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.’
27th June 2020
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SERMON FOR SUNDAY
The following is chapter twenty-one and twenty-two of the Rev. William S. Plumer’s book, ‘The Christian.’
XXI. THE CHRISTIAN’S ADVOCATE
Who needs an Advocate? The accused. And are we accused? Yes, and we are rightly charged with many offences. Sin has ruined us. Iniquities have sadly prevailed against us. They have brought us into disgrace before God, and angels, and men. Our own consciences indict and convict us. We cannot answer for one of a thousand of our transgressions. In the court of Heaven our names are worthless. God often reminds us of this, telling us that if He shows mercy or spares us, it is not for our sakes. ‘It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed…’.
And is there any Advocate for such transgressors? Yes. Is it a sinful man like ourselves? No. Such a one could not answer for himself. Is it some holy angel? No. If such an one was to hear the whole story of our guilt; he would throw out our cause from disgust at such baseness and ingratitude. It is Jesus Christ. He pleads and manages our cause before His Father. We have an Advocate. Thanks be to God for that.
Our Advocate can lay His hand upon our offended Judge. He counts ‘…it not robbery to be equal with God’. In Him the Father is well pleased. ‘…in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.’ All the multitudes in Heaven worship Him. To Him the Father ‘…hath committed all judgment…’ and all authority. We are required to honour the Son as we honour the Father. God has ‘…given him a name which is above every name’. He is full of power, as He is ‘…of grace and truth.’ There is none like Him. He is ‘…over all, God blessed for ever.’
And He has our nature also. He was once a weeping babe, a friendless stranger, and sorely tempted of the Devil. He is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. He has a brother's heart. He knows by experience every kind of sorrow which it was possible for innocence to endure. Above all others was He ‘…a man of sorrows…’. He wept; He sweat blood; He hungered; He thirsted; He expired on the Cross; He bore God's wrath.
And He was ‘…without sin.’ He ‘…knew no sin…’. He was ‘…holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners…’. Pilate found ‘…no fault in him.’ Infidelity has detected no flaw in His character. Omniscient purity declared Him sinless, faultless. Now we may glory in Him. ‘…if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:’ Our hope springs from His worthiness and His merits; in no sense from anything in us. He is ‘…THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.’ That is His name.
Then He is a tried Friend of sinners. God has tried Him and found Him faithful as an Advocate for men. Many penitents have tried Him and found Him gracious. He has never undertaken a cause and lost it. He is ‘…mighty to save.’ His advocacy cannot but succeed. The Father hears Him always. All the redeemed in glory are monuments of the efficacy of His intercession.
All this is right. He gave ‘…himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour.’ He ‘…poured out his soul unto death…’. The Lord made ‘…his soul an offering for sin…’. He redeems not with ‘…silver and gold…’, but with His most ‘…precious blood…’. The ransom He paid was of infinite value. There is no limit to its sufficiency.
"Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious
Shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more."
Those blessed hands which were pierced for us on Calvary are the hands which are lifted up for us before the eternal and glorious throne above.
Of the manner of His advocacy we know but little, except that it is very glorious, full of dignity, and full of power. He appears for us. That is enough. Dr. Doddridge represents Him as introducing His chosen to the Father, admitting that they are worthy of death, but pleading that He has died for them.
Of the substance of His advocacy we need entertain no doubt. It is pretty fully explained in His great intercessory prayer recorded in the seventeenth chapter of John. Now, does any humble soul wish for a sure ground of hope? He has it in Christ's pleading his cause. ‘…Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.’ (Luke 22:31-32). And it did not fail – his faith recalled him and made him weep bitterly.
In availing ourselves of Christ's advocacy, let us know what our case is; let us attempt no concealment; let us tell Him all, and let us commit to Him the whole matter. None is able to destroy, if He protects. None can condemn those whom He justifies.
Nor need we be deterred from seeking His mercy by the greatness of our guilt. He saves the chief of sinners as readily as the least of sinners. ‘…he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him…’. Reader! you may think your case very bad, and so it is. But you are not worse than the chief of sinners. You may be the uttermost; but you are not beyond the uttermost. Hope in His mercy. Oh, give Him your confidence. Lean on His almighty arm. Take Him as your Advocate.
