Around-the-Horn[1]Garrison Keillor: Bob McDonnell and Rolex Christians
Jesus didn’t wear a Rolex. He did not hit up the Pharisees for thousands of shekels so the apostles could have rib-eye steak and a 35 B.C. cabernet at the Last Supper.

Pope Francis Denounces the Prosperity Gospel
via Vatican Radio: [The Pope] criticized the so-called “theology of prosperity”— according to which “God shows you that you are just if He give you great riches,” saying those who follow it are mistaken. The problem lies in being attached to wealth, because, as the Pope recalled, “You cannot serve both God and riches.” These become “chains” that “take away the freedom to follow Jesus.”

Feeling Good vs Doing Good
 “What prompts people to rally around destructive policies? The answer, I think, is that many people make up their minds on the issues of the day not according to the facts, but according to how it makes them feel about themselves.”

Majority of American Christians Do Not Find Bible Reading and Church Attendance as Essential
When you imagine “a week in the life of a Christian” you might imagine a church visit, an occasional Bible reading before bed, and some community involvement after school or work. However, this is not likely the case, if American Christians act in accordance with what they find essential to their faith.

You Are Not Your Sexuality
It’s no longer news that Western culture has undergone a dramatic sea change in its attitude toward homosexuality. Less often noted is where a key impetus for this change has come: the power of narrative.

J.B. (Joseph Barber) Lightfoot (13 April 1828 – 21 December 1889) was Bible Scholar, theologian and Bishop of Durham. 

Psalm 8:3-4
“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained . . .”

JB Lightfoot
Could any paradox be imagined greater than this — this contrast between the insignificance of man’s self and the preeminence of man’s destiny? No interval of time or transference of scene, no contrast of persons or of circumstances, has tarnished its freshness or robbed it of its power. Nay, must we not rather confess that, as the world has grown older, the chasm between the greatness and the meanness of man has widened, and the paradox has increased from age to age?


1. Astronomy has taught us our insignificance in space.

2. Geology teaches us our insignificance in time.

3. The microscope discovers to us miniature worlds, crowding under our eyes, countless in number, and each thronged with a dense population of its own.

4. The anatomist dissects and the chemist analyses the human body. Man is found to be compounded of just such substances as the brute, the tree, the stone. There is absolutely nothing besides.

5. If there is nothing in the component elements of the human frame which accounts for the preeminence of man, we may at all events look for an explanation in some peculiarities of structure. But the naturalist will tell us that all attempts at classification with a view to separating man off by a broad line from the lower creation fail signally.

II. THE MATERIALIST WILL BE CONTENT TO SAY, “WHAT IS MAN? An insignificant atom in time and space. And the son of man? An organism like other organisms.” But the believer is constrained to add, “Lord, that Thou art mindful of him! Lord, that Thou visitest him!”

1. The believer may boldly claim science herself as his teacher, for it has accumulated evidence at every step that, as a thinking, hoping, aspiring, progressive being he is quite unique in God’s creation. The Psalmist thought of man’s dominion over the beasts, birds, fishes of the sea. We have lived to witness his sovereignty over the elemental powers of nature — he can order the lightning, weigh the sun, make the vapour his slave.

2. Yet this subjugation of the powers of nature is only the earnest of greater things to come. Apostles and evangelists saw the true fulfilment of the Psalmist’s prophetic saying in the ultimate and supreme destiny of mankind, as realised in the person and work of the one representative Man. The song of the Psalmist falls on the ears of Christians now with a fuller cadence, swelled with the experience of nearly thirty centuries, and prolonged into the hopes of eternity.


You never forget a pile of amputated limbs. Or, at least, Walt Whitman never did.

ddayThis grisly sign of war was one of the first sights that greeted Whitman in 1862, when he went to the Civil War battlefield at Fredericksburg, to look for his wounded brother George. As he later recounted it, he saw “a heap of amputated feet, legs, arms, hands, &c.,” a pile so large he described it as “a full load for a one-horse cart.”

