Godliness with contentment is great gain.

If a man is selfish and self-love prevails in his heart, he will be glad of those things that suit with his own ends, but a godly man who has denied himself will suit with and be glad of all things that shall suit God’s ends. A gracious heart says, God’s ends are my ends and I have denied my own ends; so he comes to find contentment in all God’s ways, and His comforts are multiplied, whereas the comforts of other men are single. It is very rare thay God’s ways shall suit with a man’s particular end, but God’s ways suit with His own ends. If you will only have contentment when God’s ways suit with your own ends, you can have it only now and then, but a self-denying man denies his own ends, and only looks at tje ends of God and therein he is contented.

Jeremiah Burroughs
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment, p. 90

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Temptation (17)

 

Now Owen cites several cases among believers where they entered into temptation:

Adam was the “son of God,” Luke 3:38, created in the image of God, full of that integrity,
righteousness, and holiness, which might be and was an eminent resemblance of the
holiness of God. He had a far greater inherent stock of ability than we, and had nothing in
him to entice or seduce him; yet this Adam no sooner enters into temptation but he is gone,
lost, and ruined, he and all his posterity with him. What can we expect in the like condition,
that have not only in our temptations, as he had, a cunning devil to deal withal, but a cursed
world and a corrupt heart also? Abraham was the father of the faithful, whose faith is proposed as a pattern to all them that shall believe; yet he, entering twice into the same temptation, namely, that of fear about his wife, was twice overpowered by it, to the dishonour of God, and no doubt the disquiet of his own soul, Gen. 12:12, 13, 20:2.
David is called a “man after God’s own heart” by God himself; yet what a dreadful thing
is the story of his entering into temptation! He is no sooner entangled, but he is plunged
into adultery; thence seeking deliverance by his own invention, like a poor creature in a toil,
he is entangled more and more, until he lies as one dead, under the power of sin and folly.
I might mention Noah, Lot, Hezekiah, Peter, and the rest, whose temptations and falls
therein are on record for our instruction. Certainly he that hath any heart in these things
cannot but say, as the inhabitants of Samaria upon the letter of Jehu, “ ‘Behold, two kings
stood not before him, how shall we stand?’ O Lord, if such mighty pillars have been cast to
the ground, such cedars blown down, how shall I stand before temptations? Oh, keep me
that I enter not in!” Behold the footsteps of them that have gone in.

On this account would the apostle have us to exercise tenderness towards them that are fallen into sin: Gal. 6:1, “Considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” He doth not say, “Lest thou also sin, or fall, or see the power of temptation in others, and know not how soon thou may be tempted, nor what will be the state and condition of thy soul thereupon.” Assuredly, he that hath seen so many better, stronger men than himself fail, and cast down in the trial, will think it incumbent on him to remember the battle, and, if it be possible, to come there no more. Is it not a madness for a man that can scarce crawl up and down, he is so weak (which is the case of most of us), if he avoid not what he hath seen giants foiled in the undertaking of? Thou art yet whole and sound; take heed of temptation, lest it be with thee as it was with Abraham, David, Lot, Peter, Hezekiah, the Galatians, who fell in the time of trial.

He goes on to say how foolish it is for us, in our day, despite the many warnings from God, and the sad experiences every day under our eyes, that we run into and put ourselves in the path of temptations.  In the company we keep and the circumstances we occupy we need to beware and not exhibit brash boldness but go forward with due regard and trembling.

Temptation (16)

Owen now compares and contrasts the entering into temptation of professors and true saints. He uses Luke 8:13, the parable of the sower, “They on, the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy, and have no root, but for a while believe.”

“Well! how long do they believe? They are affected with the preaching of the word, and believe thereon, make profession, bring forth some fruits; but until when do they abide? Says he, “In the time of temptation they fall away.” When once they enter into temptation they are gone for ever. Temptation withers all their profession, and slays their souls. We see this accomplished every day. Men who have attended on the preaching of the gospel, been affected and delighted with it, that have made profession of it, and have been looked on, it may be, as believers, and thus have continued for some years; no sooner doth temptation befall them that hath vigour and permanency in it, but they are turned out of the way, and are gone for ever. They fall to hate the word they have delighted in, despise the professors of it, and are hardened by sin. So Matt. 7:26, “He that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth that not, is like unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.” But what doth this house of profession do? It shelters him, keeps him warm, and stands for a while. But saith he, verse 27, “When the rain descends, when temptation comes, it falls utterly, and its fall is great.” Judas follows our Saviour three years, and all goes well with him: he no sooner enters into temptation, Satan hath got him and winnowed him, but he is gone. Demas will preach the gospel until the love of the world befall him, and he is utterly turned aside. It were endless to give instances of this. Entrance into temptation is, with this sort of men, an entrance into apostasy, more or less, in part or in whole; it faileth not. ” So it goes with the empty professor!-JK

John Owen treatise on Temptation.

Affliction

Covenant Evangelical Reformed Church Singapore, our sister church, shared this recently and I thought it worth repeating:

In our sojourn here as God’s children, we are not immune to the trials of life. Last Lord’s day in the congregational prayer we are reminded again of the trials of life that the people of God have to go through. We prayed for one beloved saint from our midst who was hospitalized with sickness. As we see the trials which God’s people have to go through, we call to remembrance the blessed Confession we hold to. We take great comfort especially in these two Questions & Answers of our Heidelberg Catechism.

Q. 26. What believest thou when thou sayest, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven
and earth”?
A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them; who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence) is, for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father; on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body; and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage; for He is able to do it, being Almighty God,
and willing, being a faithful Father.

