Faith Frees Us From Fear

October 12, 2010 at 8:56 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

Faith supplies all the graces with work. Faith is like a wealthy owner of wool who supplies material to men who weave cloth. When the tradesman does not furnish supplies, the spinners must stop their production. They have nothing to work with except what the tradesman gives them. Thus faith gives out to each grace what it must have to act upon.

Let us review one or two graces as an example of all the rest. Repentance is a sweet grace but faith has to make it work. For instance, Nineveh’s repentance can be traced to faith: “The people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth” (Jonah 3:5). Their repentance may have been nothing more than legalism, but it was as good as their faith. If their faith had been better, their repentance would have of a deeper quality too.

In the same way as light causes the eye to focus on an object, faith uncovers sin in the conscience. Thoughts soon arise like clouds and thicken into a storm until they fill the soul with heavy black horror and trembling for sin. But at this point the person is at a loss and cannot go any further into repentance until faith sends in more support from the promise of pardon. When the sinner hears and believes the promise, repentance can continue. And finally, the cloud of terror which the fear of wrath had gathered in the conscience dissolves into a soft rain of evangelical sorrow.

Love is another heavenly grace, but faith finds the fuel that makes it blaze. Was your soul always flaming with love for God the way it is now? Undoubtedly there was a time when our hearth was cold – not a spark of this fire could be found. How is it that you love God so much now? Surely you have heard some good news from heaven!

Faith is the only messenger which can bring good news from heaven to the heart. It is faith that proclaims the promise, opens Christ’s riches, and pours out His name to increase love in believers. – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, October 6. Edited by James S. Bell, Jr. Moody Publishers Edition, 1994.

The Importance of the Shield

October 5, 2010 at 10:04 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

In old time the shield was prized by a soldier above all other pieces of armor. He counted it a greater shame to lose his shield than to lose the battle; and therefore he would not part with it even when he was under the very foot of the enemy, but esteemed it an honor to die with his shield in his hand. It was the charge which one mother laid upon her son going into war: “Either bring your shield home with you or be brought home upon your shield.” She would rather have seen her son dead with his shield than alive without it.

The apostle further attached another noble effect to faith. We are commanded to take the girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and so on, but it is not specified what each one of them could do. Yet when the apostle spoke of faith he ascribed the whole victory to it. This quenches “all the fiery darts of the wicked” (Ephesians 6:16). And why is this true? Are the other graces useless, and does faith do everything? If so, why must the Christian arm himself with more than this one piece?

I answer that every piece has its vital use in the Christian’s warfare. No one part can be spared in the day of battle. But the reason that no single effect is attributed to each of these, but that all is ascribed to faith, is to let us know that these graces – their power and our benefit from the – must operate in conjunction with faith.

Plainly it is the design of God’s Spirit to give faith the precedence among all those graces entrusted to our keeping. But be careful not to become indifferent or careless in your dealings with the other graces just because you are more excited about getting and keeping this one. Could we warn a soldier to beware of a wound at his heart but forget to guard his head? Truly, we would deserve cracked crowns to cure us of such foolishness. – Taken from, The Christian in Complete Armour, October 3. Edited by James S. Bell, Jr. Moody Publishers, 1994.

Suffering May Come Suddenly

September 28, 2010 at 9:12 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

Sometimes soldiers do not have as much as an hour’s warning before they must take the field. And so you, too, might be called out to suffer for God or from Him before you expect it. Abraham, for example, had very little time to deal with his heart and persuade it to obey God by offering his child. “Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest” – not in a year, not a month or week, but now (Genesis 22:2). This command came during the night and “early in the morning” he was on his way to the mountain (v. 3).

How could Abraham have handled such a shock had he not already wrestled with his own willingness or unwillingness to endeavor to be obedient to God in all things? Thus God had already had His servant’s whole heart and all Abraham was left to do was to obey. Sometimes God makes very sudden changes in our personal lives. For example, how would you receive a death bulletin like the one God gave Moses? He did not have the gradual preparation of a lingering illness but heard the message while he still enjoyed perfect health: “Get thee up… …..And die in the mount……” (Deuteronomy 32:49-50). Are we and our feet really ready for a journey like that?

