Benhar Evangelical Church 

Covenanter Road 

Eastfield, Harthill 

North Lanarkshire 

ML7 5PB 

THE BENHAR BANNER

8th Edition

‘Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it

may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.’

(Psalm 60:4)


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9th May 2020

Previous Banners are available here

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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 ninth and tenth chapter of the Rev. William S. Plumer’s book, ‘The Christian.’

IX. THE CHRISTIAN’S VICTORY OVER TEMPTATIONS

It almost startles one to hear the apostle James saying, My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations[1], Blessed is the man that endureth temptation…’[2]. But when we search God's Word, we find the doctrine abundantly supported and illustrated.

Take the case of our Blessed Lord. He was long and sorely tempted of the devil – tempted as no man ever was. Yet see the happy consequences immediately following: ‘…behold, angels came and ministered unto him.’[3] While His temptation lasted, they stood at a distance to let it appear that Christ could conquer by His own power and holiness. But when the battle was fought and the victory won, they rejoiced in such a Lord; they brought Him food; they comforted Him, as they often strengthen and comfort His tempted people. If Satan was allowed to assail Him, angels were sent to adore Him, and serve Him. Thus, He was prepared and encouraged to go boldly on in His great work of destroying the works of the devil and in setting up the kingdom of God.

A like result is reached when the saints endure temptation. The trying of their faith works patience, constancy, heavenly heroism; and patience works experience; and experience hope; And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.[4] So uniformly and so wonderfully does the Lord bless temptation to the edification of His people, that the great and good Luther said, "One Christian well tempted is worth a thousand." Another of his sayings was, "Three things make a good theologian – meditation, temptation, and prayer."

Like testimonies have been borne by others. Fenelon said, "Temptations, as a file, rub off much of the rust of our self-confidence." Dr. Samuel Clarke says, "Bearing up against temptations and prevailing over them is the very thing wherein the whole life of piety consists. It is the trial which God puts upon us in this world, by which we are to make evidence of our love and obedience to Him, and of our fitness to be made members of His kingdom."

How ill-prepared would David have been for the conflicts of his riper years had he not fought with the lion and the bear and the giant of Gath when young! Oh, It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.[5] It makes a man of him. He sitteth alone and keepeth silence, because he hath borne it upon him. He putteth his mouth in the dust; if so be there may be hope.(Lamentations 3:28-29). All great characters are formed more or less in the school of trial, even sharp trial.

The difference between Daniel going into Babylon and Daniel beholding the fall of the Chaldean monarchy was as great as could well be imagined. Hardly any two pious men were less alike than were the young Israelite who later became the old prophet pronouncing sentence of death on Lucifer (the son of the morning) when he was about to be cast down to Hell.

Compare the young Saul of Tarsus, crying, ‘…Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’[6] with such a one as Paul the aged. How great the contrast! What made the difference? Chiefly his experience in trials and afflictions and temptations.

The little child Moses in the rushes and the old man Moses, with his eye undimmed and his natural force unabated at the age of one hundred and twenty years, were not so unlike in appearance of body as they were in strength and excellence of character.

Everlasting bliss will bear a proportion to what men have endured for Christ and His cause on Earth. Mordecai once wore a crown of gold; and our Saviour once wore a crown of thorns; but in the world to come, the saints shall wear different crowns.

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. So spoke James. Paul says, ‘…I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness…’[7]. Peter says, ‘…when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.[8]

Oh, what a crowning that will be: life, righteousness, glory all in one day – all for nothing – all by grace – and all for eternity!

X. THE CHRISTIAN’S VIEWS OF SIN

Moral evil is the worst of all evils. Nothing can compare with it. It is worse than the plague. It is unspeakably hateful. God calls sin, horrible and abominable. Godly men in every age lament it – lament it much in others, most in themselves. The worst thing that can be said of sin is not that it digs every grave and wrings out every sigh and wail from Earth and Hell but that it is "exceeding sinful."

A man's views of sin give a complexion to all his character. If he regards it as a trifle, he will laugh at it, when he should weep over it. He will make a mock of it. He will dally with it. He will take his fill of it. He will have low thoughts of God, and low estimates of salvation. He will despise Jesus Christ.

