The Beautiful King

“Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty.” – Isaiah 33:17

The more you know about Christ, the less will you be satisfied with superficial views of him; and the more deeply you study his transactions in the eternal covenant, his engagements on your behalf as the eternal Surety, and the fulness of his grace which shines in all his offices, the more truly will you see the King in his beauty. Be much in such outlooks. Long more and more to see Jesus. Meditation and contemplation are often like windows of agate, and gates of carbuncle, through which we behold the Redeemer. Meditation puts the telescope to the eye, and enables us to see Jesus after a better sort than we could have seen him if we had lived in the days of his flesh. Would that our conversation were more in heaven, and that we were more taken up with the person, the work, the beauty of our incarnate Lord. More meditation, and the beauty of the King would flash upon us with more resplendence.
Beloved, it is very probable that we shall have such a sight of our glorious King as we never had before, when we come to die. Many saints, in dying, have looked up from amidst the stormy waters, and have seen Jesus walking on the waves of the sea, and heard him say, “It is I, be not afraid.” Ah, yes! when the tenement begins to shake, and the clay falls away, we see Christ through the rifts, and between the rafters the sunlight of heaven comes streaming in.
But if we want to see face to face the “King in his beauty”, we must go to heaven for the sight or the King must come here in person. O, that he would come on the wings of the wind! He is our Husband, and we are widowed by his absence; he is our Brother dear and fair, and we are lonely without him. Thick veils and clouds hang between our souls and their true life: when shall the day break and the shadows flee away? Oh, long-expected day, begin!
– C. H. Spurgeon

News for all Know-It-All Theologians

Psalm 139:6
Romans 11:33
Job 36:26

What’s the news? That we don’t know much about God. Not really, not compared to what there is, not compared to what there is to know, not compared to all that He is and does. The Bible only reveals in part who and what God is; we have been shown only the “edges” of His person and ways. Yes, it is true that the Bible reveals an amazing amount of truth about who God is and what He has done in creation, progressive revelation, in providence and history, and in the person and work of His Son, Christ Jesus. An amazing amount has been revealed.

But all those who love truth and theology must remind themselves that the church, throughout church history, has been grappling with all of Scripture to see the depths and riches of the Bible, and we haven’t plumbed its depths yet, even with all our knowledge and scholarship. Nor will those depths ever be plumbed before the Second Coming of the Son of Man. We still, and always will, see through a glass darkly, and we only know in part and will always only know in part until we are with Him. So any theologian who comes across as if they have it all figured out, and always seem to have good sufficient answers for every question, the fact is, they don’t.

Psalm 139:6

There are no “know-it-alls” in the kingdom simply because there is perhaps more about God that has not been revealed than has been revealed. And even the Bible says that some revealed knowledge in Scripture is too much for us to comprehend. David says this in Psalm 139:1-6, where he says in vs. 6 that the truths found in vss. 1-5 are so wonderful, they are “too” wonderful and high for him and he cannot attain to it. The word “attain” in vs 6 is the consistent translation in most all Bible translations. It is simply a fact that the knowledge of God is exceedingly beyond our humanness to attain or comprehend it fully.

Romans 11:33

Paul says something similar here–“Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways are past finding out.” Unsearchable and past finding out; so there is a realm of the knowledge of God that the Bible gives us. That is the realm of Deut. 29:29–the “things revealed to us”, but the “secret things” that belong to the Lord are not ours; There is much truth about God, creation, providence, eternity, and much more that belong to the “secret” things, to the “past finding out and unsearchable” realms.

It is always a humbling fact to remember that we know less about God than there is to know; there is much more that we don’t know that what we do know; such knowledge is not to keep us from seeking, growing and increasing in continuing to plumb the depths of God’s Word. It simply means we should always humble ourselves and remember that we don’t know much, even with all our knowing.

Job 36:26

Job pretty well sums it up for us in 36:26– “Behold, God is great, and we know Him not.”

I like the way this verse reads in other translations–

NIV- How great is God–beyond our understanding! The number of his years is past finding out.

ESV- Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.

NASB- “Behold, God is exalted, and we do not know Him; The number of His years is unsearchable.

KJV- Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out.

Holman Christian Standard Bible- Yes, God is exalted beyond our knowledge; the number of His years cannot be counted.

