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1  Theology / Bible Study / Sin Kills -- Christ Saves on: March 01, 2020, 02:39:56 PM
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Sin Kills -- Christ Saves

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam



The Bible clearly states that “as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law” (Rom. 2:12).

Some people overlook or forget the fact that entirely apart from the Law, sin kills. This is evident on every hand. Envy, hate, vice and profligate living dissipate the human frame and destroy it.

This is why so many in pagan lands barely live out half their lives. “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” entirely apart from law and judgment.

But Rom. 2:12 goes on to say that “as many as have sin- ned in the law shall be judged by the law.” Let’s think this through too.

Here, let’s say, is a man who begins to take narcotics. He gets deeper and deeper into drug addiction, and has to cheat and steal to get the money to buy more. Soon his life is ruined; he’s a human wreck — entirely apart from the law.

But now the law catches up with him and there is a new situation. He is taken to court and found guilty and sent to jail. This is the legal penalty for his crime, a crime which was destroying him anyway. So the Law is of no help to sinners; it only adds the just condemnation of sin to the natural — and deplorable — results of sin.

How wonderful, then, to know that the death of Christ is so complete a solution to man’s twofold problem! Romans 5 explains how Christ, at Calvary, came to our rescue, both in our helplessness and in the condemnation that spelled our doom.

    Ver. 6: “When we were yet without strength… Christ died for the ungodly.”

    Ver. 8: “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
2  Theology / Bible Study / Devotionals By J.R. Miller, 1895 on: February 19, 2020, 04:41:23 PM
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From Grace Gems - Free and Public Domain:
Devotionals By J.R. Miller, 1895
http://www.gracegems.org/19/literature.htm
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        September 25.

        "But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your calamities and distresses." 1 Samuel 10:19

        We are very quick to see ingratitude in those whom we have befriended, who forget our kindness and treat us unkindly. We like to quote in such connection, the fable of the serpent, frozen by the wayside, which the benevolent passer-by took up and put in his bosom to warm—but which returned his kindness, by striking its deadly fangs into his flesh!

        Let us be honest toward God. Let us judge ourselves in relation to his mercies and favors to us, by the same rule which we so inexorably apply to our fellow-men. What has God done for us? What mercies and favors have we received from him? From what adversities and tribulations has he delivered us? Are we saved? Are we on the way now to heaven and glory? Who forgave us our sins? Who rescued us out of the hands of Satan? Who keeps us day by day?

        There is only one answer. How, then, are we treating this Deliverer, Savior, and Friend? Do we recognize him as our King and Lord? Or are we rejecting him and demanding another? It is well that we sit down quietly, while this matter is before us, and see whether we are free from the sharp blame which the prophet here lays upon these ancient people. May it not be that we, too, are neglecting the God who has saved us?
3  Theology / Bible Study / Devotionals By J.R. Miller, 1895 on: February 19, 2020, 04:39:54 PM
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From Grace Gems - Free and Public Domain:
Devotionals By J.R. Miller, 1895
http://www.gracegems.org/19/literature.htm
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        September 24.

        "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights." James 1:17

        There are many good things that come to us through our friends. The father toils and saves, and leaves an inheritance for his children. Many rich blessings come to us through human affections. Hands are ever being reached out to us, hands of love and kindliness, offering us good things. We owe far more than we ever can estimate, to those who love us. The kindly ministry of friends, brings countless benefits to our lives.

        But everyone of these is a blessing sent to us from God. The human hands which bring them—are but the hands of messengers. This is only one of God's ways of sending his good things to us.

        James tells us also, that all that God gives us is good, and that every blessing of his is perfect. Sometimes we think that what we receive from God, cannot be good. We think he must have changed toward us. It is a loss or a disappointment, and it seems unkind. But in whatever form it comes, there is a blessing—some good is wrapped up in everything God sends to any of his children.
4  Theology / Bible Study / Devotionals By J.R. Miller, 1895 on: February 19, 2020, 04:38:52 PM
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From Grace Gems - Free and Public Domain:
Devotionals By J.R. Miller, 1895
http://www.gracegems.org/19/literature.htm
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        September 23.

