Who Shall Ascend Thy Heavenly Place?

Who shall ascend Thy heav’nly place,
Great God, and dwell before Thy face?
The man that minds religion now,
And humbly walks with God below.

Whose hands are pure, whose heart is clean,
Whose lips still speak the thing they mean;
No slanders dwell upon his tongue;
He hates to do his neighbor wrong.

Scarce will he trust an ill report,
Nor vents it to his neighbor’s hurt:
Sinners of state he can despise,
But saints are honored in his eyes.

Firm to his word he ever stood,
And always makes his promise good;
Nor dares to change the thing he swears,
Whatever pain or loss he bears.

He never deals in bribing gold,
And mourns that justice should be sold;
While others gripe and grind the poor,
Sweet charity attends his door.

He loves his enemies, and prays
For those that curse him to his face
And doth to all men still the same
That he would hope or wish from them.

Yet, when his holiest works are done,
His soul depends on grace alone:
This is the man Thy face shall see,
And dwell for ever, Lord, with Thee.

-Isaac Watts, Psalm 15, The Psalms of David, 1719.

Acquired In Heaven (feat. Josh White)

Acquired In Heaven (feat. Josh White)

On that day we will sing of the Name more excellent than angels
A purified bride
Refined heart, speech and mind
Where unity and fellowship is perfected in the church
Where divine love rests in the hearts of the inhabitants of the new earth
And receive a crown
only to cast it down
At the feet of the resurrected Jesus
In a perfect ceaseless
form of worship. Singing
Glory!
To the liberating King who came not to conquer kingdoms
But conquer hearts and restore
Men back to what they were intended for
And escape from this life marked by anguish
A great fountain of love that flows from heaven’s gates awaits us
You can take this world it’s joys, and it’s fleeting pleasures
But give us Jesus, our future hope and our greatest treasure
The fulfillment of our expectation
With nothing to separate us
Nothing to hinder the saints
From the greatest expression of adoration
Finally fit with language to describe
With the right words to express
The richness of eternal possession
The blessing of inheritance
Where God will be seen through purified eyes
Purged from the sin that blinded us from viewing God as glorified
Where love will be expressed with the perfect affection
Until then, we wait with expectation
For all that we will acquire
In heaven

Lord
You did everything required to save us and bring us
Into Your presence so to know You and behold You is our hearts desire
There is nothing higher
Nothing greater to acquire
Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the song of the choir
Your people sing Your praises gathered from all the nations
We were chosen to be holy and blameless before the earth’s foundation
And it’s only on the basis of Your glorious grace
And we will never grow tired of gazing upon Your face
And falling before Your feet worshipping at Your throne
Your appearance is like carnelian and precious gemstones
Like nothing we’ve ever seen
Your glory never fades
The lamb of God who was slain
to wash away sins stain
We were ransomed by Your blood
Your loss was our gain
And You live forevermore
Lord
Forever You will reign
The King of all Kings
Name above every Name
And everyone who trusts in You will not be put to shame

O Jesus, King most wonderful
Thou Conqueror renowned
Thou Sweetness most ineffable
In whom all joys are found!

O Jesus, Light of all below
Thou Fount of life and fire
Surpassing all the joys we know
And all we can desire–

May every heart confess Thy name
And ever Thee adore
And, seeking Thee, itself inflame
To seek Thee more and more!

-Beautiful Eulogy, Instruments of Mercy released by Humble Beast

Ye Sons of Men, A Feeble Race

Ye sons of men, a feeble race,
Exposed to every snare,
Come, make the Lord your dwelling place,
And try and trust His care.

No ill shall enter where you dwell;
Or if the plague come nigh,
And sweep the wicked down to hell,
’Twill raise His saints on high.

He’ll give His angels charge to keep
Your feet in all their ways;
To watch your pillow while you sleep,
And guard your happy days.

Their hands shall bear you, lest you fall
And dash against the stones:
Are they not servants at His call,
And sent t’attend His sons?

Adders and lions ye shall tread;
The tempter’s wiles defeat;
He that hath broke the serpent’s head
Puts him beneath your feet.

“Because on Me they set their love,
I’ll save them,” saith the Lord;
“I’ll bear their joyful souls above
Destruction and the sword.

“My grace shall answer when they call,
In trouble I’ll be nigh;
My power shall help them when they fall,
And raise them when they die.

“They that on earth My Name have known
I’ll honor them in Heav’n;
There My salvation shall be shown,
And endless live be giv’n.”

-Isaac Watts, Psalm 91, The Psalms of David, 1719.

