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Lord’s Day 51, 2017

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”


But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

—Philippians 3:7–11

VI. Contempt of the world.
Augustus Toplady (1740–1778)


Can ought below engross my thought?
Or am I to the world confin’d?
Nay, let my pure affections soar
To objects of a nobler kind!

I know I’m but a pilgrim here,
That seeks a better, promis’d land.
Then may I run and never tire,
Till that celestial home’s obtain’d.

Resolv’d to tread the sacred way
That Jesus water’d with his blood,
I bend my fix’d and cheerful course
Through that rough path my master trod.

Contemptuous of the world I live,
A daily death rejoice to die:
And, while I move and walk below,
My absent heart mounts up on high.

O light of life, still guide my steps,
Without thy friendly aid I stray:
Lead me, my God, for I am blind.
Direct me, and point out my way.

Let the vain world applaud or frown,
Still may I heaven’s path pursue:
Still may I stand unshook, and keep
The centre of my hopes in view!

Tho’ Satan, earth, and self oppose,
Yet, thro’ thy help I’ll persevere;
To Canaan’s hills my eyes lift up,
And choose my lot and portion there.

The way that leads to glory lies
Through ill-report, contempt, and loss:
Assist me to deny myself,
To follow thee and bear thy cross.

Let Satan never come between,
Nor separate my God from me;
But may my soul, in ev’ry storm,
Find a sure resting place in thee.

The Complete Works of Augustus Toplady: An Appendix, Not Properly Reducible, etc. (Sprinkle Publications, 1987).

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: My Savior’s Love

My Savior’s Love I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 I stand amazed in the presence Of Jesus the Nazarene, And wonder how He could love me, A sinner, condemned, unclean. Refrain How marvelous! how wonderful! And my song shall ever be: How marvelous! how wonderful Is my Savior’s love for me! For me it was in the garden He prayed, “Not My will, but Thine”; He had no tears for His own griefs, But sweat drops of blood for mine. Refrain In pity angels beheld Him, And came from the world of light To comfort Him in the sorrows He bore for my soul that night. Refrain He took my sins and my sorrows, He made them His very own; He bore the burden to Calv’ry And suffered and died alone. Refrain When with the ransomed in glory His face I at last shall see, ’Twill be my joy through the ages To sing of His love for me. Refrain —The Hymnal for Worship & Celebration (Word Music).

A Joyfully Sad Day

By now, you likely have heard that R. C. Sproul passed away yesterday. You can read the official announcement from Ligonier Ministries here. Count me as one of the vast multitude whose thought, faith, and life have been profoundly influenced by the ministry of this great man of God. When I had wandered far off the biblical trail, influenced by men unworthy to be named on the same page as Dr. Sproul, he was one of the voices that turned my thinking around. He helped me learn to think logically and biblically, and to quit imposing my preconceived notions on Scripture. Dr. Sproul had a style that was irresistible. Good-humored but never silly, sober and dignified but never dull, he made the lecture a delight. I remember the only time I saw him in person, at the 2008 Together for the Gospel conference. He had recently suffered a stroke, and had to be wheeled onto the stage. From the wheelchair, he rose only to take a chair behind the podium. I was sad to see him so diminished. There would be no pacing the stage, scrawling notes on the chalkboard, stepping forward and leaning into the audience and, with lowered voice, driving his point home. I prepared to be disappointed. How wrong I was. I soon learned that all he needed was his mind and his mouth, animated by his passion for the gospel. He clearly loved what he was doing, and made me love it, too. It was the gospel that moved him, and no physical impairment could hold that back. In that conference message, Dr. Sproul anticipated his death: R. C. Sproul1939–2017It has now been over fifty years, over a half of a century, that I have contemplated, studied, and read a host of tomes written about the meaning of the cross of Christ. And yet I still believe that I have not been able to do anything more than to touch the surface of the depths and the riches that are contained in that moment of redemptive history. I suspect that when my eyes open in heaven, in the first five minutes of my beginning of my eternity there, I will be absolutely staggered by the sudden increase of understanding that will come to me when I behold the lamb who was slain . . . We all have notions about what heaven will be like. Most are entirely wrong. I suspect Sproul's is not. The mountains of knowledge and the vast understand of God and his Word that he acquired in his first seventy-eight years have already been rendered miniscule compared to that which he now knows and understands. And that knowledge and understanding will continue to grow for all eternity. “R.I.P.” is most often a fatuous sentiment, trite, meaningless, and tragically wrong. Yesterday, for R. C. Sproul, it became a blessed reality. He was—no, is—a giant, not only of his generation, but of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He is one of the great ones, the likes of whom I doubt we shall see again very soon. I am eternally grateful for his life, profoundly saddened by his departure, but overjoyed in the knowledge that he is at home in the presence of his savior. Precious in the sight of the Lord Is the death of His godly ones. —Psalm 116:15