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

        People have loose notions about sin. They think they can go on through life in disobedience of God's commands, and defiance of all moral laws—and then, by a single act of penitence, in a moment, have all the consequences of their sinning wiped out, all the effects in their own nature of lifelong evil habits reversed, and their character changed into saintly beauty and fitness for the kingdom of heaven.

        But the Bible does not teach this. Those who choose sin for their way in life—must eat sin's fruit. The fruit of trees drops off—but sin's fruits stay in the life and become part of it. One may sow common seeds, and others gather and eat the harvest; but the sinner must gather and eat the fruit of his own sowing.

        We are not through with our life—as we live it. Every act, every word, every thought, every choice, is a seed which we drop. We go on carelessly, never dreaming that we shall ever again see our deeds. Then some day, we come upon an ugly plant growing somewhere, and we ask, "What is this?" Comes the answer, "I am one of your plants. You dropped the seed which grew into me." Our lives are the little garden plots, in which it is our privilege to drop seeds. We shall have to eat the fruits of the seeds of which we are planting these days.
5  Theology / Bible Study / Daily Portions By Joseph C. Philpot, 1802-1869 on: February 19, 2020, 04:28:41 PM
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Daily Portions By Joseph C. Philpot, 1802-1869
From Grace Gems - Free and Public Domain:
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        January 4

        "Will you show wonders to the dead? shall the dead arise and praise you? Shall your loving-kindness be declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in destruction?" –Psalms 88:10-11

        This is not the language of a soul dead in trespasses and sins, but it is the breathing of a living soul struggling and grappling with death. What a difference there is, where there is life working in and under death, and where death reigns absolutely! between the quickened soul and that in which there is nothing but death--death without one spark of spiritual life, death without one ray of heavenly teaching. There is no groan, no sigh, no lamentation, no piteous inquiry, no pouring out of the heart before God, where the soul is utterly dead, any more than there is life and breath in a corpse in the tomb.

        But wherever spiritual life is implanted in the soul from the Fountain of life, that life groans under death. It sighs from out of the grave; it gasps for breath, under the corpse which overlies it; and seeks to heave itself up from that dead weight, from that overlying mass of carnality which clasps it in its rigid and chilling embrace; it endeavors to uplift and extricate itself from that body of sin and death which spreads its cold and torpid mass all round it so that it is unable to arise.

        Do you know the workings of spiritual life in this way? the heavings, the gaspings, the uprisings of the life of God in your soul, pressed, overlain, overwhelmed, and all but suffocated by that carnal, dead, barren, earthly, devilish nature, which lies as a weight upon you? Depend upon it--if you have never known what it is to gasp and pant and groan and sigh under the weight of a body of sin and death, you know nothing of the vital operations of the Holy Spirit in your conscience.
6  Theology / Bible Study / Daily Portions By Joseph C. Philpot, 1802-1869 on: February 19, 2020, 04:27:34 PM
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Daily Portions By Joseph C. Philpot, 1802-1869
From Grace Gems - Free and Public Domain:
Very Old - But Beautiful and Timeless Treasures.
http://www.gracegems.org/19/literature.htm
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        January 3

        "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." –John 12:32

        Wherever Jesus is graciously and experimentally manifested to the soul, and made known by any sweet revelation of his glorious Person, atoning blood, and finished work; a secret yet sacred power is put forth, whereby we are drawn unto him; and every grace of the Spirit flows toward him as towards its attractive center. Thus Jeremiah speaks of the saints of God as coming and singing in the height of Zion, and flowing together to the goodness of the Lord (Jer. 31:12). And thus Isaiah speaks to the church of God, "Then you shall see, and flow together, and your heart shall fear [or as the word rather means, shall 'palpitate' with love and joy], and be enlarged" (Isaiah 60:5).

