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Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s

“…and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17).

How much should you pay in taxes to “Caesar”? That question has been debated for millennia. Now, for a limited time at least, certain IRA owners have the opportunity to honor God, rather than “Caesar,” with their resources.

In the wee hours of January 1, 2013, Congress avoided the looming fiscal cliff with a broad tax “relief” law. The law reactivated the popular IRA Charitable Rollover for 2012 and 2013, allowing IRA owners age 70˝ or older to make gifts up to $100,000 to qualified charities like ICR and avoid paying tax on the distribution. And because the law was passed retroactively for 2012, IRA owners can make a donation to ICR by January 31, 2013, and still apply it as a deduction for 2012.

What an excellent opportunity to support ICR’s work and avoid paying taxes you might otherwise be required to take on income. IRA gifts are easy to make—click here to learn how. Or contact us atstewardship@icr.org for assistance.

And please be sure to forward this information to your friends. “Caesar” should only get what God has authorized for him to take—the rest belongs to God.

Diversity and Unity

By:  C H Mackintosh

It is at once interesting and instructive to mark the varied lines of truth presented in the New Testament, all finding their common centre in that blessed One who is the truth. We see this, both in the Gospels and in the Epistles. Each of the four Evangelists, under the direct guidance and power of the Holy Ghost, gives us a distinct view of Christ. Matthew presents Him in His Jewish relations—as the Messiah, the Son of David, Son of Abraham—heir of the promises made to the fathers. Mark presents Him as the earnest workman, the diligent servant, the laborious minister, the incessant preacher and teacher. Luke gives us “The Man Christ Jesus,” in His human relations, Son of man, Son of Adam. John is occupied with the Son of God, Son of the Father, the heavenly Man, in His heavenly relationships.

Thus each one has his own specific line. No two are alike, but all agree. There is lovely variety, but the most perfect harmony; there is diversity and unity. Matthew does not interfere with Mark; nor Mark with Luke; nor Luke with John. There is no collision, because each moves in his own proper orbit, and all revolve round the one grand centre.

Nor could we do without any one of the four. There would be a serious blank if one were missing; and it is the Holy Spirit’s purpose and joy to set forth every ray of the moral glory of the Son of God. Each Gospel fulfils his own service, under the guiding hand of the Holy Ghost.

So also is it in the Epistles. Paul’s line of things is as distinct from Peter’s, as Peter’s is from John’s, or John’s from James’. No two are alike, but all agree. There is no collision, because, like the four Evangelists, each moves in his own appointed orbit, and all revolve round the one common centre. The orbit is distinct, but the centre is one. Paul gives us the great truth of man’s relation with God, on the ground of accomplished redemption, together with the counsels of God as to Israel and the Church. Peter gives us the Christian pilgrimage and God’s government of the world. James insists upon practical righteousness. John opens up the grand theme of eternal life; first with the Father, then manifested in the Son, communicated unto us, and finally displayed in the glorious future.

Now, it would be the very height of folly on our part to institute any invidious comparison between those varied lines of truth, or the beloved and honoured instruments by whom those lines are presented to us. How silly it would be to set up Matthew against Mark, Mark against Luke, Luke against John, or John against all the rest! How puerile it would be for any one to say, “I go in for Paul’s line of things, only. James seems below the mark. Peter and John I do not appreciate. Paul is the man for me. His ministry suits me.”

All this we should, at once, denounce as sinful folly, not to be tolerated for a moment. The varied lines of truth all converge upon one glorious and blessed centre. The varied instruments are all employed by one and the self-same inspiring Spirit, for the one grand object of presenting the varied moral glories of Christ. We want them all. We could no more afford to do without Matthew or Mark than we could do without Luke or John; and it is no part of our business to undervalue Peter or James, because they do not give such a lofty or comprehensive range of truth as Paul or John. Each is needful in his place. Each has his work to do, his appointed line of things to attend to, and we should be doing serious damage to our own souls, as well as marring the integrity of divine revelation, if we were to confine ourselves to any one particular line of truth, or attach ourselves exclusively to any one particular instrument or vessel.

