Declarations From The Past Provide Wisest Counsel For The Present



There is a quote from England’s Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, of the late 19th century that has been a guiding light for my work. Spurgeon wrote, “The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted; he who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains, proves that he has no brains of his own.”

A professor of mine once asked me where all the money in the world could be found. Not sure of my answer, I responded, “In banks, I suppose.” He smiled and said, “You are right. So where is all the knowledge in the world to be found?” I replied, “In books?” Again he smiled and affirmed I had given the correct answer, but this time adding an exhortation, saying, “You need to read, read, and read. Make as many withdrawals in your life as possible.”

The love of reading good books has kept me on a quest for them for years. Although there are excellent writers of today, I find those of earlier days the most interesting, especially when the subject matter is theology. So many of them demonstrate incredible “wordsmithing” skill – their ability to pack so much content in one sentence – the turn of a phrase – the emotion and passion conveyed – the flow and rhythm of their words – sometimes their use of great poetry or literature of the past – their faithfulness to the truth – makes me hungry for more and more.

The best divinity books in my library are those that have been out of print for decades – books – believe it or not – that I found when visiting antique stores. While my wife was swooning over some turn of the century lamp, I was rapturous over the discovery of some volume by a Christian author currently unknown or long-forgotten.

Recently I found just such a gem with the title, “One Hundred Great Texts and Their Treatment,” a Sermon Helps book edited by Rev. Frederick Barton, with a copyright of 1914, and published by Harper and Brothers, New York and London. Each chapter contained suggested materials for preparing a good sermon on various subjects taken from a hundred passages of Scripture.

One chapter was about the Bible, the Word of God. The quotes recorded therein were so wide-ranging and of such weight on the subject, I cannot resist sharing them. These declarations from the past provide us with wise counsel for the present. I have placed them under headings with the hope that one might find these excerpts as instructive and meaningful as I found them.

The Bible’s Use and Purpose

“The Bible is not a charm, that, keeping it on our shelves or locking it up in a closet, can do us any good. Neither is it a story book to read for amusement. It is sent to teach us our duty to God and man; to show us from what a height we are fallen by sin, and to what a far more glorious height we may soar, if we will put on the wings of faith and love. This is the use we ought to make of the Bible. If we use the Bible thus, Christ will open our eyes to see the way. He will send you wings and they shall bear you up to heaven.”

-A. W. Hare

The Bible’s Power for Right Living

“I am full of fear for the best man if he neglects his Bible. He is almost certain to fall before the enemy. Amid these last days’ perils there is no safe-guard but in the word of God.”

-D. L. Moody

“What sinful men up and down this world want is not more teaching as to what they ought to do and be, in higher ideals and fresh examples, but power which energizes the will to do its duty. For some reason which never fails to move men with awe, God has been pleased in all these years to communicate most largely his impulse and irresistible energy through these vital pages…”

-John R. Mott

The Bible and the Church

“Those churches which are most formal and lifeless, and which, apparently, lack propagating power, are those which are the most ignorant of these writings. Here is vitality: ‘Thou hast the words of eternal life.’ ‘My words are spirit, and they are life.’”

-John R. Mott

The Bible and Social Progress

“When the Bible goes down the red flag goes up. Without the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, you leave society at the mercy of a sea full of moral privateers. Statesmanship is never so short-sighted as when it hedges against the Bible, one of whose constantly reiterated doctrines is respect for magistrates and administrative authority. And labor and industry are nothing else than purblind, when they tolerate indictments against that volume whose chief theme and inspiration are the life, the words and the deeds of Jesus the Carpenter.”

-Dr. William Porcher Du Bose

The Bible and Civic Welfare

“The more the Bible is put into the minds and hearts and daily lives of the people, the less concern we may have with respect to our political laws. Take out of our lives the Scriptures and you would strike an irreparable blow to our national progress, and to those high ideals which we associate with America and Americans.”

-Charles W. Fairbanks

The Bible and Liberty

“Put the Bible in countries where tyranny and injustice have long held sway and the inevitable fruitage in God’s good time will be liberty, democracy, justice and brotherhood.”

-Frederick Barton

A popular refrain of our time says, “Let us not go back, but let us continue to move forward.” May I suggest that in many matters of modern day living, we have too often, too much, and for too long, neglected or forgotten timeless truths that are the only means for really moving forward. While voices of the present continue to insist that we are headed in the right direction, voices from the past tell us that we are actually losing ground.

Our current experiences and circumstances also testify to the error of our ways.

It is foolish to think that because something is old that it isn’t relevant – that it is obsolete.

Within the dusty pages of a book found on the shelf of an antique store is a record of eloquent remarks from those who call to us from the past. They speak to us from the dead. They tell us of another Book – one that transcends the generations – one that warns us of pitfalls and precipices – one that addresses our greatest needs – one that made our forefathers a people of strength, character, prosperity and blessing to the entire world. And they admonish us to dust off the cover of that ageless Book and return to it.

