Bulletin Edition April 2018

Acts 9: 5, 6
Before the Lord saved Saul he was a pride-filled, ambitious, sinner lost in religion who would heed no one’s voice but his own. After Christ appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus and knocked him off his high horse the Lord called him by name and this was Saul’s two fold response, “Who art thou Lord?” and “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Until we have been saved from the great death, we are yet in need of God’s gracious operation in the mind and in the heart so that we see what we are and who he is. Have you been made to see yourself and your works as dung? Have you been made to ask, “Who art thou Lord?” Have you been made to tremble in amazement so that you say, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Have you been made to confess with Paul saying, “Yea doubtless, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God, by faith. If so, then rejoice evermore, brethren, for God has graciously granted you true faith and repentance. For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh (Philippians 3:3.)
Clay Curtis.

Acts 22: 9
God is a sovereign agent; his sacred Spirit bloweth when and where it listeth; “he will have mercy on whom he will have mercy.” Saul is taken, but, as far as we know to the contrary, his fellow-travelers are left to perish in their sins. They heard a voice, a confused noise, but not the articulate voice of him that spake to Saul, and therefore remained unconverted. Thus it is now under the word preached: many, like Saul’s companions, are sometimes so struck with the outgoings of God appearing in the sanctuary, that they even stand speechless; they hear the preacher’s voice, but not the voice of the Son of God, who, perhaps, at the same time is speaking effectually to many other hearts; this I have known often; and what shall we say to these things? O the depth of the sovereignty of God! It is past finding out. Lord, I desire to adore what I cannot comprehend. “Even so, Father, for so it seemeth good in thy sight!” George Whitfield

“I Was Alive Without the Law Once.” — Romans 7:9
When Paul says that he was alive without the law, he does not mean that he did not know the law. He knew and understood the letter of it very well. When Paul says, “I was alive without the law once,” his meaning is this – There was a time when the law of God had never come home to my heart and conscience. I did not know its spirituality or its demands.
Lost in Religion
Saul of Tarsus was a lost religious man. He was zealous, devoted and strict. He kept the law in its letter all the days of his life. But he was as lost as the most debased barbarian who ever lived in the darkest corners of Africa. Yet, he was totally convinced that everything was well with his soul.
Though he was dead in sin, he was full of religious life. He enjoyed a false joy, a false peace, a false confidence, rested in a false hope, a false faith, a false assurance and was deluded by a false security, possessing all that religious legalists call “evidences” of salvation. There are many things which support men and give them security in self-righteous religion. Saul lacked none of those things. Saul’s proud, self-righteous security made him very zealous in his religion. He looked down upon others with disgust and scorn. He held sinners in contempt. He became a ferocious persecutor. — O beware of self-righteousness! As soon as we think ourselves better than others, we become the judges of others; and the next step is to carry out our sentence upon others.
Spirituality of the Law
Self-righteousness stems from a failure to understand the spiritual character of the law of God. Paul tells us that he was ignorant of the law’s spiritual character (Romans 7:7). “Like the rest of the Pharisees,” John Gill wrote, “he thought the law only regarded the outward actions, and did not reach to the spirits or souls of men, the inward thoughts and affections of the mind.”
Uncleanness of mind in God’s eyes is as obnoxious as uncleanness of life. An unclean thought is adultery. Anger is murder. Covetousness is theft. Love of self is idolatry. Saul had the respectability and esteem of high office in the church. He was a Pharisee of the Pharisees. He came behind no one in matters of religious devotion. Read the third chapter of Philippians. Saul of Tarsus was a remarkable, highly respected figure in the religious world. He rested in a false evidence of God’s love and favor. He thought external reformation was an indication of inward grace (John 8:39-41). He strengthened his carnal security by comparing himself to those who were more profane and wicked than himself. He was deluded by that love of self, which causes a man to overlook his own faults and exaggerate the faults of others (Matthew 7:3-5).
Perfection Demanded
Saul of Tarsus was a man deceived with a wrong idea of God’s justice. He did not realize that the law of God demanded perfection and that the justice of God required an infinite atonement for every deviation from his holy law. Through all these things, the god of this world blinded his mind, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto him. Like so many today, Saul of Tarsus was a man lost in religion. His righteousness kept him from Christ!
Don Fortner

Let us not confuse Brashness with Boldness. What some want to believe is the offense of the gospel is just their own offensive personality. A martyr mentality is another form of self-righteousness.
Now, that being said, the gospel of God’s grace in Christ is offensive to the natural man. The unbeliever is always looking for affirmation of their own righteousness. The gospel not only withholds affirmation, but it declares all men’s righteousness as filthy rags before a Holy God. The Lord Jesus Christ is the “Rock of Offense”. He is the “Stone of Stumbling” which the builders rejected. I Pet. 2:7-8. The offense of the cross is to preach Christ in such a way as to give men nothing else to glory in. Gal. 5:11.
If the self-righteous are not offended at our message, we are seeking to please men rather than God, and we are not the servants of Christ. Gal. 1:10. -Greg Elmquist.

