest in the flesh'(1 Tim. 3:16). While he was upon the earth his disciples worshipped the Lord Jesus Christ as God, and were never reproved for doing so. ‘Thomas . . . said unto him, My Lord and my God’ (John 20:28). Had he been merely a good man, or even an angel, he would have surely rebuked any who called upon him and worshipped him as God (Rev. 19: 10).

If our Savior had been nothing more than a good, righteous man he could never have redeemed us and justified us before God’s holy law. Only God could tender perfect righteousness of infinite merit to the law. Only one who is both God and man in one glorious person could have suffered to full satisfaction the infinite justice of God, so as to merit by one great sacrifice the eternal salvation of God’s elect. The Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior, is ‘Immanuel’, God with us, God in our nature, the God-man, our Mediator. Were he not God, he would be the greatest impostor who ever lived, and we should all be miserably lost and without hope.


 

March 6

John 3:16

Day 66

‘He gave his only begotten Son’

Read John 3:1-18

The Lord God gave us his Son. We did not earn him. We did not even desire him. And when he came we despised him, rejected him, nailed him up on a piece of wood and mocked him as he died. Yet for all of this, the love, mercy and grace of God were not abated! The purpose of his love was not thwarted. God’s love towards fallen, guilty sinners, scattered throughout the whole world, was so great that ‘He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’

God gave his Son to be our Savior in the covenant of grace before the world began. Before all worlds, in the mind and purpose of God, he took his own beloved Son, laid him upon the altar of his strict justice as the Substitute of that vast multitude whom he had determined to save and killed him as a sin-atoning, propitiatory sacrifice. In that sense Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God ‘slain from the foundation of the world’ (Rev. 13:8).

God gave his Son in the incarnation. In the fullness of time the divine purpose must be fulfilled. God sent forth his Spirit to prepare a body for his Son in the virgin’s womb and Immanuel came, God in our nature! ‘God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law’ (Gal. 4:4-5).

God gave his Son to die in the place of sinners at Calvary. The death of Christ was not the work of Satan, nor even the work of men, for neither Satan nor men had the power to kill God the Son. The death of our Lord Jesus Christ was the work of God the Father, the greatest work ever done by God. It was that work which God had purposed from eternity, for which he created this world. In the crucifixion of his Son by the hands of wicked men God gave his Son up into the hands of his own holy law, to suffer the wrath and vengeance of the law in the place of sinners. Being fully satisfied with the sacrifice of his own dear Son, God now gives salvation and eternal life to every sinner who trusts his Son. Truly, Jesus Christ dying in the place of sinners is the gift of God’s love!


 

March 7

Isaiah 53: 10

Day 67

‘It pleased the Lord to bruise him’

Read John 19:13-30

When the prophet says, ‘It pleased the Lord to bruise him,’ he does not mean us to understand that God found a reason for laughter in the agonies of his Son. God did not take delight and joy in punishing his Son. The text might be read like this: ‘It gave satisfaction to the Lord to bruise him. ‘The Lord himself tells us, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked.’ In doing so, he is telling us that his wrath and justice can never be satisfied by the death of the wicked. That is the reason why hell is eternal. Men can never satisfy the infinite wrath and justice of God. The torments of the damned in hell can never give God pleasure and satisfaction. But when God bruised his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, as our Substitute, crushing him beneath the terrible load of our sin, he was pleased with the death of his Son. The sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, pouring out his life’s blood unto death, made an infinite satisfaction to the wrath and justice of God. God, in his infinite holiness and justice, could not require more than Christ offered and he could not be satisfied with less than Christ offered for the ransom of our souls.

Surely the prophet also means us to understand that God is pleased with the sure results of his Son’s death, The Lord God was pleased to ‘make his soul an offering for sin’, because he saw more than the blood of his Son being poured out at Calvary. He saw more than the agony and the groans and the ignominious shame that his Son endured. He saw that as a result (of his Son’s great sacrifice, he would ‘justify many’.  He saw all the host of his elect standing around his throne, shouting and singing the praises of his Son, throughout the endless ages of eternity. This was ‘the joy’ which was set before our Savior, for which he endured the cross, despising the shame’.  In order to save us, ‘to the praise of the glory of his grace’,  ‘it pleased the Lord to bruise him’.


 

March 8

Romans 10: 14

Day 68

‘How shall they believe . . . . ;’

Read Romans 10:1-21

In Romans 10: 14-17 the apostle Paul tells us four things which are impossible. He has declared, ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ And we rejoice to know that it is true. Yet we must not ignore the fact that Paul plainly tells us that certain things must take place before any sinner can call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.

1.No one can call upon Christ for mercy until he believes on Christ. In order for a man to seek the mercy of God in Christ by faith he must believe the testimony God has given concerning his Son: ‘How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed?’

2. No one can truly believe on Christ until he hears the gospel of Christ. ‘How shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard?’ Sinners today are being asked to ‘believe on Jesus’, but the preachers are not telling anyone who the Lord Jesus Christ is ¾ what he has done ¾ where he is now ¾ or how God in justice saves sinners by the substitutionary sacrifice of his Son. Until the sinner has heard these things faithfully proclaimed he cannot have or exercise true faith in Christ and be saved. No one is saved where the gospel is not faithfully proclaimed.

3. No one can hear the gospel of Christ without a preacher. God has chosen to save sinners by the instrumentality of gospel preaching. God does not call sinners to Christ by the voice of angels or the voice of singers. God calls sinners to Christ by the Voice of a preacher, by the voice of a man proclaiming the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. ‘How shall they hear without a preacher?... Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.’

4. No man can truly preach the gospel of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit unless he is sent of God. ‘How shall they preach, except they be sent?’ When God intends to call his elect to Christ he always sends a preacher, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to that place where his elect are found, just as he sent Philip to preach the gospel to the eunuch.


 

March 9

John 6:66

Day 69

‘Many of his disciples went back’

Read I John 2:15-29

Through the course of our Lord’s earthly ministry he had men and women who followed him for a season, but for one reason or another forsook him. This was also the experience of the apostles in the early church. And it continues to be the experience of God’s saints today. In every church there are empty seats which were once filled by men and women who were highly esteemed, but who have now forsaken Christ. I have seen many who were so promising, for whom I had such high hopes, forsake Christ. Always, without exception, their apostasy can be traced to one of these four facts.

1. Some forsake Christ simply because they cannot endure the doctrine of the gospel. The natural man is highly offended by the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace in Christ. He will not long endure a faithful, consistent declaration of the gospel. Some are offended by the grace of the gospel; others are offended by the simplicity of the gospel.

2. Some forsake Christ because they received the Word as stony-ground hearers. Having no root, they wither away as soon as some trial arises because of the Word.

3. Some forsake Christ because they received the Word as seed sown among thorns. After a while the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke out the influence of the gospel.

4. Some forsake Christ because they do not count the costs of following Christ. Once they find out what it costs to follow Christ, they determine that the price is too dear and they refuse to pay.

Whenever a professed believer forsakes Christ and the gospel it will be for one of these reasons. We must not be surprised or shaken when it happens. ‘They went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us’ (I John 2:19).


 

March 10

Isaiah 43:25

Day 70

‘Will not remember thy sins’

Read Hebrews 10:1-17

God cannot lie. He cannot break his covenant. He cannot forsake his people. He cannot be unjust. He cannot deny himself. And God cannot remember the sins of his people. I do not suggest that God is not aware of the fact that we have sinned, are sinning and will sin. He is. But in so far as the law and justice of God are concerned our sins do not exist. The blood of Christ has blotted them out, washed them away and removed them from us: ‘As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us’ (Ps. 103:12). Because God himself has removed our sins, he cannot remember our sins. This is his promise to every believer: ‘I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins’ (Isa. 43:25). What can this promise of grace mean? It means at least these four things.

1. God will never remember our sins so as to treat us any the less graciously because of our sins.

2. God will never remember our sins so as to bring them up and require payment from us for our sins while we live.

3. God will not remember our sins when we stand before him in the Day of Judgment. ‘In those days, and in that time, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve’ Jer. 50:20).

4. God will not remember our sins in the distribution of his heavenly gifts, crowns and rewards. All the limitless bounty of heaven’s eternal glory will be given to all of God’s elect, because all will be perfect, blameless, sinless and holy through the righteousness and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Happy, the man to whom his God
No more imputes his sin;
But, washed in the Redeemer’s blood,
Hath made his garments clean!


 

March 11

Colossians 1:14

Day 71

‘The forgiveness of sins’

Read 1 John 1:1-10

Occasionally I hear preachers make this statement: ‘God does not forgive sin.’ I understand what they are doing. They are emphasizing the fact that God’s justice must be satisfied. But we must be careful not to contradict the plain statements of Holy Scripture. God does forgive sin. He says that he does. He is a God ‘keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin’ (Exod. 34:7). ‘God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you’ (Eph. 4:32). ‘If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness’ (I John 1:9). Yes, marvelous and unbelievable as it may appear, the holy, just and true God does forgive sin! It is true God does not forgive sin as men speak of forgiveness, but he does forgive sin. In faithfulness to his covenant, in faithfulness to his character and in faithfulness to his Son, God forgives sin in a way that is altogether consistent with his justice.

God cannot forgive sin unless he can do so in a way that is honoring to his law and satisfying to his justice. He said, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die’ (Ezek.18:20). He said, ‘Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them’ (Gal. 3: 10). How can God forgive sin and yet be just?

In order for a holy God to forgive sin four things must be done.

1. The law of God must be honored and perfectly obeyed.

2. The justice of God must be satisfied.

3. The sinner must bear the full punishment of his sin.

4. The sin must be entirely removed.

The Word of God makes it abundantly clear that there is only one way for a holy and just God to forgive sin. God can only forgive sin through the righteous obedience and satisfactory sacrifice of an all-sufficient substitute. The Lord Jesus Christ is that Substitute! In him, and only in him, is there forgiveness with God (Rom. 3:23-26). Trust that Substitute whom God has accepted, and all your sins will be forgiven you. Yes, it is true, ‘He delighteth in mercy’! God delights to forgive sin justly, through the blood of his Son.


 

March 12

1 John 4: 10

Day 72

‘Herein is love’

Read Hosea 2:6-20

When the apostle John describes God, he says, ‘God is love.’ Now that is not all that God is: he is also gracious, just, holy, wise and almighty. But all these attributes are consistent with this glorious truth: ‘God is love.’ When you and I think about the love of God, we must remind ourselves that God is not a man. His love is not like ours. The love of God is that special affection that he has for his people. It does not arise from anything outside of himself and it does not change. God’s love implies his absolute purpose and will to deliver, bless and save his people. And that loving purpose of God is never more wonderfully and completely revealed than in the sacrifice of his Son in our stead. In this text, John tells us four things which characterize the love of God.

1. God loves sovereignly. ‘Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us.’ There is nothing which compels God to love any of his sinful creatures. But, in his infinite goodness, God says, ‘Jacob have I loved.’ Our God is infinite and immutable, and so is his love. He loves whom he will, because he will, and he loves them eternally.

2. God loves sinners. ‘He loved us.’ I preach fully, without reservation, unlimited love, unbounded mercy to the vilest of men. We have nothing in us worthy of consideration. We deserve the utmost terror of God’s wrath. Who can express the fullness and magnitude of those words: ‘He loved us'?

3. God loves sacrificially. ‘He sent his Son.’ Do not ever think that Christ died at Calvary in order to win God’s love for us. No! Christ died in our place at Calvary because God loved us and he resolved to have us.

4. God loves savingly. Brethren, God loved us before the world began. But in order for us to be reconciled to God, justice had to be satisfied. Therefore, our loving Father gave his Son to be the satisfying ‘propitiation for our sins’.  Through his substitutionary death, all the sins of God’s people were washed away.


 

March 13

Matthew 11:28

Day 73

‘Come unto me’

Read Luke 8:41-56

Coming to Christ is the one essential thing for salvation. He that does not come to Christ, do what he may, or think what he may, is yet in ‘the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity’.  Coming to Christ is the very first result of regeneration. The soul that is quickened by the power of God at once realizes its lost condition. Feeling a sense of divine wrath, the quickened sinner flees to Christ and trusts him for salvation. Where there is no coming to Christ, there is no salvation. But how does a poor sinner come to Christ?

1. Coming to Christ is not a mere Physical act. In our day, men have substituted coming to the front of the church for coming to Christ. Much uproar is made when we say that this is a deception. But I must remind you that during the Savior’s earthly ministry, many came to him with their feet and their lips whose hearts were far from him.

2. Coming to Christ is not a mere mental act. Many believe the faith of Christ’s words, that is, they give intellectual assent to them, whose hearts are yet unchanged. At heart they are still children of wrath.

3. Coming to Christ is an act faith. It is the response of the heart to the sovereign, life-giving power of God. It is that act of the soul whereby we leave our sins and our self-righteousness and flee to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is simply trusting his righteousness to be our covering and his blood to be our atonement. Coming to Christ is the repentance of sin, the denial of self, and faith in him who is God’s salvation. Coming to Christ is the belief of the truth, the crying of the soul unto God and the submission of the heart to Christ’s absolute lordship as it is revealed in the gospel. Come now, my friend, away from yourselves, away from your self-righteousness and away from your false refuges - come unto Christ. He alone is able to save poor sinners. Christ is also willing to save poor sinners. Come now to Christ, the true altar, and lay hold of him for eternal life.


 

March 14

Acts 22:16

Day 74

‘Arise, and be baptized’

Read Romans 6:1-14

It is ever the tendency of fallen man to run to extremes. Nowhere is this tendency more evident than in religious customs, doctrines and practices. With regard to the matter of baptism, almost all men run to one of two extremes. Some make baptism a means of salvation. Anyone who reads the Word of God with honesty immediately recognizes that such doctrine is heresy. ‘salvation is of the Lord.’ It is not the water of baptism that washes away sin, but the blood of Christ. We are not saved by baptism, but by grace. There are others who run to the opposite extreme, who make baptism an insignificant thing. Some even neglect it altogether. This too is a perversion of scripture. Baptism is important. Baptism is essential!

Baptism is essential as a matter of obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ. By example and by commandment our Lord requires that all believers (and only believers) be baptized. To rebel against this ordinance and refuse to be baptized is to expose rebellion, not submission of heart to Christ. Such rebellion is a fair indication that a person is not saved. I have searched the Scriptures carefully and I have not yet found a single believer in the New Testament (other than the penitent thief who was not baptized. Baptism is an act of obedience to Christ our Lord.

Baptism is essential in confessing Christ before men. This is the New Testament way of confessing faith in Christ. We who believe are symbolically buried with Christ in baptism and we arise from the watery grave with him to walk in the newness of life. Baptism is a vivid picture of the believer’s death, burial and resurrection in Christ our Substitute. By this public ordinance we confess to all men our faith in Christ.

Baptism does not save; baptism does not put away sin; baptism has no merit before God. But baptism is essential. It is the answer of a good conscience toward God’.  If you believe on Christ, obey him and confess him before men in baptism.


 

March 15

1 Corinthians 11:24

Day 75

‘This do’

Read I Corinthians 11:23-34

It causes me great concern to see so many who profess faith in the Lord Jesus Christ absenting themselves from the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper and neglecting this commandment of Christ. The Lord’s Supper is an important part of worship, essential to the spiritual well-being of God’s church. The apostle Paul said, ‘As often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till he come.'

The purpose of observing the Lord’s Supper is that we might symbolically show forth the death of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ instituted this ordinance just before his death on the cross. The bread and wine symbolically represent the sufferings and death of our Redeemer in our place. The broken bread symbolizes his immaculate body, crushed under the wrath of God beneath the load of our sins. The wine poured out symbolizes his blood, poured out in death, by which our sin was put away. Breaking the bread and drinking the wine, we are reminded of our need of Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice to put away sin and we are reminded of God’s great love in sacrificing his Son to redeem us.

This is an ordinance which every true believer should observe. Regrettably, many of God’s children have been taught to fear coming to the Lord’s Supper. They think they are showing reverence for the ordinance by not receiving it. They do not. Our worthiness to take the bread and wine is not in ourselves, but in Christ. We come not with perfection, but with faith. By eating the bread and drinking the wine, we show our confidence in Christ’s finished work to make us accepted in the sight of God. No unbeliever is worthy to receive this ordinance, but no believer is unworthy.

The Lord’s Supper is to be observed often. A friend recently told me that in his church they had observed the Lord’s Supper only once in twelve years! That is utterly inexcusable. We need to be frequently reminded of our Lord’s love for us and of the price by which he redeemed us.


 

March 16

Ephesians 2:14

Day 76

‘He is our peace’

Read Ephesians 2:1-22

The Lord, Jesus Christ is our peace. He is not only the Friend of peace and the Prince of peace, but peace itself. He has not only made peace and proclaimed peace, but Christ is our peace.

Christ is our peace with God. There was a wall of partition separating us from God: our sin and guilt. But Christ came in human flesh to reconcile a holy God and his sinful people. In order to do so, he established righteousness for us, such as God’s law required, and satisfied the justice of God against us by pouring out his own life’s blood unto death as our Substitute. By his great atonement the Son of God has taken away the sin which separated God and his chosen people. But another wall of partition had to be broken down: our proud, sinful, rebellious will had to be subdued. Christ has done that too. By the power of his Spirit, through the preaching of the gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ has persuaded us who believe to be reconciled to God. ‘He is our peace, ‘because he has reconciled God to us by his effectual blood and reconciled us to God by his irresistible grace.

Christ is our peace with one another. He has made all true believers one in himself.  Coming to Christ in faith, we are united in heart and purpose with all other true believers. Faith in Christ destroys all those distinctions of the flesh which alienate sinful men: race, social standing, education, etc. In the kingdom of grace there is neither black nor white, male nor female, rich nor poor: but Christ is all, and in all. ‘He is our peace,’ because we are one in him.

Christ is our peace within ourselves. When Christ rules in a man’s heart, he causes that heart to be at peace. It is written: ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. “He is our peace,’ because he brings peace to the heart.


 

March 17

Romans 8:16

Day 77

‘The Spirit ... beareth witness’

Read I John 2:18-29

In great measure the work of the Holy Spirit is a work of confirmation. He confirms to the hearts of God’s elect all the blessings of God bestowed upon us in the covenant of grace and purchased for us by the blood of Christ. He seals the covenant of grace in our hearts and seals our hearts in the grace of God.

The Holy Spirit confirms the faith of God’s elect. True faith is the gift of God. It is the product of divine power. And it is the inner witness of the Spirit through the Word of God that assures the believer that his faith is genuine. ‘Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father’ (Gal. 4:6). ‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God ... The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God’ (Rom. 8:14,16).

The Spirit of God confirms God’s elect in the truth of God. He is the Spirit of truth. Our Lord said, ‘He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you’ John 14:26). ‘When he, the Spirit of truth is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you’ (John 16:13-14). None of God’s elect will ever be deceived by the heresy that abounds in these dark days. No true believer will ever be moved away from the hope of the gospel. You who are the sheep of Christ will not hear the voice of a stranger. You will not follow his doctrine, because ‘ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things’ (1 John 2:20).

The Spirit of God confirms the Ministry of God’s servants to the hearts of his people. If a man is called of God to the work of the gospel ministry, God the Holy Spirit will give him the ear of his people (I John 4:1-6).


 

March 18

Acts 1:11

Day 78

‘Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?’

Read 2 Peter 3:1-18

Our Lord had plainly told his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until they had received the power of the Holy Spirit, and then to go into all the world to preach the gospel. But they became so engulfed by his ascension that they ignored his command. We have many who make the same mistake among us today. They are so engulfed with their theories and speculations about prophecy that they seldom, if ever, get around to preaching the gospel to any creature.

I spent five years ‘studying theology’ in two leading Bible colleges, and about all we did was ‘gaze into heaven’.  Semester after semester was spent trying to unravel the visions of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation, but never, not even once, in five years did I hear a professor answer such fundamental, essential questions as these: ‘How can a man be just with God? “How can he be clean that is born of woman?” “How can God be just and yet, justify the ungodly?"

Be assured, our Lord is coming again. At the time appointed Christ will appear in power and great glory. But no man knows, or can know, when that time is. God has not given us one shred of information to indicate when Christ will come, because he does not intend us to know. Only fools pry into those things which God has kept secret. It is our responsibility, not to speculate about when Christ will come, but faithfully to preach the gospel of his grace, serving the interests of his kingdom and seeking his glory, with hearts full of expectation. It is our business to be about our Master’s business.

‘Why stand ye gazing up into heaven?’ Are there no needy ones for you to help? Are there no hungry ones for you to feed? Are there no sick ones for you to visit? Are there no sinners perishing for lack of knowledge? Go and do as the Lord has commanded you, until he comes to take you home. Let us be found in the place God has appointed, doing the work which God has appointed for us, in that hour which God has, appointed, when our Lord shall appear.


 

March 19

Romans 5:19

Day 79

Imputed righteousness and imparted righteousness

Read Romans 5:12-21; 1 John 3:1-10

Imputed righteousness is an act of God’s grace in redemption. Because the Lord Jesus Christ lived in righteousness upon this earth as our Representative and died under the penalty of God’s law as our Substitute, the law and justice of God declare that we are righteous. The very righteousness of Christ, his perfect obedience to God as a man, has been imputed to us. That is to say, righteousness has been laid to our account. In exactly the same manner as our sins were imputed to Christ, his righteousness has been imputed to us. When God made Christ to be sin for us, he charged him with our sin. The Son of God became responsible to the law of God for the sins of his elect. And the penalty of sin was exacted from him. He died under the wrath of God. Even so, God having imputed the righteousness of Christ to us who believe, we have become responsible for righteousness in the sight of God’s law. And we shall receive the just reward of the law for righteousness, eternal life and everlasting glory. As our works of sin were made to be our Lord’s, so his works of righteousness have been made ours. As he received the reward of our sin, we must receive the reward of his righteousness. That is substitution. Our righteousness before God is perfect, unalterable righteousness. It is the righteousness of Christ, our Substitute. Child of God, can you realize this? Your standing, your acceptance with God never varies. God is always well pleased with you in his Son!

Imparted righteousness is an act of God’s grace in regeneration. In the new birth God gives his people a new heart, a new will, a new nature, created in righteousness and true holiness. Your standing before God is not improved at all by the new birth. God has given you a heart, nature and will of righteousness so that you now love the things you once hated and hate the things you once loved. By this act of divine grace in regeneration the righteous nature of Christ is imparted to God’s elect.


 

March 20

1 Peter 2:21

Day 80

‘Leaving us an example’

Read I Peter 2:11-25

Some poor people go to Mt Calvary to get salvation and then run back to Mt Sinai to get sanctification. They look to Christ to give them life and look to Moses to rule their life. That will never do. I rejoice to find both salvation and sanctification in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. ‘The cross of Christ is our source of life and our rule of life. How can I, as a believer, live in this world for the glory of my God? To find the answer to that question, I must go to the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow in his steps’ (I Peter 2:21).

