“For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

The Holy Ghost never comes into any poor sinner’s soul, except through the medium of the gospel of the grace of God. Have you ever considered that point? You are praying, perhaps, that the Holy Spirit would teach you and be in you a Spirit of revelation, a Remembrancer, a Comforter, Instructor, and Teacher. You pray for His gifts, and graces, and sanctifying operations; but have you ever viewed these graces in connection with the gospel of Jesus Christ? Now, if you want the Holy Spirit to come into your soul, you must keep firm hold of the gospel; you must not run away from it to the law or to self; but keep a firm, fast hold of it, so far as you have felt its power, and have a living faith in it. If, then, you are tried, still hold the gospel. If Satan gets you into his sieve, still hold the gospel; if in the furnace of affliction, still hold the gospel; if called on to wade through floods of sorrow, still hold fast the gospel. Let not Satan, if ever you have felt the power and the preciousness of the gospel, baffle you out of it and drive you from it; but hold to the gospel, for it is your life. Indeed, where else will you find anything to suit your case if you are a poor, tempted, tried sinner? Will you go to the law, which can only curse and condemn you? Will you go to yourself? What is self? A heap of ruins. Where, then, will you go? After all, you must come to the gospel if your soul is to be saved and blessed and if you are to experience the consolations of the Holy Ghost, who alone can bless and comfort you. I want, with God’s blessing, to impress this vital truth upon your conscience, that you may not be looking away from the gospel, and as one old writer says, “squint and peep another way,” but that you may keep your eyes firmly fixed on the gospel; for if you believe it, it can and will save your soul. Does not the Apostle say it is “the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth,” so that there is neither power nor salvation in anything else? Never, therefore, expect power, salvation or comfort, but in, and by, and through the Holy Ghost preaching the gospel into your heart.

J.C. Philpot

from the bulletin of the Thirteenth Street Baptist Church in Ashland KY

I suppose the most difficult thing any believer has to learn is that “Without Him we can do nothing.” This is our creed but not our experience! We will never be effectually used for God’s true glory until it becomes our experience. God will never use men that are proud enough to think themselves necessary or capable. He will throw away the vessel which begins to boast in itself or allows others to boast in it. Whatever is our strength in the flesh is sure to become our weakness in the spirit — whether it be our intelligence, our morality, our length of service, our doctrine, our courage or whatever. Gideon feared the Midianites because of the small number of his soldiers, but the Lord said, ‘Your soldiers are yet too many for me.’ I wonder if we will ever become weak enough, empty enough, and ignorant enough for God to use us for His glory! The logic of the Lord is strange to the natural mind. ‘For when I am weak, then am I strong’ (2 Corinthians 12:10). ‘Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ my rest upon me’ (2 Corinthians 12:9). The Lord must go back to the seashore and raise up some fishermen — we’ve all become masters and doctors, wise men in theology and great counselors. I disqualify myself for God’s use when I become qualified. My fine talents and lofty credentials become hindrances rather than helps. I thought to prepare myself for great things, only to learn that it was the rough voice in the wilderness He planned to use, not the polished preacher; it was the weak, impulsive shepherd with the sling He planned to use, not the mighty warrior with his armor of wit and arsenal of facts, doctrines, and learning. It may not be too late for some, but most are too proud to become expendable. If we don’t pour contempt on ourselves — God will!

Henry Mahan

printed in the bulletin of the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, NJ

A Blessed Nation

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom He hath chosen for His own inheritance” (Psalm 33:12). This “blessed nation” is not an earthly one; it is not our country. Certainly, God has been merciful to the United States for many years, yet in spite of such undeserved kindness, His Name is blasphemed, His Word is ignored, His Gospel is trampled underfoot and His sovereign authority is denied. While every nation is destined for a fall at some point, thankfully there is a remnant out of every nation according to the election of grace, and that nation shall last forever. It is this spiritual nation that is forever blessed. In eternal election she was blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ before the world was made. She is a nation comprised of a multitude from every period of time and from every earthly nation. She is a purchased nation, bought with the blood of Christ. The Lord says of her, “I will dwell in them and walk in them; I will be their God and they shall be my people” (2 Cor. 6:16). This chosen nation is blessed with everlasting salvation which is in Christ. The Lord Himself is their Portion and exceeding great Reward and she will never lack for any good thing. Every citizen will be regenerated and brought by effectual grace to believe and rejoice in Christ and His accomplished work of reconciliation. Because the Lord is their Shepherd, this nation need not fear any evil. The name of every occupant of this special nation is graven upon the Savior’s hands, each one is carried on His shoulders and not only can they never be condemned, but they can never be separated from the love of Him who chose them to be His special people. This nation may rest assured that the Lord of glory is perpetually engaged to work all things together for their good and bring them at last into His presence where they will be with Him to worship and enjoy Him forever.
Pastor Jim Byrd
from the bulletin of the Thirteenth Street Baptist Church in Ashland KY

I must confess that, at least for the present moment, I feel that if Christ is unable or unwilling to save to the uttermost the most wretched and sinful of humanity, then I am lost and without hope. At all times I am aware of the doctrine of my sin, but at some times the truth of it bears upon me with such force that I go down to the depths as did Jonah and cry out, “Salvation is of the Lord,” for if it is not, I am surely without any hope of salvation from any other quarter.

Youth and its strength are past. In days gone by I had always hoped that there would be some proof of grace, some evidence of the work of God in me in the form of sins conquered and godliness achieved. But at 61 years old I must confess that not one sin has been overcome, and all the evil that ever raged in me rages still. I am as helpless against my inborn nature as ever.

