Praying in an Inner Room

by Frank Jones


But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. (Mat 6:6)

The context of Matthew 6:6 is an illustration of the truth of not practicing one’s righteousness to be noticed (Mat 6:1). The areas of illustrated danger are in the devotional practices of giving (6:2-4), public praying (6:5-6), repetitious, lengthy praying (6:7-15), and fasting (6:16-18). People typically see long prayers, giving, and religious fasting as signs of “spirituality.”

Jesus is not saying that all praying is to be “secret.” It is self-evident that our Lord Jesus 1) retired for prayer, 2) prayed in the presence of the disciples and the multitudes, 3) prayed while walking, and 4) prayed in communion; that is, silent or non-vocalized praying.

Jesus is saying to be aware of our subtle, deceitful desire for man’s “notice.” The prevention to this perversity of our nature is to outwork our basic devotional practices in secret. We are not to parade our religious observances to gain admiration, notice, credibility, honor, or attention of men.

There is a segment to our praying that is “secret.” We pray secretly to a secret or invisible God. Invisible to men, praying to the invisible God. This type of righteousness practiced brings reward — the reward of our prayer answered.

— for the exhortation at our midweek prayer meeting, see sermonaudio.


The Sin of Rejecting Christ Jesus

by Frank Jones


And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. (1 Peter 2:4–8)

"In Ps. 117 LXX the rejected stone has become the chief cornerstone of God’s building program. ... Even in the psalm, the chief cornerstone rejected by “the builders” is closely associated with salvation, implying that to reject the stone is to jeopardize one’s salvation. Alluding to the later Greek versions of Isa. 8:14, Peter further describes the stone in relation to those who reject it as a stone of stumbling (προσκόμματος, proskommatos) and a rock of temptation to sin (σκανδάλου, skandalou, 2:8).4 Ironically, Peter himself (the rock) was accused by Jesus of being a skandalon when Peter rebuked Jesus and attempted to deflect him from his predicted road to rejection and death (Matt. 16:23). Peter had become an occasion for Jesus to sin, a temptation that Jesus vigorously overcame by his sharp rebuke of Peter’s thought. Here in 1 Pet. 2:8 Peter claims that Christ the cornerstone presents an opportunity either for trust or for rejection. Moreover, rejection of Christ is not an amoral decision; it is itself an instance of sin. This is a message that our religiously pluralistic society today finds just as offensive as did first-century polytheistic society. To reject Christ is to stumble and sin. (ed., bold added) Peter quotes only the portion of Isa. 8 that refers to those who reject and stumble, but that passage also refers to the rock as a refuge for those who trust (Isa. 8:13–14 LXX): “Sanctify the Lord himself; and he himself will be your fear. If you trust in him, he will become your sanctuary, and you will not encounter him as a stumbling caused by a stone, nor as a fall caused by a rock” (NETS). Isaiah is speaking of those who do trust in the Lord. Peter uses the prophet’s words to reflect on those who do not. By implication, those who have not trusted in the Lord have not “sanctified” him, and therefore they have indeed encountered him as a stone and rock over which they have fallen.

As Marshall (1991: 73) summarizes, the quotation of Isa. 28:16 LXX and Ps. 117:22 LXX (118:22 Eng.) functions in Peter’s argument first to explain that the unbelief of those who reject Christ was already predicted in the OT prophecies; therefore, the rejection of Christ by friends and neighbors should not cause Christians surprise or doubt in their own faith. (ed., bold added)Second, Peter has clearly presented Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation, by which all will be judged. When people reject him, they do it to their own peril." (Jobes, K. H. 1 Peter (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). Baker Academic, 153-154)


Living Stones

by Frank Jones


And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God,you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For this is contained in Scripture: “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,” and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed. (1 Peter 2:4–8)

"The image of living stones being built into a spiritual house whose cornerstone is Christ also speaks of the unity, significance, and purpose of all believers, concepts essential for Christian self-understanding. The primary attribute of a temple in first-century thought was its holiness. Just as God’s presence sanctified the temple of Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit sanctifies the Christian community, setting it apart as God’s own. The unity of the temple is derived from God’s presence, the one Cornerstone, and a unity of purpose. There is one single temple into which all believers are built. The Christian church is not primarily a social organization but the new temple where the transformed lives of believers are offered as sacrifice to the glory of God. The imagery of the living stones being built into a single unit implies that the significance and purpose of the individual Christian cannot be realized apart from community with other believers. Coming to Christ means coming into relationship with others, not only in one’s own generation but also by being united with believers of every generation, who likewise have been built into God’s grand building project. The structure will be completed only when the scaffolding of human history comes down and the kingdom of Christ is revealed in all its glory." (Jobes, K. H. 1 Peter (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament). Baker Academic, 149)


Deal Tenderly

by Frank Jones


"The rule of humility and love will be - Deal tenderly with others - severely with ourselves. Our Master's pattern illustrates the rule, and sheds light on every step of our path." (Bridges, Ecclesiastes, 173.)


