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Ferrell Griswold

Chapter 1
The Poor In Spirit

"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven".–Matthew 5:3.

The object of the Lord Jesus in this discourse is not to outline the way of salvation, but to describe those who are objects of saving grace. Therefore it was not to the multitudes at large that He spoke, but to the elect – to those who were given to Him by the Father as special objects of saving grace. It is the poor, the "little flock", those afflicted by this world, that He pronounces blessed. To bear this in mind will enable one to read the beatitudes with joy, and keep from making them works for the obtaining of salvation. These verses give a description of those who have been made alive by the Spirit, and serve as the evidence that they have passed from death into life!

The first evidence of the work of grace, experimentally realized, is poverty of spirit. One who is an object of God's eternal love and choice, of Christ's redemption, and the quickening, life-giving grace of the Holy Spirit, is "poor in spirit". Spurgeon said, "Spiritual poverty is both commanded and commended. It is the basis of Christian experience. No one begins aright who has not felt poverty of spirit."

It is important to note that if this condition be a work of the Spirit with-in the elect then it is not a grace that comes out of the natural heart. It is a spiritual grace wrought in those who are renewed by the Spirit. "By nature we are well pleased with ourselves, and mad enough to think that we deserve something good at the hands of God. Let men but conduct themselves decently in a civil way, keeping themselves from grosser sins, and they are rich in spirit, pride filling their hearts, and they are self-righteous. And nothing short of a miracle of grace can change the course of this stream." (A. W. Pink.)

Again, we do not find poverty of spirit among the religionists of this day! I recently read an article which will illustrate how boastful modern-day religionists are: "The modern Arminian interdenominational 'evangelists' are undoubtedly the most boastful creatures on God's earth. They depend upon their showmanship and 'Hollywood' sensationalism to draw their crowds. I remember one of them who came into town a few years ago: he advertised himself as being God's Fire-ball.

"Many of the present day 'evangelists' in their past lives held places of prominence in the sports and entertainment world. Those who have such backgrounds think that by using their past fame to advertise themselves, they will thereby have great influence. They boast of how they forsook a life of glory in the world of sports, or in the field of entertainment, to dedicate their talents to the Lord. They make it sound as if they did the Lord a big favor.

"I can just imagine what these 'evangelists' would have done had they been the Apostle Paul. I can see it now: Hear the dynamic evangelist Paul this Sabbath in the Synagogue at Damascus. Former disciple of Gamaliel; persecutor of the church; famous Pharisee; said by some to have turned the world upside down with his message; possessor of the gift of healing; saw Jesus face to face; God's chosen apostle to the Gentiles; known throughout the world for his crusades for Christ. Don't fail to hear this famous evangelist. Also, get his book, 'My Life Story.' You will never be the same after reading it."

I am sure you can see the flesh and folly in such pride of spirit as this. God's people are poor in spirit, and cannot give themselves over to vain-boasting in the flesh. Luke 16:15 states, "that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God." You can be sure that a God-ordained message is not one that puffs up the flesh, but rather strips the self-righteous and leaves them lying at the feet of Jesus Christ as beggars for mercy. This type of ministry is unpopular today, and those that preach salvation is of the Lord, and that the poor in spirit only have hope in Christ, are branded as disturbers of the church. The reason for this is that the religious world is built upon worldly entertainment, and fleshly programs, and sees no need of the vital quickening power of God's Holy Spirit. As a result, anything that cuts down the prideful heart of man and places him in the dust dependent on the mercy of a Sovereign God is resisted and despised. Men will hold to their traditions and pride, and perish before they will go into the dust as sinners! The self-sufficiency of the religious sinner blinds his mind to the need of a Substitute and Surety to stand before a Holy God for him.

Let us note what it is to be "poor in spirit." To be poor in spirit is the opposite of a haughty, self-sufficient spirit that is held in esteem by the world today. "To be 'poor in spirit' is to realize that I have nothing, am nothing, and can do nothing, and have need of all things. Poverty of spirit is a consciousness of my emptiness, the result of the Spirit's work within. It issues from the painful discovery that all my righteousnesses are as filthy rags. It follows the awakening that my best performances are unacceptable, yea, an abomination to the thrice Holy One. Poverty of spirit evidences itself by its bringing the individual into the dust before God, acknowledging his utter helplessness and deservingness of hell. It corresponds to the initial awakening of the prodigal in the far country, when 'he began to be IN WANT.'" (A. W. Pink).

Those who are in poverty of Spirit know that they have no claims on God nor on the work of Christ. They know that if they find favor in the sight of God through Christ it is an act of grace and mercy, and not from anything they can demand or claim. They know that their birthright is condemnation and wrath, and that God could cast them away to the honor of His justice and they would receive only that which they deserve. Those who look upon themselves as not worthy to go to hell know nothing of this poverty of spirit and have no reason to believe that they are saved. The statement that issues from the mouths of multitudes: "So-and-So will go to heaven if anyone will, they are too good to go to hell," have no understanding of the salvation that is in Christ, and have not yet seen the sinfulness of man. Their hope is in personal goodness and merit. Unless the Spirit breaks them down and shows them the sinfulness of man, and that none deserve to be saved; that the best are maggots in the dung-hill; that it is amazing condescension for the Holy God to send Christ to satisfy the demands of His holy law, and die under the curse of sin to redeem a people; I say, unless these are awakened to see that hope is in Jesus Christ alone, they shall perish.

Oh! as I send forth this message my heart cries to the Holy Spirit to visit miserable sinners with awakening power to bring them to poverty of spirit. Sinner! sinner! it is my desire that you might be made empty, and see the sinfulness of sin. Look! look! yonder to the cross of Calvary. Do you see the Son of God there? He is not under the curse of His own sins! It is the justice of the Holy Three-in-One collecting to the utmost farthing for the sins of a people that cannot save themselves. They are under a curse and cannot remove it. They have no righteousness and cannot establish that which will make them holy. They are sinners – but blessed thought, sinners represented in the Person of the Son of God. He dies for them. He establishes a righteousness for them. If you are poor in spirit, and see your helplessness and want of a Saviour, look to Christ and be ye saved!