Learn to Love Much

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. —Luke 14:27 Get much love to Christ. A strong affection will carry you after Christ when you cannot follow him but under the cross, will make you follow him wherever he goes, though the way be deep, and rugged, and thorny, though it lead directly to the cross, and bring you to mount Calvary. Much love will make you willing, ready, resolute to suffer for Christ; and it is want of will, more than want of strength, that disables us from bearing the cross. Christ uses not to deny strength to those who are resolutely willing to suffer for his name’s sake. There is a strength in love which is too hard for death itself; love is strong as death. Much love will make you suffer much, for it is . . . that which makes the soul cling to Christ; and the more it is, the faster it cleaves to him, and the more hardly will it part from him; no small matter will part them. A servant that has some affection to his master will suffer something for him, but an affectionate wife will suffer far more for her husband, because the conjugal love is stronger. If you mean to suffer much, you must learn to love much. A little love will go but a little way under the cross. If love be weak, get it strengthened; if it be cooling, get it inflamed; if it be declining, get it repaired. A declining love is a step to apostasy, and will be in danger to end there in a day of trial. When the Church of Ephesus has lost her first love, Christ speaks of her as fallen, Rev. ii. 4, 5. There are some amongst these churches who professed Christ, but, for want of love to him, gave way to a principle which was more for their own safety than his honour. They would hold all those things indifferent for which they were like to suffer, that so none might condemn them for yielding in things indifferent, rather than be ruined. These held it indifferent to be circumcised, to escape sufferings from the Jews; indifferent to eat things offered to idols, to escape sufferings from the Gentiles; and, when they had no other way to escape, they would hold it indifferent to deny the faith. So . . . Now it is probably thought that this principle had made some impression upon the church of Ephesus. Hereupon she is charged with losing her first love, because she was not so ready to suffer for Christ as at first. This principle, inclining her more to comply than suffer, she was not so disposed to do her first works, and undergo her first sufferings, for which she is commended, ver. 3. And why? Her first love was lost, she was fallen. If you would not decline the cross, or fall under it, keep up your first love; or, if it be declined, make haste to get it repaired. Follow Christ’s advice to Ephesus, ver. 5, ‘Remember from whence thou art fallen, and repent,’ &c. Content not yourselves with some small degree of love to Christ; that will not serve you when a day of trial and suffering comes. A little water will quench a spark; it must be a flame, indeed, that all the waters will not quench, nor the floods drown and extinguish, Cant. viii. 6, 7. Get your love kindled into a vehement flame, and then you will follow Christ, and may safely do it, though all the waves and the billows go over you. —David Clarkson, Of Taking Up the Cross, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:481–482.

A Christian Is a Disciple

Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. —Luke 14:27 The church is not a club one joins with meetings to attend. To be a Christian is not merely to profess faith in Christ, or to agree with a certain set of doctrines. It begins with a supernatural change of nature, resulting in a single-minded devotion to following Christ. A disciple and a Christian are all one, Acts xi. 26. A disciple of Christ is one that gives up himself to be wholly at Christ’s disposing; to learn what he teacheth, to believe what he reveals, to do what he commands, to avoid what he forbids, to suffer what is inflicted by or for him, in expectation of that reward which he hath promised. Such a one is a disciple of Christ, and he, and none else, is a Christian. Such as these, who give up themselves to be taught and governed by Christ in all things, were at first called disciples, and afterwards at Antioch they were called Christians; they are two names of the same persons. Many descriptions you have of them in Scripture, and here you have them described by one of their essential properties. Christiani sunt cruciani, says Luther, Christians are cross-bearers. So they are always, though they be not always in a suffering condition; they ever bear the cross . . . It is in their hearts to bear the cross, whatever it be, whensoever Christ shall require it; and they do actually bear it whenever they are called to it. They do not flinch from it, nor decline it, nor turn from it, by any indirect or unlawful course. They had rather lose all they have in the world, and suffer all that an enraged world can inflict on them, than deny any truth of Christ, or decline any way of Christ, or commit any sin against Christ. This is their temper, their practice, who are Christians. And those who are otherwise disposed, let them call themselves what they will, they are not Christians. Nor can they be Christians upon any other terms. They have not given up themselves to him, they have no interest in him, they can have no benefit by him, they shall have no reward from him. —David Clarkson, Of Taking Up the Cross, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:448–449.

