Tag Archive | Fellowship

Communion With A Promising God

Ezra Orion, Stairs to the Sky (2531527122)

Robert Traill (Stedfast Adherence to the Profession of our Faith), Works 3:48:

All the enjoyment we have of God in this life, is enjoying of him as a promising God. Pray now which way is it that there is that intercourse, and that familiarity, that mutual dealing between God and us, that is called by those blessed names in the word: fellowship with him, enjoyment of him, finding of him? All stands in this: we approach to God by the warrant of his promise; he draws near to us according to his promise, and in the fulfilment of it. The promise is as it were Jacob’s ladder, by which God comes down to us, and we rise up to him again. The communion which believers have on earth is with God as a promising God; and the communion the glorified have with him above, is with God as a performing God; and, if I may so speak, until God has performed all he has promised, he must never lose the name of a promising God to a believer.

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/the-enjoyment-of-god-as-a-promising-god.91973/, Comment 1

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The Uniting, Cementing Principle

Hugh Binning, Works, p. 292:

If we were once enrolled in this blessed fellowship with the Father and the Son, then it follows, as a fruit and result of this, that we should have fellowship one with another. And truly the more unity with God, the more unity among ourselves: for he is the uniting, cementing principle, he is the centre of all Christians; and as lines, the farther they are from the centre, the farther distant they are from one another, so the distance and elongation of souls from God sets them at further distance amongst themselves. The nearer we come every one to Jesus Christ, the nearer we join in affection one to another; and this is imported in that of Christ’s prayer, “That they may be one in us,” John 17:21, 22. No unity but in that one Lord, and no perfect unity but in a perfect union with him. I would exhort to study this more, – to have fellowship one with another, as members of the same body, by sympathy, by mutual helping one another in spiritual and temporal things.

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/he-is-the-cementing-principle.89425/

The Surest Test of Soul-Prospering

Robert Traill (The Throne of Grace), Works 1:156:

The savour and relish the soul finds in approaching to the throne of grace, is the surest test of soul-prospering. In this I appeal to the consciences of all that ever knew communion with God. Is it not best with you every way, when you are most with him? Do not your burdens grow light, when you cast them on the Lord? Is not your path plain, when his candle shineth upon you; and doth it not shine when you are much in company? Difficulties vanish, and hard work grows easy, when the Lord is with you, and you with him. See how the apostle joins things together, Jude, ver. 20, 21, But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Your faith, your love, your hope, are all to be acted in prayer: and are cherished by prayer, and strengthened by the answer of prayer.

Source: https://www.puritanboard.com/threads/the-surest-test-of-soul-prospering.90883/, Comment 1

Have I Been Born Again?

BedfordBunyanStatueRelief3

Have I Been Born Again?

James Smith, 1864

A more important question cannot engage my attention, or employ my time; for Jesus has said, “Truly, truly, I say unto you — unless a man is born again — he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). As, therefore, I wish to be a subject of God’s kingdom on earth, and in Heaven; and as I cannot without a new birth — let me carefully examine myself, and endeavor to ascertain if I have been born again. I frequently fear I have not, because . . .
my heart is so depraved,
my sinful passions are so strong,
my walk is so uneven, and
Satan so often gets the mastery of me.

My fears are very painful, they weaken my faith, agitate my mind, and disturb my plans. But I would rather fear — if I am right; than live in calm and serenity — if I am wrong. Lord, search me. Lord, help me to examine myself. Lord, decide the doubtful case for me. Lord, set me right, and then keep me right.

Those who are born again are . . .
convinced of
sin,
concerned about sin,
flee to Jesus to be saved from sin,
and have their hearts set against sin.

How is it with me? I see and feel every day that I am a sinner; sin often fills me with the deepest concern; I do look to Jesus as the only sacrifice for sin, and cry to him to save me from the guilt, power, love, and consequence of sin; and I feel, at least at times, hatred to sin, to all sin.

But, alas, I feel that sin has still great power in my heart, it works in my imagination, conscience, will, and affections; it appears in my looks, words, and conduct. It is too strong for me, I cannot subdue it, or free myself from it. Never did the Publican’s prayer suit anyone better than it does me at this moment, “God be merciful to me a sinner!”