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Chapter 2
They Who Mourn

The Beatitudes show the paradoxical nature of the Christian life. It is the poor in spirit that are members of the kingdom of God; the mourners that are comforted; the meek that inherit the earth; the hungry and thirsty that are filled with righteousness; the merciful that obtain mercy; the pure in heart that see God; the peacemakers that are called the children of God; and the persecuted that are called "blessed." Every one of these concepts is contrary to the thinking of the natural man. Man, by nature, thinks that it is the strong and rich in spirit that receive comfort, and recognition from God. If a person is characterized by the conceptions laid before us here by the Lord Jesus they are laughed at, and thought of as being weak. An evidence that these marks of the Christian are of the Spirit, and not of the man, is that man despises them so.

It is important to keep in mind that the Beatitudes are not given to tell one how to be saved, but serve as the family marks of one already saved. We have in them an exposition of the fruit of the Spirit working in the practice of one who is made alive by effectual grace. Here are the evidences of the love of God shed abroad in our heart by the Holy Spirit – the evidence of the Divine nature of Christ that we are partakers of through the New Birth – the proof that we have passed from death into life – the hope that we have been taken out of the kingdom of darkness and put into the kingdom of Christ – the belief that God has begun a good work within us, and will continue the same. For comfort, as well as heart searching, read often the Beatitudes, Rom. 5; I Cor 13; Gal. 5; and all of I John.

In Matthew 5:4 we read, "Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted." This verse has two parts, which will serve as the divisions for this Bible study: 1. The Work – "they that mourn"; 2. The Result – "they shall be comforted."

This verse does not teach the doctrine of the so-called 'mourner's bench.' The mourner's bench is of human invention, and is for the promotion of the works-system for salvation. There is a mourning that takes place in Holy Spirit conviction and salvation, but it is not the fleshly demonstration that takes place around the mourner's bench, where the seekers try to have an emotional experience which they depend on for salvation. The mourner's bench 'saint' never looks to Christ for salvation but depends on his praying and emotional display for hope of eternal life. The type of mourning spoken of here in our text 'is hateful and irksome to poor human nature: from suffering and sadness our spirits instinctively shrink.

1. "Blessed are they that mourn." This is the work of the Holy Spirit within the heart of the elect in bringing them to Christ, and turning them from sin. Once begun, this work will never end as long as we are in our pilgrimage to heaven. This mourning springs from a real sense of sin, and a broken heart on account of rebellion against the will of God. "It is, then, a mourning over the felt destitution of our spiritual state, and over the iniquities that have separated between us and God. Such mourning always goes side by side with conscious poverty of spirit." (A. W. Pink). Therefore, this mourning begins in Holy Spirit conviction and is a continuous experience. Certainly there is a comforting that follows the period of conviction, when Christ is revealed to the heart, and one is made to know of his forgiveness, but this does not end the mourning, for the Christian life is one of continual mourning over sin and depravity. As Pink says, "The Christian himself has much to mourn over. The sins which he now commits – both of omission and commission – are a sense of daily grief to him, or should be, and will be, if his conscience is kept tender. An ever-deepening discovery of the depravity of his nature, the plague of his heart, the sea of corruption within – ever polluting all that he does – deeply exercises him. Consciousness of the surgings of unbelief, the swellings of pride, the coldness of his love, and his paucity of fruit, make him cry, 'O wretched man that I am.'"

Not only does the Christian mourn over his own corruption, but he groans within on the account of this body of humiliation, desiring the coming of the Lord to deliver him from all weakness – "Ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves GROAN within ourselves" (Rom. 8:23). Also, the child of God groans under the chastening rod of God, which is necessary for the coming of the saint into the image of Christ – "No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous" (Heb. 12:11). Again, the Christian will mourn over the sins of others, and for lack of the glory that should be given to God – "my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eyes shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord's flock is carried away captive" (Jer. 13:17). And the Christian will weep and mourn with others on the account of their sufferings – "Weep with them that weep" (Rom. 12:15).

2. The result – "They shall be comforted." Under this point I quote fully Mr. Pink, whose thoughts are so excellent that I could not add anything to them. "This gracious promise receives its fulfillment, first, in that Divine consolation which immediately follows a sound conversion (i.e. one that is preceded by conviction and contrition), namely the removal of that conscious load of guilt which lies as an intolerable burden on the conscience. It finds its accomplishment in the Spirit's application of the Gospel of God's grace to the one whom He has convicted of his dire need of a Saviour. Then it is that Christ speaks the word of power, 'Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.' (Matt. 11:28) – observe that His language clearly presupposes the feeling of sin to be a 'burden' as that which impels to Him for relief: it is to the sin-sick heart that Christ gives rest. This 'comfort' issues in a sense of a free and full forgiveness through the merits of the atoning blood of Christ. This Divine comfort is the peace of God which passeth all understanding, filling the heart of one who is now assured that he is 'accepted in the Beloved.' First God wounds and then heals.

"Second, there is a continual 'comforting' of the mourning saint by the Holy Spirit, who is the Comforter. The one who sorrows over his departures from Christ is comforted by the assurance that 'if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness' (I John 1:9). The one who mourns under the chastening rod of God is comforted by the promise, 'afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby' (Heb. 12:11). The one who grieves over the awful dishonour done to his Lord in the religious world is comforted by the fact that Satan's time is short, and soon Christ will bruise him beneath His feet. Third, the final comfort is when we leave this world and are done with sin for ever. Then shall 'sorrow and sighing flee away.' To the rich man in hell, Abraham said of the one who had begged at his gate, 'now he is comforted' (Luke 16:25). The best wine is reserved for the last. The 'comfort' of heaven will more than compensate for all the 'mourning' of earth."

From this we can see that the Christian life is one of mourning. If there is a spiritual mourning in your life, like that set forth above, you have reason to believe that you are a partaker of the life that is in Christ!

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Chapter 3
Blessed Are The Meek

"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."– (Matt. 5:5).

Meekness is the positive proof of the work of the Holy Spirit within the soul. In this one has a Christlike disposition towards others. Man by nature is proud, and filled with self-love; having respect unto others only as it enables him to accomplish his own desires. In his natural disposition man hates Christ, and will not submit to His Word and will as the result. But the object of God's converting grace is delivered from this self-love disposition through the work of repentance, and is given a spirit of meekness.

