Bulletin Edition April 2023

A man is never so fit for believing as when he is most unfit. It is unfitness, not fitness, that is really required. What is fitness for being washed? Filth! What is fitness for receiving pardon? Guilt! If you are filthy, if you are guilty, you have all the fitness that is required. So, come and find in Jesus Christ all that meets your greatest need.                                                      ~Charles Spurgeon

Filled with folly, vanity, and vexation!

(Letters of John Newton)

August 28, 1779
My dear friend,
The days speed away apace! Each one bears away its own burden with it–to return no more. Both pleasures and pains which are past–are gone forever! What is yet future will likewise, soon be past.

Our final end will shortly arrive! O to realise the thought, and to judge of things now in some measure suitable to the opinion which we shall form of them, when we are about to leave them all! Many things which now either elate or depress us–will then appear to be trifles as light as air!
Only one thing is needful
to have our hearts united to Jesus in humble faith;
to set Him always before us;
to rejoice in Him as our Shepherd and our portion;
to submit to all His appointments, not of necessity, because He is stronger than us–but with a cheerful acquiescence, because He is wise and good, and loves us better than we do ourselves;
to feed upon His truth;
to have our understandings, wills, affections, imaginations, memory–all filled and impressed with the great mysteries of His redeeming love;
   to do all for Jesus;
   to receive all from Jesus;
   to find all in Jesus!

I have mentioned many things, but they are all comprised in one–a life of faith in Jesus!

We are empty vessels in ourselves–but we cannot remain empty. Unless Jesus dwells in our hearts, and fills them with His power and presence–they will be filled with folly, vanity, and vexation!

A religion that satisfies thousands

(Philpot, “The Cry of Jonah out of the Belly of Hell“)

“Having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.”
     2 Tim. 3:5

Much that passes for religion,
is not true religion at all.

Much that goes for hopes of salvation,
is nothing but lying refuges.

Much is palmed off for the teaching of the Spirit,
which is nothing but delusion.

Vital godliness is very rare.

There are very few people spiritually taught of God.

There are very few ministers who really preach the truth.

Satan is thus daily deceiving thousands, and tens of thousands.

A living soul, however weak and feeble in himself,
cannot take up with a religion in the flesh.

He cannot rest on the opinions of men, nor be
deceived by Satan’s delusions. He has a secret
gnawing of conscience, which makes him dissatisfied
with a religion that satisfies thousands.
A religious animal

(Philpot, “The Exercise and Profit of Godliness” 1850)

Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD.” Acts 17:22-23

Man has been called, and perhaps with some truth,
a religious animal. Religion of some kind, at any rate,
seems almost indispensable to his very existence—for
from the most civilized nation, to the most barbarous
tribe upon the face of the earth—we find some form of
religion practiced. Whether this is ingrained into the
very constitution of man, or whether it be received by
custom or tradition—I will not pretend to decide. But
that some kind of religion is almost universally
prevalent, is a fact that cannot be denied.

We will always find these two kinds of religion . . .
  false and true,
  earthly and heavenly,
  fleshly and spiritual,
  natural and supernatural.

Compare this vital, spiritual, heavenly,
divine, supernatural religion . . .
  this work of grace upon the soul,
  this teaching of God in the heart,
  this life of faith within
—with its flimsy counterfeit.

Compare the actings of . . .
  real faith,
  real hope,
  real love;
the teachings, the dealings, the leadings, and
the operations of the blessed Spirit in the soul
—with rounds of . . .
  superstitious forms,
  empty ceremonies, and
a notional religion, however puffed up and varnished.

Compare the life of God in the heart of a true Christian,
amid all his dejection, despondency, trials, temptations,
and exercises; compare that precious treasure, Christ’s
own grace in the soul—with all mere . . .
  external religion,
  superficial religion,
  notional religion.