Some sins I always hate — but there are some sins to which I feel my heart secretly inclining. My whole soul is not set against all sin in myself, at least not at all times; and, in consequence of this, I often doubt, fear, and give way to unbelief. Oh, how painful the suspicion which now arises in my heart, “If I should find out at last that after all my profession, after all my religious enjoyments, and after I have preached to others — that I am not born again, and therefore am a castaway!” The supposition is dreadful, the doubt seems to pierce one’s very vitals. O Jesus, you search the thoughts and the heart; oh, let me know if I am born again!

Those who are born again, pray without ceasing. They have . . .
such a feeling sense of their necessities,
such a view of the Redeemer’s fullness, and
feel a principle working within them, which urges them to approach the throne of grace.

How is it with me? I cannot live without prayer. I pray at set times, and I pray in almost all places, and at almost all times. But my prayers are often so short, so lifeless, so powerless — that though I use no form, they appear to be no better than form. Pray I must — but I am often impelled by fear, led by a sense of duty, and go to it in a mere customary manner. Prayer is often a task, a burden, and sometimes it is even wearisome. Can I be born again? But if I am not — would I pray at all? At least, would it seem to be natural to me to pray? Would I approach the Lord, as I often do, without ceremony — and commence telling him my tale of woe, and asking his blessing and intervention, without any introduction? Do the unconverted do this? Where the life of God is not in the soul — is this, can this be the case? Holy and ever blessed Spirit, you know my real case, my true condition, reveal it to me. If I am regenerate — banish my doubts, disperse my fears, inspire me with confidence, and bear your own witness with my heart, “that I am born of God.”

Those who are born again love the saints, all the saints; and the loving John has written, “We know that we have passed from death unto life — because we love the brethren.” Well, I do love many of the saints — but do I love all that I know? I love those who are with me, and are kind to me; but do I love those who differ from me, and who treat me unkindly? Do I love a saint in rags? Do I love a believer in sickness and destitution? Do I love the poor, illiterate, uncultivated, more repulsive, of the people of God? Do I love saints because they are saints, and just in proportion to their resemblance to the Lord Jesus Christ? Alas, I sometimes fear that I love something in them besides the image of Christ, and love them for something, also, besides their saintship. How difficult I find it to love some of them at all. How I can dwell upon their faults, and speak of their failings. I feel jealous of some, and I envy others. Would this be the case if my heart was sound in God’s statutes? Then I am so changeable towards them, sometimes I love them so warmly, and feel as if nothing was too good to give them, or too arduous to undertake for them; but at another time I have nothing to bestow, nor any inclination to serve them. Oh, heart-searching God, examine me, I beg you, and let me know — am I, or am I not, born again!’

Those who are born again love the Savior. This is often my brightest evidence. I do find Jesus precious. There is music in his name. There is adaptation in his mercy, merit, and word, to my circumstances. I love to hear him exalted, and to exalt him myself. I never feel as if I could think highly enough of him, or speak of him so as to show forth half his excellencies. But, then, do I love him for what he is in himself, and for what he has done for others? Or is mine only selfish love, arising from a persuasion that I am a favorite, that he has saved me from Hell, and will bring me to Heaven?

Besides which, my love is so fluctuating, at times I seem to love many inferior things more than him; my heart is as hard as a stone, my affections are as cold as winter, and I can perceive little if any difference between myself and the worldling, or those who are clearly only mere professors. Though at other times I find my heart warm at the mention of his name, and glow when his praises are sung. Oh, that the love of Jesus did so . . .
fill my heart,
inflame my affections,
regulate my actions, and
consecrate my life —
that it would be impossible for me to doubt whether I loved him sincerely, constantly, and consistently — or not!

I sometimes think that if I have not loved Jesus — I never have loved anyone; if I do not love him now — I love no one. But I want certainty.

Eternity is so solemn.

Hell is so dreadful.

Heaven is so glorious.

Death is so near.

Delusions are so powerful.

Mistakes are so common.

Therefore I want the indubitable proof, the unquestionable evidence, the living, abiding witness within and without me — that I am born of God. Oh, holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, three persons in One God, I beseech you to decide for me, and register that decision by the finger of the Holy Spirit upon my conscience — am I born again?

Reader, I have opened my heart to you. I have told you my case. I have unfolded my concern. I have showed you my desire. I have confessed my imperfections. I have made known my anxieties.

