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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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God Does Not Repent of His Call

From the desk of Thomas Watson:

When God calls a man, He does not repent of it. God does not, as many friends do, love one day, and hate another; or as princes, who make their subjects favorites, and afterwards throw them into prison. This is the blessedness of a saint; his condition admits of no alteration. God’s call is founded upon His decree, and His decree is immutable. Acts of grace cannot be reversed. God blots out His people’s sins, but not their names.

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God’s Immutable Decree

Quoting Thomas Watson:

“When God calls a man, He does not repent of it. God does not, as many friends do, love one day, and hate another; or a s princes, who make their subjects favorites, and afterwards throw them into prison. This is the blessedness of a saint; his condition admits of no alteration. God’s call is founded on His decree, and His decree is immutable. Acts of grace cannot be reversed. God blots out his people’s sins, but not their names.”

Do You Prize Preaching?

In the words of Thomas Watson:

[Concerning the Word preached:] “Do we prize it in our judgments? Do we receive it into our hearts? Do we fear the loss of the Word preached more than the loss of peace and trade? Is it the removal of the ark that troubles us? Again, do we attend to the Word with reverential devotion? When the judge is giving the charge on the bench, all attend. When the Word is preached, the great God is giving us his charge. Do we listen to it as to a matter of life and death? This is a good sign that we love the Word.

The Comfort Of A Reproof

Thomas Watson (1620-1686) was educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he was noted for remarkably intense study. In 1646 he commenced a sixteen year pastorate at St. Stephen’s, Walbrook. He showed strong Presbyterian views but in 1651 he was imprisoned briefly with some other ministers for his share in Christopher Love’s plot to recall Charles II of England. He was released on June 30, 1652, and was formally reinstated as vicar of St. Stephen’s Walbrook. Watson obtained great fame and popularity as a preacher. Below, he writes about the godly man and his willingness to receive the reproof of the Word of God:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

A corrupt heart loves the comforts of the Word, but not the reproofs: ‘They hate the one who rebukes in the gate.’ (Amos 5:1O). ‘Their eyes flash with fire!’ Like venomous creatures that at the least touch spit poison, ‘When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.’ (Acts 7:54). When Stephen touched them to the quick, they were mad and could not endure it.

How shall we know that we love the reproofs of the Word?

When we desire to sit under a heart-searching ministry. Who cares for medicines that will not work? A godly man does not choose to sit under a ministry that will not work upon his conscience.

When we pray that the Word may meet with our sins. If there is any traitorous lust in our heart, we would have it found out and executed. We do not want sin covered, but cured. We can open our breast to the bullet of the Word and say, ‘Lord, smite this sin.’

When we are thankful for a reproof: ‘Let the righteous strike me; it shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.’ (Psalm 141:5). David was glad of a reproof. Suppose a man were in the mouth of a lion, and another should shoot the lion and save the man, would he not be thankful? So, when we are in the mouth of sin, as of a lion, and the minister by a reproof shoots this sin to death, shall we not be thankful? A gracious soul rejoices when the sharp lance of the Word has pierced his abscess. He wears a reproof like a jewel on his ear: ‘Like an earring of gold and an ornament of fine gold is a wise reprover to an obedient ear.’ (Proverbs 25:12).

To conclude, it is convincing preaching which must do the soul good. A nipping reproof prepares for comfort, as a nipping frost prepares for the sweet flowers of spring. (The Godly Man’s Picture by Thomas Watson, published by the Banner of Truth)

Are We Lovers Of The Word?

Thomas Watson

The Word of God is spiritually pure. By the Word of God, we are convicted. People who love the Word will seek to be a part of a heart-searching ministry. A Christian soul rejoices when God’s Word has pierced his sin. Thomas Watson shares his perspective on this subject in the excerpts below:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

A godly man loves the Word preached, which is a commentary upon the Word written. This day-star has risen in his heart, and ushered in the Sun of righteousness. The Scriptures are the sovereign oils and balsams; the preaching of the Word is the pouring of them out. The Scriptures are the precious spices; the preaching of the Word is the beating of these spices, which causes a wonderful fragrance and delight. The Word preached is ‘the rod of God’s strength’ (Psa. 11O:2) and ‘the breath of his lips’ (Isa. 11:4). What was once said of the city of Thebes, that it was built by the sound of Amphius’ harp, is much more true of soul conversion. It is built by the sound of the gospel harp. Therefore the preaching of the Word is called ‘the power of God to salvation’ (Rom 1:16). By this, Christ is said (now) to speak to us from heaven (Heb. 12:25). This ministry of the Word is to be preferred before the ministry of angels.

A godly man loves the Word preached, partly from the good he has found by it – he has felt the dew fall with this manna – and partly because of God’s institution. The Lord has appointed this ordinance to save him. The king’s image makes the coin current. The stamp of divine authority on the Word preached makes it an instrument conducive to men’s salvation.

