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.’
23rd 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 eleventh and twelfth chapter of the Rev. William S. Plumer’s book, ‘The Christian.’
XI. THE CHRISTIAN’S BESETTING SINS
Sins are variously classified. We speak of original sin and of actual sin; of sins of omission and sins of commission; of secret sins and open sins, sins of infirmity, presumptuous sins, unnatural sins, and besetting sins.
Sins are besetting from various causes. Some are CONSTITUTIONAL. Many people are irritable, contentious, addicted to levity or despondency from their natural temperament.
Some sins prevail in the land where men live and so beset everybody. Thus, for hundreds of years – from the days of Epimenides to the time of Paul – the Cretans were terribly fierce, gluttonous, and given to lying. Then sometimes a tidal wave of iniquity rolls over a people, and it seems as if all were beset with the same sins. An old prophet describes such a state of things when he says of his people: ‘The best of them is as a brier: the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge…’ (Micah 7:4).
Other sins are besetting from EDUCATION. Thus, gossiping is taught by example to whole families. The same is true of many sins of the tongue. Official station leads some to sins to which they were formerly but little inclined. Office is apt to beget imperious tempers. Many fall into sins from PREJUDICES which were strong and unreasonable. I have known a man to commit more folly from a dislike to seeing apple dumplings on a dinner table than from any other cause.
Besetting sins are many –as various as human character and occupation. They gain strength by habit, just as do all the vices. Sometimes one person has several of them. Sins live in families. Seldom, if ever, is a sin found alone.
How may we put away besetting sins? This is a very weighty question. It deserves the most serious attention. Without exhausting the subject, the following suggestions are offered:
1. Obtain and retain a deep and just sense of sin, as an evil and bitter thing, terribly offensive to God, very hateful in itself, and utterly ruinous to the soul. No man ever excessively hated or dreaded sin. The worst thing ever said of sin was, that it is "exceeding sinful."
2. Learn what your besetting sins are. This will not be easily done. Yet it is possible to gain some clear knowledge of them. Sometimes your friends give you good hints. They say, perhaps very tenderly, that it is a fault in your character that you are harsh, or severe, or vain, or proud, or worldly-minded. Are they not right? Perhaps your enemies speak more plainly and tell you in unpleasant tones that you are obstinate, self-conceited, covetous, unkind, or ungenerous. Is there any truth in what they say? What does Nathan the prophet (your minister) say in preaching that touches conscience? What is it that comes up in such power when you are depressed, when you are in affliction? What causes failure in so many of your attempts to do good and get good?
3. Remember that sin, like the serpent, dies hard. This is true of all sin, especially of a besetting sin. Therefore, make a business of exterminating sin. It will kill you if you do not kill it. Your eternal well-being is at stake. Use every means in your power. Some sins go out only by fasting and prayer. Try those means. If your besetting sin is love of the world, see what you can do in mastering it by some noble secret act of charity, or of contribution to the spread of the Gospel. If you are inclined to carry grudges, daily pray that the same mercies may descend on those you dislike as on yourself, and early embrace or create an opportunity to do them a service.
Never shun the cross. If you find it lying in your way, take it up and bear it with constancy. "Despise not little duties; they have been to many a saved man an excellent discipline of humility. Despise not little trials; rightly met they have often nerved the character for some fiery trial. And despise not little crosses; for when taken up and lovingly accepted at the Lord's hand, they have made men fit for a great crown, even the crown of righteousness and life, which the Lord has promised to them that love Him."
4. Put a high estimate on holiness. It is moral excellence. It is very beautiful. It makes one to be like God. Nothing unholy will stand the test of perfect holiness in the fear of God. ‘For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…’ (1st Thessalonians 4:3). ‘…Be ye holy; for I am holy’ says the Lord (1st Peter 1:16).
5. In subduing corruptions, some have found it well to devote special attention for a while to one besetting sin. In some cases, this may be well. But let us not forget that one sin always argues the presence of other sins, and that while we are watching one thief, others may be close behind us.
