Ignorance Enjoined

From Ignorance Enjoined by Arthur W. Pink, 1947

The way of the wicked is as darkness—but the way of the righteous is as light—open and above-board. Truth courts investigation and challenges the closest scrutiny. Spiritists may prefer the darkened room, and the poor dupes of the Pope admire the secret confessional; but “Wisdom calls aloud in the street, she raises her voice in the public squares; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out, in the gateways of the city she makes her speech” (Proverbs 1:20-21).

Nevertheless, there is an ignorance which is desirable and which serves as a protection to those who maintain it. There is an ignorance of which no Christian needs be ashamed, yes, one which the Holy Spirit has enjoined, and therefore is praiseworthy. “I want you to be wise about what is good—and simple about what is evil” (Romans 16:19).

In the context, the apostle had warned the saints to be on their guard against false teachers, and to “avoid” those who propagated that which is “contrary to the doctrine which you have learned”: men who deceive the hearts of the simple (or unwary) “by good words and fair speeches,” but who “serve not our Lord” (Romans 16:17-18). It was not that Paul deemed them unestablished in the Faith, or unstable therein; rather, did he affirm “for your obedience [faith and practical response to the will of God, as it was made known to them by His messengers] is come abroad unto all men,” which commendation he supplemented with, “I am glad therefore on your behalf.” Yet being solicitous of their welfare with a godly jealousy, he added, “I want you to be wise about what is good—and simple about what is evil” (Romans 16:19).

Your reception of the Gospel and responsiveness unto the truth is well known, and evil men are likely to take advantage of this: see to it then that your docility is coupled with prudence, and be watchful of those who would corrupt you. “I want you to be wise about what is good.” Let that be your all-absorbing quest: be intelligent —both in knowledge and practice—in the Word and ways of God, so that you are fitted to “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

“And simple about what is evil.” “Simple” is here opposed to “wise,” and so must signify unknowing and unpracticed in the ways of sin. In the light of the preceding verses, the primary reference is to the evil doctrine of false teachers—be content to remain uninformed, unacquainted with anything that would pollute your faith. But in view of what immediately follows, “and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Romans 16:20), it obviously has a wider meaning: remain ignorant of everything which would defile your pure minds. Handley Moule renders it “uncontaminated” [by defiling knowledge] as to what is evil.” To appeal to your curiosity, to occupy your minds with what is foul, to get your hearts absorbed with evil rather than good—is one of the principal stratagems of the great Enemy.

This divine warning is much needed today. Let us point out a threefold application of “I want you to be…simple concerning evil.”

First, of doctrinal evil. There is a great deal of false teaching, often in a novel and attractive dress, now being disseminated both orally and by the printed page. Some of its leading promulgators have acquired a considerable reputation for their learning, originality, oratory, and pleasing personality. They draw big crowds, and some of God’s people—though they have been warned against their errors—determine to give these men a hearing; and often, the consequences are most injurious—in no case are they harmless.

It is to that spirit of inquisitiveness, that the devil applies his temptation, as it is against the exercise thereof we are expressly commanded “from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5). Not to do so is to parley with what is deadly for the soul. If you have begun to yield—then the divine Word is “Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causes to err from the words of knowledge” (Proverbs 19:27); if you do not, disastrous will be the outcome. If unfallen Eve could be beguiled by lies—how much easier for you to be deceived if you deliberately expose yourself unto error! We should not even read error.

There are those who would be ashamed to be seen attending meetings where known error was taught, who nevertheless do not hesitate to peruse a book written by an errorist. Priding themselves that they are too well grounded in the Faith to be shaken—yet curious and desirous of ascertaining just what this man or this sect teaches, not a few purchase their pernicious literature; and to make it easier for them to do so, Satan often sends the purveyors of such to their door.

We have personally met more than one who was reared in orthodoxy, who bought or borrowed a “Christadelphian,” “Russellite,” or “Seventh-day Adventist” book, and later became an ardent supporter of their lies! The devil ensnares many in this way.

Christ prays for His own.

Jesus's High Priestly Prayer

“I pray for them…” — John 17:9a

I was thinking today about what it feels like to be safe. I had one of those moments where you realize you had forgotten what something feels like….I don’t know if anyone would understand what I am trying to say but it’s a very odd, almost shameful feeling. As if I had somehow lost hold of an ounce of humility and it scared me.  I was just going along, minding my business when I remembered what it felt like to feel unsafe and in danger and it really bothered me. Not the memory but the fact that I take feeling at peace and feeling safe in Christ for granted and it shamed me.

