J. C. Ryle on godly speech

I found this wonderful quote on the excellent J. C. Ryle Quotes site.

Let it be a settled principle again in our religion, that when a person’s general conversation is ungodly, their heart is graceless and unconverted.

Let us not give way to the vulgar notion, that no one can know anything of the state of another’s heart, and that although people are living wickedly, they have got good hearts at the bottom. Such notions are flatly contradictory to our Lord’s teaching.

Is the general tone of a person’s communication carnal, worldly, irreligious, godless, or profane? Then let us understand that this is the state of their heart.

When a person’s tongue is extensively wrong, it is absurd, no less than unscriptural, to say that their heart is right.

J.C. Ryle

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Britain in “slow motion moral collapse”

Prime Minister Cameron talks tough to British society:

“We have been too unwilling for too long to talk about what is right and what is wrong. We have too often avoided saying what needs to be said – about everything from marriage to welfare to common courtesy,” he said.

He listed irresponsibility, selfishness, fatherless children, reward without effort, crime without punishment and behaving as if one’s choices have consequences as some of the problems contributing to a “slow-motion moral collapse.”

“What last week has shown is that this moral neutrality, this relativism – it’s not going to cut it anymore,” he stressed.

 

Cameron isn’t necessarily making friends by going on in this vein.

More here: Moral Relativism Won’t Cut It Anymore, Says UK Prime Minister, Christian News.

Transparent Glass

“God would have his ministers be like transparent glass, which lets the rays of the sun pass through unchanged; and not like painted windows, which color all the rays after their own nature.” – Spurgeon

Notes on Psalm 2: Kiss the Son

1  Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

3 “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.

5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

6 “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”

7 “I will declare the decree; the LORD has said to me, ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

8 ‘Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9 ‘Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

10 Be wise now therefore, O you kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in him.

The Second Psalm is quite famous and is the most quoted psalm in the New Testament because of its connections to Jesus. It is referred to in the New Testament as a Psalm of David.

This Psalm describes the Lord God fighting to uphold the rule of David and his Kingdom. However, it is more properly a prophecy of the rejection of the Messiah and mankind’s opposition to the rule of God in Christ. Whereas Psalm 1 deals with Man’s personal righteousness or unrighteousness, this Psalm deals with Man’s obedience or disobedience to God’s government – namely His choice of Jesus as the Messiah.

The Psalm has been said to be divided into four sections or stanzas of three verses each. Each stanza tells a part of the story and goes towards the whole. We can examine the Psalm more easily this way. We will also understand it better if we see that there are three different voices speaking here: (1) the heathen nations; (2) the LORD; and (3) the anointed king.

 

1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

3 “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

A.  This Psalm begins with a question – the writer is amazed that the heathen can imagine something so ridiculous and futile.

B. The heathen here are the Gentiles; in other words, they represent the non-Jewish world which is opposed to Israel’s God and Israel’s King. The “people” means the nations of the world and really means the same as the “heathen.” This is an example of the side-by-side statements that made up much Hebrew poetry.

C. The nations are raging against God in a futile gesture, for no one can resist God’s Power. They plan to overthrow God and His Anointed One, which in the Hebrew is Messiah, or Christ. The Book of Acts tells us that this was literally fulfilled by the opposition of men to Jesus: And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, “Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, ‘Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.’ (Acts 4:24-26)

D. There is also a fulfillment of this verse to be found in the future, as all the nations of the unsaved, unbelievably, will deliberately stand in opposition to Christ at the end of this age. This is the final manifestation of the spirit of antichrist, which works to inspire hatred of Christ so that men may enjoy sin: And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. (Rev. 19:19)

E. The reference to bands and cords indicates that they do not wish to be held under the dominion of the King any longer; His way of life is contrary to their flesh. As in the Revelation, these nations know that they are consciously rebelling against the God of Heaven and His Son. We are seeing the beginning of this today, where the Gospel is spreading in many nations but there is also a great falling away in many nations which have served Christ as least in word for many centuries. Where they once at least gave Him lip service, now they will give Him no honor at all.

 

4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.

5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

6 “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”

A. In this stanza, the Lord reacts to their speech with mocking laughter. In the vernacular of today, we would say that God said, “Give me a break!” How feeble our efforts to mock God and deny His sovereignty must appear to Him who spread out the heavens like a curtain.

B. Violent atheism is making a comeback. Recently people were videotaped intentionally blaspheming the Holy Spirit perhaps in an effort to show that there is no God. From God’s vantage point in the heavens, all of our hard speeches against Him are puny and insignificant.

C. When God speaks, He makes a declaration they do not want to hear, one which vexes them: that He has installed His King on Zion’s Hill – whether anyone likes it or not.

D. Two things irritate the nations: first, that God has the right to make whomever He wishes to be King; and, second, that His King is connected with Zion. The Devil has inspired men to hate the Jewish people as well as the Jewish Messiah.

 

7 “I will declare the decree; the LORD has said to me, ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

8 ‘Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9 ‘Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

A. Now the Messiah speaks, and tells of God’s installing Him as King! The Church sees verse 7 as being connected to the Resurrection. It was this event that demonstrated to all Creation that Jesus was the Son of God and God’s instrument to rule over everything He had created.