6. Watch against occasions of indulging in your besetting sin. If in speaking you are likely to exaggerate, or to adorn the story with a fabrication, then do not often or needlessly tell stories. If in trading you are apt to cry up what you have for sale, or to cry down what you buy, then make as few bargains and with as few words as possible.
7. When you gain an advantage against a corruption, follow it up. Sin dies not except under many lusty blows. And when you think it dead, it is perhaps only asleep. Do your work thoroughly.
8. Seek the constant aid of the Holy Spirit. He searches all things. He hates iniquity. He loves all purity. His indwelling will do more than a guard of angels in driving out sin. He is the Spirit of holiness. He is its author. ‘…Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.’ (Zechariah 4:6).
9. Think much of Christ. Highly prize His honour. Let His name be an ointment poured forth. Walk in Him, walk with Him, live unto Him, die for Him. Draw strength and motives from His teachings, His example, His death, His resurrection, His ascension to Heaven, His sitting at God's right hand, and His everlasting kingdom.
XII. THE CHRISTIAN'S SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY
God is independent and sovereign. Man is dependent and responsible. Every sane man knows he must give account to God. Man's nature and relations to God make it fit that he should act under moral law and be judged accordingly.
It is not possible for any man to entertain too solemn views of the fact that he must at last stand or fall, according to the deeds done in the body. Every man is every day doing things which will affect his destiny to all eternity.
Man has immortal rationality, and of course he will ever be responsible. Suffering will not end it. Happiness will not destroy it. In God's government there is no statute of limitation. Nor has man or angel the power of returning to non-existence. Some have denied that responsibility will be endless.
But if responsibility be not everlasting, then the relations of God and man may cease or change. They cannot cease because God cannot deny Himself. They cannot cease because whether man shall be under law is not a question submitted to his choice or decision.
Neither can the relations of God and man change. A change must be for the better or for the worse. If they could change for the better, they would not now be perfectly right and holy. If they should change for the worse, they would cease to be perfectly right and holy.
If responsibility be not everlasting, then an intelligent creature may sin away his obligations and accountability.
If responsibility be not everlasting, then sin works its own cure, at least so far as not to be any longer punishable. It would lose its guilt by its enormity or obstinacy.
If responsibility be not everlasting, then there is a world or a state where God may be insulted with impunity. If this is so, retribution in any case is wholly arbitrary, and is not required by righteousness.
If retribution be not everlasting, then sin is either an evil which in the long run becomes unmanageable, and God at length connives at it, because He does not know how to deal with old transgressors; or else the evil now declared to belong to unrighteousness is an exaggeration, and who will dare to say that?
If responsibility be not everlasting, then it will not be so bad to offer insults to God in some other worlds or states as it is in this world, or in the present state.
If responsibility be not everlasting, it must be that God's moral government shall by and by be impaired or fail in some respects.
If responsibility be not everlasting, then by parity of reasoning the fact that one lie is justly punishable does not show that many lies shall be punished.
If responsibility be not everlasting, then righteousness may cease to be righteousness, both in the Judge of all the earth and in some of His creatures, especially those who offend atrociously.
There is no such thing as a creature being rounded out in good or evil in any sense that renders further growth impossible. Where is there any ground for such belief? It is not found in God's Word. Give us chapter and verse. They cannot be found. The reverse is taught in the oracles of God: ‘…they proceed from evil to evil…’ (Jeremiah 9:3); ‘…evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse…’ (2nd Timothy 3:13). When the Scriptures speak of our being held accountable for the deeds done in the body, they warn us that our responsibility is begun in this life. We are now acting under law. We are now under moral government. So that it is a solemn thing to live. But God's Word nowhere says or hints that our obligations to God, or our accountability to Him, will terminate when we leave this world and pass to another. Is not moral government in its very nature universal and endless, because it is righteous, and because God changes not? His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion is without end. Is not this sound speech that cannot be condemned? Let God be glorified; let man be abased.
POINTS FOR PRAYER
Pray for our Queen, our governments, our National Health Service, our key workers, our country, our community, our church, and ourselves.