But God can change the scene of public affairs as quickly as He can change personal situations. Maybe authority smiles on the church right now; yet it might frown again soon. “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea” (Acts 9:31) – it was a blessed time for the saints. But it did not last long: “About that time Herod the king stretched forth his hand to vex certain of the church” (Acts 12:1). In this persecution James the brother of John died by the sword and Peter was thrown into prison. The entire church was driven into a corner to pray in the night; and those who had had rest on every side now were threatened by violent death at every turn. – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, September 21. Edited by James S. Bell, Jr. Moody Publishers, 1994.

To me this devotional reading was something good to think about. What if the time is coming when our government takes away tax exempt status from the Church? What if our government should tell pastors who they must be willing to marry? What if there comes a time when what is right is called wrong and what is wrong is called right? What if there was no political party or political action group who wanted to be associated with Bible believing, conservative evangelicals? What if there is something much more personal coming that causes pain?

Would you still praise and worship God? Would you still believe He was in control and working His plan of redemption? Would you still have a practical faith in God? How would your life change? Or better yet, what changes do you need to make now to really live as an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ? Just something to think about.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; Psalm 50:23; 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Christians Should Be Ready To Suffer

September 21, 2010 at 9:01 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

Genuine readiness to suffer thins out the number of true Christians from the ranks of professing believer; it eliminates those whose walk goes no further than a cheap profession. A person who looks into the crowded sanctuaries Christendom today and finds multitudes who flock after the Word might wonder why ministers say this company of Christians is such a small one, and he might think that they who say such things cannot see the forest for the trees. This very situation made one of the disciples question Christ: “Lord, are there few that be saved?”(Luke 13:23). At that time Christ “went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem” (v. 22). When His followers saw Christ preaching so freely in every town, and people thronging after Him with expressions of hope, it seemed almost incredible to think that only a few of the them would be saved.

Now mark how our Savior solved this riddle: “And He said unto them, Strive to enter in at the straight gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (v. 24). Christ said His disciples were measuring by a wrong rule. “If following after sermons and testimonies and excitement were enough to save, heaven would already be full,” He was saying. But do not sift the pure from the impure by such a coarse sieve. “Strive to enter – fight and wrestle, risk life and limb rather than fall short of heaven.” “For many shall seek, but shall not be able,” – that is, they are looking for a cheap religion through an easy profession.

Almost anyone is willing to walk through heaven’s door if he never has to risk his pride in public or hazard his everyday interests by any inconvenience or opposition of the world. But “they shall not be able” to enter because their hearts are not willing to strive unto blood. If we take the standard to be striving, not merely seeking, then the number of Christian soldiers will shrink, like Gideon’s army, to a little troop. – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, September 20. Edited by James S. Bell, Jr. Moody Publishers Edition, 1994.

The Meat of the Word

September 14, 2010 at 9:26 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

Can Christians be soldered together in unity, as long as they are not fully reconciled to God in regard to their sanctification? The less progress the Gospel has made in our hearts to mortify lust and strengthen grace, the weaker the peace and love among us.

From the contentions among Christians at Corinth, Paul concluded that they had not grown in grace beyond the spoon-feeding stage. “I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for Corinthians 3:2-3): he conceived their behavior to be clear evidence. “For wheras there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” But as grace strengthens, and the Gospel prevails in the hearts of Christians, love and a spirit of unity increase with it.

We say “older and wiser” – when children are very young they quarrel and fight, but age and wisdom furnish strength to overcome petty differences. For instance, in the controversy between the servants of Abraham and Lot, Abraham – the elder and stronger Christian – was determined, no matter what it cost him, to have peace with his nephew, who was inferior to him in every way. And Paul is another example. As a Christian who was head and shoulders above the others, he said of himself, “The grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 1:14).

Calvin points out that Paul’s faith opposed his former obstinate unbelief as a Pharisee; his love in Jesus overcame the cruelty he expressed against Christians on his persecuting errand to Damascus. He was as full of faith as he had been unbelief before; and as full of fire-hot love as he had been of hatred. This is what I want you to see – this pair of graces thrive and grow together; a Christian who has abundant faith will also have abundant love. – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, September 10. Edited by James S. Bell, Jr. Moody Publishers, 1994.

Affliction Overcome By Peace

September 7, 2010 at 2:41 pm | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

Does your peace go with you only as far as the prison door? Or the hospital bed? It is easy to be confident of a salvation as long as your health is good; but as soon as death is in sight, does your conscience point out the serious symptom that your peace is a mere pretense?