Q. 27. What dost thou mean by the providence of God?
A. The almighty and everywhere present power of God, whereby, as it were by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures; so that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.
We are reminded here that all things come not by chance but by His fatherly hand. There is no greater comfort to go through our trials in this valley of tears, than with this knowledge and assurance that we are in the Father’s hand. Beloved let us lay hold on this truth.

Full Catechism here.

Available here.

Temptation (15)

 

Christ promises this freedom and deliverance as a great reward of most acceptable
obedience, Rev. 3:10. This is the great promise made to the church of Philadelphia, wherein
Christ found nothing that he would blame, “Thou shalt be kept from the hour of temptation.” Not, “Thou shalt be preserved in it;” but he goes higher, “Thou shalt be kept from it.” “There is,” saith our Saviour, “an hour of temptation coming; a season that will make havoc in the world: multitudes shall then fall from the faith, deny and blaspheme me. Oh, how few will be able to stand and hold out! Some will be utterly destroyed, and perish for ever. Some will get wounds to their souls that shall never be well healed whilst they live in this world, and have their bones broken, so as to go halting all their days. But,” saith he, “ ‘because thou hast kept the word of my patience,’ I will be tender towards thee, and ‘keep thee from this hour of temptation.’ ” Certainly that which Christ thus promises to his beloved church, as a reward of her service, love, and obedience, is no light thing. Whatever Christ promises to his spouse is a fruit of unspeakable love; that is so in an especial manner which is promised as a reward of special obedience.

John Owen.

I am unsure exactly what the Scripture here means but we know in every temptation there is a God-given way of escape (I Cor.3:10) and this church was spared the Great Tribulation which is yet to come at the end of time, if this is what it means. Whether we in the twenty-first century will escape this remains to be seen. If the hour of temptation means some horrendously powerful attempt by Satan to cause us to deny Christ (as Peter experienced) or  the three Hebrews with Nebuchadnezzar renege on our dutiful path (as with Christ in Gethsemane) perhaps we will escape such if we walk obediently-JK

The battle is the Lord’s

 

Our Bible readings today were 1 Samuel 17 and Acts 9 and providentially they could be linked. David, righteous and bold as a lion fearlessly takes on Goliath and kills him. He providentially comes to the Israelite camp just as Goliath parades about on his fortieth day.

Saul wreaking havoc in the early church is struck down by the risen Christ and converted instantaneously on the road to Damascus, becoming a champion in the spread of the gospel. The dominion of his old man who hated the gospel and God’s people was killed as he become by the Spirit a lover of God and his people.

In both instances the Lord worked by his Spirit powerfully, in the same way the ultimate victory was wrought at the cross when Satan was bruised under Christ’s feet who by the bold sacrifice of himself, destroyed the works of the devil and any claim he had on elect sinners both before and after Calvary.

Temptation (14)

“Lead us not into temptation ” Matthew 6:13

Continuing my summary and adaptation of John Owen’s treatise.

It is the great duty of all believers to use all diligence in the ways of Christ’s appointment,
that they fall not into temptation. I know God is “able to deliver the godly out of temptations;” I know he is “faithful not to suffer us to be tempted above what we are able, but will make a way for our escape:” yet I dare say I shall convince all those who will attend unto what is delivered and written, that it is our great duty and concern to use all diligence, watchfulness, and care, that we enter not into temptation; and I shall prove this:—

In the Lord’s prayer our Saviour taught of not entering into temptation,” when he said: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” If we are led into temptation, evil will befall us, more or less.

How God may be said to tempt us, or to “lead us into temptation,” I showed before. In this direction, it is not so much the not giving us up to it, as the powerful keeping us from it that is intended. The last words are, as it were, exegetical, or expository of the former: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;”—“So deal with us that we may be powerfully delivered from that evil which attends our entering into temptation.” Our blessed Saviour knows full well our state and condition; he knows the power of temptations, having had experience of it, Heb. 2:18; he knows our vain confidence, and the reserves we have concerning our ability to deal with temptations, as he found it in Peter; but he knows our weakness and folly, so then if we have any confidence in the wisdom, love, and care of Jesus Christ towards us, we must pray this.

Pilgrimage Feasts (4)

PILGRIMAGE FEASTS IN N.T.

 

Sung Psalm 132 (another pilgrimage Psalm)

Readings Acts 12:1-12 and 20:16

Harking back to Acts 2 why were the 120 there at Pentecost? We believe for two reasons, firstly keeping the law and secondly because Christ had commanded them to wait there.

Paul and the apostolic band are in Philippi at Passover (20:6), so they clearly were NOT keeping the O.T. law but DID observe the Sabbath on the first day of the week (v7). In the first instance (Acts 12) around the time Herod killed James, the feast of unleavened bread is mentioned just to give us the date. Secondly in Philippi the same feast is mentioned to again give us the time of year but then why would Paul want to be, if possible, in Jerusalem for Pentecost? This was not a necessity just a preference (he tarried twice vv4,10). This was about 58AD some 28 years after the Cross.

Possible reasons:

  1. Teach the Jews and proselytes (to Reform them gradually)
  2. Keep the Law
  3. Evangelism
  4. Meet the church (leaders)
  5. Christian liberty
  6. Just give us a date.

We believe it was for evangelism (albeit as a prisoner) and to meet church leaders.

Temperance (3)

More quotes from Langerak. “”Keep under means discipline..the intemperate Christian cannot run the Christian race. It is called running because it takes exertion. It is impossible to fulfill our callings apart from temperance. Temperance serves the athlete’s contest. He (Paul) teaches that intemperance is a sin.”

From “Walking in the way of love” by Nathan Langerak.

Available here.