True meekness must not be confounded with weakness! Meekness gives over only in reference to one's self, and one's own desires, and it is yieldedness to God's will that will not give over in matters pertaining to Christ, the Word, and righteousness. When God's glory is impeached true meekness will have a zeal as hot as fire. True meekness is the opposite of that meekness that the world loves in men, which is nothing more than compromise that disposes one to be easily deterred from good in order to have ease of life. Evangelical meekness will not compromise in the truth, but is that act of grace wherein the Christian learns to curb his temper, to cease from resentment, and forgive injuries.

The meekness spoken of in our text naturally follows after the two preceding Beatitudes. In conversion the first operation of the grace of God within the soul is to give poverty of spirit. Grace makes us know our emptiness and so humbles us. From this poverty of spirit comes mourning. Poverty gives us a true knowledge of ourselves and out of this arises this grace of grief. No man is ever truly meek until this work of grace has taken place within the heart.

It shall be my purpose to confine the message of this study to describing those who are meek. I pray that the Holy Spirit will open our eyes together that we might search our hearts to see whether this work of grace has taken place or not. If you find that you are not a believer it is my desire to see you brought to Christ. He alone is Saviour. He alone has been exalted to the right hand of God to be a Prince and Saviour, to give repentance. There is none other Name given whereby you must be saved. He alone qualifies for the work of redemption: for He alone was born of a virgin, without the sin of Adam's transgression; He alone lived in perfect conformity to the law of God, establishing its righteousness; He alone died on the cross under the curse of God on account of the guilt of the sins of a people being imputed unto Him. He alone was brought out of the grave and ascended to the Father there to live in power to see that the terms of the covenant of redemption are fulfilled toward those that flee to Him from the wrath to come. It is He that satisfied the demands of God's justice, and that not for Himself, but for a people as their Representative. He alone accomplished salvation for sinners – and only sinners have a hope in Him. If the Spirit has convicted you of your sinnerhood, helplessness, and deservedness of hell, you can go to Him in assurance that He will bring you to the Father. Forgive me this digression, but the thought of the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-man, moved me to want you to know the joy of true salvation – which salvation will produce this meekness of spirit. If you see the evidences of this meekness within your heart, then rejoice and strive for its full development within your life.

True, evangelical, meekness reaches to two directions: Godward and manward.

1. Godward. True meekness will cause one to be submissive to all of God's will. Psa. 25:9 reads, "the meek will He guide in judgement, and the meek will He teach His way." One who is meek will never grumble against the providences of God, but will accept matters as sent from God for the purpose of making him more like the Saviour. If it is God's will it is enough for the meek. They care not whether they sit on Solomon's throne or Job's dunghill! When you see folk constantly grumbling about the circumstances of life, the weather, their social status, their wealth, or, I should say, their lack of wealth, and other matters, you can be sure they are not meek, and there is self-love in that they think they are worthy of other than what they have. Again, meekness will cause us to be flexible to God's Word. A meek person will not put the wisdom of his own mind against the Word of God. Any time a person makes excuses for that which is written, and adds "but", and is not willing to bend his will to what is written, it is because there is no life in him, and he has not the meekness that comes in the New Birth. Titus 3:2 tells us that the Christian "receives with meekness the engrafted word." Any time I hear anyone sitting in judgment on the Word of God I feel sorry for them, and wish for them the effectual work of the Spirit. It is so foolish, and such pride for man to think himself better able to know what is truth than God. You show a person today scriptures teaching election, predestination, effectual calling, depravity, limited atonement, and many other truths, and they begin to make excuses for God, and say we ought not to talk about such things. Oh! how sad, for anyone who will not submit his own reasoning power to the Word and let the Bible be the rule, is yet in darkness, and in danger of hell fire. I just received a letter from a publishing house on how to be a well-liked preacher. They said, Don't preach on controversial subjects; in other words, leave out the Bible. Wear tailor-made suits. Take a bath daily, and eat and sleep properly. You can see the self-love here without my help.

2. Manward. Meekness disposes one to be humble. Jonathan Edwards said humility is "a habit of mind and heart corresponding to our comparative unworthiness and vileness before God, or a sense of our own comparative meanness in his sight, with the disposition to a behaviour answerable thereto." The humble do not boast of what they have or are able to do, and they do not seek the first place in the synagogue, but give preference to others. Meekness disposes one to be gentle; he is not harsh and domineering. He will give up what he thinks to be lawful, because he does not think it is expedient for the good of others. Again, Meekness will dispose one to be patient before the Lord. We will not be easily offended, but look upon matters as mistakes and forget them. The meek do not wear their feelings on their shoulders, therefore have little occasion for anger. Spurgeon said, "little pots soon boil over." You have seen people that get upset every time someone fails to speak, or they do not get recognition, or their wills are crossed – who make life miserable for all in that they like only those who have not crossed them for that day. This is self-love and is very dangerous in health matters as well as eternal happiness. Meekness, what a blessed jewel! Also, the meek are content with what they have. They are not ambitious, not self seekers. They are satisfied with that portion which the Lord has given them. The meek see the mercy of God in all His providences and finds that he has far more than he deserves. Murmuring is a thing that he is not going to allow to live and thrive in his bosom. Contentment is his peace and happiness!

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Chapter 4
Hungering For Righteousness

"Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."–Matthew 5:6.

Without righteousness man has not blessedness, nor happiness. He deludes himself into thinking that there is blessedness in possessing carnal things, and finding recognition in this world, but this is nothing but a vapor that is to soon pass away and then man's misery will be known unto him, i.e., if he has not a righteousness! Spurgeon said, "Because man had perfect righteousness before the fall, he enjoyed perfect blessedness. If you and I shall, by divine grace, attain to blessedness hereafter, it will be because God has restored us to righteousness. As it was in the first paradise, so must it be in the second; righteousness is essential to the blessedness of man. We cannot be truly happy and live in sin. Holiness is the natural element of blessedness; and it can no more live out of that element than a fish could live in the fire. The happiness of man must come through his righteousness; his being right with God, with man, with himself – indeed, his being right all round."