This has some personal implications for us.

1. Repentance
2. Humility
3. Dependence
4. Progressive Growth
5. Thankfulness

1. Repentance – We should repent of any “know-it-all” attitudes we have developed and of acting this way toward others in any capacity. We know nothing as we ought to know.

2. Humility – We should always take an attitude of true humility, living in the reality that we “know not” God yet in the way He truly is and in the way we will know him in our glorification. If we don’t know it all, why do we act like we do at times?

3. Dependence – We should cultivate conscious and continual dependence upon the Holy Spirit for His ministry of increasing us in the knowledge of God and Christ. There are vast oceans to be experience, and we are yet probably ankle-deep.

4. Progressive Growth – We can progressively know God and His truth more and more. Let us press on to know the Lord continually.

5. Thankfulness – We should be abundantly thankful that God has chosen us, included us, allowed us, and privileged us to know Him. He opened our eyes, not us. We would still be in dark Egyptian night, lost in our sins and in spiritual blindness, if God had not opened our eyes to behold to beauty and glory of God in Christ. Thankfulness that we do not yet know as we are known is a good thing.

Job 36:26, Psalm 139:6, Romans 11:33 all tell us something that really needs to shape our lives more, especially all the “know-it-all” theologians out there. Let us humble ourselves under the mighty hand of the unknowable and knowable God!

– Mack Tomlinson

When Words Discourage Us

“Many there be which say of my soul, ‘There is no help for him in God’.” – Psalm 3:2

Have you ever been discouraged and distressed because of something people said or what the voices inside you said? Such people and such voices talk most when one is in trouble about something. “Many there be which say of my soul, ‘There is no help for him in God’.” That was what the many said who were around King David in a dark hour. But he turned to the Lord and told Him just what they were saying, and then he affirmed his faith: “But Thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory and the lifter of my head.” (vs. 3)

We cannot use these words if we are pleasing ourselves in anything, and doing our own will and not God’s will. In that case, what the many say is often true. There is no help for us in God while we are walking in any way of our own choosing. But when all is clear between us and the Lord Jesus, even if like David, we are in trouble because of something we have done wrong in the past, then those words are not true. There IS help for us in God. He is then our shield, our glory, and the lifter up of our head, and we need not be afraid of ten thousand people or ten thousand voices, for the Lord our God is our very present Help.

Twice in Psalm 3 and 4, we find David taking the very unkind words of others and putting them into a prayer. It was the wisest thing he could have done with them. The alternative would have been to brood over them or talk to others about them. But he turns like a child to his Father.

“Many say” – this is often the case. But David is not confounded. He refuses to be cast down; let the “many” say whatever they will. If only we can look up and meet His countenance, what do the words of others matter? The truth is, we SHALL experience good. “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

— Amy Carmichael

Through the Wilderness

God knows best how to ripen a soul for His own presence in glory.

Trials are the opening of channels for more grace.

There is nothing in your providential lot that takes Him by surprise, though it takes you by surprise.

The Jews’ past experience was not of great use to them in their wilderness journeys. They needed always to consult with God. If you think you will get through anything because you got through things previously, then you will certainly fail. You must ask fresh counsel from the Lord always and consult Him continually.

Perhaps some Israelite, looking on the burning sands all around them and thinking of the scorching heat, begins to say, “What if this continues? What if my friend dies out here? What if the children can’t take the journey and they die?” Let us simply follow the Lord, follow the pillar of cloud and fire, and not trouble ourselves with the “ifs”.

I see that I need every day, more and more in the morning, before any business begins, I need a cup of the new wine of the kingdom–fellowship with the Most High.

Dwell in the tabernacle under the shadow of the Almighty, and not a drop of wrath shall fall on even one hair of your head. Continually walk in the light of the cloud of glory.

Often we have looked at the waves and listened to the winds, when we could have been walking with Jesus on the water.

— Andrew Bonar

The Right Kind of Bible

“Your Word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path!” Psalm 119:105

In many houses you will see beautiful Bibles bound handsomely in morocco leather, with gilt edges, and full of bright pictures. I love to see a beautiful Bible in a home, especially if it is not kept too clean and unsoiled. But the most beautiful form in which a household Bible can be bound, is in the holy life of godly parents. There is no tinted, gold-edged paper so lovely as the pages God gives us on which to write our daily record.

