One Ring to Rule Them All

One Ring to Rule Them All

I realize it’s a pink teddy bear ring with smiley faces all over it. But be careful. Don’t put it on. Unless, of course, you want the Ringwraiths to find you.

That He Might Bring You to God

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834 – 1892

In the French Revolution, there was a young man condemned to the guillotine, and shut up in one of the prisons. He was greatly loved by many, but there was one who loved him more than all put together. How do we know this? It was his own father; and the love he bore his son was proved in this way: when the lists were called, the father, whose name was exactly the same as his son’s, answered the name, and the father rode in the gloom wagon out to the place of execution, and his head rolled beneath the axe instead of his son’s, a victim to mighty love.

See here an image of the love of Christ to sinners; for thus Jesus died for the ungodly, viewed as such. If they had not been ungodly, neither they nor He had needed to have died; if they had not sinned, there would have been no need for a suffering Savior, but Jesus proved His boundless love in “that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Your name was in the condemned list, my fellow sinner, but, if you believe in Jesus, you shall find that your name is there no longer, for Christ’s name is put in your place, and you shall learn that He suffered for you, the Just for the unjust, THAT HE MIGHT BRING YOU TO GOD. Is not this the greatest wonder of divine love that it should be set upon us as sinners? I can understand God’s loving reformed sinners and repenting sinners; but here is the glory of it, “God commends His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners [YET SINNERS!] Christ died for us.”

O my hearers, from my inmost heart I pray that this boundless wealth of love on the part of Jesus to those who were rebels and enemies, may win your hearts to love the heavenly lover in return!

Charles Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Sermon #745 – “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”

The sermon is available here:

A Sacrifice for the Sin of His People

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, 1834 – 1892

Behold, in Bethlehem’s manger Emmanuel is born, God is with us. Before your eyes He lies who was both the Son of Mary, and the Son of the Blessed, an infant, and yet infinite, of a span long, and yet filling all eternity, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and yet too great for space to hold Him. Thirty and more years He lived on earth: the latter part of His life was spent in a ministry full of suffering to Himself, but filled with good to others. “We beheld His glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Never man spoke like that man; He was a man on fire with love; a man without human imperfections, but with all human sympathies; a man without the sins of manhood, but with something more than the sorrows of common manhood piled upon Him. There was never such a man as He, so great, so glorious in His life, and yet He is the pattern and type of manhood. He reached His greatest when He stooped to the lowest. He was seized by His enemies one night when wrestling in prayer, betrayed by the man who had eaten bread with Him; He was dragged before tribunal after tribunal, through that long and sorrowful night, and wrongfully accused of blasphemy and sedition. They scourged Him; though none of His works deserved a blow, yet the plowers made deep furrows on His back. They mocked Him; though He merited the homage of all intelligent beings, yet they spat in His face, and struck Him with their mailed fists, and said, “Prophesy, who is he that struck You?”

He was made lower than a slave; even the abject opened their mouths with laughter at Him, and the slaves scoffed at Him. To end the scene, they took Him through the streets of Jerusalem over which He had wept; they hounded Him along the Via Dolorosa, out through the gate, to the mount of doom I think I see Him, with eyes all red with weeping He turns to the matrons of Salem, and cries, “Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for Me, but for yourselves, and for your children.” Can you see Him bearing that heavy cross, ready to faint beneath the burden? Can you endure to see Him, when, having reached the little mound outside the city, they hurl Him on His back, and drive the cruel iron through His hands and feet? Can you bear to see the spectacle of blood and anguish as they lift Him up between heaven and earth, made a sacrifice for the sin of His people? My words shall be few, for the vision is too sad for language to depict. He bleeds, He thirsts, He groans, He cries – at last He dies – a death whose unknown griefs are not to be imagined, and were they known would be beyond expression by human tongue.

Charles Spurgeon, Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Sermon #745 – “The Unsearchable Riches of Christ”

The sermon is available here:

Blessed are the Undefiled in the Way

Thomas Manton
Thomas Manton, 1620 – 1677

Reading Psalm 119 is a great enjoyment to me. I am endeavoring to memorize it. (Progress is much slower than I would like.) The Psalm consists of 176 verses divided into 22 stanzas. Many days I read through the entire Psalm by reciting a stanza every 30 minutes through the day. I start at 9 AM and finish at 7:30 PM. For me, it’s a good way to meditate on the Word of God – especially since this Psalm is specifically about the Word of God!