Children of God, we are not under the law. We do not need rules, regulations, threats of punishment or promises of reward to motivate and govern our hearts. In order to live in this world for the glory of God, we must simply follow the example of the one who hung upon the cursed tree, bearing our sins. When I see Christ hanging upon the cross as my Substitute, I see that self-sacrifice is essential to honoring God (Luke 14:33). There is a battle for me to fight, a trial for me to endure, a service for me to perform and a cross for me to bear. I cannot serve God without self-sacrifice and self-denial. As Christ hangs upon the cursed tree, bearing our sins, he sets before us an example of willing obedience to our heavenly Father. Our Savior willingly obeyed his Father’s will, even unto death (Isa. 50:5-7). This is the way we must serve God. God will never accept any gift, any worship or any service, unless it comes from a willing heart (2 Cor. 8:12). The cross also shows us our Lord’s dedication and perseverance. He not only agreed to bear our sins and promised to die for us; he actually did it. God requires dedication and perseverance from all who follow Christ. Our Lord’s death upon the cross also sets before us an example of real love and patient submission to the will of God.


 

March 21

1 Chronicles 19:13

Day 81

‘Let us behave ourselves valiantly’

Read Psalm 92:1-15

The Ammonites had come against Israel with a very great army. Even to Joab, a man of great military skill and experience, things looked bad. But he encouraged himself and his brother, Abishai, with these words: ‘Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the cities of our God: and let the Lord do that which is good in his sight’ (I Chron. 19:13). In this time of great difficulty and danger, Joab set before us an example of persevering faithfulness and reverent submission which should be followed by all who seek the glory of God and serve the interest of his kingdom in this world.

Our lives should be characterized by a persevering faithfulness to our God and to the work he has committed to our hands. I say to you, ‘Be of good courage, and let us behave ourselves valiantly for our people, and for the church of our God.’ The Lord has entrusted us with the gospel of his grace. He has given us the means and the opportunity to proclaim the gospel to this generation, and he has commanded us to do so. This is the point of our responsibility. We do not know what God has decreed, but we do know what he has commanded, and what he has commanded we must do. ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.'

And we must serve the Lord our God with a reverent submission. ‘Let the Lord do that which is good in his sight.’ Joab was saying to Abishai, ‘If God saves us, we shall be saved. If we perish, we shall perish. That is up to him. But we will serve him valiantly.’ This is our work. We must preach the gospel to all men, as God gives us opportunity. If he is pleased to save men, we shall rejoice and preach the gospel. If God is pleased to harden men, we shall still rejoice and preach the gospel. He is God. We are his servants. Let him do with us what he will. ‘Let the Lord do that which is good in his sight.'


 

March 22

Proverbs 16:6

Day 82

‘By mercy and truth iniquity is purged’

Read Psalm 85:1-13

How can a holy God forgive sin? How can God be just and yet justify the ungodly? How is iniquity purged? The wise man, Solomon, gives us the answer of divine wisdom to this question: ‘By mercy and truth iniquity is purged.’

The law of God, as it was given at Sinai, proclaims truth without mercy. The law accepts no excuses and makes no exceptions. The soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ The unrenewed heart desires mercy without truth. Truth without mercy would destroy every transgressor. Mercy without truth would dishonor God and trample his law in the ground. If truth stands alone, this earth must cease to be a place of holiness. There stands God, the judge of all, in his strict justice. Here we stand, guilty sinners, having broken God’s law, deserving eternal damnation. If God gives us our due, there will be no mercy, If he simply passes by our transgressions, there will be no truth. God cannot be merciful at the expense of his justice, and he cannot be just at the expense of his mercy. How can God be both true to his law and merciful to sinners?

Behold the incarnate God, hanging on the cursed tree as the sinner’s Substitute, suffering the penalty of God’s law in the sinner’s place, the just for the unjust. In the cross of Christ truth and justice are fully satisfied and mercy and grace are righteously bestowed upon sinners. ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other’ (Ps. 85: 10). The truth of God and the mercy of God, the justice of God and the grace of God, have put away the sins of God’s elect by the sacrifice of God’s own dear Son. ‘For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him’ (2 Cor. 5:21).


 

March 23

Hebrews 13:20

Day 83

‘The everlasting covenant’

Read Psalm 89:3-4, 19-37

Before the world was, when God dwelt alone in the bliss of his own ineffable glory, the three persons of the blessed Trinity held a council of peace and established an everlasting covenant of grace, by which the everlasting salvation of God’s elect and the glory of God in their salvation were guaranteed.

God the Father voluntarily agreed to save a people whom he had chosen in his own everlasting love. God the Son willingly agreed to be Surety for those people whom he and his Father loved. He volunteered to come in human flesh to obey the law as our Representative, establishing righteousness in the earth, and to suffer the penalty of the law as our Substitute, satisfying the justice of God for our sins. The Son of God asked the Father for the souls of his beloved people, to trust into his hands their immortal souls, their eternal salvation and the very glory of the eternal Godhead. And the Father, looking on his Son in absolute confidence, gave his Son all the host of his elect and declared them to be in Christ redeemed, justified, sanctified and glorified. God the Holy Spirit joyfully agreed to come in the fullness of time to each of those people who were chosen of the Father and for whom the Son had become Surety. He volunteered to regenerate them, call them, give them faith in Christ and preserve them unto the day of resurrection and everlasting glory.

Thus before the world began, God Almighty sovereignty arranged and secured the salvation of every sinner who would be saved by his grace. This is what God promised in that covenant: ‘They shall be my people, and I will be their God: and I will give them one heart, and one way, that they may fear me for ever, for the good of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me’ (Jer. 32:38-40).


 

March 24

2 Corinthians 13:5

Day 84

‘Whether ye be in the faith’

Read 2 Peter 1:1-11

Paul admonishes all of us to make our calling and election sure. He says, ‘Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?’ He does not admonish us to examine one another, but he does tell us to examine ourselves. Here are three points by which I examine my own faith. I urge you to do the same.

1. Is my faith based upon the Word of God? I know this: ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God’ (Rom. 10: 17). If my faith is genuine, it is born in my heart by the Word of truth. True faith arises from a proper knowledge of God, as he is revealed in Christ, in his holy and sovereign character (John 17:3). True faith arises from a proper knowledge of Christ, the incarnate God, in the glory of his efficacious, sin-atoning sacrifice as our Substitute. And true faith arises from a proper knowledge of ourselves, our guilt, our depravity and our inability. Until a man knows what the Bible says about God, about Christ and about himself, he cannot exercise saving faith.

2. Does my faith cause me to have a well-grounded hope of a saving interest in Christ? True faith causes a man to have a good hope through grace. Trusting the merits of Christ’s righteousness and shed blood, the true believer has a confident, assured hope of eternal salvation and acceptance with God in Christ. True faith does not depend upon feelings, works or desires. True faith trusts Christ alone and enjoys peaceful hope of eternal glory in him.

3. Does my faith produce a principle of love in my heart for Christ and his people? Faith causes a man to love Christ as he is and love the people of God as they are in Christ. This love is a self-denying, self-sacrificing commitment to Christ and his people. Any faith that lacks this love is a false faith.


 

March 25

Romans 10:4

Day 85

‘Christ is the end of the law’

Read Romans 7:1-13; Galatians 3:19-26

I do not suggest that the law is evil. It is not. God’s law is holy, just and good (I Tim. 1:8-9). I do not say that the believer is free to break the law. Not only is the believer not free to break the law, he has no desire to do so. To those who believe, God’s commandments are not grievous (I John 5:1-3). If we could, we would love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves. But we do not have the ability to do so. I do say that in Christ the believer is entirely free from the law, because ‘Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth’.  ‘We are not under the law, but under grace.’ We have been crucified with Christ and have ‘become dead to the law by the body of Christ’.  There is no sense whatsoever in which it may be said that the believer is under the law.

We have no covenant with the law. We live under a covenant of grace. We have no commitment to the law. Our commitment is to Christ, who obeyed the law for us. We do nothing by the constraint of the law. ‘The love of Christ constraineth us.'

Christ is the end of the law’s purpose. The purpose and object of God’s law is to bring us to Christ. Once it has served that purpose, it has no other (Gal. 3:24-25). The law is the sheriff’s deputy, who shuts men up in prison for their sin, concluding them all under condemnation, so that they may look to the free grace of God in Christ for deliverance. The law is God’s black dog, by which he fetches his sheep home.

Christ is the end of the law in the sense that he has fulfilled it as our Representative. He has magnified the law and made it honorable, establishing righteousness to meet the law’s demands as our Representative and dying under the law’s just penalty as our Substitute.

By his obedience to the law, Christ has terminated the law’s claims upon the believer so that in Christ we are entirely free from the law.


 

March 26

John 6:44

Day 86

Does man have a free will?

Read John 6:35-47

Without question a man is free to do anything he wants to do and has the ability to do. But all reasonable people must acknowledge that a man’s desires and abilities are limited by his nature. A mother has the ability to strangle her nursing baby, but she has no desire to do so; it would be contrary to her nature. The Ethiopian may desire to change the color of his skin, but he has no ability to do so. No, man’s will is not absolutely free. It is limited and bound by his nature.

Because man by nature is a fallen, guilty, sinful and depraved creature, altogether without life towards God, our Lord declares that with regard to righteousness, faith and eternal life, man has neither the desire nor the ability to obtain these things. They are altogether contrary to his nature and beyond his ability. The Lord Christ says, ‘Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life’ (John 5:40). That is to say, in your natural condition, you have no desire to come to Christ. In another place, the Son of God says, ‘No man can come to me’ (John 6:44). The natural man has no ability to come to Christ. He is spiritually dead. He has no spiritual inclinations, desires or abilities. With regard to the things of Christ, he has no free will.

Yet, in order to be saved, a man must come to Christ in true faith, surrendering to him as Lord with a willing heart. How can this be? God the Holy Spirit sovereignly comes to men and women who are dead in sin and gives them life in Christ. He creates a new heart and a new nature within them. By the preaching of the gospel, he calls them to Christ, with irresistible grace and power, and they always come. Grace makes men willing to come to Christ. Grace gives men the ability to come. And grace sees to it that they do come. Well might every sinner cry out, ‘Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved’ (Jer. 17:14).


 

March 27

Romans 10: 13-17

Day 87

Five things that are essential to your salvation

Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1-10

It is plainly written: ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned’ (Mark 16:16). Salvation comes to sinners by simple faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Believe Christ and you will be saved. Yet anyone who reads the Bible, except those whose minds are blinded to all reason by modern religion, knows that true, saving faith is based upon certain revealed knowledge (Rom. 10: 13-17). In order for a person to be saved, these five things are essential. The Word of God makes it abundantly clear that true, saving faith involves these five things.

1. You must know God in his true character (Exod. 33:19; 34:5-7). Very few people know who God is. The god they worship is but an idolatrous figment of their imagination (Ps. 50:2 1). God’s true character is revealed in the Scriptures. God is absolutely and universally sovereign (Isa. 46:9-1 1; Dan. 4:35-37; Rom. 9:11-24). God is inflexibly just (Ezek. 18:20; Gal. 3: 10). God is infinitely gracious (Micah 7:18-20; Rom. 3:24-26).

2. You must know yourself in your true character (Eph. 2:1-3). Man is spiritually dead. His heart is depraved (Matt. 15:19). His actions are evil. He is justly condemned by the law of God. And he has neither the desire nor the ability to change his condition (John 5:40; 6:44).

3. You must know the Lord Jesus Christ in his true character (I Tim. 3:16). Jesus Christ is God in human flesh. He is both God and man in one person. Because he is man, he is able to suffer the penalty of sin. Because he is God, he is able to satisfy the claims of divine justice.

4. You must know what happened at the cross (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:12; Isa. 53: 10-11). By his one great sacrifice for sin, Christ satisfied the justice of God for us and put away the sins of his elect.

5. You must be reconciled to God in your heart (2 Cor. 5:20). To be reconciled to God is to justify God (Psa. 51:4), willingly bow to Christ as Lord (Luke 14:25-33) and trust Christ alone (Rom. 10:9-13).


 

March 28

Genesis 3:1-24

Day 88

The fall of Adam was not an accident

Read Genesis 3:1-24

We who believe the gospel doctrine of absolute predestination do not for a moment entertain the monstrous notion that God forced Adam to sin in the garden, though there are many who delight to accuse us of that evil. Yet we do not accept the preposterous idea that the sin and fall of our father Adam was an accident, which took the eternal God by surprise and shattered his plans for man and creation. A god whose plan and purpose could be shattered, or even shaken, by his creature would be no god at all. Two things must be recognized by all who worship God and receive the revelation of Holy Scripture as the Word of God:-

1. If it had been God’s will and purpose to do so, he could have kept Adam from sinning in the garden as easily as he kept Abimelech from sinning with Sarah (Gen. 20:6).

2. The sin and fall of our father Adam, like all other things, was predestinated by God in eternity and was brought to pass by the rule of God’s sovereign providence for the eternal good of God’s elect and the glory of his own great name (Eph. 1: 11; Rom. 8:28; 11:33-36).

God did not force Adam, or in any way compel him to sin. But all the circumstances which brought to pass the sin of Adam and the fall of our race were ordained of God in infinite wisdom, goodness and grace. In the same way, God did not force men to crucify his Son. Yet his Son died by the hands of wicked men at exactly the time, and in exactly the way, which God had from eternity predestined (Acts 2:23). God is answerable to no man’s judgment. And I certainly do not pretend to have understanding in the mystery of God’s purpose and ways. But I do see one glorious aspect of infinite wisdom and grace in the fall of Adam: had Adam not fallen, we could never have known the glory of God’s grace in Christ. Adam fell in the garden, according to God’s purpose, so that we might know the love, the grace, the wisdom and the glory of God in Christ, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world.


 

March 29

Acts 2:41-42

Day 89

Three great privileges of God’s elect

Read Acts 2:41-47; 4:32-37

Baptism - confessing Christ. Baptism is the believer’s public confession of faith in Christ. It is a public identification with Christ and his people. It is a public vow of our commitment to the glory of Christ. Being buried with Christ in baptism, the believer says to all the world, ‘I belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. I died with him as my Substitute, was buried with him and have been raised up again with him in life. Christ is my life. Henceforth, I live not for self, not for the world, not for Satan, but for Christ’ (Rom. 6:3-4):

Church membership - fellowship with Christ in his body. A local church is a body of believers voluntarily gathered in the name of Christ for the worship of Christ, the furtherance of the gospel and the salvation of God’s elect. The fellowship of believers in a local church is vital to our spiritual growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need one another! (Heb. 10:24-25.) Church membership is an avowed commitment to the body of Christ (Phil. 2:1-4.) As a family, we are committed to one another. Church membership is communion with the body of Christ. I love the fellowship of God’s people, because in the fellowship of God’s people I find fellowship with my God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 18:20). Church membership is more than having your name on the same church register. It is care for the body of Christ. The true people of God truly care for one another (I Cor. 12:24-27).

The Lord’s Supper - remembering Christ. The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic remembrance of Christ. It is a public ordinance in which believers picture their redemption by the death of Christ (1 Cor. 11:23-30). Those who do not trust Christ dare not receive this, or any other ordinance. They do not discern the Lord’s body: the need of the incarnation, the righteousness performed in his body, or the sacrifice of his body. But all who trust Christ are to observe this blessed feast in remembrance of him. And we are to observe it often. It is needful for us, so long as we are in this flesh, to be frequently reminded of our Lord’s great sacrifice for our redemption.


 

March 30

Luke 5:17-26

Day 90

Four of the most important men in the Bible

Read John 1:35-51

I do not know their names, where they were born, or where they died. The Bible only records one thing that they did. But the one thing which these four men did is the most important work ever performed by men: these four men brought a man to the Lord.

These four men knew the Lord. They had true faith in Christ. They believed him to be the Messiah. They recognized his power and authority as the sovereign Lord, the Son of God. They knew that he had power both to heal disease and to forgive sin. They also knew where Christ was and where he was displaying his power and grace. He is God. He is everywhere present. But there are certain places where he meets with men and manifests his power and grace to them. These men had a friend who desperately needed Christ. Their friend was a hopelessly, helplessly paralyzed man. They could not heal their friend or forgive his sin. And they had no way of knowing whether or no Christ would so do. But they knew that if he would, he could. Knowing Christ’s power and grace and knowing their friend’s desperate need, these four men determined to bring their poor friend to Christ. It was not an easy thing to do. The room was crowded with people. No one offered to assist them nor even to make room for them, But they were not deterred. ‘They sought means to bring him in and to lay him before him.’ At last they got their friend before the Lord. They said nothing; they simply laid the helpless man before Christ. And as a direct result of their labors and faith towards Christ, two marvelous things happened: a sinner was freely forgiven of all his sins and the Lord God was glorified. These four men had been voluntary instruments in the hands of the Lord, and God used them to accomplish his eternal purpose!

I want to be like these four men, diligently laboring to bring sinners to Christ, faithfully giving myself to the work, allowing nothing to stand in my way. And I want you to be like these men - each one doing what he can to get sinners to the Savior. We cannot save men, renew their hearts, nor give them faith. But we can get men under the sound of the gospel.


 

March 31

Genesis 19:14

Day 91

‘He seemed as one that mocked’

Read Matthew 5:1-15

Lot was a righteous man. He believed God and worshipped God. He was saved, justified and forgiven. But Lot made some very careless decisions early in life that proved most costly for him. In a dispute over a few four-footed beasts, he left his godly Uncle Abraham, took his family and moved to Sodom. The men of that city, who would be his neighbors, were wicked. In Sodom there was no prophet of God, no place where the Lord God was worshipped and not to be found one person who worshipped and served the Lord. In short, there was not one thing in the city that could be of spiritual, eternal benefit to Lot and his family. But Sodom was a wealthy city and offered good business opportunities for a man like Lot. He could provide well for his family, his wife would have the comforts of a nice home and plenty of neighbors and his children would receive a good education and be able to enjoy the social advantages of life in the city. Like most of us, Lot took great care to provide the best for his children in this world and, I am afraid, like most of us, he showed little concern for the eternal welfare of their souls.

At last God sent his servants to Sodom to warn Lot of his impending judgment. They told him to go out and gather his family around him and bring them out of this place: for the Lord hath sent us to destroy this city’.  Lot knew God; he believed what God’s servants told him. Suddenly he was aroused by a sense of divine justice. Fearing for their lives, he went out to warn his sons-in-law of God’s judgment. But it was far too late. The actions of his life in Sodom silenced the words of his mouth in their ears. ‘He seemed as one that mocked unto his sons-in-law!’ Lot had no influence for good upon his family. Not one soul in his family respected his religion, reverenced his God or regarded his witness. His wife, two of his daughters and his sons-in-law perished with Sodom. And the two daughters who escaped with Lot only had their judgment postponed for a while. They, too, had become Sodomites. Lot is a beacon to warn us of danger. As we love our families and care for their souls, we must avoid the foolishness of Lot.


 

April 1

Galatians 5:4

Day 92

Some dangers of legalism

Read Acts 15:1-21

Every few days I receive letters, tracts from men trying to persuade me that, though we are free in Christ, we are yet under the bondage of the law. Some of these are good men, men who believe and preach the gospel of God’s free grace in Christ. But their error in this point is most serious and grievous.

1. If you seek to be, justified by the law, you will surely perish. It is written: ‘By the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight’. 

2. If you seek sanctification or seek to become more holy by obedience to the law, you will become self-righteous. Self-righteousness is neither more nor less than your own righteousness. It is a supposed righteousness performed by you. It is that proud foolishness of heart which supposes that you are more holy than others.

3. If you make the law your rule of life, you will lose the joy of serving Christ. The joy of Christian service is the fact it is free, unconstrained and spontaneous. It is motivated by love. But when you make the law of God a rule of life the motive becomes fear or desire for reward and all joy is destroyed.

4. If you seek assurance by obeying the law, you will become despondent and fearful. The old Puritans, sound as they were in many points, could never gain any comforting assurance and their congregations were never allowed to enjoy any because they sought it on a legal basis. Some were driven to such despondency by legal fear that they had to be locked away in asylums to keep them from committing suicide. The law breeds fear. You cannot obey it. It can never comfort anyone except a proud, self-righteous man who does not understand it.

5. If you seek acceptance before God in any measure whatsoever upon the basis of the law, you will never be accepted at all. Christ alone is our acceptance before God. He is all our righteousness, all our sanctification, all our holiness, all our redemption and all our peace. To add anything to his finished work is to make his work vain and useless. Christ will be all, or he will be nothing.


 

April 2

Matthew 26:39

Day 93

‘If it be possible, let this cup pass from me’

Read John 12:23-33

The mysteries of Gethsemane are such that we cannot begin to enter into them. I am struck by the fact that Peter, James and John, those disciples who were the nearest to our Lord when he made this prayer, never mention it. They must have realized that the soul sufferings of Christ in the garden were depths into which no mortal could ever delve. This prayer of our Lord is written so that we may wonder and adore the great humiliation of our divine Savior, but not to supply us with a place of theological speculation. Beloved, we must learn to reverence the silence of Scripture as well as the voice of Scripture. We do not know what the cup was which our Lord prayed to have removed, because the Holy Spirit chose not to tell us. But clearly it is not what most people suppose it was.

Our Lord was not praying here that he might be delivered from going to the cross to bear the wrath of God as our Substitute. The cross was the goal of his life, not the dread of it. Never once do we see any hesitancy on the part of Christ to redeem his people. There was no cowardice in him. He voluntarily agreed to become our Substitute and to die in our place on the cross. And he was resolved to accomplish this mighty work (Psa. 40:7-8; Isa. 50:5-7). Eternally his loving eye was fixed upon the cross.

Besides, our Lord knew very well that it was not possible for the terrible cup of God’s wrath to pass from him. He must take this cup, not from the hands of Judas, Pilate, or the Jews ¾ he must take this cup from the hands of his Father and drink its bitter dregs until he had turned it upside down. God’s immutable decrees and purposes required it. The covenant of grace required it. The prophecies of the Old Testament required it. His own suretyship engagements required it. The salvation of his people required it. The law, justice and glory of God required the death of our Substitute.

Blessed be his name! Immanuel would not be turned aside from his work, until at the appointed hour he cried, ‘It is finished!’ And his work was done!


 

April 3

Luke 11:2

Day 94

‘When ye pray’

Read Luke 11:1-13

The wise man gives us this solemn warning: ‘Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter anything before God; for God is in heaven and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few’ (Eccles. 5:2). I would do nothing to discourage either public or private prayer. Indeed, we ought all to pray more. But in the act of prayer, we should consider who we are and to whom we are speaking. If we would, I am sure that our prayers would be more earnest, more reverent, more sincere and more effectual.

True prayer is seeking the will of God. A believer does not dictate to God what he should do in prayer. Rather, he seeks to know the will of God. This knowledge can be given to us only by the Spirit of God. If we can, at least in measure, know God’s will in a matter, then we can pray with confidence about it.

We make our petitions in the name of Christ. Praying in Jesus’ name is much more than simply tacking the name of Christ on the end of our prayers. It is praying in the conscious awareness that Christ is our only grounds of acceptance before God. It is praying in faith in the righteousness and shed blood of the Son of God. Christ alone merits favor with God. And we pray, asking our favors upon the ground of his merit.

Real prayer is submitting to the will of God. Like our Lord, we must learn to pray, ‘Thy will be done.’ We are all prone to pray that God will heal such and such a person, or save such and such a person, because of our relationship to that person. But what is God’s will in the matter? That is what we must seek. When we pray, let us submit our personal desires to the will and glory of God.

Prayer is an act of the heart. God cares nothing for the length or eloquence of our prayers. He looks upon the heart. If at heart we are humbled, submissive, reverent and believing, our words might be fewer, but our, prayers would be more effectual. ‘Lord, teach us to pray!'


 

April 4

Luke 23:28

Day 95

‘Weep not for me!’

