Thursdays With Spurgeon—The Plan Of The Cross

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

The Plan Of The Cross

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. (1 Corinthians 2:12) 

     The course of our fallen race has been a succession of failures. Whenever there has been an apparent rise, it has been followed by a real fall. Into ever-increasing darkness the human mind seems resolved to plunge itself in its struggles after a false light. When men have been fools, they have danced in a delirium of sin. When they have been sober, they have given themselves up to a phantom wisdom of their own that has revealed their folly more than ever. It is a sad story, the story of mankind! Read it in the light of God’s Word and it will bring tears from your very heart.

     The only hope for man was that God should interpose. And He has interposed, as though He began a new creation or worked a resurrection out of the kingdom of death. God has come into human history and here the bright lights begin. … See yonder avalanche rushing down the steep mountainside? Such is humanity left to itself. Lo, God in Christ Jesus throws Himself in the way. He so interposes as to be crushed beneath the descending rocks. But beloved, He rises from the dreadful burial. He stops the avalanche in its terrible path. He hurls back the tremendous mass and changes the whole aspect of history. … 

     The plan of the Cross is to conquer death by death, to remove sin by the endurance of the penalty, to work mightily by suffering terribly, and to glorify Christ by shame.

From Grace For Grace

This sermon reminds me of the poignant words from Isaac Watts—

When I survey the wondrous Cross 
On which the Prince of Glory died, 
My richest gain I count but loss, 
And pour contempt on all my pride. 
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, 
Save in the death of Christ my God! 
All the vain things that charm me most, 
I sacrifice them to His blood.
 

All of man’s attempts to control his universe, or determine his fate, or even make himself acceptable to God have been an abysmal failure. So God Himself stepped in, but He came in a way that no one could have imagined and no one could claim as their idea. The prophet Isaiah said it this way, “The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, He was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so His own arm achieved salvation for Him, and His own righteousness sustained Him” (Isaiah 59:15-16). 

It is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone that we have hope of our salvation. And for that we give all glory to God alone. Sola Deo gloria!

 

Think On This…

Here’s the seed thought for this episode of Think On This

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:4-5)

Think on this:

  1. Do I have a solid relationship with this person? 
  2. Do I need to respond for their benefit? 
  3. Can I ask any clarifying questions before I speak? 
  4. Can I respond in love?

Walk This Way

In his letter to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul uses the word “walk” seven times to instruct them how to follow the path Jesus laid down for us. 

In Greek, the word for “walks” (peripatēo) means something that regulates my life, or something that keeps me on the right path. It’s my lifestyle that is kept in proper boundaries by something outside of me. 

First of all, notice how Paul tells Christians how not to walk. DON’T WALK THIS WAY…

…following pop culture (2:2)—Living a certain lifestyle because “everyone” is doing it, or because some popular people are living that way. 

…without thinking about why you’re walking the way you are (4:17)

…without comparing your walk to truth (5:8)—Living a life because it feels good to me is a dangerous way to live. I must make sure there is an objective truth that is keeping me on a proper path.

…foolishly (5:15)—To be foolish is either (a) not knowing the truth, (b) not applying the truth I have been shown, or (c) choosing to disregard the truth I’ve been given. 

Instead, Paul tells Christians to WALK THIS WAY

…knowing I am God’s workmanship, created for a great purpose (2:10)—It may take me some time to discover my purpose and my talents, but I keep at it. 

…worthy of my vocation (4:1)—Once I have discovered my talents, I develop them into strengths that will benefit others. 

…lovingly (5:2)—Just as Jesus did! 

…in the light of God’s truth (5:8)—This is the exact opposite of foolishly walking. It means I seek the truth and I apply the truth to my life. 

…circumspectly (5:15)—Not wasting my moments, but making sure I am giving 100 percent every single day.

When I WALK THIS WAY people will inevitably notice that I’m motivated not by popularity with people, but by intimacy with God (5:2-7). They will see that my path is bordered by the principles in God’s Word (5:8-14; Psalm 119:105). And they will notice that my life has purpose and is productive (5:15-20). 

All Christians should ask themselves:

  • Is Jesus pleased with the path I’m on today?
  • Can others follow my footsteps toward their own relationship with Christ? 