I remember being a teenager and having asthma attacks that were pretty bad. I often ended up in the emergency room for breathing treatments. I remember praying and wishing that I would be sick enough to have to stay and not be sent back home. I had forgotten all about this and it used to embarrass me greatly. I had no idea what it was like to feel cared for or comforted or safe. . I remember apologizing to Nurses for being sick and feeling strange and guilty for being there and receiving medical attention. They had nice clean sheets and hot meals and they cared. Sometimes it seemed like the safest place on earth in my little world and I was so grateful.

It’s so easy to take for granted not ever feeling like this now and I don’t want to let go of this memory.  I cannot imagine ever going back there but yet I want to remember more often, and I want it to hurt so I never, ever forget to be thankful. I have so much emotion swirling around in my heart and in my head and I don’t quite know how to put it into words. I found this piece by J.C. Ryle and it explains what I am trying to say and come to terms with.

Christ prays for us, and we are indeed His own. Ever the comforter, ever the rock we stand on and cling to. He makes our salvation sure and I am comforted in that and so many more of his promises that I don’t deserve. I have found safety and I never ever want to take Christ for granted.

J.C. Ryle,

This special intercession of the Lord Jesus is one grand secret of the believer’s safety. He is daily watched, and thought for, and provided for with unfailing care, by One whose eye never slumbers and never sleeps. Jesus is “able to save them to the uttermost who come unto God by Him, because He ever lives to make intercession for them.” (Heb. 7:25.) They never perish, because He never ceases to pray for them, and His prayer must prevail. They stand and persevere to the end, not because of their own strength and goodness, but because Jesus intercedes for them. Judas fell never to rise again; while Peter fell, but repented, and was restored. The reason of the difference lay under those words of Christ to Peter, “I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not.” (Luke 22:32.)

The true servant of Christ ought to lean back his soul on the truth before us, and take comfort in it. It is one of the peculiar privileges and treasures of a believer, and ought to be well known. However much it may be wrested and abused by false professors and hypocrites, it is one which those who really feel in themselves the workings of the Spirit should hold firmly and never let go. Well says the judicious Hooker–”No man’s condition so safe as ours–the prayer of Christ is more than sufficient both to strengthen us, be we ever so weak; and to overthrow all adversary power, be it ever so strong and potent.”

taken from: Expository Thoughts on the Gospel of John, exposition on John 17:9-16

Right now counts forever

Repost from Ray Ortland’s blog “Christ is deeper still”.

“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”  2 Corinthians 5:10

This is our ultimate accountability.  Let’s get ready.  Let’s live with intentionality.  Let’s live in repentance.  Let be aware, moment by moment, that right now counts forever.  What we think, what we say, what we feel, what we do and don’t do — we matter.  We matter to Christ.  We will matter forever.  And very soon we will “report in.”

This is solemnizing.  This is dignifying.  It is also encouraging.

What if, as you stand there before Christ your Judge on that great and final day, surrounded by all the redeemed, each one awaiting his or her moment before the Lord — what if, standing there before him, he asks, “Everyone, I want to know who among you appreciated this person’s ministry?  Who would like to bear witness to how he helped you for my sake?”  And no one says anything.  Total silence.  Awkward silence.  Everyone is embarrassed.  Everyone is thinking, “Would somebody please say something?”  You are standing there wondering, “So my entire life comes down to this?  What a failure I am!”  Only one voice breaks that terrible silence.  The Lord himself stands and says, “Well, I appreciated his ministry!”

It’s an improbable scenario.  But putting it like that does isolate the most urgent question of all.  Is the approval of Jesus enough for you and for me?  Do we love him enough, do we revere him enough, that his judgment is the one we’re living for?

We care what others think.  We want to please them (1 Corinthians 10:33).  But whose opinion will count forever?

Do the Next Thing

“Doe the Nexte Thinge” (Original Saxon spelling)

From an old English parsonage, down by the sea, there came in the twilight, a message to me; Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven, hath, as it seems to me, teaching from Heaven. And on through the hours the quiet words ring, like a low inspiration -do the next thing.

Many a questioning, many a fear, many a doubt, hath its quieting here. Moment by moment, let down from heaven, time, opportunity, guidance, are given. Fear not tomorrows, child of the King, Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately; Do it with prayer; Do it reliantly, casting all care; Do it with reverence, tracing His Hand, Who placed it before thee with earnest command; Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing, leave all resultings, do the next thing.

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,(working or suffering) be thy demeanor. In His dear presence,the rest of His calm, the light of His countenance Be thy psalm. Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing, then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.


My Dear Daughter

(An excerpt from a letter from Leigh Richmond to one of his daughters)

My dear daughter,
May my dear child be preserved from the defilements of a vain, dangerous, and destroying world. You know not, and I wish you never may know—its snares and corruptions!