There Is A Remnant According To The Election Of God
“Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work” (Romans 11:5-6). I love that inspired expression, “According to the election of grace.” Everything believers enjoy, all the spiritual blessings that are given unto us are according to the Lord’s; eternal love, sovereign mercy and electing grace (Rom. 9:11-16; Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Thes. 2:13). Had the Lord Jesus Christ not chosen us we never would have believed the gospel (John 15:16; Acts 13:48). Had He not put away our sin according to the riches of His grace we never would have experienced the forgiveness of sin (Eph. 1:7). Had the Lord Jesus Christ not called us out of darkness unto His marvelous light we never would have seen the glory of His person (2 Cor. 4:6). Had the Lord Jesus not supplied all our need according to the riches of His grace we would remain a bankrupt sinner on the dunghill of works (Phil. 4:19).Thanks be unto God that salvation is all of grace not of works, but rather because of His will and His purpose in the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-9; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5). -Tom Harding

“It is true that I have sin in me, but it is pardoned. God has forgiven me all trespasses. I stand before Him in my Redeemer, Who undertook for me, and I am perfect in Him. The Father chose me in His Son: He looks upon the face of His beloved, and sees me in Him. In Christ He is well pleased, so He is with me! As He loves Christ – He loves me! This is the glorious privilege which by faith I now enjoy. I deny sight and sense, and I believe the Word of God! I adhere strictly to the Word of God concerning me, believing myself to be dead indeed unto sin in Christ, and in Him absolutely freed from guilt and condemnation. The Father is at peace with me, and He loves me in His Son, with the same love with which He loves Christ – His Father and my Father. With this persuasion I go to war with my corruptions. They are fighting against everything that is dear and precious to my soul. But having the promised grace of the almighty Savior for my help, I desire to set upon them in His name. I am at war with sin but at peace in Christ!” William Romaine (1714-1795)

“And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them.”—Isa. xlii. 16.
Never, surely, was there a promise of a covenant God in Christ more strikingly fulfilled as to what is said in the former port of this verse, than in thine instance, my soul. By nature and by practice, thou wert so totally blind to any apprehension of divine things, that not a right thought hadst thou ever conceived of God and Christ, when the Lord first manifested his grace to thy heart! No being in the universe was so near to me as God, but none so little known or understood. No heart was nearer to me than my own, but to all its errors and deceitfulness I remained the most perfect stranger! In the works of providence, as well as of grace, I had no consciousness whatever of any guide, nor even of needing a guide. Self-willed, wayward, and full of confidence, I was hastening on with the multitude, intent but upon one thing, “in making provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.” Pause, my soul, and look back! When I take a review of what is past, and trace’ the hand of the Lord, all the way leading me as have come on! am lost in astonishment in the contemplation of his mercies, and my undeservings. What a huge volume might be written of both, and in the margin to note down how they have kept pace together. My soul! If thou wert to read them by chapters only, what endless ones would they form under the several sections of the Lord’s love, his care,, his wisdom, his methods, and his grace, in the freeness and distinguishing nature of that grace; and as I read the Lord’s mercies, to note, at the same time, my rebellions! Oh! what a subject would the whole form, in proof of this gracious promise, in facing the wisdom, power, and love of God, in awakening, regenerating, converting, and confirming grace! Surely, Lord, thou hast indeed brought a poor blind creature, such as I am, in a way that I knew not, and led me in paths that! never should have known; and still, Lord, thou art graciously performing the same, in making darkness light, and crooked things straight. And shall I not, from the latter part of this sweet promise, derive a strength of faith, from all that is past, to trust thee for all that is to come? Hath the Lord been gracious when in a state of total blindness, to bring me by a way I knew not; and now, when he hath mercifully opened mine eyes to see his glory, and to love his name, will he not lead me still? Had he mercy upon me, when I asked it not, neither knew that I needed it: and will he refuse me that mercy now, when I so earnestly seek it, and know that without his grace and mercy in Jesus, I shall perish for ever? Precious Lord! give me faith to believe, to trust, and to depend! Thou, who hast done such great things for me already, whereof I rejoice, wilt never leave me, nor forsake me, O Lord God of my salvation!
Robert Hawker (Poor man’s morning and evening portions)

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