XXII. THE CHRISTIAN'S EARNEST
Inspired writers are exceedingly intent on impressing their thoughts on others. They seize on anything that will aid them in their work. They speak of breaking up fallow ground, of sowing and reaping, of building and journeying, when by these things they can unfold or explain what they mean. Paul sees an altar inscribed ‘…TO THE UNKNOWN GOD…’. He immediately proposes to tell them of that very God. Sometimes buying and selling with their various terms and usages serve their turn. Nor do they care whether a usage or idea is heathen or Jewish, so that it is pertinent to the matter in hand. Paul often refers to racing, wrestling, and fighting to elucidate his meaning. So, also, Paul borrows a word from trade among the Phoenicians, ‘Arrabon,’ to teach a very important truth.
This word ‘Arrabon’ is always rendered ‘earnest,’ in the sense of a pledge, a token of something yet to come. It occurs thrice in the New Testament, and only in the writings of Paul:
‘Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.’ ‘Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.’ ‘In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.’ (2nd Corinthians 1:21-22; 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14).
In many ways does God comfort His people. Sometimes it is by sacraments, which are signs and seals of His covenant. Sometimes it is by promises and oaths, that by these ‘…two immutable things…’ His saints ‘…might have a strong consolation…’. Sometimes it is by ‘…a token for good…’, some visible evidence of Divine regard such as is noticed in Psalm 41:11: ‘By this I know that thou favourest me…’. Compare Psalm 86:17. Sometimes it is by giving us an EARNEST.
But what is an earnest? Brown defines it as "Something given in hand to give assurance that what more is promised shall be given in due time. It differs from a pledge, as it is not taken back when full payment is made." Burrill says that "An earnest is part of the price paid for property or goods sold, or money given in token that a bargain is ratified, or to bind a contract; often called earnest money." It seems that the merchants of Phoenicia either first or most extensively resorted to the arrabon, the earnest. One who disregarded the solemnity or obligations of the earnest, would have been infamous.
Now the earnest God gives His people is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, Sanctifier, and Guide of His redeemed people. Peace of conscience, assured to us by the Blessed Spirit of God, is a sure forerunner of life and peace beyond the grave. He who has ‘…the fruit of the Spirit…’, has the Spirit Himself. And he who has the Spirit of God, is ‘…the temple of God…’, and is thus devoted, consecrated, and marked out as one belonging to the Most High. His spot is the spot of God's people. His light is not darkness. His heart is the home of all that can ennoble human character. As David's first anointing by the command of God gave a sure pledge that he should yet reign over Israel, so the anointing of the Christian by the Holy Spirit infallibly betokens his coming greatness, his everlasting bliss. The graces of God's Spirit in our hearts, infallibly assure the people of God that in due time their rest shall be glorious.
The title of believers is found in the righteousness of Christ. The faith of believers surely appropriates the merits of the Redeemer. Faith is the fruit of the Spirit, ‘…the gift of God’, a gift never bestowed on any who remain ‘…in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity.’
And he who has living faith, has all the other graces of the Spirit: ‘…love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance…’. In the new birth there are no monstrous productions. Fear without hope, or hope without fear, would present to us a very sad character. Confidence without reverence, or joy without humility, is not the type of a soul born from above.
In this way a beautiful symmetry of character is secured. The people of God are an honour to God. They ‘…adorn the doctrine of God (their) Saviour…’. They are His ‘…witnesses…’ in this wicked world. They are god-like just so far as they are godly. They ‘…know whom (they) have believed…’. They are ‘…known of God…’, and men take ‘…knowledge of them, that they have been with Jesus.’ (Acts 4:13).
In due time, and by God's favour, such prove that the effect of righteousness is ‘…quietness and assurance for ever.’ They see that nothing can harm them, because they are followers of that which is good. They know that they ‘…are of the truth, and shall assure (their) hearts before him.’ (1st John 3:19)
The admission of such into glory is indeed a great event. Yet they had a right to expect it. Wearing the wedding garments, it is right that they should go into the ‘…marriage supper…’ They walked with God on earth and so they walk with Him in glory!
A HYMN OF HOPE - tune
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel’s veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose all their guilty stains.
The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there have I, though vile as he,
Washed all my sins away.
