Tag Archives: Grace Gems

Take Heed What you Read

An appropriate follow up to the post Christian Nominalism and the Christian Bookstore:

By Arthur W. Pink 

“Take heed what you hear” (Mark 4:24): the word “hear” obviously includes what is read, for that which is written or printed is addressed to the ears of our intellect. Few people today realize the urgent need for “taking heed” unto what they read. Just as the natural food which is eaten either helps or hinders the body—so the mental food we receive either benefits or injures the mind, and that, in turn, affects the heart. Just as it is harmful to listen to the rubbish and poison which is being served from the great majority of present-day pulpits—so it is exceedingly injurious to the soul to read most of what is now being published. “Take heed what you hear” and read! But let us seek to be more specific.

The only thing which is really worth calling “religion” is the life of God in the soul-commenced, carried on, and consummated solely by the Holy Spirit. Hence, whatever does not bear the impress of the Spirit’s unction, should be rejected by the Christian: for not only can unctionless messages do us no good—but what proceeds not from the Spirit—is of the flesh. Here, then, is the test which God’s children ought to apply unto all they hear, and here is the balance in which they should weigh all that they read. True, there are varying degrees of the Spirit’s unction. As it is in the natural so it is in the spiritual—there will be a varying amount of wetness from the faintest moisture of dew—as compared to the copious shower. As there had to be “salt” in every sacrifice (Lev. 2:13), so every discourse or article proceeding from the Spirit’s aid, is “seasoned with salt” (Colossians 4:6). But O how very much today is devoid of spiritual savor and flavor!

Some of God’s dear people may suppose that it would be presumptuous to set themselves up as judges of what they hear or read—but that is a serious mistake, being both a false humility, and a shirking of duty. The Apostle rebuked the Hebrews because their senses (spiritual faculties) were not developed so as to discern between good and evil (Hebrews 5:13). With as much reason, might it be termed pride for anyone to pass judgment upon the groceries or meats purchased from the stores. Others may ask, “But how are simple and unlearned souls to distinguish between the different religious publications of the day?” Very simply: in sampling your natural food how do you determine whether or not it be seasoned? By your natural taste, of course. So it is spiritually: the “new man” has a palate too! If the God of creation has given us natural palates for the purpose of distinguishing between wholesome and unwholesome food, the God of grace has furnished His people with a capacity, a spiritual sense, to distinguish between nutritious and unwholesome soul food.

“Just as the mouth tastes food—the ear tests the words it hears” (Job 34:3). Does yours, my reader? Are you as careful about what you take into your mind—as what you take into your stomach? You certainly ought to be, for the former is even more important than the latter. If you eat some material food which is injurious, you can take a purgative and get rid of the same; but if you have devoured mental food which is injurious, it stays with you! “The ear tests the words it hears.” Again, we ask, Does yours, dear reader? Are you learning to distinguish between “letter” and “spirit;” between the “form” and the “power;” between that which is of the earth and that which is from Heaven; between that which is lifeless and unctionless and that which is instinct with the breath of God? If the answer is ‘No’, then you are greatly the loser.

How many of God’s dear children listen to the automaton “letter” preachers of today, and yet find nothing suited to the needs of their poor souls! And how many are subscribing for one magazine after another, hoping to find that which will the better furnish them to fight the good fight of faith—only to be disappointed? What they hear and what they read does not penetrate and grip—it has no power—it neither breaks down nor lifts up—it produces neither godly sorrow nor godly joy. The messages they hear or read, fall upon their ear like an idle or twice-told tale—it completely fails to reach their case or minister to their needs. They are no better off after hearing a hundred such “sermons” or reading through a hundred such periodicals, than they were at the beginning! They are no farther from the world—and no nearer unto God!

It is often a long time before God’s children are able to account for this. They blame themselves; they are exceedingly loath to say, “This message is not of God.” They are afraid to act in the spiritual, as they do in the natural, and condemn and discard that which is worthless. While they feel a lack of power in the sermons they hear, or the articles they read, and while their souls steadily get dried up like a potsherd—they are slow to realize that this is the inevitable effect of the unctionless preaching they listen to, or the unctionless literature they read; and that such dryness and leanness of soul is inevitable—by their association with unhumbled and empty professors. But in due time God opens their eyes, and they see through the flimsy veil and discover that both the sermons they hear, and the literature they read—are only the product of a dead profession!

