William Tyndale

Search the Scripture

Christ commandeth to search the Scriptures. John 5. Though that miracles bare record unto His doctrine, yet desired He no faith to be given either to His doctrine, or to His miracles, without record of the Scripture.

When Paul preached, Acts 17, the other searched the Scriptures daily, whether they were as he alleged them. Why shall not I likewise see, whether it be the Scripture that thou allegest? Yea, why shall I not see the Scripture, and the circumstances, and what goeth before and after; that I may know whether thine interpretation be the right sense, or whether thou jugglest, and drawest the Scripture violently unto thy carnal and fleshly purpose; or whether thou be about to teach me, or to deceive me?

—William Tyndale

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Holy and Unholy Denial

Denial takes no middle ground.

It is either holy or sinful. It is either the product of compromise or its antithesis. It is either the work of God-centeredness or man-centeredness. It always reflects fear: either the fear of God or the fear of man. It always testifies to love: either the love of God or the love of self.

Denial always draws a line and takes a side. It is not casual or indifferent. Denial defies the imaginary idol of tolerance and pledges allegiance to a cause.

Denial is an act of worship … either of God or self.

For us, denial is not optional. Everyone does it, whether deliberately or not—everyone must. So long as sinful men are granted the freedom to offend God, denial of one or the other will persist as absolutely necessary. A sinful self and a holy God are incompatible opposites.

Denial is one of the most fundamental cases of exclusivity: there can be only one God—one ultimate authority; one supreme value; one ultimate object of praise; one final source of goodness; one matchless power; one highest purpose; one unrivaled sovereign—all other objects of devotion are idols, if they come before God, and must be denied.

Our life is lived in service ultimately to self or to God.
There is no middle ground. One must be denied.

When we refuse to deny self, we deny Christ.

A tragic illustration of this truth is seen in the denials of Peter and Christ. The former is a troubling display of unholy denial. A kind of denial that is common to the heart of every man—even the believer. It is the mark of inherent inability apart from divine grace. A denial that is constructed upon the preservation of self at the expense of dependence and allegiance to God’s holy name (cf. Mk 8:38).

Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
—Matt 26:69-75

Peter learned the lesson of unholy denial and by the power of the Holy Spirit began to model holy denial: Peter and John “left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41). He later writes, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:12-13). And again,

For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.
—1 Peter 2:21-23

Christ’s was a holy denial

Christ’s was a holy denial—an act of devotion to God, the sacrifice of self and self-interest, self-denial in God-dependence, unreserved submission to God’s will and purposes, a continual entrusting to Him who judges justly.

Peter reminds us that Christ’s holy denial resulted in unspeakable agony. It was a substitutionary suffering; a suffering in the place of and on behalf of the redeemed, the righteous for the unrighteous (1 Pet 3:18). Christ’s holy denial provided the only means by which we may be saved (Acts 4:12), and yet also furnished the ultimate example godly devotion—holy denial.

As Christians, we are to have the self-denying mind of Christ within and among us (Phil 2:5-8). His holy denial is our example (1 Pet 2:21). We are, therefore, through faith in Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, called to purify ourselves as He is pure (1 John 3:3); walk in the righteous self-denying same way in which He walked (1 John 2:6); continually obey Christ’s commandments (John 15:10); forgive one another (Col 3:13); overcome the temptations and lures of the world (John 16:33; 1 John 5:4); overflow in benevolence to others (Acts 20:35; 2 Cor 8:7-9); sacrificially love one another (John 13:34; Eph 5:2; Rom 5:8)—these are the traits of Christ in God-glorifying and other-loving holy denial.

May we fix our eyes on Christ, to run after Him in His holy self-denying ways (Heb 12:1-3).

 

Jeremiah_Burroughs_by_Sintzenich

Our Highest Happiness

The glorious presence of God that the saints shall have of God in heaven is a great part of their happiness.

Heaven would not be heaven without the presence of God. The presence of God in the most miserable place possible would be a greater happiness than the absence of God in the most glorious place possible. David would not be afraid though he walked in the valley of the shadow of death, because God was with him (Ps 23:4). Luther would rather be in hell with God’s presence, than in heaven, God being absent.

If the presence of God takes away the dread of the shadow of the valley of death and makes hell to be more desired than heaven, what will the presence of God make heaven to be? The three children in the fiery furnace with God’s presence were happy; how happy then are the saints with God’s presence in heaven?

