“And then He turned my heart, and made me love Him.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon
“And then He turned my heart, and made me love Him.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon
Truly then, God overlooking the times of ignorance, now strictly commands all men everywhere to repent, because He set a day in which He is going to judge the habitable world in righteousness, by a Man whom He appointed; having given proof to all by raising Him from the dead.
The gospel is proclaimed as much for judgement as it is for salvation. It is the seed of the Sower which reveals the existing nature of the ground upon which it falls. We have not paid careful attention to what Jesus said immediately after explaining the parable of the sower…
But no one lighting a lamp covers it with a vessel, or puts it underneath a couch, but sets it on a lampstand, that those coming in may see the light. For nothing is hidden which will not be revealed, nor secret which will not be known and come to be revealed. Then observe how you hear; for whoever has, it will be given to him; and whoever does not have, even what he seems to have will be taken from him.
The same Word of God which He first described as a seed, He now describes as a light that reveals the true substance of whatever it touches. Those “coming in” to the kingdom see the light of this gospel, and they come in because they are drawn of the Father (Jn 6:44). But the rest do not see its true light, even though it shines upon them, and even though some of them might walk amidst the children of light. Likewise, the seed of the Sower commands all; but not all have ears to hear, for to them it has not been given, and these (being many) are judged according to it.
And he said to him, “If they will not hear Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if one from the dead should rise.”
We like to suppose that the ground can be changed by the seed, if only the ground does the right thing with the seed. But in truth, the ground will be judged according to what the seed does with the ground, and it does not abide bad ground. “For nothing is hidden which will not be revealed.” We also miss the purpose of the warnings given to every ear, such as, “be careful how you hear,” or the reason for exhortations to seek God with all of the heart. For the warnings against falling away and the exhortations to seek the Lord are all serving to suggest that hard ground can deceive itself into thinking that it is good soil. For “whoever does not have, even what he SEEMS to have will be taken from him.” Time will tell the truth of mens’ hearts, and the Day will bring all to light.
Examine yourselves, whether you are in the faith, prove yourselves. Or do you not yourselves perceive that Jesus Christ is in you, unless you are reprobates? And I hope you will know that we are not reprobates.
2 Corinthians 13:5-6
For who determines the nature of the soils? If it were up to the choice of man, then no soil would ever become good. For in Adam, “there is not one doing good, there is not one seeking after God.” But it takes a hearing ear to seek after God; and it is His alone to give to whomever He wills.
Everyone believing (Grk: present & ongoing faith: used consistently by John to describe authentic fruitful faith, not a whimsical belief, nor even potential faith) that Jesus is the Christ, HAS been generated from God…
1 John 5:1
Faith that endures to the end is the result of true regeneration, not the other way around.
So then, to whom He desires, He shows mercy. And to whom He desires, He hardens. You will then say to me, “Why does He yet find fault? For who has resisted His will?”
Bu rather, O man, who are you answering against God? Shall the thing formed say to the One forming it, “Why did You make me like this?” Or does not the potter have authority over the clay, out of the one lump to make one vessel to honor, and one to dishonor? What if God, desiring to show forth wrath, and to make His power known, endured in much long-suffering vessels of wrath having been fitted out for destruction, s that He make known the riches of His glory on vessels of mercy which He before pepared for glory?
God deals justly with all, and to some of them He gives mercy by dealing justly with their sin in the death of Christ. For this very reason we proclaim with great confidence the command of the Gospel: because He has a particular people whom He is calling each by name; and His command will bring them in, while at the same time it will judge the ones who do not obey, as is their nature.
For He came to gather the lost sheep of His own house; but unto the rest He says, “You will not believe, because you are not of my sheep.” His sheep hear His voice, He knows them, and they follow Him; but to the self-deceivers He says again, “I never knew you.” They are judged righteously according to the willful rebellion of their hearts; because self-will is the only will of those not generated from God, and they love their own will.
Where the will of men is given the throne by its being pleaded with rather than its being commanded, the gospel being preached is no longer the power of God – not that there is another gospel.
There is a great hatred in the body of Christ today for this truth of God’s sovereignty, just as it has always been drifted away from shortly after its light was revived. I have at times been guilty of questioning it myself, but have very recently been graciously dragged back to it by the Lord. He made this matter clear at first, and I reseisted it for a time; but now the clarity of His Word regarding these things is stunning, and I can take no credit for it. Truly His gospel is the command which tries the hearts! If I ever had anything to do with God’s mercy being bestowed upon me, then He is no God.
