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(This is only an extract of Chapman’s beautiful devotional based on Psalm 23. Read the entire book at http://www.wholesomewords.org )
Thirteenth Day: “He RESTORETH my soul.”
There are certain causes for spiritual declension, and they are always to be found in ourselves.
It is true we have the old nature with us, while at the same time we have the new nature, the life of God, but it is no license for us to sin, for Paul writes, “The law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” If you lived yesterday in the flesh, it was at the cost of the Spirit. If you live to-day in the Spirit, it shall be at the cost of the flesh.
There is really no excuse for failure if we are living as we ought to live, with Christ between us and temptation, and Christ between us and sin. But, because we have failed, it is well to know the reason; and it may be because—
1. There was some neglect of the Bible—the bread of life, the water of life, the staff of life; and he will be a weak, trembling, falling Christian who lets one day pass without a little portion of it running through his life—like the light to reveal imperfections and like the water to make the temple clean.
2. It may be that there is some unconfessed sin hiding away in the secret recesses of your heart. The children of God do not leap into grievous sin at a bound; there was first some little sin that tarried, was courted, then encouraged to stay, and finally conceived and brought forth a brood of iniquity, which was strong enough to overthrow the ripest saint.
3. It may be that, when God called you to some service, you disobeyed; and disobedience puts you out of tune with heaven. The fact that you are in the world proves that you are indispensable to the working out of God’s plan; the fact that He called you to do something for Him clearly indicates that His will must be yours, or there is confusion and strife.
But, whatever the cause, He waits to restore you to the old strength, the lost peace, the old, sweet song that was formerly yours; and He will do it to-day.
Suggestions for To-day.
1. Start the day with the word of God, and remember that when Jesus won the victory over Satan He said, “It is written.”
2. Confess your sins that are past; and, if you fail to-day, confess to Him instantly.
3. Whatsoever He saith unto you, do it.
4. Make a covenant, just for this day.
“Lord, for to-morrow and its needs
I do not pray;
Keep me from stain of sin
Just for to-day;
Let me both diligently work
And duly pray,
Let me be kind in deed and word,
Just for to-day;
Let me be slow to do my will,
Prompt to obey;
Help me to sacrifice myself,
Just for to-day.
Let me no wrong nor idle word
Set thou Thy seal upon my lips,
Just for to-day.
So for the morrow and its needs
I do not pray
But keep me, guide me, hold me Lord,
Just for to-day.”
From The Secret of a Happy Day: Quiet Hour Meditations by J. Wilbur Chapman.
(It is good to read these Meditations by J. Wilbur Chapman. The entire text is available at http://www.wholesomewords.org )
Eleventh Day: “He restoreth my soul.”
“When the soul grows sorrowful, He revives it;
when it is sinful, He sanctifies it;
when it is weak, He strengthens it.
He does it.
His ministers could not do it if He did not;
His word would not avail by itself.”
The believer is liable to fall; but to fall and to fall away are two quite different experiences. Peter fell, until he struck the prayers of Him who said, “Satan hath desired you, but I have prayed for thee.” The fifteenth of Luke is the lost chapter for the Christian; and it is possible for us, like the coin, to be lost and still be in the house; for our place to be as an adornment for our risen Head, as the lost piece of silver, and yet be on the floor and for that reason useless; but, as the sheep had its shepherd, the money its owner, the prodigal his father, so we have our Lord to whom we may offer the prayer, “Restore my soul, O Thou shepherd of the sheep.”
The same hand which first rescued us from ruin reclaims us from wandering; and, when He restores, it is to the same standing that we had before our fall from fellowship. Someone has said that that expression of the prodigal’s father, “Bring forth the best robe,” is literally, “Bring forth the same old robe he used to wear,” which teaches that, when the prodigal went home, it was to have the same standing he had before his awful blunder.
We must have restoration, for of what use would be the green pastures to a soul out of tune with God?