I also like to read commentaries and devotional writings centered on Psalm 119. I am meditatively making my way through W. S. Plumer’s commentary on the Psalm. I am halfway through the thoughtful slender volume, Psalm 119 for Life by Hywel R. Jones. Plus I have an everlasting warm spot in my heart for Charles Bridges’ Exposition of Psalm 119, as I wrote about here: Marked with the Stamp of Divine Purpose.

Now imagine my delight when I discovered (thanks to Hywel Jones) that Thomas Manton preached 190 sermons on Psalm 119 and they are available online for FREE! Sign me up!

I read the first sermon on Psalm 119:1 this afternoon. “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord.” The following paragraph struck me, created a thirst in me, and motivated me to pray.

Take the law of God for your rule. Study the mind of God, and know the way to heaven, and keep exactly in it. It is an argument of sincerity when a man is careful to practice all that he knows, and to be inquisitive to know more, even the whole will of God, and when the heart is held under awe of God’s word. If a commandment stand in the way, it is more to a gracious heart than if a thousand bears and lions were in the way – more than if an angel stood in the way with a flaming sword: Proverbs 13:13, ‘He that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.’ Would you have blessing from God? – fear the commandment. It is not he that fears wrath, punishment, inconveniences, troubles of the world, molestations of the flesh; no, but he that dares not make bold with a commandment… Thus a child of God doth reason when the devil comes and sets a temptation before him, and being zealous for God, dares not comply with the lusts and humors of men, though they should promise him peace, happiness, and plenty. A wicked man makes no bones of a commandment; but a godly man, when he is in a right posture of spirit, and the awe of God is upon him, dare not knowingly and wittingly go aside and depart from God.

Thomas Manton, Sermons on Psalm 119, Sermon 1

One clarification from Manton: “This is called a way [‘Blessed are the undefiled in the way’], and this way is said to be God’s law, and in this way we must be undefiled; which implies not absolute purity and legal perfection, but gospel sincerity.”

“Lord, by Your Holy Spirit, create in me such sincerity that I might walk with you.”

The Backstory on A Prayer of the Foolish


Yesterday I published the short blog post, A Prayer of the Foolish. Today I will share a little about the thought that went into that post. These are some of the practices I follow when thinking over a portion of Scripture, especially if I have a thought of writing something related to Scripture.
In real life, these practices are not done as neatly and orderly as described below. In this recent case, Proverbs 9:6 is the verse that got my attention. I spent two days thinking, praying, and consulting various references. What follows is a bit of the details of that.

Comparing Bible Versions

One of the first things I do when a Bible verse intrigues me is compare the verse in a number of different Bible versions. I primarily read the King James Version. It’s what I “cut my teeth on” when I first started reading the Bible way back in 1980. (It’s the English that Jesus and His Apostles spoke, right?) I like to compare the KJV with several other Bibles that I have on hand.

So here is Proverbs 9:6 in nine different versions:

  • KJV – Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.
  • Living Bible – Leave behind your foolishness and begin to live; learn how to be wise.
  • Amplified Bible – Leave off, simple ones – forsake the foolish and simple-minded – and live! And walk in the way of insight and understanding.
  • New American Standard Bible – Forsake your folly and live, and proceed in the way of understanding.
  • New International Version – Leave your simple ways and you will live; walk in the way of understanding.
  • New King James Version – Forsake foolishness and live, and go in the way of understanding.
  • American Standard Version – Leave off, ye simple ones, and live; and walk in the way of understanding.
  • New Revised Standard Version – Lay aside immaturity, and live, and walk in the way of insight.
  • New American Bible, Revised Edition – Forsake foolishness that you may live; advance in the way of understanding.

You can see there is a bit of difference regarding the first half of the verse. The majority in that list tell us to forsake our own foolish ways. A few warn us to forsake foolish people. And one directs its admonition to “ye simple ones.”

I came to the conclusion that all three takes on the phrase are necessary and lead us to the same thing: we are simple ones, foolish in our own ways, AND we need to stay away from other foolish people – not following in their ways, but going in the paths of God’s wisdom.