If, on the other hand, he considers sin as very dreadful and very hateful, he will ‘…hate every false way.’[9] He will long for holiness. He will ‘…hunger and thirst after righteousness…’[10]. He will not walk ‘…in the counsel of the ungodly…’, nor stand ‘…in the way of sinners…’, nor sit ‘…in the seat of the scornful.’[11] He will loathe and abhor himself on account of sin. He will be filled with horror because of the wicked, who keep not God's law. He will have exalted thoughts of the being, perfections, word, and government of God. To him Christ will be most precious, ‘…the chiefest among ten thousand’[12], and ‘…altogether lovely.’[13]

Some ask, “How far does a sense of sin enter into a genuine Christian experience?” To some extent, and in some minds, this is a difficult question. The difficulty may arise in part from the fact that some make all religious experience to refer to the earlier exercises of a newborn soul. But the truth is, that first religious views and feelings are but a small part of what the child of God practically learns. In all the three accounts of the conversion of Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, not a word is said of his sense of sin at that time in anything but in opposing Christ's cause. But the work of grace in his heart only then began. In Romans 7:7-9, he tells us of subsequent experiences: ‘…I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.

The meaning of the Apostle seems to be this: "I would never have understood the real nature of sin, the enormity of my guilt, or the number of my transgressions but for the Ten Commandments." If one would know the uncleanness of a neglected apartment, he must let in the light. Dr. Watts notices the growing sense of sin in Paul once saying, I am ‘…not meet to be called an apostle…’[14]. Later in life he says, I am ‘…less than the least of all saints…’[15]. In one of his later epistles, he says, I am the ‘…chief…’ of ‘…sinners…’[16]. Evidently, he had to the last a growing sense of sin.

Sometimes when we speak of a sense of sin, men think we are speaking of great terror of conscience or horror of mind. These things may indeed accompany a sense of sin; but they are wholly diverse from it and are in nowise essential to it. Paul never had less terror than when he was near the end of his life, and he had a very deep sense of sin.

But such a sense of sin as makes the Gospel good news to the sinner, would seem to be required by many things in the Scriptures. Our Lord said, ‘…They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.[17] One of the darkest signs in the state of the Church at Laodicea was that she said she was ‘…rich, and increased with goods, and had need of nothing…’ but knew not that she was ‘…wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:’ (Revelation 3:17).

Job's sense of sin was vastly increased by the great discoveries he had of God's majesty and glory: I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.Increased views of God's glory had the same effect on Isaiah, and made him cry out, ‘…Woe is me! for I am undone…’ (Job 42:5-6; Isaiah 6:5).

The deeper one's sense of sin is, the livelier is his gratitude for pardon and saving mercy. So taught our Lord: ‘…Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. (Luke 7:47).

In like manner the deeper one's sense of sin, the profounder will be his humility; and humility is the King's highway to holiness and happiness and Heaven.

If these things are so, then he is a good preacher, and that is a good book that increases our just sense of sin. One of the best books John Owen ever wrote was on ‘Indwelling Sin.’ It is well suited to show men the fountain of iniquity that is in their hearts. For the same reason we may safely commend Flavel's ‘Keeping the Heart,’ Guthrie's ‘Trial of a Saving Interest in Christ,’ and many of the Puritan writings of the seventeenth century.

But above all, ‘…by the law is the knowledge of sin.’[18] Luther said that if for a day he failed to compare his heart with the Ten Commandments, he was sensible of a decline in his pious feelings. One of the best manuals of self-examination is the Westminster Assembly's exposition of the law of God. Let any serious man honestly read the answers there given to the question, “What are the sins forbidden?” in each of the precepts; and if he is not blind and stupid, his self-abhorrence must be increased.

But any view of ourselves that leads us to despair, is injurious. The true and fair inference from a sense of sickness, is that one needs a physician. A proper sense of sin should lead us more and more to look to Jesus, and to pray that He may be ‘…made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:’ ‘Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.’[19]

It is, therefore, common for Christians to admit that there is no little sin. It is easy for men to perplex themselves and talk foolishly concerning that which is infinite. But to us all that is illimitable, immeasurable, fathomless, endless, may safely be styled infinite. Is sin, then, an infinite evil?

If sin be not an infinite evil, it must be because God's majesty, glory, and authority are not infinite, for against these is all sin committed.

If sin be not an infinite evil, it could not require an infinite atonement; a limited satisfaction is all that could be fairly required for a finite offense; a measurable compensation is all that can be justly demanded for a crime that can be fully estimated. If sin be not an infinite evil, can it be proven to be any evil at all? God has all claims, all rights, all sovereignty, or He has none at all. Our obligations to Him are boundless, interminable, infinite, or they are not real. If He is such a One as we are, He is no God at all. The reason why false gods may and should be treated with contempt, is because they are vanities. They are matters of ridicule.

God's presence is infinite; His power is infinite; His nature is infinite; His existence is infinite; and so, to sin against Him must be an infinite insult and wrong. If sin is not an infinite evil, we must yet admit that the punishment threatened against it is, in at least one sense, infinite – it is boundless in duration; yes, it is shoreless, fathomless, and terrible as Hell.