The saints desire God’s presence even when He is angry; they hate to be out of His presence. In Psalm 51:9, David cried to God to hide His face from his sins, for God’s face was then an angry face against him. Yet in Ps 51:11 he cried out again, “Cast me not away from thy presence.” He was not willing to be out of God’s presence. Saint Augustine has this expression: “Whose face he fears, even his face he invocates.”

God made rich promises to Moses, yet Moses could not be satisfied without the presence of God. “If thy presence be not with us, bring us not hence” (Ex 33:15). The apostle, when describing the misery of those that are damned, in 2 Thess 1:9 says, “Who shall be punished with ever-lasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.”

The presence of God needs to be the happiness of the saints.

—Jeremiah Burroughs

John Flavel

Readiness for Sufferings

Readiness for sufferings will bring the heart of a Christian to an holy rest and tranquillity, in a suffering hour, and prevent that anxiety, perturbation, and distraction of mind, which puts the sinking weight into afflictions. The more cares, fears, and troubles we have before our sufferings come, the more calm, quiet, and composed we are like to be when our sufferings are come indeed.

It is admirable to consider with what peace and patience Job entertained his troubles, which, considering the kinds, degrees, and manner in which they befel him, one would think they should at least have startled and amazed him, and put his soul (as gracious and mortified as it was) into great disorder and confusion; but you find the contrary: never did the patience of a man triumph at that rate over adversity; he worships God, owns his hand, and resigns himself up to his pleasure (cf. Job 1:20-21). And whence was this? Surely had his troubles come by way of surprise, he could never have carried it at that rate; but in the days of his peace and prosperity he had prepared for such a day as this:  “I was not in safety, neither had I rest; yet trouble came; the thing that I feared (saith he) is come upon me” (Job 3:25-26). He laid it to heart before it came, and therefore it neither distracted, nor brake the heart when it came.

In like manner the prophet Habakkuk stood upon his watch-tower, i.e. he made his observations by the word upon the probable events of providence, whereby he got a clear foresight of those troublesome days that were at hand; which though it made him tremble in himself, yet it gave him rest in the day of evil (cf. Hab 3:16-18).

—John Flavel

NPG D26818; Henry Scudder by William Sherwin

Comfort in Prayer

Directing prayers to the Father, in the name of the Son, through the Holy Spirit, can remove the greatest discouragements that any Christian ever meets with when  they pray.

Neither God’s majestic infinite justice, the greatness of the multitude of sins, the sense of unworthiness and insufficiency to think a good thought, nor the feeling that many times we do not know what nor how to pray can dishearten us, if we consider that we pray to God, who is God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Also, we can be heartened that we may pray in this order, namely, to the Father of Christ who is our Father, in the name of Jesus Christ who has [made satisfaction for our sins] and daily makes intercession for us, and in the Spirit who helps our infirmities and makes requests for us, though it is sometimes with sighs and groans which are not distinctly uttered.

These marks show that there is life and spirit in our prayers, and God will accept them. He knows the meaning of His Spirit, and will accept the work of His Spirit in us through Christ, though we have many imperfections.

—Henry Scudder

Edmund Calamy

The More Sure Word

Let us bless God, not only for revealing His will in His Word, but for revealing it by writing.

Before the time of Moses, God disclosed His will by immediate revelations from heaven. But we have a surer word of prophecy (2 Pet 1:19). Surer than a voice from heaven, for the devil (says the apostle) transforms himself into an angel of light. He has his apparitions and revelations, he is God’s ape, and in imitation of God, he appears to his disciples and makes them believe that it is God that appears, and not the devil. Thus he appeared to Saul, in the likeness of Samuel. And if God should now at this day disclose His way of worship and His divine will by revelations, how easily would men be deceived and mistake diabolical delusions for divine revelations.

Therefore let us bless God for the written Word, which is surer and safer than an immediate revelation.

There are some that are apt to think that if an angel should come from heaven and reveal God’s will to them, it would work more upon them than the written Word, but I would have these men to study the conference between Abraham and Dives (Luke 16:27-31). “They have Moses and the prophets;” if they will not profit by them, neither would they profit by any that should come out of hell or down from heaven to them, for it is the same God that speaks by His written Word, and by a voice from heaven.

The difference is only in the outward clothing; and therefore if God’s speaking by writing will not amend us, no more will God’s speaking by a voice.

