Bulletin Edition December 2023

We are no better than they

(John Newton’s Letters)

Jesus, full of compassion and tenderness, wept over
His enemies, and prayed for His actual murderers! A
feeling of this kind seems essential to that new nature
which characterizes the children of God; and where it
is not in habitual exercise, it is a sufficient evidence
that the soul, if truly alive to God at all—is at least
in a lean and distempered state.

When we look at the ungodly, we are not to
hate them—but to pity them, mourn over them,
and pray for them. Nor have we any right to boast
over them; for, by nature, and of ourselves, we
are no better than they

“For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?” 1 Corinthians 4:7

Idling life away like an idiot or a madman!

(J.C. Philpot, “The Soul’s Growth in Grace” 1837)

 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”                     2 Corinthians 5:17

When one is spiritually reborn, he sees at one and the same moment . . .
  God, and self,
  justice, and guilt,
  power, and helplessness,
  a holy law, and a broken commandment,
  eternity, and time,
  the purity of the Creator, and the filthiness of the creature.

And these things he sees, not merely as declared in the Bible, but as revealed in himself as personal realities, involving all his happiness or all his misery, in time and in eternity. Thus it is with him as though a new existence had been communicated, and as if for the first time he had found there was a God!

It is as though all his days he had been asleep, and were now awakened; asleep upon the top of a mast, with the raging waves beneath;as if all his past life were a dream, and the dream were now at an end. He has been . . .
  hunting butterflies,
  blowing soap bubbles,
  angling for minnows,
  picking daisies,
  building houses of cards, and
  idling life away like an idiot or a madman!

He had been perhaps wrapped up in a religious profession, advanced even to the office of a deacon, or mounted in a pulpit. He had learned to talk about Christ, and election, and grace, and fill his mouth with the language of Zion.

But what did he experimentally know of these things? Nothing, absolutely nothing!

Ignorant of his own ignorance (of all kinds of ignorance the worst), he thought himself rich, and increased with goods, and to have need of nothing; and knew not that he was wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

The greatest wonder in Heaven, or earth, or even in Hell!

(Charles Spurgeon, “Open House for All Comers!”)

“And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them!” Luke 15:2

Jesus receives sinners into His heart’s love! This is the greatest wonder in heaven, or earth, or even in Hell!

There is no marvel like the truth that He who ever lives, bowed His head to die for sinners; and having made atonement for sin, now receives the very chief of sinners into His heart’s love, and makes us His companions and his friends!

He takes us from the dunghill — and wears us as jewels in His crown!

He plucks us as brands from the burning — and preserves us as precious monuments of His mercy!

None are so precious in His sight, as the sinners for whom He died!

One of the remarkable things about growth in grace

(Todd Nibert)

“O what a wretched man I am!” Romans 7:24

One of the remarkable things about growth in grace is that the more you grow–the smaller you become in your own eyes.

In the first epistle Paul ever wrote, he was “the least of all apostles.”

He later wrote to the Ephesians that he was “less than the least of all the saints.”

Shortly before his death he wrote to Timothy, “I am the chief of sinners.” 

You will have a much lower opinion of yourself!

(John Newton)

Depend upon it–if you walk closely with God for forty years, at the end of that time you will have a much lower opinion of yourself than you have now!

You will understand something of . . .
  Abraham’s feeling when he says, “I am dust and ashes!”
  Jacob’s feeling when he says, “I am unworthy of the least of all Your mercies!”
  Job’s feeling when he says, “Behold! I am vile!”
  Paul’s feeling when he says, “I am the chief of sinners!”

This sacred teaching

All God’s people are sooner or later brought to this point in their experience—they are all brought to know their own sinfulness, ignorance, and helplessness. And when their eyes are thus anointed with eye-salve to discover their own wretchedness, the same unction from the Holy One reveals to them what Christ has done to save them from it! They learn by this sacred teaching, their own iniquity—and His atoning blood; their misery—and the bliss and blessedness which is secured up in Him! And when these two extremes meet in the quickened soul, it is brought in one and the same moment—while it debases itself—to exalt the Lord of life and glory! And while it thus sinks down in the depth of creature wretchedness—it learns to glory in the Lord Jesus alone, as its all in all.