O, it is no more to be compared than a grain of dust
with a diamond! No more to be compared than a criminal
in a dungeon to the King on the throne! In fact, there is
no comparison between them.
A human religion? (Horatius Bonar, “The Way Of Cain”) “Woe to them! They have gone in the way of Cain . . .”
        Jude 11 Cain is not an atheist, nor an altogether irreligious man. He acknowledges a God, and brings his fruits to the altar. But he brings no lamb, no blood, nothing that speaks of death. He comes with no confession, no cry for mercy. He has a religion, but it is self made; a human religion,
something of his own; without Christ, or blood, or pardon. Rejection of God’s religion, and of His Messiah; this is
“the way of Cain.” “Woe to them! They have gone in the way of Cain . . .”
        Jude 11
False religion (Horatius Bonar, “False Religion and Its Doom”) “I will lay the dead carcasses of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will
 scatter your bones around about your altars.” Ezek. 6:5 There is such a thing as false religion. It may be earnest and zealous, yet false. No amount of sincerity or zeal will make
that true, which is in itself false. False religion is the worship of a false god,
or the false worship of the true God. We worship the true God untruly when we
give him only half a heart, half a soul. Do not think that the utterance of some true
words, or the expression of a little sentimental
devotion, is the true worship of the true God. False religion is useless.
It profits nothing and nobody, either here or hereafter.
It is not acceptable to God.
It will not be counted a substitute for the true.
It does not satisfy the conscience.
It does not make the man happy.
It does not fill the heart.
It does not remove burdens.
It will not stand the fire.
It is but wood, and hay, and stubble.
The judgment will sweep it all away.
It is useless both for time nor eternity,
  both for earth nor heaven.  It is irksome and unprofitable, only cheating
the poor worshiper into the belief that he has
felt or performed something good and worthy. God abhors false religion.
It has not one feature that is pleasing to Him.
It is merely external.
It is untrue.
It is against His revelation.
It is dishonoring to Him.
It is self exalting.
It is pure mockery.
It is rottenness and death.
It is a mouthful of words, a handful of dust and ashes.
Therefore God abhors it. ” I will lay the dead carcasses of the children of Israel before their idols; and I will
 scatter your bones around about your altars.” Ezek. 6:5
It was not sects, or creeds, or doctrines, or
or ecclesiastical organizations!

(MacDuff, “A Chapter in Providence and Grace”)

It is not dead doctrine, dry formulated dogma
which the soul needs, but a living Being.

Paul thus exults, in what may be called a dying
testimony, “I know WHOM I have believed.”

It was not . . .
  or creeds,
  or doctrines,
  or churches
  or ecclesiastical organizations
that the dying hero clung to, in the
hour of departure, but . . .
  the glorious Person of the divine Immanuel,
  the living Presence of the ever living, ever loving Savior;
  the Brother,
  the Friend on the throne,
whom he had learned to love more
dearly than all the world beside!
Avoid the world’s religion!

The following is from Spurgeon’s sermon,
“Abram’s call. Or, Half-Way And All the Way”

Will you devote yourself to God and His cause
and truth? In matters of religion follow the Lord
fully. Let the Word of God be your sole and sure
rule and nothing else. That religion which is not
according to God’s Word is a false religion.

Accept neither doctrine nor ceremony for which
there is no Scriptural warrant. Search the Word
about it all, “to the Law and to the testimony,
if they speak not according to this Word, it is
because there is no light in them.”

Avoid the world’s religion!

For if there is one world worse than another,
it is the religious world. Be distinctly removed
from the religion which is based upon self-will,
pride of intellect, and worldly conformity.

The world’s religion is as evil
as the world’s irreligion.

Surrender to the plain teaching of the Spirit
of God and resolve in all things to follow
your Lord wherever He may lead you.

Stand alone, if others will not obey.

My brethren, if we thus separate ourselves
from the world’s religion, we must expect
violent opposition. Severe criticism will not
be spared us. Some will say, “The man is mad!”
Others more gently will murmur, “He is sadly
misled.” Many will accuse you of a liking to be
singular, or a weakness for going to extremes.
Having once made up their mind that you are
foolish and contemptible they will view all your
conduct through colored glasses and condemn
you up and down.