If you can answer “yes” to those questions, then Jesus will be pleased that you WALK THIS WAY! 

[You can check out the Scriptures I referenced in this post by clicking on DON’T WALK THIS WAY and WALK THIS WAY above.]

Saturday In The Proverbs—Relationship Builders And Killers (Proverbs 27)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Do not boast… (Proverbs 27:1).

This proverbs has some noteworthy relationship builders and relationship killers. 

Relationship Builders

  • Humility (v. 2) 
  • Confronting in love (vv. 5a, 6a)
  • Contentment (v. 7)
  • Minding your own business (v. 8)
  • Giving good advice (v. 9)
  • Investing in family friendships (v. 10)
  • Exercising wisdom (v. 11)
  • Using foresight (v. 12a)
  • Investing in yourself so that you can invest in others (v. 17)
  • Serving others (v. 18)
  • Honest self-assessment (v. 19)
  • Good work ethic (vv. 23-27) 

Relationship Killers

  • Boasting (vv. 1, 2)
  • Provoking a foolish argument (v. 3)
  • Jealousy (v. 4)
  • Unexpressed love (v. 5b)
  • Insincere flattery (vv. 6b, 14)
  • Ignoring the signs of impending trouble (v. 12b)
  • Cosigning a loan (v. 13)
  • Arguing (vv. 15, 16)
  • Envy (v. 20)
  • Not handling praise humbly (v. 21) 
  • Not listening to correction (v. 22)

To keep our relationships strong and vibrant, let’s kill the killers and build the builders! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Backfire! (Proverbs 26)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…honor is not fitting for a fool (Proverbs 26:1).

However well-intentioned, there are some things guaranteed to backfire. Things like…

… honoring a fool (vv. 1, 8)

… trying to curse or bring down a good man (v. 2)

… letting a fool roam without restraint (v. 3)

… trying to reason with a fool (vv. 4, 5)

… trusting an untrustworthy man to deliver a message accurately (v. 6)

… allowing a fool to teach others (vv. 7, 9)

… not letting a fool learn from the consequences of his foolishness (vv. 10-12)

… entrusting a lazy man with an important task (vv. 13-16)

… meddling in someone else’s quarrel (v. 17)

… inappropriate joking (vv. 18, 19)

… gossiping (vv. 20-22)

… judging by outward appearances (vv. 23-26)

… trying to entrap someone (v. 27)

… lying and flattery (v. 28)

Stay clear of these guaranteed-to-backfire traps! 

Avoiding Worthless Pursuits

“Human society is built on the errors of fools. This sounds brutal, but in the context of the Scriptures it is very kind. I say this because a fool acts without regard to future consequences—as though there were not another world besides this one and he was not intending to die. The strange thing is, he lives this way only in his moral life. Intellectually, he knows he’s not going to be here always, and he makes sure his insurance is in place and writes a will and arranges for his family after he is gone. However, morally he lives as if he were going to be here forever, as if there were no death and no future life. That is what a fool is, and again, a philosophy upon which our whole society is built. …

“Look at the many who are seeking direction for their lives. The trouble is, a great deal of this seeking is simply a desire to have a guide that will help him get what he wants, get all the fun he can out of life and not have to pay the consequences. Many counselors today are doing that very thing. They meet with young people, instructing them in a manner that will enable them to have their own way, miss the Cross, miss the dying to self, miss repentance, and ultimately miss the will of God. But the wisdom of God imparts discernment that will save you from the wrong choice and the false counselor. Divine wisdom can also save us from worthless pursuits—those that are not God’s will for us.” —A.W. Tozer, in The Wisdom Of God

You can read my review of The Wisdom Of God here, and check out some other quotes from this powerful book here.

Saturday In The Proverbs—Fools Talk A Good Game, But… (Proverbs 14)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase come by the strength of an ox (Proverbs 14:4).

You can have something that looks pristine on the outside, but it is all show and no production. Eventually, it will all come crashing down. 

Or you can have the messiness of productivity which will result in lasting success. 

The wise make the productive mess, know that they are building something lasting. The fool only tries to make it look good on the outside, but they are undermining themselves (see vv. 1, 11). 