None are too sinful, too base, too vile, or too far gone!

(Don Fortner)

“A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.
 Jesus said to him: Today salvation has come to this house!” Luke 19:2, 9

It is always profitable for our souls to read about the conversion of a sinner by God’s omnipotent grace. It is especially profitable to read and study the stories of God’s converting grace given to us in the pages of Holy Scripture. We should read them often and study them with care, asking God the Holy Spirit to teach us the wonders of His grace. When we read about these conversions, we find our hearts saying, “That is what the Lord has done for me!”

We see here the story of Zacchaeus’ conversion by the Lord Jesus. He was saved by omnipotent grace. What He did for Zacchaeus, He still does for sinners today. Never cease to adore and give thanks to God our Savior for His sovereign, distinguishing grace! He who has mercy on whom He will have mercy, has not left us to ourselves!
Grace Omnipotent
Zacchaeus’ conversion tells us that the grace of God that brings salvation is omnipotent and irresistible. None are too sinful, too base, too vile, or too far gone for Christ to save! His arm is not shortened that He cannot save. Oh, no! His mighty arm is omnipotent in the operations of His grace! None are beyond the reach of His omnipotent mercy!

Here is a notorious publican transformed into a saint.
Here is a rich man made to pass through the needle’s eye into the kingdom of God.
Here is a covetous man transformed instantaneously into a self-sacrificing philanthropist!

Our all-glorious, ever-gracious Christ is able to save to the uttermost! Here is a Physician before whom none are incurable! Yes, Jesus Christ still makes the lame to walk again and causes the blind to see!

Sovereign Election
Salvation comes to chosen sinners because the purpose of God according to election is sure. Like you and me, Zacchaeus was . . .
  a sinner by birth,
  a sinner by nature,
  a sinner by choice, and
  a sinner by practice.
But he was distinguished from all others in the crowd that day by God’s distinguishing grace, and effectually called because God had from the beginning chosen him to salvation.

O my soul, roll these things over in your heart day by day. Never lose sight of them. The Son of God had His eye upon you from eternity, just as He had his eye upon Zacchaeus.
You were chosen by Him in everlasting love! (Ephesians 1:3-4)
Your name was written in the Book of Life before the worlds were made! (Revelation 13:8; Luke 10:20)
You were one of those sheep given to the Good Shepherd by the Father from old eternity! (John 10:27-29).

In My Flesh Dwelleth No Good Thing

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  Romans 7:18

Not only Satan and false preachers, but our own flesh is an enemy of salvation by grace alone. Human nature always did kick against salvation by grace through faith and it always will. Even we ourselves, who know that Christ is our righteousness and sanctification, have to do battle with the urge to feel good, holy and wise; because of what we have done, given or learned. “Down, foolish thought, thou art the enemy of my soul.” “In my flesh dwelleth no good thing.” My one hope is pure grace, sovereign grace, grace unqualified! God blesses me because he is good, not because I am good. God saves me because he is gracious, not because I am gracious. God accepts me because of what Christ has done, not because of what I have done. Any good or grace manifested in me is not me at all, but Christ who dwelleth in me. I can take no credit for any act of mercy or any pure thought. Left to myself I would be no better than the most evil creature. 

Fred Evans 

If you wish to know if the gospel you are hearing preached is the gospel of God, ask yourself this question, “Who gets the glory?” If you wish to know whether your religious experience is of the flesh or of the Lord, ask yourself the same thing, “Who gets the glory?” Also, examine all your gifts, works, and missionary efforts by the same rule, “Who gets the glory?” God will not share His glory! That which is of God, from God, and for God’s glory will be blessed with His presence and power…“that no flesh should glory in His presence…that, according as it is written, he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:29, 31).                                                                                                          Henry Mahan

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