The precepts and lessons of the inspired Word sound very sweetly when read out of a richly-covered volume–but they sound far more sweetly, when the child can spell them out of the parent’s daily life.

It is well for a parent to read to his child from the inspired page about the beauty of holiness; but it is better still when the child can see that beauty shining out transfigured in every feature of his parent’s character.

It is well for him to read of the patience, gentleness, meekness, forbearance, and love of Christ; but it is better when he exemplifies all of these traits.

It is well for him to teach the child what the Bible says about lying, profanity, intemperance, and all sins; it is better when his life proclaims all these lessons.

No family Bible is so well printed and bound, as the one that is printed on the heart, and bound up in the life of a godly parent. I would recommend to all parents this kind of Bible, and to keep the dust off it always by constant use. This is the best kind for a lamp to the children’s feet.

A beautiful Christian life is a living epistle written by the hand of God which the youngest child can read before it has learned to spell out the shortest words of the language. It is a sermon that preaches Christ all day long, seven days in the week!

There is no heresy so dangerous to childhood as heresies lived in the home!

– C. H. Spurgeon

Favorite Books

I often get asked what books should someone read; this is a hard question because there are so many things that would affect one’s answer. But here is a series of questions that a brother has posed that somewhat helps. I hope this helps you in your pursuit of God and His truth. (PLEASE do not forward this to anyone or post this anywhere; it is also planned for future publication use in other settings.)

The book I am currently reading –

I Shall not Die but Live by Douglas Taylor
This is wonderfully pastoral, experiential, and devotional, and centers on seeing and knowing Christ in all things in life and when facing death.

The book that changed my life –

I have to mention two! The Pursuit of God by A. W. Tozer and Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Martin Lloyd-Jones; Tozer’s book directed me toward a God-centered life of desiring to know God personally, and the Lloyd-Jones’ book demolished my dispensational interpretation of the Lord’s mount sermon and made me see that Jesus was revealing what a true Christian is and how they live.

The book I wish I had written –

Either Redemption Accomplish and Applied by John Murray (one of my top three favorites of all time) or The Gospel According to Jesus by John Macarthur, which shook the American evangelical world by exposing the falseness of non-Lordship salvation and has had lasting reformational effect on so many churches and Christians.

The book that helped me in my preaching –

Most recently, The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper; simple, brief and clear, the book calls the preacher back to the romance and simplicity of what preaching truly should be. Also, on preaching the Old Testament narratives, Dale Ralph Davis’ book, The Word Made Fresh, greatly helped me in how to approach preaching difficult sections of the Old Testament.

The book I think is most underrated –

Thoughts on Religious Experience by Archibald Alexander; simply profound and deeply helpful in understanding the nature of true Christian experience.

The book that made me say many Amens as I turned its pages –

For me, it has to be Revival and Revivalism by Iain Murray, simply because I was raised in a “revivalism” culture and was trained in that setting, and this book opened my eyes fully to understand that what I was already seeing was a faulty system, and what revival was historically and theologically.

The last book that made me weep –

This is a hard one because the 2 volume life of Martyn Lloyd-Jones made me weep at times, but the one I read more recently that produced this effect on me is The Scots Worthies, a massive account of the lives of Scottish Covenanters who suffered so greatly in Scotland during the 17th century. Fair Sunshine by Jock Purves is a smaller version with the same theme by that produced the same effect on me – real tears!

The book I’m most ashamed not to have read –

Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ Expositions on Ephesians; I’ve been reading other things and haven’t gotten around to them! That’s a poor thing on my part. Un-mined gold is sitting in my study yet untouched!

The book I most often give to new church members and young Christians –

This is an easy one for me; The Christian Life: A Doctrinal Introduction by Sinclair Ferguson; I think it can be the most helpful book a new or untaught believer can read.

The book I give to people thinking of becoming Christians –

I would begin with John Blanchard’s small Ultimate Questions and then follow up with his book, Right with God. Nothing better evangelistically that these 2 gospel treasures.

The book I wish I were able to write, and want someone to write –

It would be titled this way: The Power of the Holy Spirit among the Scottish Covenanters in their Suffering. There was phenomenal reality that those preachers and believers experienced by the ministry of the Spirit in those years of persecution because God was so real to them; He was so real to them because they so needed Him as their present help and deliverer.