Read Psalm 22:1-31

Our Lord was carrying his cross through the streets of Jerusalem. He had been beaten, mocked, abused and scourged. Many were astonished at the hideous sight. ‘His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.’ As Jesus of Nazareth carried his cross through the streets, his temples bled. His face was bruised. And his back was lacerated. The sight was more than some women in the crowd could endure. They felt great sorrow and pity for Jesus. They could not refrain themselves; they wept, bewailed and lamented this suffering man. But Immanuel stopped the procession. Turning to those women, our mighty Savior said, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.’

Why did our Lord rebuke these weeping women? They were rebuked not because they wept, but because they wept over the wrong thing. They felt sorry for poor Jesus. My friend, Jesus Christ is not a man to be pitied; he is a God to be worshipped and a King to be served! Too many people weep over the story of the crucifixion because they feel sorry for Jesus, thinking that sorrow for Jesus is salvation. Our Lord was not helplessly dragged off to the cross. He marched up to Calvary in triumph. We ought never to lament the fact that Christ died as he did upon the cross. Rather, let us glory in the cross. The death and resurrection of the Son of God is our salvation. Without the cross, we would all perish. The cross is God’s remedy for human sin. Weep not over the cure, but over the disease. Weep not over the fulfilling of the law, but over the transgression of the law. Do not ever weep over the fact that Christ died as a Substitute for sinners, but weep over the sin which made the death of Christ necessary for the salvation of his people.


 

April 5

Psalm 116:12

Day 96

‘What shall I render unto the Lord?’

Read Psalm 92:1-15

As believers, we are no longer under the bondage of the law. The legal fears and terrors of the law have no power over us. Paul’s language could not be clearer: ‘The law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient.’

But our freedom from the law does not mean that we are without responsibility, obligation or constraint. Paul looked upon himself as the bond-slave of Jesus Christ. We who believe are divorced from Moses, but we are married to Christ. And with marriage comes commitment, responsibility and a certain form of bondage. Yes, we are in bondage to Christ. Ours is a deliberate, willful, voluntary bondage. Our hearts are bound to Christ by cords of love. The love of Christ constraineth us. This bondage of love is the greatest freedom imaginable.

Now let me reason with you who love the Lord. Surely the motives of love are stronger than any produced by the fear of the law. Think of all the Lord’s benefits towards you. Who can count the small dust of God’s favors towards us? Just to think of God’s daily, temporal mercies of providence is overwhelming. But we have experienced the love, mercy and grace of God in Christ! God gave us his Son! He chose us to be his own. We are redeemed by the blood of Christ and clothed with his righteousness! God the Holy Spirit gave us life, led us to Christ and dwells in our hearts. ‘Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.’

Surely the consideration of the Lord’s benefits towards us will inspire in a loving heart a sense of overwhelming obligation. Out of love to our Savior, and God we ask, ‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?’ What gift can I bring to my Redeemer? How can I prove the sincerity of my love? How can I show the depth of my gratitude? I will give myself wholeheartedly to my God and Savior, Jesus Christ, heart, soul, mind and being. Whatever I am, whatever I possess, it belongs to Christ. My time, my property, my talents, my labor all are his. That is the least that I can do. ‘Lord, here am I. Use your servant for your glory, however you see fit.’


 

April 6

Psalm 116:15

Day 97

‘Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints’

Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

This statement is true only of the death of a believer. To die without Christ is a terrible thing. For the unbeliever death is the wages of sin, the execution of justice, the beginning of sorrow, the end of all hope, the end of all mercy and the end of all opportunity. To die without Christ is to enter into the torments of infinite, inflexible, insatiable wrath. But for the believer death is a far different thing. For us there is no penalty to be inflicted in death. There is no sin to terrify us. And there is no law to condemn us. Christ, our Substitute, has borne the penalty of our sin, removed our guilt and satisfied every demand of the law and justice of God. To the child of God, it is not death to die. Death for us is a covenant blessing (I Cor. 3:21-23). It is a departure out of this world unto the Father. It is being unclothed that we might be clothed upon. It is failing asleep in the arms of Christ. It is entrance into the heavenly kingdom. Death to a believer is a happy home-going. There is no limit in this statement; if a man, woman, or child who dies is a believer, one of God’s saints; that death is a precious thing in the sight of God.

How can the death of God’s saints be precious to him? Why, because they are precious to him. They are the objects of his eternal, electing love, redeemed by the precious blood of Christ and members of his body, the church. The death of God’s saints is precious, because then the precious blood of Christ will be satisfied. We are ‘the fulness of him that filleth in all’.  Without his body, every member intact, the Head cannot be complete. As members of his body, we must be where our Head is ¾ in glory. A believer’s death is precious in the sight of God, because it answers the prayer and satisfies the desire of God’s well-beloved Son (John 17:24).

Children of God, let us learn to look upon our death and the death of our believing relatives and friends as the Lord does. We may sorrow because we miss them and feel our need of them. But we have no reason to weep for their sakes who die in the Lord. Death to a believer is a precious thing. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord!


 

April 7

Matthew 8:2

Day 98

‘There came a leper’

Read Luke 17:1-19

The cleansing of this leper is recorded by Matthew, Mark and Luke. Surely the Holy Spirit intends us to learn some specific lesson from it. This leper is held up as an example of the way in which a sinner must approach the Lord in order to obtain mercy. Let me show you how this man came to Christ.

1. This leper came to Christ with a deep sense of his personal need. He was a leper. According to the law, he was unclean, corrupt and defiled. He was an outcast of society. Luke tells us that he was ‘full of leprosy’.  There was no covering for his disease. From head to toe, he was defiled. The sure result of his disease was death. He could not help himself and no one else could or would help him. Do you need Christ?

2. This leper came to the Lord in great humiliation. Mark says, he came ‘kneeling’.  Luke tells us that he fell on his face at the Savior’s feet. He saw who and what he was. He saw who and what Christ is. And he was humbled. The way to Christ is the road of humiliation. If you would go up to heaven, you must come down in repentance.

3. This leper came to Christ confessing true faith. He called, Jesus ‘Lord’.  He knew that Christ is what he claims to be ¾ Lord and King. And he knew that Christ could do what he claimed. He worshipped the man Christ Jesus as God (‘Lord, thou canst make me clean’). Jesus Christ is God. He is Lord and King. He has power sufficient to save your soul.

4. This leper came to Christ in total submission. ‘Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst.’ He knew that the sovereign power of Christ is dispensed according to the sovereign will of Christ. He has mercy on whom he will have mercy. He ventured himself upon the sovereign mercy of Christ, saying, ‘Lord, I know you have all power, do for me what you will according to your own great mercy. If he turns me away, I cannot be worse off than I am now. But he can make me whole. I must sue for mercy.’

5. This leper obtained mercy, and so may you! The Lord said, ‘I will, be thou clean.’ His healing was immediate and complete. God never has turned away one who came to Christ like this.


 

April 8

Genesis 22:14

Day 99

‘Jehovah-Jireh...’

Read Genesis 22:1-14

This name, by which God revealed himself to Abraham, may be translated by a number of expressions. But however you translate it, Jehovah-Jireh expresses the idea of the Lord seeing and being seen. In this place we are taught that our heavenly Father sees our need; and, with the foresight of divine love, he provides us with what we need in Christ, and in that provision God himself is seen. The ram which God provided as a substitute for Isaac was typical of God’s own great provision of his Son as the Substitute for sinners.

Jehovah-Jireh means, ‘The Lord will see.’ God graciously saw our need as sinners. Seeing the ruin of our race by the fall of Adam, and our great need because of that fall, God pitied us. He saw our need as transgressors of his holy law. By nature we are all sinners, children of wrath, perishing under the sentence of divine justice, and God saw our great need. In this fact there is a ray of hope. Since God sees our need, we have hope that he will provide.

Jehovah-Jireh means, ‘The Lord will provide.’ Our God provided his own Son to be a Substitute for us, graciously and freely, simply because he loved us. And the provision was gloriously effective. The ram was slain in Isaac’s place, so Isaac must go free. Even so, the Son of God was slain in the place of his people, and the very justice of God demands that they go free! At the very time when we were ready to perish, God said in his law, ‘Lay not thy hand upon the lad!’ A Substitute was provided to satisfy our need as guilty men.

Jehovah-Jireh means, ‘The Lord will be seen’. Go to Mt Calvary. There you see Abraham’s prophecy fulfilled. There is God’s glorious display of himself in justice and grace, in holiness and mercy, in wrath and love. Behold the revelation of God. Christ crucified is Jehovah-Jireh!


 

April 9

I John 4:19

Day 100

‘We love him, because he first loved us’

Read I John 4:1-21

We may differ on many points. But in this one thing every true child of God is like every other child of God: ‘We love him.’ We do not love him as we desire. We do not love him as we know we should. We do not love him as we soon shall. But we do really love him. It is not possible for a man to experience the grace of God in salvation and not love the God of all grace. It is not possible for a man to know the efficacy of Christ’s blood in his own soul and not love his gracious Redeemer. It is not possible for a man to have his heart renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit and not love the Spirit of life. In spite of our many weaknesses, sins and failures, we do honestly and sincerely confess, ‘Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee.’

We know also that we would never have loved him if he had not loved us first. The love of God for us precedes our love for him. ‘He first loved us.’ He loved us before we had any desire to be loved by him. He loved us before we sought his grace. He loved us before we had any repentance or faith. He loved us before we had any being. He loved us eternally. Does he not say, ‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore with lovingkindness have I called thee’? He chose us, redeemed us and called us because he loved us.

Not only does God’s love for us precede our love for God, but God’s love for us is the cause of our love for him. ‘We love him, because he first loved us.’ This heart of mine was so hard, this will was so stubborn, that I would never have loved the Lord, if he had not intervened to conquer me with his love. In the midst of my sin and corruption, he passed by, and behold it was ‘the time of love’.  He revealed his great love for me in Christ. As I beheld the crucified Christ, dying in the place of sinners, the love of God conquered this rebel’s heart. Trusting Christ as my only Savior, I am compelled to love him, because he first loved me. And now I know that whatever I am, by the grace of God, I am because he loved me. Tell me, my friend, is it not so with you?


 

April 10

Job 25:4

Day 101

‘How can a man be just with God.?’

Read Romans 3:19-31

This is the question that causes me most concern. Like other men, I am curious about the decrees of God and the events of the future. But this is the question which outweighs all others. I know that God is holy, righteous and just, and that I am a sinner. Soon I will stand before the bar of God’s judgment and be weighed in the balances with his strict righteousness and justice. Woe unto the man who is found wanting in that day! How can a man be just with God?

I know this: I cannot justify myself. Job said, ‘If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me.’ It is not possible for me, (or any other man) to be justified before God by my own works. It is written: ‘By the work of the law shall no flesh be justified.’ Having once broken God’s law, we can never make reparation.

This too I know: if ever I am justified, it will be by the work of God alone. The apostle Paul wrote, ‘It is God that justifieth.’ God can and does justify sinners. Justification is a gracious work of God, accomplished through the shed blood of Christ, his Son. The Lord Jesus Christ stood before God as the sinner’s Substitute. He legally represented us before the law by the appointment of God himself’.  The law required perfect obedience to its precepts. Christ rendered that obedience. The law required a full payment for sin. Christ paid the awful debt. This is the only way that God could forgive sin. His law had to be fulfilled. Therefore, Jesus Christ voluntarily assumed our nature and place. Since he fulfilled the law’s righteousness and its penalty, all who ever believe were justified freely by his grace’.  Through the blood of Christ, God is both just and the justifier of all who believe.

Yet it is equally clear that if I am justified, I must receive that justification by faith alone. My faith will not satisfy the law’s requirements. Christ alone can do that. But as I rest in Christ and trust in the merits of his righteousness and shed blood, God declares that I am justified! ‘All that believe are justified from all things.’ ‘We have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ.'


 

April 11

Colossians 3: 11

Day 102

‘Christ is all!’

Read I Corinthians 1:17-31

Never were three words spoken which are more precious, and at the same time more profound than these three blessed words of the apostle Paul: ‘Christ is all.’ Who can tell out the depth of their meaning?

Christ is all we need. We are sin; Christ is righteousness. We are filthiness; Christ is cleansing. We are naked; Christ is clothing. We are ignorance; Christ is wisdom. We are guilty; Christ is pardon. We are blind; Christ is healing. We are dead; Christ is life. Whatever there is that a poor, guilty sinner needs, it is found in Christ.

Christ is all before God. It has pleased the Father to put all the blessings of grace in his Son. Christ is the fullness of grace and glory. There is nothing that God will accept, except his Son. Christ is all God will accept for both the justification and the sanctification of his people. We must be washed in his blood, or we cannot be justified. We must be clothed in his righteousness, or we cannot be accepted before God. That righteousness which God imputed to us in justification is the righteousness of Christ alone. And the righteousness which God imparted to us in regeneration (the beginning of sanctification) is the righteousness of Christ. And the only righteousness that God will accept in the Day of Judgment is the perfect righteousness of Christ.

Christ is all to all his people. Unto them that believe, he is precious. He is all that we desire. If I have Christ, I have enough. Christ is all to be trusted, loved, worshipped, served and honored. Christ is all our hope, all our joy, all our peace, all our assurance and all our comfort. Christ is all in life, all in death and all in eternity. Yes, in heaven, Christ will be all. He will be all our beauty, all our glory and all our reward.

Other refuge have I none
Hangs my helpless soul on thee;
Leave, ah, leave me not alone,
Still support and comfort me!


 

April 12

Hebrews 4:12

Day 103

‘The Word of God’

Read Psalm 119:1-24

Our faith rests entirely upon the Word of God. If it could ever be proved that the Bible is not the inspired, inerrant Word of God, then the gospel of Christ would be proved false. But the infidel, though he may scoff, cannot ever produce such proof. The fact that the Bible stands today shatters every argument of those skeptics who deny that the Bible is the Word of God.

This blessed book is the greatest standing miracle in the world today. Just think of this: there was never an order given to any man to plan the writing of this volume. Nor was there any concerted effort on the part of men to write it. Under the sovereign direction of the Holy Spirit, the Bible gradually developed over a period of 1600 years. Little by little, part by part, century by century, it came out in parts and fragments. It was written on two continents, in countries hundreds of miles apart. It was written in three languages - Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek. And it was written by scores of men, from every possible background variation. Yet it stands as one unified volume.

This is a book with one message. It contains one system of doctrine, one plan of salvation, one principle of conduct and one rule of faith. The one message of the Bible is that of redemption by the shed blood of Christ. Substitution is stamped upon every page. Everything in the Bible points to Christ and his substitutionary work.

There are historical statements in the Bible that could not have been known except by revelation: the account of creation, the decrees of God, the covenant of grace. And there are doctrines taught in the Bible which no human mind ever devised: the character of the triune God, the incarnation of Christ, substitutionary atonement. Add to this the perfect accuracy of the prophecies of the Bible and their evident fulfillment. I say there can be but one rational explanation for the existence of this divine book: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God.” “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” Without question, this is the Word of God!


 

April 13

Romans 8:28

Day 104

‘We know’

Read Romans 8:1-39

If Holy Scripture was a ring and the Epistle to the Romans its precious stone, chapter 8 would be the sparkling point of the radiant gem. Reading this chapter, I see several things that we who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ know.

1. We know that there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus (v. 1). Beloved, if we are in Christ, vitally, joined to him by faith, we are free from all condemnation. Do not allow Satan to deceive you. If you are in Christ all your sins are under the blood! Right now, we are free!

2. We know that all of God’s children have the Spirit of God (v. 14). ‘If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.’ The Holy Spirit is in us as the Spirit of life, adoption, comfort, guidance and prayer.

3. We know that there is a better day coming (v. 18). Today this earth is under the curse of sin. This world is a place of suffering, a vale of tears. But soon our Lord will create all things new. In that day, his glory will be revealed in us.

4. We know that all things work together for the eternal good of God’s elect (v.28). All things that take place upon this earth come to pass according to God’s eternal purpose for the good of his people.

5. We know that every believer is perfectly and completely saved in Christ (vv. 29-30). There is nothing lacking, nothing left undone. Christ has done all. In our Representative we are loved with a perfect love, accepted, justified, called and glorified. God saves sinners in a way that causes his Son to get the glory. He is the Firstborn among many brethren.

6. And we know that nothing shall ever separate us from the love of Christ (vv. 35-39). Come what may, I stand convinced, he will never cease to love his own.

How can we be so sure of these things? Because God gave his Son, we know he will with him freely give us all things. ‘What shall we then say to these things?’ I'll say this: ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ And I'll say this also: “To God be the glory, great things he hath done!’


 

April 14

Isaiah 42:4

Day 105

‘He shall not fail’

Read Isaiah 63:1-14

This is a blessed promise concerning the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a promise given to those who look upon him with an eye of faith. Whatever it is that the Lord Jesus has undertaken to perform will most assuredly be accomplished. He cannot fail, because he is the Son of God. ‘He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.’

1. Our Lord did not fail to fulfill every promise and prophecy of the Old Testament. Everything that was written concerning Christ was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.

2. The Lord Jesus Christ did not fail to magnify God’s law and make it honorable (v. 21.) Living upon this earth as our Representative, the God-man perfectly obeyed the law of God, weaving for us a spotless robe of righteousness.

3. Our blessed Redeemer did not fail to make a full and complete satisfaction of divine justice for his people. It is blasphemous to suppose that the Lord Jesus Christ tried to redeem the souls of men who perish under the wrath of God. That would mean that he failed in his work! When Christ cried, ‘It is finished’, the work of redemption was finished. The justice of God’s law and nature was satisfied in Christ for every soul for whom he stood as Surety.

4. The Good Shepherd will not fail to bring every sheep given to him by his Father into glory. All that the Father gave him, he will seek and they will come to him. And he will present us faultless before the presence of his glory.

5. King Jesus will not fail to reign until all his enemies are put under his feet. He will not fail to establish a perfect rule of righteousness upon this earth. In this place, where the battle was fought and won, the King must reign.

I believe in the final perseverance of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a glorious thought to comfort our souls: ‘He shall not fail!’


 

April 15

Philippians 3:10

Day 106

‘That I may know him...’

Read Song of Songs 5:1-16

This was the object of Paul’s life, that for which he sacrificed everything: country, kindred, honor, liberty and life itself. Notice that this was not Paul’s prayer as an unconverted man that he might know Christ and be saved. This is the desire of a saved man, one who enjoyed the full assurance that his sins were pardoned and that he was ‘accepted in the Beloved’.  This is the desire of a regenerate soul, ‘that I may know him’.

I am afraid that there are many very religious people who are content to live without knowing Christ. They can say with Paul, ‘that I may win him and be found in him’.  That they desire. But this higher aspiration has never stirred their hearts: ‘that I may know him’.  They are content to know the history of Christ’s life, the doctrine he taught and the signs of his coming kingdom. These things are all good in their place. But the one thing needful is that we know Christ himself. This is my soul’s desire. I hope that it is yours also, ‘that I may know him’.

1. I want to know the glory of Christ’s person, by a personal acquaintance with him.

2. I want to know the virtue of Christ’s blood, by experiencing its efficacy.

3. I want to know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings by entering into the suffering of my Substitute with him.

4. I want to know the power of Christ’s resurrection, by being raised by him to the newness of life.

5. 1 want to know the fullness of Christ’s love, by experiencing and reflecting that love.

6. 1 want to know the peace of Christ’s presence, by resting in his love, relying upon his promise and confidently trusting his faithfulness.

7. I want to know Christ himself! This is a knowledge that is given to them that believe. It is a spiritual knowledge of Christ that we desire (2 Cor. 5:16). The more we know him, the more we see how little we know him. But this I know, to know him is to love him. And soon, we shall see him as he is. Then, oh blessed thought, then, we shall know him!


 

April 16

1 Thessalonians 1:4

Day 107

‘Knowing, brethren beloved, your election’

Read I Thessalonians 1:1-10

We do not know the mysteries of God’s eternal decree. But a few things are clearly revealed in the Scriptures about election. Election is a free, sovereign, eternal, irreversible and loving act of God’s abundant grace. Election is in no way contrary to the promises of God revealed in the gospel. It is promised: ‘Come unto me and be ye saved all ye ends of the earth.’ ‘Come unto me, and I will give you rest.’ ‘Whosoever will, let him come and take of the water of life.’ ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ ‘If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’ I know that the promises of God are sure and the responsibility of every man stands, election not withstanding. ‘God commandeth all men to repent.’ ‘This is his commandment, that we believe on the name of his Son, Jesus Christ.’ You must repent of your sins, believe on Christ and submit to him as Lord and Savior. If you will not, your damnation is just. If you do, it is because God has chosen you as the object of his love before the world began.

Paul told the saints at Thessalonica that he knew their ‘election of God’.  But how could he know it? He tells us five things that gave clear evidence of their election. If you have experienced these things, you too were chosen in Christ before the world began.

1. God’s elect have heard the gospel effectually (v.5.) They have heard the voice of God in the gospel by the power of the Holy Spirit.

2. God’s elect have become followers of Christ (v.6). They imitate him in faith, in love, in patience and in spiritual joy.

3. God’s elect are committed to the gospel (v.8).

4. God’s elect have been converted to God (v.9). They have experienced a mighty change: a change of mind, a change of masters, a change of motives.

5. God’s elect are waiting for Christ (v. 10). We live not for this world, for ease, or for gain. We live in anticipation of Christ’s glorious descent.


 

April 17

Ephesians 1:6

Day 108

‘Accepted in the beloved’

Read Colossians 2:1-15

Upon what do you rest your hope of acceptance before a holy God? Baptism? Church work? A religious experience? A moral reformation? All these things, in themselves, are vain, empty and useless. They are worse! Apart from the knowledge of Christ, they are a positive curse. If you and I trust anything, in any measure, for our total acceptance before God, other than Jesus Christ, we shall surely perish! ‘Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.’

Our text declares that ‘He [God the Father] hath made us accepted in the beloved [God the Son).’ Here is a doctrine full of consolation to our hearts. God Almighty has made all of his people accepted, perfectly and completely, in Christ! It is no marvel that we should accept Christ. But there is wonder in this, that God accepts us, sinners deserving his wrath, in Christ Jesus! Beloved, there exists a positive and eternal union between Christ and his people. We are one with Christ. A rapturous thought! Bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh! ‘We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.’ We are one with Christ in his heart from all eternity. Our names are written beneath his in the book of God’s eternal election. We are in the hands of Christ, as the Surety of our redemption and eternal glory. We are in the loins of Christ spiritually. As in Adam we sinned and died, even so in Christ we died upon the cross and rose again! And we are in his very person. By a living faith we are joined to the God-man. He lives in us and we live in him! This is the vital union of faith, enjoyed by God’s elect. This is the beginning of heaven and eternal glory. Being accepted in Christ, we have become the objects of God’s pleasure. As God is pleased with his Son, he is pleased with all who are in his Son. Think of this, believing soul: God is well-pleased with you for Christ’s sake! ‘He hath made us accepted in the Beloved.’

Thou, O Christ, art all I want,
More than all in Thee I find.


 

April 18

John 2:23-24

Day 109

False faith

Read Matthew 7:13-27

A false faith can do many things and produce many things, which make it hard to detect. A false faith can experience deep conviction for sin like Judas. It can tremble at the Word of God like Felix. It can repent like Esau. It can obtain high office in the church like Judas, Diotrephes and Demas. A false faith can speak well of Christ: ‘Never a man spake like this man.’ It can experience deep religious emotions like the stony-ground hearers. It can diligently perform religious works like the Pharisees. A false faith can even preach the gospel, perform miracles, cast out demons and persevere to the end (Matt. 7:22-23). But, as I read the Word of God, I see that there are three things that a false faith can never do.