        This view of Christ by faith is what the apostle speaks of to the Galatians, as Jesus evidently set forth before their eyes (Gal. 3:1). As thus set before our eyes, he becomes the object of our faith to look at, ("Look unto me and be saved, all the ends of the earth"); "the altogether lovely," to whom love flows; and the Intercessor within the veil in whom hope effectually anchors. As, then, the blessed Lord is revealed to the soul by the power of God, his glorious Person held up before the eyes of the spiritual understanding, his blood and righteousness discovered to the conscience, and his suitability to all our needs and woes experimentally manifested, the blessed Spirit raises up a living faith whereby he is looked unto and laid hold of, and thus he becomes precious to all that believe in his name.
7  Theology / Bible Study / Daily Portions By Joseph C. Philpot, 1802-1869 on: February 19, 2020, 04:21:51 PM
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Daily Portions By Joseph C. Philpot, 1802-1869
From Grace Gems - Free and Public Domain:
Very Old - But Beautiful and Timeless Treasures.
http://www.gracegems.org/19/literature.htm
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        January 2

        "Set up waymarks, make guideposts--set your heart toward the highway, even the way which you went--turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these your cities." –Jeremiah 31:21

        To look at the past is often a blessed encouragement for the future. If we are travelers in the way Zionward, we shall have our various waymarks. A conspicuous call, or a signal deliverance, or a gracious manifestation of Christ; a promise applied here, or a marked answer to prayer there; a special blessing under the preached word; a soft and unexpected assurance of an interest in the blood of the Lamb; a breaking in of divine light when walking in great darkness; a sweet sip of consolation in a season of sorrow and trouble; a calming down of the winds and waves without and within by, "It is I, be not afraid"--such and similar waymarks it is most blessed to be able to set up as evidences that we are in the road.

        And if many who really fear God cannot set up these conspicuous waymarks, yet they are not without their testimonies equally sure, if not equally satisfying. The fear of God in a tender conscience, the spirit of grace and of supplications in their breast, their cleaving to the people of God in warm affection, their love for the truth in its purity and power, their earnest desires, their budding hopes, their anxious fears, their honesty and simplicity making them jealous over themselves lest they be deceived or deluded, their separation from the world, their humility, meekness, quietness, and general consistency often putting to shame louder profession and higher pretensions--these and similar evidences mark many as children of God who cannot read their title clear to such a privilege and such a blessing.

        But whether the waymarks be high or low, shining in the sun or obscure in the dawn, the virgin of Israel is still bidden to "set them up," and to "set also her heart toward the highway, even the way by which she came."
8  Entertainment / Poetry/Prose / Patient waiting on: February 19, 2020, 03:54:05 PM
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Patient waiting

(James Smith, "The Believer's Companion in Seasons of Affliction and Trouble" 1842)

"But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." Romans 8:25

Patience supposes trials, difficulties, and burdens--it is a grace of which we have much need on earth.

The objects of our hope are . . .
  all future,
  all good, and
  all promised.

There is not an evil, but we hope to be one day rid of!
There is not a blessing, but we hope one day to enjoy it!

This present world is a land of hope.
Heaven is a land of fruition.

The highest object of our hope is perfect holiness, exact conformity to the Lord Jesus Christ--to be brought to such a state, that we shall glorify our God in every desire, thought, feeling, and action.

We hope for the period when we shall say:
farewell sickness--welcome perpetual health;
farewell sorrow--welcome everlasting joy;
farewell sin--welcome perfect purity;
farewell ignorance--welcome perfect knowledge;
farewell desertion--welcome the eternal presence of my God;
farewell death--welcome everlasting life!

Do we hope for these things? Then let us patiently wait for them.

The blessings we expect are worth waiting for--they are laid up for us in Heaven!
Faith believes the message respecting them,
hope longs to be put in possession,
love incites to grateful acknowledgments and holy walking,
ardent desire wants immediate enjoyment--
but patience is willing to wait. Her language is, "All the days of my appointed time I will wait, until my change comes."

Seasons of trouble seem long; but what are the longest seasons compared with eternity--an eternity of perfect blessedness?