We must have placed upon us His hand, and hear His voice saying, “Peace, be still”; for of what use would be the still waters if our souls were turbulent and distressed?
You may be lost to the holiness, the happiness, the peace, the power, that once was yours. If so, you need His restoring touch. If you were ever higher spiritually than you are to-day, you have fallen just the difference between that higher point and this.
Suggestions for Today:
1. Find out what it is that has robbed you of your peace and joy. The responsibility cannot be upon God; it must be with you.
2. Confess your faults to God or to men as you may have sinned against them. Remember you are no more nearly right with God than with your fellow men.
3. Believe that what you have honestly confessed He will freely forgive.
4. Breathe in once again of His fullness.
5. Ask Him for special help for the day, which may be yours on the morrow; then rest in Him.
From The Secret of a Happy Day: Quiet Hour Meditations by J. Wilbur Chapman.
(This is only an extract from David Cloud’s excellent detailed article. The entire article may be read at http://www.wholesomewords.org)
The Bible’s indestructibility proves that it is the Word of God.
Above all other books combined, the Bible has been hated, vilified, ridiculed, criticized, restricted, banned, and destroyed, but it has been to no avail. As one rightly said, “We might as well put our shoulder to the burning wheel of the sun, and try to stop it on its flaming course, as attempt to stop the circulation of the Bible” (Sidney Collett, All about the Bible, p. 63).
In A.D. 303, the Roman Emperor Diocletian issued an edict to stop Christians from worshipping Jesus Christ and to destroy their Scriptures. Every official in the empire was ordered to raze churches to the ground and burn every Bible found in their districts (Stanley Greenslade, Cambridge History of the Bible). Twenty-five years later his successor, Constantine, issued another edict ordering fifty Bibles to be published at government expense (Eusebius).
In 1778, the French infidel Voltaire boasted that in 100 years Christianity would cease to exist, but within 50 years the Geneva Bible Society used his printing press and house to publish Bibles (Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, 1986, pp. 123, 124).
Robert Ingersoll once boasted, “Within 15 years I’ll have the Bible lodged in a morgue.” But Ingersoll is long dead, and the Bible is alive and well.
The communist regimes in Russia and China tried to destroy the Bible and its influence, but they have been completely unsuccessful. There are more churches in Russia today than ever before in its history, and the presses cannot print enough Bibles to satisfy the insatiable demand in communist China.
The liberal skeptics in the 19th century tried to destroy the authority of the Bible by claiming that it is full of myths and that it is historically inaccurate. They claimed that writing didn’t exist in Moses’ day. They doubted the existence of Ur of the Chaldees, of the advanced ancient city-states and religious towers mentioned in Genesis 10-11, of complex legal codes in that era, of camels in Palestine in the days of Abraham, of King David and King Solomon, of the Hittites and the Philistines, of Sargon and Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar, to name a few. They said that the book of Acts was filled with historical inaccuracies.
In all of these cases and hundreds more, the skeptics were proven wrong and the Bible was proven right, as we have documented in this course in the section on archaeology.
In fact, many who have set out to disprove the Bible have been converted, instead. The following are a few examples:
Gilbert West, an English poet who was included in Samuel Johnson’s Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, while a student at Oxford set out to debunk the Bible’s account of Christ’s resurrection. Instead he proved to his own satisfaction that Christ did rise from the dead and published Observations on the History and Evidences of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
George Lyttelton, an English Statesman, author, and poet who was educated at Oxford, determined to prove that Paul was not converted as the Bible states. Instead, Lyttelton wrote a book providing evidence that Paul’s conversion was real and that it is evidence that Jesus actually rose from the dead. The book was titled Observations on the Conversion and Apostleship of St. Paul.
Frank Morison, a lawyer, journalist, and novelist, set out to write a book to disprove the resurrection of Christ. Instead he was converted and wrote a book in defense of the resurrection entitled Who Moved the Stone?
