A Letter to Our Friend Christian
This letter comes from the deep recesses of our heart. It is not an easy letter to write. We pray God's blessings will be upon it and that you will consider and meditate on what is said.
True Christianity has been the topic of our conversations for quite some time. New things have come into light for all of us over the last several years and we have had a difficult time sorting everything out. We live in such a time that "few" can help us, "few" truly understand. It has been like groping in the dark, desperately searching for what we know not. God has been merciful to shine His light of truth, He has directed us to the path of the faithful. He has brought the narrow way into our sight. He has given us a glimpse of the Celestial City. These things have not come easily and some of them are hard things. Some of them even look foolish, old fashioned and far beyond our reach to truly grasp them. Are we sincere Christians, do we really have a true work of grace in our heart? We must not rest a minute in this life thinking salvation has become ours, as the true Pilgrim begins to run the minute his eyes are opened to his dangerous condition.
The reason for this letter will be seen in the outpouring of our heart. It is full of truths that must be held dear within or all will be lost. They are not just our opinions, they are the foundational beliefs of any that have entered the Celestial City at the end of their life. How do we know this, how can we really know that this is true? God's Holy Word is the only rule to direct our path, it is our only infallible guide through this life. If you do not find within its walls these very things then you should not listen, not heed, not even consider what is said here. The writings of men, Commentaries, Sermons of old and other earthly vessels are given to us to guide, to be helps in finding and recognizing and walking in the narrow way. They are to show us what fruits the sincerity of heart that resides within the converted saint looks like.
"The entrance of Thy Words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple" (Ps. 119:130). It is the entrance of the Word that changes us. It is not knowing of the Word or claiming the Word, it is the Word residing in our soul. The soul is called by many names such as the heart, the understanding, the mind, and the will. It is where reason resides, it is where our decisions are made. It is what considers and ponders and meditates. It is what should control our emotions and affections. The right understanding given to us by the power of the Holy Spirit through the direction of the Word, should be the seat of our walk. It is to direct our feet. It is to rule in place of our flesh. Our flesh is not to direct our feet, it is not to direct our will. Our will is to be submissive to our understanding, not the understanding submissive to our will. Here is where we see self-denial. Here is where we see the war of the true saint. Here is where we can see the wretchedness of the false gospel that we have all learned. Here is the reason for this letter.
True Christianity is based on the foundation of love for God and fellow man. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matt. 22:37-40). Here is where we have nearly shipwrecked, here is where we have seen the lightness that we have treated the Word of God with.
This is a description of a converted heart. This is where it begins, this is where the buds first appear. In a truly converted heart all is counted for loss for the gaining of the knowledge of Christ. All that has been once brought to the bosom as truth, that was really error, is shed as dung, earthly things become dim, and the heart loosens its grasp upon the things of the earth. The love of God fills the heart, delights the mind, becomes its all in all. It makes sin an abhorred thing, because it sees it as a turning from so gracious a God and such a precious Christ. It weeps as it sees its own lusts rising to have their own way. Self becomes the saints' enemy, it turns against itself. It knows that what resides within will only bring death and destruction. Therefore it watches like a soldier on alert, it communes with those things that are hidden inside and it comes to know its own weaknesses. It strives to mortify those things that do not follow the path of God's Word. It knows that apart from Christ it can do nothing to please God, so it lives every minute in communion with Him. It studies to know the Word because that is what God has given to direct the feet of the godly, it is what one day will judge his stewardship on this earth. He knows this is his trial time, his preparation for eternity and he must not waste a single minute on things not important. Everything takes on new light for he is now running a race. He is careful not to let things pull him off the path. He is forewarned that the world, the devil and his own heart will use every measure imaginable to shipwreck him. He trusts not in them, he recognizes their lies, temptations and drawings as best he can. That is why he studies the Word like he does, for he knows his own understanding will bring him only death. He begs, he cries, he moans under the weight of his own wretchedness; he sees how he is so easily drawn away from the narrow way. He sees how little his heart loves God and he daily fills it like David with the wonders of the precious Word. He is always running, watching and on guard. He has not time for vanities, things that will have no bearing on eternity. He sees that every minute is precious because he sees some of the wretchedness of his own heart. The more he views the Holiness of God, the more wretched he appears to himself. The more wretched he sees himself, the more he sees God as glorious.
