No One takes it to Heart

by Frank Jones

The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; and devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil ...  (Isaiah 57:1)

"Evil has become so rampant in the society and its end is so near that God in his mercy is removing the righteous from it. Thus the disappearance of the righteous from the society should be a signal to everyone that the critical stage has arrived and that the moment for drastic corrective action is at hand." (Oswalt, John. The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 40-66, NICOT, 470.)

Warning on Pride

by Frank Jones

“Martin of Braga: Although, in general, this inflation of pride attacks many people, there are none who have to fear it more than those who have reached the perfection of virtues of the spirit or copious riches and highest offices in the flesh. It becomes all the greater in their cases, because the one who shows pride is greater. It is not content to destroy lowly and common people, but it is also present in the wiles of the greatest. The higher their rank, the deeper their fall. Hence Scripture also has this to say about the same spirit of pride: “And his food,” it says, “is rich.” It attacks people who are select and lofty. It suggests to them that they are great, that they need nothing, that whatever they do, think or say is all due to their wisdom and their prudence. If something turns out well for them under God’s direction, they straightaway claim that it was due to their own strength and their own industry, and they shout, “I did this,” “I said it,” “I thought it,” and as if everyone were stunned, they seize the glory of God and offer themselves to be admired in his likeness. [emphasis, mine] By a righteous sentence, God withdraws his protection from them, as the apostle says, “He has given them up to a reprobate sense, so that they do not do or think what is fitting,” because, when they recognize the providence of God in all matters, they do not magnify God or offer thanks, but they boast of themselves and turn aside in their own idle thoughts. Though they claim to be wise, they are foolish; though they boast that they are firm, unconquered, powerful, they are weak, conquered and powerless. On Pride 8.

(Ferreiro, Alberto, ed. The Twelve Prophets. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003, 189.)

Christ's Shame is Part of His Obedience

by Frank Jones

I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting. For the Lord God helps Me, therefore, I am not disgraced; therefore, I have set My face like flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed. (Isaiah 50:6-7)

"At first glance it seems strange that at least part of the Servant’s obedience is to submit to humiliation and abuse. But on further reflection, if his ministry is prophetic, that result is not so strange. To be a prophet in Israel was synonymous with humiliation and abuse.35 Unlike the institutional prophets, who were at the center of social power, the true prophets stood at the periphery.36 There, instead of making it easy for persons to manipulate God, they confronted godless behavior with a call for change. That kind of message was never well received. As Calvin said, whoever faithfully administers the Word will be exposed to a contest with the world. But it is part of this Servant’s obedience that he gave his back to those who struck him, and his cheeks to those who plucked out his beard; he did not hide his face from shame and spit. These things are not merely a secondary result of obediently declaring God’s Word; it is part of the Servant’s obedience to give himself to these things (cf. John 10:17–18). If we did not have the fourth Servant passage, we would be left wondering why obedience to God should require such giving. At the same time, if we did not have that passage, we would still have here an inkling that obedient suffering was somehow an integral part of this prophet’s calling, as it was not that of any other.

Westermann says that in the ancient Near Eastern culture if someone submitted meekly to public humiliation he was admitting, at least tacitly, that he had done something to deserve the abuse. But this person, after meekly submitting, then turns around and declares that, in fact, he had not done one thing wrong. Whether this interpretation is correct or not, the presence of the waw conjunction on the first word of v. 7 makes plain that there is a sequential connection between the verses. The repetition of shame in the two verses further confirms the connection. As some writers have maintained, the waw may have a disjunctive force: I submitted, but God will declare me innocent.37 At any rate, the Servant makes plain that since the difficulties that befell him are the result not of disobedience but of obedience, he can be confident of God’s help. Being confident of that help, he knows that he will not be disgraced in the end. This is the particular Hebrew use of “shame” in the sense of being shown to have taken a foolish course of action. Yes, the Servant may have been set up for public ridicule, but in the end it will be amply proved that his decision to trust God, be obedient to him, and leave the outcome in his hands was the right decision. He will not be shamed by that choice. Because the Servant knows he had made the right choice, he can march firmly forward into the humiliation and abuse, with a face like flint.38 Others may say he is a fool; he knows that the final outcome will prove him right. Here he would be following the course that other prophets had taken (cf. Jer. 1:15; Ezek. 3:9)." Oswalt, John N. The Book of Isaiah, Chapters 40–66. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1998, 325-326.