Patient waiting insures an enlarged experience of Jehovah's love and goodness. Your present journey will lead you to a place of repose, "where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest." Your troubles will end well--everlastingly well!
9  Entertainment / Poetry/Prose / Do we want to be rulers of the universe? on: February 19, 2020, 03:52:31 PM
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Do we want to be rulers of the universe?

(Charles Spurgeon, "Flowers from a Puritan's Garden" 1883)

"He who will be his own carver, seldom carves out a good portion to himself. Willful spirits who attempt to control their own providence, entrench upon God's prerogative, and take the work out of His hands. Therefore, it is no wonder if He turns their wisdom into folly!"

It is God's business to regulate providence--and when we attempt it, we cause only confusion and trouble. Not only does the carver for himself get a poor portion--but he frequently cuts his fingers, and spoils his clothes, by spilling the contents of the dish.

Israel went into Canaan well enough--when the Lord led the way. But when the people presumed to go up on their own--they brought defeat upon themselves.

Just so, it is never well either to run before the cloud, or to stay behind it. In either case we may expect to fall under clouds of another sort, which will darken our way and becloud our peace.

Can we not trust the Lord with His own business?

Can we supplement His infallible wisdom--or improve upon His infinite goodness?

Have we not enough to do, if we earnestly endeavor to obey our Lord?
Are we tired of being His disciples and followers?
Do we want to be rulers of the universe?
Why do we strain after things too high for us, intruding into spheres which belong to God alone?

My soul, be still--God is at the helm, and He is well able to pilot the vessel. Keep your hand off the helm! Down with you, unbelief--what have you to do while God Himself provides for His people?
10  Entertainment / Poetry/Prose / A whore's forehead! on: February 19, 2020, 03:50:51 PM
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Very Old - But Beautiful and Timeless Treasures.
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A whore's forehead!

(Thomas Brooks, "The Privy Key of Heaven" 1665)

"You have a whore's forehead, you refuse to be ashamed!" Jeremiah 3:3

"Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all!
 They do not even know how to blush!" Jeremiah 6:15

They had sinned away shame--instead of being ashamed of sin. Continuance in sin had quite banished all sense of sin and all shame for sin; so that they would not allow nature to draw her veil of blushing before their great abominations. How applicable these scriptures are to the present time, I will leave the prudent reader to judge.

But what does the prophet do, now that they were as bold in sin, and as shameless as so many harlots; now that they were grown up to that height of sin and wickedness; now that they were above all shame and blushing; now that they were grown so proud, so hardened, so obstinate, so rebellious, so bent on self-destruction--that no mercies could melt them or allure them, nor any threatenings or judgments could in any way terrify them or stop them? The prophet goes into a corner, he retires into the most secret places, and there he weeps bitterly; there he weeps as if he were resolved to drown himself in his own tears. "I will weep in secret because of your pride; my eyes will weep bitterly, overflowing with tears." Jeremiah 13:17

In the times wherein we live, Hell seems to be broken loose, and men turned into incarnate devils! Soul-damning wickednesses walk up and down the streets with a whore's forehead, without the least check or restraint.

Ah, England, England! What pride, luxury, lasciviousness, licentiousness, wantonness, drunkenness, cruelties, injustice, oppressions, fornications, adulteries, falsehoods, hypocrisies, atheisms, horrid blasphemies, and hellish impieties--are now to be found rampant in the midst of you! Ah, England! England! How are the Scriptures rejected, God derided, and wickedness tolerated!

And what is the voice of all these crying abominations--but every Christian to his closet--every Christian to his closet--and there weep, with weeping Jeremiah, bitterly--for all these great abominations whereby God is dishonored openly. Oh weep in secret for their sins--who openly glory in their sins, which should be their greatest shame. Oh blush in secret for those who are past all blushing for their sins; for who knows, but that the whole land may fare the better for the sakes of a few, who are mourners in secret!
11  Theology / Bible Study / The Secret Of Spiritual Victory on: February 19, 2020, 03:48:06 PM
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The Secret Of Spiritual Victory

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


Believers in Christ have been made “free from sin” by grace (Rom. 6:14,18) in the sense that they need not, indeed, should not, yield to sin when temptation arises (Rom. 6:12,13). Believers have also been made “free from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2) for Christ, in grace, bore the death penalty for them.