The fool talks a good game, but…

  • their perversity is despised by God
  • their pride injures themselves and others 
  • they lie to keep up appearances 
  • they never learn from their mistakes
  • they are deceitful 
  • they are on the path to death
  • they are self-confident and quick-tempered, which alienates them from others 
  • they will eventually serve the wise
  • they despise others’ needs 
  • they are poor
  • they are fearful of the future
  • they don’t leave a good legacy for their children
  • they rot with envy
  • the oppress poor people
  • then will end up in utter shame

…all for the sake of trying to make others think they have lives that are perfect! 

Keeping up appearances is hard, painful, unrewarding, and will ultimately end in disaster. 

Saturday In The Proverbs—5 Important Self-Examination Questions (Proverbs 6)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

If… (Proverbs 6:1).

This collection of proverbs prompts quite a bit of self-examination. 

  1. Have I made commitments that are going to entrap me (vv. 1-2)? If so, I should plead for mercy to get out of them (vv. 3-5). 
  2. Am I less-than-diligent in my work—what Solomon calls a sluggard? Consider the diligence and initiative of the ant (vv. 6-8), and then consider the outcome if I don’t make better decisions with my time and my work ethic (vv. 9-11). 
  3. Am I a person of integrity, or am I a fast-talking, double-dealer (vv. 12-14)? I better consider the “therefore” (v. 15)! 
  4. Is my heart pure? Consider that an evil heart is at the heart of what God hates—shedding innocent blood, doing evil, lying, pride (vv. 16-19). Do I want God’s anger directed at me?
  5. Do my eyes stray toward women who aren’t my wife (v. 25)? God’s wisdom can keep me pure (vv. 20-24), but I also need to consider the devastating consequences of continuing in this immorality (vv. 26-35). 

Are you willing to honestly ask yourself these questions in the presence of God’s Holy Spirit?

You should—because your life may be at stake! 

Saturday In The Proverbs—Wisdom (Proverbs 1)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).

Would you like to see things others don’t see? How about if you could have insight that others don’t have? What if you could keep on getting more, and more, and more knowledge that really mattered? That’s what this entire Book of Proverbs is all about, and the opening chapter sets the tone for the rest of the book.

You have to decide: do you trust God’s knowledge, or do you trust yourself more?

God is to be revered above all else.

God is to be delighted in above all else.

God is to be listened to above all else.

That is what defines pure knowledge: God’s knowledge.

The path to wisdom, then, is to accurately apply God’s pure knowledge.

Lady Wisdom—thankfully for us—makes herself readily available IF we will listen to her. If we do, we will have the best insights into how to use this purest-of-pure knowledge which God gives. When we operate in God’s wisdom and God’s knowledge, He is pleased and He is glorified.

There is always another option we could choose. We could listen to things that others say is “knowledge,” and we could try to figure out things on our own. But if we do, we also have to be willing to accept the consequences for applying that “knowledge” (see vv. 29-31). Ummm, no thank you, I’d rather not be called a fool! 

Saturday In The Psalms—Don’t Be A Fool

The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God” (Psalm 53).

You can choose this paradigm if you like. But if you do, here’s what you can expect—

Corruption … you will reap from others the corruption you sow

No one seems trustworthy … you will live your life untrusting and not being trusted

Limited understanding … “without God we’re just a lucky convergence of matter and energy, and after death there’s a vast nothing,” says the fool. But anyone who’s ever fallen in love knows there is something more than just matter and energy.

Everyone seeks his own self-interest … no one does good just to do good (we’re back to the untrusting lifestyle again!)

Fear and terror of the unknown … these lurk constantly in the back of your mind

Missing out on eternal blessings … what if you’re wrong? what if there really is a God who wants to be in relationship with you? If that’s true, you are squandering your life. You are living for the moment, and about to miss out on an eternity of pleasure in God’s presence.

A fool sticks his fingers in his ears, closes his eyes, and refuses to even consider an alternative—“There. Is. No. God!”

Don’t be a fool!

Will you at least be willing to consider the possibility that this Universe was created on purpose? Will you at least be willing to consider that the Creator made you to have a relationship with Him?

The fool tries to make all of life fit into his tiny box. The wise person knows there’s so much more.

Don’t be a fool!

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