Before sin entered the world man had this perfect blessedness because he had righteousness that gave him perfect relationship with God. Since sin entered the world man lost this relationship and communion with God and is in a miserable state by nature. There are three elements that compose man's misery on the account of sin. First, he lost the positive righteousness that was his by creation. Second, he became corrupted in the inward man. Third, he became actually guilty before God. Man is restored to blessedness only as he is counted righteous by God and these three things are dealt with by Christ. By His perfect life and conformity to the law and will of God the righteousness of the law is established for the elect. In dying on the cross under the curse of the law the penalty of sin is answered, and the guilt of the sinner is removed. By taking upon Himself our nature without sin He was able to answer for the corruption of our nature. By regeneration and faith we are united unto Christ and this righteousness is imputed, laid to our credit, or accounted unto us. By His work Christ satisfied justice and redeemed the sinner. Now! this work of His is not a failure, for He stood as a public Person, Surety, and Substitute for a people who were given to Him by the Father, whom He knew, and for whom He brought in righteousness. These shall be saved, and brought to a knowledge of absolute righteousness in Christ.

One of the evidences, or proofs, of one's election by the Father to attain righteousness by Christ is that the Holy Spirit, in awakening grace, imparts a hunger and thirst after this righteousness. Every child of God has a strong desire for the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. If such a desire is absent then it is presumptuous to make a boast of being redeemed by Christ. There are certain family marks applicable to the elect, and the desire for righteousness is one of them. As we have seen, the Beatitudes give to us some of these blessed characteristics and serve to show the evidence of the true work of the Holy Spirit within those that have a part in the redemption of Christ. "In the first three Beatitudes we are called upon to witness the heart exercises of those who have been awakened by the Spirit of God. First, there is a sense of need, a realization of their nothingness and emptiness. Second, there is a judging of self, a consciousness of their guilt and sorrowing over their lost condition. Third, there is an end of seeking to justify themselves before God, an abandonment of all pretences to personal merit, a taking of their place in the dust before God. And here in the fourth, the eye of the soul is turned away from self to Another: there is a longing after that which they know they have not got and which they are conscious they urgently need." (A. W. Pink).

1. I will try to give you some statements as to what this righteousness, which the saint hungers for, consists of. I think, first, it has reference to justifying righteousness. There is nothing that a newly awakened sinner desires so much as to know that he is accepted by God on the ground of the justifying blood of the Lord Jesus Christ! The word "righteousness" is used as synonymous with "salvation", and therefore must include this in it. "Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the Lord have created it." (Isa. 45:8). "My righteousness is near; My salvation is gone forth, and Mine arms shall judge the people; the isles shall wait upon Me, and on Mine arm shall they trust." (Isa. 51:5). "He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, He hath covered me with the robe of righteousness." (Isa. 61:10). Salvation is a full word, and cannot be limited to one aspect of the great work of Christ's delivering His people. Therefore, we conclude that there is a justifying righteousness that the awakened sinner desires. Sinner! if you are not yet hungering to be justified in the presence of God on the ground and merit of the work of Christ, and that alone, but are trying to mix your own filthy righteousness with His for salvation, you are yet unawakened to your misery! If you are ever brought to Christ you will be stripped of all your filthy garments, and see your vileness in such a way that you cannot be satisfied until you are clothed in the perfect robe of righteousness of God's own providing. The discovery of not being right with God will cause great distress, and you will feel the awful threatenings of law, and see that your only hope is in Christ, who alone has pardon for the guilty! If you are awakened to your sin and guilt, and you are restless to know that your leprous nakedness is covered, then flee to Christ – look to Him – there is righteousness with Him.

This righteousness is not limited to justification alone, but has reference to an inward, sanctifying righteousness also. Although the hungering for justifying righteousness is satisfied when the Spirit speaks peace to your heart, yet there is a continuous hungering within for absolute conformity to the image of Jesus Christ. The justified sinner has a craving to rightly know, obey, pray, praise, and love God. He wants to be completely controlled by Him in thought as well as in deed. His greatest desire is to have perfect holiness, and he cannot rest until every corruption is defeated and he stands completed and glorified in the presence of God. He wants to be so renewed that sin shall have no power over him. He knows that lust is adultery, covetousness is theft, and that anger is murder. Thoughts of sin are as great a burden as the act. He wants to put on the whole new man and live for the glory of God. This hungering man would desire holiness if there were no heaven, and flee sin if there were no hell. He hungers to know the fullness of Christ, and oh, blessed is the man that has this hunger!

2. I must state in a few words what is implied in the words "hunger" and "thirst". It supposes a want of righteousness. To hunger after something is to admit that you do not possess that thing. Therefore, he who hungers after righteousness admits the want of it. The newly awakened sinner knows that he is guilty, deserving of hell, and without righteousness before God. Only those who are the objects of God's saving grace are brought to this place in an effectual manner. The world never admits that there is a need of righteousness, for they feel sufficient within themselves to stand before God, whom they fear not because He is a weak, defeated God of their own imagination. It is only when one is given eyes from the Spirit of God that they see the holy majesty of the God of the Bible and realize that they are not able to stand in His presence. Oh! afflicted sinner, if you mourn on account of your inward sinfulness, and want of righteousness, take courage. You did not by nature see your need of righteousness: this is the work of Christ for you and within you. He promises that if you hunger and thirst you shall be satisfied. Believe Him, and despise not His work of slaying the self-love within you, and His stripping you. If He empties you of love to self He will fill you with love to Himself. If He takes away that which you rested in for security from the storm of His wrath to come, He will cover you with His own perfect righteousness that none can take away. Rebel not! Lie before Him in patience and wait upon Him to do His good work!

The justified saint hungers and thirsts after this righteousness because he wants the completion and perfection of it. Now, that imputed righteousness of Christ is perfect, and he has a perfect standing and position in the presence of God, but that imparted, sanctifying righteousness is not yet complete. Therefore the saint sees that he is far from being like Jesus and that holiness is yet a small seed. He, as a result, hungers for the completion of God's salvation within his heart. He wants to please God, but finds so much darkness of mind, rebellious corruption, frowardness of affection, and perverseness of will. But, he knows the Lord has promised to satisfy this desire, so he looks forward with hope of absolute conformity to Christ. Because of this hope he accepts the conflicts, backward providences of God, persecutions, and afflictions as that which is bringing him into realization of holiness. Oh! dear Saviour, stir men to hunger for Thee in this day!

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Chapter 5
Blessed Are The Merciful

"Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy."–Matthew 5:7.

This Beatitude does not teach works for salvation, as many have twisted it to do. Its contents do not have reference to performing acts of mercy in order to receive mercy from God in salvation. We know from the Word of God that mercy in salvation is free, sovereign, and without the view of man's works. God's mercy is unto whom He pleases, and the objects of it were determined before the foundation of the world, that the purposes of God in election might stand, not according to works, but according to the free choice and call of God. The basis of this mercy being shown is the shed blood of Christ, and His perfect obedience unto the law of God. No, we do not merit mercy from God, for it is His free gift to miserable sinners in bringing them into life eternal.