I know that affliction is a trying time. Even the most sincere Christian may, for a season, be beaten away from his artillery and Satan seem to capture his confidence. Some precious saints have been carried down the stream of violent temptations so far that they question whether their former peace was from the Holy Spirit the Comforter or from the evil spirit the deceiver. Yet there is a vast difference between the two.

They differ in their causes. The darkness which sometimes comes upon the sincere Christian’s spirit in deep distress comes from the withdrawing of God’s countenance of light. But the horror of the deceived man’s torment proceeds directly from a guilty conscience which prosperity and preoccupation have lulled to sleep. As God’s hand upon this man awakens his numb conscience, it reveals the falseness of his profession of faith. It is true that the saint’s conscience may justly accuse him of carelessness or compromise through strong temptation, but it cannot accuse him of a hypocritical motive behind his whole spiritual walk.

They differ in the things which accompany them. Lively workings of grace are visible even as the Christian sorrows. The less joy he has from awareness of God’s love, the more earnestly he will grieve for the sin which clouded that joy. The farther Christ is gone out of his sight, the more he clings to his love for the Savior and cries after Him with the prayer of Heman: “Unto thee have I cried, O Lord”; his heartfelt supplication rises to God early in the morning hours (Psalm 88:13). – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, September 6. Edited by James S. Bell, Jr. Moody Publishers, 1994.

The Spirit’s Work in the Soul

August 31, 2010 at 9:10 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

This blessed Holy Spirit has all the characteristics of a comforter. He is so pure and holy that He cannot deceive; He is called the “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17). If He says your sins are forgiven, you can believe Him; He will not flatter. If it were not so He would have told you, for He can chide as well as comfort – He can convince of sin as well as of righteousness. And the Spirit of God is so wise that He cannot be deceived; He never knocks at the wrong door nor delivers messages to the wrong person, but knows the exact purpose which the heart of God holds for each person on earth. “The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).

These “deep things of God” which the apostle mentions are God’s counsels of love which lie deep in His heart until the Spirit draws them out and shows them to men and women. And He also knows perfectly the frame of man’s heart. It would be strange if the cabinet maker did not know every secret compartment in the cabinet. Despite their long study, neither man nor the devil have anything even approaching a full knowledge of that little world, the microcosm of man’s soul. But as in everything else, God knows this field perfectly and cannot be deceived.

In a word, God’s Spirit is so irresistible that no one can stand against the power of His peace. For example, the pardon Nathan took to David was not all that he had hoped for; so David begged the Comforter to ease his pain. He went on his knees and prayed hard to have his lost joy restored and his softened heart established by the free Spirit of God. You might baffle man, and though your own melancholy manipulation, even evade the truths which Christians bring for comfort; but when the Holy Spirit Himself comes, all disputes will end. Satan cannot pull rank or his false logic on Him. Confusion vanishes and our fears with it, as darkness disappears before the sun. – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, August 31. Edited by James S. Bell, Jr. and published by Moody Publishers.

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I would like to add two good quotes from J. C. Ryle:

The World’s Opposition To Christ’s Work

“Let all who are attacked by the world for trying to do good, take comfort in the thought that they are only drinking of the cup which Christ drank. Their Master in heaven sympathizes with them. Let them work on patiently, and believe that, if they are faithful, their work will speak for itself. The world’s opposition is sure to attend every really good work. If the servants of Christ are to cease from every movement which the world calls in question, they will soon come to an entire stand-still. If we are to wait until the world approves our plans, and is satisfied with the propriety of our efforts, we shall never do anything on earth.”

~ J.C. Ryle

Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke volume 2 , [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1998], 320.

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“How marvelous it is that we do not hate sin more than we do! Sin is the cause of all the pain and disease in the world. God did not create man to be an ailing and suffering creature. It was sin, and nothing but sin, which brought in all the ills that flesh is heir to. It was sin to which we owe every racking pain, and every loathsome infirmity, and every humbling weakness to which our poor bodies are liable. Let us keep this ever in mind. Let us hate sin with a godly hatred.” — J.C. Ryle

Our Dependence Upon His Work

August 24, 2010 at 9:00 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

God chose to give this treasure of reconciliation to humble us, so our haughtiness might bow and God could be exalted in our day of salvation. “The bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world” (John 6:33). And notice hwy God chose that method to feed His children in the wilderness: “Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee”(Deuteronomy 8:16).