‘Pray without ceasing.’ (1st Thessalonians 5:17).
A HYMN OF HOPE
’Tis my happiness below
Not to live without the cross,
But the Saviour’s power to know,
Sanctifying every loss;
Trials must and will befall,
But with humble faith to see
Love inscribed upon them all,
This is happiness to me.
God, in Israel, sows the seeds,
Of affliction, pain and toil;
These spring up, and choke the weeds
Which would else o’erspread the soil;
Trials make the promise sweet,
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to His feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there.
Did I meet no trials here,
No chastisement by the way,
Might I not, with reason, fear
I should prove a castaway?
Professors may escape the rod,
Sunk in earthly, vain delight;
But the true born child of God,
Must not, would not, if he might.
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.’ (John 15:1)
9. What is the work of creation?
The work of creation is God's making all things (Genesis 1:1) of nothing, by the Word of His power (Hebrews 11:3), in six normal consecutive days (Exodus 20:11), and all very good (Genesis 1:31).
ANSWERS TO AFFLICTIONS
This is the last of six letters written by the Rev. John Newton about afflictions.
My Dearest Madam,
The assurance you give me that my letters are acceptable, ought to prompt me to write frequently, and indeed my inclination is not lacking if my time was not so much taken up with necessities.
Yesterday I preached at Collingtree, and my subject was, the Lord's question to the prophet, (Ezekiel 37) ‘…can these dry bones live?’ A question which, as to the substance and intent of it, will often occur to us if we fix our eyes too attentively upon outward appearances. A thousand difficulties will occur to dampen our expectations of what God has promised, unless, like Abraham, we retreat to the consideration of His almighty power, and believe that what He has promised, He is fully able to perform.
What can be more unlikely than for dry bones to live? Yet, if the Lord has said it, it shall be done. He can turn the heart of stone into a heart of flesh, raise the spiritually dead, cause light to shine out of darkness, and make mountains sink into plains.
And as He can, so He has engaged that He will do great things for those who fear Him. We may answer all our fears, corruptions, temptations, and difficulties, with this thought: the sum of all that they can suggest, to discourage, amounts to this, "Can these dry bones live?" And we may say, "Yes, they can!" As hard and impossible as it seems to us it is perfectly easy to Him who can do all things; and who delights to show Himself a God, working wonders for the relief and comfort of His people.
He allows us to meet with troubles for this very reason, that an occasion may be afforded for the manifestation of His glorious power and faithfulness in our support and deliverance. At the same time, He has an eye to our good in all; only we have need of patience to wait His time, by humble prayer. For, until His hour has come, nothing can be effectually done.
We are expecting to sustain a heavy loss soon, and yet we can hardly desire it should be otherwise. Mrs. R., whom you know is suffering greatly from her cancer, which has been gradually increasing for some time; she is now brought very low, her pains are extreme but her peace is abiding, and her comforts, at times, unspeakable. In such a case as hers the reality and power of religion appear to great advantage.
I am sometimes ready to wish that believers could die in public. I cannot but think that such a death-bed scene would be the most probable means of curing the prejudices with which multitudes are possessed against the Gospel; and demonstrating the comparative insignificance and poverty of all that this world can propose for our satisfaction. This is still more striking in the case of the poor simple villagers, who have lived in a happy ignorance of the polite world and cannot be suspected of any artifice or design.
Oh, with what dignity and certainty, with what warmth and sensibility have I heard some of our poor people speak when death has been approaching, and eternity opening to their view!
Take courage, dear Madam, we have not followed cunningly devised fables. The Lord He is God; He will be an all-sufficient good to those who fear Him. And though He leads them through the fire and the water, they shall neither be drowned or burnt; He will shortly bring them out into a wealthy place!
Dear Mrs. R. is in an almost continual agony of pain. She cannot have a moment's intermission or rest, but what is procured by repeated opiates. Her disorder now grows very offensive to herself, as well as to others. Her hearing is almost totally lost and yet she is happy. She knows in whom she has believed; she feels His supporting presence; she has a foretaste of eternal glory. She is confident, that the moment she shall be absent from the body, she shall be present with the Lord, who has loved her with an everlasting love, and whom I am satisfied she sincerely loves. How much more happy is her situation than the wise and the wealthy, the great and the mirthful, the men of business, or the men of pleasure who live without God in the world!