Our text is giving a family mark and characteristic of those who have already received mercy in salvation. Mercy is a birthmark of one who has been taken from the kingdom of darkness and put into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Having received mercy from the Lord, the saved sinner now exercises mercy unto others. Spurgeon said, "He is not here describing the way of salvation at all. That He does in many other places; but here gives us the signs and evidences of the work of grace in the soul; so that we should greatly err if we should say that we must be merciful in order to obtain mercy, and that we must only hope to get the mercy of God through first of all being merciful ourselves." Beloved, those pronounced blessed here are those who have received the mercy of a renewed heart, for only one who has been brought to Christ by the Holy Spirit can live a life of mercy-showing as is required here by the Lord. McCheyne said, "He requires you to love mercy. This is the brightest feature in the character of Christ. If you are in Christ, drink deep of His spirit; God requires you to be merciful. The world is selfish, unmerciful. An unconverted mother has no mercy on the soul of her child. She can see it dropping into hell without mercy. Oh, the hellish cruelty of unconverted men! It shall not be so with you. Be merciful, as your Father in heaven is merciful." In showing that mercy is the birthmark of the born again believer John Calvin stated some truths that I must share with you here. "We should seek the good of other believers. How extremely difficult it is for you dutifully to seek the advantage of your neighbor, unless you quit all selfish considerations and almost forget yourself.

"How can you perform the duties which Paul teaches to be works of love, unless you renounce yourself, and devote yourself wholly to others?

"Love suffers long and is kind, love envies not; love vaunts not itself, love is not puffed up; love does not behave itself unseemly; love seeks not her own; love is not easily provoked; and so on.

"The Lord commands us to do good unto all men without exception, though the majority are very undeserving when judged according to their own merits.

'If any one, therefore, appears before you who is in need of your kind services, you have no reason to refuse him your help.

'Suppose he is a stranger; yet the Lord has pressed His own stamp on him and made him as one of your family, and He forbids you to despise your own flesh and blood.

"Suppose he is despicable and worthless; yet the Lord has deigned him worthy to be adorned with His own image.

"Suppose that you have no obligation towards him for services; yet the Lord has made him as it were His substitute, so that you have obligation for numerous and unforgettable benefits.

"If he has deserved no kindness, but just the opposite, because he has maddened you with his injuries and insults, even this is no reason why you should not surround him with your affection, and show him all sorts of favors.

"You may say that he has deserved a very different treatment, but what does the Lord command but to forgive all men their offenses, and to charge them against Himself?"

I am sure that from what has already been said you can draw some conclusion as to what mercy is, but I will try to define it at this time and give some Scriptural references to show that it is the mark of one who has been saved by the grace of God. Mercy is a holy compassion of the soul, wherein one is moved with pity to relieve those who are in misery. "It is an aversion to everything harsh, cruel, oppressive or injurious; a propensity to pity, alleviate or remove the miseries of mankind: an unwillingness to increase personal emolument or indulgence by rendering others uneasy; a willingness to forego personal ease, interest or gratification to make others easy and happy." (Thomas Scott).

"But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you. Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer also the other; and him that taketh away thy cloak forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again. And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. For if ye love them which love you, what thank have ye? for sinners also love those that love them. And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same. And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. BE YE THEREFORE MERCIFUL, AS YOUR FATHER ALSO IS MERCIFUL." (Luke 6: 27-36).

I think with the first reading of this passage of Scripture you will have no trouble seeing that mercy is the family mark of the child of God. It is mercy that distinguishes him from the average sinners, for his mercy is of a higher type than that of the sinner. There are certain things the sinner will do in a way of natural mercy, such as, loving those that love him, lending to those who will repay, doing good to those who will return the act. But the Christian is one who follows his Saviour and lends: to those who do not repay, loves his enemies who will not return the love, and shows mercy to those who are not deserving. The example laid down for the child of God is the mercy of the Father – who was merciful to us when we were evil and undeserving. In verse 35 we read "ye shall be the children of the Highest." This does not mean that the act of mercy on our part toward others gains the mercy of God in salvation, but this means that our acts of mercy marks us out, or, gives evidence, that we are the children of the Highest, for we follow in His footsteps.

Colossians 3:12 reads, "Put on therefore, as the ELECT of God, holy and beloved, BOWELS OF MERCIES, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;" and then in verse 13 it is stated how this outwardly works: "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." This passage shows that the garments of the elect of God are made up of mercies. The plural is used because the Christian is given to every sort of mercy that is needed. There is a mercy for those who are in want. Their bowels are opened to help those who are poor and in need. Again, there is a mercy that gives a weeping eye on the account of the mourners and miserable around them. Every day those who are depressed of spirit, and under the trials of the Lord are met. I myself am given over to this depression of spirit a good deal of my life, and what a joy it is to find one that can understand, and mourn with me. Also, there is a mercy that moves one to forgive all personal injuries and offenses. The Christian can turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to those things that would offend in the actions of another. There, too, is a mercy that is shown toward those who are outwardly sinners, and under the burden of sin. The Christian will not be as the Pharisee and think himself too good for the sinner, but will seek to do his soul good. Also, there is a mercy that is shown toward the characters of others. The child of God will not believe hearsay about another, and will think the best of the characters of others. He will be the last to seek to do harm to one's character by careless talk, and will be careful not to repeat those things that do another harm. Oh, praise His name, He, in regeneration, has bestowed many mercies upon the sinner, and in return the saved sinner bestows many mercies upon the creatures of God.

The text informs us that the merciful shall obtain mercy. They shall be the objects of the mercy of men, who will relieve them in their misery often times. Also, the Lord will have regard unto them in their difficulties. The Scriptures state that if one shuts his ears to the cry of the needy the Lord will not hear him when he cries. But the Lord's ear is bent toward those who are merciful! (Psa. 18:25).

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Chapter 6
The Pure In Heart

"Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God."–Matthew 5:8.

We are given another evidence of the work of the Spirit in regeneration. They who have been made alive in Christ are pure in spirit, and on this account they see God. By God's help I shall try to open to your understanding this text that you might search your heart to prove your hope in Christ.