Dear dying Lamb, Thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved, to sin no more.
E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.
Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I’ll sing Thy power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue
Lies silent in the grave.
Lord, I believe Thou hast prepared,
Unworthy though I be,
For me a blood bought free reward,
A golden harp for me!
’Tis strung and tuned for endless
And formed by power divine,
To sound in God the Father’s ears
No other name but Thine.
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.
‘Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.’
14. What is sin?
Sin is any want of conformity to, or transgression of the law of God (1st John 3:4).
The whole of Scripture is but one entire love-letter, all written in golden letters, dispatched from the Lord Christ to His beloved spouse on earth. In it, there is so much to be read of the love of Christ, the heart of Christ, the kindness of Christ, the grace of Christ, and the glory of Christ, that a holy heart cannot but love, and embrace, and endeavour to conform to every line. The whole Word of God is a field, and Christ is the treasure which is hidden in that field! The whole Word of God is a ring of gold, and Christ is the diamond in that ring!
EVEN FROM ETERNITY!
In the very beginning, when this great universe lay in the mind of God, like unborn forests in the acorn cup; long ere the echoes awoke the solitudes; before the mountains were brought forth; and long ere the light flashed through the sky, God loved His chosen creatures. Before there was any created being – when the ether was not fanned by an angel's wing, when space itself had not an existence, when there was nothing save God alone – even then, in the loneliness of Deity, and in that deep quiet and profundity, He felt a deep love for His chosen. Their names were written on His heart, and then were they dear to His soul. Jesus loved His people before the foundation of the world – even from eternity! And when He called me by His grace, He said to me, ‘…I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’
Then in the fulness of time, He purchased me with His blood; He let His heart run out in one deep gaping wound for me long ere I loved Him. Yea, when He first came to me, did I not spurn Him? When He knocked at the door, and asked for entrance, did I not drive Him away, and do despite to His grace? Ah! I remember that I full often did so until, at last, by the power of His effectual grace, He said, “I must, I will come in;” and then He turned my heart, and made me love Him.
QUESTIONS FROM THE BOOK OF JUDGES (PART TWO)
- What man’s vow cost him his daughter?
- What word cost a man his life?
- What man’s weakness cost him his strength?
- What man had a house of idols and his own priest?
- Who took the idols and the priest?
- How many lefthanded men of Benjamin could sling a stone and not miss?
- Where did Israel lament the breach with Benjamin?
ANSWERS FOR LAST WEEK’S QUIZ
1. Judah (Judges 1:1-2)
2. Baal and Ashtaroth (Judges 2:13)
3. 18 years (Judges 3:14)
4. 20 years (Judges 4:2-3)
5. 7 years (Judges 6:1)
6. 3 years (Judges 9:22)
7. 18 years (Judges 10:7-8)
Rev. Ian S.D. Loughrin
The Evangelical Manse, 59 Baillie Avenue, Harthill, North Lanarkshire, ML7 5SY
 Lamentations 3:22
 Philippians 2:6
 Colossians 2:9
 John 5:22
 Philippians 2:9
 John 1:14
 Romans 9:5
 Isaiah 53:3
 Hebrews 4:15
 2nd Corinthians 5:21
 Hebrews 7:26
 John 19:4 & 6
 1st John 2:1
 Jeremiah 23:6
 Isaiah 63:1
 Ephesians 5:2
 Isaiah 53:12
 Isaiah 53:10
 1st Peter 1:18
 1st Peter 1:19
 Hebrews 7:25
 Jeremiah 4:3; Hosea 10:12
 Acts 17:23
 Hebrews 6:18
 Psalm 86:18
 Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9
 2nd Corinthians 6:16
 Ephesians 2:8
 Acts 8:23
 Galatians 5:22-23
 Titus 2:10
 Acts 1:18
 2nd Timothy 1:12
 Galatians 4:9
 Isaiah 32:17
 Revelation 19:9
 Plumer, W.S. The Christian 1878
 Cowper, W. There Is A Fountain Filled with Blood 1772
 Brooks, T. The Crown and Glory of Christianity, or, Holiness, the Only Way to Happiness 1662
 Jeremiah 31:3
 Spurgeon, C.H. C.H. Spurgeon Autobiography Volume 1: The Early Years Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1981 P167