Bulletin Edition December 2020

A solemn sham and an impudent mockery!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“Rend your heart — and not your garments!” Joel 2:13

Garment-rending and other external signs of religious emotion, are easily manifested, and are frequently hypocritical. True repentance is far more difficult, and consequently far less common. Unsaved men will attend to the most multiplied and minute religious ceremonies and regulations — for such things are pleasing to their flesh. But true godliness is too humbling, too heart-searching, too spiritual for the tastes of carnal men! They prefer something more ostentatious, flimsy, and worldly.

External religious rituals are temporarily comfortable; eye and ear are pleased; self-conceit is fed, and self-righteousness is puffed up. But they are ultimately delusive, for at the day of judgment, the soul needs something more substantial than religious ceremonies and rituals to lean upon.

Apart from vital godliness — all religion is utterly vain! When offered without a sincere heart, every form of religious worship is a solemn sham and an impudent mockery of the majesty of God!

Heart-rending is divinely wrought — and solemnly felt. It is a secret grief which is personally experienced, not in mere form — but as a deep, soul-moving work of the Holy Spirit upon the inmost heart of each believer. It is not a matter to be merely talked of — but keenly and sensitively felt in every living child of the living God. It is powerfully humiliating and sin-purging! But also, it is sweetly preparative for those gracious consolations which proud unhumbled souls are unable to receive! This heart-rending  distinctly belongs to the elect of God — and to them alone.

The text commands us to rend our hearts — but they are naturally as hard as marble! How then, can this be done? We must take them to Calvary! A dying Savior’s voice rent the rocks once — and it is just as powerful now. O blessed Spirit, let us effectually hear the death-cries of Jesus — and our hearts shall be rent!

“And hope makes not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us.” Romans 5:5


How the Scriptures speak of “a good hope through grace;” and call it “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil.” What a blessed grace must that be which thus enters into the very presence of Christ! How, also, the word of God speaks of it as the twin sister with faith and love (1 Cor. 13:13); and declares that it “makes not ashamed,” because it springs out of the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit!

Now we learn what “a good hope through grace” is, by being tossed up and down on the waves of despondency, and almost at times sinking into despair. Evidences so darkened, the heart so shut up, the mind so bewildered, sin so present, the Lord so absent, a nature so carnal, sensual, idolatrous, and adulterous–no wonder that amid so many evils felt or feared, the soul should at times sink into despondency. But at such seasons the blessedness of “a good hope through grace” is found; and when this anchor is cast into and enters within the veil, taking hold of the blood and righteousness of the great High Priest, how strongly and securely it holds the ship, so that it shall not be utterly overwhelmed in the billows of despair!

To wean you from a poor, unsatisfying world

(Octavius Winslow, “The Divine Attributes Entwining

 Around the Tempted and Trembling Believer”)

Reader, are you a child of sorrow?

Jesus is with His people at all times, in all places,

and under all circumstances. Consoling thought!

He is “God with us.” He is with us . . .

  to comfort us in the hour of sorrow,

  to enlighten us in the hour of darkness,

  to guide us in the hour of doubt and perplexity,

  to deliver us in the time of conflict,

  to support us in the hour of death.

O for faith to realize this!

He was with His three faithful servants in the fiery furnace.

He was with Daniel in the lions’ den.

He was with Jacob in his wrestlings at Bethel.

He was with John in his exile at Patmos.

Jesus is, at all times, in all places, and under

all circumstances—with His dear people.

Perhaps you are a son or a daughter of affliction.

You may now be passing through the furnace;

you may now be draining adversity’s bitter cup;

the rod of the covenant may be heavy upon you:

  friends unkind,

  the world empty,

  every thing earthly failing,

  faith weak,

  corruptions strong.

Is it so?

Still is your omnipresent Jesus with you!

Do not be cast down! This furnace is but to consume

the tin and burnish the gold; this cup of suffering is but

to work your inward good; these painful dispensations,

by which you are learning the changeableness of every

thing earthly, are but to wean you from a poor,

unsatisfying world—and to draw you near and yet

nearer to Jesus.

Then be of good cheer, for He has promised never

to leave or forsake you. So that you may boldly say,

“The Lord is my helper!”

“And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.” Philippians 3:9


Here are the two righteousnesses clearly laid down–in one or the other of which we must all stand before God–the righteousness which is of the law, and the righteousness which is of God by faith in Christ. But bear this in mind, that a righteousness to be available before God must be a perfect righteousness. This righteousness no man ever did or could produce by his own obedience to the law, for no man ever yet loved God “with all his heart and soul and mind and strength, and his neighbor as himself;” and if a man does not thus love God and thus love his neighbor, he is accursed and condemned already by that righteous law which curses “every one who continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.”

Now the Apostle felt that as this righteousness could not be yielded by himself as a fallen sinner, he must necessarily fall under the condemnation and curse attached to that holy law. Trembling, therefore, in his conscience, as feeling that the wrath of God was revealed against him, and all unjustified sinners in a broken law, and knowing that he must sink for ever under the terrible indignation of the Almighty, if he had no covering for his needy, naked soul but his own righteousness, he fled out of it to find justification and acceptance, mercy and peace in the righteousness of Christ. Thenceforth he “was determined to know nothing, save Jesus Christ and him crucified,” and Jesus became to him his “all in all.” When once he had been favored with a view of the righteousness of the Son of God, he wanted no other for time or eternity. He saw by faith the words and works of the God-man, and he beheld Deity stamped upon every thought, word, and action of that pure humanity with which it was in union, and thus investing them with a merit beyond all conception or expression of men or angels. He saw him by faith bearing his sins in his own body on the tree, and by his active and passive obedience working out a righteousness acceptable to God, and such as he and all the redeemed could stand in before the great white throne without spot or blemish.