For Whitman, this heap of limbs became a representative image of the Civil War, which he imagined as unnaturally cutting off states from the nation. Indeed, the fragmented republic and its piecemeal human bodies weighed heavily upon Whitman, who carried with him the memories of countless amputations and deaths he had seen while volunteering in the military hospitals.

As we approach Memorial Day, a day whose origins lie in the American Civil War, we have an opportunity to reflect on how and why we remember the dead. Walt Whitman offers us his own answer, emerging from his own confrontation with the terrible violence and the human cost of war. For Whitman, memorializing the war in his writing allows him to both recall and “re-member” the broken bodies of the fallen—and in doing so, to act out a kind of healing for them and for their country.

Read the rest.

Around-the-Horn[1]Judge Dread :: More Madness on the Road to Serfdom
We should all reflect on the significance of this case because it has far-reaching legal and cultural implications. Can one not hold public office in the United States now unless one is committed to the latest ideological fad, regardless of whether that fad is actually relevant to one’s work? Could one be a public school teacher—or a teacher of any government accredited school for that matter—without subscribing ex animo to whatever the creed of the day happens to be? And where will this end? Given the Unholy Trinity’s ability to defy democracy and transform our world according to its own tastes, are private persons any safer in the long term than public employees?

The Moral Revolutionaries Present Their Demands: Unconditional Surrender
Now that the moral revolutionaries are solidly in control, what is to be demanded of Christians who, on the basis of Christian conviction, cannot join the revolution? The demands have now been presented, and they represent unconditional surrender. The latest terms of surrender were delivered last week by Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.

Devotional Theology: An Introduction
Looks like a good, practical series: “In recent years, however, there have been extravagant measures taken by women to try to “get more” of God; to hear from Him; to know Him better. Some of these efforts have ranged from painfully shallow to downright heretical. From the fallible, presumptuous words of Jesus Calling to the dangerous practice of contemplative prayer, eager Christian women everywhere are desperately seeking to know God better. However, the one thing we’re lacking is the one thing that’s sitting right under our noses—the Word of God; and further, a right understanding and application of it.”

What the Transgender Bathroom Debate Means for You
A very good article from Russell Moore: “In the meantime, what should the church do? First, we must bear witness to the goodness of what it means to live as creatures, not as self-defining gods and goddesses.” 

The Vanity of Conspiracy Theories and the Banality of Real Evil
Now that the Republicans are a handful of delegates away from nominating an ostensible conspiracy theorist* to be their candidate to lead the free world, it’s worth recalling this insightful post by Carl Trueman from  a few years ago. . .

What is the Internet’s Favorite Book?
Which is the better book: War and Peace or installment one of The Hunger GamesIf you ask a book reviewer or look at any of the “Best Book” lists compiled by  critics, you would say War and Peace. But what if you asked everyday readers on the Internet?



bryanMT PLEASANT, SC – Monday May 23, 2016, clergy and lay delegates from the Diocese of the Carolinas voted unanimously to elect Bishop David C. Bryan as the first Suffragan Bishop of the Diocese of the Carolinas.

Bryan has served as Bishop of the Southeast (PEARUSA) Network since September 2013.This Network, one of three in PEARUSA, is part of a missionary district established by the Anglican Province of Rwanda in the United States.

This June, Archbishop Rwaje of Rwanda will formally hand over all three networks to Archbishop Foley Beach and the Anglican Church in North America. Two of the networks will become dioceses. The clergy and churches in Bishop Bryan’s network will have the opportunity to become part of an already existing Diocese of the Carolinas under Bishop Steve Wood.

“It’s the right thing for us to do here in the Carolinas,” Bryan said. “The clergy who elected me as their bishop agreed with me that we didn’t need another diocese. I am personally looking forward to working with Bishop Steve Wood and sharing episcopal ministry with him.”