Simon Greenleaf, Royall Professor of Law at Harvard University and one of the most celebrated legal minds of America, determined to expose the “myth” of the resurrection of Christ once and for all, but his thorough examination forced him to conclude that Jesus did rise from the dead. In 1846 he published An Examination of the Testimony of the Four Evangelists by the Rules of Evidence Administered in the Courts of Justice.
William Ramsay, a renowned archaeologist and New Testament scholar, began his historical research in Asia Minor with the assumption that he would find evidence to disprove the Bible’s historicity. He concluded, though, that the book of Acts was written during the lifetime of the apostles and that it is historically accurate. His discoveries led to his conversion to Christianity.
Josh McDowell was a skeptic when he entered university to pursue a law degree, but he accepted a challenge by some Christians to examine the claim that Jesus Christ is God’s Son. He says, “I decided to write a book that would make an intellectual joke of Christianity.” He traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe to gather evidence to prove his case, but instead he was converted to Christ and wrote a book defending the Bible entitled Evidence That Demands a Verdict. McDowell concluded: “After trying to shatter the historicity and validity of the Scripture, I came to the conclusion that it is historically trustworthy. If one discards the Bible as being unreliable, then one must discard almost all literature of antiquity. … I believe we can hold the Scriptures in our hands and say, The Bible is trustworthy and historically reliable” (The New Evidence, p. 68).
Dr. Richard Lumsden, professor of parisitology and cell biology, was dean of the graduate school at Tulane University and trained 30 Ph.D.s. When he was challenged by a student about the evidence for evolution, he sought to refute the student by demonstrating evolution’s scientific evidence. Instead, he became convinced that the evidence is lacking. This led to an examination of the Bible, which led to his conversion to Jesus Christ.
“Down through the years, the Bible has been a mighty anvil that has worn out the puny hammers of the scoffers.”
DAVID W. CLOUD
Many people question who the author of the Bible is and wonder if the Bible is really the Word of God. I want to give you five reasons to affirm the Bible is the Word of God.
First, I believe the Bible is the Word of God because of its scientific accuracy. The Truth of the Word of God tells us that God “hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). How did Job know that the earth hung in space before the age of modern astronomy and space travel? The Holy Spirit told him. The scientists of Isaiah’s day didn’t know the topography of the earth, but Isaiah said, “It is [God] that sitteth upon the circle of the earth” (Isaiah 40:22). The word for “circle” here means a globe or sphere. How did Isaiah know that God says upon the circle of the earth? By divine inspiration.
Secondly, the Bible is affirmed through historical accuracy. Do you remember the story about the handwriting on the wall that is found in the fifth chapter of Daniel? Belshazzar hosted a feast with a thousand of his lords and ladies. Suddenly, a gruesome hand appeared out of nowhere and began to write on a wall. The king was disturbed and asked for someone to interpret the writing. Daniel was found and gave the interpretation. After the interpretation, “Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and put a chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.” (Daniel 5:29). Basing their opinion on Babylonian records, the historians claim this never happened. According to the records, the last king of Babylon was not Belshazzar, but a man named Nabonidas. And so, they said, the Bible is in error. There wasn’t a record of a king named Belshazzar. Well, the spades of archeologists continued to do their work. In 1853, an inscription was found on a cornerstone of a temple built by Nabonidas, to the god Ur, which read: “May I, Nabonidas, king of Babylon, not sin against thee. And may reverence for thee dwell in the heart of Belshazzar, my first-born favorite son.” From other inscriptions, it was learned that Belshazzar and Nabonidas were co-regents. Nabonidas traveled while Belshazzar stayed home to run the kingdom. Now that we know that Belshazzar and Nabonidas were co-regents, it makes sense that Belshazzar would say that Daniel would be the third ruler. What a marvelous nugget of truth tucked away in the Word of God!