More than once does God call sin ‘…horrible…’ (Jeremiah 18:13; Hosea 6:10). It is that abominable thing which He hates. It cannot be shown that God hates toads, serpents, hyenas, or anything that He has made. But He hates sin with infinite loathing.

It is bad when one can truly say of an act that it is unprofitable, dangerous, or mean; but sin is the perfection of meanness; it is more perilous than the flights of the aeronaut; it is so unprofitable that when one commits it, he sows ‘…the wind…’ to reap ‘…the whirlwind…’[20]; he loves death.

God's Word acknowledges that sin is great because God is great. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him?(1st Samuel 2:25).

Francis Spira said, "Man knows the beginnings of sin, but who can tell the bounds thereof?"

‘…sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (James 1:15).

‘…the wages of sin is death…’ (Romans 6:23).

A HYMN OF HOPE

For mercies, countless as the sands
Which daily I receive
From Jesus, my Redeemer’s hands,
My soul, what canst thou give?

Alas! from such a heart as mine,
What can I bring Him forth?
My best is stained and dyed with sin,
My all is nothing worth.

Yet this acknowledgement I’ll make
For all He has bestowed;
Salvation’s sacred cup I’ll take,
And call upon my God.

The best return for one like me,
So wretched and so poor;
Is from His gifts to draw a plea,
And ask Him still for more.

I cannot serve Him as I ought,
No works have I to boast;
Yet would I glory in the thought
That I shall owe Him most.[21]

POINTS FOR PRAYER

Pray for our Queen, our governments, our National Health Service, our key workers, our country, our community, and our church.

MEMORY VERSE

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.(John 14:6)

SPURGEON’S CATECHISM

8. How does God execute His decrees?

God executes His decrees in the works of creation (Revelation 4:11), and providence (Daniel 4:35).

ANSWERS TO AFFLICTIONS

This is the fifth of six letters written by the Rev. John Newton about afflictions.

My Dearest Madam,

Your obliging visit at Wimbleton gave me very great pleasure and has made me your debtor more than before. I should be chargeable with ingratitude, if I did not write, since you are pleased to desire it. That I wish to have a letter from you now and then to answer, is not merely a point of punctilio; for if I had opportunity, and could give you any satisfaction, I would willingly send you ten for one; but if you could overcome your reluctance to writing, and favour me with some brief hints of the state of your mind, besides the pleasure I would have in hearing from you, it would enable me to offer you a word in season, which might be more agreeable, both to me and to you, than when I write without any determinate point in view.

You may be sure I could not be long at Wimbleton without inquiring concerning your welfare, and I suppose the accounts I received enabled me to form some judgment of your situation. The Lord, who loves you appoints you trials for the exercise of your faith and patience. His power could, and His love would remove them; if therefore they continue, it is because His wisdom has designed you a greater good by their continuance, and His gracious promises warrant you to hope and plead, that when His proposed ends by them are duly answered, He will make crooked things straight, and satisfy you that He has done all things well.

What do you think, dear Madam, if you could see Him with your bodily eyes, and hear Him say with an audible voice, Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee…’[22] Would not this comfort you, and dispose you to say, “Here am I, do with me as seemeth good in Thy sight?" If so, you have equal reason to make the same conclusion now; He is as near to you as if you saw Him, and His promise in His blessed Word is no less certain, no less worthy of our dependence, than if He was to repeat it by a voice from Heaven.

Therefore, fear not, only believe. His grace shall be sufficient for you, and your strength be made equal to your day. Though you see not Him, His eye is upon you for good continually. He is about your path, and about your bed. His ear is ever open to your prayers, and all the desires of your mind are written in His book of remembrance. Afflictions are His chosen methods of instructing His people; by these He teaches them the vanity of creatures, subdues their spirits into a patient and submissive frame, quickens them to prayer, and takes occasion to show them more of His wisdom, power and love, manifested in their deliverance, than they could have otherwise known.

If Israel had not been oppressed in Egypt, and pursued into the wilderness, they would not have had that triumphant song to sing afterwards, at the Red Sea, when they saw what great things the right hand of the Lord had done for them. He has said, ‘They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.’[23] Let this encourage you; you cannot be disappointed; you have only to wait patiently upon the Lord, to delight yourself in Him, and He shall give you the desire of your heart.

I hope you will find the Lord's presence in Kent. I suppose it is a barren soil in point of ordinances; but to a believer the whole earth is the temple of the Lord. It is not the place you would choose, but if you go, His providence is concerned in it, and who knows what desirable and unexpected events may depend upon it? Who knows but He may make you a blessing and a messenger of peace to some around you!