He is constantly searching for truth and casting out error from his mind. He strives to have his will directed by the understanding of the Word of God. He prays like he never prayed before; his words turn into moans as David's. He knows all things come from God and he must "fetch" them. As he begins to see the dulness of his own heart, the blackness of the world and the deceitful clothes that Satan appears in that can look like an angel of light, he flees for safety to Christ. He begs for understanding and wisdom, he is willing to count all as loss for the gaining of these precious things. His time becomes regulated by the need of his heart. The desires of the flesh are warred against by his pleading prayers and meditating on God's Holy Word. This is a labour that he has not known before, this is where slothfulness and he part. He knows all will either be gained or lost here. He knows that every strength must be gotten from God.
He sees that self must be denied, not to be saved by works, but through the working out of his salvation with trembling and fear. He trembles at God's Word because he believes all the promises and the threatenings. The judgment is in the forefront of his mind. He no longer takes these things lightly, they become his every thought. He is not like the wicked where "God is not in all their thoughts." He sees that he has much of the world residing in his heart and that they have become his bosom friends. He sees how much he is in love with self, how much he will fight to keep his own understanding and justify his own ways. The Holy Spirit gives him power over his flesh. It is not an instant, cast out, torn down happening, especially if this Pilgrim has left the years of his youth. Sin has resided deep within and has been pampered and loved for a long time. The heart has become hard, the affections dulled. He sees that he has had a high opinion of himself when in reality he was on the brink of destruction. "Man is always right in his own eyes" takes on new realities for him. There is a mighty work of stirring that only comes from the hearing and preaching of the Word. He is running, seeing something of his true condition now. He sees time as of the essence. His heart must be softened, he must hear and hearken to only true Sermons coming from godly pastors with fruit as unto the Word. He is willing to lose all for the gaining of the knowledge of Christ. He will do what he must do for the salvation of his soul.
Those around him may think him to be foolish, gone off the deep end, making too much of holiness, but within himself he has a yearning for deeper and deeper things of God, more and more sanctification and a complete putting off of himself. Death comes to him through new eyes. He sees that the flesh will finally be put off only at death. His flesh is loathsome to him here, it impedes the glory of God in his heart, he yearns to be free of this hindrance. To live is Christ and to die is gain. He knows his duty is to live soberly, he studies to do such. He knows his way is not the way of the world. He puts off all the ways that the world has taken as pleasing to God, that he now begins to see are actually displeasing to Him. The persecution begins to come as he makes choices in his life. He sees that many profess godliness but with their lives deny him. Many say they love Christ, but bitterness, envy and strife reside in their heart. This is not the way of the saint. He watches for the first risings of discontentment with his lot. He stands sentry searching for bitterness and resentment as they must not be his. The weapons of the Word and his communion with Christ are his safeties. He is watchful over his heart for he knows eternity will come quickly. He must be prepared, he must live in Christ and away from himself, the world and the temptations of Satan.
Sin becomes his enemy. Even a small one has the power to cast one into hell. He knows his own heart loves it, will countenance it, and call it anything...but sin. God's Word must penetrate the evils of his own heart and subdue its every corner. Oh, he knows perfection in this life is not to be his, but it is his goal; his desire is to be sanctified minute by minute. This is his main business, this is what he lives for...to be more and more like Christ. He knows he is in a war, he knows what he must do. He knows who his captain is and he bows as he listens to His commands.
He humbles his heart before a mighty King. He knows that only those that go to Christ apart from themselves become saved. He knows this is the hardest work anyone on earth will pursue. It is here that most shipwreck. Most want to come to Christ with their sin; he knows he must leave all. He knows this is impossible for his heart, as his heart alone will never do anything that is pleasing to God. This is where he has become a beggar for grace. This is where he sees Christ as precious. This is where he parts from the hypocrite. Sincerity is his daily prayer. He yearns for self-denial, humility, contriteness of heart and sincerity. He hungers and thirsts now for righteousness. He counts all as loss for the gaining of the knowledge of Christ. He seeks the Kingdom of God knowing that every kingdom divided against itself will fall. He knows that following after both his own heart and the Kingdom of God will bring death.
