This morning we read Numbers 14 in family worship. The spies have returned from scouting out the land: Though it is lush, the people are strong and the cities fortified. Crying aloud and grumbling, the people imagined all manner of horrors: "our wives and children will become prey." But Caleb has no sympathy for these fears. In fact he calls the fear of the people 'rebellion.' He says that if God delights in them, he will bring them into the good land, and the people of the land will be "bread for us." God had told them that he was giving them the land. Going in was not presumptuous. It was faith.
Similarly, when God tells us to go to all of the nations and preach the gospel, we must not let fear keep us back. Such fear is rebellion.
Monday, January 13, 2014
In his book five Christian leaders, J.C. Ryle writes about John Berridge, an eccentric, humble, wise, kind and courageous man who preached during the time of Wesley and Whitefield. Preaching wherever people would hear him, he was the means of bringing thousands to Christ. Wouldn't you like to know what advice Berridge gave to a young pastor? Ryle begins:
I know few wiser and more comprehensive letters of advise to a young minister about a sermon than one (not dated) which Whittingham has inserted at the end of his collection. Among other things, he says: "When you open your commission, begin with laying open the innumerable corruptions of the hearts of your audience. Moses will lend you a knife, which may be often whetted at his grindstone. Lay open the universal sinfulness of men's natures, the darkness of the mind, the frowardness of the will, the fretfulness of the temper , and the earthliness and and sensuality of the affections. Speak of the evil of sin in its nature, its rebellion against God as our Sovereign, ingratitude to God as our Lawgiver, and contempt both of his authority and love. Declare the evil of sin in its effects, bringing all our sicknesses, pains and snares---all the evils we feel, and all the evils we fear."--"Lay open the spirituality of the law and its extent, reaching the every thought, word and action, and declaring every transgression, whether by omission or commission, deserving of death. Declare man's utter helplessness to change his nature, or make his peace."---"When your hearers are deeply affected with these things, which is often seen by the hanging down of their heads, then preach Christ. Lay open the Savior's almighty power to soften the hard heart and give it repentance, to bring pardon to the broken heart, a spirit of prayer to the prayerless heart, holiness to the filthy heart, and faith to the unbelieving heart. Let them know that all the treasures of grace are lodged in Jesus Christ for the use of the poor needy sinner, and that he is full of love as well as of power; turns no beggar from his gate, but receives all comers kindly; loves to bless them, and bestows all his blessings free. Here you must wave the gospel flag, and magnify the Savior supremely. Speak it with a full mouth, that his blood can wash away the foulest sins, and his grace subdue the stoutest corruptions. Entreat the people to seek his grace, to seek it directly, to seek it diligently, to seek it constantly; and acquaint them that all who thus seek shall assuredly find the salvation of God."