Ah, it is a great thing when once the Holy Spirit teaches a soul—that it is power which is lacking from the lifeless preaching and lifeless articles of dead professors. It is power which the renewed soul seeks—a message which has power to search his conscience, to pierce him to the quick, to write it upon his heart; a message which has power to bring him to his knees in broken-hearted confession to God; a message which has power to make him feel that he is “vile”; a message which has power to drive him to Christ, for the binding up of his wounds, for Him to pour in “oil and wine,” and send him on his way rejoicing. Yes, what the renewed soul longs for (though at first he knows it not) is that Divine message which comes to him “not simply with words—but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction!” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Sooner or later, every Christian comes to value “power,” and to count as worthless, whatever lacks it. It is by Divine power, that he is taught in his own soul, by which he is made to feel acutely his sinnership, his carnality, his beggarliness. It is Divine power working in his heart—the same power which brought Christ again from the dead (Eph. 1:19, 20)—which draws his affections unto things above and makes his soul pant after God “as the deer pants after the water brooks” (Psalm 42:1). It is this Divine power working in him which reveals to his burdened spirit the Throne of Grace, and causes him to implore mercy and to seek grace “to help in time of need.” It is this Divine power working in him, which makes him cry “Make me walk along the path of Your commands—for there I find delight” (Psalm 119:35).

Those who are partakers of this Divine power (and they are few in number) can never be satisfied with a powerless ministry, either oral or written.

“Those who live according to the flesh—have their minds set on what the flesh desires,” (Romans 8:5). They are charmed with oratorical eloquence, catchy sayings, witty allusions, and amusing illustrations. On just such “husks”, do the religious “swine” feed!

But the penitent prodigal can find no nutriment therein! Men “of the world”—and they may be graduates from some “Bible Institute” or possessors of a diploma from some Bible Seminary, now styling themselves “preachers of the Gospel”—will speak of the things of the world and “the world hears them” (1 John 4:5). But those who are seeking to “work out their own salvation with fear and trembling” obtain no help therefrom, yes, they perceive clearly that such sermons and periodicals are “broken cisterns, which can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).

“Take heed what you hear” and read! More than forty years ago the saintly Adolph Saphir wrote, “I think the fewer books we read—the better. It is like times of cholera, when we should only drink filtered water.” What would he say if he were on earth today and glanced over the deadly poison sent forth by the heterodox, and the lifeless rubbish put out by the orthodox? Christian reader, if you value the health of your soul, cease hearing and quit reading all that is lifeless, unctionless, powerless, no matter what prominent or popular name be attached thereto. Life is too short to waste valuable time on that which does not profit. Ninety-nine out of every hundred of the religious books, booklets, and magazines now being published, are not worth the paper on which they are printed!

To turn away from the lifeless preachers and publishers of the day—may involve a real cross. Your motives will be misconstrued, your words perverted, and your actions misinterpreted. The sharp arrows of false report will be directed against you. You will be called proud and self-righteous, because you refuse to fellowship empty professors. You will be termed censorious and bitter—if you condemn in plain speech—the subtle delusions of Satan. You will be dubbed narrow-minded and uncharitable, because you refuse to join in singing the praises of the “great” and “popular” men of the day. More and more, you will be made to painfully realize—that the path which leads unto eternal life is “narrow” and that FEW there are who find it. May the Lord be pleased to grant unto each of us—the hearing ear and obedient heart! “Take heed what you hear” and read!

 

The Utilitarian Christ

 

tozerphtob(by A.W. Tozer)

Our Lord forewarned us that false Christs would come. Mostly we think of these as coming from the outside–but we should remember that they may also arise within the church itself.

We must be extremely careful that the Christ we profess to follow, is indeed the very Christ of Scripture. There is always danger that we may be following a Christ who is not the true Christ–but one conjured up by our imagination and made in our own image.

I confess to a feeling of uneasiness about this when I observe the questionable things Christ is said to do for people these days. He is often recommended as a wonderfully obliging, but not too discriminating, Big Brother–who delights to help us to accomplish our ends, and who further favors us by forbearing to ask any embarrassing questions about the moral and spiritual qualities of those ends.

Within the past few years, Christ has been popularized by some so-called evangelicals as one who, if a proper amount of prayer were made–would help the pious prize fighter to knock another fighter unconscious in the ring.

Christ is also said to help the big league pitcher to get the proper hook on his curve.

In another instance He assists an athlete to win the high jump; and in another case, not only to come in first in a track meet–but to set a new record in the bargain.

He is said also to have helped a praying businessman to beat out a competitor in a deal. He is even thought to lend support to a praying movie actress while she plays a role so lewd as to bring the blood to the face of a professional prostitute!

Thus our Lord becomes the Christ of utility–a kind of Aladdin’s lamp to do minor miracles in behalf of anyone who summons Him to do his bidding.