The first thing suggested by this Scripture is that man's heart is not pure by nature, but evil, and corrupted. Jer. 17:9 reads, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" The world will take issue with this and say that there is good in every man's heart, but the child of God, who has been given a look into this "pit of corruption" knows that it is wicked, and that there is no good to be found there. The very fact that man does not see the evil of his heart is living proof of the truth of this text, for the heart has deceived him into thinking the heart is good and filled with natural ability. In Psa. 51:5 we read, "Behold I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me." The denial of this Scripture by the religious world, as well as by the ungodly, is another living proof of the wickedness of the heart by nature. I heard a Baptist preacher say that this did not teach total corruption by nature and birth, but merely that David was born as the result of the act of sin. This is not so! David's parents were married, and the command of the Lord is that in marriage we are to bring forth children. This Scripture teaches that man is born with a corrupted heart that is the result of the fall of Adam. This teaches that in conception the corrupted nature of Adam is passed on to his posterity because he acted as a federal head and representative of the whole race of mankind. If this be not so then we can lay no claim to the imputed righteousness of Christ, which is passed on to those who through faith, are represented by Him. Now, one who is born of God's Spirit has no trouble in seeing total corruption by birth. He knows that man is not pure by nature, but filled with sin. My dear one, if you have not yet seen total depravity, if you have not seen that man is a sinner by nature and birth, if you have not seen that there is no purity and goodness in man by nature, you have not been given eyes from the Spirit to see Divine truth. You will say, "I know many who have done much good, who have given large sums of money to churches, charity, and other good causes who were not professed Christians. Was that not good?" No! not in the sight of the Lord. In His sight it was nothing more than "filthy rags". (Isa. 64:6). Although the outward act of the sinner might be praiseworthy it is evil because of the wrong motive that lay behind the action. It was performed for the purpose of meriting favor with God, or to be praised by man. If a thing is not done out of a pure heart for the glory of God, it is filthy and comes from a corrupted motive. Another evidence that the heart is wicked and corrupted by nature is Psa. 58:3. "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born speaking lies."

For a second heading I will try to explain to you what this purity of heart is. This can best be done by taking a negative approach, and then a positive. This purity of heart is not an outward ceremonialism. This the Pharisees had. They would look down upon the sinner, and have nothing to do with those whom they counted unclean. It was a great insult to speak of them as sinners, for they looked upon themselves as pure and holy. Yet theirs was an outward conformity, and not an inward holiness. The Lord Jesus spoke to them in hard words and called them hypocrites, whitewashed graves, an offspring of vipers, those who were careful to clean the outside of the cup while the inside was filled with dirt. The Pharisees still have their followers in this day! There are those who think by submitting to their ceremonies and traditions one is a fit subject for glory. These Pharisees teach that you must belong to their church, be baptized by their baptism or you will perish. They place the power of seeing God in baptism rather than the regenerative work of the Spirit in the new birth. They think that the outward washing of the flesh is that which purifies; and the ground of their error is that they have missed the truth of moral depravity and inward corruption by birth. Again, purity of heart is not outward reformation of the flesh, and conformity to a certain standard of works. Today one is given the idea that if he quits his sinning and becomes outwardly clean he is a child of God. Our text does not say, Blessed are the pure in hand, action, or works, but in heart. You cannot be delivered from sin unless there is a purity of heart. It is the part of a hypocrite to refrain from sinning outwardly and yet love it in his heart. True holiness is found in hatred of sin as well as not committing it. What good is there in whitewashing the wall if the heart is eaten out with termites? Also, purity of heart is not sinlessness! There is a strange, but not new, sound we hear in our ears today. Many are saying that they live "above", or, "without" sin. They mean by this that they have arrived at the place that they no longer commit sin, and on this account are accounted saved. This is not the teaching of this Scripture at all. I have observed the "perfectionists" and can say that some of the most wicked people that I have ever met are among them. They are nothing but hypocrites who love sin, and are filled with lusts, envies, jealousies, wrath, and every evil disposition. They commit not the big outward sins that are looked down on by the world, but they think nothing of having an evil attitude. It seems that they have forgotten that the thought of foolishness is sin, and that one's attitude reveals what he is within. They might abstain from adultery, but be filled with lust; they may refrain from murder, and yet be angered often at others. When one thinks himself beyond sin he is in great danger, for one of the evidences of the new birth is that one is able to see the true nature of the heart, and recognizes how far short of the glory of God he has fallen. A true believer is one that hates even the thoughts of evil, and is burdened over his heart because of the many evils he can see lying there. If I have a scar on my hand and stay in the dark you will not notice it, and I may forget it; but the more light I come into the more the scar will show. If you are walking in the dark you cannot see the evils of your heart, but the more you are brought into the light of God's glory the more you are able to see how far from that glory you are.

Positively, a pure heart is a Divine work of the Spirit of God within and for the sinner. We have seen that man by nature has an evil heart and cannot make it pure himself. His only hope is the mercy of God in Christ. This purity of heart consists of justification. Justification is that act whereby one is counted righteous on the grounds of the righteousness established by the obedience and death of Christ Jesus. In this the believer's sins are under the blood and out of the sight of God. Also, this purity is an act of regeneration wherein the sinner is not only counted righteous, and his sins taken away by Christ, but the Divine nature of Christ is imparted to him, he is raised out of his grave of sin into spiritual life, he is taken out of the kingdom of darkness and put into the kingdom of God's dear Son. Also, in regeneration there is a work begun wherein the sinner is being conformed to the perfect image of Christ. This purity is also a glorification. This has not yet taken place except in the eternal decree of God, but is sure, and all the saints will one day experience it. Glorification will be the resurrection of these bodies into the perfect likeness of the Lord Jesus, and a perfect deliverance from all sin, into perfect holiness before the Lord.

Spurgeon said, "The heart can only be purified by God's Holy Spirit. He must come upon us, and overshadow us, and when He thus comes to us, then is our heart changed, but never before that. When the Spirit of God thus comes to us, He cleanses the soul, to follow the line of our Saviour's teaching in the chapter before us, – by showing us our spiritual poverty: 'Blessed are the poor in spirit.' That is the first work of God's grace, – to make us feel that we are poor, that we are nothing, that we are undeserving, ill-deserving, hell-deserving sinners. As the Spirit proceeds with His work, the next thing that He does is to make us mourn; 'Blessed are they that mourn.' We mourn to think that we should have sinned as we have done, we mourn after our God, we mourn after pardon; and then the great process that effectually cleanses the heart is the application of the water and the blood which flowed from the riven side of Christ upon the Cross. Here it is, O sinners, that ye will find a double cure from the guilt and from the power of sin! When faith looks to the bleeding Saviour, it sees in Him not merely pardon for the past, but the putting away of the sinfulness of the present. The angel said to Joseph, before Christ was born, 'Thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.'"