The early Corinthians fell into this grave error, and thus called forth a sharp rebuke from the blessed Apostle Paul. Some were of Paul; some of Apollos, some of Cephas; some of Christ. All were wrong; and those who said they were of Christ were quite as wrong as any of the others. They were carnal, and walked as men. It was a grievous folly to be puffed up for one against another, inasmuch as they were all Christ’s servants, and all belonged to the whole Church.

Nor is it otherwise now in the Church of God. There are varied kinds of workmen, and varied lines of truth; and it is our happy privilege, not to say our holy duty, to recognize and rejoice in them all. To be puffed up for one against another, is to be “carnal and walk as men.” To depreciate any of Christ’s servants is to depreciate the truth which he carries, and to forsake our own mercies. “All things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”

This is the true and the divine way to look at the matter; and this, too, is the way to avoid sects, parties, cliques and coteries in the Church of God. There is one body, one Head, one Spirit, one divine and perfect revelation—the Holy Scriptures. There are many members, many gifts, many lines of truth, many distinct characters of ministry. We need them all, and therefore God has given them all.

But, most surely, God has not given the various gifts and ministries for us to set one against another, but that we may humbly and thankfully avail ourselves of all, and profit by them according to His gracious purpose in giving them. If all were Pauls, where were the Peters? If all were Peters, where were the Johns?

Nor this only; but what must be the effect of going in for any one particular line of truth, or character of ministry? What but to produce an imperfect Christian character? We are all sadly prone to one-sidedness, and nothing more ministers to this evil than an inordinate attachment to some one particular branch of truth, to the exclusion of other branches equally important. It is by“the truth” we are sanctified—by all, not by some truth.

We should delight in every department of truth, and give a cordial welcome to each vessel or instrument which our God may be pleased to use in ministering His truth to our souls. To be puffed up for one against another is to be more occupied with the vessel than with the truth which the vessel contains, more occupied with man than with God—a grievous mistake! “Who then is Paul, or who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man.”

Here lies the grand principle. God has various instruments for His work, and we should value them all as His instruments, and nothing more. It has ever been Satan’s object to lead the Lord’s people to set up heads of schools, leaders of parties, centres of cliques, thus splitting up the Church of God into sects, and destroying its visible unity. Let us not be ignorant of his devices; but in every possible way “endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the uniting bond of peace.”

How is this great object to be attained? By keeping near the Centre—by abiding in Christ—by habitual occupation with Himself—by drinking deeply into His spirit, and walking in His footsteps—by lying at His feet, in true brokenness of spirit and humility of mind—by thorough consecration to His service, the furtherance of His cause, the promotion of His glory, the prosperity and blessing of every beloved member of His body.

Thus shall we be delivered from strife and contention, from the discussion of profitless questions and baseless theories, from partiality, prejudice, and predilection. We shall be able to see and appreciate all the varied lines of truth converging upon the one divine Centre, the varied rays of light emanating from the one eternal Source. We shall rejoice in the great fact that, in all the ways and works of God, in every department of nature and grace, in things on earth and things in Heaven, in time and eternity, it is not a dull uniformity but a delightful variety. In a word, God’s universal and eternal principle is DIVERSITY AND UNITY.”

Christ In the Vessel

By C H Mackintosh

“Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” This is a very familiar saying. It often passes among us; and no doubt, we fully believe it; but yet, when we find ourselves brought to our extremity, we are often very little prepared to count on God’s opportunity. It is one thing to utter or hearken to a truth, and another thing to realize the power of that truth. It is one thing, when sailing over a calm sea, to speak of God’s ability to keep us in the storm, and it is another thing altogether to prove that ability when the storm is actually raging around us. And yet God is ever the same. In the storm and in the calm, in sickness and in health, in pressure and in ease, in poverty and in abundance, “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” — the same grand reality for faith to cling to and draw upon, at all times for under all circumstances.