Opposites Yet Part of the Body

by Frank Jones

The diversity of giftedness and service to the body of Christ is no more evident than this possible contrast between George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was commonly known to have spent upwards of 13 hours a day in his study. There could be no more opposite than perhaps Whitfield who spent upwards of 40 hours a week preaching! Neither is greater than the other. Both served their generations well.

A Name that You Live but You are Dead

by Frank Jones

“The first charge of general defilement he brings against the church in Sardis was that they had a vast deal of open profession, and but little of sincere religion. I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. That is the crying sin of the present age. … In going up and down this land, I am obliged to come to this conclusion, that throughout the churches there are multitudes who have a name to live and are dead. Religion has become fashionable. … It is reckoned to be reputable and honorable to attend a place of worship, and hence men are made religious in shoals. … You can scarcely meet with a man who does not call himself a Christian, and yet it is equally hard to meet with one who is in the very marrow of his bones thoroughly sanctified to the good work of the kingdom of heaven. We meet with professors by hundreds; but we must expect still to meet with possessors by units. The whole nation appears to have been Christianized in an hour. But is this real? Is this sincere? Ah! we fear not. How is it that professors can live like other men? How is it that there is so little distinction between the church and the world? Or, that if there is any difference, you are frequently safer in dealing with an ungodly man than with one who is professedly righteous? How is it that men who make high professions can live in worldly conformity, indulge in the same pleasures, live in the same style, act from the same motives, deal in the same manner as other people do? Are not these days when the sons of God have made affinity with the sons of men? And may we not fear that something terrible may yet occur unless God shall send a voice, which shall say, Come out of them, my people, lest ye be partakers of their plagues? Take our churches at large — there is no lack of names, but there is a lack of life. Else, how is it that our prayer-meetings are so badly attended? Where is the zeal or the energy shown by the apostles? Where is the Spirit of the living God? Is he not departed? Might not Ichabod be written on the walls of many a sanctuary? They have a name to live, but are dead. They have their societies, their organisms; but where is the life of godliness? Where is inward piety? Where is sincere religion? Where is practical godliness? Where is firm, decisive, puritanical piety? Thank God, there are a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments, but charity itself will not allow us to say that the church generally possesses the Spirit of God. … Then the next charge was, that there was a want of zeal throughout the church of Sardis. He says, Be watchful. He looked on the church and saw the bishops slumbering, the elders slumbering, and the people slumbering; they were not, as once they were, watchful for the faith, striving together and earnestly contending for it, not wrestling against the enemy of souls, laboring to spread their Master’s kingdom, but the apostle saw sleepiness, coldness, lethargy; therefore he said, Be watchful. Oh! John, if from thy grave thou couldst start up, and see the church as thou didst at Sardis, having thine eyes anointed by the Spirit, thou wouldst say it is even so now. Ah! we have abundance of cold, calculating Christians, multitudes of professors, but where are the zealous ones? where are the leaders of the children of God? where are your heroes who stand in the day of battle? where are your men who count not their lives dear unto them, that they might win Christ, and be found in him? where are those who have an impassioned love for souls? How many of our pulpits are filled by earnest, enthusiastic preachers? Alas! look, at the church. She has builded herself fine palaces, imitating popery, she hath girded herself with vestments; she has gone astray from her simplicity; but she has lost the fire and the life which she once had. We go into our chapels now, and we see everything in good taste: we hear the organ play; the psalmody is in keeping with the most correct ear, the gown and the noble vestments are there, and everything is grand and goodly, and we think that God is honored. … What is the use of garnishing the shell when you have lust the kernel. Go and whitewash the outside of your father’s tomb, but know it is a tomb of whitewash, for the life is gone. Garnish the outside of your cups and platters; but ye have lost the pure word of God. Ye have it not now preached to you in simple, earnest, pleading tones; but men enter the ministry for a piece of bread; they flinch to speak the whole truth, or if they seem to speak it, it is with cold meaningless passionless words, as if it were nothing whether souls were damned or saved, whether heaven were filled or heaven depopulated, or whether Christ should see of the travail of his soul and be satisfied. Do I speak fierce things? I can say as Irving once did, I might deserve to be broken on the wheel if I did not believe what I say to be the truth, for the utterance of such things I might deserve the stake; but God is my witness, I have endeavored to judge and to speak impartially, With all that universal cant of charity now so prevalent I am at arm’s length, I care not for it. Let us speak of things as we find them. We do believe that the church has lost her zeal and her energy. But what do men say of us? “Oh! you are too excited.” Good God! excited! when men are being damned; Excited! When we have the mission of heaven to preach to dying souls. Excited! preaching too much! when souls are lost. Why should it come to pass that one man should be perpetually laboring all the week, while others are lolling upon their couches, and preach only upon the Sabbath-day? Can I bear to see the laziness, the slothfulness, the indifference of ministers, and of churches without speaking. No! there must be a protest entered, and we enter it now. Oh, Church of God, thou hast a name to live, and art dead; thou art not watchful. Awake! awake! arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Spurgeon, A Solemn Warning for All Churches, February 24, 1856).

