Solatulip III

It is greatly humbling to read the Author’s apology for his book written by John Bunyan at the start of his since world-renowned The Pilgrim’s Progress (from This World, to That Which Is to Come; Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream), published in 1678:  https://www.ccel.org/ccel/bunyan/pilgrim.iii.html  In it Bunyan wisely infers that the mind, even the regenerate mind, does not exist in a vacuum and needs godly occupation to keep it out of trouble:

Neither did I but vacant seasons spend

In this my scribble; nor did I intend

But to divert myself, in doing this,

From worser thoughts, which make me do amiss.

Some say that a Christian has no business writing a blog, a worldly phenomenon designed to massage and indulge the ego; others that just like the explosive spread of the Printing press during the Reformation, the internet can be a mighty evangelistic, devotional tool in the right hands:

Well, when I had thus put mine ends together

I show’d them others, that I might see whether

They would condemn them, or them justify:

And some said, let them live; some, let them die:

Some said, John, print it; others said, Not so:

Some said, It might do good; others said, No.

It would be ridiculous presumption to equate the greatness and influence of Bunyan’s ‘scribble’ with my own.  Nevertheless I harbour a godly desire to align my creative ambition with his, and pray that through it some souls may be awoken, challenged, comforted, uplifted along their heavenward way, redeeming the time, because the days are evil (Eph 5:16):

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Solatulip III

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Perseverance of the saints 8

In John 6 we see the reality that the Christian world is divided between those who accept and understand the deep things of God’s word, and those who do not.  Many were offended at the Master’s teaching: … no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father (v. 65).  As at present, so in that day there was general antipathy towards our Lord’s much-maligned doctrine of election (a.k.a. Calvinism):  From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him (v. 66).

The Lord Jesus openly erodes all sense of human control and puts all the capacity and determination in God’s court where it belongs.  Those who are given to believe this are looked at askance by the mainstream (at best lightweight, at worst false) Christianity of the day, and so suffer various forms of disapproval and marginalisation.  To such the Lord asks … Will ye also go away? (v. 67), the reply revealing how fundamentally Christ-bound true Christians at bedrock: … Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life (v. 68).

The emphasis is put not so much upon the believer’s believing as upon the One being believed being eminently worthy and originative of such devotion.  As God has before time sovereignly elected a people for Himself, ergo these people will persevere through the rain, floods and winds of their lives, their belief an inevitable corollary of the faith which has been granted them:  And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God (v. 69).

Believers will find themselves being drawn more and more into holy preoccupation with the things of Christ, believing both that God has irrevocably … predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself … (Eph 1:5) and that there is a prayerful struggle for ongoing sanctification, a tightrope in which salvation is both a fait accompli and a work in progress:  Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Phil 3:13-14).

a plea

No tears of water do I cry

though inwardly each day I die

to sin residing still in me

to Satan daily willing me.

 

No evil do I cultivate

in sin I used to celebrate,

I seek to live beyond the veil

in Christ whose body did prevail.

 

Oh Lord please keep me, soften, guard

for how my heart soon groweth hard,

please bring me back when I do alter

let me be a living altar.

 

Oh dear Lord please guide my hand

please pen me in to holy land,

reveal to me Thy church’s wolves

include me in what Christ devolves.

Irresistible grace 8

While many might think that a mere encounter with Christ Jesus would make one an instant believer, Cleopas and friend were privileged to walk side by side the risen Saviour but only later came to realise who He was:  And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? (Lk 24:32).  It is not that their hearts burned merely by being in the presence of Deity, although this was certainly the case.  It was predominantly the powerful force of Scripture being applied to the heart by the Holy Spirit which was the source of their overwhelmment.

Speaking reverently, a beautified, speechless Christ embalmed in wood or a worldly, politicised Christ will not have this effect.  However, the royal, risen Christ communing with the awakened, penitent heart of a believer will.  Thomas is another example:  Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (Jn 20:24).  ‘They’ and indeed we have not literally seen Christ in the flesh, but have spiritually discerned Him in His word.  Whether in Psalm 22, Isaiah 9 or Colossians 1, it is the same Jesus who has been apprehended by the irresistibly drawn, elected soul.

And so it is today, if one dares to faithfully articulate and proclaim the righteousness of God and sinfulness of man in any forum other than a solidly Bible-believing congregation.  Man is totalitarian by nature, and if one refuses to Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse (Pro 1:14), then in worldly terms there is hell to pay.  I pray that many believers will be moved to pay this ignorantly termed ‘hell’, for the sake of those pitifully wretched lost souls who will one day have to pay its real price if they do not repent.  The true Saviour of this world is also its Judge, and He will not spare any who have persisted in spurning Him at every juncture:

Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; when your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you (v. 24-27).

He is love

To Cleopas then to Thomas,

Christ appeared then disappeared,

the Holy One who came as Jesus,

Maker of each hair, each beard.

 

But at first they saw not Him,

for He just went along with them,

as we are they were, just as dim,

as unprepared as Bethlehem.

 

Yet as God foresees all error,

He rebukes, reveals His plan,

always in love yet also terror,

knowing well the heart of man.

 

For Cleopas and for Thomas,

Christ gave up His life revered,

for them and us God came as Jesus,

righteous men plucked out His beard!

Limited atonement 8

It is futile to go looking for causality when considering the faith of a believer; one we know at our local church or one from the pages of Scripture.  When we look at Abraham, for example, no explanation is given as to why Nahor or Haran, his brothers in the flesh, were passed over and Abraham favoured.  If we look in, around, before, after that momentous verse of calling, there is nothing outside of the holy will of God that seems to have given rise to it:  Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee (Gen 12:1).

In the case of the apostle Paul, there is even a negative reason why he should not have received the gift of eternal life, and yet in God’s mysterious will … suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven (Acts 9.3).  In the case of Jonah there is no narrative build up but simply Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai (Jon 1:1).  In Peter’s case, the Lord used Andrew’s instrumentality: And he brought him to Jesus (1:42), there being a sense of a servant doing his Master’s bidding: And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone (v. 42).

And so it is not for us to know why some are saved while others are not, for it is … according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself (Eph 1:9).  We should be glad that some are saved at all; overjoyed that the number of the saved far exceeds our capacity for calculation:  … I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies (Gen 22:17).  The question, dear reader, is whether you are among the starry host, the sandy multitude of souls who are trusting in Christ alone for salvation, having reached the end of self.

Follow not

Follow not your heart but Christ

your heart’s deceitful above all,

if Abraham were not of Christ

he’d have refused Moriah’s call.

 

Follow not your heart but Christ

your heart is wretched, divided,

as Saul of Tarsus died in Christ

apostle Paul rose from the dead.

 

Follow not your heart but Christ

your heart is ticking as your clock,

if Jonah were not called of Christ

he’d have been happy, moored at dock.

 

Follow not your heart but Christ

your heart betrays a coward’s will,

as Peter was beloved of Christ

his mouth’s betrayal did not kill.