“The gospel is a command, not a suggestion.”
– James R. White
The question (concerning fallen man) is not, “Is there free will?” The question is, “Is there good will?”
– Paul Washer
As it is written: None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said…
The mighty fortress of God wherein we find true shelter is the place where He reigns: and that place is the eye of the storm.
For it is His storm: it is the fervent whirling of every wind both foul and fair as He bends them all unto His will, that a man might at last be shaken and undone at the wonder that is HE. The closer we come to the calm of His shelter, the more fiercely the wind seeks to bewilder; but He brings it into subjection, and the strong tower of His strength shall envelop all who draw near on the wings of His Spirit.
He made darkness his secret place; his pavilion round about him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies.
Without the veil of His cloud is a tempest of rebuke; within His bosom is the surety of His good rule. Amidst the swirling fury of many voices and the battering rains of many matters, the still of knowing God disarms our every excuse, giving way to that peace which no man can make for himself.
Though furor of words and turmoil of mind may prevail in this day, let us give our hearing and vision to that two-edged sword which cuts asunder this shadowy veil of our present darkness unto the seeing of the Lord seated in His temple. Let the prayer of our lives become that of the contrite soul which trembles at His word: bold in the Spirit and meek in the earth. Let Him be our fear, let Him be our dread; then shall He become our sanctuary, and we His.
Then Job answered the Lord, and said,
“I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.
Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not; things too wonderful for me, which I knew not. Hear, I beseech thee, and I will speak: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me.
I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Then the channels of waters were seen, and the foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of thy nostrils. He sent from above, he took me, he drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them which hated me: for they were too strong for me. They prevented me in the day of my calamity: but the Lord was my stay.
And God said, “Let there be light,“
and there WAS light.
The timely permeation of natural light through the heavens occurs because God’s creative Word from which it first proceeds was instantaneously fulfilled in all places at all times from eternity.
As we gaze at the skies of the clear night, we see the ever-present Word of God being declared in time immemorial. The Spirit of God which resided over the surface of the formless waters reserved for us this venue, to see from mere thousands of years a wondrous display which by His continual stretching out of the heavens appears to span myriads more.
By this expansion of space (and time with it), the speech of the heavens testifies longer of His wonder than the earth has experienced in its short time – though they both were created the same week. Eons of light speak to a mere few-score centuries of darkness, while man ironically shakes his fist at God who so wisely spoke light and declared all of time into existence.
So the stars and the heavenly bodies speak not of man’s dawning, but of God’s Eternal Day. And the lights here on earth, they also are born of the Father, a witness of the arising Daystar; and they too speak from eternity into time for the wise to hear and take heed. Their voice goes out into all the earth; yet still men harden their hearts and give no thought to He who shall bring them into judgement for all this witness when He rolls up the heavens like a garment. From the beginning He will have been revealed to the end, just as from the end He was revealed to the beginning.
Many are the children of darkness, many are the fruitless falling stars. Those without the Word of Truth dwelling richly in their hearts flicker back into darkness once again; but the Unchanging Light shines brighter and brighter unto the perfect day, and the children of light with it.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.
I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year, “Give me light that I may tread safely into the unknown”; and he replied, “Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than the known way.”
– Minnie Louise Haskins
Faith has the clearest vision.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.
Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
Truly God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
Psalm 73:1 (ESV)
~ FIRST, AN EXHORTATION ~
The holy nation of God is made up of those who are pure in heart. For the thing which God is after is a holy nation, and He will have it even at great cost. No, He has even already paid for it immeasurably. So when and how shall He see the full fruit of the travail of His soul? His being poured out unto death is the promise of glory; but in every merciful promise of God, the recipients are justly charged to actively inherit its spiritual substance in the likeness of He who opened the way unto that abundance of His Life.
The aim of our charge is love
that issues from a pure heart
and a good conscience
and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:5
His holy uncompromising love issues forth from pure hearts because the pure heart has no defilement of conscience, so that their participating in the faith can always be instant and authentic. These are a peculiar people, for they are no one’s possession except His. They are not even their own, for they see and are ever undone at the immeasurable worth of His buying price. Today is the day for purity of heart to be sought and acquired in the members of God’s house, lest the jealous yearning of His indwelling Spirit be provoked to wrath upon His near visitation.