Let us examine this humbling process more carefully. Naturally we assume that the Israelites would have become wise as well as humble when God Himself fed them with “angels food” (Psalm 78:25). Yet man is proud and wants to be his own provider; he does not enjoy a meal sent in by charity, at another’s expense, nearly so much as he does food which he earned himself. This pride made the children of Israel wish for the onions of their Egyptian gardens – inferior food but food bought with their own money instead of brought to them by God. God’s reconciliation to sinners was aimed at a more perfect union than He had with Adam.

God would never have allowed His first workmanship to be so scarred by sin if He had not planned to build a more magnificent structure out of its ruins. Because He intended to print man’s happiness in the second edition with a more perfect type than the first, He used Christ as the only fit instrument to accomplish this design: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). He did not come to give the dead and damned a bare peace – naked life – but a more abundant life than man ever had before sin separated him from God. – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, August 19. Edited by James S. Bell, Jr. Moody Publishers Edition, 1994.

The News of the Gospel is Joyous

August 17, 2010 at 9:11 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

If we hear insignificant news we will probably forget it. But if it is both important and very good, it causes rejoicing. The angel of the Lord said, “I bring you good tidings of great joy” (Luke 2:10). It has to be great joy because it is all joy; the Lord Christ has brought news of such fullness that He left nothing for anyone else to add. If you think something might be missing from the Gospel you must look higher than God, for He gives Himself though Christ to believers in the covenant of grace. We are fully persuaded the apostle Paul’s argument will hold: “All things are yours; and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:22-23).

The Gospel places our vessels close to the fountain of goodness itself; and surely we must have all if we are united to the One who has everything. Can any good news come to glorified saints which heaven does not give them? We have proof of that glory in the Word: “Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10). The sun in the sky hides heaven from us while it shows the earth to us! But the Gospel enlightens both at once – godliness has the “promise of life that now is, and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8).

The audience must have a personal interest before an announcement can be good news. While we can be happy to hear about something good happening to another person, it affects us more when it is poured directly into our own hearts. For example, a sick man does not feel the joy of another’s recovery as strongly as he would his own.

The Gospel does not report what God has done for angels but for us. “Unto you,” the angel said, “is born …… a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). If angels rejoiced for our happiness, surely our benefit gives even deeper reason to be glad. – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour, August 11. Edited by James S. Bell, Jr. Moody Publishers edition, 1994.

Christian reader, I do hope that you are encouraged to read your Bible daily and to pray daily. I hope that your prayers are not just for yourself or your family but that you intercede for other people that you know personally and for people that you don’t know personally. I also hope that you supplement your Bible reading and prayer with good devotional reading and a personal study of the Bible to learn truth to apply to your life that you may consistently “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) and bring God glory.

Stay faithful and hopeful,

Bill (a fellow-laborer)

Romans 15:13; Psalm 138:1-3

Keep Your Breastplate On

August 10, 2010 at 9:45 am | Posted in William Gurnall | Leave a comment
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Wisdom from William Gurnall

David expressed keen sorrow for the unholiness in his life: “O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more” (Psalm 39:13). He did not want to die until holiness ruled his heart again. Ungodliness is a poison which drinks up all serenity of conscience and inward springs of joy. If you throw a stone into a clear brook it will soon become muddy. “He will speak peace unto his people, but let them not turn again to folly” (Psalm 85:8).

Carelessness in the walk of holiness dangerously exposes your faith, which is kept in good conscience as a jewel is protected in a cabinet. Faith is an eye, and sin casts a hazy mist before it. To faith, a holy life is like pure air to the eye; we can see father on a clear day. Thus faith sees further into God’s promise when it looks through a holy well-ordered life.

Faith is a shield. Will a soldier drop his protection unless he has been seriously wounded? If faith fails, what will happen to hope, which cleaves to faith and draws strength from her as a nursing child takes nourishment from its mother? If faith cannot see pardon in the promise, then hope cannot look for salvation. If faith cannot claim sonship, hope will not wait for the inheritance. Faith informs the soul it has “peace with God” and then the soul rejoices “in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

Are you trying to use the sword of the Spirit? How can you hold it when unholiness has seriously maimed the hand of faith that must carry it? This sword has two edges – one side heals but the other wounds. With one it saves and with the other it damns. The Bible does not speak a single kind word to the person who practices sin. Now – think and then think some more – is any sin worth all this confusion which will inevitably strangle and smother your soul? – Taken from The Christian in Complete Armour by William Gurnall, edited by James S. Bell, Jr.

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