The clergy and parishes in Bishop Bryan’s PEARUSA network will have until July 1 to apply for admittance into the Diocese of the Carolinas.

“I’m excited about the possibilities ahead,” Wood responded. “Bishop David and the clergy of his network are teaching all of us about humility and passion for gospel unity. The vote last night, I think, tells it all. Our clergy and lay delegates are excited about coming together.”

Archbishop Beach added, “Archbishop Rwaje and the House of Bishops of Rwanda want our Anglican witness of Jesus Christ in North America to be strong. I believe what Bishop David and the Southeast (PEARUSA) Network is doing demonstrates that witness boldly and courageously in the Carolinas.”

Related to the actions of the Southeast (PEARUSA) Network, Bishop Thad Barnum has accepted the position of Assisting Bishop in the Diocese of the Carolinas where Bishop Barnum has established an Office of Clergy Care attending to the personal and spiritual well-being of the clergy.

+Thad and his wife Erilynne have four grown children and eleven grandchildren. They reside in Pawleys Island, SC

+David and his wife Nancy have three grown children, with two married and one engaged. They reside in Columbia, SC.

+Steve and his wife Jacqui have four grown children and two grandchildren. They reside in Mt. Pleasant, SC.

edwardsI intend to show how we may definitely conclude that God is at work. I want to show the signs which Scripture says are clear evidence that God is at work. We will then be able to use these signs to judge any work without fear of being misled.

I propose to look only at those signs given in 1 John 4. That is because this chapter deals with this question plainly and more completely than any other part of the Bible. So let us look at the signs in the order they are given in the chapter.

1. When esteem for the true Jesus is raised

If a persons esteem of the true Jesus is raised, it is a sure sign that the Spirit of God is at work. By the true Jesus, I mean this: that Jesus was born of a virgin and crucified outside the gates of Jerusalem; that He is the Son of God and the Savior of men as the gospel declares.

This sign is given by the apostle in 1 John 4:2-3: “This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.” This implies acknowledging more than that there was such a person as Jesus who appeared in Palestine and did those things that the Bible says. It implies acknowledging that He was the Christ, the Son of God, chosen to be Lord and Savior.

This word acknowledge is important. In the New Testament it means much more than merely admitting.” It implies knowing something and being willing to declare it in praise and love. For example, Matthew 10:32 says, “Whoever acknowledges Me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” People may praise their own false Christ while having no respect at all for the true, historical Jesus. Indeed, they are led away from Him. But no spirit can give testimony to the true Jesus, or lead men to Him, except the Spirit of God.

Why is this the case? It is because the devil has a bitter and unchanging hatred for the real Jesus, especially as Savior. He passionately hates the story and the doctrine of redemption. Satan would never work in men to produce honorable thoughts of Jesus, nor cause them to value His commands. The Spirit that turns men’s hearts to Christ is not the spirit of the serpent that has such an unchanging hatred toward Him.

When we look at anything that is happening in the religious world, and need to pass judgment, the first question we must ask is, “Are these people coming to love, honor, and esteem the real Lord Jesus more than ever?” If people are being convinced of their need of Christ and led to Him; if their belief that Christ appeared in history is strengthened; if they are more convinced than ever that He is the Son of God sent to save sinners; if they acknowledge that He is the only Savior and they need Him desperately; if they appreciate Him more than they did, and love Him too, then we may be quite sure that it is the Holy Spirit who is at work!

2. When Satan’s kingdom is attacked

The Spirit of God must be at work if the interests of Satan’s kingdom are opposed. This is a sure sign. Satan’s kingdom encourages sin and encourages men to cherish worldly lusts. The Holy Spirit does not.

This sign is given in 1 John 4:4-5: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” The apostle is here comparing those who are influenced by two opposite kinds of spirits. One spirit is true, and the other is false.