The prophet wondered aloud regarding the day in which the Lord suddenly comes to His temple: “But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appears? For He is like a refiners fire…” We the temple stand at the threshold of that day, and we ought to be trembling; for He shall first visit His own house to purge the iniquity and burn the chaff. If evil will not be removed from our hearts by the Lord in His strivings with us, then the Lord is free to remove the evil of heart from the earth.
Beloved, we are God’s children now,
and what we will be has not yet appeared;
but we know that when He appears
we shall be like Him,
because we shall see Him as He is.
1 John 3:2
He identifies His own by their likeness to Him. Now, there are degrees and varied expressions of His manifestation through each one of us; but let each one earnestly participate in whatever measure which God has entrusted to them, lest any be ashamed at His coming as was the wicked and slothful servant. Those who will not see Him as He is will not be like Him. This truth transcends whatever we may think defines the boundaries of His house. Those who abide in Him unto the doing of His will according to faith in Jesus may have confidence at His appearing; but those who shrink back from faith in His sufficiency leave themselves to walk in a most precarious hope and superficial assurance. For in seeing little of His person, they cannot be continually lead of His Spirit, and the wonder of His Life remains but a faint abstraction easily traded for lesser things. Pray the Lord opens their eyes, lest they carelessly slip away and loose much reward!
But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal:
“The Lord knows those who are His,” and,
“Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver
but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable,
he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy,
useful to the Master of the house, ready for every good work.
2 Timothy 2:19-21
If the ungodly shall not be spared in the final judgement, much more should the unfaithful servants learn again to serve the Lord with fear and rejoice with trembling before that final day; those whom He expectantly appointed to present His church to Him a chaste virgin, spotless and without wrinkle. “It is time for judgement to begin at the house of God.” The names of those who weep over the ravished daughter of Zion are being written in the books, as well as those who have ravished her; and not a wicked soul shall His slaying Spirit spare: beginning at His most holy sanctuary, which they have defiled by their abominable revelings in HIS bride.
Let every one whom God has called into the fellowship of His mystery heed the warnings of His word.
~ THEREFORE ~
I write this (especially what follows) to the earnest of heart, who desire no other shepherd than the Good One, who cry for nothing less than the Lord Himself to be fully glorified in them: His perfect will done in light of these things.
This Psalm  has for some time now been a sharp instrument in the skilled hands of my Physician, and it necessarily remains so. It contains the words of a man rightfully disenchanted with the spiritual injustice of his day, yet crippled by the impure response of his heart toward it. The proverb is true: “the more knowledge, the more sorrow;” and the sorrowful soul not being continually restored by the Lord can become just as deceitful and desperately wicked as any unregenerate heart. Those who see the horror of things as they are and hear the urgent call of God can easily run the risk of feeling as though they have come to something which excludes them from requiring further heart surgery. Herein lies the path of becoming both unmerciful and unjust in response to what God is revealing. The great danger of conviction is that we become content with its mere presence, neglecting its call to ever-deepening repentance.
The Psalmist continues…
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,
my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pangs until death;
their bodies are fat and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not stricken like the rest of mankind.
“I was envious of the arrogant…” Here is the admission of a man who observed the order of things correctly, yet contemplated them unrighteously within his soul. A lack of personal peace due to the succeeding of the wicked indicates this envy in the hidden heart. Envy is not merely covetousness. Covetousness has to do with lusts and selfish desires; but envy describes a self-centered sense of justice. Envy is a root of restless evil which supplies the many tendrils of covetousness. But even if we do not directly covet the unrighteousness of men or their gain by it, it is still the sin of envy which we find inwardly robbing us of walking in the peace of God. In being envious of the arrogant, we become arrogant. Where God does not appear to be the fulcrum of justice, we overstep Him to seek out our own. This is the envy here described. We act in the passion of envy and speak in the heat of our own displeasure. The reasoning is righteous, but the execution is not; and this is not a matter of outward method, but of the inward heart.
This envy reveals the absence of Godly contentment; it is the frame of those seeking their own justice for all that rightly disturbs their souls. The Devil has learned well to drain the Godly contentment out of those who are righteously dissatisfied with the status quo of man’s religion. For what we envy is the apparent peace of the wicked in light of the apparent disappointment of “I the righteous.” But this is not reality as God sees it; since there is no true peace for the wicked, and disappointment is not the mind of those who trust in the Lord. We think too highly of our selfishly impassioned understandings. A lack of entrusting God’s capable hands to be in control of matters too lofty for us brings about the crippling frustration of envy in our souls, so that in the secret of our hearts we rail against the most high over our perceived predicament while the wicked prosper.
