“…draw all men unto me.” John 7.32

(First posted on Feileadh Mor 5 years ago.)

“It is most evident, that all men, that is, every individual of human nature, every son and daughter of Adam, have not faith, are not drawn, or enabled to come to Christ, and believe in him. There were many of the Jews who would not, and did not come to Christ, that, they might have life; who, instead of being drawn to him in this sense, when lifted up on the cross, vilified and reproached him; nay, at this time, here was a world spoken of in the preceding verse, whose judgment, or condemnation, was now come; and besides, there was then a multitude of souls in hell, who could not nor never will be drawn to Christ; and a greater number still there will be at the last day, to whom, instead of drawing to him in this gracious way and manner, he will say, Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:23, and 25:41). Christ died, indeed, for all men who are drawn unto him; but this is not true of all men that are, were, or shall be in the world. Add to this that the men is not in the Greek text; it is only panta, all; and some copies read panta, all things; so Austen read it formerly, and so it was in an ancient copy of Beza’s.

But not to insist on this;

By all men, is meant some of all sorts, all the elect of God, the children of God, that were scattered abroad; and particularly the Gentiles as well as the Jews, as Chrysostom and Theophylact interpret the words; which interpretation is perfectly agreeable with ancient prophecy; that when Shiloh was come (Gen. 49:10; Isa.11:10), to him should the gathering of the people, or Gentiles, be; and with the context, an occasion of these words, which was this; certain Greeks that were come up to worshiper the feast, desired to see Jesus; of which when he was apprised by his disciples, he answered, that the hour was come in which he should be glorified, and that as a corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies, so should he: and though he tacitly intimates, that it was not proper to admit these Greeks into his presence now, yet when he was lifted up from the earth, or after his death, his Gospel should be preached to them as well as to the Jews; and that large numbers of them should be drawn unto him, and brought to believe in him; agreeable to which sense of the words is Dr. Hammond’s paraphrase of them: “And I being crucified, will by that means, bring a great part of the whole world to believe on me, Gentiles as well as Jews.” – John Gill, Cause of God and Truth

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Holiness

What then is true practical holiness?

J.C. Ryle

It is a hard question to answer. I do not mean that there is any want of Scriptural matter on the subject. But I fear lest I should give a defective view of holiness, and not say all that ought to be said; or lest I should say things about it that ought not to be said, and so do harm. Let me, however, try to draw a picture of holiness, that we may see it clearly before the eyes of our minds. Only let it never be forgotten, when I have said all, that my account is but a poor imperfect outline at the best.

a) Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find His mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgement-hating what He hates-loving what He loves-and measuring everything in this world by the standard of His Word. He who most entirely agrees with God, he is the most holy man.

b) A holy man will endeavour to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment. He will have a decided bent of mind toward God, a hearty desire to do His will-a greater fear of displeasing Him than of displeasing the world, and a love to all His ways. He will feel what Paul felt when he said, “I delight in the law of God after the inward man” (Rom. 7:22), and what David felt when he said, “I esteem all Thy precepts concerning all things to be right, and I hate every false way” (Psalm 119:128).

c) A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. He will not only live the life of faith in Him, and draw from Him all his daily peace and strength, but he will also labour to have the mind that was in Him, and to be “conformed to His image” (Rom. 8:29). It will be his aim to bear with and forgive others, even as Christ forgave us-to be unselfish, even as Christ pleased not Himself-to walk in love, even as Christ loved us-to be lowly-minded and humble, even as Christ made Himself of no reputation and humbled Himself. He will remember that Christ was a faithful witness for the truth-that He came not to do His own will-that it was His meat and drink to do His Father’s will-that He would continually deny Himself in order to minister to others-that He was meek and patient under undeserved insults-that He thought more of godly poor men than of kings-that He was full of love and compassion to sinners-that He was bold and uncompromising in denouncing sin-that He sought not the praise of men, when He might have had it-that He went about doing good-that He was separate from worldly people-that He continued instant in prayer-that He would not let even His nearest relations stand in His way when God’s work was to be done. These things a holy man will try to remember. By them he will endeavour to shape his course in life. He will lay to heart the saying of John, “He that saith he abideth in Christ ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked” (1 John 2:6); and the saying of Peter, that “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow His steps” (1 Peter 2:21). Happy is he who has learned to make Christ his “all”, both for salvation and example! Much time would be saved, and much sin prevented, if men would oftener ask themselves the question, “What would Christ have said and done, if He were in my place?”