But no believer is free from what Paul calls “the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom. 7:23), that is, the old Adamic nature, with its inherent tendency to do wrong. Nor is he free from the conflict with the new nature which this involves. If the Christian would be truly spiritual and deal in a scriptural way with the sin that indwells him, he must clearly recognize its presence; he must face the fact that while, thank God, he is no longer “in sin”, sin is still in him.

But this conflict should not discourage us, for it is one of the true signs of salvation. It is unknown to the unbeliever, for only the additional presence of the new nature, along with the old, causes this conflict, for the Bible says about these two natures: “these are contrary the one to the other” (Gal. 5:17).

But not only is this conflict within the believer a sure sign of salvation; it also creates within him a deep and necessary sense of our inward imperfection and of the infinite grace of a holy God in saving us and ministering to us daily in helping us to overcome sin. And this in turn gives us a more understanding approach as we proclaim to the lost “the gospel of the grace of God”.

Paul’s epistles show clearly that there is nothing that will so help us to overcome sin and live pleasing to God as an understanding and an appreciation of what He has done for us in Christ. As we are occupied with these “things of the Spirit” we find ourselves “walking in the Spirit”, and Galatians 5:16 says: “WALK IN THE SPIRIT, AND YE SHALL NOT FULFIL THE LUST OF THE FLESH”. How much better to have our lives transformed by occupation with Christ (II Cor. 3:18) and our position and blessings in the heavenlies with Him (Col. 3:1-3), than to assume the hopeless task of trying to improve the “old nature”; always engaged in introspection; always occupied with the flesh!
12  Theology / Bible Study / The Fruit Of The Spirit on: February 19, 2020, 03:46:27 PM
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The Fruit Of The Spirit

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


    “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22,23).

The “fruit of the Spirit” is that combination of graces evidenced in the lives of believers who “walk in the Spirit.” Let us never make the mistake of supposing that “the Spirit,” in Gal. 5:22,23, refers to “the spirit of man which is in him” (I Cor. 2:11). It refers rather to the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, who indwells believers. The spiritual virtues listed above do not spring from any goodness in us, but from the Spirit of God dwelling within.

Next, we should observe that these graces are not the product of human effort. The passage above declares that they are fruit, and fruit is the natural product of life and growth. Indeed, “the fruit of the Spirit” is here contrasted with “the works of the flesh” (Vers. 19-21), and these are all bad!

Finally, it is a remarkable fact that the graces which the Holy Spirit produces in yielded believers are certainly not those which the world admires. The world admires self-confidence, self-respect, self-made men, intellectual prowess, personal magnetism, authority, etc., while the Spirit produces “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” But consider the difference. A man may have self-confidence, intellectual acumen, political or other power — and he may still be very difficult to live with, but not so with the virtues which the Spirit produces. Of those who possess these graces the Apostle says: “Against such there is no law.”
13  Theology / Bible Study / Two Things We Know on: February 19, 2020, 03:44:56 PM
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Two Things We Know

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


In Romans 8 St. Paul points to two great truths which every true believer knows. The first (Verses 22,23) he knows by experience; the second (Verse 28) he knows by faith.

    Rom. 8:22,23: “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.”

The words “until now,” in this passage, are significant, for our Lord came to earth healing the sick, cleansing the lepers, making the blind to see, the deaf to hear and the lame to leap for joy. But He was rejected by sinful men and nailed to a cross.

After His resurrection and ascension His persecutors were given another chance, however, as Peter called upon them to repent so that “the times of refreshing” might still “come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19,20). But again the King and His blessed kingdom were rejected so that, in the words of Paul, the whole creation continues to groan and travail in pain “together until now.”

But in this passage the Apostle points out that even God’s children are not exempt from this suffering, for the most sincere believer, the most consecrated saint, must still partake of the sufferings and sorrows of the world while he waits for “the redemption of our body,” when “we shall all be changed” (I Cor. 15:51).