Be not dismayed but endure hardship for
the love of Jesus. The life of a consecrated
believer involves trials.

Avoid the world’s religion!

O you, who by Divine Grace are beginners in
the heavenly life, make a strong resolve to be
the servants of God and endeavor in all things
to obey Him.

We live here in this world as strangers and
pilgrims. We find little to charm us in this
foreign land. Our treasure is above and it
will be a joy for our souls to rise to the place
where our hearts already dwell.

If you are now separated unto Him, you
shall find your reward in that day when
He shall divide the sheep from the goats.
You shall be placed at His right hand to hear
Him say, “Come, you blessed of My Father.”

Avoid the world’s religion!

One of the most loathsome sights in the world!

(Don Fortner)

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals — but you do not take care of the flock!” Ezekiel 34:2-3

One of the most loathsome sights in the world, is a self-serving preacher!

No work is so great,
no labor is so noble,
no burden is so heavy,
no honour is so humbling —
as preaching the gospel of the grace of God to eternity bound sinners!

Let every man called of God to preach the Gospel, disentangle himself from the affairs of this world — with determined consecration to Christ, His Gospel and His Church, addicting himself to prayer, study and preaching.

“He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.” Colossians 4:7

“For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out.” Ezekiel. 34:11.

THIS he does at the first when his elect are like wandering sheep that know not the shepherd or the fold. How wonderfully does the Lord find out his chosen! Jesus is great as a seeking shepherd as well as a saving shepherd. Though many of those his Father gave him have gone as near to hell-gate as they well can, yet the Lord by searching and seeking discovers them, and draws near to them in grace. He has sought out us: let us have good hope for those who are laid upon our hearts in prayer, for he will find them out also.

The Lord repeats this process when any of his flock stray from the pastures of truth and holiness. They may fall into gross error, sad sin, and grievous hardness; but yet the Lord, who has become a surety for them to his Father, will not suffer one of them to go so far as to perish. He will by providence and grace pursue them into foreign lands, into abodes of poverty, into dens of obscurity, into deeps of despair; he will not lose one of all that the Father has given him. It is a point of honour with Jesus to seek and to save all the flock, without a single exception. What a promise to plead, if at this hour I am compelled to cry, “I have gone astray like a lost sheep!”


The separated life!

(Charles Spurgeon)

“Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate.
 Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach.
 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.”
     Hebrews 13:12-14

Jesus, bearing His cross, went forth to suffer outside the gate.

The Christian’s reason for leaving the camp of the world’s sin and the world’s religion, is not because he loves to be singular—but because Jesus did so, and the disciple must follow his Master. Christ was “not of the world”—His life and His teachings were a constant protest against conformity with the world. Never was there such overflowing affection for men as you find in Him; but still He was “separate from sinners.”

In like manner, Christ’s people must “go forth unto Him.” They must take their position “outside the camp,” as witness-bearers for the truth. They must be prepared to tread the straight and narrow path. They must have bold, unflinching, lion-like hearts, loving Christ first, and His truth next—and Christ and His truth beyond all the world!

Jesus would have His people “go forth to Him, outside the camp” for their own sanctification. You cannot grow in grace to any high degree—while you are conformed to the world. The life of separation may be a path of sorrow—but it is the highway of safety. And though the separated life may cost you many pangs, and make every day a battle—yet it is a happy life after all. No joy can excel that of the soldier of Christ; Jesus reveals Himself so graciously, and gives such sweet refreshment, that the warrior feels more calm and peace in his daily strife—than others in their hours of rest!

The highway of holiness is the highway of sweet communion with Jesus. It is thus we shall hope to win the crown, if we are enabled by divine grace faithfully to follow Christ “outside the camp.”

The cross of separation—will be followed by the crown of glory!

A moment’s shame—will be well recompensed by eternal honour when we are “forever with the Lord!”

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