He now sees that everything on this earth is controlled by God. Satan is on a string, he cannot touch one of God's without permission. Providence becomes precious to him. He trusts not in man's plans but pleads for God's ways in his life. When difficulties and afflictions come he is grateful for the training and exercises of grace that God has brought to him. He sees that it is here that his true Christianity comes forth. He sees the Holy Spirit working in his heart to love when persecuted, not to return evil for evil. He has a new love for those that bring him difficulties and afflictions. He sees them as God's hand in his life. He watches for any bitter root to spring up as he knows that he deserves nothing in this life and anything he does receive is far more than he ever would deserve. If things are taken from him he knows this to be the hand of God also. As Job, he sees that he brought nothing into this world and will go out without anything. He is grateful and praises God. He worships God as Job did in the midst of his suffering. He knows things of this earth are not his and if they be removed who is he to let one word of discontent, grumbling or murmuring fall from his lips. He now belongs to Christ; Christ is his all in all, nothing in this life compares to Him. His only happiness comes from Him, his delights are only in Him. The things of this world have grown dimmer and dimmer, he senses their loss less and less. His King cares for him, He knows the numbers of hairs on his head. He brings what is good for his soul to him and takes away that which is a hindrance. He knows that he can not determine what those things would be, for his soul would only ruin itself. He prays not to be left to himself and that God would not give him the desires of his flesh like the Israelites, for they reaped leanness of soul. He now prays for "Thy will, Lord, not mine."
He is a total beggar and when sin is brought to him, he does not ruffle or become contentious. His humble heart cries loudly, "Yes, if you only could see the deep recesses of my heart you would know me to be a desperate sinner. I am the one that Christ died for, I am the one that so desperately needs Christ's blood poured upon me." He loves those that help him on his way, he cherishes their kindness in pointing out sin in his life. He blesses them with the self-less Love of Christ.
He wants all glory to be given to God. He no longer desires gain, prestige and honor in this world. He desires only to have God honored through all of his doings. Praises of men matter no more, it is the praise of God to be one day heard at judgment that matters now. "Well done thy good and faithful servant" is what he strives to hear. Servant, servant...he knows himself to be a servant of Christ. He knows he will be treated as Christ. He knows he is to walk humbly as Christ. He knows that Christ had not a place to lay his head, that His delight was totally in the Father. He dims more and more to the things of this life, his heart is weaned more and more from earthly delights. His true happiness in every situation comes from his relationship with God only, not the circumstances.
Are we like this? Do we hunger and thirst after the true righteousness? Or are we like one of the five virgins that only profess godliness? Is our heart sincere? Does it truly delight in the things of God? Or are they seemingly legalistic and too hard for us to even think about. Are we easily put back to sleep in the lusts of our flesh or is godliness our greatest aim. What does being more and more Christ-like mean? What are the lusts of the flesh? What is living a self-less life?
Precious friends, hear us now we truly do beg you...these things are truths that must be taken to heart. We must see that we have been sleeping, that the affections of our heart are cold and hard. That we have made up a god in our own heart that tells us we are fine, when the truth is we are perishing eternally. The quick prayer that we said years ago came from a false understanding of Scripture. It was rooted in self. One does not go after heaven just because he fears hell. This is rooted in the love of self. One goes after Christ because he sees the beauty of Christ and the desperateness of his own heart. The wretchedness that is within us is not to be trusted. It lies to us at every turn.
We have come to a time where the gospel is preached from every corner, multitudes think they are converted, when the truth is that most do not understand the foundations of true Christianity. We have been taught a false gospel that gives us a presumptuous false security of soul. Many are resting when they should be running. Many are resting in a false contentment that will bring eternal destruction. This must not be the case with us. We must shake ourselves awake, we must cry to the mighty King for mercy for our foolishness in trusting in our own hearts, believing in a false holy spirit, false Christ and an untrue god. We have worshipped self from the very beginning, now we must only worship the true God in the way he has told us to worship Him.
Some of the issues that first came up with our family were points of discussion between our families. Head coverings, modest dress, x-mas, tearing down strongholds and taking back ground. What we have come to see, is that we have been measuring things by our own standards, our own weights, instead of God's Holy Word. In other words, these issues are important, but not for the reasons we thought them to be. The heart must be changed first before entering into any true changes for godliness or they become hypocritical and only come from a moral change of character. Many today are mistaking character changes for conversion. This is a very dangerous thing, as it is only the heart that is holy, deep within, that will enter the Kingdom of God.
