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.’
9th May 2020
Previous Banners are available here
A CALL TO PRAYER
We would ask God’s people to pray for the revival of His church, the awakening of the lost, and a merciful deliverance from the Coronavirus Pandemic at 3 pm, in their own homes, on the Lord’s Day.
SERMON FOR SUNDAY
The following is the seventh and eighth chapter of the Rev. William S. Plumer’s book, ‘The Christian.’
VII. THE CHRISTIAN’S WAY
‘For the LORD knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.’ (Psalm 1:6).
Every man has his way. Conduct is an index to character. Manners make the man. Behaviour before God and man tells where one is going.
The way of sinners is evil, is false, is hard, is wicked, is dangerous, is ruinous. It leads to Hell. It leads nowhere else. In the end it will cause the bitterest lamentations ever heard. There is no madness equal to that of sinning against God.
But the Christian has his way too. Indeed, believers are more than once called men of the way. In Acts 9:2, we translate it ‘…any of this way…’. But scholars know that it should be any of the way. So also, in Acts 19:9, it is said some ‘…spake evil of that way…’. It means they spoke evil of the way, that is, the way of God, the way of godly men. In the Old Testament the word way sometimes has the same general import.
In an important sense Christ Himself is the way of believers. So, He teaches: ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.’ (John 14:6). The soul enters on its upward and glorious career through Christ alone (John 10:1, 7). In the same manner it continues its heavenly course. As men have ‘…received Christ Jesus the Lord…’, so do they ‘…walk…’ in Him. Paul's great wish was that he might be ‘…found in…’ Christ. The same is true of all who are clearly on their way to glory and honour.
The Christian's way is ‘…the way of truth…’. Inspired men so call it (2nd Peter 2:2). It is the true way. There is no mistake in it. It deceives no one. It disappoints no one. It is not built on fables and fictions. It is built on truth, more lasting than the mountains.
There is no foolishness in it. It is wise. It is often called ‘…the way of understanding.’ No man acts wisely until he walks in it. No man has any wisdom above this. To forsake this way is to choose death.
The Christian's path is ‘…the way of righteousness…’ (2nd Peter 2:21). It is the way of justifying righteousness. Only thus is any man pardoned. Only thus is any man accepted as righteous. It is the way of personal righteousness. It is ‘…the good and the right way’ (1st Samuel 12:23). It is ‘The way of holiness…’. So the evangelical prophet spoke of it: ‘And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein.’ (Isaiah 35:8).
No marvel, then, that the course of the Christian is called ‘…the way of God…’ (Acts 18:26); and ‘…thy way…’ (Psalm 27:11). It is the way God chooses, appoints, and loves. He honours it with His presence and His smiles. He who walks in it, walks with God. God is his friend, his guide, his shepherd, his father, his exceeding joy.
No wonder, then, that Zacharias, when filled with the Holy Spirit, called it ‘…the way of peace.’ (Luke 1:79). It brings peace to the heart and the conscience. It secures peace with God and leads to peace with just men. It inspires pure and friendly sentiments to all.
It is also ‘…the way of life’, and ‘…the way of salvation’ (Proverbs 6:23; 15:24; Jeremiah 21:8; Acts 16:17). All who walk not in this way are ‘…dead in trespasses and in sins’. They are out of the right way. They are stalking to ruin. But they who are in this way shall, in the highest sense, live. They belong to Christ. Because He lives, they shall live also. They are even here delivered from the curse and displeasure of God. In the best and highest sense of the term, they have salvation.
This way is ‘…strait…’, ‘…narrow…’, difficult (Matthew 7:14). Men cannot walk in it carelessly. They cannot carry with them their vices and lusts. They must learn and practice the laws of self-denial. They must not be restive. They must not rebel under powerful restraints. ‘…the righteous scarcely be saved…’
This way is also straight. It is not crooked. Sin is always tortuous. But a godly man hates ‘…every false way.’ He is not double-tongued, nor double-minded. He means what he says, and he says what he means. He speaks the truth in his heart. He walks in ‘…his uprightness.’ (Isaiah 57:2).
This is also a ‘…living way…’ (Hebrews 10:20). It is not dead and dull; but lively, and full of animation. It inspires the best hopes, on the most solid grounds.
Though in a sense it is difficult, requiring the utmost care and sobriety, yet it is pleasant (Proverbs 3:17). By Divine grace it is made easy. It is ‘…the way of transgressors…’ that is ‘…hard.’ They are under cruel bondage. But the righteous serve a good Master. He carries the heavy end of every cross. His ‘…yoke is easy…’, and His ‘…burden is light.’
