15 August 2018

Responses to John MacArthur's "Social Injustice and the Gospel"

by Hohn Cho



"Racist." "Ignorant." "Fools." "Pope MacArthur." "Out of touch." "A pile of conservative ideological rubbish." "Old white evangelical Pastors." "He's got nothing. I can't get why all his followers are so excited. Cult of personality, I suppose." "Their heroes were slave masters." "Pope-like authoritarian leader." "Multimillionaire white man."

Such are some of the responses to John MacArthur's introductory article, Social Injustice and the Gospel, a piece so civil and rational and, well, biblical that I'm personally mystified at the shrill and hysterical nature of this type of reaction by some professing Christians.

One blogger, in a seeming attempt to rush out a "hot take" to MacArthur's article which he proceeded to spam in numerous places the article showed up, was so quick to speak per James 1:19 that he neglected to notice that he linked to a long-time conspiracy theorist with a plainly obvious axe to grind against MacArthur, as support for questioning of the extent and nature of MacArthur's involvement in Gospel ministry during the Civil Rights Movement! (When this was pointed out, he subsequently took the link down.) Regardless, all of this certainly appears to vindicate James White's prediction that "The Christian SJWs are going to be blowing up the net over the next couple of weeks. Mark my words."

I have long believed that Christians who have refused to buy into the viewpoint of many "social justice" advocates are and have always been more than willing to have a civil and rational discussion centered around the Bible with those who would disagree. And yet my perception has been that there is a distinct lack of interest in having such a discussion on the "social justice" side, in favor of mere declarations that their position is right, expectations that the orthodoxy of their position must not be challenged, and a dismissal or even vilification of people who attempt to do so.

This is often the case with socio-political movements, because they are typically too busy seeking to mobilize support, defeat opposition, and push forward some goal they deem to be desirable, to stop and consider for a moment whether or not their goals and positions are actually meritworthy. I can understand the reluctance to do this in the world, but in the church, if we are truly to be people of the Book who stand for the truth of the Word, we must take more than mere moments to discuss what the Bible says, understand what it means, and only then act according to our God-given consciences and calling and stewardship.

In having this discussion, I appreciated the words of Nate Pickowicz, calling for graciousness. My hope had been the same as Tim Challies, that after well over 50 years of faithful ministry-and nearly 50 of it at the same church-an older man who has been right about so many other issues over the decades would at least have "the credibility [to] gain a hearing." But even if that bare courtesy could not be extended, my prayer has been that people would at least heed 1 Timothy 5:1 and make respectful appeals rather than sharp rebukes... much less puerile and at times even ethnicity-based insults.

The initial signs are not particularly encouraging, but our God reigns, and we shall see where He would have us go. Finally, one final word to those who might be on my "side" of the debate, I can understand why some of us might be excited that the discussion many of us have desired to have could actually be happening, but let's also try to moderate and even restrain our impulses toward partisanship and cheerleading. I thought this word from Jacob Denhollander was both gracious and appropriate. And of course, let's also strive to maintain the highest possible standards of Spirit-filled speech, even as we engage in a vigorous debate about the Gospel, Christian orthopraxy, and individual consciences and convictions.

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12 August 2018

The Parting


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The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from According to Promise, pages 28-30, Pilgrim Publications.   


"If my reader would feel freer and more at home in society than in the church of God, let him know assuredly that he belongs to the world, and let him not deceive himself."

Isaac and Ishmael lived together for a time. The self-religionist and the believer in the promise may be members of the same church for years, but they are not agreed, and cannot be happy together, for their principles are essentially opposed. As the believer grows in grace and enters upon his spiritual manhood, he will be more and more disagreeable to the legalist, and it will ultimately be seen that the two have no fellowship with one another. 

They must separate, and this is the word that will be fulfilled to the Ishmaelite: “Cast out this bond-woman and her son: for the son of this bond-woman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.” Grievous as the parting may be, it will be according to the divine will, and according to the necessities of the case. Oil and water will not mingle, neither will the natural man’s religion agree with that which is born of the promise, and sustained by the promise. Their parting will be only the outward result of a serious difference which always existed.

Outwardly, and in this present life, the heir of the promise did not appear to have the best of it. Nor, indeed, should this be expected, since they who choose their heritage in the future have, in fact, agreed to accept trial in the present.