But always, we are unbelieving! Here lies the source of weakness and failure. We are perplexed and agitated, when we ought to be calm and confiding; we are casting about, when we ought to be counting on God; we are “beckoning to our partners,” when we ought to be “looking unto Jesus.” Thus it is we lose immensely, and dishonour the Lord in our ways. Doubtless there are few things for which we have to be more deeply humbled than our tendency to distrust the Lord when difficulties and trials present themselves; and assuredly we grieve the heart of Jesus by thus distrusting Him, for distrust must always wound a loving heart. Look, for example, at the scene between Joseph and his brethren in Gen. 50.

“And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger to Joseph, saying, thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall he say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of they brethren, and their sin, for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him.”

It was a sad return for the love and tender care which Joseph had exercised towards them. How could they suppose that one who had so freely and fully forgiven them, and spared their lives when they were entirely in his power, would, after so many years of kindness, turn upon them in anger and revenge? it was indeed a grievous wrong, and it was no marvel that “Joseph wept when they spake unto him.” What an answer to all their unworthy fear and dark suspicion! A flood of tears! Such is love! “And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for I am in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore, fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. and he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.”

Thus it was with the disciples on the occasion to which our paper refers. Let us meditate a little on the passage.

“And the same day, when the even was come, Jesus saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took Him even as He was on the ship; and there were also with Him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat onto the ship, so that is was now full. And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow.”

Here then we have an interesting and instructive scene. The poor disciples are brought to their extremeity. They are at their wits’ end. A violent storm—the ship full of water—the Master asleep. This was a trying moment indeed, and assuredly we, if we look at ourselves, need not marvel at the fear and agitation of the disciples. It is not likely that we should have done better had we been there. Still, we cannot but see wherein they failed. The narrative has been penned for our learning, and we are bound to study it, and seek to learn the lesson which it reads out to us.

There is nothing more absurd and irrational than unbelief when we come to look at it calmly. In the scene before us this absurdity is very apparent; for what could be more absurd than to suppose that the vessel could possibly sink with the son of God on board? and yet this was what they feared. It may be said they did not just think of the Son of God at that moment. True, they thought of the storm, the waves, the filling vessel, and after judging after the manner of men, it seemed a hopeless case. Thus it is the unbelieving heart ever reasons. It looks only at the circumstances, and leaves God out. Faith, on the contrary, looks only at God, and leaves circumstances out.

What a difference! Faith delights in man’s extremity, simply because it is God’s opportunity. It delights in being “shut up” to God—in having the platform thoroughly cleared of the creature, in order that God may display His glory—in the multiplying of “empty vessels,” in order that God may fill them. Such is faith. It would, we may surely say, have enabled the disciples to lie down and sleep beside their Master in the midst of the storm. Unbelief, on the other hand, rendered them uneasy; they could not rest themselves, and they actually aroused the blessed Lord out of His sleep by their unbelieving apprehensions. He, weary with incessant toil, was snatching a few moments’ repose while the vessel was crossing the sea. He knew what fatigue was; He had come down into all our circumstances. He made Himself acquainted with all our feelings and all our infirmities, being in all points tempted like as we are, sin excepted.

He was found as a man in every respect, and as such He slept on a pillow, rocked by the waves of the sea. The storm and the billows beat upon the vessel, although the Creator was on board, in the person of that weary, sleeping Workman.

Profound mystery! the One who made the sea, and could hold the winds in His almighty grasp, lay sleeping in the hinder part of the ship, and allowed the sea and wind to treat Him as unceremoniously as though He were an ordinary man. Such was the reality of the human nature of our blessed Lord. he was weary—He slept, being tossed on the bosom of that sea which His hands had made. O pause and meditate on this wondrous sight. Look closely, think upon it. We cannot expatiate upon the scene; we can only muse and worship.

But as we have said, unbelief roused the blessed Lord out of His sleep. “They awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest Thou not that we perish?” What a question! Carest Thou not?”how it must have wounded the sensitive heart of the Lord! How could they ever think that He was indifferent to their trouble and danger? How completely must they have lost sight of His love, to say nothing of His power, when they could bring themselves to say, “Carest Thou not?”