Self-pity is the unrighteous bog in which we soak our hearts when we allow the evil of men to overshadow the goodness of God in our present sight. But we are exhorted to see from eternity, that we may bring back the piercing decree of eternity to lighten this present darkness. The decree from what our own eyes see and our own ears hear among men will not do; since from these God’s perfect justice and equity can never proceed. But those who have stood in His council are constrained to speak the truth in a true heart; for at their appointments with the King, mercy triumphs over judgement. By the brightness of His glory before their eyes and in the burning of His coals upon their lips, His perfect justice ever becomes their acquaintance.
By mercy and truth iniquity is purged:
and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil.
Let us therefore with thankfulness and fear fix our eyes upon the things which are of Christ, our only boast; for by these we find the renewing of our troubled minds, and receive the heavenly wisdom both seen and heard in the stark yet measured words of our Lord. Neither the fear of man nor the wrath of man works the righteousness of God; but there is an inner choosing of God’s peace which disarms the provocateurs of Satan, and there is a bold confidence in “His own arm” amidst dire circumstance which confounds the evil powers. Blessed are they who invite the searching light of God into the unvisited places of the heart, that when His purifying fire comes it may be gladly received to do its work.
But regarding the wicked, whose hearts we ourselves emulate through the unrighteous fellowship of envy, the Psalmist continues…
Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out through fatness;
their hearts overflow with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their mouths against the heavens,
and their tongue struts through the earth.
Therefore His people turn back to them,
and find no fault in them. And they say,
“How can God know? Is there knowledge in the Most High?”
Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease,
they increase in riches.
“The murmuring spirit… has much of the spirit of Satan within it.”
– Jeremiah Burrows
The soul most embittered by perceived injustice most quickly rises within the ranks of the unjust. The unjust were all at one time crying out for justice themselves. For no sooner does a man give himself to earnestly seek God’s justice in light of great evil, than the Devil and the flesh remind him of every wrong that he has suffered at the hands of men – especially the betrayal of his very brothers. When we seek the undoing of unrighteousness to find the peace of God rather than standing in the peace of God to find the undoing of unrighteousness, we inevitably find ourselves likewise setting our mouths against the heavens. Yet what was our Lord’s response to this world, who knew men’s wicked hearts beforehand? See what it accomplished! For in Him the Spirit blew where it wished. At one time He was quick to rebuke; at another, to extend mercy; at another, to leave men to themselves. All these interactions were enthroned upon righteousness and justice; for He knew what was in man, because He knew where He came from and where He was going. He perfectly discerned others because He perfectly discerned Himself, so that the Holy Spirit was at liberty in Him. The degree to which we discern ourselves determines the degree to which we discern outside of ourselves and are enabled to be more precisely led by His Spirit.
He shall not judge by what His eyes see, or decide disputes by what His ears hear, but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall kill the wicked.
Such is the way of one whose life proceeds from heaven. The desired reward of true righteousness is the singular glory of God, who today still sends His rain upon the just and the unjust alike. The pure in heart know that they are not the protectors of God’s glory – this is why they can stand undeterred in spirit despite the wicked schemes round about them. For the wise do not dare touch the Ark of God to steady it, though it appears for a moment to waver. The tempter prompts good yet undiscerning men to seize the day right when God is about to make it His own. Any ministration which bypasses the direct working of His Spirit is a ministration after the spirit of antichrist. If we are grieved by what we see and spurred to action with the Holy Spirit, then let the justice of God first overtake and trample our own motivations, lest our own decree go forth and not His. The purest justice flows from a vessel which has itself been most refined in judgement; but the heart envious toward evil men reveals its own impurity as it wearies of walking uprightly amidst such a perverse generation…
All in vain have I kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.
For all the day long I have been stricken
and rebuked every morning.
If I had said, “I will speak thus,”
I would have betrayed the generation of Your children.
But when I thought how to understand this,
it seemed to me a wearisome task,
until I went into the sanctuary of God;
then I discerned their end.