Isaac experienced certain afflictions which Ishmael never knew: he was mocked, and he was at last laid on the altar; but nothing of the sort happened to Ishmael. You, who like Isaac are the children of the promise, must not envy those who are the heirs of this present life, though their lot seems easier than your own. Your temptation is to do so; even as the Psalmist did when he was grieved because of the prosperity of the wicked.

There is in this fretting a measure of running back from our spiritual choice: have we not agreed to take our part in the future rather than in the present? Do we rue the bargain? Moreover, how absurd it is to envy those who are themselves so much to be pitied! To lose the promise is practically to lose everything; and the self-righteous have lost it. 

These worldly professors have no spiritual light or life, and they desire none. What a loss, to be in the dark and not to know it! They have enough religion to make them respectable among men, and comfortable in their own consciences; but this is a sorry gain if they are abominable in the sight of God. They feel no inward fightings and wrestlings; they find no contention of the old man against the new; and so they go through life with a jaunty air, knowing nothing till their end come. 

What wretchedness to be so besotted! Again, I say, do not envy them. Better far is the life of Isaac with its sacrifice, than that of Ishmael with its sovereignty and wild freedom; for all the worldling’s greatness will soon be ended and leave nothing behind it but that which will make the eternal world to be the more miserable.


05 August 2018

Prescient medicine for social media (circa 1883)


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The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from the The Sword and the Trowel, May, 1883, "The use of wool in the ears."   


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"It will be a mark of wisdom to be impatient with the follies of human converse."

We are told concerning Bernard of Clairvaux that, after he had given himself up entirely to contemplation and walking with God, he met with a considerable difficulty in the visits of those friends who were still in the world. Their conversation brought back thoughts and feelings connected with the frivolities which he had for ever forsaken; and on one occasion, after he had been wearied with the idle chit-chat of his visitors, he found himself unable to raise his heart towards heaven. 

When he was engaged in the exercise of prayer he felt that their idle talk was evidently the cause of his losing fellowship with God. He could not well forbid his friends coming, and therefore he prepared himself for their injurious conversation by carefully stopping his ears with little wads of flax. He then buried his head deep in his cowl, and though exposed for an hour to their conversation, he heard nothing, and consequently suffered no injury. He spoke to each of them some few words for edification, and they went their way. 

We do not suppose that for any great length of time he was much troubled with such visitors, for he must have been an uncommonly uninteresting companion. If people once discover that their clatter is lost upon you, they are not quite so eager to repeat the infliction.

We are not admirers of Bernard’s monastic severity, but we wish it were possible to imitate his use of wool, in the spirit if not in the letter. We are all thrown in the way of persons who will talk; and their talk has in it about as much solidity as the comet, of which we are told that a thousand square miles, if condensed and compressed, would go into a thimble or an acorn-cup. Cowper made an accurate computation of the value of ordinary conversation when he said, —

Collect at evning what the day brought forth,
Compress the sum into its solid worth,
And if it weigh the importance of a fly,
The scales are false, or algebra a lie.

If it were of any use to these human fog-horns, whose noise so much disturbs gracious souls, we would reason with them: but, alas, it would be casting pearls before parrots, who would hop off with them, drop them, and come back to scream again. 

Still, though it may be wasted effort, we would tell them a little story, which we met with in a tiny book called “Gold Dust.” “‘ Mother,’ asked a child, 'since nothing is ever lost, where do all our thoughts go?’ ‘to God,’ answered the mother, gravely, ‘who remembers them for ever.’ ‘For ever!’ said the child; he leaned his head, and drawing closer to his mother, murmured, ‘I am frightened!’”

Do you triflers never feel frightened too? If so, permit this healthy fear to grow; and remember that idle words are worse than idle thoughts, for they lead others into evil, and murder good thoughts in those who else might have quietly meditated.

As the topics of conversation which are usually intruded upon devout minds are worthless, if not worse, the best way is to escape from them altogether; but when this is not possible; oh, would that the gift of deafness could be conferred upon us! Oh, to protect the drum of the ear with a plate of iron! Will no one invent us ear-shields? 

The process of letting chit-chat go in at one ear and out at the other is greatly injurious to the brain; and the mere passage of such traffic through the mind is painful to the spiritual man’s heart. It would be a far better thing not to let it enter at all. 

Could we not manage, by determinedly introducing holy topics, to become as truly bores to the foolish talkers as the chatterboxes are to us? or, better still, could we not turn the flood of conversation into a profitable channel, and subdue wild tongues to some useful service, as men tame rushing rivulets and make them turn their mill-wheels? Oh, that it were possible!