But while every believer knows about suffering and sorrow by experience, there is something else he knows by faith. Verse 28 speaks of this:

    “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”

The true Christian is not a mere optimist; he is a believer in God’s Word, and God has much to say about how He is working all out for the good of His own. We have room here to quote but two passages:

    II Cor. 4:17: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”

    Rom. 8:18: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
14  Theology / Bible Study / Gratitude Overflowing on: February 19, 2020, 03:41:24 PM
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Gratitude Overflowing

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam

Verse 9: "Persecuted, but not forsaken." The metaphor seems to be that of one pursued, harassed, by wild beasts. Constantly pursued by Satan's henchmen, plotted against, waylaid, hunted down, surrounded by enemies (I Cor. 15:32 cf. II Cor. 1:8), he was not abandoned or left to perish, for in life or in death, deliverance and victory were his (II Tim. 4:17; Phil. 1:20,21), so that spiritually he could say what Daniel said of his physical circumstances after a night in the lions' den: "My God hath…shut the lions' mouths" (Dan. 6:22).

"Cast down, but not destroyed." Evidently a metaphor from the boxing ring. In fight after fight, the count had seemed to pronounce the end--6,7,8,9! but God had again raised him up to go on fighting the good fight of the faith. The above phrase has been rendered, "knocked down, but not out"!

By this time the Apostle had already suffered almost constant persecution, as II Corinthians 11 tells us.

Five times he had received "forty stripes save one" (II Cor. 11:24). Why does not the record simply say "thirty-nine stripes"? Because the Romans had a law on their books which said in effect: "Don't give a man forty stripes; you will kill him." So they gave him "forty save one."

Three times he had been "beaten with rods" (Ver. 25), those terrible clubs that could break a man's spine or leave him terribly disfigured.

Once he was stoned (Ver. 25)--and left for dead, and who cannot see, as they read II Corinthians 11, that repeatedly his very life stood in jeopardy.

AMBASSADORS FOR CHRIST

It should be noted in Verses 10,11 that the Apostle bore in his body "the dying of the Lord Jesus…alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake." Why? Because, as an ambassador for Christ, he appeared before men "in Christ's stead," i.e., instead of the rejected Christ. Men would not have Christ, so the Lord sent Paul--and us--as His ambassadors.

In Colossians 1:24, he declares that he suffers to "fill up that which is behind [or still remains] of the suffering of Christ," for His Body's sake. He, of course, refers not to our Lord's vicarious sufferings, for these are complete and all-sufficient to save the sinner, but rather to the fact that our Lord, now glorified in heaven, is still despised and blasphemed and hated on earth. But who suffers this hatred? Paul did; we do! We stand before men "in Christ's stead." One of the greatest evidences that the present dispensation is "the dispensation of the grace of God" is the fact that the Book of Acts closes with the Apostle of grace in prison.

From Psalm 2 and Acts 2, it is evident that at Pentecost the stage was set, as it were, for the outpouring of God's wrath upon the nations--and the nation Israel. This was the next number of the prophetic program.

But God, so "rich in mercy," in "His great love wherewith He loved us" said, "Not yet!" and saved His chief enemy on earth, making him both the herald and the living example of His love and grace. And--mark well--when man declared war on God and threw His ambassador into prison, God did not make a counter-declaration of war, but left Paul in prison, to be beheaded by the enemy. Thus our Lord waits in grace, as a Royal Exile--waits to judge this world, meanwhile letting us, His ambassadors, take part in "the fellowship of His sufferings" (Phil. 3:10) as we plead with men to be reconciled to God.

    “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake, Having the same conflict which ye saw in me [at Philippi] and now hear to be in me" (Phil. 1:29,30).