1. A false faith can never produce a heart broken over sin (Psa. 51). It can offer sacrifices to try to appease God for sin. It can do good works to try to make up for sin. It can even confess sin. But, ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.’ Such brokenness and humility, because of inbred sin, a false faith cannot produce.

2. A false faith cannot rest in Christ alone as the way, the truth and the life (I Cor. 1:30-31). True faith relies upon Christ alone for salvation. When I say that Christ alone is my Savior, I mean that he is all my redemption and cleansing, all my justification and sanctification, all my righteousness and holiness, all my pardon and forgiveness, all my glory and desire, all my hope and reward. But a false faith must mix in human merit with the merits of Christ, free will with free grace and man’s works with the work of Christ.

3. A false faith cannot and will not submit to the lordship of Christ (Matt. 6:24). We cannot perfectly submit to Christ because of our sin. We would if we could, but our sinful nature prohibits us. But all who have a true faith in the Son of God submit to Christ totally. We bow to his sovereign lordship whole-heartedly. Christ alone is our rightful Lord. He has a rightful claim upon all that we are and all that we possess. Where there is no submission in the heart, there is no faith in the heart.


 

April 19

2 Corinthians 9:7

Day 110

‘As he purposeth in his heart’

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-24

Happy is the sight of a man who has a purpose in his heart! The man who purposes something in his heart plans for it; he makes whatever sacrifices are necessary to accomplish the purpose of his heart and he will not be turned aside from the purpose of his heart.

This was Paul’s rule for Christians in their giving: ‘Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.’ Paul tells us that we are not to compel men to give that which they would prefer to keep for themselves. The legal precept of tithing requires a man to pay his tenth to the church, whether he really wants to or not. Such a doctrine is totally contrary to the free spirit of the gospel. God’s children give freely. We count it one of our highest privileges on this earth to give of our means to the work of the gospel. What a privilege it is for a redeemed sinner to provide food for a missionary’s table! Yet the believer should not be careless and haphazard in his giving. He should give according to the purpose of his heart. This means two things. First, we should give with a cheerful heart. And, second, we should plan to give. That is to say, we should plan our financial affairs so that we can give to the work of the gospel. If I have a dependable car, or a comfortable house, I ought not to trade that car for a newer model, or exchange that house for a more luxurious one, if in doing so my ability to give to the work of the gospel is hindered. It is infinitely more important for me to give of my means to the preaching of the gospel than it is for me to improve my social standing.

Are you ready to give? Am I? Let us give freely, cheerfully, abundantly and sacrificially. If we are constrained to do so, our constraint is not a legal one, but ours is a constraint of love. Knowing the love of Christ for us, we ‘prove the sincerity of our love’ to him by giving from a willing heart. Let us purpose in our hearts to give, for Christ’s sake.


 

April 20

2 Corinthians 9:7

Day 111

‘God loveth a cheerful giver’

Read 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

There is an abundance of instruction in the New Testament about Christian giving. All of I Corinthians 9, 2 Corinthians 8 and 2 Corinthians 9 are taken up with this subject. But there are no commands to the people of God anywhere in the New Testament about how much we are to give, when we are to give, or where we are to give. Tithing and all systems like it are things altogether foreign to the New Testament. Like all other acts of worship, giving is an act of grace. It must be free and voluntary. But there are some plain, simple guidelines laid down in the New Testament for us to follow.

1. Christian giving must be motivated by love and gratitude towards Christ (2 Cor. 8:8-9). Love needs no law. It is a law unto itself. It is the most powerful and most generous of all motives.

2. Our gifts must arise from willing hearts (2 Cor. 8:12). If that which you give arises from a willing heart, if it is given freely and cheerfully, it is accepted of God. The Lord is not concerned with the amount of your gift, be it great or small; he looks to the motive behind it.

3. We should give to the work of the gospel in proportion to our blessings from the Lord (I Cor. 16:2). We are expected to give generously in accordance with our own ability.

4. All of God’s people should give (‘everyone,’ I Cor. 16:2; ‘every man,’ 2 Cor. 9:7). Men and women, rich and poor, old and young - all who are saved by the grace of God are expected to give for the support of God’s church and kingdom.

5. We should be both liberal and sacrificial in our giving (2 Cor. 9:5-6). Beloved, we have not really given anything until we have taken that which we need, want and have use for and given it to the Lord (Mark 12:41-44).

6. Our gifts must be voluntary (2 Cor. 9:7).

7. We are to give as unto the Lord (Matt. 6:1-5). We give, not to be seen of men, but for the honor of Christ, hoping for nothing in return.

8. This kind of giving is well-pleasing to God (Phil. 4:18; Heb. 13:16).


 

April 21

Galatians 2:5

Day 112

‘To whom we gave no place by subjection’

Read Galatians 2:1-21

In the early days of the Church there were some self-appointed, free-lance preachers who came from Jerusalem to Antioch, perverting the gospel of Christ and subverting the souls of men. They were preaching the law of Moses, telling God’s people that faith in Christ is not sufficient; you must also keep the law of Moses. Paul and Barnabas refused to tolerate their heresy. Paul calls these legalists ‘false brethren’ and ‘spies’.  His choice of terms was not accidental. Usually those who preach and promote the law of Moses spend a great deal of time spying on others, so that they may bolster their own claims to ‘righteousness’ by sitting in, judgment upon others.

Paul shows us by his example that the spirit and doctrines of legalism must not be tolerated by the people of God. It matters not whether men preach the law of Moses as a basis for justification, as the measure of sanctification, as a rule of life, as a motive for Christian service, or as the grounds of reward in heaven - all preaching of law works is an intolerable evil.

Let no one confuse the issue. The issue is not godliness or ungodliness of life. The issue is not what the believer does, or how the believer lives in this world. The issue is the motive and attitude of the heart. The legalist is motivated by fear. The believer is motivated by love. The legalist hopes to be rewarded for his work. The believer hopes to honor God in his work. All law service is looked upon and performed as a matter of duty. Prayer, Bible reading, attendance at public worship and tithing always have an element of either the fear of punishment or the promise of reward, as they are performed by the legalist. The believer prays because his heart longs to commune with God, reads the Word because he wants to know God, attends worship because he desires to hear from God and gives because he loves God. The service and work of love is considered a privilege by the one who performs it. And you can be sure of this: God will never accept anything except that which is done with a willing heart (2 Cor. 8:12).


 

April 22

John 9:35

Day 113

‘Dost thou believe on the Son of God?’

Read I John 5:1-13

There is one question that is, above all others, of greatest importance. Our Lord himself asked it: ‘Dost thou believe on the Son of God?’ The question is not, ‘Are you religious?’ Most people are. In comparison with this question, all questions concerning denominational affiliations and theological opinions are insignificant. How can I put this question to you with due solemnity? ‘Do you believe on the Son of God?’ Life and death, heaven and hell, eternal bliss and eternal misery depend upon your answer. Perhaps there are some of you whose hearts are troubled by this question. You may be genuinely concerned about the state of your soul. You are wondering, ‘What is it to believe on Christ?’ Let me try to help you. There are three things essential to what we call saving faith.

1. Before any man can believe on Christ, he must have a knowledge of him. This knowledge comes through the preaching of the gospel. When the Holy Spirit applies the preached Word he makes us to know our need of Christ. He teaches us our guilt and helplessness. And he makes us to know who Christ is and what he has done. He shows us that the Son of God died in the place of sinners, satisfying divine justice, and that he has power to save sinners upon the merits of his substitutionary work.

2. There must be an assent, or agreement, to the testimony God has given concerning his Son. True faith is more than just agreeing with the historical facts and doctrinal truths of the gospel. But wherever there is true faith, there is an agreement in the heart with God’s testimony in the gospel.

3. The sinner must trust Christ. Do you realize your wretched condition before God? Do you know yourself to be a sinner, helpless and undone? Do you assent to the truth of the gospel? All of this is good. But something more is required. You must cast yourself upon the arms of mercy. You must commit your soul, and all your hopes of salvation and life, to the Son of God, knowing that it is in his power to show you mercy and grant you eternal life. You must believe on Christ. ‘Dost thou believe on the Son of God?’ God help you to believe.


 

April 23

2 Corinthians 4:18

Day 114

Eternity

Read Matthew 16:13-28

Eternity is a subject about which the wisest man can know only a little. It is a subject which we must approach with our Bibles in our hands. Let us seek to know what is written about eternity. What does the Scripture say? Only those who recognize the sobering reality of eternity can live in a proper relationship to the things of time. Let me give you four statements which I picked up from an old writer, that will help you to live in the awareness of eternity.

1. We live in a world where all things are temporal and passing away. That man must be blind who cannot see this. Everything around its is decaying, dying and coming to an end.

2. We are all going to a world where everything is eternal. The great unseen world that lies beyond the grave is eternal. Whether it is happy or miserable, joyful or sorrowful, it will never end. The bliss of heaven is eternal and the torments of hell are eternal.

3. Our state in the unseen world of eternity depends on what we are in time. If we are the sons of God here, relying upon the merits of Christ as our only hope of salvation, we shall be the sons of God eternally, living in the glory of Christ. If we are the children of wrath here, rejecting Christ, we shall be the children of wrath in hell forever, rejected by Christ.

4. Jesus Christ is the great Friend to whom we must turn for life and help, both for time and eternity. Jesus Christ alone can save your soul. Only his blood can wash away your sin. Only his righteousness can make you holy. Only his grace can present you faultless before the throne of glory. You must trust him now and live for ever, or you will for ever die.

Take your mind off the things of time, and think for a while about the reality of eternity. How will it be with your soul in eternity?


 

April 24

1 John 4:17

Day 115

‘As he is, so are we in this world’

Read I John 3:1-17

We all know that believers in this world bear a likeness to our Lord in his humiliation. As he was in this world, so are we in this world. As he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, so are we. As he was the object of the world’s hatred, so are we. As he was tempted by Satan, so are we. As he was despised and forsaken of men, so shall we be. As he went through many sufferings and death to glory, so must we. This is a great blessing of grace and a wondrous condescension of mercy, that we should have such a likeness to our Redeemer.

But our text does not say, ‘as he was’.  It says, ‘as he is’.  Do you behold the Son of God, our Savior, in glory? There sits God in our nature. And though we are not yet there personally, we are there in our Representative. And being in Christ, we are like Christ. As he is the Son of God, we are the sons of God. As he is loved by God with an everlasting and unchangeable love of complacency and delight, so are we. Yes, God loves us just as he loves his well-beloved Son. As Christ is chosen of God and precious, so are we chosen and precious in his sight. Oh, blessed grace! As our Lord in heaven is perfectly righteous, so are we! He is justified and acquitted from that charge of sin, which he voluntarily took upon himself. And in him we are completely righteous. I wish that we could all grasp this truth ¾ Christ is all our righteousness, and we are immaculately righteous in him. ‘With his spotless garments on I am as holy as God’s Son!’ ‘In him is no sin.’ And, if I am in him, I am freed from, justified from and cleansed from all sin in the sight of God.

But John specifically says here that there is a likeness between the nature of God in heaven and his children upon the earth. ‘God is love.’ And the children of God in this world reflect this nature of their Father in heaven. The love of God is patient, kind, faithful, forgiving and sincere. And all of his children reflect this nature of love in this world, for ‘As he is, so are we in this world.’


 

April 25

1 Corinthians 15:1

Day 116

‘The gospel’

Read Romans 1:1-17

The gospel is not preached until we have told men who Christ is, what he did, why he did it and where he is now. Here are five things which will always characterize the preaching of the gospel.

1. The gospel is a message that honors God’s holy law. God would not and could not tarnish his holy law in order to forgive sin and save sinners. God is willing to be merciful, but his righteousness must be established, his holy law must be fulfilled. This is one part of our Savior’s work. He brought in an everlasting righteousness by his perfect obedience to God’s law as our Representative Jer.23:6; Rom. 1: 16-17; 3:24-26).

2. The gospel is a declaration of satisfied justice. This is the doctrine of substitution. God satisfied the infinite demands of his own justice by the substitutionary sacrifice of his Son. Someone said, ‘God cannot suffer, and man cannot satisfy; but the God-man both suffered and satisfied.’ That is the gospel: Jesus Christ has fully satisfied the penalty of sin for every believer! (Gal. 3:13.)

3. The gospel of God is a proclamation of salvation by grace alone (Eph.2:8-9; 2 Tim. 1:9). God would have all men to know that the sinner’s standing before him is altogether a matter of pure, free grace. Man gets nothing from God, and man cannot be accepted before God, except by grace. Every idea of human merit is contrary to the gospel (Gal. 5:2).

4. The gospel of Christ is an announcement of grace freely bestowed upon men. There are no conditions for the sinner to meet, no works for the sinner to do, no emotions for the sinner to feel, in order for him to prepare himself to believe on Christ. In preaching the gospel we freely invite all who will to believe on Christ and be saved. No sinner is excluded from the gospel except those who exclude themselves by their unbelief (Rom. 10:11-13).

5. The gospel of the grace of God declares the accomplishment of eternal salvation. We have no partial salvation to preach. We preach an almighty Savior, who saves for ever (John 10:27-31).


 

April 26

John 6:61

Day 117

‘Doth this offend you?’

Read John 6:48-65

No man can faithfully preach the gospel of Christ without offending men. To many it is a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. The preaching of the cross is the one means which God has ordained for the salvation of sinners. Yet, it is most offensive to the natural man. Why? The answer is not hard to find.

The gospel of the grace of God offends man’s dignity, because it addresses all men as sinners. The gospel leaves no place for human dignity. It is the great leveler of men. All are sinners. We all by nature are nothing more than helpless, condemned sinners.

The gospel of God offends man’s wisdom, because it comes by divine revelation. It is not possible for any man to know the gospel, unless it is revealed in his heart.

The gospel offends man’s pride, because it declares a particular and effectual redemption. Our Lord Jesus did actually put away sin. By his mighty act of death, as our Substitute, Jesus Christ did really and completely accomplish eternal redemption for his people. There is nothing for the sinner to do, whereby he might proudly claim merit before God. You must bow to Christ, receiving all grace from him as a pure, free gift, or you must perish.

An the gospel of God’s grace and glory in Christ offends man’s love of self, because it demands discipleship. The gospel demands commitment. It demands total, unreserved surrender to the lordship of Christ. No man has saving faith in Christ who does not in his heart confess and acknowledge that Christ is Lord, submitting to his will, surrendering to his dominion, and trusting his grace. If Jesus Christ is not your Lord and King, he is not your Redeemer and Savior.

To many the gospel is offensive. That cannot be changed. As surely as you attempt to make it pleasing to natural men, you will compromise its message and there will be no gospel in it. But to them who are the called by almighty grace, it is the power and wisdom of God.


 

April 27

Ezekiel 33:11

Day 118

‘Why will ye die?’

Read Isaiah 1: 1-20

Multitudes of every generation perish in their sins, and are lost for ever in hell, though they have been well instructed in gospel truth. Why?

Since the day that our father Adam sinned against God and plunged our race into spiritual death, bringing upon all men God’s just wrath, man has tried to excuse his sin and shift the responsibility of his condemnation to someone other than himself. He arrogantly attempts to lay the blame for both his guilt and his damnation off on God. It cannot be done. If you go to hell, you will be without excuse; it will be your own responsibility. It will not be because your sins are so hideous that you could not be saved. All manner of sin may be forgiven. You will not go to hell because of God’s eternal decree. Nowhere in the Bible is it written that God predestinated anyone to go to hell. It will not be because of any lack of ability in Christ, or any lack of willingness on his part to save you. Christ is both able and willing to save all who come to him by faith. And you will not go to hell because you were never given a wide, free, sincere invitation to come to Christ and be saved. Our Lord says to you, ‘Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ He says, ‘I have called, and ye refused.’ No, if you go to hell the simple fact is you will go to hell because you were unwilling to come to Christ for life. As he said, ‘Ye will not come to me that ye might have life.’

Try as you may to shift the blame for your lost and ruined condition, you cannot. You are lost because you will not be saved by Christ. J.C. Ryle was right when he wrote, ‘The loss of man’s soul is always attributed in Scripture to man’s own want of will to be saved.’ The axe must be laid to the root of the tree. If you are saved, it will be entirely God’s fault, the result of deliberate effort on his part. If you go to hell, it will be entirely your own fault, the result of deliberate effort on your part.


 

April 28

Luke 15:2

Day 119

‘This man receiveth sinners’

Read Luke 15:1-24

Marvelous condescension! This man, who is above all other men, holy, harmless, undefiled and separate from sinners - this man receiveth sinners. This man, who is none other than God the eternal Son, before whom the angels hide their faces - this man receiveth sinners. Who can describe such love? It would be no great thing for any of us to seek after and receive sinners. They are of our own race. But that this man, the offended God, against whom the transgression has been committed, should receive such is a marvelous act of love and grace! He took upon himself the seed of Abraham. He bare the sin of many in his own body on the tree. And now he is willing to receive the vilest of the vile!

‘This man receiveth sinners’, not that they may remain in their sins; but he receives sinners that he might pardon their sins, justify their souls, cleanse their hearts by his purifying Word, preserve them by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and enable them to serve him. He receives sinners that they may show forth his praise, enjoy his fellowship and worship at his throne. This man takes sinners from the dunghill and wears them as jewels in his crown. He plucks them as brands from the burning and preserves them as monuments of his mercy. How precious in the sight of Christ are those sinners for whom he shed his life’s blood! The Son of God opens the golden gates of his royal heart and receives sinners right into himself. He admits the humbled, repentant sinner into a personal union with himself and makes him a member of his body, of his flesh and of his bones. There was never such a grand reception as this! This fact is still most sure today. Though the Son of God is exalted to the throne of glory, he is still receiving sinners today, just as he was when he walked the streets of Jerusalem. Say, sinner, will you flee to him?

Come ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love and power.


 

April 29

Luke 22:43

Day 120

Degrees of reward in heaven

Read Matthew 20:1-16

There is much talk today about degrees of reward in heaven. But the gospel of the grace of God allows no place for human merit. God is no man’s debtor. That which he gives to men and does for men, both in his life and in the life to come, is the reward of pure grace, not of debt.

In order for something to claim merit before God, it must be perfect. God’s infinite holiness, righteousness and justice will accept nothing less than perfection. Where is the man who has ever done anything that is perfect in the sight of God? Who among us would be so brazenly self-righteous as to desire God to judge and reward him upon the grounds of his own works? Our tears, our faith and the very best of our good works are so full of sin that, were they not washed in the blood of Christ, they would demand our eternal damnation!

Our only acceptance before God is Christ. He perfectly fulfilled every requirement of God’s law as our Representative and satisfied every demand of divine justice as our Substitute. Now, being clothed in his righteousness and washed in his blood, everything that God can and will give to men is ours, because we are in Christ. ‘He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?’ In Christ, ‘All things are yours.’ When the Lord Jesus Christ presents us faultless and without blame before God, we shall be perfect, having no spot of sin or blemish of infirmity; and no good thing shall be withheld from us.

I read of no secondary joys in heaven. None of God’s elect shall be placed in the back settlements of Canaan. The dying thief had no good works by which to claim anything from God. Yet he entered heaven, was accepted and rewarded by God in exactly the same way as the apostle Paul, through the merits of Christ, our Substitute, and his reward was just as full. Both the thief and the apostle have all they wanted and all that God can give: they had all of Christ!


 

April 30

Galatians 2:4

Day 121

‘Our liberty’

Read Romans 14:1-23

The Lord Jesus Christ has given us true liberty. In Christ we have been freed from sin, Satan and the law. In him we are free from all religious traditions, customs and superstitions. And in Christ we are free to use every creature of God for food, happiness, comfort and satisfaction. Neither the church nor those who preach the gospel have any authority to bring God’s people under bondage again, by making their own rules, dogmas and covenants for Christian conduct. I offer these suggestions with the prayer that they may help you to honor the Lord in the exercise of your liberty in Christ.

1. Do not make the use or non-use of indifferent things a point of merit before God. Indifferent things become idolatrous when you make the use or non-use of them a means of obtaining favor with God, a means of religious devotion, or a means of obtaining a peaceful conscience.

2. Use all things in moderation. The believer’s principle of conduct is not total abstinence, but temperance, moderation and self-control. Eating is not wrong, but gluttony is. A glass of wine is not wrong (our Lord did provide the wine for the marriage feast of Cana), but drunkenness is wrong. Entertainment is not wrong, but reveling is. Our principle is ‘Use all things wisely, abusing none.'

3. Carefully avoid offending your brother. I do not mean that you must submit to the self-righteous notions of men. But we must not be the cause of a brother acting contrary to his own conscience. This is what Paul means by offending the brethren. We must avoid it at all costs. My brother’s conscience is more important than my personal desires.

4. Make your use of all things subservient to the glory of God, the gospel of Christ and the welfare of the church. In all things, make your love for Christ and his people the basis of your actions. Use your liberty in Christ for the honor of Christ, and you will not go far astray. We must avoid both licentiousness and legalism. Both are dreadful evils. God’s people are called into liberty!


 

May 1

I Corinthians 6:19-20

Day 122

We belong to God

Read Psalm 100:1-5

It is true that all people belong to God, as creatures to their Creator, as property to its owner, as subjects to their ruler. All things and all people were made by God and for God and all are ruled by God’s sovereign will. This is God’s right as the absolute Sovereign of all his creatures (Rom. 9:15-26). But we who believe belong to God as a child belongs to its father, as a wife to her husband, as a willing bondslave to his master. Ours is an intimate, loving, family relationship with the eternal God.

We belong to God by the sovereign purpose of his grace. In eternity God said, ‘I will be their God; and they shall be my people.’ Were it not for God’s electing grace, no one would ever be saved. Indeed, were it not for God’s election and determination to save some, the world would never have been created. We belong to God because he chose us as his own (2 Thess. 2:13-14).

We are the Lord’s by the special purchase of his Son. ‘Ye are bought with a price,’ Paul said. It is not expected that the ungodly and unbelieving should seek the honor of Christ. They were not redeemed by him. But it is most reasonable that we should willingly give ourselves to the service of our Savior’s glory. He brought us out from under the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13).

Again, we belong to our God by the saving power of his Spirit (Eph. 2:1-4; Psa. 110:3). We were lost, helpless, depraved and spiritually dead. But the Spirit of God came to us and called us to life. He created faith in our hearts and brought us to Christ by his sovereign, irresistible power and grace. He made us willing, voluntary bondslaves of the Lord Jesus Christ.

And we belong to God by the solemn profession of our faith. Believers, following their Lord in baptism, publicly declare to all the world their faith in and heart allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:4-6). Baptism is the believer’s obedient, public confession of faith. It identifies him as one who belongs to God. Since we belong to God, it is only reasonable that we should glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits, which are God’s.


 

May 2

1 Corinthians 6:19

Day 123

‘Ye are not your own’

Read I Corinthians 6:9-20

Believer, since God chose you, redeemed you and saved you, you belong to him. By your own profession of faith, you have willingly, voluntarily given yourself up to the claims of Christ. You belong to him.