law

d) A holy man will follow after meekness, long-suffering, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, government of his tongue. He will bear much, forbear much, overlook much, and be slow to talk of standing on his rights. We see a bright example of this in the behaviour of David when Shimei cursed him-and of Moses when Aaron and Miriam spake against him (2 Sam. 16:10; Num. 12:3).

e) A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial. He will labour to mortify the desires of his body-to crucify his flesh with his affections and lusts-to curb his passions-to restrain his carnal inclinations, lest at any time they break loose. Oh, what a word is that of the Lord Jesus to the Apostles, “Take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, and cares of this life” (Luke 21:34); and that of the Apostle Paul, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Cor. 9:27).

f) A holy man will follow after charity and brotherly kindness. He will endeavour to observe the golden rule of doing as he would have men do to him, and speaking as he would have men speak to him. He will be full of affection towards his brethren-towards their bodies, their property, their characters, their feelings, their souls. “He that loveth another,” says Paul, “hath fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8). He will abhor all lying, slandering, backbiting, cheating, dishonesty, and unfair dealing, even in the least things. The shekel and cubit of the sanctuary were larger than those in common use. He will strive to adorn his religion by all his outward demeanour, and to make it lovely and beautiful in the eyes of all around him. Alas, what condemning words are the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, and the Sermon on the Mount, when laid alongside the conduct of many professing Christians!

g) A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence towards others. He will not stand all the day idle. He will not be content with doing no harm-he will try to do good. He will strive to be useful in his day and generation, and to lessen the spiritual wants and misery around him, as far as he can. Such was Dorcas, “full of good works and almsdeeds, which she did,”-not merely purposed and talked about, but did. Such an one was Paul: “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you,” he says, “though the more abundantly I love you the less I be loved” (Acts 9:36; 2 Cor. 12:15).

h) A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it. He knows his own heart is like tinder, and will diligently keep clear of the sparks of temptation. Who shall dare to talk of strength when David can fall? There is many a hint to be gleaned from the ceremonial law. Under it the man who only touched a bone, or a dead body, or a grave, or a diseased person, became at once unclean in the sight of God. And these things were emblems and figures. Few Christians are ever too watchful and too particular about this point.

i) A holy man will follow after the fear of God. I do not mean the fear of a slave, who only works because he is afraid of punishment, and would be idle if he did not dread discovery. I mean rather the fear of a child, who wishes to live and move as if he was always before his father’s face, because he loves him. What a noble example Nehemiah gives us of this! When he became Governor at Jerusalem he might have been chargeable to the Jews and required of them money for his support. The former Governors had done so. There was none to blame him if he did. But he says, “So did not I, because of the fear of God” (Neh. 5:15).

j) A holy man will follow after humility. He will desire, in lowliness of mind, to esteem all others better than himself. He will see more evil in his own heart than in any other in the world. He will understand something of Abraham’s feeling, when he says, “I am dust and ashes;”-and Jacob’s, when he says, “I am less than the least of all Thy mercies;”-and Job’s, when he says, “I am vile;”-and Paul’s, when he says, “I am chief of sinners.” Holy Bradford, that faithful martyr of Christ, would sometimes finish his letters with these words, “A most miserable sinner, John Bradford.” Good old Mr. Grimshaw’s last words, when he lay on his death-bed, were these, “Here goes an unprofitable servant.”

k) A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations in life. He will try, not merely to fill his place as well as others who take no thought for their souls, but even better, because he has higher motives, and more help than they. Those words of Paul should never be forgotten, “Whatever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord,”-“Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Col. 3:23; Rom. 12:11). Holy persons should aim at doing everything well, and should be ashamed of allowing themselves to do anything ill if they can help it. Like Daniel, they should seek to give no “occasion” against themselves, except “concerning the law of their God” (Dan. 6:5). They should strive to be good husbands and good wives, good neighbours, good friends, good subjects, good in private and good in public, good in the place of business and good by their firesides. Holiness is worth little indeed, if it does not bear this kind of fruit. The Lord Jesus puts a searching question to His people, when He says, “What do ye more than others?” (Mt. 5:47).