Consulting Bible Commentaries

After comparing different Bible versions, I next consulted several commentaries on Proverbs that I have. Only one gave me something significant. That was Charles Bridges’ commentary. Bridges almost always provides a feast to digest that usually leaves me searching my heart. Here is what Bridges wrote regarding Proverbs 9:5, 6 (“Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled. Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding.”):

Come, eat of the bread of life; drink of the wine of gospel grace and joy.
Is there not besides a special invitation for her [Wisdom] children – a table richly furnished for their refreshment; where they eat of the bread, and drink of the wine, such as “the world know not of?” (Matthew 26:26 – 28)

But are not all comers welcome to the Gospel feast? The Master’s heart flows along with every offer of His grace. His servants are ministers of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:18 – 20) Their message is to tell of the bounty of Messiah’s house, and to bid sinners welcome to Him. Here, sinner, is thy warrant – not thy worthiness, but thy need, and the invitation of thy Lord. All the blessings of His Gospel are set before thee – love without beginning, end, or change. Honour the freeness of His mercy. Let Him have the full glory of His own grace, who invites thee to a feast, when He might have frowned thee to hell.
Let His heavenly hope be enthroned in the soul, displacing every subordinate object from its hold on thine affections, eclipsing the glories of this present world, absorbing thy whole mind, consecrating thy whole heart.

Here only are the ways of peace. The very severities of the Gospel prepare the way for its consolations. But never can these blessings be valued, till the path of the foolish be forsaken. Thou must forsake either them or Christ. (James 4:4) To abide with them, is to “remain in the congregation of the dead.” (Proverbs 21:16) To forsake them, is the way of life and understanding. (Proverbs 13:20; Psalm 26:3 – 6; 34:12 – 14; 119:115; Amos 5:15)
Are they more to you than salvation? To “be the friend of the world is to be the enemy of God.” “Come out, and be separate, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive thee, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:17, 18)

– Charles Bridges, Proverbs, Geneva Series of Commentaries, pages 85, 86.

See what I mean? Take some time to digest that!

Evangelical Application

There is a footnote for Proverbs 9:6 in the New American Bible. It says the following:

That you may live: life in Proverbs is this-worldly, consisting in fearing God or doing one’s duty toward God, enjoying health and long life, possessing wealth, good reputation, and a family. Such a life cannot be attained without God’s help. Hence Wisdom speaks not of life simply but of life with her; the guest is to live in Wisdom’s house.

I appreciate that perspective. Yes, certainly, the book of Proverbs is FULL of guidance for our “this-worldly” life. Absolutely! Go apply its directions on honesty, hard work, diligence, ethical business dealings, respect of others’ property, charity to the poor, respect for authority, and more – and you will see improvements to your experience of the here and now. We all need that!

But as I contemplated the “this-worldly” application of Proverbs 9:6, I remembered 1 Timothy 4:7, 8 – “But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” It made me think that there is an evangelical application to this beginning passage of Proverbs 9, which Charles Bridges certainly elucidated. There is a turning from something unprofitable and a turning to life. That is repentance. That is the call of the Kingdom of God. It was the message of Jesus Himself: “From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

One of my favorite writers, whose books abound with evangelical beauty, is John Owen. In his book on Communion with God, Owen touched on Proverbs 9:1 – 6 as an example of God’s gracious Gospel invitation. He said the following:

The Lord Christ, the eternal Wisdom of the Father, and who of God is made unto us wisdom, erects a spiritual house, wherein He makes provision for the entertainment of those guests whom He so freely invites. His church is the house which He hath built on a perfect number of pillars, that it might have a stable foundation: His slain beasts and mingled wine, wherewith His table is furnished, are those spiritual fat things of the gospel, which He hath prepared for those that come in upon His invitation. Surely, to eat of this bread, and drink of this wine, which He hath so graciously prepared, is to hold fellowship with Him.

– John Owen, Works, Vol. 2, page 46.

The Prayer

Charles Bridges referred to James 4:4. I went back to James 4 and read several verses.

  • 4. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
  • 5. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
  • 6. But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
  • 7. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
  • 8. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
  • 9. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
  • 10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

And there was the key I needed: “He giveth more grace. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord.” I want to forsake the foolish. But I AM foolish. Too often I am a friend of the world. Spiritual adultery! Is there no way out from under this mountain of corruption in my own heart? “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7 – the very next verse)

Please see: A Prayer of the Foolish.

Thank you for reading.