Tag Archives: Gospel

You are a filthy pauper

(Arthur Pink, "Identification of the Godly")

"For this is what the high and lofty One says–He who lives forever, whose name is holy: I live in a high and holy place–but also with him who is of a contrite and humble spirit." Isaiah 57:15
A humble spirit or heart, is an infallible sign of regeneration; for the unregenerate are proud, self-satisfied, self-righteous.

Yet the very mention of the word "humility" seems to cut off many Christians. As they examine themselves, they discover so much pride at work within, that they are quite unable to persuade themselves that they have a humble heart. It seems to them–that humility is one thing they most evidently lack. Now it will no doubt be a startling statement–but we unhesitatingly affirm that the great majority of God’s people are far more humble than they suppose!

FIRST, that the Christian reader possesses a humble heart, is plain from the fact that he confesses himself to be a Hell-deserving sinner. We do not have in mind what you say of yourself when in the company of your fellows–but rather what you feel and say of yourself when alone with God. Whatever pretenses you are guilty of before men–when in the presence of the Omniscient One–you are real, sincere, and genuine.
Now, dear reader, be honest with yourself: When on your knees before the Throne of Grace, do you freely and frankly acknowledge that if you received your lawful due, you would–even now–be suffering the dreadful fires of Hell? If so, a miracle of grace must have been wrought within you. No unregenerate person will or can honestly make such a confession to God–for he does not feel he has done anything deserving of eternal punishment.

SECOND, if you own that "all your righteous acts are like filthy rags," that is proof you possess a humble heart. Of course, we mean much more than your merely uttering those words as a parrot might, or even singing then during some religious service. We mean that when you are in the presence of the Lord–which is always the surest test–you personally realize that you have not a single meritorious deed of your own to commend you to His favorable regard.
We mean that, when bowed in His presence, in the calmness and quietness of your prayer-closet, you own without any qualification, that your best performances are defiled by sin–and that in yourself, you are a filthy pauper!

If that is indeed your language before God–it most certainly issues from a humble heart. The heart of the natural man thinks and feels the very opposite, and can no more loathe himself–than transform himself into a holy angel.

THIRD, if you receive everything in the Scriptures as a little child–that is another proof that a miracle of grace has been wrought within you and that you now possess a humble heart. By nature, all are "wise and prudent" in their own esteem.

The enmity of the proud carnal mind rises up against the sovereignty of God–making one vessel to honor and another to dishonor; against the spirituality and strictness of the Divine Law–which curses all who deviate the slightest from its holy demands; and against the endless punishment of all dying out of Christ. But the regenerate, though there is much they do not understand, accept without murmur or question–all that is revealed in the Word. If you do, that is proof that your pride has been abased before God.

How thankful we should be that Scripture does not say that God dwells only in those who have complete victory over sin, or those who enjoy unbroken and unclouded communion with Him. Had those been the distinguishing features named–then every one of us might well despair!

But every regenerate person has a humble heart. And if you, my reader, measuring yourself by what has been pointed out above, can discern such fruits and evidences of  humility–then so far from its being presumptuous for you to look upon yourself as one saved and indwelt by God–it would be most wicked presumption for you to do otherwise.

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When earth’s wine gives out

  (J. R. Miller, "Come with Me" Daily Bible Readings in the Life of Christ, 1890)

"When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to Him: They have no more wine." John 2:3
This incident is a very fitting illustration of the failure of all this world’s joys. The wine gave out at a wedding-feast. There was not enough of it to last through to the end of the feast. It is just so with all earth’s pleasures. It comes in cups–not in fountains; and the supply is limited and soon exhausted. It is especially so with sin’s pleasures. The prodigal soon ran out of money, and began to be in need. A poet compared the pleasures of sin to a snowflake on the river, "a moment white–then gone forever!"

But it is true in a sense also–of pure pleasures. Even the sweetness of human love is but a cupful which will not last forever. The joy which so fills us today, tomorrow is changed to sorrow. Amid the gladness of the marriage altar there is the knell of the end, in the words "until death do us part." One of every two friends must hold the other’s hand in farewell at the edge of the valley of the shadow of death–and must stand by the other’s grave, and walk alone for part of the way.

The best wine of earthly life and of love–will fail. If there were nothing better in this world–how sad it would be! But it is here that we see the glory of Christ’s gospel. Jesus comes when earth’s wine fails–and gives heaven’s wine to supply the lack. How beautiful and how true is the picture here: the failing wine, and then Jesus coming with power and supplying the need! That is what He is doing continually. He takes lives which have drained their last drop of earthly gladness–and He satisfies them with spiritual good and blessing, so that they need nothing more.

When human joy fails–Jesus gives new joy, better than the world’s, and in unfailing abundance. How sad it is for those who have not taken Christ into their lives, and who have nothing but the empty cup–when earth’s wine gives out!

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Spiritual Beauty!

(J. R. Miller, "Counsel and Help" 1907)

yfcrmz2i"But now you must also put away all the following: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and filthy language." Colossians 3:8 All the precepts of the Bible are aimed towards the fashioning of spiritual beauty in every redeemed life.

We are to put away . . .

  • all that is sinful,
  • all that is marring,
  • every blot and blemish,
  • every unholy desire, feeling, and affection,
  • everything that would defile.

And we are to put on whatever is lovely and Christ-like.

The one great work of Christ in Christian lives–is the fashioning of holiness in them. We are to grow away from our deformities, our faults and infirmities, our poor dwarfed, stunted life–and into spiritual beauty! The mark set before us is the likeness of Christ, which, at last, we shall attain! "We shall be like Him, because we will see Him as He really is!" 1 John 3:2

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Surely, the canary is wiser than the starling!