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Chapter 7
The Peacemakers

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God."–Matthew 5:9.

As is fully evident from the messages that I have delivered on the Beatitudes, we have here the description of born again believers. This blessed portion of God's Word does not tell us how to be saved, but what the marks are of those who are saved. In today's message we have another of these marks. The child of God is a peacemaker! He is one that lives in peace with all men as far as it lies in him to do so, as well as to promote peace among others. Some have tried to say that this does not have reference to believers today, but only to the Jews in the future. I am sure that if God requires this of any of His people as a characteristic He requires it of all His people at all times. Future peace will not depend on the people of the Lord, but upon the personal coming of Christ Himself to subdue His enemies. God's children are peacemakers now! They will be peacemakers all their lives. I have a dear friend who is a member of the First Baptist Church of Minor Heights, of which I am pastor. Some who despise my ministry there, who do damage to the testimony of Christ, who would influence people to leave and have nothing to do with us, have tried to insult him on different occasions by calling him the peacemaker. They said that he only supports the Word to keep peace. I know this brother, and know that he loves the Word, the church, and his pastor. It is not an insult to be called a peacemaker, but is a testimony from your enemies that you are a child of God. Christ said that His followers would be called the peacemakers, and it is a blessed title!

When we speak of the Christian as being a peacemaker we do not mean that he makes peace between God and the sinner, for the work of reconciliation is through the work of Christ alone. He alone can make peace between the sinner and God. He alone has been appointed by the Father for the work of satisfaction. God's justice will not be satisfied by anything that you or I may do, but by the blood of Jesus Christ. We are told in Eph. 2:13-17 that He is our peace; He made peace; and He preached to us peace; i.e., as the effectual messenger of God to actually apply the peace of God to the sinner's heart. "But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; having abolished in his flesh the enemity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; and that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: and came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh."

If there is the need of peacemakers in the world, then it is implied that the world by nature does not have peace. The natural man does not have peace with God, because this peace is a Divine gift from the Father on the ground of the obedience and death of Jesus Christ. And the natural man does not have peace with others or there would be no need of this characteristic among born again believers. Man by nature is an enemy to God, and has set himself up as a rebel within His world. He hates Christ, and manifests this hatred by his attitude towards the child of God. If he perserves in this enmity he will die a rebel and stranger to God's grace and mercy. It is only through the death of Christ and the effectual work of the Spirit that he can be reconciled to the Father. This work of reconciliation comes by the Spirit stripping the sinner of his boasted power and self-sufficiency, self-righteousness, and rebellion. He imparts to him life, repentance, and faith whereby he falls at the feet of Christ Jesus pleading mercy and grace, lest he perish from the sight of God. In Romans 5:6-8, 10 we read, "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us . . . For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life."

In Titus 3:3 we read, "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another." Here we see that we were "hateful, and hating one another." By nature men are not only at enmity with God, but with one another. Here is where the Christian is to be a peacemaker! He himself is to live at peace with men, having a disposition of lovingness and loving those about him. This desire after peace with others is the mark of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. To have this peace sometimes means that the Christian will have to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, and give up his own personal will in matters. It means that he will and must exercise meekness and give over personal rights in many matters, and not be motivated by the self-love principle.

Romans 12:18 says, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." This teaches that it is impossible to live in peace with some men, but that we are to do all within our power to do so. It means that the offense will not be on our part, but in the determination of the other not to have peace. In the general context of Romans 12 we find statements that will aid in living in peace with all men as far as possible: "Bless them which persecute you: bless and curse not . . . Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men . . . Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

In James 3:17 we have a rule whereby this work is governed, which will serve as a caution against the peacemaker the world would like you to be: i.e., the world would have you to live in peace by disowning the doctrines that are so offensive to the flesh. This is not the peacemaker spoken of in the Scripture before us at this time. The Lord does not say that the peacemaker will have an easy time free from misunderstanding, but the very opposite. He who is born of God's Spirit is one that is misunderstood, hated, persecuted, misrepresented, and lied about. The peacemaker is to live in peace by not taking issue with these, but to bear them in meekness. You are to stand for the truth of God's Word if it costs you every comfort in the world. We read: "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." Note, this wisdom of God is first pure, and then peaceable. This is the same principle laid down in the Beatitudes. The preceding Beatitude is "Blessed are the pure in heart." The child of God is faithful and pure in heart and lives in peace as far as possible in conformity with this. Spurgeon said, "We are to be 'first pure, then peaceable.' Our peaceableness is never to be a compact with sin, or an alliance with that which is evil. We must set our faces like flints against everything which is contrary to God and His holiness."

In our work as peacemaker we can carry on a ministry for God toward man, and that is in the proclamation of the good news of peace for sinners in Jesus Christ. We can warn men to flee from the wrath to come and be reconciled to God through Christ. In Romans 10:15 we read, "And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!" And in 2 Cor. 5:20-21, "Now then we are ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."

"A word now upon the reward: 'for they shall be called the children of God,' which is a decisive proof that these Beatitudes contemplate not the moral virtues of the natural man, but rather the spiritual graces of the regenerate. To be made a child of God is to be renewed in His image and likeness: to be called so is to be esteemed and regarded as such. The Lord himself is 'the God of peace' and where this holy disposition is manifested by His people He owns them as His children . . . Furthermore holy peacemakers are recognized as children of God by their spiritual brethren. Have you received this grace of the Spirit, so that you sincerely desire and endeavour to live at peace with all men? Then that is an evidence you are a child of God, a pledge of your adoption. Labour to maintain it. Ultimately, God will make it manifest to all the universe that we are His children (Romans 8:19)." (A. W. Pink).

