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    Getting Started

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  • Hebrews 1:4–6 (EH): One of the first prerequisites for a spiritual workman who is approved of God, is that he must prayerfully and constantly aim at a “rightly dividing” of the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15). Preeminently is this the case when he takes up those passages treating of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Unless we “rightly divide” or definitely distinguish between what is said of Him in His essential Being, and what is predicated of Him in His official character, we are certain to err, and err grievously. By His “essential Being” is meant what He always was and must ever remain as God the Son. By His “official character” reference is made to what may be postulated of Him as Mediator, that is, as God incarnate, the God-man. It is the same blessed person in each case, but looked at in different relationships. (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition in Hebrews, Public Domain) Hebrews 1:4 (ESV): having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. Hebrews 1:4 (NLT): This shows that the Son is far greater than the angels, just as the name God gave him is greater than their names.
    1. But Jesus bowing Himself down: wrote with His finger on the ground. The lovable Jesus, gentle teacher, true master, just judge, and compassionate Saviour, is narrated to be a writer: Who wrote not with ink, but with His finger on the ground. A good writer, Who wrote out mercy for the poor: and granted pardon to the sinner. Nor did He act contrary to the law: when He tempered the severity of the law. For the miserable need mercy: and justly is forgiveness granted to the truly penitent. O how beautiful a writing, and how skilled is this finger of God: when it soothed with words of clemency the sinner steeped in sorrow: and wisely silenced the malicious conspirators, eager for vengeance, unyielding to mercy: and by His words showed them to be worthy of confusion, saying, “He that is without sin among you: let him first cast a stone at her.” This against the accusers: and for the deliverance of the penitent from the mouth of the wolves. And now, good Jesus, what sayest Thou to the woman? Guilty of sin she awaits a good word, pronounce Thy sentence; she submits herself to Thy judgement: give a comforting answer. As Thou hast ever been wont to have compassion: so also now. “Neither will I,” He saith, “condemn thee.” What could be more gentle and more liberal unto the granting of forgiveness? Be consoled, guilty conscience: listen to the word of such loving compassion. If God be for thee, who shall stand against thee? Christ Jesus it is, Who justifies: who is he that shall condemn? And what wilt thou do further; what wilt thou offer in compensation for thy sin? Thou repentest of the crime committed: but a greater care is to be taken against future sins, before thou departest. “Go,”B saith the most gentle Jesus: “and now sin no more.” What could be shorter, and more full unto remission: and to the satisfaction of perfect penance? Who knows hearts: He knew how much sorrow the sinful woman had. Jesus therefore used more abundant clemency, lest she should be overwhelmed by too grievous a sadness: who, having been publicly accused, suffered great shame for her fault. Thomas à Kempis.
      1. James 1:2 Count it all joy. Regard it as a thing to rejoice in; a matter which should afford you happiness. You are not to consider it as a punishment, a curse, or a calamity, but as a fit subject of felicitation. Albert Barnes (Public Domain)
        1. We are in James in Sunday School. That was lesson 1. Dee was facing another Bach surgery and my hip was hurting badly. Timely passage!
        2. Praying.
      2. “That which makes heaven superlatively attractive to the heart of the saint is not that heaven is a place where we shall be delivered from all sorrow and suffering, nor is it that heaven is the place where we shall meet again those we loved in the Lord, nor is it that heaven is the place of golden streets and pearly gates and jasper walls—no, blessed as those things are, heaven without Christ would not be heaven. It is Christ the heart of the believer longs for and pants after—“Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee” (Ps. 73:25). And the most amazing thing is that heaven will not be heaven to Christ in the highest sense until his redeemed are gathered around him. It is his saints that his heart longs for. To come again and “receive us unto himself” is the joyous expectation set before him. Not until he sees of the travail of his soul will he be fully satisfied. These are the thoughts suggested and confirmed by the words of the Lord Jesus to the dying thief. “Lord, remember me” had been his cry. And what was the response? Note it carefully. Had Christ merely said, “Verily I say unto thee, Today thou shalt be in Paradise” that would have set at rest the fears of the thief. Yes, but it did not satisfy the Saviour. That upon which his heart was set was the fact that that very day a soul saved by his precious blood should be with him in Paradise! We say again, this is the climax of grace and the sum of Christian blessing. Said the apostle, “I have a desire to depart, and to be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23). And again, he wrote, “Absent from the body”—free from all pain and care? No. “Absent from the body”—translated to glory? No. “Absent from the body … present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). So, too, with Christ. Said he, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you;” yet, when he adds, “I will come again” he does not say “And conduct you unto the Father’s house,” or “I will take you to the place! have prepared for you,” but” I will come again and receive you unto myself (John 14:2, 3). To be “for ever with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17) is the goal of all our hopes; to have us for ever with himself is that to which he looks forward with eager and gladsome expectation. Thou shalt be with me in Paradise! (Arthur W. Pink, The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross, Public Domain)
          1. Terrible indeed was the condition and action of this robber. On the very brink of eternity he unites with the enemies of Christ in the awful sin of mocking him. This was unparalleled turpitude. Think of it—a man in his dying hour deriding the suffering Saviour! O what a demonstration of human depravity and of the native enmity of the carnal mind against God! And reader, by nature there is the same depravity inhering within you, and unless a miracle of divine grace has been wrought upon you there is the same enmity against God and his Christ present in your heart. You may not think so, you may not feel so, you may not believe so. But that does not alter the fact. The word of him who cannot lie declares, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9). That is a statement of universal application. It describes what every human heart is by natural birth. And again the same scripture of truth declares, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7). This, too, diagnoses the state of every descendant of Adam. “For there is no difference for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:22, 23). Unspeakably solemn is this: yet it needs to be pressed. It is not until our desperate condition is realized that we discover our need of a divine Saviour. It is not until we are brought to see our total corruption and unsoundness that we shall hasten to the great physician. It is not until we find in this dying thief a portrayal of ourselves that we shall join in saying, “Lord, remember me.” (Arthur W Pink, The Seven Sayings of the Savior on the Cross, Public Domain)
            1. “Sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (v. 3). Unspeakably blessed is this. The One who descended into such unfathomable depths of shame, who humbled Himself and became “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” has been highly exalted above all principality and power, and dominion, and every name which is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come. All-important is it, too, to mark carefully the connection between these two wondrous statements: “when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” We cannot rightly think of the God-man as where He now is, without realizing that the very circumstance of His being there, shows, in itself, that “our sins” are put away for ever. The present possession of glory by the Mediator is the conclusive evidence that my sins are put away. What blessed connection is there, then between our peace of soul, and His glory! (Arthur W. Pink, Exposition in Hebrews, Public Domain)
              1. We often miss the fullness of Christ’s economy in our prayers, service and giving.  If we look to the illustration from Ezekiel 47 where the water that emanates from the threshold of the temple and passes by the right of the altar (where Christ is seated) and flows out the eastern gate becoming a river that heals everything it touches, it is not unlike Christ’s feeding of the five thousand.  In this case He takes what we offer and magnifies it for His glory and the furtherance of the Gospel.  I have observed this in action at the many missionary conferences where the many individuals give to the needs of their neighbor until there is none to want.  Somehow the treasure flows around the room in abundance just like the loaves and fishes.  To mix metaphors, how many mustard seeds does it take for a spring to become a river?