Surely, the canary is wiser than the starling!
(J. R. Miller, "Taking Cheerful Views" 1880)

"A cheerful heart has a continual feast." Proverbs 15:15

"A cheerful heart is good medicine; but a crushed spirit dries up the bones." Proverbs 17:22

One of the divinest secrets of a happy life–is the art of extracting comfort and sweetness from every circumstance. We must develop the habit of looking on the bright side. This is a magic-wand whose power exceeds that of any fabled magician’s to change all things into blessings. Those who take cheerful views, find happiness everywhere; and yet how rare is the habit! The multitude prefer to walk on the dark side of the paths of life.

There are those who take to gloom–as a bat to darkness, or as a vulture to carrion! They would rather nurse a misery–than nourish a joy. They always find the dark side of everything, if there is a dark side to be found. They appear to be conscientious grumblers, as if it were their duty to extract some essence of misery from every circumstance! The weather is either too cold or too hot; too wet or too dry. They never find anything to their taste. Nothing escapes their criticism. They find fault with the food on the table, with the bed in which they lie, with the railroad-train or steamboat on which they travel, with the government and its officials, with merchant and workman–in a word, with the world at large and in detail.

They are chronic grumblers! Instead of being content in the state in which they are–they have learned to be discontented, no matter how happy their lot! If they had been placed in the Garden of Eden–they would have discovered something with which to find fault! Their wretched habit empties life of all possible joy–and turns every cup to gall.

On the other hand, there are rare people who always take cheerful views of life. They look at the bright side. They find some joy and beauty everywhere. If the sky is covered with clouds–they will point out to you the splendor of some great cloud-bank piled up like mountains of glory. When the storm rages, instead of fears and complaints–they find an exquisite pleasure in contemplating its grandeur and majesty. In the most faulty picture–they see some bit of beauty which charms them. In the most disagreeable person–they discover some kindly trait or some bud of promise. In the most disheartening circumstances, they find something for which to be thankful, some gleam of cheer breaking in through the thick gloom!

When a ray of sunlight streamed through a crack in the shutter, and made a bright patch on the floor in the darkened room–the little dog rose from his dark corner, and went and lay down in the one sunny spot; and these cheerful people live in the same way. If there is one beam of cheer or hope anywhere in their lot–they will find it! They have a genius for happiness. They always make the best out of circumstances. Their good nature never fails. They take a cheerful view of every perplexity. Such people have a wondrous ministry in this world. They are like apple trees when covered with blossoms, pouring a sweet fragrance all around them.

It may be worth while to linger a little, on the philosophy of living which produces such results.
Some people are born with sunny dispositions, with large hopefulness and joyfulness, and with eyes for the bright side of life. Others are naturally disposed to gloom. Yet, it is still largely a matter of culture and habit, for which we are individually responsible. Like the apostle Paul, we can train ourselves to take cheerful views of life, and to extract contentment and enjoyment from any circumstances.

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again–Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4. This is clearly a most important part of Christian culture.
Joyfulness is everywhere commended as a Christian duty.
Discontent is a most detestable fault.
Morbidness is a sin.

Fretfulness grieves God. It tells of unbelief. It destroys the soul’s peace. It disfigures the beauty of Christian character. It not only makes us soured and unhappy in our own hearts–but its influence on others is bad.

We have no right to project the gloom of our discontent–over any other life. Our attitude is to be ever towards joy. There is nothing so depressing in its effect upon others, as morbidness!
True contentment does not chafe under disappointments and losses–but accepts them, becomes reconciled to them, and at once looks about to find something good in them.
This is the secret of happy living!

And when we come to think of it–how senseless it is to struggle against the inevitable! Discontent helps nothing. It never removes a hardship, or makes a burden any lighter, or brings back a vanished pleasure. One never feels better, for complaining. It only makes him wretched!
A starling in a cage struggles against its fate, flies against the wire walls, and beats upon them in efforts to be free–until its wings are all bruised and bleeding!

A canary is shut in another cage, accepts the restraint, perches itself upon its bar and sings.
Surely, the canary is wiser than the starling!

Our thoughts build our character

Our thoughts build our character

(J. R. Miller, “The Lesson of Love” 1903)

“When, on my bed, I think of You, I meditate on You during the night watches.” Psalm 63:6

It is a law of life–that our thoughts build our character.

If we meditate on the purity, the holiness, the goodness, the love, the righteousness, of Christ–these qualities will print themselves upon our own hearts.

Paul has given us an infallible direction for the best spiritual culture.
“Whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable–
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–
think about such things
!” Philippians 4:8

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Our conception of Christian life

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Our conception of Christian life

(J. R. Miller, "The Wider Life" 1908)

"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus!" Philippians 2:5

Paul tells us that we ought to have the same spirit as Jesus, the same temper and disposition as Jesus, and the same principles as Jesus.

The life of Christ–must be the pattern of our lives.

We can learn what were the qualities of Christ’s life, by a study of the Gospels. These precious books not only tell us about Christ, of the facts of His life, the works He did, the words He spoke–they also show us His sympathy, His kindness, His helpfulness, how He lived, how He interacted with people, how He bore enmity, unkindness and persecution.

Perhaps we do not think enough of Christ’s beauty of character and disposition–in forming our conception of Christian life. It is one thing to profess to be a Christian; and another thing to grow into the loveliness of Christ. One may be altogether sincere in confessing Christ–and yet be full of faults, only a beginner, having everything of Christian duty yet to learn; and all the beautiful qualities of Christian character yet to acquire.

"Whoever claims to live in Him–must walk as Jesus did." 1 John 2:6