How Must We Hate?

If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. —Luke 14:26 But has Christ no disciples but such as these? Are none Christians but upon these terms? Alas! who then is a Christian? Who then can be saved? Can none be disciples of Christ but those that will hate their dearest relations, their best worldly enjoyments, yea, their own lives, for Christ’s sake? Will he own none, will he admit none to follow him, but upon these terms? . . . this is a hard saying indeed, who can bear it? Why, but thus it is, Christ will admit none to be his disciples, he will own none for Christians, upon other terms than he here expresses. Only you must not mistake. He requires not that you should hate these relations absolutely; for that would be to contradict his own law, the law of God and nature, which requires natural affection. But this is it which he requires, you must hate them, (1.) In effect. You must as freely part with them for Christ’s sake, as if you did hate them. You must be as willing to relinquish them, when he requires it, as you are to part with a thing that you hate. You will part with a hated thing freely, readily, cheerfully; even so must you part with your relations, enjoyments, and life too, not out of hatred to them, but leave them all as readily, when Christ calls, as if you did hate them. To hate them here, is freely to forsake them for Christ’s sake. And so it is expressed, Mat. xix. 29. Part with them as freely for Christ, that the world may judge you do hate them, because you quit them so easily, without murmuring, repining, reluctancy. (2.) Comparatively. You must love Christ more than all these, more than the dearest of these, and shew you do so indeed by quitting all of them, rather than forsake, or dishonour, or displease Christ. If you do not, you love these more than Christ: Mat. x. 37, He that loveth father or mother more than me, is not worthy of me. And to love anything more than Christ, is to hate him. A less degree of love is called hatred in Scripture, Gen. xxix. 30, 31. Because he loved Leah less than Rachel, he is said to hate her. Even as you may be said to hate your relations, enjoyments, lives, when you love them less than Christ, so much less as you will be content to part with them for his sake, whenever he requires it. And in this sense you must be able to hate them, or else you cannot be the disciples of Christ, or else you are not Christians; for upon these terms, and no other, will he own you for such. —David Clarkson, Of Taking Up the Cross, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:447–448.

If you have a Bible, and are privileged to hear the Word preached, if you have heard the gospel, and have been born again by the Holy Spirit, consider what great cause you have for gratitude. Darkness covers the earth, and thick darkness the people. How is it that it does not cover you? Why have you the light of life, that of the gospel, when others have nothing but the light of nature, very dim and obscure, and almost extinct? Are your lines fallen in a pleasant place, in a valley of vision? Why were you not disposed of in some valley of the shadow of death, when such valleys take up far the greatest part of the world? Why did not your lot fall in those dark places of the earth, where Christ is not known, and the way to life not discovered, where they breathe in no air but what is dangerously foggy and pestilential, where is no air for souls but what conveys poison to them, and is infected with the mortal contagion of popery, heathenism, or Mohamedanism? This is the condition of ten to one in the world; and how comes it that your lot is fallen with the fewest, in the light, rather than with the most, in darkness? All places and persons are the Lord’s; he disposes of them as he will. What thankfulness do you owe for his disposing of you so mercifully, in comparison of others, so many others, almost all the world? Our Lord Jesus shews how much this obliges to thankfulness by his own practice, Luke x. 21. —David Clarkson, The Lord the Owner of All Things, Works (Banner of Truth, 1988), 1:390.

Lord’s Day 50, 2017
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: He Hideth My Soul
Biting the Hand that Feeds
Free Love
Rights of Ownership
His Excellent Greatness
Merely Stewards

Lord’s Day 48, 2017
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: It Is Well
Partake of Christ (4)
Thanksgiving, 2017
Partake of Christ (3)
Partake of Christ (2)
Partake of Christ (1)

Lord’s Day 49, 2017
In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: Like a River Glorious
On Leading Congregational Singing
Where There Is Life (3)
Where There Is Life (2)
Where There Is Life (1)
Partake of Christ (5)


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