  • Application: Let us test by this characteristic whether we are godly: Are we lovers of the Word?

Do we love the Word written? What sums of money the martyrs gave for a few pages of the Bible! Do we make the Word our bosom friend? As Moses often had ‘the rod of God’ in his hand, so we should have ‘the Book of God’ in our hand. When we want direction, do we consult this sacred oracle? When we find corruptions strong, do we make use of this ‘sword of the Spirit’ to hew them down? When we are disconsolate, do we go to this bottle of the water of life for comfort? Then we are lovers of the Word! But alas, how can they who are seldom conversant with the Scriptures say they love them? Their eyes begin to be sore when they look at a Bible. The two testaments are hung up like rusty armor which is seldom or never made use of. The Lord wrote the law with his own finger, but though God took pains to write, men will not take pains to read. They would rather look at a deck of cards than at a Bible. (“A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word!”)

If The Lord Be On Our Side

Thomas Watson

From the pen of Thomas Watson:

If the Lord be on our side He can save us in that very way in which we think He will destroy us. Would not any have thought the whale’s belly should have been Jonah‘s grave? But God made the fish a ship, in which he sailed to the shore . . . If the Lord of Hosts be on our side, He can make the Church’s affliction a means of her augmentation, ‘The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied.’ (Ex.1:12) (Watson, Religion Our True Interest, 91)

A Godly Man Loves Talking About God’s Word

When you need sound advice, do you consult the Word of God? When evil is strong in the land, do you take up the ‘sword of the Spirit’ to hew it down? When all seems against you, do you drink from the fountain of life? If so, you are a lover of God’s Word! However, most people could not carry on a conversation about the Word of God for five minutes. Thomas Watson explains the need for witnesses who can talk about Christ:

Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts. (Jeremiah 15:16 ESV)

Never did a man take such delight in a dish that he loved as the prophet did in the Word. And indeed, how can a saint choose but take great pleasure in the Word? All that he ever hopes to be worth is contained in it. Does not a son take pleasure in reading his father’s will and testament, in which he bequeaths his estate to him?

‘Your word I have hidden in my heart’ (Psalm119:11) – as one hides a treasure so that it should not be stolen. The Word is the jewel; the heart is the cabinet where it must

Thomas Watson

be locked up. Many hide the Word in their memory, but not in their heart. And why would David enclose the Word in his heart? ‘That I might not sin against you.’ As a man would carry an antidote about him when he comes near an infected place, so a godly man carries the Word in his heart as a spiritual antidote to preserve him from the infection of sin. Why have so many been poisoned with error, others with moral vice, but because they have not hidden the Word as a holy antidote in their heart?

A wise man will not let his land be taken from him but will defend his title. David looked upon the Word as his land of inheritance: ‘Your testimonies I have taken as a heritage forever, for they are the rejoicing of my heart.’ (Psalm 119:111) And do you think he will let his inheritance be wrested out of his hands? A godly man will not only dispute for the Word but die for it: ‘I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God.’ (Rev 6:9)

‘I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.’ (Job. 23:12). ‘The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver.’ (Psalm 119:72). Memorable is the story of King Edward the Sixth. On the day of his coronation, when they presented three swords before him, signifying to him that he was monarch of three kingdoms, the king said, ‘There is still one sword missing.’ On being asked what that was, he answered, ‘The Holy Bible, which is the ‘sword of the Spirit’ and is to be preferred before these ensigns of royalty.’

‘My tongue shall speak of your word.’ (Psalm 119:172). As a covetous man talks of his rich purchase, so a godly man speaks of the Word. What a treasure it is, how full of beauty and sweetness! Those whose mouths the devil has gagged, who never speak of God’s Word, indicate that they never reaped any good from it.

The Word is his compass, by which he sets his life, the balance in which he weighs his actions. He copies out the Word in his daily walk: ‘I have kept the faith’ (2 Tim. 4:7). St Paul kept the doctrine of faith, and lived the life of faith.

Question: Why is a godly man a lover of the Word?

Answer: Because of the excellence of the Word.

The Word written is our pillar of fire to guide us. It shows us what rocks we are to avoid; it is the map by which we sail to the new Jerusalem. The Word is a spiritual mirror through which we may see our own hearts. The mirror of nature, which the heathen had, revealed spots in their lives, but this mirror reveals spots in the imagination; that mirror revealed the spots of their unrighteousness, this reveals the spots of our righteousness. ‘When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died’ (Rom. 7:9). When the Word came like a mirror, all my opinion of self-righteousness died.

The Word of God is a sovereign comfort in distress. While we follow this cloud, the rock follows us. ‘This is my comfort in my affliction, For Your word has given me life.’ (Psalm 119:50). Christ is the fountain of living water; the Word is the golden pipe through which it runs. What can revive at the hour of death but the word of life (Phil. 2:16)? (“A Godly Man is a Lover of the Word!”)

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