November 6, 2008

Follow the Lamb - Section III

Bonar encourages a steadfast heart of faith in this section of Follow the Lamb. Biblical wisdom is well rounded, as displayed in application here against the unsteady, excited, controversial.


Beware of changeableness; be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines: it is a bad sign of a man when he is frequently shifting his ground and adopting new opinions. 'It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace' (Heb 13:9); and it is good to hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end (Heb 3:14). The 'righteousness of God' was that which you began with, and you found it an ample covering and a sufficient resting-place. God's reckoning your sin to Christ, and His righteousness to you was joy and peace, when you found the burden of your grief too great for you to bear. Never let go your hold of this truth. Continue to rejoice in this blessed exchange. Let the righteousness of the Righteous One be your daily covering.

When a man gets wearied of what is old, and is always catching hold of what is new, it looks as if he had been beguiled from the simplicity that is in Christ, and had lost his relish for the things of Christ; nay, almost as if he had never been 'rooted and grounded in love.' Love of novelties has been the shipwreck of many a soul. 'Some new thing' is the craving not of the men of Athens only, but of many in the Church of God. They are restless; and are carried about with diverse and strange doctrines. Old truths get tame and stale (Eph 4:14; Heb 13:9; 1 John 4:1). Take care of 'itching ears' (2 Tim 4:3), and of 'heaping to yourselves teachers' (2 Tim 4:3).

Along with this we often see the love of controversy, which is almost equally pernicious, even when it takes the side of truth. The man who likes better to be fighting about his food than eating it, is likely to remain lean enough. Disputes, like offences, must sometimes come; but, like David's 'sharp razor' (Psa 52:2), they 'work deceitfully,' and are difficult to handle safely. They often eat out love, even when they do not destroy faith. Yet cleave to the truth; nay, if error does assail you, 'contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints'; 'that which ye have already, hold fast, that no man take thy crown.' Satan, either as the prince of darkness or as an angel of light, resist, 'steadfast in the faith.' Don't dally with error, and don't tamper with truth. 'Buy the truth' (Prov 23:23) at any price; but 'sell it not' for all the gold and silver on earth. And while you are on your guard against errors and changes, beware of excitement. The 'mind that was in Christ' is calm, not restless and ruffled; the work of the Spirit is to calm, not to excite; and the tendency of the Gospel, as well as of all Bible truth, is to calm, not to agitate. Do not use strong language, and startling phrases, and wild-images, which are fitted to make others shudder. The Spirit of God is not in the fire, or the earthquake, or the hurricane; but in the still, small voice. Beware of sensationalism either in religious experience, or in the statement of facts, or in the exposition of truth. That which is merely emotional or sentimental, not only dies down, but often leaves insensibility, if not a seared conscience behind it. The Master was always calm: calmness is true strength, or at least it is the result of strength. As an overpowering gale keeps down the waters over which it is rushing, so true intensity of spiritual feeling does not show itself by loud vociferations, but by the depth and solemnity of the calm which it diffuses through the soul, and utters in brief-spoken words of tranquil simplicity.

Yet do not believe all that you hear from worldly men or half-hearted Christians about the 'excitement' attending revivals. Conversion is not excitement; zeal is not excitement; love for souls is not excitement; trembling under the word is not excitement; and even if there be some excitement at 'revival meetings,' better that it should be so than that souls should perish. There is more excitement in the theatre and the ballroom, or the concert, or the political meeting, or the parliamentary election, or even what is called the 'quiet evening party.' Yet men do not complain of these, nor get angry at them. By all means be calm; but don't suppose that all excitement is sin or hypocrisy. Excitement is not good; but some things are worse than even this. A dull and sleepy Christianity is worse--much worse; a stiff and frozen formalism is worse--much worse; an easy-minded worldly religion is worse--much worse. It is a good thing to be 'zealously affected always' (Gal 4:18); and to be 'fervent in spirit' (Rom 12:11). 'Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might' (Eccl 9:10). If it is worth doing at all, do it well; throw your soul into it, 'do it heartily' (Col 3:23).
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