l) Last, but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual mindedness. He will endeavour to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand. He will not neglect the business of the life that now is; but the first place in his mind and thoughts will be given to the life to come. He will aim to live like one whose treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim travelling to his home. To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of His people-these things will be the holy man’s chiefest enjoyments. He will value every thing and place and company, just in proportion as it draws him nearer to God. He will enter into something of David’s feeling, when he says, “My soul followeth hard after Thee.” “Thou art my portion” (Psalm 63:8; 119:57).

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Heresy: a spiritual sin

Satan endeavors to corrupt our minds with doctrinal error and so William Gurnall gives us  a word of warning and exhortation,

“O beware of this soul-infection, this leprosy of the head.  I hope you do not think it needless, for it is the disease of the times. This plague is begun, yea, spreads apace.  [There is] not a flock, [not] a congregation hardly, that hath not this scab among them.  Paul was a preacher the best of us all may write after, and he presseth this home upon the saints, yea, in the constant course of his preaching  it made a piece of his sermon.  He sets us preacher also upon this work; ‘Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock;—for I know this, that after my departure shall grievous wolves enter;—also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things,’ Acts 20:28-30; therefore watch.  And then he presents his own example, that he hardly made a sermon for several years, but this was part of it, to warn every one night and day with tears.  We need not prophesy what impostors may come upon the stage when we go off.

There are too many at present above-board of this gang drawing disciples after them.  And if it be our duty to warn you of them, surely it is yours to watch, lest you by any of them be led into temptation in this hour thereof, wherein Satan is let loose in so great a measure to deceive the nation.  May you not as easily be soured with this leaven, as the disciples whom Christ bids beware?  Are you privileged above those famous churches of Galatia and Corinth, many of which were bewitched with false teachers, and in a manner turned to another gospel?  Is Satan grown orthodox, or have his instruments lost their cunning, who hunt for souls?  In a word, is there not a sym­pathy between thy corrupt heart and error?  Hast thou not a disposition, which, like the fomes of the earth, makes it natural for these weeds to grow in thy soil?  Seest thou not many prostrated by this enemy, who sat upon the mountain of their faith, and thought it should never have been removed?

Surely they would have taken it ill to have been told, ‘you are the men and women that will decry Sabbaths, which now ye count holy; you will turn Pelagians, who now defy the name; you will despise prophecy itself, who now seem so much to honour the proph­ets; you will throw family duties out of doors, who dare not now go out of doors till you have prayed there.’”

Dealing the Guilt of Sin

“Do you think that Christ didn’t know all about all of your sin when He hung on that tree? By all means hate even the garment spotted by the flesh. Recognize that in your flesh you are nothing but sin and hate your sin the way God does.

At the same time also recognize that God sees no sin in His people. He looks on us as we really are and we are really in Christ. If God can see no sin in us, though we are full of it, then we need to live and learn to see ourselves as God sees us.

Fight that daily war with your flesh and walk in this world looking to Christ alone. He is all my righteousness, all my holiness and all my hope of acceptance with God. His is all and enough. If we can ever find out that Christ is all that God requires of us we may be able to look to Him.

I know from experience that looking at your self can only cause your guilt and confusion. Looking at yourself all that can be seen is sin. Looking at yourself will lay a load of guilt on your back that will bend you over under its weight. The only way to rid yourself of the load is to look up to Christ. You will never be able to measure up to the standard. Hate the natural man that is you and battle him daily. But don’t live as though you are defeated for Christ has already won the victory. He lived a perfect life in my place and His life is all that I need to be guiltless before God.