John shows the difference like this: one spirit is from God and so overcomes the spirit of the world. The other spirit speaks about and relishes the things of the world. Here, the spirit of the devil is called the one who is in the world. This is the difference between Christ and the devil. Christ says, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), but Satan is called, “the god of this age” (2 Cor. 4:4).

We know what the apostle means by “the world” or “the things that are of the world” from his own words in 1 John 2:15-16: ““Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.”” Clearly, he means everything to do with sin and includes all men’s corruptions and lusts–everything they look to for satisfaction.

So, from what the apostle says here, we may safely conclude that if a people:

have their love of ordinary, worldly pleasure, profits, and honors lowered;

are weaned from eagerly chasing such things;

have a deep concern about eternity and the eternal happiness that comes through the gospel;

earnestly begin to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness; and

are convicted of the ugliness and guilt of sin, as well as the misery to which it leads, then the Spirit of God must be at work.

We cannot believe that Satan would convict men of sin and awaken the conscience. The conscience is God’s representative in the soul. It can do Satan no good to make its light shine brighter. It is always in his interest to keep the conscience quiet and asleep. When conscience is awake, everything that Satan wants to accomplish is hindered.

When he is out to lead men further into sin, would the devil first open their eyes to see its ugliness? Would he make them afraid of sin? Would he make them mourn over past sins? Would he show them that they need to be delivered from sin’s guilt? Would he make them more careful about everything they do, to ensure there is no sin in it? Would the devil lead them to avoid future sins and make them more careful to avoid his own temptations? If a man thinks the devil acts like this, I wonder what he uses for brains!
But some may argue that the devil may even awaken a man’s conscience in order to deceive him–that is, to make him think he has been saved while he is still in his sin. To argue like this is futile. It is to argue that Christ was making a mistake when He told the Pharisees that Satan would not cast out Satan (Matt. 12:25-26). Remember, the Pharisees believed that the spirit at work in Christ’s ministry was the devil.

A man with an awakened conscience is the hardest man in the world to fool! The more awake a sinner’s conscience is, the harder it is to quiet it down until it is really delivered from sin. The more a conscience is aware of the greatness of man’s guilt, the less likely he is to be satisfied with his own righteousness. Once a man is thoroughly frightened by a sight of his own danger, he will not believe himself truly safe without good grounds. Awakening a conscience in this way is not likely to confirm a man in his sin. On the contrary, it is likely to lead to sin and Satan being driven out.

So, whenever we see people made aware of:

the ugliness of sin;

God’s anger against sin;

their own natural lostness because of sin;

their own need of eternal salvation;

their need of God’s mercy and help; and

their need to do what God has commanded in seeking salvation, we may certainly conclude that it is the Spirit of God at work!

Yes, even if their bodies are affected and they cry out or scream or faint. Yes, even if they go into fits or are affected in other dramatic ways. Those things do not count at all.

3. When people come to love the Scriptures more

When men are persuaded to love the holy Scriptures more, and to trust their truth and divine origin more, it is certainly the Spirit of God at work. This is the sign the apostle gives us in 1 John 4:6: ““We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us.” This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.”

When he says, “We are from God,” he means, “We are the apostles God has sent to teach the world His doctrines and commands.” This argument extends to all those God has appointed to deliver to His church its rules of faith and practice. That is to say, it covers all those apostles and prophets that God has inspired to write the Scriptures.
The devil would never try to produce such a respect for God’s Scriptures. A spirit of delusion will not persuade men to listen to God for direction. The devil does not say, as Abraham did, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them listen to them” (Luke 16:29). Nor will he say the words that came from heaven about Christ, “Listen to him” (9:35).

Would the spirit of error, wanting to deceive men, turn them to God’s infallible Scriptures? Would he lead them to get to know those Scriptures well? Would the prince of darkness lead men to the light of the Sun in order to promote his kingdom of darkness? The devil has always shown how much he hates the Bible. He has always done all he can to put out its light and lead men away from it. He knows that this is the light that will overthrow his dark kingdom.