I send you the following applications of my sermon on Ephesians 5:15-16, “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

On circumspection of walk, redemption of time, and general sincerity of character:

1. Adhere most scrupulously to Scriptural truth; and labor to preserve the strictest integrity, simplicity, and sincerity.

2. Engage in no pursuit in which you cannot look up unto God, and say, ‘Bless me in this, my Father!’

3. Strive to be as kind, forbearing, and forgiving as you can—both to friends and foes. Never speak evil of anyone.

4. Strive to recommend true religion by the courtesy, civility, and humble character of your conduct.

5. Watch against irritation, pride, unkind speaking, and anger—study and promote love.

6. Mortify all lusts, sensuality and sloth.

7. Never speak well of yourself. Keep down pride; let it not be indulged for a moment—but watch against it.

8. Shut out evil imaginations and angry thoughts.

9. Let it be your sole business here to prepare for eternity. Consider every moment of time in that view.

10. Remember that you have to contend with . . .
a legion of devils;
a heart full of deceit and iniquity;
and a world at enmity with God.

11. Pray that you may ever rejoice in the advancement of Christ’s kingdom, and the salvation of sinners; and labor in every way to promote these objects.

12. Prayer is the only weapon which can subdue your corruptions, and keep you in close fellowship with God. Cultivate prayer.

The love of Christ is the only safe ground of all motives, and of all conduct. Where this is established, all is well. The life-blood of Christianity then circulates through every vein of the soul; and spiritual health, strength, and purity of mind is the happy result. Fall down upon your knees before God, my dear, praying that He would pour that love into your heart, until it becomes a constraining principle for the government of your thoughts and actions. The love of Christ is the only remedy for all the diseases of the soul.

~ ~ ~ ~

Of Prodigals and Pig Parlors

Reblogged from http://diapsalmata.com

Of Prodigals and Pig Parlors. 

Posted on May 2, 2012

Mrs. Turpin and Mary Grace sat opposing one another there in the doctor’s office.

Grace wore her wounds upon her face though Mrs. Turpin’s demeanor announced the complacent wholeness of her entire being. As the wife of a well-to-do hog farmer, Mrs. Turpin did not normally keep close company with the sick and infirm, but her husband had been poorly and so they had come. Respectable as always (and glad of it she was), she noted the rag-tag collection of humanity on the other side of the room. A scrap of boy (“white trash,” as Mrs. Turpin would say) squirmed in his seat. Small, feverish, and absolutely miserable, he sucked his dirty thumb and tried to sleep.

At least she was not like that—like him. Dirty. Unkempt. Illiterate and poor. For that she was grateful. Yes. God had been good. Why, she could almost cry for the gladness of it! God had been good. And if it seemed He had been less than good to others? Well, who was she to wonder why? Surely they deserved it. Just as she deserved it. (His goodness, I mean.) And my goodness! Wasn’t He good!

Now, I will not disappoint you with a recitation of the story—nor mortify myself with a vain attempt at Flannery O’Connor’s incomparable style—however, I will add that the climax includes an exasperated Grace rising up to pitch her book (sadly, not a Bible) headlong into the face of the smug Mrs. Turpin! Thus the freshly grieved matron returns home to attend her chores and her hogs and her pride. As she does, she falls to brooding upon the recent assault of Grace until finally, standing prodigal-like at the edge of her pig parlor, and having raised her complaint to Heaven, she noticed—

“… a purple streak in the sky, cutting through a field of crimson and leading, like an extension of the highway, into the descending dusk. She raised her hands from the side of the pen in a gesture hieratic and profound. A visionary light settled in her eyes. She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls were tumbling toward heaven. There were whole companies of white trash, clean for the first time in their lives…and battalions of freaks and lunatics shouting and clapping and leaping like frogs. And bringing up the end of the procession was a tribe of people whom she recognized at once as those who, like herself and [her husband], had always had a little of everything and the God-given wit to use it right. She leaned forward to observe them closer. They were marching behind the others with great dignity, accountable as they had always been for good order and common sense and respectable behavior. They, alone, were on key. Yet she could see by their shocked and altered faces even their virtues were being burned away.

She lowered her hands and gripped the rail of the hog pen, her eyes small but fixed unblinkingly on what lay ahead. In a moment the vision faded but she remained where she was, immobile. At length she got down and turned off the faucet and made her slow way on the darkening path to the house. In the woods around her the invisible cricket choruses had struck up, but what she heard were the voices of the souls climbing upward into the starry field and shouting hallelujah.”[1]

[1] Flannery O’Connor, Flannery O’Connor : Collected Works : Wise Blood / A Good Man Is Hard to Find / The Violent Bear It Away / Everything That Rises Must Converge / Essays & Letters, 1St ed. (Library of America, 1988), 653-654.