Benhar Evangelical Church
THE BENHAR BANNER
‘Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it
may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.’
13th June 2020
Previous Banners are available here
SERMON FOR SUNDAY
The following is chapter seventeen and eighteen of the Rev. William S. Plumer’s book, ‘The Christian.’
XVII. THE CHRISTIAN’S GOOD RESOLUTIONS
"The road to Hell is paved with good resolutions." I know not who first uttered this alarming sentence. But it contains a fearful truth. Vast numbers of men go to an undone eternity, who not only never had any purpose of so doing, but they actually purposed the contrary. Yet their good resolutions failed. Their resolutions were not as solemn as they ought to have been. They were also made in human strength. The poor sinner, who made them, did not know that he had a deceitful heart, a wicked world, and a great adversary to contend with. He did not know that he had in himself no might to do good, that he was not sufficient as of himself to think anything, and that he could not even pray aright, except as the Holy Spirit enabled him. Thus, his resolutions were not humble, nor did they make lowly him who made them. On the contrary, they filled his mind and heart with folly and vanity. He foolishly supposed that he was better for having made them. Consequently, he broke them. The road to Hell is paved with good resolutions that are broken, not kept.
The road to Heaven is paved with good resolutions, with fixed purposes, and holy determinations of mind, formed under a deep sense of weakness and unworthiness, with a pious confidence in the promised aid of Divine grace, and with a holy fear and jealousy over one's own heart. I can remember when it was boldly and unwisely proclaimed that regeneration was nothing but a change of the governing purpose. This was a great practical error. It filled many churches with unworthy members. It begat a very superficial class of professors. Very few are found maintaining this position in our day. In opposing this error, some, perhaps, used unguarded expressions, making the impression that piety grew and flourished without any fixed purposes in the heart. This was as dangerous as the error it opposed. Where or when did ever a wise man undertake or accomplish any great or good work without a settled and deliberate purpose to do so? Whoever would become a scholar, make a crop, or build a house, will naturally first form and fix his plan, and then carry it out. Life without a purpose is vague and vain. Aim at something and then do your best to accomplish it. Look at a few things in the Scripture.
‘And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.’ If you do not go forth to do a thing, you will hardly do it. Set a practicable object before you, and by God's blessing you may accomplish it. Hear the prodigal:
‘I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.’ This resolution was the result of sad experience and sound reflection. It was humble. It was honest, for it is added, ‘And he arose, and came to his father…’. If he had remained much longer in that land of famine, he would have perished. It is not according to wisdom to do anything without purposing to do it.
Read the writings of David and see how often and how solemnly he resolves to love, and pray, and praise, and obey the Lord. Could he have been so eminent a servant of the Lord, if he had not been so fully purposed in his mind? So far as reason and Scripture speak on this subject, they distinctly require:
1. That our good resolutions be not hastily or hurriedly taken, but that they be well weighed. It is foolish for a man to make inquiry, after he vows. God abhors all false pretences, all hollow professions. Think, think solemnly and deliberately before you set your hand to a promise even with men. But where the transaction is with God, we cannot be too jealous of our own hearts. He has no pleasure in fools.
2. Any purpose to serve God should be sincere, not hypocritical; cheerful, not reluctant; hearty, not formal. God loves a cheerful giver. The prodigal had a great sense of shame, but no reluctance to return. He took blame to himself, but his hope was that he would at least be allowed the place of a hired servant, which was more than he deserved, and far better than his present condition.
3. Beware of limiting your resolutions of consecration to God. Some are ready to engage to give Him lip-service. Others seem ready to serve Him secretly; but they are not ready to witness ‘…a good profession before many witnesses.’ Some would be willing to engage for a time, but they are not ready to serve God all their lives, yes, to all eternity. Others wish such or such a sin spared. They say it is a little matter. That is not the way.
Reader, deal not so with God. Give Him all; for after all, it is but little that you can do for Him, who has done so much for you.
4. In all your resolutions, keep your eye on the person, work, grace, example, sufferings, righteousness, power, and intercession of Christ. Without Him you can do nothing. His blood can cleanse, but nothing else can wash away the stain of sin. His priestly offering can avail for remission, but your tears cannot purge away a single sin. He is ‘…mighty to save’, and you need an Almighty Saviour. He is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. He is Alpha and Omega. Look to Jesus.