Things to Remember in Studying Your Bible

by Frank Jones

These few items are from a outreach Bible study on "How to Read Your English Bible".

  1. Read and study to hear the text not reading into the text. This readily becomes the barometer of your treasuring and pursuing of Christ. A Spirit-filled believer is a Word-filled believer (Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:16).
  2. Verify word meanings. As you gain an increased treasury of biblical definition, the spadework becomes more fluid. Root out weeds of personal thought that are contrary to God’s mind. Over time you will begin to think God’s thoughts after Him. Look up Old Testament quotations for additional study and insight.
  3. Connect phrases and context. Make enough notations in your Bible in order that your study can be “re-lived” and remembered at any moment. Preaching, teaching, and confession are nothing more than “re-lived” study illumination.
  4. Ask questions to further break open the ore out of God’s mine (Who? What? Where? How? Why? When?). Especially look for words that indicate the reason for a statement (because; for).
  5. Meditate on that section throughout the day to gleam the nourishment of its milk and meat. Make applications to yourself and other areas of responsibility that are consistent with the context.
  6. Further augment your study by good sound commentaries. In general, an off-based interpretation is probably off-based!

Learn to love your Bible. Love it for Christ’s sake, not for argumentative reasons. Love it in order to be transformed. Love it because the Living Word and the Written Word are one!

Old Methods, Renewed Power

by Frank Jones

"The question was, how were the masses, respectable or disreputable, to be brought under the influence of the gospel. With regard to many of the recent answers to that question he had little sympathy and less faith. Evangelistic enterprise was just now in a mad mood and drunken with the wine of a rank sensationalism. It could not, however, last long. In his judgment, no new methods were needed, but new power resting on those they had: the sanctuary for those who would attend, with a consecrated man of God in the pulpit, who, out of a full heart, preached a full-orbed gospel, with trembling tenderness and unflinching faithfulness. Then, in addition, the hall, theatre, and mission room for those whose early prejudices kept them from the sanctuary. And then, beyond all, the house to house visitor. If they were to reached it must be by  going to them. As the result of his practical experience he advocated the multiplication of consecrated, soul-loving, trained missionaries. Of missions they had almost enough, of true missionaries not half enough. 'London for Christ' was a magnificent war-shout but ere it ever approxiimated a song of triumph, a fearful battle must be fought not only in noble churches, chaste chapels, and spacious tabernacles, but in miserable, little filthy dens, amid nakedness, vermin and vice. To lay hold of the masses they must grapple with their separate families, and grip them one by one. [1]" (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 117)

[1] Of this necessity Brown said on another occasion" 'We do not reckon calling at doors anything; that is generally done by tract distributors all over London. We insist by hook or by crook in getting inside the house, and as far as possible leave no room unvisited. Door-to-door work only skims the surface. Our work must be room-to-room. Otherwise a large mass of misery and suffering would neever be brought to light.'