Apparently no one stops to consider that if Christ were to step into a prize ring and use His divine power to help one prize fighter to paralyze another–that He would be putting one fighter at a cruel disadvantage and violating every common instinct of fair play. If He were to aid one businessman to the detriment of another, He would be practicing favoritism and revealing a character wholly unlike the Bible picture of the real Christ. All this is too horrible to contemplate.

Theirs is a Christ of carnal convenience–not too far removed from the gods of paganism.

The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of Christ. To accomplish this, He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon. A holy man would not dream of asking God to help him beat an opponent, or win over a competitor. No man in whom the Spirit dwells, could bring himself to ask the Lord to help him knock another man unconscious, for filthy lucre or the plaudits of the vulgar spectators.

To teach that Christ will use His sacred power to further our worldly interests, is to wrong our Lord and injure our own souls.

We modern evangelicals need to learn the truths of the sovereignty of God and the lordship of Christ. Christ will not be manipulated by any of Adam’s selfish brood! We had better learn these things fast if this generation of young Christians is to be spared the supreme tragedy of following a Christ who is merely a Christ of convenience–and not the true Lord of glory after all!

 

*The above post occurred originally as a Grace Gem.  For more from Tozer – http://www.gracegems.org/29/treasures_from_tozer.htm

A Holy Hatred of Sin

 

Holy Hatred[1]

(Thomas Brooks, “The Crown and Glory of Christianity,
or, HOLINESS, the Only Way to Happiness”, 1662)

“I hate every false way.” Psalm 119:104

Where there is real holiness, there is a holy
hatred, detestation, and indignation—against
all ungodliness and wickedness.

A holy man knows that all sin strikes . . .
at the holiness of God,
at the glory of God,
at the nature of God,
at the being of God,
at the law of God—
and therefore his heart rises against all sin.

He looks upon every sin as a grieving of the Spirit,
as a vexing of the Spirit, and as a quenching of the
Spirit; and so nothing will satisfy him but the ruin
of them all. He looks upon every sin—
as a dishonor to God,
as an enemy to Christ,
as a wound to the Spirit,
as a reproach to the gospel,
as a moth to his holiness—and therefore
his heart and his hand are against every sin.

He looks upon every sin . . .
as that Judas who betrayed Christ;
as that Pilate who condemned Christ;
as those soldiers who scourged Christ;
as those spears which pierced Christ.
He looks upon every sin as having a hand in the
death of his Savior—and therefore he cries out,
“Crucify them all, crucify them all!”

Look! as every lion has his den, every dog his kennel,
every swine his sty, and every crow his nest—just so,
every unholy person has one sin or another, to which
his heart is engaged and married; and that sin will
undo him forever!

As Lysimachus lost his earthly kingdom by drinking
one draught of water—just so, many lose a heavenly
kingdom by indulging some one sin or another.
One flaw spoils the diamond,
one treason makes a traitor,
one wrong turn brings a man quite out of the way,
one leak sinks the ship,
one wound strikes Goliath dead,
one Delilah betrays Samson,
one broken wheel spoils the whole clock,
one dead fly spoils the whole box of ointment.

And as one bastard son destroyed Gideon’s seventy sons,
(Judges 8,)—just so, one predominant sin is enough to
destroy the soul forever. As by taking one nap Samson
lost his strength, and by eating one apple Adam lost his
paradise—just so, many men, by favoring one sin—lose
God, heaven, and their souls forever! He who favors any
sin, though he frowns upon many—does but as Benhadad
—recover of one disease and die of another; yes, he takes
pains to go to hell. Sin favored—always ends tragically.

Sometimes you shall have an unholy person
angry with sin, because it has . . .
cracked his credit, or
clouded his honor, or
hindered his profit, or
embittered his pleasure, or
enraged his conscience, or
exposed him to shame here and hell hereafter;
but never because . . .
a righteous law is transgressed,
a holy God is dishonored,
a loving Savior is afresh crucified,
or the blessed Spirit grieved.

A holy heart rises against sin because of its defiling nature.
An unholy heart rises against sin because of its damning nature.

A holy man is most afflicted with the evil which is in sin.
An unholy heart is most afflicted with the punishment which is due to sin.

A holy person hates sin because it pollutes his soul.
An unholy person hates it because it destroys his soul.

A holy person loathes sin because it makes against God’s holiness.
An unholy person loathes it because it provokes God’s justice.

A holy person detests sin because of the hell which is in sin.
An unholy person detests sin because of the hell which follows sin.

A holy heart abhors all sin.
An unholy heart is still in league with some sin.

[1] http://www.gracegems.org/07/03/hatred.html