Satan’s Devices to Draw the Soul to Sin –Part 3

9. By presenting to the soul the crosses, losses, sorrows and sufferings that daily attend those who walk in the ways of holiness:

For remedies, consider that

A. All afflictions suffered by Christians turn to their profit
B. All such afflictions only reach their worst, not their best, part
C. All such afflictions are short and momentary
D. All such afflictions proceed from God’s dearest love
E. It is our duty and glory to measure afflictions not by the smart but by the end
F. God’s design in saints’ afflictions is to try, not to ruin, their souls
G. The afflictions, wrath and misery consequent upon wickedness are far worse than those linked with holiness

10. By causing saints to compare themselves and their ways with those reputed to be worse than themselves:

For remedies, consider that

A. To be quick-sighted abroad and blind at home proves a man a hypocrite
B. It is far better to compare our internal and external actions with the Word than to compare ourselves with others worse than ourselves
C. Though our sins may not appear as great as those of others, yet without repentance responding to mercy, we shall certainly be damned as others

11. By polluting the souls and judgments of men with dangerous errors that lead to looseness and wickedness:

For remedies, consider that

A. An erroneous vain mind is as odious to God as a vicious life
B. It is needful to receive the truth affectionately and plenteously
C. Error makes its owner suffer loss
D. It is needful to hate and reject all doctrines that are contrary to godliness, that lead to self-righteousness, and that make good works co-partners with Christ
E. It is needful to hold fast the truth
F. It is needful to keep humble
G. Errors have been productive of great evils

12. By leading men to choose wicked company:

For remedies, consider that

A. There are express commands of God to shun such company
B. Wicked company is infectious and dangerous
C. It is needful to look upon the wicked in such terms as Scripture describes them
D. The company of wicked men was once a grief and burden also to saints now glorified

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

 

Satan’s Devices to Draw the Soul to Sin –Part 2

5. By presenting God to the soul as One made up all of mercy:

For remedies, consider that

A. It is the sorest of judgments to be left to sin upon any pretense whatsoever
B. God is as just as He is merciful
C. Sins against mercy will bring the greatest and sorest judgments on men
D. Though God’s general mercy is over all His works, yet His special mercy is confined to those who are divinely qualified
E. The saints now glorified regarded God’s mercy as a most powerful argument against, and not for, sin

6. By persuading the soul that repentance is easy and that therefore the soul need not scruple about sinning:

For remedies, consider that

A. Repentance is a difficult work above our own power
B. Repentance changes and converts the whole man from sin to God
C. Repentance is a continued act
D. If repentance were easy, the lack of it would not strike millions with terror and drive them to hell
E. To repent of sin is as great a mark of grace as not to sin
F. Satan now suggests that repentance is easy, but shortly he will drive his dupes to despair by presenting it as the hardest work in the world.

7. By making the soul bold to venture upon the occasions of sin:

For remedies, consider that

A. Certain scriptures expressly command us to avoid occasions of sin and the least appearance of evil
B. There is no conquest over sin unless the soul turns from the occasions of sin
C. Saints now glorified have turned from the occasions of sin as from hell itself
D. To avoid the occasions of sin is an evidence of grace

8. By representing to the soul the outward mercies enjoyed by men walking in sin, and their freedom from outward miseries:

For remedies, consider that

A. We cannot judge of how the heart of God stands towards a man by the acts of His providence
B. Nothing provokes God’s wrath so much as men’s abuse of His goodness and mercy
C. There is no greater curse or affliction in this life than not to be in misery or affliction
D. The wants of evil men are far greater than their outward blessings
E. Outward things are not as they seem, nor as they are esteemed
F. God has ends and designs in giving evil men outward mercies and present rest from sorrows and sufferings that cause saints to sigh
G. God often plagues and punishes those whom others think He most spares and loves
H. God will call evil men to a strict account for all the outward good that they have enjoyed

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

 

Satan’s Devices to Draw the Soul to Sin – Part 1

1. By presenting the bait and hiding the hook:

For remedies, consider that

A. We ought to keep at the greatest distance from sin and from playing with the bait
B. Sin is but a bitter sweet
C. Sin will usher in the greatest and the saddest losses
D. Sin is very deceitful and bewitching

2. By paining sin with virtue’s colors:

For remedies, consider that

A. Sin is never the less vile by being so painted
B. The more sin is so painted the more dangerous it is
C. We ought to look on sin with that eye with which within a few hours we shall see it
D. Sin cost the life-blood of the Lord Jesus

3. By the extenuating and lessening of sin:

For remedies, consider that

A. Sin which men account small bring God’s great wrath on men
B. The giving way to a less sin makes way for the committing of a greater
C. It is sad to stand [against] God for a trifle
D. Often there is most danger in the smallest sins
E. The saints have chosen to suffer greatly rather than commit the least sin
F. The soul can never stand under the guilt and weight of sin when God sets it home upon the soul.
G. There is more evil in the least sin than in the greatest affliction

4. By showing to the soul the best men’s sins and by hiding from the soul their virtues, their sorrows, and their repentance:

For remedies, consider that

A. The Spirit of God records not only the sins of the saints, but also their repentance
B. These saints did not make a trade of sin
C. Though God does not disinherit his sinning people, He punishes then severely
D. God has two main ends in recording the falls of His saints:

1. To keep people from despair under the burden of the sins who fall through weakness
2. To leave landmarks to warn others to take heed lest they fall

-Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, 1652.