And yet, have we not in all this a mirror in which to see ourselves reflected? Assuredly we have. How often, in moments of pressure and trial, do our hearts conceive, if our lips do not utter the question, “Carest Thou not?” It may be we are laid on a bed of sickness and pain, and we know that one word from the God of all power and might could chase away the malady and raise us up; and yet the word is with held. Or perhaps we are in need of temporal supplies, and we know that the silver and gold, and the cattle upon a thousand hills, belong to God—yea, that the treasures of the universe are under His hand—and yet day after day rolls on, and our need is not supplied. In a word, we are passing through deep waters, in some way or another; the storm rages, wave after wave rolls over our tiny vessel, and we are brought to our extremity, we are at our wits’ end, and our hearts often feel ready to send up that terrible question, “Carest Thou not?” The thought of this is deeply humbling. To think of our grieving the loving heart of Jesus by our unbelief and suspicion should fill us with the deepest contrition.

And then the absurdity of unbelief! How can that One who gave His life for us—who left His glory and came down into this world of toil and misery and died a shameful death to deliver us from eternal wrath—how can such a One ever fail to care for us? But yet we are ready to doubt, or we grow impatient under the trial of our faith, forgetting that the very trial from which we so shrink and under which we so wince is far more precious than gold, for the former in an imperishable reality, whereas the latter must perish in the using. The more genuine faith is tried, the brighter it shines; and hence the trial, however severe, is sure to issue in praise and honour and glory to Him who not only implants the faith, but also passes it through the furnace and sedulously watches it therein.

But the poor disciples failed in the moment of trial. Their confidence gave way, they roused their Master from His slumber with that most unworthy question, “Carest Thou not that we perish?” Alsas, what creatures we are! We are ready to forget ten thousand mercies in the presence of a single difficulty. David could say, “I shall one day perish by the hand of Saul”; and how did it turn out? Saul fell on mount Gilboa, and David was established on the throne of Israel. Elijah fled for his life at the threat of Jezebel; and Jezebel was dashed to pieces on the pavement, and Elijah was taken to heaven in a chariot of fire. So here, the disciples thought they were going to be lost, with the Son of God on board; and what was the result? The storm was hushed into silence, and the sea became as glass, by that Voice which of old had called worlds into existence. “And He arose and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

What a combination of grace and majesty is here! Instead of rebuking them for having disturbed His repose, He rebukes those elements which had terrified them. It was thus He replied to their question, “Carest Thou not?” Blessed master! Who would not adore Thee for Thy patient grace and unfailing love?

There is something perfectly beautiful in the way in which our blessed Lord rises, without an effort, from the repose of perfect humanity into the activity of essential deity. As man, wearied with His work, He slept on a pillow; as God, He rises, and with His almighty voice, hushes the storm and calms the sea.

Such was Jesus—very God and very man—and such He is now, ever ready to meet His people’s need, to hush their anxieties and remove their fears. Oh that we trusted him more simply! We have little idea of how much we lose by not leaning more on the arm of Jesus day by day. We are so easily terrified. Every breath of wind, every wave, every cloud, agitates and depresses us. Instead of calmly lying down and reposing beside our Lord, we are full of terror and perplexity. Instead of using the storm as an occasion for trust on Him, we make it an occasion for doubting Him. No sooner does some trifling trouble arise than we think we are going to perish, although He assures us that He has numbered the very hairs of our head. Well may He say to us as He said to His disciples, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?”

It would indeed seem at times as though we had no faith. But oh, His tender love! He is ever near to shield and succor us, even though our unbelieving hearts are so ready to doubt His Word. He does not deal with us according to our poor thoughts of Him, but according to His own perfect love toward us. This is the solace and stay of our souls in passing across life’s stormy sea homeward to our eternal rest. Christ is in the vessel. Let this ever suffice. Let us calmly rely on Him. May there ever be, at the very centre of our hearts, that deep repose which springs from real trust in Jesus! and then, though the storm rage and the sea run mountains high, we shall not be led to say, “Carest Thou not that we perish?” Is it possible we can perish with the Master on board? or can we ever think so with Christ in our hearts? May the Holy Spirit teach us to make a fuller, freer, bolder use of Christ! We really want this just now, and shall want it more and more. It must be Christ Himself, laid hold of and enjoyed in the heart by faith. thus may it be to His praise and our abiding peace and joy!