Third, from Genesis to Revelation, the Bible reads as one book. And there is incredible unity to the Bible. The Bible is one book, and yet it is made up of 66 books, was written by at least 40 different authors over a period of about 1600 years, in 13 different countries and on three different continents. It was written in at least three different languages by people in all professions. The Bible forms one beautiful temple of truth that does not contradict itself theologically, morally, ethically, doctrinally, scientifically, historically, or in any other way.
Fourth, did you know the Bible is the only book in the world that has accurate prophecy? When you read the prophecies of the Bible, you simply have to stand back in awe. There are over 300 precise prophecies that deal with the Lord Jesus Christ in the Old Testament that are fulfilled in the New Testament. To say that these are fulfilled by chance is an astronomical impossibility.
Finally, the Bible is not a book of the month, but the Book of the ages. First Peter 1:25 says: “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” No book has ever had as much opposition as the Bible. Men have laughed at it, scorned it, burned it, ridiculed it, and made laws against it. But the Word of God has survived. And it is applicable today as much as it was yesterday and will be tomorrow.
It’s so majestically deep that scholars could swim and never touch the bottom. Yet so wonderfully shallow that a little child could come and get a drink of water without fear of drowning. That is God’s precious, holy Word. The Word of God. Know it. Believe it. It is True.
By Adrian Rogers © 2006 Love Worth Finding Ministries.
I was born in Litchfield County, Connecticut, in 1792.
My parents were not religious people. I seldom heard a sermon, unless it was from some ignorant traveling minister, and I recollect very well that the people would return from meeting laughing at the mistakes which had been made and the absurdities which had been advanced.
In 1818, when I was 26, I entered the law office of Squire W—, at Adams, in Jefferson County, upstate New York, as a student.
Up to this time I had never lived in a praying community, except when I was attending high school in New England. The preaching in that place was by an aged clergyman, an excellent man, but he read his sermons in a monotonous, humdrum manner that left no impression whatever on my mind.
Thus when I went to Adams to study law, I was almost as ignorant of religion as a heathen.
In studying the law, I found that the authors frequently quoted Scripture, and referred especially to Moses as authority for many of the principles of common law. This excited my curiosity so much that I went and purchased a Bible, the first I had ever owned; and whenever I found a reference to the Bible, I turned to the passage and consulted it in its connection. This soon led to my taking a new interest in the Bible, and I read and meditated on it much more than I had ever done before in my life. However, much of it I still did not understand.
I began to talk to the local minister, but found it impossible to attach any meaning to many of the terms which he used. What did he mean by repentance? And what did he mean by faith? And I was particularly struck by the fact that the prayers that I listened to, from week to week, were not, that I could see, answered. And so as I read my Bible and attended prayer meetings, I became very restless.
But I was very proud without knowing it. I had no regard for the opinions of others, and was unwilling to have anyone know that I was seeking the salvation of my soul. When I prayed I would only whisper, after having stopped the key-hole to the door, lest someone should discover me. And I kept my Bible out of sight. If I was reading it when anybody came in, I would throw my law books upon it, to create the impression that I had not had it in my hand. I was unwilling to converse with the minister, because I did not want to let him know how I felt, and for the same reason I avoided conversation with the elders of the church.
Then one night in October 1821 a strange feeling came over me, as if I was about to die. I knew that if I did I should sink down to hell; but I quieted myself as best I could until morning.
At an early hour I started for the office. But just before I arrived at the office, something seemed to confront me: “What are you waiting for? What are you trying to do? Are you endeavoring to work out a righteousness of your own?”
Just at this point the whole question of salvation opened to my mind in a manner most marvelous to me. I saw, as clearly as I ever have since, the reality and fullness of the atonement of Christ. I saw that his work was a finished work; and that instead of having, or needing, any righteousness of my own to recommend me to God, I had to submit myself to the righteousness of God through Christ.
Salvation seemed to me an offer to be accepted; it was full and complete; and all that was necessary on my part, was to give up my sins, and to accept Christ. North of the village lay a piece of woods, and I turned and bent my course toward these woods, feeling that I must be alone, and away from all human eyes and ears, so that I could pour out my prayer to God.