We must ask ourselves what is in our own heart. What is going on inside of our mind? How do we react at life's situations, trials and difficulties? Does modest dress come from a modest heart or is it only an outward thing and vanity still reside in the bosom? Do we put off x-mas because of the deep love for God and desire not to displease him, or is our wretched heart trying to content itself in obedience of external things so it will be easier to ignore the inward. Is there something on our women's heads because they have such a deep love for God and the place that He has placed them on this earth and that they desire more than anything to submit to Him and His authority over her? Does she yield herself within to the standards of the Word, or does she only "think" herself to be so in comparison to other women today?
Do we run to tear down strongholds and take back ground as a Band-Aid for the deep gash in our heart? Do we recognize this false teaching for what it is, or do we weep and mourn over our sin and sinfulness? Do we desire to be mortified within or do we just play the game of quickly trying to rid ourselves of the embarrassment of sin? Do we want to be rid of the false understandings that have been built in our heart by the false gospel, or do we want to keep those things and parts that we have liked about it? Do we make decisions by the affections of our flesh or do we make them from the truths of God's Word? Saul thought he had followed God and obeyed His voice when Samuel came to correct him. He even told him that he had obeyed, when he had not. He never fully submitted to God, he always did things half way. He wanted his own way and God's together. This has ever been truth, this will never bring us to the gates of heaven.
We are learning that we have walked a very hypocritical walk, that our hearts have not been engaged in a true saving worship of God. We have fought God's providence and loving hand of exercising us in His ways by following the teachings of tearing down strongholds and taking back ground. We have verbally bound the enemy when it was our Precious Lord directing our paths. These things are wicked, not the true gospel and must be truly repented of. We have been ignorant of Scripture and therefore fallen prey to the false doctrines of devils and deceiving spirits. We must turn our feet unto the narrow way and follow only God's pure doctrines that can be clearly seen within the true church.
God is unchangeable. His Word is unchangeable. The interpretation of His Word is unchangeable. What was sin, is still sin. What grieves Him and pleases Him remain the same. We have been deluded, we must stir ourselves up to truth and run the race in the right direction and on the right path. We must look inside of us and see what is there. Is ambition, pride, wanting our own way, desiring honor, gossiping of others, discontentment in anything of this life, any bitterness towards things brought or taken away in any crevice of my heart? Here is my duty, here is my calling to Christ Jesus. Here is where conversion works...I must mortify these things that are not pleasing to Him, I must beg of strength and grace to walk the narrow way.
Here is some commentary information on the book of Job:
The scope is:
1. To set out God's sovereignty and special hand in disposing of the afflictions and trials of his children, in the manner, measure and issue.
2. How comendable a thing patience is, under the sharpest trials.
3. The happy issue that patience under trials will have, as James 5:11, intimating the use that believers would make of affliction (submit to God without fretting); and the end why afflictions are sent (to set folks upright, and draw them to this spiritual temper).
4. More particularly, to vindicate God's grace in Job as a real thing, which Satan calumniates: To show the devil a liar, and justify God, though on a dear experience to Job. God will have the trial of faith of his own found unto praise (I Peter 1:7), himself found faithful, and Satan a calumniator, in all their trials...
Job was a perfect and upright man, not without sin, but as the dispute shows, sincere, no hypocrite, and one that feared God and eschewed evil; one that had real fruits of holiness and piety, grace appearing in his heart and conversation (appearing by these two, inward reverencing of God, and outward watchfulness of all his carriage to eschew evil.)...
II. The great change follows, and the first part of his trial (vs. 6-19). Wherein, 1. The rise of it (vs. 6-12); and 2. The execration of it (vs. 13-19).
1. "Sons of God" (v.6) are angels there, and the devil's coming unto God, is a figurative and borrowed speech, expressing God's dominion over angels, devils, and all creatures, and His commissioning them for His errands, and not as if the words are to be understood literally. For spirits need not use words to communicate their mind. But it is like that speech in I Kings 22:19, when God sends forth a lying spirit in the mouths of Ahab's false prophets; neither can there be going forth from God properly, as it is here expressed, but as superiors have their attendants, that do nothing but by orders from them, so God's sovereignty and dominion is such, that devils and men do nothing but as He gives them commission.
The particulars the story holds out are:
(1.) God's dominion, who sits on His throne of majesty, having angels, good and evil, at His command, and who are liable to His court (as these are amongst men; who in sign thereof do at certain times appear) and particularly devils are taken notice of, because folks are ready to think they have more opportunity and liberty, and can do more than other creatures, as if God's dominion did not so reach them. (v.7) I come, says Satan, from going to and fro, and walking up and down, which shows the restlessness, maliciousness, and roving and vanity of that evil spirit (his punishment and his malice).