He has had much experience of the power of Scripture to defeat his purposes and thwart his designs. It is a constant plague to him. It is the main weapon that Michael uses in his war with Satan (Jude 9). It is the sword of the Spirit that pierces him and conquers him (Eph. 6:17). It is the sharp sword that we read about that comes from the mouth of the One on the horse with which He smites His enemies (Rev. 19:15).

Every text of the Bible is a torment to the old serpent. He has felt its stinging smart thousands of times. He is therefore at war with the Bible and hates every word in it. We may be quite sure he will never try to persuade men to love it or value it.

It has often happened in history that many sects of enthusiasts have undervalued the written Word of God. They set up some other authority that is over the Scripture. That still happens today. But when men come to value the Scriptures more, not less, then the Spirit of God is certainly at work.

Read the last two signs of true revival.


Sam Storms is the St. Andrew’s New Wine speaker this August 25th – 27th.  Great teacher.  Good man.  Sign up, you will be blessed.

Here’s a recent sermon he preached on the topic, Jesus the Healer (notes available here).

[vimeo width=”500″ height=”375″][/vimeo]

Text: James 5.13-18; Matthew 21.12-17

Preached: February 7, 2016

Location: Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Sam Storms is lead pastor for preaching and vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City. He is a TGC Council member and the author of many books, including Packer on the Christian Life and Pleasures Evermore. He serves as president-elect of the Evangelical Theological Society.

Around-the-Horn[1]The Rise of the Anti-Culture
Carl Trueman has a nice article over at First Things addressing the Christian’s inability to engage culture, not because the culture war is lost, but because culture as we have thought and spoken of it has collapsed: “For to engage a culture there must first be a culture to engage. And, as the ever-incisive Anthony Esolen has pointed out on numerous occasions we no longer have a culture. What we really have is an anti-culture.”

Seeing Christ in All of Scripture
I was visiting a LifeGroup last night and a man who had grown up in the faith made a comment that I (we) often hear at SA, “I have read the Bible my whole life and I have completely missed what you (and the other clergy) see in the text.  And once you say it, it’s so obvious I can’t believe I’d never noticed it.” So, how do we see what we see in Scripture?  Here’s an exceptional resource from Westminster (a free download – and worthy of discussion in your LifeGroups) to help you along in understanding Scripture.

Youth Ministry in a Secular Age
A great read for all parents – and those in church leadership.

A Confession of Liberal Intolerance
God-bless Kristof, he usually gets around to telling the truth.  It may take him a decade or so, but he gets there.  Hard to believe he’s just recognizing this reality, but having recognized it – and now written about it – took guts.

Restroom Laws and Jim Crow
In American, even the restroom has become a place for politics.

Donald Trump’s Feud with Russell Moore Reveals Evangelical Fault Lines
Trump would be hard-pressed to go after a finer man than Russell Moore.  This from TIME: “Donald Trump escalated his fight with Washington’s evangelical leaders on Monday by attacking the president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s policy arm. “’Russell Moore is truly a terrible representative of Evangelicals and all of the good they stand for. A nasty guy with no heart!’”


“The love of Christ constraineth us.” 2 Corinthians V. 14.

Twelfth Sunday after Trinity, 1876.

LightfootWHO is this Paul that writes these strange words? Who is this Christ to whom he ascribes such marvellous power? What had been their past connexion? What were their present relations? How can we explain this tyrannous influence, this complete absorption of self in another, to which the writer confesses? Is he speaking of some devoted parent, to whose fostering care and patient self-denial he feels that he owed everything? Or of some loved brother, with whom all his fondest memories of life— in infancy, in childhood, in youth, in manhood—are bound up? Or of some friend, who has been more to him than a brother, from whose large heart and commanding intellect he has learnt lessons that were more precious than life itself, in whose purity, in whose nobleness, in whose entire self-forgetfulness, he has seen a standing protest against all that was base and mean in himself? Nay; he was none of these. He was not a parent, not a brother, not a friend, as men count friendship. He was an entire stranger, whom Paul had probably never seen on earth, whom certainly he had never cared for, never loved. And he was dead too; had been dead now more than a quarter of a century. So that there was nothing, absolutely nothing, in their human relationships to account for this strange, this extravagant, this passionate language.