But there is more: In II Corinthians 4:10, the Apostle declares that he bears about in his body "the dying of the Lord Jesus," that "the life also of Jesus" might be made manifest in his body. Remember, the Lord Jesus died and rose again, and, as Paul ministered for Christ, he did not only share "the fellowship of His sufferings" but also "the power of His resurrection." As men saw him preach the gospel, they did not see a whipped, defeated man before them, but one who was animated by the glory of the message of life which he proclaimed. Paul did not cower before death; he trusted in "God, who raiseth the dead" (II Cor. 1:9). He had been "in deaths oft" (II Cor. 11:23); he had to face it almost constantly, "always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in [his] mortal flesh" (II Cor. 4:11).

    "So then, death worketh in us, but life in you" (Ver. 12).

The idea is that his having been constantly delivered to death for Christ had borne its fruit in them. Death working in him had wrought life in them!

And he meant, by God's grace, to go right on proclaiming Christ and His grace, for he had "the same spirit of faith" as the Psalmist, who said (in Psa. 116:10), "I believed, therefore have I spoken" (Ver. 13). Unlike so many men of God today, who are dominated by "the spirit of fear," Paul declared: "We having the same spirit of faith…we also believe, and therefore speak" (Ver. 13). Paul had placed his trust, not merely in one who would keep him physically safe, but in the One who raises the dead! (Ver. 14). Long ago he had answered the college professors and their senior students who had come running up, all out of breath, scoffing that according to biology and half a dozen other sciences, resurrection from the dead is impossible! His devastating reply to them was simply:

    "Thou fool! That which thou sowest is not quickened [brought to life] except it die" (I Cor. 15:36).

"Look about you," he said: "Resurrection impossible? You are surrounded by it!"

Our Lord had said the same thing during His earthly ministry:

    "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn [grain] of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone; but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit" (John 12:24).

GRATITUDE OVERFLOWING

Back now to our original text:

    "For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God" (II Cor. 4:15).

Paul's heart often sang with thanksgiving for those whose hearts and lives had been changed through his ministry, but this thanksgiving was being--certainly was meant to be--multiplied in them: "that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God." "Redound," here, means to greatly exceed. God's abundant grace is enhanced by our thanksgiving! In Romans 5:20, "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound," or "exceedingly overflow," but here "abundant grace" is made to abound still more, or shine still more brightly, "through the thanksgiving of many." Indeed, the joy of heaven will be the gratitude of the redeemed for the infinite grace of God in saving and glorifying them!

It is God's eternal purpose "that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus" (Eph. 2:7) and it will be our joy to praise Him for His grace through all eternity.
15  Theology / Bible Study / Gratitude Overflowing on: February 19, 2020, 03:40:05 PM
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Gratitude Overflowing

by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


    "For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God." --II Cor. 4:15

It is said that the word "thanksgiving," in one or another of its forms, flows from the heart and pen of Paul more than 50 times, while in all the rest of the New Testament Scriptures it is found only 21 times. Since the size of the rest of the New Testament is about two and a half times that of Paul's epistles, this makes the ratio 6 to 1. That is, for every time some other New Testament writer uses the word, Paul uses it six times. This is probably correct, for Paul's epistles are indeed filled with thanksgiving.

DISRESPECT AND INGRATITUTE

What a contrast this was to the pagan world about him! Long centuries before, the Gentiles who "knew God…glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful" (Rom. 1:21). Their attitude was that of disrespect and ingratitude. The result:

    "…[they] became vain in their imaginations [or reasonings], and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image make like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things" (Vers. 21-23).

How superstitious and stupid intellectual man can be! Five hundred years of paganism showed its results in the great moral and spiritual depravity of the Egyptian dynasties. The Egyptians were intellectual people (Acts 7:22). They knew secrets that we moderns know nothing of. We do not know how they built their great pyramids and it is said that no engineer today would know how to build one. They knew also how to embalm their dead so that the mummies of many of their dead are still, after 3500 years, in existence in museums in Chicago, New York, London and elsewhere.

