Let us learn to pass a charitable judgment on the conduct of professing believers. Let us not set them down in a low place, and say they have no grace because we see in them much weakness and corruption. Let us remember that our Master in heaven bears with their infirmities, and let us try to bear with them too.J.C. Ryle
The Church of Christ is
littlebetter than a great hospital. We ourselves are all, more or less, weak, and all daily need the skillful treatment of the heavenly Physician. There will be no ‘complete cures’ until the resurrection day.
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.
We often hear this verse when we go to weddings. But this verse is not just about love between a married couple. Paul is talking about love in the church; love between the brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the love that should be in the church. This is the love that is in the church of Christ.
When we read this description of love, can we say that this is our life? Am I patient toward that brother that just won’t catch on? Am I kind to the sister that often offends me? Do I envy the ministry of another? Do I boast in what I do? Am I arrogant or rude to those in the church? Do I insist on my way or on God’s way? When I walk in the church is my automatic response one of irritation? Am I holding a grudge or am I quick to forgive? Do I hate evil and wrongdoing in the hearts of my brothers and sisters and hate when wrong is done to them? Do I rejoice when my brothers and sisters love the truth and they walk in the truth? Do I bear, believe, hope and endure all things in my fellow church members? Does my love have an end?
We might be tempted to think, “I don’t love them and I don’t hate them. I’m just…indifferent.” We try to create a third category that we can feel comfortable in. Hate is such a strong word, and love, well, I know I don’t do what 1 Corinthians says, so I’m just in the middle somewhere. Have you tried looking for that middle category in the Bible? Did you find it? You might find the complacent, the lukewarm, the double-minded or some other synonym for indifference all of which are condemned. Indifference is just a form of hatred, but it is hatred none the less.
It is no novelty, then, that I am preaching; no new doctrine. I love to proclaim these strong old doctrines that are called by nickname Calvinism, but which are truly and verily the revealed truth of God as it is in Christ Jesus. By this truth I make my pilgrimage into the past, and as I go, I see father after father,
confessor after confessor, martyr after martyr, standing up to shake hands with me . . .
Taking these things to be the standard of my faith, I see the land of the ancients peopled with my brethren; I behold multitudes who confess the same as I do, and acknowledge that this is the religion of God’s own church.Charles Spurgeon
I have my own opinion that there is no such thing as preaching Christ and Him crucified, unless we preach what nowadays is called Calvinism. It is a nickname to call it Calvinism; Calvinism is the gospel, and nothing else. I do not believe we can preach the gospel if we do not preach justification by faith
without works; nor unless we preach the sovereignty of God in His dispensation of grace; nor unless we exalt the electing unchangeable eternal, immutable, conquering love of Jehovah; nor do I think we can preach the gospel unless we base it upon the special and particular redemption of His elect and chosen people which Christ wrought out upon the cross.
George Whitefield said, “We are all born Arminians.” It is grace that turns us into Calvinists.
I do not ask whether you believe Calvinism. It is possible that you do not. But I believe you will before you enter heaven. I am persuaded that as God may have washed your hearts, He will wash your brains before you enter heaven.
Calvinism did not spring from Calvin. We believe that it sprang from the great founder of all truth.
“A dying day is, in itself, a joyful day to the godly; it is their redemption day, when the captives are delivered, when the prisoners are set free. It is the day of the pilgrims coming home from their pilgrimage; the day in which the heirs of glory return from their travels, to their own country, and their Father’s house; and enter into actual possession of the glorious inheritance. It is their marriage day– now is the time of espousals; but then the marriage is consummated, and a marriage feast begun, which has no end. If so, is not the state of the godly in death, a hopeful state?”Thomas Boston
“And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.” Micah 6:4
I am interested in the inclusion of Miriam’s name. Long generations after her death, God commemorates her deeds no less than those of her great brothers. For in His Kingdom there is neither male nor female, and the woman is as essential and as helpful as the man.