We may just notice, in conclusion, the way in which the disciples react. Instead of the calm worship of those whose faith had been answered, they manifest the amazement of those whose fears had been rebuked. “They feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Surely they ought to have known Him better. Yes, and so should we.

Please join us…

March 9, 2012 @ 7:30 p.m.

STOCKTON BIBLE CHAPEL

7273 Murray Drive, Suite 5

Stockton, CA 95210

(209) 910-4012

Webmail: www.stocktonbiblechapel.net

Email: stocktonbiblechapel@gmail.com

 

Refreshments Provided!

 

March 9, 2012 @ 7:30 p.m.

STOCKTON BIBLE CHAPEL

7273 Murray Drive, Suite 5

Stockton, CA 95210

(209) 910-4012

Webmail: www.stocktonbiblechapel.net

Email: stocktonbiblechapel@gmail.com

Refreshments Provided!

The Passover And The Red Sea

Submitted by John Nelson Darby

Exodus 12-14.

We always find in the deliverances of God’s people that God is also going to punish the world. He bears testimony against it, a universal testimony, without excepting anybody. The law distinguishes men according to their acts, but the Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, because they have not believed on Him whom God has sent. Hence the gospel begins with treating the world as already condemned. God has made trial, in every way, of the human heart. The gospel supposes that this probation is closed, and declares all the world lost. Souls often desire, and therefore need, to prove what their own strength is, and find they have none; even converted souls sometimes try to commend themselves thus to God. But it is to dishonour Jesus, and to deny their own condition as judged of God.

In Egypt God was content with the first-born of each house as a manifestation of His judgment. Pharaoh would not let the people of God go. When God demanded as a right that they should serve Him, the world—Pharaoh its prince—would not yield. Signs and plagues were then wrought to arrest their attention, and enforce the rights of God, but Egypt would not listen. Pharaoh was hard, then hardened, and at last becomes a monument of judgment for the instruction of all men. So it was in the days of Noah, and so it is now that the world once more is warned of the approaching judgments of God. The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven in flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and on them that obey not the gospel.

Meanwhile God demands a complete submission to His revealed will. He demands that the world should submit to Jesus: all those who will not shall be forced to do so when judgment comes, and then to their own confusion and endless sorrow. God presents His Son in humiliation, in order to save the world; but without submission to Jesus all is useless, because this is what God requires and values. To believe in the Son is eternal life, is salvation; to reject the Son of God is judgment. God will have a surrender of the heart to Jesus, as Saviour and Lord, a surrender to His own grace in Him. Thus is the heart and everything else changed, and all question as to good works is set aside. All here turns on receiving or rejecting Jesus. God passes over everything. Zaccheus may speak of what he has been in the habit of doing, but that is not the point now: “This day is salvation come to this house.” If Jesus is welcomed, there is life; if Jesus is refused, there must be vengeance by-and-by for those who do not submit. How happy for the poor convicted sinner that he has not to search in himself for something to present to God! If the heart is open, Christ is the grace and glory and perfection that is needed, and the moral effects soon and surely follow.

The Only True God

“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9)

There are “gods many, and lords many” (1 Corinthians 8:5) in today’s world, just as there were in the ancient pagan world. In fact, the worship of many of these ancient deities is being revived in various dark corners of the so-called “New Age” movement today. Idol worship can also involve adulation of men and women–such as music idols, professional athletes, and movie idols, not to mention the humanistic worship of such political/religious leaders as Lenin, Mao, Hitler, Khomeini, and an increasing assortment of gurus and false prophets.

There is, however, only one true God, the God who created all things. “To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (v. 6). The one thing all these false gods and false religions have in common is the denial of the true God and omnipotent Creator.

For such idolatry there is no legitimate excuse. “We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one” (v. 4). A dead idol obviously can be of no use. The infallible test as to just who this “true” God may be is that His identity is confirmed as the only living God; therefore, He is the only true God. He died for our sins, yes, but now He lives forever as King of all His creation. We, like the Thessalonians, should turn from all our idols “to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10). HMM