365 days with Newton

23 DECEMBER

The blood of God

‘Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’ Isaiah 7:14
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Leviticus 16:6–22

The Messiah was not only to obey, but to expiate, to sustain and exhaust the curse due to sin (Galatians 3). In this attempt no mere creature could have endured. Nor could the sufferings of a creature have been proposed to the universe as a sufficient consideration to vindicate the righteousness of God in the remission of sin, after he had determined and declared that the wages of sin is death. Upon the same ground that the apostle tells us it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin, we may assert the same of the blood of man, or of angels, if angels could bleed. But the atoning blood is the blood of Emmanuel, the blood of God (Acts 20[:28])—of God with us [Matthew 1:23]. And no sinner obtains forgiveness in this way, but he obtains by it such a knowledge of the evil of sin, and of the displeasure of God against it, as teaches and disposes him from that hour to fear and forsake it.
Behold the character of the Messiah in this prophecy: a man, a God-Man, a divine person in the human nature, God manifested in the flesh, God with us [Matthew 1:23]. As fallen creatures we had lost the true knowledge of God and were unable to conceive of him to our comfort. His glory shines in the heavens and fills the earth, yet he is to us unknown and unnoticed. But he is known and found when the Messiah is known. To us his glory shines in the person of Jesus Christ the Messiah.
FOR MEDITATION:
That dear blood, for sinners spilt,
Farewell world, thy gold is dross,
Shows my sin in all its guilt:
Now I see the bleeding cross;
Ah, my soul, he bore thy load,
JESUS died to set me free
Thou hast slain the Lamb of GOD.
From the law, and sin, and thee!

         He has dearly bought my soul
         LORD, accept, and claim the whole!
         To thy will I all resign,
         Now, no more my own, but thine.

SERMON SERIES: MESSIAH, NO. 5 [5/6], ISAIAH 7:14

My Utmost for His Highest

December 22nd

The drawing of the Father

No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him. John 6:44.

When God draws me, the issue of my will comes in at once—will I react on the revelation which God gives; will I come to Him? Discussion on spiritual matters is an impertinence. Never discuss with anyone when God speaks. Belief is not an intellectual act; belief is a moral act whereby I deliberately commit myself. Will I dump myself down absolutely on God and transact on what He says? If I will, I shall find I am based on Reality that is as sure as God’s throne.
In preaching the gospel, always push an issue of will. Belief must be the will to believe. There must be a surrender of the will, not a surrender to persuasive power; a deliberate launching forth on God and on what He says until I am no longer confident in what I have done, I am confident only in God. The hindrance is that I will not trust God, but only my mental understanding. As far as feelings go, I must stake all blindly: I must will to believe, and this can never be done without a violent effort on my part to dissociate myself from my old ways of looking at things, and by putting myself right over on to Him.
Every man is made to reach out beyond his grasp. It is God Who draws me, and my relationship with Him in the first place is a personal one, not an intellectual one. I am introduced into the relationship by the miracle of God and my own will to believe, then I begin to get an intelligent appreciation and understanding of the wonder of the transaction.

Streams in the Desert

December 22

“Lo, a horror of great darkness fell upon him.” (Gen. 15:12.)

THE sun at last went down, and the swift, eastern night cast its heavy veil over the scene. Worn out with the mental conflict, the watchings, and the exertions of the day, Abraham fell into a deep sleep, and in that sleep his soul was oppressed with a dense and dreadful darkness, such as almost stifled him, and lay like a night mare upon his heart. Do you understand something of the horror of that darkness? When some terrible sorrow which seems so hard to reconcile with perfect love, crushes down upon the soul, wringing from it all its peaceful rest in the pitifulness of God, and launching it on a sea unlit by a ray of hope; when unkindness, and cruelty maltreat the trusting heart, till it begins to doubt whether there be a God overhead who can see and still permit—these know something of the “horror of great darkness.” It is thus that human life is made up; brightness and gloom; shadow and sun; long tracks of cloud, succeeded by brilliant glints of light, and amid all Divine justice is working out its own schemes, affecting others equally with the individual soul which seems the subject of special discipline. O ye who are filled with the horror of great darkness because of God’s dealings with mankind, learn to trust that infallible wisdom, which is co-assessor with immutable justice; and know that He who passed through the horror of the darkness of Calvary, with the cry of forsakenness, is ready to bear you company through the valley of the shadow of death till you see the sun shining upon its further side. Let us, by our Fore-runner, send forward our anchor, Hope, within the veil that parts us from the unseen; where it will grapple in ground and will not yield, but hold until the day dawns, and we follow it into the haven guaranteed to us by God’s immutable counsel.
—F. B. Meyer.
The disciples thought that that angry sea separated them from Jesus. Nay, some of them thought worse than that; they thought that the trouble that had come upon them was a sign that Jesus had forgotten all about them, and did not care for them. Oh, dear friend, that is when troubles have a sting, when the devil whispers, “God has forgotten you; God has forsaken you”; when your unbelieving heart cries as Gideon cried, “If the Lord be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” The evil has come upon you to bring the Lord nearer to you. The evil has not come upon you to separate you from Jesus, but to make you cling to Him more faithfully, more tenaciously, more simply.—F. S. Webster, M. A.
Never should we so abandon ourselves to God as when He seems to have abandoned us. Let us enjoy light and consolation when it is His pleasure to give it to us, but let us not attach ourselves to His gifts, but to Himself; and when He plunges us into the night of pure faith, let us still press on through the agonizing darkness.