As a traveler overtaken by a violent thunderstorm gladly flies to a house by the wayside wherein he may find shelter from the lightning-stroke and the sweeping rain; or as a ship threatened with a hurricane bends every sail to reach the harbor of refuge in time, so does the soul terrified by the thunders and lightnings of God’s righteous law, seek for shelter in the wounded side of Jesus, and hide itself beneath his justifying obedience. This righteousness is here called “the righteousness of God;” for God the Father contrived it, God the Son performed it, and God the Holy Spirit applies it; and it is said to be “by faith” and “through the faith of Christ” because faith views it, believes in it, receives it, and gives the soul a manifested saving interest in it.

Heaven has become a trifle to you, Hell is almost a jest, eternity an empty notion, and death but a bugbear!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“Many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able!” Luke 13:24

I do not wonder that so many are deceived, when I see the careless way in which they deal with their souls. When men have to do with their estates, they are very careful; they pay a lawyer to go back over the title-deeds perhaps for two or three hundred years. In trade they will hurry hither and thither to attend to their commercial engagements; they would not launch into speculations, nor would they run great risks.

But the soul, the poor soul—how men play with it as a toy, and despise it as if it were worthless! Two or three minutes in the morning when they first roll out of bed; two or three odd minutes in the evening, when they are nearly asleep—the fag-ends of the day given to their souls, and all the best part given to the body!

And then, with what indifference do you lend your ears too often to the preaching of the Word! It is an old song—you have heard it so many times. Heaven has become a trifle to you, Hell is almost a jest, eternity an empty notion, and death but a bugbear!

Alas! it is a marvel that there are not more deceived. The wonder is that any find the gate, that any discover eternal life, when we are so, so mad, so foolish, so insane—as to trifle where we ought to be solemnly in earnest; and to play and toy—where the whole heart should be given to a work of such everlasting importance. God help us, since it is so easy to be deceived—to search, and watch, and look, and test, and try, that we be not found castaways at the last!

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it!” Matthew 7:13-14

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” 2 Corinthians 13:5

The only effectual means for reforming mankind

(Letters of John Newton)

The Gospel of Christ, the glorious Gospel of the blessed God, is the only effectual means for reforming mankind.

To the man who possesses and knows the use of this grand, this wonderful machine, if I may be allowed the comparison—what is otherwise impossible becomes easy.

The Gospel removes difficulties insurmountable to human power.

It causes the blind to see,

it causes the deaf to hear;

it softens the heart of stone, and

raises the dead in trespasses and sins, to a life of righteousness.

No force but that of the Gospel is sufficient . . .

  to remove the mountainous load of guilt from an awakened conscience,

  to calm the violence of tumultuous passions,

  to raise an earthly soul from groveling in the mire of sensuality or avarice—to a spiritual and divine life, a life of communion with God.

No system but the Gospel can communicate motives, encouragements, and prospects—sufficient to withstand and counteract all the snares and temptations with which the spirit of this world, by its frowns or its smiles, will endeavor either to intimidate or to bribe us from the path of duty.

But the Gospel, rightly understood and cordially embraced, will inspire the slothful with energy and the fearful with courage. It will . . .

  make the miser generous,

  melt the grouch into kindness,

  tame the raging tiger in the bosom, and,

  in a word, expand the narrow selfish heart and fill it with a spirit of love to God, cheerful unreserved obedience to His will, and benevolence to mankind.

“Persecuted, but not forsaken.” 2 Corinthians 4:9


Whatever injury persecutors may do or attempt to do to a Christian, they cannot rob him of his God. They may destroy his body; they cannot destroy his soul. They may wound his reputation; but they cannot wound his conscience. They may strip him of all his earthly goods; but they cannot lay their unhallowed hands upon the treasure which God has lodged in his breast. Yes, all may forsake him as they forsook his divine Master; but God has said, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” Why, then, need we dread persecution for righteousness’ sake? If the Lord be on our side, whom need we fear? And who can harm us if we be followers of that which is good?

But bear in mind that it must be persecution for righteousness’ sake. Do not call it persecution if you are buffeted for your faults. Do not think yourselves persecuted if by your inconsistencies you have brought upon yourselves the reproach of men, or the just censure of those who fear God. But if your persecutions are brought upon you from doing the will of God from the heart, you will find the approbation of God in your conscience; no, you will find that your very persecutions will draw down more into your soul a blessed sense of the sympathy of your great High Priest, so that as your afflictions abound, so will your consolation.

Sad indeed it would be for the Church of God, if, amid her persecutions, the Lord added to the weight of her trouble by withdrawing from her the light of his countenance and the consolations of his sensible presence. But she never more sensibly reclines on his bosom than when he gives her to drink of his cup, and thus conforms her to his suffering image.

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