How is it with you? Do you ever feel thus? Have you any sympathy with me in my hopes and fears, my desires and doubtings, my pains and pleasures? It is a solemn, most solemn subject — for if we are not born again. . .
we cannot be saved,
Heaven will be barred against us,
hope will fly from us,
despair will brood over us,
the burning lake will receive us,
indescribable torments will be awarded to us,
devils and damned souls will be our miserable companions,
God will be our enemy, our irreconcilable enemy forever and ever!

Oh, let us, then, while we have the opportunity, search our own hearts, cry to the Lord for mercy, nor rest satisfied until we can say, “We are born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever!”

Source: http://www.gracegems.org/Smith/have_i_been_born_again.htm

Strength for a New Year

Teddy bears Herbert and Paula (03)

Strength for a New Year

J.R. Miller, published 1913

We ought to make something of every year. They should be like new steps on the stairs, lifting our feet a little higher. We ought not to live any two years on the same plane. To be content with any attainment even for two days, is not living at our best.

Many Christians grow faint and weary in their tasks and duties. Routine is intensely wearisome. Tasks are large and exacting, life is dreary in its monotony, work seems ofttimes in vain. We sow, and do not reap. We find disappointment and discouragement at many points. Hopes bright today — lie like withered flowers tomorrow. Life seems full of illusions. Youth has its brilliant dreams which come to nothing. Work is hard. He who saves his life, loses it.

The price of success in any line, is the losing of self. We must wear ourselves out, if we would do good. He who takes care of himself, and withholds himself from exhausting toil and sacrifice — makes nothing of himself. It cost Christ Calvary to redeem sinners. The mind that was in Christ Jesus must be in us, if we would be his co-worker in saving the lost. So we grow faint and weary in our service for Christ. It cost Christ Calvary to redeem sinners. The mind that was in Christ Jesus must be in us — if we would be his co-worker in saving the lost.

But we can be strong. God has strength for us. How does his strength come to us? It comes to us in many ways. James tells us that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights. No matter, then, how the strength comes to us — it really comes from God. We may find it in a book, whose words, as we read them, warm the heart and freshly inspire us for struggle or service. We may find it in a friendship- whose cheer and companionship and helpfulness fill us with new courage and hope. Far more than we understand, does God strengthen us and bless us through human love. He hides himself in the lives of those who touch us with their affection. He looks into our eyes through human eyes, and speaks into our ears through human lips. He gives power to us in our faintness, and hope in our discouragement — through the friends who come to us with their love and cheer.

The Bible tells us a great deal about the ministry of angels in the olden days. They came with their encouragement to weary or struggling ones. After our Lord’s temptation, angels came and ministered to him in his faintness. In his agony in Gethsemane, an angel appeared, strengthening him. No doubt angels come now to minister to us and strengthen us — but they come usually in human love.

But God’s strength is imparted in other ways. It comes through his words in Scripture. We are in sorrow, and, opening our Bible we read the assurance of divine love, the promise of the divine help and comfort — that God is our Father, that our sorrow is full of blessing, that all things work together for good, to God’s child. As we read, and believe what we read, and receive it as all for us — there comes into the soul a new strength, a strange calmness, a holy peace — and we are at once comforted.

Some day we are discouraged, overwrought, vexed by cares, fretted by life’s myriad distractions, weary and faint from much burden-bearing. We sit down with our Bible and God speaks to us in its words of cheer:

“Let not your heart be troubled.

“Fear not, for I am with you.”

“Cast your burden upon the Lord.”

“Peace I leave with you.”

“My grace is sufficient for you.”

And as we ponder the words — the weariness is gone; we feel that we are growing strong; hope revives, courage returns. One who reads the Bible as God’s own Word, and hears God’s voice in its promises, assurances, commands, and counsels — is continually strengthened by it.

But there is something better than even this. God is a real person and he comes into our lives with all his own love and grace. The prophet tells us this: “He gives power to the faint; to him who has no might — he increases strength.” This means nothing less than that there is a direct importation of divine strength for God’s fainting and weary ones on the earth. This is a wonderful revelation. It tells us that the very power of Christ is given to us in our weakness, passed from his fullness — into our emptiness.

One may stand by us in our trouble and may make us a little stronger by his sympathy and love, by his encouragement and cheer; but he cannot put any portion of his strength or joy, into our heart. Christ, however, gives us strength, and imparts of his own life. What the vine is to its branch — Christ is to us. If the branch is hurt in any way, bruised, broken, its life wasted — the vine pours of its life into the wounded part, to supply its loss and to heal it. That is what Christ does. He gives power to the faint. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. The greater our need — the more of Christ’s grace will come to us. Therefore there are blessings which we shall never get — until we come into experiences of trial. We shall never know God’s comfort — until we have sorrow. And as we learn what grief is — we shall learn also how God gives strength and consolation in grief.