And the more we examine the facts of their past history, the more hopelessly bewildering do we find them, as tested by the ordinary standard of human occurrences and human motives.

It is now the year 57 or 58 of our era, when S. Paul writes these words. Place yourself in imagination some twenty-five or thirty years earlier than this date. What do you see then? Here is a Jew of humble rank, a carpenter’s son, sentenced to suffer as a criminal, executed by a most ignominious death, put out of the world with the emphatic approval of all classes, the haughty Pharisees, the scornful Romans, the mocking soldiery, the hooting populace What was there to attract, to subdue, to dominate, in this most painful, most repulsive of all scenes? And yet this is the Christ—this humble peasant, this despised outcast, this hated criminal—whose constraining power the writer confesses to be absolute over all his thoughts and feelings and actions.

And next, what does past history tell us about the writer himself? Is there any key here which will unlock the secret? Place yourself again in imagination a few years later—some twenty years before the words were written. What do you find then? Why, just what the previous scene would lead you to expect. This Paul, the writer, is devoting all the energies of his sincere and passionate nature to the extermination of an infatuated sect that has gathered round the name of this dead man, this criminal whom all classes alike had agreed to execrate. He spares no pains; he shrinks from no severities. Men and women, young and old, falling into his hands, are treated alike. Imprisonment, torture, death—such is the fate that awaits his victims. No sincerity, no innocence, no patience or meekness in the sufferers touches his heart. Even the spotless purity and the transparent holiness of a Stephen only adds fuel to his indignation. The name of Christ is an abomination to him. The followers of Christ are outside the pale of our common humanity.

I have asked you to turn yourselves back in imagination some twenty-five years, and again some twenty years before these words were written. It is not a wide space of time for the memory to range over. About the same interval separates us from the Crimean War and from the Indian Mutiny. And yet it seems to us who were grown up at the time, as if these things had happened only the other day. How vividly do we picture to ourselves the struggles, the perils, the triumphs of Alma and of Inkerman! With what painful distinctness do we recall the horrors and the suspenses of Delhi and Lucknovv and Cawnpore! And can we suppose that S. Paul remembered less distinctly the incidents in his own personal career, so striking, so unique, so fraught with the most acute pain and the intensest ecstasy? Nay, we may be assured that each momentous crisis, each signal event, stood out in his recollection with a sharpness of outline and a fulness of detail, which would shame the average memory of the average man. For he was after all the same Paul, who had hounded oh the savage executioners to the stoning of Stephen; the same Paul who ‘breathed out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of theLord;’ the same Paul who (it is his own metaphor) had harried and devastated the Church of God. His step is not quite so elastic; his face is not quite so free from furrows; his spirits are not quite so buoyant. But there is the same fire, the same zeal, the same intensity of passion and of action now as then.

The same, and yet how changed! ‘The love of Christ constraineth me.’ The love of Christ! What did he know then of the love of Christ? Had he not loathed and execrated the very name of Christ, hated it with all the hatred of which his intense nature was capable ?’ I can do all things through Christ that strengtheneth me.’ ‘All things through Christ’? Nay, surely, ‘in spite of Christ, against Christ.’ Had he not ‘thought that’ he ‘ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth’? And he had acted upon this conviction with a persecuting energy which has rarely been surpassed before or after. But now—he was changed, shall we say? Nay rather, let us use his own language; he was ‘born again,’ he was ‘created anew,’ he was called into being from not being. Hitherto he was not, and now he is. In Jesus Christ he is a new creature, a new creation. In Jesus Christ old things have passed away—for ever away. All things, yes, all things have become new. In Jesus Christ the prophetic anticipation is already realised. There is a new heaven overhead; there is a new earth beneath his feet. All things human and divine are changed to him now. The objects, on which his eye rests, though still the same, are not the same. They are invested with a new power and meaning. The external world has undergone a change corresponding to the inward man. His thoughts are new; his associations are new; his hopes and aspirations are new; his motive is new.