A life of pursuing “the ministry” has not provided for me a place of soul rest but, in this matter of my eternal soul, it is nothing more than “a bed too short to stretch out on and a blanket to narrow to wrap up in.” That I am called a minister of the gospel does not bring me comfort about my heart’s condition, but serves only to accent the wickedness of my nature and add strength to my sense of righteous condemnation.

O, blessed Jesus, come fulfill your name in me! for it is written, “You shall call His name ‘Jesus’ for He shall save His people from their sins.” Mark me as among Your people and save me for Your name’s sake!

What a precious name I have to lean upon and in which to find a refuge for my guilty soul. Yes, in Him there is righteousness greater than my wickedness, saving determination in excess of my stubbornness, grace abounding over my abundant sin.

O, Sin, defeat me you will, and often. But never shall you defeat my Savior! O, Satan, you Accuser of the Brethren, pile your accusations as high as you can, I will own them all, yet I will see that it is you and not me who is cast out, for you have been overcome by the blood of the Lamb!

What worthlessness in me; what worthiness in Him! What weakness in me; what power in Him! What failure in me; what success in Him. I am poor and needy, but He is rich and generous. Blessed be the name of Jesus both now and evermore!

Joe Terrell

from the bulletin of the First Baptist Church in Almont, MI

Good News!!!

The ‘good news’ of the gospel is that there is a substitute who has stood in the place of every repentant sinner and bore the wrath of God in his place. He did this for all whom the Father had given Him from all eternity. It is for them that He prays in John 17. They are ‘His sheep’, the Father gave them to Him, and He died for them (John 10:15, 29).

Substitution is at the very heart of the gospel. Christ did not simply give His life to make salvation possible for those who contribute their part to what He has done by repenting and trusting Christ. He it is that gives repentance and faith (2 Timothy 2:25; Ephesians 2:8).

Christ did not say to the religious Jews of His day that they were not of His ‘sheep’ because they did not believe; rather, He says, ‘You do not believe because you are not of my sheep.’ If they had been His sheep they would have believed. The ‘good news’ is that all whom the Father has given to the Son, and for whom He died will believe and manifest true repentance and faith. This they will do willingly and with gratitude in their hearts. It is God’s work. He cannot fail.

Bill Clark

From the bulletin of the First Baptist Church in Almont MI

The Right Way

“And He led them forth by the right way,
that they might go to a city of habitation.” (Psalm 107:7)

My soul, what are thy daily exercises concerning the way the Lord thy God is leading thee through a wilderness dispensation? Art thou convinced that it is the right way? What if it be a thorny way, a tempted way, frequently a dark way; yet art thou satisfied that it is the right way, because it is thorny, tempted, dark, and with numberless other exercises? This is the plan to judge by. And though, my soul, I trust thou hast grace enough given thee to see and know, in thy cool hours of thought, that whatever thy God appoints must be right, and His holy will must be done; yet there is an exercise of grace which goes much beyond these views of the subject, and which a believer is enabled to bring into practice, when he not only submits to a painful dispensation, but rejoiceth in it, because it is the right way. When he saith, I am afflicted; but afflictions are useful. I am in dark and trying circumstances; but these also are useful. I am buffeted by Satan; but this also I find to be right, because Christ is the more endeared thereby, and His strength is perfected in my weakness. My God is bringing me by a right way, to a city of habitation. Of this I am sure. And every step leading to the final attainment, is already marked by infinite wisdom, and provided for by infinite love; and Jesus Himself is with me through all the pilgrimage. Hence then, I conclude, that if at any time I am at a loss to see my way, to find comfort in my way, or if I am obstructed in my way, still it is the right way, because Jesus Himself is the Way, and His unerring wisdom is in the appointment. Oh for grace in lively exercise to be as satisfied now of all the dispensations concerning the church and people, as when of old, in the wilderness! The Lord is leading forth by a right way, to bring to a city of habitation, whose Builder and Maker is God.

Robert Hawker

Printed in the Bulletin of the First Baptist Church in Almont MI

Dear friend,

Wickedness prevails and increases in our city to a dreadful degree! Our streets are filled with the sons of Belial, who neither fear God, nor regard man. I wish my heart was more affected with what my eyes see and my ears hear every day! I am often ready to fear lest the Lord should show His displeasure in some dreadful way!

And surely, if He were strict to mark all that is amiss—I myself would tremble! Oh, were He to plead against me—I could not answer Him one word! Alas! my dear friend, you know not what a poor, unprofitable, unfaithful creature I am! If you knew the evils which I feel within, and the snares and difficulties which beset me from without—you would pity me indeed!

So much forgiven—yet so little love to Jesus.
So many mercies—yet so few returns.
Such great privileges—yet a life so sadly below them.

Indwelling sin presses me downwards; when I would do good, evil is present with me! I can attempt nothing—but it is debased, polluted and spoiled by my depraved nature! My sins of omission are innumerable. In a word, there is . . .

much darkness in my understanding,
much perverseness in my will,
much disorder in my affections,
much folly and madness in my imagination!
In short, I am a riddle to myself—a heap of inconsistency!

Alas! when shall it be otherwise? I have a desire of walking with God—but I cannot attain unto it. Surely it is far better to depart, and to be with Jesus Christ—than to live here up to the ears in sin and temptation!

But, “We have an Advocate with the Father.” Here my hope revives! Though wretched in myself—I am complete in Him! He is my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption. On this “Rock” I build—for time and eternity!

Letters of John Newton

Printed in the bulletin of the First Baptist Church in Almont MI