B. In verse 8 the Son is invited to pray that he may have the inheritance the Father wishes to give Him – to rule the nations. It is not incorrect to pray this in our day in a spiritual sense; for Christ would rather rule over men’s hearts.

C. God has promised the Son (verse 9) that one day His Kingdom will be the only one and there will no longer be any opposition to His Rulership!

 

10 Be wise now therefore, O you kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in him.

A. The Psalmist, who is also serving as the narrator of these events, steps back into the conversation and now begins to give advice to the kings, based on the heavenly conversations he has heard.

B. First, they must learn to serve the Lord with reverent fear. They must also worship Him with trembling at His majesty.

C. They must also kiss, or do homage to the Son, lest God be angry that they have refused His choice of a Messiah. The smallest kindling of God’s wrath against these rebels would destroy them.

D. Finally, there is another Beatitude: those who would actually trust in Him will be blessed by Him. Even in the strongest of warnings there is an invitation to worship and to experience the kindness of the LORD!

Notes on Psalm 1: The Blessedness

I’ve been teaching a study on the Book of Psalms for about four years in our church, and I’d like to share some of them over time.

What is the Book of Psalms?

1. A book of songs and poems inspired by the Holy Spirit
2. A book of prayers
3. A book of prophecies
4. Israel’s prayer and choir book: its name in Hebrew is Sepher Tehillim, meaning “The Book of Praises”
5. The Psalms make up the major part of the Poetic books of Scripture, together with books such as Job and the Proverbs
6. Our word Psalm comes from a Greek word meaning a poem that was to be accompanied by a stringed instrument.

Who wrote the Psalms?

Many are attributed to King David, some to Moses, Asaph, and others. Some that name no author are referred to by Jewish scholars as “orphan psalms.” The Psalms are arranged in our Bibles into five smaller sections or books.

Analyzing the Psalms

Many psalms commemorate events in the life of the composer or great events in the life of the nation of Israel. Many are intensely personal. A great depth of passion is displayed in many psalms which is almost uncomfortable to some people. Some Psalms are tremendously honest, and the writer speaks and complains to God in the strongest of terms. In other places, the writer is filled with the greatest, most uncontainable joy.

Some psalms contain musical directions, or dedications.

The Psalms reflect a particular style of Hebrew poetry called parallelism, in which two statements are made which explain and complement each other. In our language we expect poems to rhyme, but in Hebrew these two statements laid next to each other are considered to be poetry.

Messianic Psalms

Some Psalms are Messianic – they prophesy of Jesus Christ, His sufferings and His Kingdom. There are many quotations from the Psalms which are found in the New Testament, mostly concerning Christ. Jesus Himself quotes the Psalms at important times in His life, such as Palm Sunday and His Crucifixion.

The Devotional Nature of the Psalms

Perhaps no book in the Bible is as well-loved as the Psalms. It’s brought comfort, encouragement, and joy to millions of believers. Many of the most powerful phrases in the heart and soul of a Christian are well-known passages from this powerful book. Many of us have followed in the Psalms King David’s pattern of beginning in despair, then rising up in faith as he considers God’s past faithfulness and promised future blessings.

There are few things as rewarding and healthy for our spiritual life as to be well-acquainted with this book and lean upon its wonderful promises and hope!

Let’s begin our study with a Psalm that sets the tone for the whole book, Psalm 1:

Psalm 1: The Blessedness of the Man Who Delights in the Law of the LORD

(1) Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

  • This Psalm begins with a Beatitude, like Jesus’ teaching: “Blessed is the man…”
  • In Hebrew the word really is “blessedness” or “happiness” and is actually plural. So it would be more accurate to translate verses like this by saying, “O, the happinesses of the man who does this or does that…”
  • This Psalm begins, then, by contrasting the godly with the ungodly. In the very first verse there is a progression of evil. The Psalmist shows us how people move from one level of darkness to another.

Walking in the counsel of the ungodly means  taking their advice and opinions. Standing in the way of sinners speaks of walking in fellowship with them and adopting their manner of living; sitting in the seat of the scornful means someone has taken his place among those who mock and attack God and true religion.

(2) But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (3) And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

  • By contrast, the blessed man delights in God’s Law, or Word, and meditates in it. This was the formula for success God had given to Joshua: This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Josh. 1:8)
  • For the Hebrews, meditation was not what it is in Eastern religion – the emptying of the mind. In the Bible, meditation is the filling of the mind with godly content. This is done primarily by memorization and the repeating to one’s self of the Word. In the ancient world, people seldom read silently, even in libraries, and they would read the words aloud to themselves, muttering it over and over.

The result of this meditation, as we see in the picture of the tree was

Stability – planted
Continuous presence of God’s refreshing – by the rivers of water
Fruitfulness – bringeth forth his fruit
Permanence – his leaf also shall not wither
Prosperity – whatsoever he doeth shall prosper

(4) The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. (5) Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. (6) For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Chaff was the useless by-product of the harvest and was separated out from the good grain with fans and the wind. From God’s perspective a person who lives a life like this is “good for nothing” and therefore will not remain among God’s people.

The last verse has been said to mean that He recognizes the righteous or approves of them, and that He protects them. The ungodly ones can only come to a bad end!