Funeral Sermon Cover for Annie Brown (Tuesday, May 5, 1874)

by Frank Jones

Here is the poem on that funeral cover.

My rest is in heaven, my rest is not here,
Then why should I tremble when trials are near?
Be hush’d my dark spirit, the worst that can come
But shortens thy journey, and hastens thee home.

It is not for me to be seeking my bliss,
Or building my hopes in a region like this;
I look for a city that hands have not piled,
I pant for a country by sin undefiled.

Afflictions may press me, they cannot destroy,
One glimpse of His love turns them all into joy;
And the bitterest tears, if He smile but on them,
Like dew in the sunshine, grow diamond and gem.

Let doubt, then, and danger my progress oppose:
They only make heaven more sweet at the close:
Come joy or come sorrow, whate’er may befall,
An hour with my God will make up for them all.

A scrip on my back, and a staff in my hand,
I march on in haste through an enemy’s land;
The road may be rough, but it cannot be long,
And I’ll smooth it with hope, and cheer it with song.
— (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 90)

Death of Annie Brown (May 5, 1874)

by Frank Jones

"As many of you know, for the last three years and a half [Annie] suffered with intermittent agony, which came on more constantly as time progressed, until at last there came three months of anguish almost without a pause. If ever one went a rough road to glory; if ever one passed through a burning furnace into heaven, she did. She had fellowship with the Master in one respect -- she knew what tears and groans and piteous cries meant. But now she is at rest. As I marked the anguish that she suffered, I often felt, 'Lord, though it will make an unutterable blank, and though it means the breaking up of the happiest home that mortal man ever had, yet I could thank three if thou wouldst take her into thine arms, and ease her of her frightful agonies.' She fell asleep in Jesus, as you know, at half-past four on Tuesday morning, the 5th of May. Well do I remember her last words to me as, coming to consciousness at half-past ten on Monday night-after you had been praying for her-and taking me by the hand, she said, 'Well, Archie, we have had a happy life, haven't we?' I said, 'Yes, darling, that we have!' 'Ah!' she said, 'a few years at most, and you and I will see each other again. To me it will seem only like a minute or two, but I am dreadfully afraid it will seem a long time to you. Now I can sing a verse I could never sing before.' I asked, 'What is that?' She answered --

I have no cares, O blessed Lord,

For all my cares are Thine.

I marvelled, as I saw not only the conflict, but the complete victory. No cares! Leaving six little ones, and the youngest but seven weeks old, and yet no cares! None! For he whom she had loved many a year had come and put all cares to flight. So there fell asleep in Jesus, the gentlest, the most loving and most self-denying character, that I believe the Lord ever called home. The alabaster box of her poor frame was shivered to pieces with many and many a blow; but the sweet saviour of her name this morning fills all the house." (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 96-97)

Ministry Danger!

by Frank Jones

"A man was much annoyed because his wife had professed conversion, and decided that he would shoot Mr Brown. It seemed to him that the best plan would be to do this during the second prayer at a Sunday evening service; so he came with a loaded revolver, and sat in the gallery near the platform. That evening the reading was Isaiah 53, and there was the usual commenting, which went right home to the man. The result was that the would-be murderer came into the vestry after the service, told the story, and handed the revolver to Mr. Brown." (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 77)

What Do We have, not Received

by Frank Jones

"These prayer meetings were long to be remembered. Some thirty years later, about 1910, when Brown was no longer serving in East London, he came back to preach one Sunday, and recorded the following:

I was preaching in East London last Sunday morning, and I walked from London Bridge, and as I got a little way past the Mile End Gate, I saw a workman leaning against the wall. He touched his cap and said, 'Good morning, Mr Brown, glad to see you in this neighborhood again. Going to the old Tabernacle?' I said, 'Yes', and he then went on, 'May I walk with you?' Going along he said, 'Are not things changed Sir? I have been thinking of thirty years ago. Do you remember how there was a prayer meeting every Sunday morning, and we used to walk there sometimes up to our knees in snow; yet there used to be two or three hundred there; now you cannot get people out of bed at 10:30 on Sunday morning.'