But still my pride showed itself. As I went over the hill, it occurred to me that someone might see me and suppose that I was going away to pray. Probably there was not a person on earth that would have suspected such a thing, had he seen me going. But so great was my pride, and so much was I possessed with the fear of man, that I crept along under the fence, till I got so far out of sight that no one could see me. Then I penetrated into the woods and knelt down for prayer, vowing that I would give my heart to God, or never come down from the woods again.
As I returned to the village, I found that my mind had become wonderfully quiet and peaceful.
No words can express the love that was in my heart. I wept aloud with joy; and I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart.
The next morning, a client came into the office and said to me, “Mr. Finney, do you recollect that my cause is to be tried at ten o’clock this morning? I suppose you are ready?” I had been retained to attend this suit as his attorney. I replied to him, “Mr. B-, I have a retainer from the Lord Jesus Christ to plead his cause, and can no longer plead yours.” He looked at me with astonishment, and said, “What do you mean?” I told him, in a few words, that I had enlisted in the cause of Christ; and that he must go and get somebody else to attend court; I could not do it. Without making any reply, he went out, and I sallied forth from the office to converse with those whom I should meet about their souls. I had the impression, which has never left my mind, that God wanted me to preach the Gospel, and that I must begin immediately.
No longer had I any desire to practice law. Everything in that direction was shut up. My whole mind was taken up with Jesus and his salvation; the world seemed to me of very little consequence. Nothing, it seemed, could be put in competition with the worth of souls; no labor could be so sweet, and no employment so exalted, as that of holding up Christ to a dying world.
From Memoirs of Rev. Charles G. Finney (New York: A. S. Barnes & Company, 1876).
REMARKS OF REV. GEORGE CLARK, OF OBERLIN
It is about forty years since I first met Mr. Finney at the house of Dr. Taylor, in New Haven. I was struck at that time with his appearance, and with the manner in which he discussed great theological questions.
The next time I met him was here in Oberlin, where I had the privilege, for a time, of living with him under the same roof, eating with him at the same table, and daily receiving instruction from him in the theological classes.
A theme was assigned to each one, on which, after due preparation, he must discourse, and then “be picked.” It set us all to thinking. The theme that at one time was given to me was Imputation, a doctrine which was then much discussed; and I well remember how I stood for three days and was questioned. Such scenes were interesting to me, and of the greatest value. Besides my honored parents, there is no person, I believe, to whom I owe so much as to Brother Finney.
He had a psychological mind, and for the power of analysis, I doubt if he had his equal.
I remember sitting once in this house, and listening to him with Seth N. Gates, and at the close of the sermon he turned to me and said, “I never heard such a masterly power of analysis.” He was one of the most generous-minded men I ever knew–generous to those that made mistakes, generous to children. My little girl would get hold of his hand and walk clear home with him. My wife went to him at once time and told him that Mr. Spencer, a missionary among the Ojibway Indians, had no overcoat, and he sent him the best overcoat he had, one that had doubtless cost him fifty dollars.
He had no tinge of asceticism about him, not a single particle. He believed that self-denial was a condition of discipleship, but he had no asceticism.
There was never a man that trained himself more like an athlete for his work, in eating, drinking, and sleeping. How many miles I have walked with him in hunting! How often we knelt beneath those tall old oaks in prayer! In all my intercourse with him, I never knew any bitterness of spirit in him.
After he had written against Freemasonry, he showed me letters containing threats of killing him, and said, “I guess I am worth more to kill than for anything else.”
Not long before his death, Prof. N.—– called at his house on his return from the cemetery. “When I am dead,” he said to him, “do not go to the grave-yard to find me. I shall be where I shall be more alive than you are.”
REMINISCENSES OF ASSOCIATES AND PUPILS IN OBERLIN OF CHARLES G. FINNEY, JULY 1876.