Oh, for faith that brings the triumph
  When defeat seems strangely near!
Oh, for faith that brings the triumph
  Into victory’s ringing cheer—
Faith triumphant; knowing not defeat or fear.

—Herbert Booth.

365 days with Newton

22 DECEMBER (POSSIBLY PREACHED JANUARY 1768)

The shadow of a great Rock

‘And a man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.’ Isaiah 32:2
SUGGESTED FURTHER READING: Isaiah 25:1–8

This text is a comment upon Christ is all in all [Colossians 3:11]. In him his people find a hiding place where they cannot be found, a foundation from which they cannot be shaken off, streams of life and refreshment which cannot be dried up, and a sweet repose when everything is unquiet about them.
The shadow of a great rock. The allusion seems to travelling or toiling in the heat of the sun—a welcome shadow to such who are faint and weary. The believer has many weary hours—weary of himself, of the world, of affliction, especially when afflictions are many, sharp, long-continued. Indeed this heat would be insupportable without a shade. But Jesus is a great rock through which the sun’s beams cannot pierce—hence called a shield. But how?
(i) By the knowledge he gives of himself, in his characters and relations.
(ii) By putting power with the promises.
(iii) By sanctifying afflictions so that though not joyous but grievous, they yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness.
(iv) By enabling them to look forward to the end, as Revelation 2:10.
Now this [man] is compared to the shadow of a rock to show its closeness. In other respects he is compared to a tree, affording not only shade, but fruit (Song of Solomon 2:[3]). Those who dwell under this shadow shall revive.
Unbelievers are exposed to the heat. Their troubles meet them without support and leave them without a blessing, therefore miserable here, and lost hereafter—when the heat of the Lord’s anger shall be as a burning oven.
FOR MEDITATION: The Refuge, River, and Rock of the Church
This land, through which his pilgrims go,
When troubles, like a burning sun,
Is desolate and dry;
Beat heavy on their head;
But streams of grace from him o’erflow
To this almighty Rock they run,
Their thirst to satisfy.
And find a pleasing shade.

SERMON SERIES: ISAIAH 32:2, NO. 4 [1/1]

My Utmost for His Highest

December 21st

Experience or revelation

We have received … the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. 1 Cor. 2:12.

Reality is Redemption, not my experience of Redemption; but Redemption has no meaning for me until it speaks the language of my conscious life. When I am born again, the Spirit of God takes me right out of myself and my experiences, and identifies me with Jesus Christ. If I am left with my experiences, my experiences have not been produced by Redemption. The proof that they are produced by Redemption is that I am led out of myself all the time; I no longer pay any attention to my experiences as the ground of Reality, but only to the Reality which produced the experiences. My experiences are not worth anything unless they keep me at the Source, Jesus Christ.
If you try to dam up the Holy Spirit in you to produce subjective experiences, you will find that He will burst all bounds and take you back again to the historic Christ. Never nourish an experience which has not God as its Source, and faith in God as its result. If you do, your experience is anti-Christian, no matter what visions you may have had. Is Jesus Christ Lord of your experiences, or do you try to lord it over Him? Is any experience dearer to you than your Lord? He must be Lord over you, and you must not pay attention to any experience over which He is not Lord. There comes a time when God will make you impatient with your own experience—‘I do not care what I experience; I am sure of Him.’
Be ruthless with yourself if you are given to talking about the experiences you have had. Faith that is sure of itself is not faith; faith that is sure of God is the only faith there is.

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