The way of the Christian is often hidden. His resources are secret, and his motives are not seen. His heart is the best part of him. If he could have his way, he would be done with sin and temptation forever. Often calumny, prejudice, poverty, or tribulation covers him. Yet his way is not hidden from the Lord, nor his judgment passed over from his God. In due time Jehovah will ‘…bring forth (His) righteousness as the light, and (His) judgment as the noonday.’
This way is also plain. An honest heart under Divine teaching never misses it. God reveals its glorious mysteries to babes and sucklings. Simple folk with honest hearts are sure to find the truth.
This is no new way. This path has been trodden by the saints of all ages. In it were found Abel, and Enoch, and Job, and Daniel, and Paul, and John, and all the martyrs and confessors. One of the sins and follies of every age, is an attempt to show, or to find some new way. But God reproves such a spirit. Hear Him: ‘Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.’
The way of the saints is one, and not many. No one need perplex himself on account of seeming diversities. For there are not many ways of salvation. In the very place where God promises ‘…one heart…’ to His people, He also promises them ‘…one way…’ (Jeremiah 32:39).
The whole way of the Christian is marked out in God's Word, and is called ‘…the way of (His) precepts…’, ‘…the way of (His) commandments…’, ‘…the way of (His) statutes…’, ‘…the way of (His) judgments…’ (Psalm 119:27, 32-33; Isaiah 26:8). Sad indeed is the case of those ‘…whose fear toward (God) is taught by the precepts of men’ (Isaiah 29:13).
The way of the Christian often seems long but let him not repine. Life's toils and sorrows will soon be over – over forever.
The way of godly men habitually increases in radiance. It shines ‘…more and more unto the perfect day.’ (Proverbs 4:18). The reason is it is the only ‘…perfect way’ (Psalm 101:2). This is the course which the Psalmist calls ‘…the way everlasting.’ (Psalm 139:4). It shall not be broken up.
VIII. THE CHRISTIAN’S TEMPTATIONS
The words tempt and temptation have in Scripture different meanings according to the connection in which they are found.
1. When it is said ‘…God did tempt Abraham…’ (Genesis 22:1), the meaning is that God did test and prove Abraham. He has and He exercises His right thus to evince the real principles of His creatures. He subjected angels to probation. God does not thus seek to inform Himself, for He knows men perfectly; but He thus shows to His people, and even to His foes, the power of holy principles in the heart (Job 1:8; 1st Peter 1:6-7). In Scripture, saints are called upon to ‘…count it all joy when (they) fall…’ into such trials (James 1:2-3). God can and will carry His servants through such trials, and thus strengthen their good habits and principles. They ‘…shall come forth as gold.’ (Job 23:10).
2. Men are said to tempt, try, or prove God when they unbelievingly call upon Him to manifest His presence, power, or kindness. This is a freak of wicked caprice. In this sense the Israelites tempted, proved, and provoked God in the desert (Exodus 17:2-7; Psalm 95:8-9; Hebrews 3:9). When God is doing for us all we really need, we have no right to call upon Him to do more; nor may we prescribe to Him when or how He shall deliver us. Men also tempt God when they presume on a miraculous preservation, and rush unbidden into dangers (Matthew 4:6-7). They also tempt Him, that is, they unwarrantably prove Him, when, casting His cords asunder, they sin without stint, as if to see whether He will punish them or bring on them threatened evils (Malachi 3:15).
3. Satan tempts men, and men tempt one another, by endeavouring to seduce them from truth, from right, from piety to error, pride, or wickedness. In this sense God tempts no man (James 1:13). God abhors iniquity. He seduces no one and is seduced by no one.
4. Sometimes temptation means a successful seduction. ‘…every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.’ (James 1:14). Thus, men are tempted, when in them there is somewhat congenial to the seduction, and they yield to it.
In no sense are godly men compelled to sin. God always provides a way of escape. That way may be through a burning fiery furnace, through a lion's den, through a shower of stones, through death itself; but it is still a way of escape. It is not wicked to die. In his design to prove Job a hypocrite, Satan was entirely baffled. In his attempt to bring to naught the work of redemption, he wholly failed. The Son of God was more than a match for him. The three great means of preserving us from falling under the power of any temptation are these:
1) A deep sense of our own weakness. No part of the Lord's Prayer suits our case better than this: ‘…lead us not into temptation…’. The meaning is, let us not be tempted beyond our strength, and when tempted, let us not fall into the snare of the wicked one. Blessed is the man that fears always. ‘…let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.’ Consider yourself, lest you also be tempted.