However, this may be, He will be present to keep and comfort you. When you see the sea dashing against the shore with an impetuosity that threatens to swallow up all before it, and yet restrained by the invisible force of that word, ‘…Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further…’[24], you will then see an emblem of His power over the hearts of men.

When they seem most free to devise and to execute their own purposes, they, in reality, can perform nothing but what He intends to make subservient to His purpose – beyond that mark they cannot move an inch. Oh! 'tis a cheering thought, that He who once bore our sins in His own body on the tree now reigns exalted high and does according to His pleasure in the armies of Heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth. What can you want, and what have you to fear, when the Lord Almighty is your Shepherd, your Saviour, and your Friend?

He will try you, but not above what He will enable you to bear. He will chasten you, but only for your profit, to make you a partaker of His holiness. The things which at present are not joyous, but grievous shall yield to you the peaceful fruits of righteousness in due season.

Therefore, dear Madam, be strong – yes, I say unto you, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might — and He will do more for you than you can ask or think! And while you are fighting the good fight of faith look forward to the crown which the Lord is preparing for you. Yet a little while, and you shall enter upon a state of joy without abatement, interruption, or end.

We are well and join in love and respects to you. We think and talk of you and pray for you often. Do give me the pleasure of a letter soon. We beg our respects and best wishes to Mr. L.

I am, dear Madam, sincerely,

Your much obliged, and affectionate servant,

John Newton.[25]

BIBLE QUIZ

QUESTIONS FROM THE BOOK OF NUMBERS

1.   Where was Miriam buried?

2.   What king refused Israel passage?

3.   How long did Israel mourn for Aaron?

4.   How could a person be saved from the serpent’s bite?

5.   How did Phineas turn God’s wrath from Israel?

6.   The daughters of whom received their father’s inheritance?

7.   How many cities of refuge were situated in Canaan?

ANSWERS FOR LAST WEEK’S QUIZ

  1. Levi (Numbers 1:47)
  2. The sons of Kohath (Numbers 4:15)
  3. The Nazarite’s (Numbers 6:3)
  4. Fifty (Numbers 8:25)
  5. To share the burden of leadership (Numbers 11:17)
  6. Joshua and Caleb (Numbers 14:6-7)
  7. Aaron’s (Numbers 17:8)

 AN INSPIRATIONAL ILLUSTRATION

THE DRUNKARD’S CONVERSION

In a regiment of soldiers stationed in Edinburgh, there was a sergeant named Forbes, a very careless man, who contracted debts for liquor wherever he could. His wife washed for the regiment, and thus obtained a little money. She was a pious woman, but all her attempts to reclaim him were unsuccessful. During one of the Rev. George Whitefield’s visits to the city, she offered her husband a sum of money if he would for once go and hear him. This was a strong inducement, and he planned to go. The sermon was in a field, as no building could have contained the audience.

The sergeant was rather early, and placed himself in the middle of the field, that he might slip away when Whitefield ascended the pulpit, as he only wished to be able to say that he had seen him. The crowd, however, increased; and when Whitefield appeared, the people pressed forward, and the sergeant found it impossible to get away. The prayer produced some impression on his mind, but the sermon most deeply convinced him of his sinfulness and danger. He became a changed man and proved the reality of his conversion by living for many years with the strictest economy to liquidate the claims of every one of his creditors.[26] 

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. (Proverbs 20:1)


Rev. Ian S.D. Loughrin
The Evangelical Manse, 59 Baillie Avenue, Harthill, North Lanarkshire, ML7 5SY
benharpastor@live.co.uk
01501751887

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[1] James 1:2

[2] James 1:12

[3] Matthew 4:11

[4] Romans 5:5

[5] Lamentations 3:27

[6] Acts 9:6

[7] 2nd Timothy 4:6-8

[8] 1st Peter 5:4

[9] Psalm 119:104; 128

[10] Matthew 5:6

[11] Psalm 1:1

[12] Song of Solomon 5:10

[13] Song of Solomon 5:16

[14] 1st Corinthians 15:9

[15] Ephesians 3:8

[16] 1st Timothy 1:15

[17] Matthew 9:12

[18] Romans 3:20

[19] 2nd Corinthians 9:15

[20] Hosea 8:7

[21] Newton, J.         For Mercies, Countless as The Sands               1779

[22] Isaiah 41:10

[23] Psalm 126:5

[24] Job 38:11

[25] Newton, J.         Six Letters on Afflictions

[26] Macleod, N.I.    Moral and Religious Anecdotes