As he spoke of those old days how well I remembered them! At 7 o'clock on Sunday morning there were hundreds met for prayer. Rain, hail or snow made no difference. They were all in dead earnest.

In preaching on December 6, 1868, he said:

I cannot but look back through the two years so nearly gone with wonder and thankfulness that defy language. God has been pleased to give us as a church such prosperity as is given to few, he has permitted us to reap with one hand while we have sown with the other. The converts are not numbered by tens only but by hundreds. In no spirit of pride do we say this; for what have we that we have not received? It is his work and his only, and at his feet we delight to cast all the glory. But while rejoicing in manifest success, we cannot but remember that there are hosts of God's servants, far holier and far more able, who have been called to toil and labor on with but little encouragement. They are preparing the soil for others, and perhaps long after they have gone to their reward, someone else will 'enter into their labors'. (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 61-62)

Groaning over Christian's Sinfulness

by Frank Jones

“Rather, while fully pardoned, [Archibald Brown] did not cease to be a sinner, and his sense of unworthiness only grew with his experience. ‘Our own unworthiness will appear great in proportion as we have communion with Christ.’ Thirty years after he first knew the Savior, he said, ‘If God says to me, “What is thy name?” I have to say from the very depth of my heart, “My sinful name is Archibald Brown.”’ So Paul, many years an apostle, says that of sinners ‘I am chief’. Not, ‘I was’. It is such self-knowledge that finds rest in the sovereign and eternal love of God.

It was this realistic conviction about sin remaining in all believers that kept Brown from supporting the ‘Higher Life’ movement that gained much popularity in the 1870’s. Seven thousand, including his friend Arthur Blackwood,  attended a Convention at Brighton in 1875, where Hannah Pearsall Smith ‘was a herald of the evangel’. At the heart of her message and that of her husband was a consecration that would take the Christian ‘out of Romans 7’. This became a key-note at the Keswick Convention which followed Brighton, and the idea spread far in Mrs Pearsall Smith’s book, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. Christians, it was said, by a simple step of faith could leave the ‘defeat’ of Romans 7 for all ‘the joy and victory of Romans 8’. On the contrary, Brown believed that at regeneration the Christian already knew the greatest change and thereafter there is no one experience necessary to take the believer to new heights. He warned his people: ‘I am afraid lest some of you should be drifting into this heighty-flightly balloonist that is getting so wonderfully popular at the present day—the frothy spiritual life that has not any deep sense of personal sin about it.’ ‘Living in a state of ecstasy is not all the good that we imagine it to be. I think that at the present time there are many indications abroad of the subtle evil of mistaking an experience for Christ himself. It is said perhaps, “Oh, if you could only go to a certain little town in the north of England, you will get such a blessing.” Ay, but if I am going to allow “Keswick” to enter into partnership with Jesus Christ himself, or if I am going to allow any delightful feeling that I may have here and there to take the place of the ordinary Jesus Christ who walks with me day by day, I am, I believe on the brink of a very terrible precipice … May. God give you many a season of ecstasy; but ecstasy is not good everyday diet. Jesus Christ himself, the everyday Savior, is the simple diet of life.’

‘The more holy a saint becomes, the more he will loathe and mourn over the remains of indwelling sin.’ The words are Spurgeon’s and they were AGB’s experience. Humility is the consequence of right belief about God and self.” (Murray, Iain. Archibald Brown, Banner of Truth, 339-341)

For further study on the Higher Life movement, I would refer you to Dr. Andrew Naselli's two works (Let Go and Let God, Logos Software format and his latest book,  No Quick Fix).