The Great Pyramid at Gizeh is a marvel of geometry, astronomy, and engineering, a permanent record of geometric facts, and a living proof that the ancients had an amazing knowledge of astronomy. Joseph A. Seiss calls the Great Pyramid "the oldest and greatest existing monument of intellectual man."1

But think of the superstition and fear involved in their worship of the hawk, the bull, the cow, the cat, the frog, the baboon, the jackal, the crocodile, and other beasts and reptiles! To these the Egyptians prostrated themselves, bringing them sacrifices to placate them when angry or ill-tempered. And to this we must add religious rites so vile that they are deeply repulsive to the Christian mind and heart. Little wonder, for five centuries before this,

    "God…gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves" (Rom. 1:24).

God did not instill unclean desires; He simply gave them up to "the lusts of their own hearts."

The record further states:

    "[They] changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator…" (Ver. 25).

Again, the results:

    "For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lusts one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly [Lit., shameful], and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet" (Vers. 26,27).

Ah, but surely all this had changed a great deal by the time of Paul, for it was then that the great Greek philosophers stepped forth, those men after whose wisdom modern western culture is said to be patterned. But was it so different in Paul's day? Listen to his not-very-complimentary description of the wise of his day, as they gathered at Ephesus, that seat of learning where the goddess Diana was worshipped. To the Christians who lived there, he wrote:

    "This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles [i.e., the unsaved Gentiles] walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart" (Eph. 4:17,18).

Again, the moral result:

    "Who being past feeling [Lit., calloused], have given themselves over to lasciviousness, TO WORK ALL UNCLEANNESS WITH GREEDINESS" (Ver. 19).

Had the pagan world changed so much by the time Paul arrived on the scene? Indeed, has it changed even since then? Have not pagan philosophies gained amazing headway even in "Christian" America? And have they not brought their sex-madness with them? Are there not millions here in America who "work all uncleanness with greediness"?

EARTHEN VESSELS

But how did Paul combat heathenism in his day? And how should we combat it in ours? First, we should recognize, as Paul did, that we are nothing in ourselves and that the power to bring light and salvation must come from God. Referring in the passage we are considering to "our gospel" (II Cor. 4:3), he says:

    "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us" (Ver. 7).

We do not put diamonds and rubies and other precious items in "earthen vessels." They are too fragile. They are too easily broken and crushed. Yet God has deposited "this treasure," the riches of His grace, in "earthen vessels"--us! Why? So that when hearts and lives and homes are changed by the gospel, it may be evident that the power was "of God, and not of us."

Some people think that Paul was "the strong, bold type," but not so. To these same Corinthians he wrote:

    "And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling" (I Cor. 2:3).

Nor was his moral background such as would inspire respectful attention. True, he had been conscientious and religious but, in his unsaved state, also ruthless and cruel, "breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord" (Acts 9:1).
Thus he says,

    "…I thank Christ Jesus, our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious…" (I Tim. 1:12,13).

Paul had been anything but faithful to God, to his Messiah, or to his people, but he was divinely enabled and counted worthy, as God entrusted him with the dispensing of the riches of His grace to a doomed and lost world. Thus, when these riches yielded great dividends, it was evident that the results were not due to Paul's oratory or his persuasive powers; they were of God, for the instrumentality employed in defending and dispensing this treasure was altogether disproportionate to the amazing effect produced.

SATAN’S ATTEMPTS TO CRUSH THE EARTHEN VESSEL

And now let us see how Satan, in the case of Paul, sought to crush the "earthen vessel." In II Corinthians 4:8-14 we have the story of the Apostle's struggles--and his victory in Christ. It is replete with metaphors, some taken from the Corinthian games, with which his readers were so familiar.

Verse 8: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed." The words "on every side," or "all around," are expressive. The Apostle was hard-pressed, as by a wrestler seeking to suffocate his opponent with his hold--yes, hard-pressed, but not crushed!

"We are perplexed, but not in despair." He himself testified that "we know not what we should pray for as we ought" (Rom. 8:26). But he was "not in despair," for he knew that the Holy Spirit does know what is good for us and pleasing to God (Rom. 8:26,27). What an encouragement the Spirit's intercession should be to us who likewise, so often, find ourselves not knowing how to pray! We need not "despair" that our adversary will succeed in crushing these earthen vessels if we simply trust God for the outcome.
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