Keep Thy Crown

“Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.”

~ Revelation 3:11

Hold fast the gift which divine grace hath already bestowed on thee; the loss of it were the loss of thy crown. This exhortation is made necessary by such facts as these: – There is a tendency in the mind to under-estimate the gifts already in possession, and to forget how absolute is the connection between present grace and eventual glory; and there is also a tendency to depreciate the power and subtlety of the adversaries… Hold fast that which thou hast of love, faith, patience, prayerfulness, humility, knowledge, courage, perseverance. It may seem a light thing to give way to an erring momentary impulse; but understand that in that moment a bold, unscrupulous hand was stretched out to snatch away thy crown.

~ Rev. George Bowen (1816-1888)

God Is Love

“God is love” ~ 1 John 4:8

God will always be most holy, most just, all knowing, all powerful, all sovereign, infinite, immutable, and eternal but if God is not love – how do any of those other glorious attributes relate to us? Without God’s love, how would fallen man come to experience any of His other truly majestic attributes? It is the attribute of love that brings God down to His creature. It is His love that moves Him to deal with us through the work of redemption, not only according to His justice, wrath and judgment, but also with forgiveness, mercy and grace.

In 1 John 4:8 we read God is love. Love is not so much an attribute of God as it is His very essence.  It is not so much a moral perfection of His being as it is His being itself. He would not be God were He not love. God has loved His people from everlasting, and therefore nothing about the creature can be the cause of what is found in God from eternity. He loves from Himself:  “according to His own purpose” (cf. 2 Tim. 1:9) and it was His purpose to reconcile sinful people to Himself through the atoning death of His Son.

It is one thing to talk about God’s love in an academic or intellectual manner, but I think it is also vitally important to know God’s love experientially. I know we don’t want to base our faith on our feelings, but at the same time, we don’t want to neglect such a great blessing as actually experiencing God’s love in our life. Remember, Jesus wept. It’s ok to be moved mentally emotionally and spiritually by the thought of God’s precious, sovereign gracious and everlasting love.

~ apl

Saved By Works

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.”

~ Matthew 5:17-18

Jesus spoke in many different ways about His divine purpose in coming to this earth. He spoke in terms of offering salvation and eternal life. He talked about gathering His people together, shepherding His sheep, tending to His flocks. But what He says right here in Matthew 5:17-18 is possibly the most important aspect of Christ’s redemptive ministry on earth – that is His perfectly fulfilling God’s Law. Because, without that, without the fulfillment of the Law, there is no redemption and therefore no salvation. So why then was it imperative that Jesus fulfill the Law of God in order to save sinners?

The reason why all are now under the curse of sin as a result of Adam’s Fall is because God did not set aside His law simply because of our failure. God did not destroy His command simply because of Adam’s inability and unwillingness to keep it. God’s holy Law abides and remains as our great moral standard. Why? Because God’s perfect Law is a reflection of His own perfect character. Therefore as through one man’s disobedience to God’s law we were all lost, it is through another man’s perfect obedience we have the way of salvation. Or to put it another way, we are most certainly saved by works, they are just not our own works, we are saved through the work of Jesus Christ in perfectly fulfilling the Law of God on our behalf.

Yet salvation, we must confess the Bible teaches is also by grace through faith too, isn’t it? And how is this? Because when you come to faith in Christ, God who is rich in mercy takes the perfect obedience of His Son to His Law and graciously imputes or accounts it as your righteousness as if as if you yourself had perfectly kept God’s Law your entire life. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t it impossible to fathom? Yet, that’s the grace God in of salvation – that the perfect unblemished work of Christ is applied to you when, by faith, you embrace Jesus Christ and His saving work.

We are saved by good works unto good works. As much as possible we are to imitate Christ. We are saved by Christ’s good work of perfect obedience to God’s Law which He came to fulfill and that He graciously imputes to us that we might in turn and with the help of the Holy Spirit, strive, however imperfectly, to do the good works of obedience ourselves. And we know we will never keep God’s law perfectly as Christ did, but God knows our heart, and He sees our motives and to Him, what the Scriptures seem to teach is that God earnestly desires from His people, not heartless cold outward conformity, but lives that are moved from a deep abiding heartfelt desire to love God and to fulfill all His Word.

~ apl

It Is Not Deep Words

“What doth it profit thee to enter into deep discussion concerning the Holy Trinity, if thou lack humility, and be thus displeasing to the Trinity? For verily it is not deep words that make a man holy and upright; it is a good life which maketh a man dear to God. I had rather feel contrition than be skillful in the definition thereof. If thou knewest the whole Bible, and the sayings of all the philosophers, what should all this profit thee without the love and grace of God? Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, save to love God, and Him only to serve. That is the highest wisdom, to cast the world behind us, and to reach forward to the heavenly kingdom.”

~ Thomas a’ Kempis

Christ, Our Portion

“In trial and weakness and trouble, He seeks to bring us low, until we learn that His grace is all, and to take pleasure in the very thing that brings us and keeps us low. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. His presence filling and satisfying our emptiness, becomes the secret of humility that need never fail. The humble man has learned the secret of abiding gladness. The weaker he feels, the lower he sinks, and the greater his humiliations appear, the more power and the presence of Christ are his portion.”

~ Andrew Murray

If At Any Time

“I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you.”

~ John 14:18

If at any time a soul be brought into a state of orphanage, and seem to itself separated from all grace and power and hope; let it lay hold of this word. It may have been fitting that it should have a taste of the misery of being without Christ, under a sense of the need of Christ; but a taste suffices: ” I will come unto you,” says Jesus.

~ George Bowen, Daily Meditations

Costly Grace

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)

The Lord our God

The Lord our God is but one only living and true God; whose subsistence is in and of himself, infinite in being and perfection; whose essence cannot be comprehended by any but himself; a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions, who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; who is immutable, immense, eternal, incomprehensible, almighty, every way infinite, most holy, most wise, most free, most absolute; working all things according to the counsel of his own immutable and most righteous will for his own glory; most loving, gracious, merciful, long-suffering, abundant in goodness and truth, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin; the rewarder of them that diligently seek him, and withal most just and terrible in his judgments, hating all sin, and who will by no means clear the guilty.

~ The London Baptist Confession of Faith II.I

All This Was Done

“But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”

~ Matthew 26:56 (NKJV)

The birth, life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was not some random cosmic accident. Mere chance had no hand in it. The redemption Christ brought to this world was the result of a glorious and eternal plan of salvation for a lost and dying world. Since the first man fell from righteousness and succumbed to the temptation of sin, mankind has desperately needed a Redeemer. Jesus is that Redeemer. All that was accomplished from His miraculous birth, through His sinless life, sacrificial death and justifying resurrection, was done that God’s Word, what the Lord had promised through the prophets of old, would lovingly, mercifully and gracious be fulfilled. May we embrace Christ and what He has done for us.

Amen