In Praise of Quiet Time

by Megan Hill

Why have a quiet time?

Recently I read “Why I Don’t Pray or Study the Bible (Much),” a Patheos blog post by Ellen Painter Dollar. She recounts how her time in an evangelical college fellowship was her first exposure to the discipline of daily Bible reading and prayer. “As a friend explained in a talk,” Dollar writes, “if you want to have a good relationship with somebody, you spend time with that person. Likewise, if you want to have a relationship with God, you must spend time with God, and ‘quiet time’ is how you do that.”

Dollar pushes back against this idea of building a relationship with God through dedicated personal prayer and Bible reading. “I think my college friend was right, that we draw closer to God by being deliberate about our relationship with God. But I’m not so sure that 30 or 60 minutes of prayer and Bible study is the only or primary way to do that,” she writes. She then explains how, in human relationships, closeness is built through shared (and often ordinary) life experiences, and defends her own practice of simply experiencing fellowship with God throughout her day in the normal situations of her life.

Some of Dollar’s skepticism about prayer and Scripture-study comes from her underlying assumptions about the nature of both. I believe the Bible is complete truth, God’s perfect revelation of himself, and essential for a Christian’s life and godliness. Likewise, I have a high view of prayer as one of God’s primary means for communion with his children, for glorifying himself, and for accomplishing his purposes.

Dollar would probably acknowledge theological disagreements with me on these points. But I think even among theologically conservative Christians, the priority of regular personal worship is not well understood. A recent national survey found that while 56 percent of Americans believe the Bible to be “the actual or inspired word of God,” only 37 percent read it at least once a week. And deliberate daily times of individual Bible study and prayer (what the Westminster Confessioncalls “worship . . . in secret” and what Dollar calls “quiet time” and what I grew up calling “devotions”) are sometimes viewed skeptically as legalistic or as a potential idol by even Reformed brothers and sisters.

While affirming the whole of life as worship, and also proclaiming the primacy of corporate worship, we sometimes neglect to press ourselves and others to daily private worship.

Dollar’s narrative reveals how a common evangelical argument (“If you love Someone you want to spend time with him”) can be inadequate. And I’ve taken her words as an opportunity to consider a better explanation that I can give to others—and preach to myself.

So why should we study the Bible and pray as a dedicated, daily event?

(1) God commands it.

No, the Bible doesn’t contain chapter-and-verse Thou Shalt Have 45 Minutes of Devotions Every Day. But the Bible is filled with direct imperatives to pray and compelling incentives to meditate on Scripture.

We are commanded to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17), to overcome anxiety with prayer (Phil. 4:6), to intercede for other Christians (Eph. 6:18), and to receive encouragement from the One who prays for us (Heb. 7:25).  About the Scriptures, God tells us they are sweet, valuable, and necessary for wisdom (Psalm 19); they are the right subject of our meditation (Psalm 119); they contain every truth a Christian needs (2 Tim. 3:16-17); and they are a powerful Spiritual tool (Heb. 4:12). We dedicate ourselves to praying and studying the Bible because in those activities we obey the Lord and benefit our own souls.

Much of this benefit, of course, comes to Christians through our most important spiritual discipline: the worship of God by his gathered people on the Lord’s Day. (I would agree with Dollar that personal devotions are not the “only or primary” way to draw near to God; the Westminster Confession upholds public worship as more solemn and obligatory than secret worship.) But a Scripture-and-prayer-shaped life will also necessarily include specific quiet times.

(2) We are weak. 

These days, my children are learning catechism about the three offices of Christ (prophet, priest, and king). One of the questions asks, “Why do you need Christ as your prophet?” The answer applies as much to 35-year-olds as to 5-year-olds: “Because I am ignorant by nature.” We have no native wisdom about God on which we can rely.