Because you belong to Christ, you have nothing to fear and everything to give you comfort. You are a child of God, an heir of God and a joint-heir with Jesus Christ (I John 3: 1; Rom. 8:17). You are not your own provider. It is a father’s responsibility to provide for his children, and your heavenly Father does provide for his own (Matt. 6:31-34). You are not your own guide. It is the responsibility of the shepherd to guide his sheep, and the Lord who is your Shepherd guides his sheep through this world (Psa. 23:1-6; 37:23-24). You are not your own protector. It is the king’s responsibility to protect his people, the husband’s responsibility to protect his wife, and Christ who is your Husband and King protects his own with sovereign power (Isa. 43:1-5).

Because you have willingly given yourself to Christ as a voluntary bondslave, you are to be completely under his dominion (Luke 14:25-33). Being the bondslave of Christ, you must not follow your own will, serve your own interests, or lend your service to another. A bondslave has no property, no rights and no time of his own. He should have no will of his own. He has voluntarily resigned himself and all that he has to his Master. Because you belong to God, you have no legitimate concern in this world but to glorify him. Your heart’s only desire should be ‘Father, glorify thy name’ John 12:28). You have no right to serve any cause in this world, except the glory of God your Savior. Everything you are, everything you own, everything you control, every relationship of your life must be made subservient to the glory of God. Our flesh rebels against this complete subjection to God. We can never give the kind of allegiance to God that we desire in this world. But this is what we must strive after - commitment, complete consecration of our beings to the glory of our God.


 

May 3

Romans 12:1

Day 124

‘A living sacrifice’

Read Romans 12:1-21

I want to promote godliness among godly people. Let all who know the mercy of God subdue the passions of our flesh and the lusts of our hearts and avoid the moral decadence of society. ‘For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world’ (Titus 2:11-12).

The basis of my appeal is the grace of God alone. Consecration to God is just reasonable service from those who have been saved by grace in Christ. I will not appeal to God’s elect on the basis of the law. I will not hold over you the law’s terror, threatening you with punishment, or try to bribe you into devotion by the promise of reward. ‘We are not under the law, but under grace’ (Rom. 6:15). ‘Mary... sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word’ (Luke 10:39), because having been forgiven much, she loved much. Love, mercy, grace and gratitude are powerful, irresistible motivations for men and women who are saved by the grace of God. I know that such reasoning will never cause self-righteous religious people to give or do anything for God. They must be motivated by either the fear of punishment, or the promise of reward. I say again what I have said so often before: if the fear of punishment or the promise of reward will get you to do what the love of Christ does not constrain you to do, you do not yet know the love of Christ. If the law is more powerful to motivate you than the gospel of the grace of God, it is because you are yet in bondage to the law and under its curse.

Child of God, I am calling for you to ‘prove the sincerity of your love’ (2 Cor. 8:8). ‘I beseech you therefore, ... by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.’ ‘Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s’ (I Cor. 6:19-20).


 

May 4

1 Corinthians 6:20

Day 125

How can I live in this world for the
glory of God?

Read Ephesians 4:25-5:2

This is a question of great concern for every believer. Having seen the glory of God in Christ, by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, we want to glorify God our Savior above all things.

Most people presume that by a mere change of life-style, outward behavior and outward appearance, they can glorify God. Therefore we see individuals and entire religious sects who dress in a peculiar manner, abstain from certain foods and beverages and isolate themselves, as much as possible, from the world. Some live in monasteries, convents and communes and even forbid marriage in an attempt to avoid evil and live in godliness. Such ascetic notions are totally contrary to the Word of God (I Tim. 4:1-5; Matt. 15:10-20). They promote self-righteousness, but not godliness.

Yet we who believe must glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits, which are God’s (1 Cor. 6:20). If I would glorify God in this world, my entire being must be consecrated to him. My body, which is the temple of God, must be used for the service of God’s glory. Whatever we do with these bodies must be done as unto the Lord, for the glory of God (Col. 3:17). We must employ our bodies in the worship and service of our Master and in ministering to our Father’s children. And we must endeavor to keep our bodies under the rule of Christ, not giving in to the passions of our sinful flesh (Col. 3:1-14). This is certain: I will glorify God in my body if in my spirit, in my inner self, in my heart I glorify him. ‘Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh (Gal. 5:16). Walk before God in this world with a spirit of faith John 6:29), adoration (Ps. 135:1-6), love (I Cor. 13:1-13), obedience (1 Sam. 15:22-23), submission (1 Peter 5:6-7) and devotion (Luke 14:26-27), and you will live for the glory of God. This is the thing God requires of us. He says, ‘My son, give me thine heart’ (Prov. 23:26). If he has our hearts, he will have our bodies also and we shall glorify God in our bodies and in our spirits, which are God’s.


 

May 5

Titus 1:9

Day 126

‘Sound doctrine’

Read Ephesians 4:1-16

Paul told Titus that every pastor must hold the faithful word of gospel truth firmly, as he has been taught it, so that ‘he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers’.  Without sound doctrine the pulpit is as useless as a broken weather-vane. Here are seven pillars of sound doctrine which are essential to the faith of the gospel. See that you hold them firmly.

1. God Almighty is absolutely sovereign in all things (Ps. 115:3). God is sovereign in creation, in providence and in salvation. He does what he will, when he will, where he will, with whom he will and he has mercy on whom he will have mercy (Rom. 9:11-23).

2. The Bible is the Word of God, by which he reveals himself to men (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Rom. 10- 17). The Bible alone is inspired by God. Therefore the Bible alone is our rule of faith and practice. The only voice of authority in all matters of doctrine and spiritual instruction is the Word of God.

3. All men by nature are totally depraved (Rom. 3:10-19). Man is fallen, guilty, sinful and helpless, dead in trespasses and in sins (Rom. 5:12; Eph. 2:1-3). Unless God intervenes to save, all men will for ever perish, being justly condemned.

4. God chose and determined to save some people in eternal, electing love (2 Thess. 2:13). Without any consideration of anything except his own will, God chose some. All who were chosen of him will be saved.

5. Christ died in the place of God’s elect, and accomplished their eternal redemption by his death (Heb. 9:12). Christ satisfied divine justice for his people and redeemed them from the curse of the law.

6. God the Holy Spirit saves every elect, redeemed sinner by the irresistible power of his grace (Ps. 65:4). The grace of God does not offer salvation; it brings salvation!

7. Every believer is eternally secure in Christ (John 10:27-30). Not one of Christ’s sheep can ever perish. They are kept by the power of God. This is sound doctrine. This is the gospel of grace.


 

May 6

Colossians 1:9

Day 127

‘The knowledge of his will’

Read Matthew 12:46-50

How can I know God’s will? When two paths are set before me, both of which are morally right, or two choices are to be considered, neither of them involving sin, how can I know which is the will of God and which is not? For a believer, nothing is more important than the knowledge of God’s will. We know that God’s eternal will, his purpose and decree, that which he has sovereignly predestinated, must be fulfilled. It is immutable and irresistible. It must come to pass (Isa. 46:9-11). And we know that nothing comes to pass except that which was predestined to come to pass in God’s eternal purpose (Rom. 11:36). Yet, it is our responsibility to seek and obey the will of God in our lives day by day (Prov. 3:5-6). There are some things you can be sure about.

It is the will of God that you trust his Son (John 5:23; 1 John 3:23). This is the plainly revealed will of God. That which he commands, you are responsible to obey. Trust the blood of Christ for the satisfaction of justice on your behalf. Trust his righteousness for all acceptance with God. And trust the rule of his providence in all things.

The will of God is revealed to all who seek it and are willing to do it (Ps. 25:9; 32:8). God reveals his will to those who seek it by the revelation of his Word, the inner witness of his Spirit and the acts of his providence.

When God reveals his will to you, you will know it (Ps. 86:11). You will not need the counsel of men. You will not need someone else to tell you whether God is directing you. When God, by his Word, his Spirit and his providence tells you to do something, you will know it. God never called anyone to do anything to whom he did not give the confidence and assurance of his will in the matter at hand.

When you know what the will of God is, you must do it (Gal. 1: 16; Gen. 22:2, 10). If I am doing the will of God, trusting him, I have no reason to fear man, to fear hell, or to fear failure. God will protect me. God will provide my needs. And God will see the work through.


 

May 7

2 Timothy 4:4

Day 128

‘Turned unto fables’

Read Psalm 115:1-18

Writing under divine inspiration, the apostle Paul warned Timothy that the time would come when the bulk of religious people would not endure sound doctrine. The apostasy of the religious world, Paul said, would be so great that they would seek preachers and teachers who would cater for the lust of men rather than proclaim the gospel of the grace of God. Under the influence of these prophets of deceit, the professed church of God would be turned from the truth and turned unto fables. The time which Paul predicted has come. ‘Even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.’ ‘Many false prophets are gone out into the world,’ turning men away from the truth unto fables. Here are three popular fables.

'God loves everybody.’ This sounds so good to sinful men. Rebels like to hear it. If God loves me, everything is all right. God will not damn me if he loves me. Do not be so foolish as to receive this fable. God does not love everybody! He says, ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated’ (Rom. 9:13). God loves his own elect, and loves them only because they are in Christ. If you are in Christ, if you believe on Christ and are made righteous by Christ, God loves you. If you are not in Christ, God is angry with you. You are an object of his wrath.

'Christ died for everybody.’ Men love to hear this fable. It tells them that it is their faith, the exercise of their free will, that accomplishes redemption, that they complete the work of Christ. How man revels with pride! My friend, Christ did not die for everybody! Christ died for his own elect, for his church, his sheep (John 10: I 1, 15). And when he died, he obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:12; Isa. 53:8-11).

'The Holy Spirit is trying to save everybody.’ You know that is not so. Can God fail to do what he tries to do? Such a thought is blasphemous. God is not trying to save everybody! God saves all his elect by his irresistible grace (Ps. 65:4). Salvation is not by man’s will, but by God’s will (Rom. 9:16).


 

May 8

1 Samuel 24: 10

Day 129

‘He is the Lord’s anointed’

Read I Timothy 3:1-16

David was chosen and anointed of God to be king over Israel. But Saul, according to God’s providence, was still upon the throne. Saul was a wicked man. God had rejected him. But God had not yet taken him off the throne. And David was not about to attempt an overthrow of God’s providence. Painful as it may have been to endure Saul’s evil deeds, David was content for Saul to reign as long as God would have him reign. He said, ‘I will not stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord’ (v.6).

Few men have David’s wisdom! Today, it is common for men to take it upon themselves to seat and unseat men in the kingdom of God. I refer specifically to the pastoral office. One of the most lamentable evils of our day is the utter disdain and contempt with which most people treat faithful gospel preachers. Such disdain and contempt we expect from the world. But I think the angels must blush when they see it in the church. True pastors are not hirelings, to be seated and unseated by men. Those who treat God’s ambassadors as hired hands do so at their own peril. God will not allow any man to wrong his servants with impunity. He will reprove kings for their sakes. He says, “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm’ (I Chron. 16:21-22).

When a congregation seeks a pastor, it will be wise to seek careful and patiently wait for the direction of the Holy Spirit. When a church calls a man to be its pastor, that congregation has voluntarily placed itself under the pastoral rule of that man (Heb. 13:7, 17). He is God’s ambassador, God’s spokesman and God’s representative to that congregation. As such, he is to be treated with respect, obedience and love. He is to be esteemed very highly in love for his work’s sake (I Thess. 5:12-13). He deserves such treatment, if for no other reason, because of the God he represents and the gospel he preaches. See that you treat God’s servants as the servants of the Most High God.


 

May 9

Jeremiah 3:15

Day 130

‘Pastors according to mine heart’

Read Titus 1:1-16

God promised that he would give his church pastors according to his own heart. That means, he will give his church pastors as he sees fit and pastors who will serve the good of those people he so clearly loves. Those men God gives to his church as pastors, according to his own heart, ‘shall feed you with knowledge and understanding’.  Here are three things that will characterize every God called, Spirit-anointed, heavenly-ordained pastor.

Every true pastor is a faithful man. Without question, if a man is called of God to the work of the gospel ministry, he will be faithful in the work. His life and conduct will reflect his steadfastness, commitment and faithfulness to Christ. He will faithfully seek the glory of God, study and prepare to preach the Word of God, seek the welfare of God’s people and preach the gospel of Christ. He will be faithful to Christ, to the Word, to the church and to his own conscience. No man should be set apart for the gospel until he has proved himself to be a faithful man (2 Tim. 2:2; 1 Cor. 4:2).

Every true, faithful servant of God is also a fallible, sinful man. The apostles and prophets of old were themselves only frail, fallible, sinful men. They were infallible in the writing of Holy Scripture, as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. But they were not perfect men. Moses Smote the rock in anger. Peter cursed and denied the Lord. All the apostles forsook Christ for a while. Paul and Barnabas had a terrible fight over John Mark. And you can be sure every pastor will have many faults. Those who want to find fault with any can easily do so.

Yet every true pastor is God’s ambassador, God’s servant, God’s messenger. He is to be loved, cared for, respected and obeyed as God’s representative in his church. I often hear people say, ‘I do not follow any man.’ If you follow God, you will follow that man who speaks for God. You will not err by following a faithful pastor. God commands you to do so!


 

May 10

Exodus 20:7

Day 131

The third commandment

Read Psalm 89:1-18

The name of God is profoundly sacred and God requires that all men reverence his name in heart, in action and in speech. ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.’ This is the command of God’s law to all men. Though we are not motivated by the terror of the law, but by the love of Christ, I call your attention to this commandment, to remind you that the majesty and sacredness of God’s name forbid all contemptuous, irreverent and needless use of his name. And certainly those to whom God has revealed himself in Christ, who know the eternal God as their heavenly Father, because of their love for him, would rather die than profane his holy name. Our hearts’ desire is ‘Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name!'

It is a sad commentary on our society that the name of God has become a common byword, and jokes about God, about heaven and about salvation are acceptable among ‘refined’ people, even in the pulpit! How often we hear men use the words ‘My God!’ ‘O Lord!’ ‘Jesus!’ ‘God!’  Or some abbreviations of the name of our God, in common conversation, on television, or in song. It is so common that we think nothing of it! Father, forgive our callousness! Painful as this common blasphemy is, there is something even more grievous: I hear many of my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ doing the same thing, taking the name of God in vain! This has got to cease! I do not care to hear people use four-letter words. I wish people would not talk in filthy language. But I would rather hear the most foul language of drunken men and have my family exposed to that than hear the blasphemous, irreverent use of God’s holy name. Do not take the name of God in vain. His name is holy and reverend. Be certain that any time you use the name of God, Father, Son or Holy Spirit, it is your purpose and intention to honor him. Any other use of God’s name is to take his name in vain.


 

May 11

Matthew 26:69-75

Day 132

Peter’s fall and restoration

Read Psalm 51:1-19

Peter was a true believer, a disciple of Christ, a righteous and godly man. But in his hour of weakness he fell into grievous sin, denying his Lord and Redeemer three times. Peter was not the infallible Bishop of Rome, as the Catholics pretend He was a fallible, sinful man, like the rest of us. Peter was tempted and he fell but he was not forsaken. The Lord graciously restored his erring child.

Like Peter, we are all fickle, frail, sinful pieces of human flesh. Saved? ¾Yes. Redeemed? ¾Yes. Justified? ¾Yes. Sanctified? ¾Yes. In Christ all these blessings are ours, and more. But none of us is without Sin (I John 1:8-10). Far from it! Sin is mixed with everything we do. There is no evil in the world we would not readily commit, were not the evil passions of our hearts restrained by the grace of our God (Matt. 15:19). Let us not be proud, presumptuous, and self-confident (I Cor. 4:7; 10:12). Realizing our own sinfulness, we should never be severe with our brethren (Gal.6:1).

Salvation is entirely by the grace of God. Surely, this record of Peter’s fall should convince all that salvation is not, in any measure whatsoever, dependent upon good works (Eph. 2:8-9). From start to finish, salvation is by grace alone. Our standing and acceptance with God are not determined by what we do, but by what Christ has done for us.

Peter also sets before us an undeniable proof that those who are saved by the grace of God can never be lost (John 10:27-29). Those who are in Christ are secure in him. We are kept and preserved by the power of God. Nothing can ever sever one of the Lord’s own from him. As our Lord prayed for Peter, he prays for us, and God will not charge any with Sin for whom Christ undertakes to be an Advocate (I John 2:1-2; Rom. 4:8). None of us has reason to boast of our faithfulness. Who would dare? But we all have reason to boast of the faithfulness of God our Savior, who will not let us perish!


 

May 12

Luke 16:15

Day 133

Do we seek the approval of men
or the approval of God?

Read I Peter 2:1-25

Most of the people I meet are very concerned about the opinions which other people have about them. They want to impress men with their religious zeal and devotion. And most of their deeds of religious service, dress codes and restrictions of life are designed to impress men. They want the approval of men. They think that if they can win the approval of men they will have the approval of God. But our Lord tells us most plainly that it is not so: ‘For that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God’ (Luke 16:15). Those who seek the approval of men by their ‘religious behavior’ are likely to attain the praise of men. It is not really too hard to impress men. ‘Verily I say unto you, they have their reward’ (Matt. 6:2).

Do not misunderstand me. It is important for believers to be blameless in their behavior before men. ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven’ (Matt. 5:16). But we must not be motivated by a desire to impress men and win their approval. Neither can we allow the customs and traditions of self-righteous religious people to govern our lives, bringing us into their bondage (Gal. 5: 1; Col. 2:16-23). I want to honor God, my blessed Father, in my life. I want continually to honor him in thought, in word and in deed. I want to represent my Savior faithfully before men. And I want to live in a manner that will adorn the gospel of Christ. The way to do this, I am convinced, is to walk before God and men in love, honesty, integrity and faithfulness in all things, both earthly and spiritual (Col. 3:1-3; Titus 2:5-14). But I am not nearly so much interested in men and women seeing Jesus in me as I am in knowing that Almighty God sees me in Jesus. My heart’s concern is not that I may win man’s approval, but rather that I may have God’s approval. And God’s approval is won only by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. God approves of his Son and approves of all who are in his Son (Phil. 3:8-10).


 

May 13

Luke 17:32

Day 134

‘Remember Lot’s wife!’

Read Matthew 10:16-39

Lot’s wife is typical of those who profess to be followers of Christ, yet who love the world. She represents all who are convinced, but never converted; those who are persuaded, but never saved; those who flee from the wrath to come, but perish in the way. Lot’s wife shows the deadly sin of loving the world. Our Lord holds her up as a beacon to warn all who care for their souls: ‘Remember Lot’s wife!’

1. Remember that Lot’s wife enjoyed many great privileges. In the days of Abraham and Lot true, saving faith was a rare thing, limited to a favored few. There were no Bibles, no churches, no preachers and no tract societies. But Mrs. Lot was among the chosen family of Abraham. Father Abraham was her uncle. Righteous Lot was her husband. She knew the covenant and promises of God. She worshiped at the same altar with Abraham. She had seen the angels of God and heard their message. Yet, in spite of all her privileges and associations, she perished!

2. Remember that Lot’s wife went some distance towards being saved. Like Felix, she trembled. Like Agrippa, she was almost persuaded. She was aroused by the message of God’s coming wrath. She fled from Sodom with her husband. She sacrificed much, leaving in Sodom two of her daughters, her sons-in-law, any grandchildren, her home, her wealth, her friends, her earthly security, everything for which she lived. She was within sight of Zoar, the place of safety. Yet she perished!

3. Remember the sin of Lot’s wife. ‘she looked back.’ To us that appears only a small thing. But God looked beyond the act to her heart. Her look betrayed a heart of unbelief. Her look betrayed a heart of proud rebellion and disobedience. Her look betrayed a heart of base ingratitude for God’s mercy. Her look betrayed a heart that loved the world. Her heart was in Sodom, and Sodom was in her heart.

4. Remember the punishment that God inflicted upon Lot’s wife. ‘she became a pillar of salt.’ Her punishment was sudden, shameful, hopeless and eternal. Loving Sodom, with Sodom, she perished. She went to hell with the world she loved!


 

May 14

2 Peter 3:9

Day 135

‘Not willing that any should perish’

Read 2 Peter 3:1-18

If you read the chapter carefully, you will observe that the apostle makes a clear and deliberate distinction between ‘us’ who believe and the ‘scoffers’ who believe not.

‘The Lord is not slack concerning his promise.’ Did he promise that Christ would come to judge the world and to gather his elect unto himself? Most assuredly he did. Let the wicked mock and scoff. We will comfort ourselves in the assurance that, at the appointed time, Christ will appear in his glory. Though the promise tarry, ‘Wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.’ ‘Yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.’

The Lord ‘is longsuffering to us-ward’.  The promise and the longsuffering of God are to us - those who are loved, chosen, redeemed and called of God, those who believe on Christ for life everlasting. There is only one reason why God tolerates the enemies of Christ, only one reason why Christ has not yet come to judge his enemies, and it is this: God has a people in this world whom he has determined to save. He would not destroy the old world until Noah was in the ark. He would not burn Sodom until Lot was out of the city. And God Almighty, even in his strict holiness, will not send his Son to destroy this world until the last one of his chosen sheep has been brought safe into the Shepherd’s fold! Indeed, ‘The longsuffering of our Lord is salvation.'

Once more, it is promised that God is ‘not willing that any should perish’.  To whom is this promise given? Not to Pharaoh; God killed him. Not to Korah, Dathan and Abiram; God sent them to hell. Not to Judas; God sent him to his own place. To whom then is the promise given? To us! Not one of God’s elect will perish in his sin. Not one of Christ’s sheep will be missing from the fold. Not one soul redeemed by Christ will be cast into hell. Why? Because God is ‘not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’.  And the will of God cannot be frustrated.


 

May 15

Galatians 5:11

Day 136

‘The offense of the cross’

Read I Corinthians 1:17-31

By ‘the cross’, Paul did not mean the material cross. That is offensive to no one. It is a piece of jewelry. It is a universal symbol of religious sentimentalism at best, and outright idolatry at worst. Nor does he mean the mere historic fact of the cross. The fact of the crucifixion is a part of history which everyone accepts. When Paul talks about the cross, he is talking about the doctrine of the cross: substitutionary redemption, blood atonement, free justification, complete pardon in Christ. He is talking about the preaching of the cross. By the preaching of the cross I mean the proclamation of its necessity, its nature and its efficacy.

The preaching of the cross was an offense to the religious, self-righteous Jew and to the proud intellectual Greek. If Paul had been willing to allow that man had any part in the work of salvation, both the Jew and the Gentile would have accepted his doctrine. But he would not allow any space for man. He declared that salvation was altogether the work of the triune God. It is a work of the grace of God, through the mediation of Christ and by the Power of the Holy Spirit. It is not a co-operative effort of God and man. It is a co-operative act of God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

The preaching of the cross offends the pride and dignity of man. It is a vivid reminder of man’s sin and hatred of God, In its profound simplicity, it offends the wisdom of man. The inventions of man’s religion are declared to be vanity. It is offensive because it puts all men upon one level! Princes and paupers, moralist and harlots, scholars and drunkards are all the same in the eyes of God. All are sinners. And if any enter into glory, they must all stoop down and enter in at the door of the cross, elbow to elbow. Indeed, God is no respecter of persons.

But there are some to whom the cross is no offense. To them who are called, it is the power of God and the wisdom of God! Has God removed from your heart the offense of the cross? Do you now see its wisdom and beauty? Have you entered in by faith through the door of the cross? If so, give thanks to God alone!