The question that you need to answer for yourself is whether you are truly looking to Christ. Is He enough for you or do you need more than Him?” – Ron Wood

Divorced from Him, we have nothing…

Positionally, our sanctification by the Spirit results from our being vitally united to Christ, for the moment we are livingly joined to Him, His holiness becomes ours, and our standing before God is the same as His. Relatively, our sanctification of the Spirit issues from our being renewed by Him, for the moment He quickens us we are set apart from those who are dead in sins. Personally, we are consecrated unto God by the Spirit’s indwelling us, making our bodies His temples. Experimentally, our sanctification of the Spirit consists in the impartation to us of a principle (“Nature”) of holiness, hereby we become conformed to the Divine law. Let us consider each of these viewpoints separately.

Our union to Christ is the grand hinge on which everything turns. Divorced from Him, we have nothing spiritually. Describing our unregenerate condition, the apostle says, “at that time ye were without Christ,” and being without Him, it necessarily follows “being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). But the moment the Holy Spirit makes us livingly one with Christ, all that He has becomes ours, we are then “joint-heirs with Him.” Just as a woman obtains the right to share all that a man has once she is wedded to him, so a poor sinner becomes holy before God the moment he is vitally united to the Holy One. Everything which God requires from us, everything which is needed by us, is treasured up for us in Christ.” – A. W. Pink

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth

by Ron Wood

Can a man truly know what the Bible says? If he has the Spirit of God he can. Sadly many, if not most, of those who call themselves Christians don’t understand the Book and have no clue to its message. The worst is that those who claim to teach others how to interpret the Scriptures do not know themselves how to interpret it. Educating themselves in the original languages and applying methods taught by Bibles schools and seminaries they think that by these things they can understand the message and meaning of the Word of God, all the while missing the message. It is hidden to them because understanding in the Scriptures doesn’t come by diligent study and a literal-historical method but by revelation. To be sure the literal-historical is true but if that is all you have you have missed the message of the Scriptures.

The Scriptures are not intended to give us an account of the history of the Jews though their history is true. They are not intended to give us life principles though we find them full of principles to live by. The Scriptures were not given to show us how to manage our finances, be a good husband, wife, father or mother though those things certainly are found in them. The Scriptures were given to show us the purpose of God in Christ and His Gospel. The message of the Bible in its entirety is Christ and the mercy of God to poor, wretched sinners in Him. John 5:39

Rightly dividing the Word of truth is not separating it into sections but finding Christ in them. Instead of starting with man and working up to God by means of dispensations, rightly dividing the Word of truth is starting with God in Christ and working down to man. Rightly dividing the Word of truth isn’t finding the prophetic but finding Christ. If all you get from the Scriptures is a literal message from the words you have the same problem that the Scribes and Pharisees had.

The Scribes and Pharisees were men of the Scriptures. Like many today they had a literal interpretation and missed Christ because of it. They knew the Book but didn’t know the message. They diligently studied the Law and the Prophets and expectantly looked for Him who was to come. But when He came they missed Him because He wasn’t what they thought He would be. He was hidden from them because they had no understanding of the spiritual nature of the Scriptures. He taught them of spiritual things and they couldn’t see them. They had natural eyes but not spiritual ones. 1Cor. 2:14

Christ and the Apostles taught the spiritual nature of the Scriptures. They took the literal and opened up the spiritual from them. Everything they taught was in the context of the Gospel of Christ. The Lord preached the kingdom of God but He taught that it was a kingdom in the heart not a physical literal monarchy confined to a small portion of land in the desert. The Lord taught the spiritual nature of the Law. How many folks do you know who are so literal that they cut off their hand or pluck out their eyes because they cause them to sin? How many folks do you know who sell all that they have and give it to the poor? Though you may go to those extremes what have you gained? You cannot find rest by following the strict meaning of the words. Rest doesn’t come by following a strict unbending interpretation of the literal words of Scripture it comes by trusting in Christ alone. To be sure you can get a whole lot of religion from the natural literal understanding of the Scriptures but with it all you will lose your own soul.

Christ is the key that unlocks the mysteries and hidden treasures of the Bible. Unless you find Him in all of them you will never understand the Book. If you would learn to rightly divide the Word find your place in the pew listening to that man called and gifted of God who, by the Spirit, shows you Christ in all the Scriptures. A man called by other men may be able to teach you how to jump through the hoops of prophetic interpretation and give you life principles and good advice but that man called of God will teach you Christ.