How can we make sure of receiving this promised strength? The answer is: “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” What is it to wait upon the Lord? It means . . .
to trust God patiently,
to believe in God’s love,
to accept God’s guidance,
to keep near God’s heart,
to live in unbroken fellowship with God, leaning upon his arm, drawing help from him. Prayer is part of waiting upon God. When we go to him in our prayers — instantly we receive a new supply of grace.

As we wait upon God, abide in Christ, keep our fellowship with him unbroken — there flows from him to us, into our lives, in unbroken stream — strength according to our needs. When we are strong — the blessing given is less; but when we are weak and faint — the gift of power is increased. As the waters of the sea pour out into every bay and channel, every smallest indentation along its shore, so God’s strength fills every heart and is linked to him. Of his fullness we receive, and grace for grace.

Note also the word “renew” in the promise. “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” As fast as the strength is exhausted — it is replenished. As fast as we give out — God gives anew to us. It is like the widow’s barrel of meal and cruse of oil, which could not be emptied — but which were filled up again, as supplies were drawn from them. We are to go on with our work, with our struggle, with our doing and serving — never withholding what duty demands, never sparing ourselves when the calls of love to God or man are upon us, sure that, waiting upon God, we shall ever renew our strength. We are in living communication with him who made the stars, and calls them by their names, and holds all the universe in being, who faints not nor is weary. He is behind of us all the while — all his fullness of life, all his important strength — and every emptying of life from us is instantly replenished, for he gives power to the faint.

Thus it is when we give to others in Christ’s name; he fills the emptiness. “Give, and it shall be given unto you,” is the Master’s word. Thus it is when sorrow takes our loved ones out of our life. We think we can never go on any more, that the sun can never shine for us again, that we can never rejoice or sing as before, that we can never take up again our work, our tasks. But God does not leave the place empty.

We need to be strong, to be always strong — strong in purpose, strong to meet temptation. Strong for work, strong for holy living, strong in the bearing of sorrow, strong in influence among men. We need to walk erect and unwearied along life’s paths, worthy followers of Christ. We do not want to be stumbling and falling every day. The call of God to us all is: “Be strong!” But we are conscious of weakness. We cannot stand against the forces of evil which ever assail us. We cannot walk erect and steadfast under the burdens of life. What can we do?

Over all the unopened year, God casts his light. There can be no experience till the year ends, for which there will not be strength. God never gives a duty, but he gives also the needed strength to do it. He never lays on us a burden — but he will sustain us under it. He never sends a sorrow, but he sends the comfort to meet it. He never calls to any service, but he provides for its performance. We need only to be sure that we wait upon God, and then all the strength we shall need will be given, as we go on, day by day.

Source: http://gracegems.org/Miller/strength_for_a_new_year.htm

They Love the Society of the Regenerate

Thomas Boston, Works, 5:317:

425px-A_Covenanters'_Conventicle,_from_a_children's_history_bookThey that are of God love the society of the regenerate, considered as a holy society, separated from the world lying in wickedness, Heb. 12:22. The picture of that society drawn in the Bible is beautiful in their eyes, more alluring to them than the richest, most powerful, and most gay and splendid society in the world; and therefore they desire more to be of it, than of any other whatsoever. The grace in it glisters more in their eyes than gold in the world; and so it is not with others, 1 John 2:15; Cant. 1:7.

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/f25/they-love-society-regenerate-84435/, Comment #1

The Friendship of Many is Destructive

Thomas Boston, Works, 5:225-226:

Leghold trapThe friendship of many in the world is no more but an empty name: if a good word will serve their friend, they will give it him; but for any good deed, it is far from them, James 2:16. Yea, the friendship of many is destructive; it serves for nothing but to be a snare, a trap, and a bond of iniquity, James 4:4; as between Herod and Pilate. But Christ’s friendship is most beneficial: it is enriching and upmaking. The benefits of it who can tell? They will tell out for time and eternity; they are for the soul and for the body. One needs no more to make him happy: they are for prosperity, and for adversity.

Source: http://www.puritanboard.com/f25/christ-s-friendship-most-beneficial-84373, Comment #1