Yes, his motive is new. This is the grand central fact, the prime secret of the change. There is a new mainspring to the machinery of his moral and spiritual being. Hitherto he had acted from various considerations and impulses. He had been influenced by self-assertion or self-indulgence; he had been led by party spirit; he had been the slave of convention or of habit; he had been impelled by a desire of popularity or of fame; he had been stimulated by rivalry; he had been driven forward by fear, or held back by shame; he had been moved by higher motives than these, though not by the highest, by a spirit of patriotism, by a fire of orthodoxy, by an enthusiasm of religion, a zeal of God, though not according to knowledge. But now all these lower motives were neutralised, were crushed, were transformed, were absorbed, were glorified, in the one transcendent, overwhelming, all-pervading thought of the constraining love of Christ .

The love of Christ. The Apostle does not mean, as at a first glance we might suppose, his own affection for Christ, his own devotion to Christ. This affection, this devotion, was indeed a constraining power. But it was only second in the chain of causes and consequences. It was not the source and origin of his energy. The source must be sought farther back than this. The source must be sought outside himself. The source must be found in God, not in man. Not his love for Christ, but Christ’s love for him, for others, for all mankind, for a world steeped in ignorance and sin and misery—this was the prime cause of all his moral activity, the paramount motive which started and directed all the energies of this most magnificent of all magnificent lives. His own love for Christ was only the response, only the sequel—as he himself would have confessed, the necessary, the inevitable sequel—to Christ’s love for him once impressed upon his being. Christ first loved him, and he (how could he help himself?) was fain to love Christ. It was not he, Paul, that lived any longer; it was Christ that lived in him. It was not he, Paul, that planned, that felt, that toiled, that suffered for Christ, that traversed the world with his life in his hand for Christ, that was instant in season and out of season for Christ, that died daily for Christ; but it was Christ’s own love, fermenting like leaven in his inmost being, stirring and animating his sluggishness. This unspeakable love rises up before him, as the one great fact, which will not be thrust aside, the one clear voice which will not be silenced. It haunts him sleeping and waking. It occupies the whole background of his thoughts. Forget it? How can he forget it? Others may forget, but he can never forget.

For what had this love of Christ been to him, Paul, individually? Could he forget that he had been the chief of sinners, because the chief of rebels; that his ingratitude had far exceeded the ingratitude of that excited Jewish mob, of that flippant Roman soldiery, because he had persecuted intelligently, deliberately, persistently; giving his whole mind, as well as his whole heart, to the work? And yet Christ singled out him of all men; rebuked him, caressed him, subdued him, won him; held him up to an astonished world as a signal token of God’s long-suffering and mercy. Can we wonder that in his own emphatic language it ‘constrained’ him, that is, held him tight in its grip; that it bound him hand and foot; carried him whither it would and stayed him when it would; that it fettered all his movements and forced all his actions? Aye, he was more than a conqueror through Christ, but he was less than a captive through Christ. He was Christ’s freedman, but he was Christ’s very slave also. It was this love of Christ, this stern, imperious, relentless master, which dragged him from city to city; which exposed him to heat and cold, to famine and nakedness, to perils on all sides; which drove him to prison and to death.

Read it all.