 

May 16

Hebrews 13:20-21

Day 137

‘The everlasting covenant’

Read Psalm 89:19-37

We delight and take comfort in the fact that the Lord our God has established for us a covenant ordered in all things and sure. Its blessings upon the Israel of God, the church of Christ, are innumerable (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8: 10; 10: 16-17). In our text, the apostle Paul tells us four things about the covenant of God’s grace.

1. Jesus Christ is the central figure in this covenant. The covenant of, grace is an eternal agreement between the three persons of the sacred Trinity for the salvation of God’s elect. But at the heart and foundation of the covenant is ‘our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep’.  According to the Father’s command, the great Shepherd agreed to die for his sheep and assumed the responsibility of bringing them all safe to heaven. Because of Christ’s covenant engagements on our behalf, the Lord God says of his elect, ‘Deliver him from going down into the pit, for I have found a ransom!’ God the Father says of his Son, ‘I have laid help upon one that is mighty!’

2. This covenant was sealed and ratified by the blood of Christ (Heb. 9:15-17). Having fulfilled everything agreed upon in the covenant, the Son of God sealed it with his blood. Now the covenant has the force of a will or testament. The inheritance of the crucified Christ must be given to his redeemed, believing people.

3. This is a covenant that cannot be broken. It is everlasting, and therefore immutable. All who were given to Christ were redeemed by Christ, will come to Christ and will be raised again at the last day! God promised it. He swore by his holy name that he would do it! And it will be done!

4. God has so arranged things in the covenant of grace that he will get all the glory of it. His glory he will not share with another. He must have the glory exclusively. He must have the glory eternally. Let us give him the glory now. ‘Not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and thy truth’s sake!'


 

May 17

Hebrews 7:22; Genesis 43:8-9

Day 138

Christ our Surety

Read John 6:35-45

A surety is, according to Webster, ‘a person who makes himself responsible for another; one who makes himself liable for another’s debts, defaults, or obligations’.  This is just what our Lord Jesus Christ did in the covenant of grace. God the Father gave his elect people to Christ. He entrusted them to the care of his Son. And the Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily agreed to become responsible for their eternal welfare. By his own willful choice, the Son of God agreed to become liable to God’s holy law for the debts and obligations of his elect. He became the Surety of his people.

Therefore, in the fulness of time, he came into this world as a man, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law. Our blessed Surety lived in this world as the Representative of his people, fulfilling their obligations to God’s law, establishing in their stead a perfect righteousness. Then he laid down his life as their Substitute at Calvary, paying in full the debt we owed to God’s holy law and justice, by reason of our sin.

And now our Surety reigns on the right hand of the Majesty on high over all flesh for the purpose of giving eternal life to all who were given to him in the covenant of grace and redeemed by him at Calvary. It is his responsibility, as the Surety, to find his sheep, save his sheep, bring his sheep home, and to present every one of his sheep faultless and blameless before the presence of the divine glory. This he will do. Our Surety cannot fail. In the last day the Lord Jesus Christ will stand before his Father and say, ‘Lo, I and the children whom thou hast given me; of them which thou gavest me have I lost none.’ The number of those presented in perfect holiness before the throne of God will exactly tally with the number of those given to Christ as the Surety of the covenant in eternal election. He will open the Lamb’s book of life, which was written before the world began, and pointing to their names one by one, he will say, ‘Those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost.’


 

May 18

Acts 2:38

Day 139

Three fatal errors about baptism

Read I Corinthians 1:14-31

There are some who flatly deny that baptism is an ordinance of the New Testament church, but their ultra-dispensationalism is so obviously contrary to the Scriptures that few people accept their doctrine. However, there are many who ignorantly receive three common, but fatal, errors about baptism. Such commonly received errors must be exposed.

1. Sacramentalism says that ‘Baptism is a means of grace.’ All Catholics and most Protestants teach that baptism has at least some saving efficacy. No one teaches salvation by baptism alone, but many teach that baptism is a means by which God’s saving grace comes to the soul. The whole basis of infant sprinkling (it cannot rightly be called baptism) is that baptism does have some merit before God. Such doctrine is nowhere taught nor implied in the Word of God.

2. Landmarkism teaches that baptism can only be performed by the pastors of Landmark Baptist churches and that by being baptized into one of their churches a person secures for himself a higher rank, position and reward in heaven. In other words, they would have us to believe that while Christ is sufficient as our Savior, we must earn the gifts of eternal glory by what we do. Though they would deny it, they make baptism a sacrament, ‘a means of grace’.  Such doctrine is fatal. Christ plus anything equals eternal damnation. Christ alone is our Savior and our acceptance before God.

3. Ritualism simply goes through the motions of baptism as a matter of meaningless religious exercise, without any knowledge of its meaning.

In truth, baptism is the answer of a good conscience towards God. It is the believer’s first act of obedience to Christ as Lord. And it is a public, symbolic confession of our faith in Christ. Baptism has no saving efficacy, but it is an essential point of the believer’s obedience to Christ. Only unsaved rebels willfully reject the commandments of the Lord. The commandment of God is ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you’ (Acts 2:38).


 

May 19

John 3:15

Day 140

‘Whosoever believeth’

Read John 1:1-14

Without question, the most profound, most mysterious and most incomprehensible thing in all the world is the gospel of Christ. Who can explain how the eternal Son of God could come to this earth in human flesh, live in perfect righteousness as our Representative before God, have our sins imputed to him, suffer and die as our Substitute in full satisfaction of infinite justice, rise from the dead in accomplishment of our justification and reign in glory as the God-man Mediator to save his people? The fact of the gospel is incomprehensibly astonishing!

Yet the message of the gospel is plain, clear and simple. It is just this: ‘Believe on the Lord, Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’ Do you ask, ‘How can I be saved from my sin?’ ‘How can I be made righteous before God?’ ‘How can a sinner like me be justified in the sight of God?’ There is no need for your perplexity. Paul said, ‘The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is the word of faith which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.’ If you will acknowledge Christ’s lordship and dominion over you, believing on him alone for the pardon of your sin and all your righteousness before God, you will be saved.

Nothing in all the world is more plain and clear than that. You do not need to figure out a way of salvation. Christ has done it all. You must simply trust him. As surely as it is true that ‘The soul that sinneth it shall die’, just that surely it is true that ‘Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ Not until the throne of God is overturned and the truth of God becomes a lie will it be possible for a sinner truly to believe on Christ without being saved.

The question is simply this: ‘Dost thou believe on the Son of God?’ If you do, you are a saved man or woman. Your sins are pardoned and you are made perfectly righteous in Christ.


 

May 20

Galatians 3:19

Day 141

‘Wherefore then serveth the law.?’

Read I Timothy 1:1 -17

The law of God is holy and just and good. But it becomes a very great evil when it is perverted and used for something other than its divine purpose.

Now Paul tells us what the design and purpose of God’s law is. It was never intended by God to be a means of justification or sanctification, a motive for Christian service, a rule of life for believers, or a code of moral ethics. The law of God has but one singular purpose. It exposes man’s guilt and sin before God, shutting him up to faith in Christ alone for salvation. ‘It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made.’ ‘The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.’ To use the law for any other purpose is to pervert and abuse the law.

Once a man comes to Christ by faith, the law has no more claim upon him and no longer has dominion over him. The law was not made for a righteous man. The language of Holy Scripture in this matter could not be clearer or more emphatic. ‘After that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.’ ‘We are not under the law, but under grace.’ ‘Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.’ ‘Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.’ We who are free dare not entangle ourselves again with the yoke of bondage. Our freedom has been purchased at too high a price, the precious blood of Christ. We have a higher, better, more effectual motive for our obedience, service and devotion than the law given by Moses. ‘The love of Christ constraineth us!’ When true love reigns in the heart there is no need for law. Love for Christ causes us to love one another. This love makes God’s elect patient, kind, honest, generous and faithful. And this love is the fulfillment of the law.


 

May 21

Romans 8:31

Day 142

‘If God be for us...’

Read Isaiah 43:1-13

What a glorious thought! Is it possible? Can it be true that the eternal, omnipotent, all-wise, incomprehensible God, in the Trinity of his sacred persons, is for us? Let that once be established as a fact, both of revelation and experience, and all fear must vanish from our hearts. ‘If God be for us, who can be against us?’ Who can with success oppose those for whom the Almighty is engaged?

Now here is the glorious fact of the matter concerning those who love God and are the called according to his purpose: God is for us! God is absolutely sovereign in all things. He has dominion over all the universe (Ps. 115:3; Dan. 4:34-37; Isa. 4:5-7; Prov. 21:1; Rom. 11:36).

This God is for us in his sovereign, providence working all things together for our good (Rom. 8:28). Everything in the universe is being manipulated by God to accomplish good for his elect. The wise man said, ‘There shall no evil happen unto the just’ (Prov. 12:21). That is to say, nothing shall work against God’s elect. There is no limitation to the promise.

But that is not all, God is for us in his saving purpose (Rom. 8:29-30). Notice that each verb is in the past tense. According to God’s own purpose and decree, our salvation is an accomplished reality in Christ. He knew us in electing love, predestinated us to be his sons, called us his own, justified us in his purpose and glorified us in Christ. This is God’s purpose for all his elect, and his purpose will be done.

Once more, God is for us in his substitutionary provision (v.32). In order that he might justly save us, according to his own purpose God spared not his own Son. Everything agreed upon in the covenant of grace Christ had to endure. He was not spared the strict requirements of righteousness or the infinite wrath of justice. He was delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God to die as our Substitute. Now, surely, this great and merciful God, who gave his own Son for us, will freely give us all things. What then shall we fear?


 

May 22

Psalm 147:11

Day 143

‘Hope in his mercy’

Read Psalm 119:49-72

The believer’s hope is his confident persuasion of God’s goodness and mercy in Christ. It is an expectation of all necessary good, both in time and eternity, founded upon the promises, relations and perfections of God, and upon the righteousness, shed blood and intercession of Christ. It is a combination of desire, expectation, patience and joy. By faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we are persuaded that God is both able and willing to do us good, and we expect him to do so. This is our hope. Our circumstances may vary. Our confidence may at times diminish. Our assurance may waver. Our sense of joy may decline. But our hope never changes, for our hope is in the Lord. ‘The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him’ (see Lam, 3:21-26). Here are four things which give me hope. Here are four solid, immutable pillars upon which I rest my soul continually.

1. God’s immutable mercy. Some people trust their works; others place all confidence in their religion, but we know that ‘It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed.’ As a guilty sinner I have no hope but in God’s eternal, redemptive, immutable and daily mercies.

2. God’s unfailing love. To those who are in Christ, ‘God is love’.  ‘Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.’ God’s love is Sure and immutable. He who so loved me that he gave his only Son to redeem me will not withhold any good thing from me. This gives me hope: ‘His compassions fail not.’ The eternal God will never cease to love his own!

3. God’s unchanging faithfulness. ‘Great is thy faithfulness!’ This I know, God is faithful. He is faithful to his covenant and to his people. Divine faithfulness fills me with hope.

4. God’s inexhaustible goodness. ‘The Lord is good!’ Surely, then, he will do good for all who seek him and wait upon him with faith, hope and patience.


 

May 23

Ephesians 1:6

Day 144

‘He hath made us accepted in the beloved’

Read Ephesians 1:1-14

In this text of Scripture, the apostle Paul teaches us that in Jesus Christ the people of God have been made entirely complete. God Almighty has accepted us upon the merits of Christ’s righteousness and shed blood, and in his very person, as being one with him!

1. Our acceptance before God is eternal. There never was a time when God did not view his elect in Christ. Because God always viewed us in Christ, he always accepted us. We were in the heart of Christ from all eternity as the objects of his love and favor. We were in his hands as our Surety. Our names were written beneath his in the book of life before the world began. God chose us in Christ and in Christ we are accepted.

2. Our acceptance in, Christ is real. We are really and truly one with the Son of God! ‘We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.’ Just as the race of humanity was in the loins of Adam, all the hosts of God’s elect were in Christ. Before God, by God’s decree, Jesus Christ is our legal, spiritual and real Representative. What that means is this: what he has done, we have done in him. When he obeyed God’s law, we obeyed the law in him. When he died, we died in him. When he arose, we, arose in him. When he sat down at the Father’s right hand, we were made to sit together with him in heavenly places.

3. Our acceptance in Christ is immutable. Through our sin and unbelief, we sometimes lose the sweetness of fellowship and communion with our God. But our acceptance with God never varies! God does not accept us on the basis of anything done by us. He accepts us for Christ’s sake. The only way for one of God’s elect to become unaccepted is for God to reject his own Son, for we are in him! Until God rejects Christ, he cannot, and will not, reject those who are in Christ. This is our blessed security! ‘He hath made us accepted in the beloved.’


 

May 24

1 Peter 3:15

Day 145

‘A reasonable hope’

Read Hebrews 1:1-2:4

We all hope for eternal life and the glorious bliss of heaven. But is my hope reasonable? Peter wrote, ‘Be ready always to answer every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you’, implying that a good hope is both reasonable and evident.

This I know: the eternal, immaculate God of heaven will never accept anything less than absolute perfection. ‘Therefore, it is most unreasonable for me to trust myself, or anything I have done, for my acceptance with God.

My only hope is in a Substitute, one whom God will accept in my stead. God himself has provided such a Substitute for sinners like me. Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, took upon himself my own nature. He lived in this world as a man for thirty-three years in perfect conformity to God’s law and will, establishing perfect righteousness for sinners. Then he went to the cross, there to suffer the just penalty of God’s law and justice for the sins of his people. Being both God and man, he was able to satisfy the infinite wrath of God by one great sacrifice. Dying in my place, the God-man was buried in a tomb. But on the third day after his crucifixion, my Substitute broke the walls of the grave, declaring that those people for whom he died were justified! By his resurrection, the Son of God is declared of God to be accepted as the all-sufficient Sacrifice for sin. My sins, which he bore, are all gone. My debt to God’s offended justice was paid in full by the price of Immanuel’s blood!

Now, it is most reasonable for me to trust him, and him alone, for my entire salvation. No other sacrifice can give my guilty conscience peace; and none other can meet the requirements of a just and holy God. God himself provided Christ as a Substitute for sinners. God laid my sins upon him. God killed him in my place. God raised him from the dead as my Representative. And God declares that all who trust him will not perish, but have eternal life. Trust him I will, I must, I do! I have no other hope. Will you trust him, too?


 

May 25

John 3:18

Day 146

‘He that believeth not’

Read John 3:17-36

Every sin is an infinite evil in the eyes of a holy God, and will be punished eternally in hell, no matter how small and insignificant it may appear in man’s eyes. But the greatest sin in all the world is the sin of unbelief. If you go to hell it will be for this reason: you refused to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Hear what God says, ‘He that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.’ ‘He that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him.’ The hottest place in hell is reserved for ‘good, moral’ people who refuse to believe the gospel. They hear it, and perhaps understand it mentally, but they will not believe. To persist in your unbelief is to commit an unpardonable blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

Do not try to excuse your unbelief by blaming it on God’s decree. Where is it written in the Bible that God predestinated your sinful unbelief? God’s decree never shut the doors of mercy against anyone. And do not look upon your unbelief as a light thing. Once in a while, I meet with someone who talks as though he is honoring God by confessing his unbelief! If you refuse to believe the gospel, it is your own fault. And it is a hideous crime. By your unbelief, you make God a liar! You are saying that the gospel of God is a lie, the Son of God is not worthy of your trust, the Word of God is not to be believed and the witness of the Spirit is not to be received! Your unbelief exposes your proud hatred of God, your mockery of the blood of Christ and your disdain for the grace of God. There is only one reason why you are not saved, and that is that you will not come to Christ. And the only reason why you will not come is that you will not believe. You do not believe in the merit and sufficiency of Christ’s blood and righteousness. And you do not believe that you need him. Else you would come to him.

Because of your unbelief God will send you to hell! And all God’s creation will say, ‘Amen’ to your eternal damnation yourself included! You must either turn to Christ in faith, or perish. Which will it be?


 

May 26

Matthew 6:7

Day 147

‘Use not vain repetitions’

Read Matthew 6:1-15

Our Lord does not forbid the use of repetition in prayer. In fact, he teaches us that a man whose heart is heavy and burdened ought to use importunity in pleading with God (Luke 11:8-10). That which is forbidden is the use of ‘vain repetition'¾ the use of words without meaning.

Do you find yourself, when you are praying, either in public or in private, using the same words and phrases? Asking for the same things? Saying the same things? Praying without really thinking about what you are saying? I am afraid that many people might just as well use a tape recorder as their tongues when they pray. Others use pretty words and phrases that impress men. They pray so well and in such affecting tones when they are praying in public. These are the vain repetitions our Lord warns us to avoid. Such praying is an abomination before God!

Dare I approach the Lord of heaven without sincerity, earnestness and thoughtfulness? Dare I speak to God without carefulness? Dear friends, let us take care that we do not pray out of habit, or ritual, or because it is time to pray. It would be better not to pray at all. Read the prayers of Moses, Elijah, David, Daniel and Paul. By their examples we should learn something about prayer. True prayer arises from a sense of need. It is the voice of a sincere heart crying out to the Lord. We do not know how to pray as we ought, by nature. The Spirit of God in a man’s heart teaches him how to pray. He leads, guides and directs the children of God in prayer.

Pray with adoration and thanksgiving, worshipping God and giving thanks to him. Pray in faith, trusting the merits of Christ’s righteousness and shed blood and resting in the promises of God. Pray with intercession, seeking God’s blessing upon his people. Pray in submission, submitting your will to God’s will, preferring his will to your own. And pray with sincerity, saying neither more nor less than you truly feel in your heart. Above all, seek the glory of God. When the glory of God in Christ is the motive of our prayers, we have begun to pray, but not until then.


 

May 27

Hebrews 9:26

Day 148

‘The putting away of sin’

Read Psalm 103:1-14

‘Now once in the end of the world hath he [the Lord Jesus Christ] appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself’ (Heb. 9:26). It was for sinful men like us that the great Redeemer appeared. Once, in the end of the world, when the fullness of time was come, the Son of God appeared at the appointed place to put sin out of existence. Jesus Christ came into the world for this express purpose, to redeem hopelessly sinful men. He came into the world to give a real deliverance from sin by putting it away. He came to establish peace between man and God; for when sin is gone peace is lawful. Jesus Christ did not come into the world to make sin a harmless mistake. He did not come to give you a covering for your sin. He did not come to help you forget your sin. The Son of God came into this world to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

Sin is an infinitely evil thing. Sin is an attack upon the very throne of God. It is an offense against God’s holiness, the transgression of God’s law and the rebellion of the heart against God’s sovereignty. Sin is the monstrous attempt of depraved man to rape God and rob him of his dignity and glory as God! Sin is man’s denial of God’s right to be God!

It is a very hard thing to put away sin. All the Jewish sacrifices of the Old Testament, costly and numerous as they were, could not put away sin. All the religious zeal and devotion of the scribes and Pharisees could not put away sin. Not even repentance, faith and a holy life can put away sin. Even if you and I were to suffer the wrath of God in hell forever, we could not put away one sin. But the Lord Jesus Christ has put away sin! By his one all-sufficient, infinitely meritorious sacrifice at Calvary, the Son of God has put away all the sins of all his people forever! He did not put our sins away into hiding, or in reserve, to bring them out at another time. The blood of Christ has put sin out of existence for his people! In the sight of God’s law, so far as his holiness and justice are concerned, the man or woman who trusts Christ has no sin!


 

May 28

1 Corinthians 1:30

Day 149

Three common errors about sanctification

Read Romans 7:14-25

Even those who are well instructed in the gospel doctrines of election, redemption, justification and regeneration commonly embrace seriously erroneous views of sanctification. They teach that salvation is altogether by grace, and they realize that sanctification is an essential part of salvation, but they insist that sanctification is partly a work of God and partly a work of man. Such mixing of grace and works in this aspect of salvation leads many to embrace a perverted doctrine of sanctification.

Pentecostalism teaches that sanctification is a second work of grace, whereby the believer is made totally free from sin, and the old nature of sin is eradicated from his being. Such a proud doctrine is directly contrary to the plain statement of Holy Scripture: ‘If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth us not in us’ (1 John 1:8). And the notion of ‘sinless perfection’ is contrary to the experience of every believer. Believers confess their sin. They do not hide it. Honesty compels us to acknowledge that, though we are no longer under the dominion of sin, we do have a continual struggle with sin. Sin is mixed with everything we think or do. Any man who says he is without sin is a liar.

The self-righteous legalist makes sanctification nothing more than outward, legal morality. He thinks that sanctification is accomplished by his separation from the world, his obedience to religious customs and traditions and his abstinence from the use of things he considers evil. ‘Touch not, taste not, handle not’ is his creed.

And among most of those whom we recognize as orthodox, evangelical Christians, sanctification is thought to be the progressive increase of the believer’s ‘personal holiness’.  We are told that the children of God attain higher degrees of holiness by their own works in sanctification, until at last they are ripe for heaven, and that sanctification buds forth into ultimate glorification. Usually, this ‘progressive sanctification’ is made to be the basis of the believer’s assurance on earth and the basis of his eternal reward in heaven.


 

May 29

Hebrews 10:10

Day 150

‘We are sanctified’

Read Colossians 2:1-10

I hear men talk of progressive sanctification. I am told that God’s people grow in holiness and righteousness. Some men will even dare to assert, ‘I am holier than thou.’ They think that their good works, their piety, their devotion, their prayers, their meditations and their Bible reading since they professed faith in Christ make them more holy, inwardly and outwardly, before God. But it is all a self-righteous delusion. God says of all such pretenders of piety, ‘These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.’ It is true, God’s elect grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We grow in faith, devotion, submission and even obedience to Christ. But never in all the Word of God do I read of a man who trusted Christ claiming to grow in holiness, purity, or sanctification before God. In fact, the very opposite is true. When Isaiah saw the Lord, he said, ‘Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.’ When Job had grown the most in grace and had seen the most of God’s glory, he cried, ‘Behold, I am vile!’ When David had the greatest assurance of God’s pardoning grace, he had also the greatest awareness of his own sin. He said, ‘I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.’ When Paul had faithfully preached the gospel for many years he said, ‘I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.’ When Paul was about to lay down his life in martyrdom, when he reached a far higher degree of faithfulness and dedication than anyone I know, he did not call himself the holiest of all saints, he called himself the chief of all sinners.

Where do you find sanctification? I can tell you where all of God’s saints find it - Christ is our sanctification. He is all my righteousness, all my redemption, all my sanctification and all my holiness before God. Sanctification is not by the works of the flesh any more than justification is. Sanctification is the work of God’s sovereign grace whereby he has separated us to be holy in Christ by election, declared us to be holy in Christ by redemption, and made us to be holy in Christ by regeneration.


 

May 30

1 Corinthians 6:11

Day 151

‘Ye are sanctified’

Read 1 John 3:1-10

C.H. Spurgeon made this statement, with which I fully agree, about the doctrine of progressive sanctification: ‘I do not admire the term “progressive sanctification", for it is unwarranted by Scripture; but it is certain that the Christian does grow in grace, and though his conflict may be as severe in the last day of his life as in the first moment of conversion, yet he does advance in grace, and all his imperfections and his conflicts within cannot prove that he has not made progress.'

A believers does not gradually become less sinful and more holy in the sight of God. Can there be degrees of righteousness and holiness in the sight of God? The very term ‘holiness’ implies perfection. Anything less than absolute perfection is not holiness, but sin.