O bless God exceedingly for the written Word! Let us cleave close to it and not expect any revelations from heaven of new truths, but say with the apostle (Gal 1:8-9): “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

—Edmund Calamy

William Tyndale

God Works in and with His Word

God worketh with his word, and in his word. And as his word is preached, faith rooteth herself in the hearts of the elect, and as faith entereth, and the word of God is believed, the power of God looseth the heart from the captivity and bondage under sin, and knitteth and coupleth him to God, and to the will of God; altereth him, changeth him clean, fashioneth, and forgeth him anew, giveth him power to love, and to do that which before was impossible for him either to love or do, and turneth him into a new nature, so that he loveth that which he before hated, and hateth that which he before loved; and is clean altered, and changed, and contrary disposed; and is knit and coupled fast to God’s will, and naturally bringeth forth good works, that is to say, that which God commandeth to do, and not things of his own imagination.

—William Tyndale

Thomas Manton

Supplied Wants

A father will not let his child starve—certainly none so fatherly as God. You do not have such a Father as is ignorant or regardless of your condition; He takes an exact notice of all your wants and pressures.

It is notable to observe how God condescends to express the particular notice that He takes of the saints: “Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands” (Isa 49:16). As we tie things about our hands, that we may remember such a work and business; so God does, as it were, put a print and mark upon His hands, to speak after the manner of men.

Nay, “The hairs of their heads are numbered” (Matt. 10:30). God has a particular notice of their necessities; and Jesus Christ is His remembrancer, one that ever appears before Him to represent their wants (Heb. 9:24). As the high priest in the law was to go in with the names of the tribes upon his breast and shoulder when He did minister before God, this is a type of how much we are in the heart of Christ, ever presenting Himself before the Lord on the behalf of such and such a believer.

—Thomas Manton

humility

Walk in Humility

Walk in humility . . . take heed of pride. It is a deadly poison that spoils and kills all where it comes; so dangerous that another poison was used as a counter-poison to preserve St. Paul from it.

And we are never more in danger of it than when we have done most, and made greatest progress in the profession and practice of piety.

For it is as the spleen in the body, that grows most when the other parts waste. It grows fast often, when other evils decay, and out of the decay of them, sucks matter to feed and foster itself with. This therefore must be carefully cast out and avoided.

When we have done well, we must take heed how in that regard we begin to think highly of ourselves. If we do so, all is gone; we are undone.

Be affected rather as Paul was. After he had gone so far, and done so much, “I make account, that I come not short,” says he, “of the very chief apostles” (2 Cor 11:5). Yea, “I have labored more than them all” (1 Cor 15:10). For, “from Jerusalem round about, even unto Illyricum (that is, from Syria to Slovenia) have I plentifully preached the gospel” (Rom 15:19). Yet, “I forget what is past” (Phil 3:13). That is, I regard no more what I have done than as if yet I had done nothing, or had clean forgotten what I did. “And I put on toward to what is before, pressing on toward the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:14). He did as men in a race that look not back to see how many they have passed, or how far they have progressed, but have their eyes fixed on those that have gained ground on them, and on the ground before them, that they are to measure, ere they can come to the mark.

Let us not consider so much how far we have gone, and how many others come short of us, but how far we are to go, and how far we come short of that Christian perfection that we should all strive and contend to attain unto.

— Thomas Gataker

Thomas Watson

Holy Resolution

Gregory Nazianzen said of Athanasius that he was both a lodestone and an adamant: a lodestone for the sweetness of his disposition, and an adamant for the invincibleness of his resolution. When the emperor Valens promised Basil great preference if he would subscribe to the Arian heresy; Basil responded,

“Sir, these speeches are fit to catch little children, but we who are taught by the Spirit are ready to endure a thousand deaths rather than suffer one syllable of Scripture to be altered.”

A righteous man is willing to take the cross for his jointure and, with Ignatius, wear Christ’s sufferings as a collar of pearl. “We glory in tribulation” (Rom 5:3). St. Paul rattled his chain and gloried in it as a woman who is proud of her jewels, said Chrysostom. “It is to my loss,” said Gordius the martyr, “if you abate me anything of my sufferings.” Of what heroic undaunted spirits were the primitive Christians who could scorn preferments, laugh at imprisonments, snatch up torments as crowns, and whose love to Christ burned hotter than the fire insomuch that the heathens cried out, “Great is the God of the Christians!”

—Thomas Watson