5. Never forget your dependence upon the power and indwelling of God's Spirit. He is the holy anointing oil, with which humble souls are made ‘…kings and priests unto God…’. We are blind, but the Holy Spirit is the ‘…eyesalve…’ to open the blind eyes. We are dumb in God's praises, but under His power the tongue of the stammerers shall speak plainly. We are sad and despondent in good things, but He is ‘…the oil of gladness…’ to all the saints.
The words in which our resolutions are formed may be very few, but they should be very explicit. Some have recommended a covenant fully drawn up and in express terms. This may be well in many cases. The danger is that the words will not be well chosen, and so in the end will entangle the conscience. But an upright mind will hardly be perplexed with a resolution simple like that of Joshua, or like that in one of our hymns:
"Here, Lord, I give myself away,
'Tis all that I can do."
As a man ‘…thinketh in his heart, so is he.’ What do you purpose in your heart? What are your good resolutions? Are you living up to those you have made?
XVIII. THE CHRISTIAN LIVES BY RULE
A great man of the last century said, "He who lives not by rule, lives not at all." Perhaps there is more truth in that assertion than some are at first disposed to admit. Life is very short. A very great work is to be done or we shall be forever undone. Confusion is very bad. It greatly hinders all good things. There is no example of success without a plan. Method is essential to a good habit, and good habit imparts vigour to character.
Living by rule does not consist in gathering and remembering many notions, though it does presuppose some acquaintance with good maxims. So, men who are renewed in heart are correct in life to some extent, before they know all the rules that should govern human conduct. Still, maxims are good and should be studied. Some of the rules of God's Word are prudential. Such are many things in the book of Proverbs. Some are devotional, as in the Sermon on the Mount, and in many epistles; some are practical, as in the twelfth chapter of Romans; some are experimental, as in the Psalms. ‘All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable…’ in some way to advance the Divine life in the soul. The following rules would be very helpful to many:
1. Set the Lord always before you. Live ‘…as seeing him who is invisible.’ Often say, ‘…Thou God seest me…’. To God we must give account. ‘For in him we live, and move, and have our being…’. From Him is our fruit found. He is our Rock, our Refuge, our High Tower, our Strength. Blessed is he who frames his doings to please his Maker. Some professed Christians live very much as if they thought there was no God.
2. Know, believe, and practice the whole Word of God. Indulge no prejudices against any portion of the Bible. All of it is truth – all of it is precious truth. The part of Scripture which you slight, probably contains the very truth most needful for the correction of some of your faults. The threatenings warn, the precepts guide, the promises encourage, the doctrines instruct, the examples draw, the histories illustrate, the poems delight. ‘The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.’ ‘…I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.’
3. Adopt the pure Gospel scheme of doctrine. Begin not in the Spirit, and then hope to be made perfect by the flesh. It is very sad to see men turning away from the glorious Gospel of the blessed God to fables, however cunningly they may be devised. Whereunto you have attained in evangelical knowledge, hold fast. Never yield first principles; never be beguiled into any form of unsound words. ‘What is the chaff to the wheat?’ As long as Christ is all in all to you, you are safe; but when you delight in any other way of life, you are guilty of spiritual harlotry. In no way can we more offend God than by slighting His Son.
4. Put a just estimate on both time and eternity. On time, because it is so short, because its earthly pursuits are so vain, because on the right use of it depend everlasting consequences. On eternity, because it is eternity – it has no bounds, it is more vast than the sea. Eternity gives to Hell its most impenetrable gloom, and to Heaven the unfailing fixedness of its joys.
5. Do whatever is incumbent each moment as it passes. Gape and gaze not after the duties of a future which may never arrive. Waste not life in idle regrets over a past which cannot be reclaimed. Just do present duty. Stand in your lot. Be at your post. Watch and pray. ‘Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…’. No one has or gives so good assurance that in the future he will be found faithful, as he who is now steadfast with God and righteous in all his ways.
6. Do good to all men as you have opportunity. Deal out kindnesses and favours with an unsparing hand. Make others happy and see if that does not make you truly blessed. I saw a little child asked to share its apple with its playmate. It refused, and at once frowned and looked miserable. I saw another child asked to do the same thing, and with a kindly smile that told of inward joy, it called on its mother to divide the luscious fruit. All the malevolent passions are self-tormentors; all the benevolent affections conduce to happiness.
7. Another good rule to live by is this: Never make a mock at sin and never jest with sacred things. Let ‘…HOLINESS TO THE LORD…’ be written on His day, His word, His worship, His name, His cause.