The only holiness any fallen man can have is that holiness which God gives to all believers in Christ, and it is perfect holiness. God’s elect were sanctified in eternal election, when we were set apart for God and declared to be holy in God’s eternal purpose. In time we were actually perfected and made holy in the eyes of God’s law and justice, by the righteousness and shed blood of Christ as our Substitute. When Christ died at Calvary he ‘perfected for ever them that were sanctified’, those who were set apart by God for himself in election. Perfect holiness was legally imputed to God’s elect by the obedience of Christ. Then, in divine regeneration, a perfectly holy nature has been imparted to all who are born of the Spirit. To be born again is to have the divine nature implanted in us, so that we are partakers of the divine nature. This is sanctification. It is not progressive, but perfect and complete, in Christ.

While we live in this world we grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ. We grow in faith and in love and in hope. But we do not grow in holiness before God. Christ is our only holiness before God. So long as we live in this world our old nature will continue to be nothing but sinful flesh. It never gets sanctified.


 

May 31

1 Corinthians 1:30

Day 152

‘Righteousness and sanctification’

Read Colossians 1:9-23

I hear men talk of becoming less and less sinful and progressively holier from day to day. I hear men talk about their ‘progressive sanctification’ a great deal. But the more they boast of their progressive holiness, the more harsh, judgmental and mean-spirited they become towards their ‘lesser brethren’.  Their doctrine is this: ‘God’s children,’ they say, ‘grow in righteousness and personal holiness until they are ripe for heaven.’ They actually teach that glorification is the end result of their own progressive attainments in ‘personal holiness’.  If their doctrine is true, if it is possible for men gradually to become less sinful and more holy, then it is possible for men, by diligence, self-denial and mortification of the flesh, eventually to attain sinless perfection in this life.

Such doctrine, of course, is contrary to Holy Scripture (1 John 1:8, 10). Any man who says that he is without sin, even for a fleeting second, is deceived, the truth is not in him and he makes God a liar. And honesty compels me to acknowledge that this doctrine of ‘progressive sanctification’ is totally contrary to my own experience. I have, I believe, over the past nineteen years, grown in grace. My love for, faith in and commitment to Christ have grown, increased and matured by the grace of God. But my sin has not diminished. My outward acts of sin are more restricted and controlled than before, but the inward evil of my flesh has not lessened. If anything, it is worse now than ever. With aching heart, I confess my sin. Though I am redeemed, justified and sanctified in Christ, I am still a man in the flesh, and my flesh is full of sin. By painful experience, I have learned that ‘I am carnal, sold under sin... For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing.’ Christ alone is my redemption. Christ alone is my righteousness. Christ alone is my acceptance with God. And Christ alone is my sanctification.


 

June 1

Numbers 35:11

Day 153

‘Cities of refuge’

Read Numbers 35:11-33

When the children of Israel were settled in the land of Canaan, God ordained that six cities of refuge be set aside, to which a man might flee for security, if he had unintentionally killed another man. These cities of refuge were located strategically throughout the land, so that any one of them could easily be reached within a day’s journey from any place in the land of Canaan. If the guilty man could get into the gates of the city before the avenger of blood caught him, he would be secure. These cities of refuge together form a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. They typically represent him to whom we have ‘fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us’ (Heb. 6:18).

We are informed by the ancient Jewish rabbis that, at least once every year, the magistrates of each city were responsible to survey the road to their city, making certain that the road was clear of all debris and easily passable. There must be no obstacles in the way that would hinder any who might flee to the cities of refuge. The magistrates would send out work crews to remove all large rocks and fallen trees from the road, taking the greatest possible care to remove every stumblingblock. Any low places in the road would be filled. Any high places would be leveled. All along the road they placed markers with the word ‘refuge’ written in bold letters. When the fugitive came to a cross-roads, he needed not hesitate for a moment. Seeing that blessed word, ‘refuge’, he kept on his breathless pace with relentless determination until he reached the place of merciful safety. Once he entered the gates of the city, he was secure.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the refuge for sinners. All who come to him are saved from the wrath of God. The way to Christ is plainly revealed: ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ And Christ, by his righteousness and blood, has removed every obstacle that might keep the sinner who seeks him from finding him. He even sends his Spirit to reveal the way, lead us in the way and bring us safely to our souls’ refuge.


 

June 2

Joshua 20:2

Day 154

‘Cities of refuge’

Read Joshua 20:1-9

The six cities of refuge which Joshua appointed in the land of Canaan were types of our Lord Jesus Christ. Even their names represent him.

Kedesh means ‘holy’.  Christ is the holy one, both as God and as man. Being the holy God-man, he is abundantly qualified to be our Mediator, Savior and Redeemer. Christ is made of God unto us righteousness and holiness, justification and sanctification (Ps. 16:10; Heb. 7:26; 1 Cor. 1:30).

Shechem means ‘the shoulder’.  Christ carried the enormous load of our sin upon the cross and put it away (Isa. 53:6.) The government of the world in general and of his church in particular is upon his shoulder (Isa. 9:6). And in conversion, he finds his lost sheep, lays it upon his shoulder and carries it home (Luke 15:4).

Hebron means ‘fellowship’.  ‘Truly our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ’ (I John 1:3). In Christ we have access to and fellowship with the eternal God, and shall have uninterrupted communion with him in heaven’s eternal glory (I Cor. 1:9; Eph. 2:18; John 17:24).

Bezer means ‘a fortified place’.  ‘I will say of the Lord, he is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust’ (Ps. 91:2). ‘The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe’ (Prov. 18: 10). Christ is the fortress and defense of his people, the stronghold in which the prisoners of hope are secured.

Ramoth means ‘exalted’.  Christ is our exalted Savior. ‘God hath highly exalted him’ (Phil. 2:9). Christ is the one by whom we have been exalted from our low estate to sit among princes and to inherit the throne of glory (Eph. 2:4-7). And Christ is the one we exalt, honor and magnify (Rev. 5:9-10).

Golan means ‘revealed’,  or ‘manifested’.  Christ is God manifest in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16). He is the one revealed to us, to whom we are called and by whom we are saved (Gal. 1: 15-16). In Christ the glory of God is revealed (2 Cor. 4:6). And that revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ is salvation.


 

June 3

Hebrews 6:18

Day 155

‘Fled for refuge’

Read Psalm 91:1-16

The manslayer in Israel had to flee to one of the cities of refuge which God had appointed. If he had fled to any other city for refuge, he would have found no mercy. The avenger of blood would find him and slay him. If he would be saved, he must flee to the refuge God had appointed. Even so, all who would be saved by the grace of God must flee by faith to the refuge God has appointed, and that refuge is Christ. ‘Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’ (Acts 4:12). The only refuge for our souls is the Lord Jesus Christ. Both for salvation and for the consolation of our souls in any time of trouble, we must flee to Christ alone. Christ is our refuge, not the church. Christ is our refuge, not our works.

Salvation is obtained only by fleeing to Christ. There was no place of mercy, peace, safety and rest for the manslayer until he ran through the gates into one of those cities of refuge. It was not enough that he knew where the city was located, how large the city was, what provisions were in the city and how to get to the city. If he would be saved he must enter the city. Once he entered the city four things happened: (1) He declared his cause, confessing his offense. (2) He came under the protection of the city. (3) He received a complete acquittal of all guilt. (4) He was cleansed from all guilt, representatively, when the high priest died. None of these benefits were his until he entered the city. But once he entered, all were his, and his soul was peaceful. In exactly the same way, when the guilty sinner flees to Christ for refuge, he declares his cause: ‘I am a sinner in need of mercy’ (I John 1:9). He comes under the protection of Christ John 10:27-28). He receives a complete acquittal, full justification, being absolved from all guilt (Rom. 3:24). And he is cleansed from all sin by the blood of Christ, who died as his Representative (Heb. 9:14). Having fled to Christ for refuge, we are safe and secure in him.


 

June 4

Acts 16:31

Day 156

‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved’

Read I John 5:1-13

Salvation is obtained by faith alone. It is not obtained by faith and baptism, faith and obedience, faith and experience, or even faith and faithfulness. Salvation is obtained by faith alone, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It is true, faith is obedient. Faith is confessed in baptism. Faith does bring both feelings and experience and cause faithfulness. But these things come as the result of salvation and life in Christ. They are not the cause (Eph. 2:8-10).

What is this faith? The Amplified Version gives a helpful translation of this verse: ‘Believe in and on the Lord Jesus Christ, that is give yourself up to him, take yourself out of your own keeping and entrust yourself to his keeping, and you will be saved.’ ‘Believing on Christ is not a bare historical faith, as only to believe that he was the Son of God, and the Messiah, and that he was come in the flesh, and had suffered, and died, and rose again, and was now in heaven at the right hand of God, and would come again to judge the quick and the dead, for there may be such a faith and no salvation’ (John Gill). Paul’s commandment, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ’ requires us to look to Christ alone for salvation and life, to rely upon Christ, trusting him and committing the care of our immortal souls to him, and to expect peace, pardon, righteousness and eternal life from him. To believe on Christ is to trust him, venture everything upon him, commit everything to him and receive him. Faith is leaving our souls in the hands of Christ.

This faith in Christ is the commandment of God (I John 3:23). I see no reason why I should be allowed to believe, to trust Christ and be saved by him. But God commands me to do so. Therefore I do believe. Without anything to commend myself to God, I trust Christ. Live or die, sink or swim, I trust him. And doing what God himself has commanded me to do, I cannot perish! The sure result of faith is eternal salvation. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ You cannot believe Christ and perish!


 

June 5

Acts 16:34

Day 157

‘Believing in God with all his house’

Read Philemon 1-25

In the first part of his book The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan describes Christian as a lonely pilgrim, traveling his road to the Celestial City all alone. Along the way, he met some friends, like Faithful and Hopeful, and he was happy to have their company. But he was still a lonely pilgrim. Neither his wife nor his children walked in the path of faith. In the second part of the book, Bunyan gives us a happier portrait of the pilgrim. Christiana joins her husband, Christian, and their children are also walking in the way. Pilgrim, with his family by his side, along with a great many friends, all are traveling as a convoy to the heavenly kingdom.

What a delightful picture! Sometimes godly men and women have to go to heaven alone. Grace does not run in blood lines. Election separates many from their nearest kinsmen. Often the example, the prayers and the admonitions of a believer have no influence over those who are dearest to him. And the believer has to walk in the path of faith, leaving his family behind. Many a Lot has had to flee from his perishing wife. Many a David has been required to mourn over his doomed Absalom. And many an Abraham has prayed without success for his beloved Ishmael. Grace does not run in blood lines. Faith is not an heirloom, passed on from father to son by the will of the father. Salvation is not a birthright. Yet, it is often true, thank God, it is very often true, that the God of Abraham becomes the God of Sarah, then the God of Isaac and then the God of Jacob. God very often saves one and then uses him as an instrument to draw the rest to himself. As Spurgeon put it, ‘He calls an individual and then uses him to be a sort of spiritual decoy to bring the rest of the family into the gospel net.’ Sometimes God passes by entire families and none are saved. Sometimes God is gracious to one or two in the household. And sometimes whole families are enclosed within the circle of electing love, redeemed by the blood of Christ and called by the efficacious grace of the Holy Spirit. Nothing could be more blessed to a man than to be the father of a family devoted to Christ.


 

June 6

Genesis 17:18

Day 158

‘Oh that Ishmael might live before thee!’

Read I Chronicles 29:1-19

We must leave our families, husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters in the hands of God. If they are saved, like all other sinners, they must be saved by the sovereign will and pleasure of God, by his free grace in Christ. Our children, like all others, are children of wrath, deserving God’s just punishment for their sins. If God saves our families, we will serve him with gladness. And if God does not save our families, we will still go on serving him with gladness. Even with regard to our beloved families we must, like Eli, say, ‘It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good’ (I Sam. 3:18). We dare not rebel against the sovereign purpose of our God.

However, we must make certain that none in our households perish through any neglect or carelessness of our own. It is a tragic fact that Lot’s family perished due in great measure to the fact that Lot gave too much attention to their material happiness and far too little attention to their spiritual, eternal welfare. Eli’s sons were slain under the wrath of God, because Eli was a slothful father who refused to exercise loving discipline in his family (1 Sam. 3:13).

There is nothing selfish about exercising special care for your own family and earnestly seeking your own family’s salvation. In God’s providence, your family is the first, primary sphere of your responsibility. It is not wrong, but most natural and proper, that your desire for the salvation of others should, first of all, be towards your own family. Those who live under your roof have special claims upon your care. God has not reversed the laws of nature. He has sanctified them by the rule of his grace. It is only right that Abraham should pray for Ishmael, that Hannah should pray for Samuel and that David should pray for Solomon. It is only right that Andrew should first find his brother Simon and bring him to the Savior, and that Eunice should teach her son Timothy the way of salvation and life in Christ. Let every believer resolve, by the grace of God, to do whatever can be done to bring his or her family into the kingdom of heaven.


 

June 7

Acts 16:34

Day 159

‘All his house’

Read Acts 16:25-40

In Acts 16 the Holy Spirit directs our attention to the Philippian jailor and ‘all his house’.  He gives us seven instructive pictures of that family.

l. The jailor and all his house were lost and perishing. This man and his family lived in the prison compound at Philippi, in darkness and ignorance as children of wrath (Eph. 2:11-12). But they were elect, chosen of God and precious. And the time of mercy had come.

2. God saw to it that the jailor and all his house heard the gospel. The Lord arranged an earthquake to open the door for the gospel to be preached to this jailor at midnight. Having heard the gospel himself, the jailor called his family together so that they might hear and be saved.

3. The jailor and all his house believed on Christ. Each one heard the gospel of redeeming love and saving grace. Each one believed. And each one was saved.

4. The jailor and all his house confessed Christ in baptism. All who were baptized were believers, and all who believed were baptized. Immediately upon their profession of faith, they confessed Christ, being buried with him in the watery grave.

5. The jailor and all his house served Christ. Believing and being baptized, each one seems to have said, ‘What can I do for Christ?’ And they did what was at hand: they served the needs of God’s messengers. They washed their wounds, fed them and entertained them willingly at a most unaccommodating time.

6. The jailor and all his house rejoiced in the Lord. Faith in Christ caused them to rejoice. They were forgiven, justified, accepted in Christ and heirs of eternal life. Why should they not rejoice?

7. Though it is not written in the text, it is clearly revealed that the jailor and all his house are now in glory. There, seated before the throne of the Lamb are the jailor, his wife, all his children and all his servants. What a delightful picture! I cannot help asking myself this question: ‘Will all my house be there with me?’ Will yours? May God be so gracious to you and to me.


 

June 8

Ephesians 6:4

Day 160

‘Your children’

Read Ephesians 5:21 - 6-9

God only knows who his elect are. If our sons and daughters are numbered among them they will be saved. Not one of God’s chosen ones will perish. Christ will have those whom he has redeemed. In God’s time he will call his own from death to life by the power of the Holy Spirit. If some of our children are not chosen of God, they will not be saved. They will not believe. And those who will not believe deserve to perish. But it is our responsibility to do what we can to bring our families into the family of God. I offer these words of instruction to you who believe, to you who are interested in the immortal souls of your sons and daughters.

1. If you want your family to be saved, see to it that you worship God with your family. If you do not see to it that your children hear the gospel, it is because you do not care for their souls. If you neglected to feed your children, it would be reasonable to assume that you cared nothing for their bodies. And if you do not provide them with the gospel of Christ, both by private instruction and by bringing them to hear the Word preached, it is obvious that you do not care for their souls. You can do nothing that is more positively harmful to your family than to rob them of the ministry of the Word.

2. If you care for the souls of your children you will exercise loving discipline in your home. Eli was a believer. He showed his wicked sons the way of faith and life in Christ. He taught them the gospel. He taught them right from wrong. And he prayed for them. But he was a miserable failure as a father, because he exercised no discipline over them. ‘He restrained them not!’ God told him plainly that the cause of his sons’ death was his lack of’ discipline as a father.

3. If you want your children to follow Christ, let them see that you follow Christ. By all means see to it that your sons and daughters regularly attend the ministry of the gospel. See to it that you pray for them and discipline them. But if your religion is all lip service, they will soon detect your hypocrisy. Set before them an example of love for, faith in and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ.


 

June 9

2 Timothy 3:15

Day 161

‘The Holy Scriptures’

Read 2 Peter 1: 10-21

The Bible is the Word of God, inspired, infallible, without error. That is not a debatable point of theology. It is a fact, plainly revealed, which all Christians rejoice to acknowledge. Those who deny the inerrancy of Holy Scripture are not Christians. They are infidels. The Bible was not written and compiled by the will of man: ‘But holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost’ (2 Peter 1:21). The Bible was written by supernatural inspiration. It reveals supernatural things. It can only be understood by supernatural illumination (1 Cor. 2:9-14). To the natural man the Word of God is mysterious, unexplainable and confusing. To the man who is taught of God it is wonderfully simple and comforting. When blessed of God to the hearts of those who read it and hear it preached, the Bible has a marvelous power to transform the lives of men. It is ‘quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart’ (Heb. 4:12). As it has power to transform the lives of men, the Bible has power to comfort and encourage the hearts of men. There is no source of comfort for the troubled heart like the Word of God, no source of strength and encouragement for the despondent soul like the promises of Holy Scripture. That blessed volume is the Word of God. I have proved it to be time and again in my own heart. For me, that is stronger proof than all the arguments of learned apologists and philosophical critics. I have seen and felt the power of Holy Scripture in my own life and in the lives of others. The Holy Scriptures, being the Word of God, win our reverence, claim our faith and demand our obedience in all things. And ‘these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name’ John 20:31). The Bible was not written to be a textbook on science, history, morality, or even theology, though, where it speaks of these things, it is infallible. The Word of God was written to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ and redemption by him.


 

June 10

Isaiah 53:8

Day 162

‘For the transgression of my people was he stricken’

Read Isaiah 53:1-12

Without question these words teach us that the Lord Jesus Christ died for and redeemed a particular people. It gives me no particular pleasure to tell people that there are some in this world for whom Christ did not die, but I must insist upon it. If I told you that Christ died for all men alike, in an effort to redeem all men, the implication of my doctrine would be that salvation is determined not by what Christ has done for men, but by what men do for themselves. And that is totally contrary to the plainest statements of Holy Scripture (Rom. 9: 16). It does give me great pleasure to tell sinners, as the Word of God plainly asserts, that Christ Jesus died for some perishing sinners, and all of those for whom he died will be saved by the merits of his sin-atoning sacrifice.

The Word of God plainly teaches that our Lord Jesus Christ died as a Substitute in the place of some of Adam’s fallen race, but not all. Christ himself said, ‘I am the good Shepherd: the good Shepherd giveth his life for the sheep... I lay down my life for the sheep.’ Then he turned to some who were in the crowd, and said, ‘Ye are not of my sheep’ John 10: 11, 15, 26).

Christ died to make propitiation for our sins, to satisfy the justice of God for his people, so that God might be just and the justifier of all who believe (Rom. 3:24-26). Because God is just, we know that he cannot punish sin twice, once in the sinner’s Substitute and again in the sinner himself. If God punished my sin in Christ, he cannot punish sin in me too. That would not be just and equitable. Belief in God’s justice and righteousness will not allow us to accept the notion that Christ died for any who ultimately perish under the wrath of God. That would be a travesty of justice. There would be a holiday in hell; Satan and the demons would rejoice and mock the Son of God for ever, if it should ever come to pass that one for whom Christ died and whom he tried to save perished in spite of his redemptive work. The fiends of hell will never have such a holiday. Every soul for whom Christ died will be with him in glory. He will see to it!


 

June 11

Acts 10:43

Day 163

‘To him give all the prophets witness’

Read John 5:30-47

The Bible is a book with one message and purpose. The message of the Bible is redemption by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and its purpose is the salvation of sinners for the glory of God.

This is the thing I want you to see: the singular purpose of Holy Scripture is to reveal the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible was written to show us our blessed Savior. This fact was beautifully illustrated by our Lord himself when he came into the synagogue at Nazareth. He opened the book of God and read to the people from the prophecy of Isaiah. Then he closed the book, laid it down and, as the people waited to hear his sermon, he said, ‘This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears’ (Luke 4:18-21). Sitting before them, God in human flesh, our Savior said, ‘I am the one of whom the prophet spoke!’

The risen Christ met two of his disciples on the Emmaus road and walked with them. As they talked together, he opened the Scriptures to them and caused them to understand that all the Scriptures spoke of him (Luke 24:27, 44-47). When Philip the evangelist met the Ethiopian eunuch, the eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53. Beginning at that place, Philip ‘preached unto him Jesus’ (Acts 8:35). When Peter stood up and preached to the Gentiles at Caesarea, he said, ‘To him [the Lord Jesus Christ] give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins’ (Acts 10:43). When Paul came to Thessalonica, ‘As his manner was, [he] went in unto them [in the synagogue], and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ’ (Acts 17:2-3). In the book of Hebrews, when Christ came into the world, we are told that he said, ‘Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God’ (Heb. 10:7).

Jesus Christ and him crucified is the sum and substance of Holy Scripture.


 

June 12

Hebrews 9:12

Day 164

‘Having obtained eternal redemption for us’

Read 3:1-14

The apostle Paul tells us that when the Lord Jesus Christ appeared in heaven with his own blood, offering to God the Father the merits of his sin-atoning sacrifice as the sinner’s Substitute, he ‘obtained eternal redemption’.  His one sacrifice for sin was gloriously effectual. When our Savior cried, ‘It is finished’, he fully accomplished the redemption of his people. The death of Christ effectually secured and guaranteed the eternal salvation of God’s elect. Those sinners whom he represented, for whom he died, will never be condemned.

1. I know that all for whom Christ died will be saved, because they are completely forgiven of all sin. ‘We have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace’ (Eph. 1:6). God charged our sins to Christ, Christ nailed them to the cross and his blood washed them away (Col. 1: 13-15).

2. Those for whom Christ shed his blood must be saved, because they are completely freed from the curse of the law (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 8: 1). When Christ was made to be sin for us, he was made a curse for us. When he died under the curse of the law for us he removed our sins. Removing our sins, he removed us from the curse. Where there is no sin there can be no curse.

3. All God’s elect will be saved, because they have been completely justified by the death of Christ. Justification is received by faith, but it was fully accomplished at Calvary. Christ was ‘delivered for our offenses, and raised again for our justification’ (Rom. 4:25). To be justified is to be cleared of all charges, to be just as if I had never sinned. No charge will be laid against God’s elect, because God has fully justified us in Christ (Rom. 8:33).

4. And all who were crucified with Christ will be with Christ in heaven, because they are already in heaven representatively. When Christ died as our Substitute, we died in him. And when he arose and ascended back into heaven as our Representative before God, we arose and ascended into heaven with him (Eph. 2:4-5). Blessed be God, the finished work of Christ was the full, effectual accomplishment of redemption for all his elect!


 

June 13

Psalm 23:1

Day 165

‘The Lord is my Shepherd’

Read John 10:1-16

One of the most beautiful and most frequently used pictures of Christ in the Scriptures is that of a shepherd. A shepherd is one who tends sheep. He serves sheep. He knows his sheep. He leads them, feeds them, protects them and nurses them. The shepherd leads his sheep out in the morning, tends them through the day and puts them in the fold at night. What could be more blessed than the realization that ‘The Lord is my Shepherd'? Our Savior is not a hireling shepherd, who cares not for the sheep. He is an owner-shepherd, one who both owns and cares for the sheep.