The Lord has placed you in a state of affluence; but how much more cause have you to be thankful, dear Madam, that He has given you the knowledge of His grace! This is a mercy which, it is to be feared, few in your situation are acquainted with, or desirous of.
If Miss G. is with you, pray give our love to her. Our circle joins in kindest respects to you and Mr. L.
Your most affectionate and obliged Servant,
QUESTIONS FROM THE BOOK OF DEUTERONOMY (PART ONE)
- Where did the battle with the king of Bashan take place?
- With what three things were Israel to love the Lord their God?
- How many persons went down with Israel’s fathers to Egypt?
- What was Israel to do for the poor during the sabbatical year?
- For how long were Israel to observe the feast of tabernacles?
- Did God’s law permit Israel’s king to acquire many horses?
- From among what people shall the promised Prophet be raised up?
ANSWERS FOR LAST WEEK’S QUIZ
- Kadesh (Numbers 20:1)
- The king of Edom (Numbers 20:21)
- Thirty days (Numbers 20:29)
- By looking to the brazen serpent (Numbers 21:9)
- By his zeal (Numbers 25:11)
- Zelophehad (Numbers 27:7)
- Three (Numbers 35:14)
AN INSPIRATIONAL ILLUSTRATION
THE HAPPY MAN
BY LACHLAN MACKENZIE
The Rev. Lachlan Mackenzie was a preacher whom the Lord used in mighty way in the revival of evangelical Christianity in the Scottish Highlands at the close of the 18th century. From the parish of Locharron, where he was the local minister, his fervour in Christian service, his love for the Lord and his hearers, and the power with which he preached the Gospel to them, had a true and lasting impact on many highlanders. Below is his story of ‘The Happy Man,’ for which he is remembered today.
“The happy man was born in the city of Regeneration in the parish of Repentance unto Life. He was educated at the school of Obedience. He has a large estate in the county of Christian Contentment, and many times does jobs of Self-denial, wears the garment of Humility, and has another suit to put on when he goes to Court, called the Robe of Christ's Righteousness. He often walks in the valley of Self-Abasement, and sometimes climbs the mountains of Heavenly-mindedness. He breakfasts every morning on Spiritual Prayer, and he sups every evening on the same. He has meat to eat that the world knows not of, and his drink is the sincere milk of the Word of God. Thus, happy he lives, and happy he dies. Happy is he who has Gospel submission in his will, due order in his affections, sound peace in his conscience, real Divinity in his breast, the Redeemer's yoke on his neck, a vain world under his feet, and a crown of glory over his head. Happy is the life of that man who believes firmly, prays fervently, walks patiently, works abundantly, lives holy, dies daily, watches his heart, guides his senses, redeems his time, loves Christ, and longs for glory. He is necessitated to take the world on his way to Heaven, but he walks through it as fast as he can, and all his business by the way is to make himself and others happy. Take him all in all, in two words, he is a Man and a Christian.”
There are several ways in which you can continue to give your weekly offerings: (1) You can set up a direct debit. (2) You can transfer them to the church account using online banking. (3) You can lay them aside until services resume.
To set up a direct debit or to transfer the offering using online banking you will need the following details.
Name of bank account: ‘Benhar Evangelical Church Treasurer’s Account.’
Account number: 00199977.
Sort code: 83-2228.
If you choose to set up a direct debit or weekly transfer, and have filled out a gift aid declaration, the church will continue to receive gift aid on your offerings.
 Plumer, W.S. The Christian 1878
 Cowper, W. ‘Tis My Happiness Below 1779
 Newton, J. Six Letters on Afflictions
 Mackenzie, L. The Happy Man
Rev. Ian S.D. Loughrin
The Evangelical Manse, 59 Baillie Avenue, Harthill, North Lanarkshire, ML7 5SY