Do Not Say ...

by Frank Jones


Do not say, "Why is it that the former days were better than these?" for it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. (Ecc 7:10)

"Verse 10 is even more crushing, as befits an answer to nostalgia, which is an enervating and self-indulgent mood. To sigh for ‘the good old days’ is (we may reflect) doubly unrealistic: a substitute not only for action but for proper thought, since it almost invariably overlooks the evils that took a different form or vexed a different section of society in other times. (Kidner, The Message of Ecclesiastes, 67)

It has been said that “the good old days” are the combination of a bad memory and a good imagination, and often this is true. … The Victorian essayist Hilaire Belloc wrote, “While you are dreaming of the future or regretting the past, the present, which is all you have, slips from you and is gone.” (Wiersbe, Be Satisfied, 88)


Do Not Say ...

by Frank Jones


Do not say, "Why is it that the former days were better than these?" for it is not from wisdom that you ask about this. (Ecc 7:10)

"After all – ‘it is folly to cry out of the badness of the times, when there is so much more reason to complain of the badness of our hearts (if men’s hearts were better, the times would be mended); and when there is such reason to be thankful that they are not worse; but that even in the worst times we enjoy many mercies, that help to make them, not only tolerable, but comfortable.’" (Charles Bridges, Ecclesiastes, 150)


Spiritual Mindedness

by Frank Jones


For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. (Rom 8:6)

"Wherefore, the “minding of the Spirit” is the actual exercise of the mind as renewed by the Holy Ghost, as furnished with a principle of spiritual life and light, in its conception of spiritual things and the setting of its affections [inclinations] on them, as finding that relish and savour in them wherewith it is pleased and satisfied. ... “To be spiritually minded;” that is, to have the mind changed and renewed by a principle of spiritual life and light, so as to be continually acted and influenced thereby unto thoughts and meditations of spiritual things, from the affections cleaving unto them with delight and satisfaction. ...

It will therefore be no small advantage unto us to have our souls and consciences always affected with and in due subjection unto the power of this truth,—namely, that “to be spiritually minded is life and peace;” whence it will follow, that whatever we may think otherwise, if we are not so, we have neither of them, neither life nor peace. It will, I say, be of use unto us if we are affected with the power of it; for many greatly deceive themselves in hearing the word. They admit of sacred truths in their understanding, and assent unto them, but take not in the power of them on their consciences, nor strictly judge of their state and condition by them, which proves their ruin; for hereby they seem to themselves to believe that whereof in truth they believe not one syllable as they ought. They hear it, they understand it in the notion of it, they assent unto it, at least they do not contradict it, yea, they commend it oftentimes and approve of it, but yet they believe it not; for if they did, they would judge themselves by it, and reckon on it that it will be with them at the last day according as things are determined therein. ...

When there is in any a love of earthly things that is predominant, whence a person may be rightly denominated to be earthly minded, he is not, nor can be, spiritually minded at all; he hath no interest in the frame of heart and spirit intended thereby. And thus it is evidently with the greatest part of them who are called Christians in the world, let them pretend what they will to the contrary." (John Owen, Of Spiritual Mindedness, vol. 7, 270-273)


Man's Great End (Valley of Vision)

by Frank Jones


LORD OF ALL BEING,

There is one thing that deserves my greatest care,
that calls forth my ardent desires,

That is, that I may answer the great end for which I am made –
to glorify thee who hast given me being,
and to do all the good I can for my fellow men;

Verily life is not worth having
if it be not improved for this noble purpose.

Yet, Lord, how little is this the thought of mankind!

Most men seem to live for themselves,
without much or any regard for thy glory,
or for the good of others;

They earnestly desire and eagerly pursue
the riches, honours, pleasures of this life,
as if they supposed that wealth, greatness, merriment,
could make their immortal souls happy;

But, alas, what false delusive dreams are these!

And how miserable ere long will those be that sleep in them,
for all our happiness consists in loving thee,
and being holy as thou art holy.

O may I never fall into the tempers and vanities,
the sensuality and folly of the present world!

It is a place of inexpressible sorrow, a vast empty nothingness;

Time is a moment, a vapour,
and all its enjoyments are empty bubbles,
fleeting blasts of wind,
from which nothing satisfactory can be derived;

Give me grace always to keep in covenant with thee,
and to reject as delusion a great name here or hereafter,
together with all sinful pleasures or profits.

Help me to know continually
that there can be no true happiness,
no fulfilling of thy purpose for me,
apart from a life lived in and for the Son of thy love.

(Valley of Vision, 22-23)


Entangling Our Affections

by Frank Jones


"When the world fills our thoughts, it will entangle our affections. ... Hence men walk and talk as if the world were all, when comparatively it is nothing." (John Owen)


Terror of Conscience

by Frank Jones


"Our heavenly Father does not usually cause us to seek the Saviour till He has whipped us clean out of all our confidence; He cannot make us in earnest after heaven till He has made us feel something of the intolerable tortures of an aching conscience, which is a foretaste of hell." (Charles H. Spurgeon)