8. Never attempt to find out how near you can come to sin without sinning. He who loves danger shall perish therein. Sam Patch made many a foolish leap, but it was only the last that was fatal. In abhorring evil and in cleaving to that which is good, there is no danger of excess.
9. Never expect great things from sloth, nor regard carelessness as the parent of any good. Feeble efforts cannot produce powerful results. It is the hand of the diligent that makes rich.
10. Steadfastly set your face against needless delays in doing any work for the honour of your Master, for the good of your fellow men, or for your own edification. A lax spirit is one of the most delusive of all the temptations of the Great Destroyer. It proposes merely to postpone, perhaps, for an hour or a day. It would shudder at the thought of final and utter neglect of what it thus defers. Do this very day and hour the duties which this hour and day demand.
A HYMN OF HOPE - tune
Alas! and did my Saviour bleed,
And did my Sovereign die!
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I!
Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree!
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!
Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker, died
For man the creature's sin.
Thus might I hide my blushing face
While his dear cross appears;
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes in tears.
But drops of grief can ne'er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
'Tis all that I can do.
A CALL TO PRAYER
Continue to pray for the revival of the Church, the awakening of the lost, and a merciful deliverance from the Coronavirus Pandemic at 3 pm, in your own homes, on the Lord’s Day.
POINTS FOR PRAYER
Pray for our Queen, our governments, our National Health Service, our key workers, our country, our community, our church, and our families.
Pray for churches, missions, missionary organisations, and the persecuted church.
Pray for the online service, asking God to use it for the regeneration of the unconverted, the restoration of the fallen, the return of wanderers, and the recovery of backsliders.
AN INSPIRATIONAL ILLUSTRATION
THE OIL OF JOY
‘Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.’ (Philippians 4:4).
Years ago a party on board a pleasure yacht in the United States discovered to their dismay that they were being silently and slowly drawn towards the Falls of Niagara. Skill and energy began at once to cope with the horrible emergency. The furnace was filled and refilled with wood until the fuel at command was entirely exhausted. What was to be done? Dismay showed itself on every face, and despair was paralysing them when a happy thought occurred to an officer. The oil used for the machinery of the steam engine was thrown into the fire. This gave just sufficient impetus for the moving of the vessel out of the strong current into smooth water, and she was saved. “The oil of joy” keeps many a one from being swept over the rapids of temptation. Let us, then, ‘Rejoice in the Lord…’ – rejoice in His nearness, sufficiency, and immutability.
The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its stories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim's staff, the pilot's compass, the soldier's sword, and the Christian's charter. Here Paradise is restored, Heaven opened, and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good the design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, health to the soul, and a river of pleasure. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward the greatest labour, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
‘Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.’ (Matthew 5:5).
12. What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the state wherein he was created?
When God had created man, He entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience (Galatians 3:12), forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon pain of death (Genesis 2:17).
QUESTIONS FROM THE BOOK OF JOSHUA (PART TWO)
1. In what three places did the Anakims remain?
2. Where did Moses give the 2 ½ tribes an inheritance?
3. What age was Caleb when he received his mountain?
4. Where did all Israel assemble and set up the tabernacle?
5. What city did Joshua receive and rebuild?
6. What was the altar built on the east of the Jordan called?
7. What age was Joshua when he died?
ANSWERS FOR LAST WEEK’S QUIZ
1. The line of scarlet thread (Joshua 2:18)
2. The soles of the feet of the priests touching the waters (Joshua 3:13)
3. Gilgal (Joshua 5:10)
4. As a man with a sword drawn in his hand (Joshua 5:13)
5. Seven times (Joshua 6:15)
6. Achan’s (Joshua 7:1)
7. Gibeon (Joshua 10:12-13)
Rev. Ian S.D. Loughrin
The Evangelical Manse, 59 Baillie Avenue, Harthill, North Lanarkshire, ML7 5SY
 Genesis 12:5
 Luke 15:18-19
 Luke 15:20
 2nd Corinthians 5:7
 1st Timothy 6:12
 Isaiah 63:1
 Revelation 1:6
 Revelation 3:18
 Psalm 45:7; Hebrews 1:9
 Proverbs 23:7
 2nd Timothy 3:16
 Hebrews 11:27
 Genesis 16:13
 Acts 17:28
 Psalm 119:72
 Job 23:12
 Jeremiah 23:28
 Ecclesiastes 9:10
 Exodus 28:36; 39:30
 Romans 12:9
 Plumer, W.S. The Christian 1878
 Watts, I. Alas! And Did My Saviour Bleed
 Nye, T.L. Biblical Illustrator