As Jen Wilkin writes in her new book, Women of the Word, “How can we conform to the image of a God we have not beheld?” I would love to go through my days, witnessing the hand of God in every moment of the mundane, praising him for every blessing from his throne. But the truth is I am ignorant. I don’t even know what to look for, how to trace the providential kindness of my Father on my calendar, or where to expect his frown or his smile. Though God is certainly present in my to-do lists and my interactions with my children, he is best revealed through his chosen means: the Bible. And unless I have hidden his Word in my heart, unless I have meditated on Christ my prophet—he who is the Word incarnate—I will go through the hours always seeing but never understanding.

I would also love to spend my days in communion with my listening Father, making every breath an exhaled prayer. But, again, I am weak. If I do not dedicate myself to times of prayer (and I cringe to think how often I do not) I forget that I depend on spiritual realities in the midst of temporal realities. As the hymn says, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” I pray and read my Bible because without it my heart, soul, mind, and strength will always immerse in the visible and forget entirely the One who is invisible.

(3) Jesus did it.

This example is where we best see the truth in the relationship argument for personal devotions. In his excellent book Delighting in the Trinity, Michael Reeves writes, “The Christian life is one of being brought to share the delight the Father, Son, and Spirit have for each other.”

Jesus has a perfect love for the Father and the Spirit and perfect union with them. If anyone could have practiced a relationship with the Father while simply acknowledging him throughout the day, it would be Jesus. But how did he, the God-man, outwardly demonstrate his love for the persons of the Godhead and his desire for Trinitarian relationship while living on the earth?

He prayed, and he read the Bible.

Jesus’ withdrawal from the crowd for private prayer is explicit throughout the Gospels (Matthew 26:36Mark 1:35Luke 9:18). And it is evident from Jesus’ preaching and teaching (Luke 4:16-27) that he was knowledgeable in the whole Scriptures in a way that could only have come from dedicated study.

If Jesus expressed and experienced his relationship with the Father through a “quiet time,” if the One who was, in fact, eternally one with the Godhead still took intentional time for personal prayer and Bible study, we would do well to follow his pattern. Because, yes, if you love Someone, you do want to spend time with him.

-Megan Hill, http://thegospelcoalition.org/article/in-praise-of-the-quiet-time

Why Do We Mourn Departing Friends?

Why do we mourn departing friends,
Or shake at death’s alarms?
’Tis but the voice that Jesus sends
To call them to His arms.

Are we not tending upward, too,
As fast as time can move?
Nor would we wish the hours more slow
To keep us from our love.

Why should we tremble to convey
Their bodies to the tomb?
There the dear flesh of Jesus lay,
And left a long perfume.

The graves of all His saints He blessed,
And softened every bed;
Where should the dying members rest,
But with the dying Head?

Thence He arose, ascending high,
And showed our feet the way;
Up to the Lord our flesh shall fly,
At the great rising day.

Then let the last loud trumpet sound,
And bid our kindred rise;
Awake, ye nations under ground;
Ye saints, ascend the skies.

-Isaac Watts, Hymns and Spir­it­u­al Songs, 1707.

Then Jesus Came

One sat alone beside the highway begging,
His eyes were blind, the light he could not see;
He clutched his rags and shivered in the shadows,
Then Jesus came and bade his darkness flee.

When Jesus comes the tempter’s pow’r is broken;
When Jesus comes the tears are wiped away.
He takes the gloom and fills the life with glory,
For all is changed when Jesus comes to stay.

From home and friends the evil spirits drove him,
Among the tombs he dwelt in misery;
He cut himself as demon pow’rs possessed him,
Then Jesus came and set the captive free.

“Unclean! unclean!” the leper cried in torment,
The deaf, the dumb, in helplessness stood near;
The fever raged, disease had gripped its victim,
Then Jesus came and cast out every fear.

Their hearts were sad as in the tomb they laid him,
For death had come and taken him away;
Their night was dark and bitter tears were falling,
Then Jesus came and night was turned to day.

So men today have found the Savior able,
They could not conquer passion, lust and sin;
Their broken hearts had left them sad and lonely,
Then Jesus came and dwelt, Himself, within.

Words: Oswald J. Smith, Music: Homer Rodeheaver, ©1940, by the Rodeheaver Co.

This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made

This is the day the Lord hath made;
He calls the hours His own;
Let Heav’n rejoice, let earth be glad,
And praise surround the throne.

Today He rose and left the dead,
And Satan’s empire fell;
Today the saints His triumphs spread,
And all His wonders tell.

Hosanna to th’anointed King,
To David’s holy Son;
Help us, O Lord; descend and bring
Salvation from Thy throne.

Blest be the Lord, who comes to men
With messages of grace;
Who comes in God His Father’s Name,
To save our sinful race.

Hosanna in the highest strains
The Church on earth can raise;
The highest heav’ns, in which He reigns,
Shall give Him nobler praise.

-Isaac Watts, Psalm 118, The Psalms of David, 1719.