How it illustrates His forgiveness, too, that God recalls only that which is good about Miriam! There was a mournful episode in her history, when she spoke against Moses, and when, for a little while, the frightful scourge of the leprosy fell upon her. But this is forgotten, and nothing is recounted except her brave leadership of Israel.
Who is so liberal-hearted as God, and so rich in magnanimity?
He writes my sins on the sand, and the flowing waters of His mercy and grace soon obliterate the indictment. My services, as small as they are in comparison with what He deserves — He writes on the undecaying page of His Book of Remembrance, and they live abidingly in His thought and heart!Alexander Smellie
Why was I made to hear Your voice
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice
And rather starve than come?
It was the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly forced me in.
Else I had still refused to taste,
And perished in my sin
The Christian also makes the gracious conduct of the Lord towards himself—a pattern for his own conduct towards his fellow-worms. He cannot boast of himself—nor is he anxious to censure others. He considers himself, lest he also fall. And thus he learns tenderness and compassion to others, and to bear patiently with those mistakes, blemishes and faults in othersJohn Newton
—which once belonged to his own character; and from which, as yet, he is but imperfectly freed.
He therefore acts in character, as the follower of Him who was compassionate towards the infirmities and mistakes of His disciples, and taught them gradually, as they were able to bear it—and not everything at once.
But then, the same considerations which inspire him with meekness and gentleness towards those who oppose the truth—strengthen his regard for the truth itself, and his conviction of its importance. For the sake of peace, which he loves and cultivates—he accommodates himself, as far as he lawfully can, to the weaknesses and mistakes of other sincere Christians; though he is thereby exposed to be censured by ‘bigots’ of all parties, who deem him flexible and wavering, like a reed shaken with the wind.
But there are other fundamental points, essential to the Gospel, which are the foundations of his hope, and the sources of his joy. For his firm attachment to these, he is content to be treated as a ‘bigot’ himself! For here he is immovable as an iron pillar; nor can either the fear or the favor of man prevail on him to yield the truth of the Gospel, no not for an hour! (Galatians 2:5). Here his judgment is fixed; and he expresses it in simple and unequivocal language, so as not to leave either friends or enemies in suspense, concerning the side which he has chosen, or the cause which is nearest to his heart.
Knowing that the Gospel is the wisdom and power of God, and the only possible means by which fallen man can obtain peace with God—he most cordially embraces and avows it. Far from being ashamed of it—he esteems it his glory. He preaches Christ Jesus, and Him crucified. He disdains the thought of distorting, disguising, or softening the great doctrines of the grace of God, to render them more palatable to the depraved taste of the times (2 Corinthians 4:2). And he will no more encounter the errors and corrupt maxims and practices of the world, with any weapon but the truth as it is in Jesus—than he would venture to fight an enraged tiger with a paper sword!
Professing Christians, instead of looking into the perfect standard of Scripture, and seeing themselves reflected from that faithful mirror, and adjusting their character and conduct by its infallible revelations — placed before themselves the standard of the Christian profession as it was found in the church of the day, and regulated their behavior by what they saw in the prevailing character of their fellow Christians!
Thus a constant multiplication of corrupted copies has ever been going on! And religion, as seen in the conduct of its professors, compared with that which is described in the pages of its own inspired rule — have been quite different things!
Let us turn away from the religion we see in the church — to the religion we read in the Bible! Let us not go to the imperfect and blurred copy — but to the perfect and unspotted original! The Bible’s representation of the nature of true piety is intended for us as our guide, and is obligatory upon us!J. A. James
JR Miller once said, “The religious rulers carried their pious scruples even to the palace of Pilate. Amazingly, they had no scruples about their wicked treatment of an innocent man—but they were scrupulously conscientious about matters of mere ceremonial requirement! They would not set their feet on the Gentile’s floor—for that would have defiled them! Yet meanwhile their hearts were full of evil and murderous thoughts and resolves!
There will always be people who are most punctilious in their religious rituals—but who in practical life, are little better than heathen!
We should learn well, that God is grieved more by our bitter feelings, our lack of love, our hate and envy—than He is with little omissions in religious ceremonies and formalities. “