(2.) To let us see the Lord's observing and delighting in Job's carriage. Hast thou considered my servant Job? (v.8). The Lord has a complacent love for and delight in His own, and their sincere walking.
(3.) Satan's opposition to this testimony: Does Job fear God for nought? (v.9). Satan can least abide the man that God loves, but calumniates, slanders and curses the man above any. In Satan's answer we have: [1.] His calumniating of Job, alleging he serves God for hire (when he cannot deny his carriage, then he traduces his end, as if he were not sincere, but selfish in his piety.) [2.] His slender probation of it (v. 10). He is but a time-server, serving God so long as he is well done to, and he will do no longer than he is fatted with temporal blessings. [3.] Because the proof is weak, he desires a new trial, and prophesies impudently (v. 11) the apostasy of this sincere believer. And God, not to please the devil, but to prove the reality of His own grace, Satan to be the liar, and himself to be faithful, gives him a commission to touch all he had, for he durst not stir the least feather of a fowl belonging to Him till then; yet the commission is with a limitation (God gives no commission concerning His people, but with limitation, as in this, and the following commission also, though they come far) not to touch his person (v. 12). This is the rise of Job's trial, to clear whether God or the devil lies (to speak with reverence to Him)...
III. The last part of the chapter is Job's carriage. 1. He is not senseless, but rises, rents his mantle, etc. using a form suitable to that time. It agrees with folks in their outward carriage and posture to be suitable to God's dealings with them. 2. His carriage in respect of his words or government of his tongue is good. Naked came I into the world, and naked shall I return, etc. I had neither goods nor children when I came into the world, and I can take none with me, and blest be His name who hath both given and taken, for none of these could make me eternally happy. It is a notable point in heavenly wisdom, a rare practice to use the world as not abusing it (I Cor. 7:30-31). If Job's heart had been in his possessions, as many a man's is, he had said otherwise. The Spirit of God gives approbation to his carriage in this trial, as if he had said, The devil has once gotten the foil. He said he would make Job sin, and he is beguiled. In all this Job sinned not, etc. A right eye on God in any trial, brings submission to God and a good finish.
Observations more explicit:
On the first part observe:
1. It is the greatest commendation of a man, and part of his happiness to be perfect, upright and sincere before God. That perfection will go to the grave with him; other things cannot. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord (Rev. 14:13). Therefore it is set down in the first place; neither Satan nor Sabeans can take this from Job. They may take a man's gear, but they cannot take peace of mind from the sincere man.
2. Where this perfection is, a man will be fruitful, fear God and eschew evil; careful to prevent sin in his own person, family and others, when he wins to get peace with God, through Christ.
3. It is no idle thing to be perfect and sincere, but it will be a daily task, what one's self, what to their family, which it puts together.
On the second part observe:
1. That for as great hatred as the devil has at God's children, he nor none of his instruments can stir a tail of any of their beasts without God's permission.
2. Where there is much grace, God often sends sharpest trials. There was none like Job among the children of the east, and none is so tried. God will not boast of every man's grace, though he carry through the weakest. Let these that have grace be humble; if they have much, they will get as much ado with it.
3. Grace, yea God's approbation of grace will not keep folks from sharpest trials; so live as resolute through many afflictions, to enter into heaven. You think much of quartering and plundering, (this was written during Cromwell's occupation of Scotland) but what would you think to have the devil master of all you have? Mistake not trials. A time of trial is not the worst time, nor is God the less tender, or more rigid.
On the third part, Job's carriage, observe:
1. There is nothing which evidences folk's grace more than a right carriage under affliction. The devil said Job is but a fair-weather man. Now he is found a liar, when in all this Job sinned not.
2. Steadfastness and integrity is best known under a heavy strait and trial. Folk's love to the the world is then known when they are called to part with it.
(From Lectures on the Book of Job by James Durham  reprinted by Naphtali Press and used by permission of the publisher.)
Dear Sweet Friends, please prayerfully consider what we have shared with you, take them to the Lord, take them to Scripture and see if they be so. Do not waste a single minute of this life on things that may be the ruin of your soul eternally. Be on the watch, learn to be careful and trust in His truth and Holiness.
Blessings to you as you strive to enter the strait gate and study to show thyself approved.
We love you in the Lord,
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