Happy reading to you!


“The trial of your faith.”

1 Peter 1:7

Faith untried may be true faith, but it is sure to be little faith, and it is likely to remain dwarfish so long as it is without trials. Faith never prospers so well as when all things are against her: tempests are her trainers, and lightnings are her illuminators. When a calm reigns on the sea, spread the sails as you will, the ship moves not to its harbour; for on a slumbering ocean the keel sleeps too. Let the winds rush howling forth, and let the waters lift up themselves, then, though the vessel may rock, and her deck may be washed with waves, and her mast may creak under the pressure of the full and swelling sail, it is then that she makes headway towards her desired haven. No flowers wear so lovely a blue as those which grow at the foot of the frozen glacier; no stars gleam so brightly as those which glisten in the polar sky; no water tastes so sweet as that which springs amid the desert sand; and no faith is so precious as that which lives and triumphs in adversity. Tried faith brings experience. You could not have believed your own weakness had you not been compelled to pass through the rivers; and you would never have known God’s strength had you not been supported amid the water-floods. Faith increases in solidity, assurance, and intensity, the more it is exercised with tribulation. Faith is precious, and its trial is precious too.

Let not this, however, discourage those who are young in faith. You will have trials enough without seeking them: the full portion will be measured out to you in due season. Meanwhile, if you cannot yet claim the result of long experience, thank God for what grace you have; praise him for that degree of holy confidence whereunto you have attained: walk according to that rule, and you shall yet have more and more of the blessing of God, till your faith shall remove mountains and conquer impossibilities.

– C. H. Spurgeon

All Prayer

Prayer, prayer, prayer must be more of a business than it has been previously.

Prayer is seed sown on the heart of God.

God likes to see His people shut up to this — there is no hope except in prayer. Herein lies the church’s power against the world.

It is a sign that the blessing of God is not at hand when God’s people are not praying much.

Delayed answers may be very abundant answers.

Ask God for anything, but let Him judge as to the manner, measure, and timing of the giving.

Every time God hears us cry, “Abba, Father”, He remembers Christ’s prayer in Gethesame.

When any passage of Scripture comes alive to us, it is the equivalent of God coming to us and saying, “Ask me what you would have me give you.” The apostle says, “Ask of Him, who gives liberally and upbraids us not.” It should be great things that we ask and expect from a liberal Father.

— Andrew Bonar

God might well reproach and rebuke us for our carelessness, negligence, smallness, or unbelief in prayer, but He will never be displeased with our asking too much–our Lord said, “Whatsoever things ye ask.”
— Mack Tomlinson

Daily Thoughts: Thankfulness and Praise

Oh, let the river of life rise higher and higher in my soul!

Thy people are no longer heavy-laden with sins, but are now heavy-laden with benefits.

We far more often meet a man laboring under a sense of sin more than one laboring under a sense of God’s mercies. We pick out all the little crosses and troubles of life and mourn over them, and forget our mercies. But the whole of our life is mercy, mercy, mercy.

We should always be wearing the garment of praise, not just waving a palm branch now and then.

Thanksgiving is the very air of heaven.

There are some saints who grieve so much over their imperfect holiness that they never rejoice.

I see that it is just as solemn a thing to be crowned with mercies as to be crushed with affliction.

Pharaoh forgot all of God’s judgments; do we also not forget many of God’s mercies?

Many a sorrow is calmed by a song of praise.

— Andrew Bonar

Tried by Praise, Pt 2

“If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing.” – John 8:54

This word strikes deep. It cuts straight through all self-praise, all pleasure in praise, and taking home to your heart what others say about you. It seems to me to be like that subtle thing of spiritual flattery coming from our lips. I believe that the only safe place for praise of any sort is the dust at the foot of the Cross. I am not thinking now of the encouraging word that a captain speaks to his soldiers or a fellow-worker to fellow-workers, or a teacher to students. I am rather thinking of a deadly thing, the praise of man that brings a snare and not a blessing. It is the acceptance of that which can wreck the soul. Our Lord utterly refused it, ignored it, and turned from it. It was nothing, less than nothing, to Him.

– Amy Carmichael