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Lords Day 39, 2009


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

HYMN 29. (C. M.)
The ruin of Antichrist. Isa. lxiii. 47.
Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

image

I lift my banner, saith the Lord,

Where Antichrist has stood;
The city of my gospel foes

Shall be a field of blood.

My heart has studied just revenge,
   And now the day appears;
The day of my redeemd is come
   To wipe away their tears.

Quite weary is my patience grown,
   And bids my fury go;
Swift as the lightning it shall move,
   And be as fatal too.

I call for helpers, but in vain;
   Then has my gospel none?
Well, mine own arm has might enough
   To crush my foes alone.

Slaughter and my devouring sword
   Shall walk the streets around,
Babel shall reel beneath my stroke,
   And stagger to the ground.

Thy honours, O victorious King!
   Thine own right hand shall raise,
While we thy awful vengeance sing,
   And our delivrer praise.

from The Psalms & Hymns of Isaac Watts. Hymns and Spiritual Songs. Book I: Collected from the Holy Scriptures

imageJohn 4:3142

Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, Rabbi, eat. 32 But He said to them, I have food to eat that you do not know about. 33 So the disciples were saying to one another, No one brought Him anything to eat, did he? 34 Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. 35 Do you not say, There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. 36 Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true, One sows and another reaps. 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.

Christ witnesses to the Samaritans

   39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, He told me all the things that I have done. 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.

imageWe have, for one thing, in these verses, an instructive pattern of zeal for the good of others. We read, that our Lord Jesus Christ declares, My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to finish his work. To do good was not merely duty and pleasure to Him. He counted it as His food and drink. Job, one of the holiest Old Testament saints, could say, that he esteemed Gods word more than his necessary food. (Job xxiii. 12.) The Great Head of the New Testament Church went even further. He could say the same of Gods work.

Do we do any work for God? Do we try, however feebly, to set forward His cause on earth,to check that which is evil, to promote that which is good? If we do, let us never be ashamed of doing it with all our heart, and soul, and mind, and strength. Whatsoever our hand finds to do for the souls of others, let us do it with our might. (Eccles. ix. 10.) The world may mock and sneer, and call us enthusiasts. The world can admire zeal in any service but that of God, and can praise enthusiasm on any subject but that of religion. Let us work on unmoved. Whatever men may say and think, we are walking in the steps of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us, beside this, take comfort in the thought that Jesus Christ never changes. He that sat by the well of Samaria, and found it food and drink to do good to an ignorant soul, is always in one mind. High in heaven at Gods right hand, He still delights to save sinners, and still approves zeal and labour in the cause of God. The work of the missionary and the evangelist may be despised and ridiculed in many quarters. But while man is mocking, Christ is well pleased! Thanks be to God, Jesus is the same yesterday, and to-day, and forever.

We have, for another thing, in these verses, strong encouragement held out to those who labour to do good to souls. We read, that our Lord described the world as a field white for the harvest; and then said to His disciples, He that reapeth, receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal.

Work for the souls of men, is undoubtedly attended by great discouragements. The heart of natural man is very hard and unbelieving. The blindness of unsaved men to their own lost condition and peril of ruin, is something past description. The carnal mind is enmity against God. (Rom. viii. 7.) No one can have any just idea of the desperate hardness of men and women, until he has tried to do good. No one can have any conception of the small number of those who repent and believe, until he has personally endeavoured to save some. (1 Cor. ix. 22.) To suppose that everybody will become a true Christian, who is told about Christ, and entreated to believe, is mere childish ignorance. Few there be that find the narrow way! The labourer for Christ will find the vast majority of those among whom he labours, unbelieving and impenitent, in spite of all that he can do. The many will not turn to Christ. These are discouraging facts. But they are facts, and facts that ought to be known.

The true antidote against despondency in Gods work, is an abiding recollection of such promises as that before us. There are wages laid up for faithful reapers. They shall receive a reward at the last day, far exceeding anything they have done for Christ,a reward proportioned not to their success, but to the quantity of their work.They are gathering fruit, which shall endure when this world has passed away,fruit, in some souls saved, if many will not believe, and fruit in evidences of their own faithfulness, to be brought out before assembled worlds. Do our hands ever hang down, and our knees wax faint? Do we feel disposed to say, my labour is in vain and my words without profit. Let us lean back at such seasons on this glorious promise. There are wages yet to be paid. There is fruit yet to be exhibited. We are a sweet savour of Christ, both in those who are saved and in those who perish. (2 Cor. ii. 15.) Let us work on. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. (Psalm cxxvi. 6.) One single soul saved, shall outlive and outweigh all the kingdoms of the world.

We have, lastly, in these verses, a most teaching instance of the variety of ways by which men are led to believe Christ. We read that many of the Samaritans believed on Christ for the saying of the woman. But this is not all. We read again, Many more believed because of Christs own word. In short, some were converted trough the means of the womans testimony, and some were converted by hearing Christ Himself.

The words of Paul should never be forgotten, There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. (1 Cor. xii. 6.) The way in which the Spirit leads all Gods people is always one and the same. But the paths by which they are severally brought into that road are often widely different. There are some in whom the work of conversion is sudden and instantaneous. There are others in whom it goes on slowly, quietly, and by imperceptible degrees. Some have their hearts gently opened, like Lydia. Others are aroused by violent alarm, like the jailor at Philippi. All are finally brought to repentance toward God, faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and holiness of conversation. But all do not begin with the same experience. The weapon which carries conviction to one believers soul, is not the one which first pierces another. The arrows of the Holy Spirit are all drawn from the same quiver. But He uses sometimes one and sometimes another, according to His own sovereign will.

Are we converted ourselves? This is the one point to which our attention ought to be directed. Our experience may not tally with that of other believers. But that is not the question. Do we feel sin, hate it, and flee from it? Do we love Christ, and rest solely on Him for salvation? Are we bringing forth fruits of the Spirit in righteousness and true holiness? If these things are so we may thank God, and take courage.

J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Baker Books, 2007) [Westminster (PB) | Amazon (HC)], 3:238241

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



Posted 2009·09·27 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Expository Thoughts on the Gospels · Isaac Watts · J C Ryle · Lord’s Day · Psalms and Hymns of Isaac Watts
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