2) It is a great thing to have the Word of God ready for every occasion. In sophistry the enemy often exceeds our power of reasoning; but the Word of God is too keen for him. When tempted, our Saviour did not moralise or philosophise on the matter. He simply quoted Scripture, saying: ‘…It is written…’, ‘…It is written…’, ‘…It is written…’ (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).
3) Watchfulness and prayer must be constantly used. I unite them because the Scripture unites them, and because, when genuine and holy, they are never separated. Our Lord said: ‘Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation…’ Compare Matthew 26:41; Mark 13:33; 14:38; Colossians 4:2.
The great deliverer from temptation is God Himself (2nd Peter 2:9). The apostle says: ‘The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations…’. This is as if he had said, God's resources are infinite. He is never at a loss for wisdom, love, or power. He has often and marvellously rescued His saints. He never fails when He undertakes their cause.
To the tempted people of God, the sympathy and intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ are held forth for their encouragement. ‘For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.’ (Hebrews 2:18). ‘For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.’ (Hebrews 4:15). ‘…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…’ (Luke 22:31-32). No wonder the saints triumph. Their Lord triumphed before them. By Him they can do all things. He is mighty to save.
Are these things so? Then ‘Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’ Let us be of good courage. Distrust is a great foe to peace and victory. Omnipotence never labours and is never baffled.
A HYMN OF HOPE
When wounded sore, the stricken heart
Lies bleeding and unbound,
One only hand, a pierced hand,
Can salve the sinner’s wound.
When sorrow swells the laden breast,
And tears of anguish flow,
One only heart, a broken heart,
Can feel the sinner’s woe.
When penitential grief has wept
Over some foul dark spot,
One only stream, a stream of blood,
Can wash away the blot.
’Tis Jesus’ blood that washes white,
His hand that brings relief,
His heart that’s touched with all our joys,
And feels for all our grief.
Lift up Thy bleeding hand, O Lord,
Unseal that cleansing tide;
We have no shelter from our sin
But in Thy wounded side.
POINTS FOR PRAYER
‘And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.’ (Jeremiah 29:7)
“Here is a gracious lesson to the people of God, to be gathered from hence in all ages. In a nation’s peace, the Church of God shall have peace. See that ye pray for it therefore, and promote it by all the lawful means in your power.”
Pray for our Queen, our governments, our National Health Service, our key workers, our country, our community, and our church.
‘I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.’ (John 10:11)
7. What are the decrees of God?
The decrees of God are His eternal purpose according to the counsel of His own will, whereby for His own glory He has foreordained whatever comes to pass (Ephesians 1:11,12).
ANSWERS TO AFFLICTIONS
This is the fourth of six letters written by the Rev. John Newton about afflictions.
My Dearest Madam,
Though I would have been happy to have spent the day with you when I called, yet I discovered that you were not well, and appeared restless; however, it gave me great pleasure to see you at any rate, and I have rejoiced since, to find prayer answered in your happy delivery, and that the Lord had been gracious, and faithful to His promise, in dispelling your fears, and affording you support and comfort in the hour of trial. I hope this will encourage you to put your trust in Him in future, and that you will readily know where to go for help, with a firm expectation of obtaining it. ‘Because he hath inclined his ear unto me,’ says David, ‘therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.’ I will make every new deliverance an argument and plea for more; for, as I know I shall continually need His assistance, so I am persuaded He will never be weary of affording it.
Thus, troubles quicken prayer, prayer hastens relief, relief awakens praise, and praise strengthens our faith and hope. We shall go through this course of changes so long as we remain in this world; but we are every moment drawing nearer to an unchangeable state, where our hearts shall be filled with His praise, through the whole length of an eternal day.
My body was weary, and my spirit dissipated all the while I was in town. I seem not cut out for a London situation, and have therefore reason to be thankful that my lot is cast in a retired corner. And though I am glad occasionally to see my friends yet I am glad to get back out of the noise, smoke, and hurry. However, the path of duty, lead where it will, is always safe, provided we are aware of danger, and are dependent upon the Lord to keep us. He is all-sufficient to His people in every place and circumstance. His presence can make a dungeon pleasant, and without it a palace would prove a dungeon to the soul that has tasted He is gracious, at least it ought to be so.
We are not in our right minds, if we can be for an hour satisfied with outward things, unless we are either rejoicing in Him, or sighing and hungering after Him: either of these is a good frame, and the latter not less so than the former, though it is less comfortable.
But it would not do for us to be always upon the mount. We must have fightings or we could not have victories. Without a feeling sense of our own weakness and insufficiency we could not duly prize the all-sufficient and compassionate Physician. Unless we have some seasons of darkness, we shall not be sensible of the value of light; indeed, we know not how to properly appreciate any one blessing until we are deprived of it.