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Chapter 8
Blessed Are The Persecuted

The Christian life is one filled with paradoxes; such as, living by dying; poor yet making others rich; meek but possessing the world; blessing while being cursed; and here in today's study – happy in persecution. Matthew 5:10-12 reads: "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

It is strange that the world would persecute the Christians. They are spoken of in the Word of God as meek, humble, those who bless and curse not, who love their enemies, who do good to those who wrongly use them, who would do spiritual good to all men. Yet, it is the true experience that those who are born of Christ's Spirit, and live for His glory suffer persecution. This is that which they are to expect, and what is promised to them by the Lord Jesus Himself. In John 15:18-21 we read the words of the Saviour Himself: "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me." Christ states that it is a fact that those whom He has chosen will suffer from the ungodly world. He then gives the reasons for this. First, the world can only love their own. The Christian is not of the world, and stands as a contradiction of every prideful, self-love principle that moves it. If the saint were of the world he would be loved. Then, the Christian has the treatment of Christ from the world as his example. The servant is not greater than the Master. They hated Christ, they will hate those who are like Him. Again, the world will not hear the message of Christ, nor keep His words. When the saints speak they speak the words of Christ. If the world would not hear Him they will not hear those who speak His message this day. Beloved, this is good evidence that the message of salvation by sovereign grace is of the Lord in that the world loves the preaching of salvation by works, decisions, church membership, baptism, and the exercise of the free will. Yet, they hate the message of free, sovereign grace. They hate Christ on the throne! If they were of Christ they would love Him in all of His majesty and power. Only the elect will hear the message of Christ!

In John 16:1-3 Christ said, "These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yes, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me." In this passage Christ again tells the reason why His chosen ones are maltreated in this world. They will persecute the Christians because they do not know the Father, nor Christ. To know the Father as He is revealed by Christ is to have life eternal. Not to know the Father is to be under the ignorance of a darkened understanding, and lost in the power of sin. John 17:3 reads, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

The persecution of the saints is so certain and sure that we are instructed by the Holy Spirit to think it not strange when it comes upon us. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you." (1 Peter 4:12). Again, in I John 3:13 we are told to, "Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you."

"We must not indeed imagine that our enemies will avow the real ground of their aversion: they will not say, I hate you for your piety: they will give some other name to piety: they will call it fanaticism, or hypocrisy; and under that character will raise up their voice against it. When the Jews threatened to stone our Lord, He said to them, 'Many good works have I done among you; for which of them do you stone me?' They replied, 'For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.' In like manner they sought to put Him to death for violating, as they alleged, the sanctity of the Sabbath day. But whence came all this zeal for God's honour, and for the observance of the Sabbath? Were they all so holy and so righteous? No: in the midst of all their pretended concern for God's law they were ready enough to violate it themselves, and even to commit murder: which was a demonstration that the reasons they assigned were mere pretexts; and that the sanctity of His character was the true ground of their opposition to Him. Precisely thus must we expect persecution, ostensibly as evildoers, but really as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ." (Chas. Simeon).

The Scriptures are full of instruction as to how we are to react under persecution and suffering from the hands of evil-doers and over-zealous religionists, who are concerned about their self-made institutions rather than the glory of Christ, and faithfulness to His blessed Word. And, I am sorry to say, most of the persecution that is against the preaching of the Word of God in this day is from those who are religious, but lost; those who have so institutionalized the churches; those that have gained such possession of power; those who are promoting programs; those who will not have the Word of God taught in its purity, but call Gospel preachers disturbers, and move in opposition against any who dare to stand on the Word of God in its fullness! I fear our attitude is far from what it ought to be when we are privileged to suffer for the Gospel's sake. Christ suffered at the hands of the religious and political leaders of His day, and promised that we would be ill-treated in the same manner. We are not to murmur, but rejoice and count it all glory that we are counted so worthy to follow in His steps. I shall try to list several Scriptures that you might see what your attitude is to be.

First, you are to look upon persecution as a badge of honour. It is a medal pinned upon your coat by the Lord Himself, and serves as a mark of His love for you. In reference to Moses, Heb. 11:25-26 reads, "Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward."

Second, you are to look upon suffering and persecution as a special gift from the Lord Jesus. I know that there is not a gift from such a noble Giver as Christ that you want to miss. You should covet this gift as any other. Whom He loves He gives the privilege to suffer. "For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also TO SUFFER FOR HIS SAKE." (Phil. 1:29).

Third, you are to rejoice in all the persecution for righteousness that is brought upon you. Now, I must caution you to be sure that you suffer for the sake of Christ, and on the account of righteousness, and not because of your own evil. If you suffer for the Gospel you can rejoice that Christ counted you worthy of such a blessing. But if you suffer for your own ignorance and presumptuous pride, you have no glory. "And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name." (Acts 5:41).

Fourth, you are to count the bearing and offense of the cross as a glory. "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world." (Gal. 6:14). "Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on his behalf." (I Peter 4:16). If you suffer for the Gospel you should lift your heart in thanksgiving and praise and glorify the Lord for this blessing of being made like unto the Lord Jesus. Yours is a privilege that the world cannot partake of.

I close by giving you a word of encouragement! "God does not send you on a warfare at your own charges. He bids you to 'commit your soul to him in welldoing,' with an assured hope that he will keep it. Your merciful Saviour, who has trod the way before you, will sympathize with you under your trials, and overrule them all for good, and in due time put you safely, and forever, beyond the reach of all." (Chas. Simeon). (I Pet. 4:19; Heb. 4:15; Rom. 8:28; Rev. 7:16-17.)

Blessed are the humble souls that see
Their emptiness and poverty;
Treasures of grace to them are given,
And crowns of joy laid up in heaven.

Bless'd are the men of broken heart,
Who mourn for sin with inward smart;
The blood of Christ Divinely flows,
A healing balm for all their woes.

Bless'd are the meek, who stand afar
From rage and passion, noise and war;
God will secure their happy state,
And plead their cause against the great.

Bless'd are the souls that thirst for grace,
Hunger and long for righteousness;
They shall be well supplied and fed,
With living streams and living bread.

Bless'd are the men whose hearts do move
And melt with sympathy and love;
From Christ the Lord shall they obtain
Like sympathy and love again.

Bless'd are the men of peaceful life,
Who quench the coals of growing strife;
They shall be called the heirs of bliss,
The sons of God, the God of peace.

Bless'd are the suff'rers who partake
Of pain and shame for Jesus' sake;
Their souls shall triumph in the Lord,
Glory and joy are their reward. – I. Watts

Ferrell Griswold