I can hear them. Can you?




original here

A Hunger for God

Psalms 63:1-5

The Lord has given us a variety of appetites, which are essential for our physical survival. But He has also created within our hearts a hunger that is spiritual. David was a man who recognized and felt this yearning for the heavenly Father. Throughout the Psalms, we find him meditating, offering praise, or crying out to God. His greatest joy was to be with his heavenly Father in intimate communion.

Hungering for the Lord is a desire to know and draw closer to Him. Sadly, this yearning lies dormant in many believers’ lives. They’re saved but have very little desire for more. One of the problems is that our society is filled with all sorts of things that grab and hold our interest and affections. These pleasures and pursuits compete with God for our attention, claiming our time and effort.

The good news is that a longing for God can be awakened if we are willing to change our priorities and pursuits. Although cultivating a desire for the Lord takes time, the joy we’ll experience is lasting—and the rewards are eternal. We’ll always get more out of a relationship with God than we put in. What’s more, as our hunger for Him comes to life, He will open our heart and mind to understand and desire Him even more.

When we yearn for the Lord, He will satisfy us with contentment and a sense of completeness, while awakening an even deeper longing in our souls. Unlike physical hunger, a craving for Him is filled but paradoxically leaves us hungry. The more we are satisfied in Christ, the more we want of Him.

Questioning God

“Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20)

Whenever one begins a question with “why,” he should realize that the answer must necessarily be theological, not scientific. Science can deal with the questions of “what” and “how,” sometimes even with “where” and “when,” but never with “why”! The “why” questions have to do with motives and purposes, even when dealing with natural phenomena. (“Why does the earth rotate on its axis?” “Why do we have mosquitoes?”) Even though we can partially explain such things by secondary causes, we finally encounter a “first cause,” and then the “why?” can be answered only by God.

The wise thing to do is simply to believe that He has good reasons for everything, whether we can discern them now or not. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25). God the Creator “worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” (Ephesians 1:11), and it is our high privilege simply to trust Him, not to question Him.

On the other hand, He often asks us: “Why?” “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” Jesus asked His disciples when they thought they were in great peril (Matthew 8:26). “If I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?” (John 8:46), He would say to those who question His Word.

Then, to those who doubt His deity, the apostle Paul, speaking in His name, asks: “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” (Acts 26:8). As the popular chorus goes: “God specializes in things thought impossible!” Our God is omniscient and knows what’s best; He is omnipotent, so He can do it. He is all-loving and will surely do what’s best for those who trust Him. HMM

God Calling

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? —Luke 15:4

Although the human mind stubbornly resists and resents the suggestion that it is a sick, fallen planet upon which we ride, everything within our consciousness, our innermost spirit, confirms that the voice of God is sounding in this world—the voice of God calling, seeking, beckoning to lost men and women!…

Sacred revelation declares plainly that the inhabitants of the earth are lost. They are lost by a mighty calamitous visitation of woe which came upon them somewhere in that distant past and is still upon them.

But it also reveals a glorious fact—that this lost race has not been given up!

There is a divine voice that continues to call. It is the voice of the Creator, God, and it is entreating them. Just as the shepherd went everywhere searching for his sheep, just as the woman in the parable went everywhere searching for her coin, so there is a divine search with many variations of the voice that entreats us, calling us back.

Lord, we would all be lost but for Your seeking and calling, in Your inestimable grace. I worship You today for that gracious calling. Amen.

Our Inner Sight

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling. (Ephesians 1:18)

Revival and blessing come to the church when we stop looking at a picture of God and look at God Himself! Revival comes when, no longer satisfied to know about a God in history, we meet the conditions of finding Him in living, personal experience.

Conversely, revival cannot come if we are far removed from God. It cannot come if, instead of hearing His voice, we are content with only an echo!

Put those deficiencies together and you have the reason why we are dissatisfied and empty. You have the reason why there is so little of vivid, vibrant joy in the things of God.

I hold fast to the opinion that our God is ever trying to reveal Himself to us. There is no way for sinful men and women to find their way into God’s presence unless He reveals Himself and appears to us. I do not mean that God is trying to appear to our physical eyesight. Rather, He is trying to appear to the eye of our soul through an inner consciousness. Never apologize for your inner eyes! They are the real eyes for discerning the nature of issues important to God.

Yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table

And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.—Matthew 15:27.

My sins are many, but oh! it is nothing to Jesus to take them all away. “It will be but a small thing for him to give me full remission, although it will be an infinite blessing for me to receive it.” The woman opens her soul wide, expecting great things of Jesus, and he fills it with his love. Dear reader, do the same. She laid fast hold upon him, drew arguments even out of his words; she believed great things of him, and she thus overcame him. SHE WON THE VICTORY BY BELIEVING IN HIM. Her case is an instance of prevailing faith; and if we would conquer like her, we must imitate her.