The response of an impure heart toward evil both within and without God’s house causes our brethren to stumble, for in our envious condition we ourselves are slipping. Let such infancy in grace give way to maturity through both receiving and trusting His good counsel, which He reserves for the ones who diligently seek Him. Holy ground is walked upon by those who earnestly desire to look upon HIS beauty and inquire in HIS temple. Only here is made known in the depths of our being the unfathomableness of His perfection in His dealings with men: of His foreknowledge and His longsuffering, of His mercy and His wrath stored up for their respective days, of the desperate longings of His heart unsearchable, of the boundless symmetry of His way inscrutable. Those who humble themselves to seek the counsel of the Lord regarding their grievances will find not merely words to fill an intellectual gap, but living eye-salve of the Holy Spirit. For He reveals His heart regarding the wicked only so much as we allow our own darkness to likewise be lightened.
Truly You set them in slippery places;
You make them fall to ruin.
How they are destroyed in a moment,
swept away utterly by terrors!
Like a dream when one awakes,
O Lord, when You rouse yourself,
You despise them as phantoms.
When my soul was embittered,
when I was pricked in heart,
I was brutish and ignorant;
I was like a beast toward You.
Nevertheless, I am continually with You;
You hold my right hand.
In the nearness of God the end of evil men is at last discerned; for here is our own wickedness also discerned. He allows the wicked to prosper that they may heap up a most complete judgement for themselves: this itself is a judgement of God, and we dare not interfere with His proceedings as children rudely interrupting His court. The pure in heart do not overstep God’s decree regarding the wicked: they are satisfied with it; for they have seen His decree’s relevance even to themselves but for His ever-new mercies. They find peace even in the hearing of His heavier counsels, for they know the good of conceding to His way. In this they are not denying His intercession through them, but they uphold its rightful place. Intercession is the extending of God’s heart within us for what He has decreed, not of our own counsels toward Him; and there are times when He emphatically says, “Pray NOT for this people, for their good…” (Jer 14:11) There is a sin leading to death, and we would do well to walk in the discernment of He who sees the hidden thoughts and intentions of men’s hearts. Conversely, in those for whom God still suffers long there can be a particularly unruly waywardness which requires us to trustingly remove our hands from them, so that He who drew us to Himself apart from man’s devices might be able do the same in them. It is not that we give up on such; but we do let go, certainly grieved with the Spirit yet also freed from ourselves that we may rejoice in His hope.
We often despise God’s times and seasons, because He uses them to challenge what we suppose should be happening and when. The sooner we trust Him, the sooner we shall see His hour. But we need to trust Him first – then He will do whatever pleases Him, however it pleases Him. The prophet Elijah, who hid himself in virtual exile for years at a time upon the command of God, became so entwined in God’s perfect will that he could confidently say, “As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to MY word.” (1 Kings 17:1) Elijah lived standing in the Most Holy Place before God Himself, speaking and moving according to whatever he saw the Father doing. He was a true intercessor: a man who stood in the gap, just as Noah who “by faith… condemned the world” in his building of God’s refuge for the righteous few. The battle within us is not merely between action and inaction; it is a matter of whose action. There is a Devilish restlessness which saps the Godly strength of the ready soul.
The most well-intentioned self-will is the greatest neutralizer of true intercession. The tether which binds fleshly action to a holy burden is sensual and demonic; but those who are overcome of Christ overcome the world in His faith. They are secure in daring to say “Thy will be done” because they have chosen to live before the judgement seat of Christ today. For it is here that we discover our need to be led by the hand into the maturity of a living understanding, where our perspective of justice gives way to His own. If we could taste but a drop of His holy anguish over the injustices of wicked men, we would be utterly ashamed of our own imperfect angst. In the covert of His wings vexation is removed from the soul; and the spirit of loneliness and rejection which fostered all manner of sins gives way to renewed strength by returning to the arms of He who never truly forsook us. The burden of the whole world is the Lord’s; and we shall only rightly partake of His burdens if we allow Him to minister rest to our souls, else their weightiness will cause our hearts to fail and our flesh give way to defeat. We cannot minister to the Lord if we are not first ministered to by Him. We may speak much of readiness yet His love remains bound within us, unable to be fully and freely expressed. But deliverance finds those who at last give up pride and let Him win, consolation is found by those whom His word breaks in pieces, and the anointing is poured out of broken vessels. The works of which the pure in heart shall tell are HIS.
You guide me with Your counsel,
and afterward You will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is nothing on earth
that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
For behold, those who are far from You shall perish;
You put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to You.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord God my refuge,
that I may tell of all Your works.