Take for another instance, the case of health; if we were never ill, we would never know how to estimate the value of health. The great thing is, to be enabled to resign ourselves into the hands of the Lord, and to rejoice and glory in Christ Jesus, as made of God ‘…unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption’; and to be content and glad to be nothing in our own estimation that He may be, and appear to be, all in all.
When the heart is sincere, the chief remaining difficulty arises from the tendency we have to a self-righteous and legal spirit. This often makes our peace as variable as our frames, and we reason and complain, as if the Lord was as changeable as ourselves. But He is the same from first to last; He alone could begin the good work in our hearts, and He alone is able to carry it on. Blessed be His name, He has promised that He will carry it on until the end; He will be a shield to protect, and a sun to nourish.
And though some, who I doubt not, mean well, are afraid lest the doctrine of His free unalterable grace should make people careless yet I dare appeal to the experience of all who know their own hearts, and have tasted of His mercy, whether they do not find that the more firmly they can trust Him, and venture their all upon His word and His power so much the more they are disposed to serve Him, and cleave to Him in love alone.
A well-grounded confidence, that our labour shall not be in ‘…vain in the Lord’, is what the Apostle proposes as a prevailing motive to be ‘…always abounding…’ in His work. The whole of our profession may be comprised in looking unto Jesus; to take our eyes off from other objects, especially from ourselves, and to fix them upon Him. The more we abound in believing, admiring views of His person, offices, love, obedience unto death, victories, intercession, and His fullness of grace to supply all our needs, so much the more shall we ‘…abound to every good work’. For He is our life, and our root, and it is only by receiving from His fullness, that we can make good our calling, overcome the world, and bring forth fruit unto God.
I had a safe and pleasant journey home on Saturday and am now gotten into my old track again. I have many causes of complaint in myself but more causes of rejoicing in Jesus. For though I hate sin, and long to be rid of it yet where sin has abounded, grace has much more abounded.
Mr. Hall, who, I think, you visited with me when here, was released from his long affliction yesterday morning. A few days before he died, the Lord enabled him to express the return of a comfortable hope in the Lord Jesus after a long season of desertion and temptation. His situation, at times, was truly painful, as he had been in this dark state for more than three years. Thus, though God causes grief for wise reasons, which we cannot fathom, He will have compassion, and will show us that His covenant stands sure.
When the Lord shall have renewed your bodily strength and raised you up again, I hope we shall have the pleasure of hearing from you, that we may join our praises to yours. My dear wife joins in very best respects to Mr. L. and yourself, with thanks to you both for your kind present, which came quite safe.
Your obliged and affectionate servant,
QUESTIONS FROM THE BOOK OF NUMBERS
- What tribe was exempt from the census?
- Who was to carry the tabernacle furniture?
- What vow involved total abstinence from alcohol?
- At what age were the Levites to retire from service?
- For what purpose did Moses appoint seventy elders?
- What two spies wanted Israel to enter Canaan?
- Whose rod budded and blossomed in the tabernacle?
ANSWERS FOR LAST WEEK’S QUIZ
- Unclean (Leviticus 13:45)
- The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:8)
- The blood (Leviticus 17:11)
- The Feast of Booths (Leviticus 23:42-43)
- The seventh (Leviticus 25:4)
- Five (Leviticus 26:8)
- The tithe / 10% (Leviticus 27:30)
‘Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth's sake.’ (Psalm 115:1).
Rev. Ian S.D. Loughrin
The Evangelical Manse, 59 Baillie Avenue, Harthill, North Lanarkshire, ML7 5SY
 Colossians 2:6
 Philippians 3:9
 Proverbs 9:6; 21:16; Isaiah 40:14
 Ephesian 2:1
 John 14:19
 1st Peter 4:18
 Psalm 119:104; 208
 Proverbs 13:15
 Matthew 11:30
 Psalm 37:6
 Jeremiah 6:16
 Matthew 6:13
 1st Corinthians 10:12
 Hebrews 4:16
 Plumer, W.S. The Christian 1878
 Alexander, C.F. When Wounded Sore the Stricken Heart 1858
 Hawker. R. Poor Man’s Commentary
 Psalm 116:2
 1st Corinthians 1:30
 1st Corinthians 15:58
 2nd Corinthians 9:8
 Newton, J. Six Letters on Afflictions
Rev. Ian S.D. Loughrin
The Evangelical Manse, 59 Baillie Avenue, Harthill, North Lanarkshire, ML7 5SY