It is somewhat singular, but just as they say fish go bad at the head first, so modern divines generally go bad first upon the head and main doctrine of the substitutionary work of Christ. Nearly all our modern errors, I might say all of them, begin with mistakes about Christ. Men do not like to be always preaching the same thing., There are Athenians in the pulpit as well as in the pew who spend their time in nothing but hearing some new thing. They are not content to tell over and over again the simple message, “He that believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ hath everlasting life.” So they borrow novelties from literature, and garnish the Word of God with the words which man’s wisdom teacheth. The doctrine of atonement they mystify. Reconciliation by the precious blood of Jesus ceases to be the corner-stone of their ministry. To shape the gospel to the diseased wishes and tastes of men enters far more deeply into their purpose, than to re-mould the mind and renew the heart of men that they receive the gospel as it is. There is no telling where they will go who once go back from following the Lord with a true and undivided heart, from deep to deep descending, the blackness of darkness will receive them unless grace prevent. Only this you may take for a certainty.

“They cannot be right in the rest,
Unless they speak rightly of Him.”

If they are not sound about the purpose of the cross, they are rotten everywhere. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” On this rock there is security. We may be mistaken on any other points with more impunity than this. They who are builded on the rock, though they build wood, and hay, and stubble, thereupon to their sore confusion, for what they build shall be burned, themselves shall be saved yet so as by fire. Now that grand doctrine which we take to be the keystone of the evangelical system, they very corner-stone of the gospel, that grand doctrine of the atonement of Christ we would tell to you again, and then, without attempting to prove it, for that we have done hundreds of times, we shall try to draw some lessons of instruction from that truth which is surely believed among us. Man having sinned, God’s righteousness demanded that the penalty should be fulfilled. He had said, “The soul that sinneth shall die;” and unless God can be false, the sinner must die. Moreover, God’s holiness demanded it, for the penalty was based on justice. It was just that the sinner should die. God had not appended a more heavy penalty than he should have done. Punishment is the just result of offending. God, then, must either cease to be holy, or the sinner must be punished. Truth and holiness imperiously demanded that God should lift his hand and smite the man who had broken his law and offended his majesty. Christ Jesus, the second Adam, the federal head of the chosen ones, interposed. He offered himself to bear the penalty which they ought to bear; to fulfil and honour the law which they had broken and dishonoured. He offered to be their day’s-man, a surety, a substitute, standing in their room, place, and stead. Christ became the vicar of his people; vicariously suffering in their stead; vicariously doing in their stead that which they were not strong enough to do by reason of the weakness of the flesh through the fall. This which Christ proposed to do was accepted of God. In due time Christ actually died, and fulfilled what he promised to do. He took every sin of all his people, and suffered every stroke of the rod on account of those sins. He had compounded into one awful draught the punishment of the sins of all the elect. He took the cup; he put it to his lips; he sweat as it were great drops of blood while he tasted the first sip thereof, but he never desisted, but drank on, on, on, till he had exhausted the very dregs, and turning the vessel upside down he said, “It is finished!” and at one tremendous draught of love the Lord God of salvation had drained destruction dry. Not a dreg, not the slightest reside was left; he had suffered all that ought to have been suffered; had finished transgression, and made an end of sin. Moreover, he obeyed his Father’s law to the utmost extent of it; he fulfilled that will of which he had said of old—”Lo, I come to do thy will, O God: thy law is my delight;” and having offered both an atonement for sin and a complete fulfillment of the law, he ascended up on high, took his seat on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool, and interceding for those whom be bought with blood that they may be with him where he is. The doctrine of the atonement is very simple. It just consists in the substitution of Christ in the place of the sinner; Christ being treated as if he were the sinner, and then the transgressors being treated as if he were the righteous one. It is a change of persons; Christ becomes sinner; he stands in the sinner’s place and stead; he was numbered with the transgressors; the sinner becomes righteous; he stands in Christ’s place and stead, and is numbered with the righteous ones. Christ has no sin of his own, but he takes human guilt, and is punished for human folly. We have no righteousness of our own, but we take the divine righteousness; we are rewarded for it, and stand accepted before God as though that righteousness had been wrought out by ourselves. “In due time Christ died for the ungodly,” that he might take away their sins.

Read it all.