Throughout the Word of God, Christ is presented to us as a Shepherd. He is Jehovah’s Shepherd, the one who was smitten by the sword of divine justice, so that his sheep might go free and be saved (Zech. 13:7-9). Christ is the Good Shepherd, who willingly, voluntarily laid down his life for his sheep (John 10:11). We deserved to die, but Christ took our place. He died in our room and in our stead, as our Substitute. He willingly took our sins upon himself’, endured the penalty of the law which should have fallen upon us and paid all the debt we owed. Christ is the great Shepherd, who rose from the dead in triumph and victory (Heb. 13:20). Christ is the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, who saves us and preserves us unto life everlasting (1 Peter 2:25). Christ Jesus is the Shepherd of the sheep, who gathers his little lambs in his arms and carries them in his bosom (Isa. 40:11). Our Lord is the Covenant Shepherd of his people, under whose care we have peace (Ezek. 34:22-25). And Christ is the Chief Shepherd, who soon will appear the second time without sin unto salvation (1 Peter 5:4).

What a blessed, delightful picture! Christ is our Shepherd! And we who believe are his sheep. We belong to him! We are his by covenant agreement John 6:39), by lawful purchase (1 Peter 1: 18) and by our own voluntary consent (Gal. 3:26). Rejoice in this: Christ knows us by intimate, eternal love! Sheep of God, snuggle up in the arms of your Shepherd today, and be at peace.


 

June 14

Luke 15:4-7

Day 166

The parable of the lost sheep

Read John 10:17-30

This parable is recorded to illustrate one thing: it shows us the deep, self-sacrificing love of the Lord Jesus Christ for perishing sinners. It opens the very heart of the eternal God and shows us how delightful it is to God to save sinners, because ‘He delighteth in mercy’ (Micah 7:18).

In this parable our Lord mentions three groups of sheep: the one hundred, the ninety and nine and the one lost sheep.

1. The one hundred represent all mankind in this world. All the sons of Adam, both the righteous and the wicked, belong to the Lord Jesus Christ as his creatures. All were made by him and all belong to him. And all people belong to Christ, our Mediator and King. Whether willingly or unwillingly, all are his servants, under his sovereign dominion. God the Father has given Christ power, dominion and authority over all flesh, so that he might give eternal life to all his elect (John 17:2).

2. The ninety and nine represent the self-righteous Pharisees of this world. In their own eyes they are righteous and just and need no repentance. They feel no need of a Savior. They do not want mercy and grace. So they are left to perish in the wilderness of their own ignorance. To them the Lord says, ‘The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost’ (Matt. 18:11). ‘They that are whole [in their own opinion] need not a physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance’ (Luke 5:31-32).

3. The one lost sheep represents all of God’s elect in this world, lost and ruined in sin. Christ, our Good Shepherd, is totally consumed with seeking and saving his lost sheep. He seeks his sheep until he finds it. And when he finds his sheep, he lays it upon his shoulders and carries it safely home. In his incarnation the Shepherd came after his lost sheep. In his life he continually sought his sheep. In his death he laid the sheep upon his shoulders. In his resurrection he bore the sheep on its way. And in his ascension be brought it home rejoicing. Not one of the Shepherd’s sheep will perish. They are his responsibility. He must, and he will bring all his lost sheep safely home rejoicing.


 

June 15

John 10:28

Day 167

‘I give unto them eternal life and they shall never perish’

Read 2 Timothy 1:1-12

Here is a divine gift: ‘I give unto them eternal life.’ There was nothing in our hearts or conduct which caused God to bestow eternal life upon us (Jer. 31:3) and there is nothing in the believer’s heart or conduct which can cause the Lord to take away his gift of life (Isa. 54: 10). It is contrary to the nature of God to take away those gifts which he has freely bestowed upon his people (Rom. 11: 29). Knowing that eternal life is entirely the free gift of God, in no way earned by or dependent upon man we are persuaded that those to whom eternal life is given are eternally secure in Christ (Eccles. 3:14). Eternal life must, of necessity, be eternal.

Here is a divine promise: ‘And they shall never perish.’ Our Lord here makes a blanket promise. It takes into consideration all times, circumstances, contingencies, events and possibilities. What if they are babes and their faith is weak? ‘They shall never perish!’ What if they are young men and their passions are strong? ‘They shall never perish!’ What if they are old men and their vision grows dim? ‘They shall never perish!’ What if they are tempted? ‘They shall never perish!’ ‘What if all hell breaks loose against them? ‘They shall never perish!’ What if they fall? ‘They shall never perish!’ What if they sin? ‘They shall never perish!’ What if they sin again? ‘They shall never perish!’ This promise takes in all the flock. Not one of Christ’s sheep will ever perish, no, not even one! This is not the distinctive privilege of a few. It is the common mercy of all. If you are a believer, if you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, if you have received eternal life from him, you will never perish! Christ himself has promised it.

Here is a divine security: ‘Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.’ We are preserved in the heart of our Savior’s eternal love and we are preserved in the hand of his omnipotent grace. ‘All thy saints are in thy hands.’ We are in the hands of God our Savior, always in his hands. What a blessed place to be!


 

June 16

John 16:8

Day 168

‘He will reprove the world of sin’

Read John 16:1-14

When God the Holy Spirit comes to a man’s heart in saving power and grace, this is the first thing he does: he reproves, convinces and convicts the sinner that he is a sinner, deserving eternal damnation. Where there is no conviction by the Holy Spirit of sin, there is no saving faith in Christ. The Spirit of God so thoroughly convinces a man of his sinfulness that he gladly takes his place with the publican and cries, ‘God be merciful to me; I am the sinner.'

He convinces us of the fact of sin. We have sinned against God. In our father Adam we rebelled against God, we were born with hearts of rebellion and sin and we have chosen the path of rebellion against God. We are all sinners by nature, sinners at heart, sinners by choice and sinners by deed.

The Holy Spirit convinces us of the fault of sin. Our sin is much more than an act of evil against man. Sin is an affront to God. It is an attack upon the throne of God. It is a denial of God’s right to be God. Sin is a monstrous attempt to rape God, to rob him of his dignity and glory as God. ‘Against thee, thee only have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight.’

In conviction, the Holy Spirit convinces us of the folly of sin. It is the most foolish thing in the world that a man should sin against God. Sin is utter madness. What fool will dare to stand against the Almighty?

God the Holy Spirit convinces us of the filth of sin. He shows us that sin has made us loathsome and obnoxious in the sight of God. It has rendered both me and all that I do unacceptable to a holy God.

The Spirit of God convinces us of the fountain of sin. Sin arises from our own evil hearts, Sin is not so much what we do as it is what we are. Because man’s heart is a fountain of evil, it brings forth nothing but corruption, vileness and sin.

And the Holy Spirit convinces us of our sin. ‘The wages of sin is death. ‘The just reward of my sin is eternal damnation. But, blessed be God, he also convinces us of the forgiveness of sin in Christ.


 

June 17

Ephesians 2:5

Day 169

‘By grace are ye saved’

Read Ephesians 2:1-10

The entire work of salvation, all that is involved in bringing a sinner from the dungheap of fallen humanity into the eternal glory of heaven, is accomplished by the free and sovereign grace of God. ‘Works’ is a dirty word among believers. And ‘merits’ is a foreign word to God’s church, not found in our vocabulary. From the foundation stone to the top stone, we cry nothing else but ‘Grace, grace unto it.'

Language could not be clearer. Paul tells us that if any man is saved it is altogether by grace. It is written in the Word of God: ‘God hath saved us and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began.’ In Ephesians 1 Paul ascribes our salvation entirely to the three persons of the sacred Trinity.

God the Father planned and purposed our salvation. He chose us in Christ in eternal election. He predestinated us to sonship in eternal love. He made us accepted in the Beloved by his eternal decree. Salvation originated in the mind of God. He devised a plan whereby he could be just and yet justify the ungodly: he would do it by a divine substitution. He gave his only Son to be our Substitute. And he accepted the sacrifice of Christ for us.

Our salvation was purchased and accomplished by God the Son. Through his blood he paid our debt, satisfying the claims of the law against us. And that precious blood of Christ did actually wash our sins away, accomplishing eternal redemption for us. Then, in the fullness of time, God the Holy Spirit effectually applied that salvation to our hearts. He caused us to hear the gospel and receive it by faith. He sealed all the blessings of grace to our hearts. And he preserves us unto the day when Christ will claim his purchased possession.

Why has God chosen to save sinners in this way? ‘That no flesh should glory in his presence.’ And he has done it ‘according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace!’


 

June 18

John 1:42

Day 170

‘He brought him to Jesus’

Read John 1:35-51

Yes, salvation is all of grace. It is the Good Shepherd who goes out to seek his sheep. He finds them, and he brings them home. But according to his infinite wisdom and condescending grace, it is our Lord’s good pleasure to employ men in this heavenly work. Andrew was present when John said, ‘Behold the Lamb of God!’ And Andrew beheld him. Immediately Andrew went and found Simon and told him, ‘We have found the Christ.’ ‘And he brought him to Jesus.’ Andrew could not give Simon faith. He could not show him Christ’s glory. He could not save him. But there was something he could do: he could tell Simon what he had seen. He could tell Simon about Christ. And he could bring Simon to the place where he might meet Christ for himself. You know the result of Andrew’s effort. Simon was converted and he became the mighty spokesman of the early church.

Andrew never preached like Peter did. But had it not been for Andrew’s witness to his brother, Peter would never have preached either. Maybe you can’t preach. But you can be an Andrew. Go and tell men what you have experienced; tell them about the Christ of God. Then bring them with you to the place where they are most likely to meet Christ for themselves. Bring others with you to the house of God to hear a man preach the gospel of Christ.

I cannot believe that a man has tasted the honey of the gospel if he is content to eat it all by himself. Free grace compels a man to be generous. We do not want to feast on the riches of Christ by ourselves. We want to bring others to our Lord that they may enjoy his riches with us. You have a tremendous opportunity before you. How many people do you know who are perishing for a lack of knowledge? You have at your disposal tracts, articles, tapes and your own experience by which you can share the knowledge of Christ and his gospel. Who knows? Maybe God will be pleased to use you to bring another sinner like yourself to a saving knowledge of Christ.

What a glorious prospect! Let it inspire you to begin the work today.


 

June 19

Ephesians 5:30

Day 171

‘We are members of his body’

Read John 15:1-17

Child of God, can you begin to imagine what this text teaches? There is a living, loving and lasting union between the Lord Jesus Christ and all his people. It is beyond imagination, but it is true we are one with our Redeemer! What does this imply?

Certainly, it implies a similarity of nature between Christ and his church. By the incarnation our Lord assumed our nature. He is God the eternal Son. But he is also a real man. As a man, he lived in perfect righteousness, died as our Substitute, arose from the grave and reigns in glory. Ever rejoice in the eternal deity of Christ, but never forget that your Savior is a real man. And by the new birth, the Son of God has given us his nature. We are partakers of the divine nature’.  Christ bears our nature in heaven and we bear his nature upon the earth.

The text also implies an intimate relationship. We are wed to the God-man. We cannot understand this relationship, but we can enjoy it. Christ espoused us to be his bride before the world began. He redeemed us for himself. He prepared our wedding garments. He allured us into the wilderness and there won our hearts by his all-prevailing love. My God, my Maker, my Redeemer, my Savior, my King is also my Husband. ‘Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth; his love is better than wine.’

Again, the text implies a mysterious origin. As Eve was taken from the side of Adam, the church was born from the bleeding side of Christ, the second Adam. He died that we might live.

These words also imply a loving possession. We belong to Christ. ‘Ye are not your own, ye are bought with a price.’ For many years we were in the arms of another. But all the while we belonged to him who loved us, chose us and redeemed us.

Once more, our text implies a vital union. ‘We are members of his body.’ Those words imply much more than unity. They imply identity. We are one with Christ! He must have us. The Head cannot be complete without his body. The King must have his subjects. The Shepherd must have his sheep. This is a vital union. Christ must have his redeemed ones. And we must have him.


 

June 20

Acts 10:42

Day 172

‘He commanded us to preach’

Read Acts 1:1-11

Recently, I read an article in a religious periodical which suggested that one of the greatest problems in our churches is that we spend too much time preaching. What nonsense!

Our Lord’s last great command was this: ‘Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel.’ This was Paul’s dying charge to Timothy: ‘Preach the Word.’ And preaching was the one business of the great apostle’s life. He wrote, ‘Woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel.’ God never called anyone to discuss the gospel, to debate the gospel, or to refine the gospel. But he does call men, whom he has gifted and qualified for the work, to preach the gospel. And he sends them forth into the world for that one purpose. And he gives but one reason for doing so: ‘It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.’

Beloved, this is the one business of God’s servants. And it is not only the primary purpose for our assemblies, it is the only purpose. The local church is to be a sounding board for the gospel of Christ, nothing more and nothing less. Not all of God’s saints are gifted for preaching, but they all are engaged in the work. By their love, their prayers and their generosity, they hold up the hands of God’s servants.

I say this is the one purpose of the church with good reason: preaching is the means of salvation. ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.’ Preaching is the means of edification. God gives his church pastors according to his own heart, ‘for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ’.  And preaching is the means of sanctification. ‘sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.’

Well is it written: ‘How beautiful [greatly desired] are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!’ God save us from those who would turn aside his church from this great work. Let us press on, as the Lord enables us, preaching the gospel to every creature.


 

June 21

John 14:1

Day 173

‘Let not your hearts be troubled’

Read Isaiah 40:12-31

Sometimes I get weary and despondent. It appears that my labors in the gospel are vain. My preaching often falls upon deaf ears. The outward, visible results of our ministry are disappointing. Part of this despondency arises from sinful pride. The other part has its roots in sinful unbelief. These feelings of despondency are contrary to the gospel of the grace of God, dishonoring to Christ our Lord and damaging to the testimony of the gospel. Our Lord knew that as long as we were in this world, being weak and sinful men, we would be terribly prone to anxiety, self-pity and feelings of emptiness and uselessness. Therefore he gave us this gentle word of comfort: ‘Let not your hearts be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.’

Beloved, in spite of the way things often appear, you and I have every reason to be optimistic, encouraged, hopeful and confident regarding the work of the gospel. Our Savior, that one for whose honor we labor and whose will we seek to obey, sits upon the throne of universal dominion. He is the sovereign Lord and King of all things and he reigns in the serenity of total control. The gospel which we preach is his gospel. And it will not return to him void.

Our God and King is performing his will. Sometimes it does not appear, in our eyes, to be so, but God is doing, and will do, all his pleasure. He is governing all things according to his will. I do not know what the Lord’s purpose for me in this life is. But of this I am certain, God himself has sent me forth as his messenger in this generation, and whatever he intends to do with me for his glory, he will do it! I know also that God has a people in this world whom he is determined to save and God will save all his people. I do not know what God’s purpose and plan is for our generation, but I do know that in the end two things will ultimately be accomplished: all of God’s elect will be saved and Jesus Christ the Lord will be glorified. And whatever the Lord is pleased to do in the meantime will be best for me and best for all his people. We have no reason for despair, but every reason for expectation (1 Cor. 15:58).


 

June 22

Daniel 4:32

Day 174

‘The Most High ruleth!’

Read Isaiah 45:5-25

It requires only a casual reading of Holy Scripture to see that the God of the Bible is vastly different from the god of modern religion (e.g. Ps. 115:3; 135:6; Dan. 4:35; Isa. 46:9-10; Rom. 9:15-16; 11:33-36; 1 Tim. 6:15). The modern idea of God which prevails most widely, even among those who profess to believe the Bible, is that of a miserable failure. The god of twentieth century religion is a helpless, effeminate being who commands the respect of no truly thoughtful man. He is helpless, frustrated and defeated. The god being preached from the average pulpit is an object of pity rather than reverence. To say (as most do) that God the Father has purposed the salvation of all men, that God the Son died with the express intention of redeeming the whole human race and that God the Holy Spirit is now trying to win the whole world to Christ, when it is evident that the great majority of our fellow men are dying in sin and passing into a hopeless eternity, is to say that God the Father is disappointed, that God the Son is dissatisfied and that God the Holy Spirit is defeated. I have stated the issue in plain terms, but such must be the conclusions of modern theology. To argue that God is trying his best to save all mankind, but that the majority of men will not, let him save them, is to insist that the Creator is impotent and that the will of the creature is omnipotent. Such theology is not merely slightly off the mark, it is degrading to God and blasphemous!

The one true and living God is an absolute and universal Sovereign. His purpose cannot be frustrated. His power cannot be defeated. His will cannot be resisted. Anything, or anyone, that can successfully frustrate God’s purpose, defeat his power and resist his will by virtue of his supremacy would become God. This is what modern religion is attempting to do: it is attempting to do what Adam tried to do in the Garden of Eden - namely, to bring God down off his throne and exalt man to the place of Godhood. But, blessed be God, it will never happen. It is still true: ‘The Most High ruleth.’ His purpose will be done. His glory will be manifest in all his creation.


 

June 23

Romans 5:8

Day 175

‘Christ died for us’

Read Psalm 22:.1-15

The Word of God sets forth many precious truths which we love, to study and proclaim. Yet all the blessed doctrines of Holy Scripture may be summed up in one doctrine: substitution. The very first doctrine of the Bible, creation, can only be properly understood if we realize that all things were created by our Substitute. The doctrine of God’s providence is a wonderful and precious doctrine. And what is providence but the upholding of all things by the word of the power of our Substitute? We believe the grand old doctrines of eternal election and sovereign predestination and we are not bashful to proclaim them. But election is in the person of our Substitute. We are predestinated to be conformed to the image of the only-begotten Son of God, our Substitute. How we glory in the doctrine of the atonement! But if there were no substitute, no mediator between God and man, if there was no one who could satisfy both the needs of fallen man and the justice of a holy God, there would be no atonement. The doctrine of glorification causes our hearts to rejoice in the glorious expectation of the sons of God, but we could have no hope of future glory if there were no substitute into whose likeness we must be made.

The one theme of the Bible is substitution. Everything in the Bible either promises it, typifies it, or proclaims it. Every ritual of the Old Testament, every garment of the priesthood, every sacrifice, every article of furniture in the tabernacle, the tabernacle itself, all the laws of Israel, the temple, the temple service and the prophets of God all have but one message, and they all proclaim it clearly: ‘God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’ This was the message which God the Holy Spirit caused to flow from the pens and from the mouths of every inspired prophet and apostle. And if God is pleased to bless his church in our day, it will be through the proclamation of this message: ‘He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.’


 

June 24

Romans 8:34

Day 176

‘Who is even at the right hand of God’

Read Psalm 22:16-31

Because the Lord Jesus Christ humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, in order to redeem, pardon and justify God’s elect, he has been exalted to the throne of universal dominion at the right hand of God. Today the God-man reigns in sovereign serenity over all things. The purpose of his mediatorial reign is that he might give eternal life unto as many as the Father gave into his hands, as the Surety of the covenant, before the world began. Nothing can be more comforting to the believer’s heart than the fact of Christ’s exaltation and lordship. This is the basis of our assurance and confidence before God.

The exaltation of Christ assures me that my sin is gone. By way of divine imputation, our sins were laid upon Christ. He bore our sins in his own body on the tree. In his body our sins were nailed to the cross. Because he bore our sins, he died and was buried. Now the fact that he is risen and exalted to the throne of heaven is proof positive that our sins are all taken away. In the book of God’s law and justice not one sin is recorded against any believer!

The lordship of Christ assures me that all things work together for my everlasting good. In the covenant of grace the Lord Jesus Christ voluntarily assumed the responsibility for my eternal welfare, as my Surety. Now he has authority and power over all flesh and he governs all things with a sovereign and omnipotent hand to secure nothing but good for them who are the called according to his purpose.

The sovereign majesty of the Lord Jesus Christ assures me that all of God’s elect are safe. Not one of that vast multitude given to Christ in the covenant of grace and redeemed by him at Calvary will ever perish. The primary purpose of his glorious reign as Mediator and King is ‘that he should give eternal life unto as many as thou hast given him’.  Every believer is safe and secure, because our Head is exalted to the throne of heaven and where the Head is his members must also be.


 

June 25

1 John 3:5

Day 177

‘In him is no sin’

Read Psalm 103:1-12

The Lord Jesus Christ was manifested to take away our sins and in Christ there is no sin. Though he was made to be sin for us, our Lord had no sin of his own. ‘He knew no sin, neither was any guile found in his mouth.’ ‘He was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.’ In order for him to be a suitable sacrifice for sin, it was necessary that our Savior be without sin. The sinner’s Substitute must himself be innocent, righteous and holy.

Yet in order to redeem us from our sins and to justify us before God, the Son of God had to be made sin for us. By a legal transfer and imputation, the Son of God was made to be sin for us. Our sin and our guilt were imputed to the Lord Jesus Christ and God’s holy law exacted from him the just penalty of our sins. ‘He hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.’ ‘Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.’

And having taken our sins upon himself, suffering for us the just penalty of our sins, our glorious Mediator in heaven once again has no sin. That one who sits in heaven and makes intercession for us has no sin. We know and are assured that because he is perfect. He is holy. He has no sin. This is the basis of our assurance and confidence with God. We have a perfect Substitute and sacrifice whom the Father will accept.

But this text is speaking of those who are in Christ. He is telling us that in Christ we have no sin. In ourselves we are sinners. The old nature of sin is with us and will be with us so long as we are in this world. Anyone who denies this is a liar and makes God a liar. But before God, in the sight of God, those who are in Christ by a living faith have no sin. ‘He was manifested to take away our sins.’ And he has done it! ‘And in him is no sin.’ The all-seeing eye of God’s holy law sees no sin in the believer, because the believer has no sin.


 

June 26

Matthew 22:14

Day 178

‘Many are called’

Read Matthew 22:1-14

Here our Lord is talking about the general call of the gospel which goes out to all men every time the gospel is preached. There is an inward, divine call which is given by the Holy Spirit to all of God’s elect. This call of the Holy Spirit is always effectual and irresistible. By almighty, irresistible power the Spirit of God draws all of the elect to Christ. This call is given only to God’s elect, it always produces faith in Christ and it always results in salvation (Ps. 65:4; Rom. 8:28-30; 1 Cor. 1:21-24; 2 Tim. 1:9). There are many examples of this effectual irresistible call in the Scriptures (Matt. 4:18-22; Luke 19:5). But this is not the call mentioned in our text.

In this parable, our Lord is speaking of that call which goes forth in the earnest proclamation of the gospel. This call is universal and unconditional. We are ambassadors of Christ, sent to offer men terms of peace with God. The King himself has sent us to call his enemies to total, unconditional surrender. We have no authority to change his terms. It is surrender or die! This call is given by divine authority. Those who are truly sent of God speak to men in God’s stead! Because this call is given by divine authority, it is most urgent. God will not trifle with those who trifle with the gospel freely preached to perishing men by his servants (Prov. 1:23-33). And this call which we issue to sinners in Christ’s name is most sincere and gracious. If you will hear his voice and harden not your heart, God will save you.

Someone may say, ‘But, if only God’s elect will be saved, why preach the gospel to every creature? Why call upon all men? Why invite all?’ We preach the gospel to all men, because God has commanded it. The ground of our responsibility is not the decree of God, but the command of God. God has chosen to save his elect by the foolishness of preaching. We have no way of knowing who God’s elect are until they believe, so we preach indiscriminately to all. When I heave preached the gospel to all men, I am free from the blood of all men, and those who believe not are left without excuse. If they had believed, they would have been saved.


 

June 27

Matthew 22:14