How often, immediately after a holy service, where in heart and mind we have been carried to the top of Tabor, so that we have beheld the transfiguration of all gracious truth, have we come down to the foot of the mountain to meet with very fools! They have inane remarks to offer upon the congregation, the faults of the singing, the mistakes of the preacher, or other worthless trifles. They behave as if, in the presence of God, and heaven, and hell, they found a fit place for acting the merry-andrew, and playing their fantastic tricks. 

If they have ever been in the presence of the King of kings, they have been more engrossed by the dust beneath his feet than with his majesty and glory. This dust they bring away, and throw into our eyes, so that with the pain thereof the holy vision vanishes away. Oh, that such beings should exist! 

02 August 2018

Sola Scriptura vs. Church Traditions

by Phil Johnson



I'm in Finland to speak to a group of Reforming church leaders on the subject of sola Scriptura. The conference here started tonight. I'll be covering topics like the authority, accuracy, and sufficiency of Scripture. I'll also be highlighting the dangers of vesting too much authority in ecclesiastical tradition—especially when our traditions might burden or obscure the simplicity of the gospel. Or worse yet, in some churches and denominations, long-treasured church traditions have often been used to adjust or nullify clear statements of Scripture (cf. Mark 7:13).

To be clear: I am not one of those who thinks we need to jettison every order of service, structure, or interpretation of Scripture that has some pedigree in church tradition. (I'm not an organoclast.) I would be the very last person to advocate ignorance of church history, show sneering contempt for the very idea of tradition, or recommend a haughty, overweening attitude toward godly churchmen and their beliefs and practices from past ages. Tradition has a legitimate place in the church; but that place is not near the top of the hierarchy.

Anyway, while I was at dinner with conference attendees tonight, a friend in America texted me a question about those very issues. He was asking if we could have an extended conversation when I get back in the office. I'm looking forward to that. Meanwhile, I thought his question so good and the issue so important that I decided to answer him briefly with a text message on the spot. My Finnish friends around the table were engaged in conversation with one another, so I thought I could dash off a quick reply without being impolite.

Wrong. My reply became a bit longer than planned, and by the time I finished thumb-typing, I was the only one left at the table. So with apologies to my Finnish hosts to whom I was unintentionally rude, here's my reply to my friend's question. My answer should give you sufficient clues to discern everything you need to know about the gist of what he asked. Here you go:

Short answer: as in all structures, authority is definitionally hierarchical. I think well-established ecclesiastical traditions can carry some authority, but never in a way that trumps the Bible.

In other words the practice and teachings of our spiritual forefathers ought to be studied and taken seriously, and though they have no authority to challenge or add dogmatic articles of faith to what the Bible teaches, certain traditions do have more authority than whatever "God told me this morning. . . "

I think one of the besetting sins of the current generation(s) is a tendency to ignore the voices of godly men who preceded us. Sola scriptura properly understood is not a recipe for each person arriving at his or her own interpretation of the text without any insights gleaned from commentaries, reference works, or the history of what godly men and councils have said in the past. (The notion that me and my Bible are all the instruction I'm willing to heed is what I would typically refer to as "nuda scriptura rather than sola Scriptura.")

In short, if I arrive at a belief or interpretation that no one before me has ever seen, my assumption should be that I'm probably wrong.

On the other hand, the danger of placing too much weight on tradition was shrilly rejected by Christ himself, so I'm inclined to think the greater danger lies there. But there's a deep, deadly ditch on both sides, and it behooves us to stay between those ditches.

See also: Sola Scriptura and the role of teachers in our spiritual growth.

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29 July 2018

Foul falls


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The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from the The New Park Street Pulpit, volume 1, sermon number 22, "A caution to the presumptuous."  


"He who thinks he stands is in danger of a fall. The true Christian cannot possibly suffer a final fall but he is very much disposed to a foul fall."

My brother, could I take thee into the wards of that hospital where lie sick and wounded Christians, I could make you tremble. I would show you one, who, by a sin that occupied him not a single moment, is so sore broken, that his life is one continued scene of misery.

I could show you another one, a brilliant genius, who served his God with energy who is now--not a priest of the devil it is true, but almost that--sitting down in despair, because of his sin.

I could point you to another person, who once stood in the church, pious and consistent, but who now comes up to the same house of prayer as if he were ashamed of himself, sits in some remote corner, and is no longer treated with the kindness he formerly received, the brethren themselves being suspicious because he so greatly deceived them, and brought such dishonour upon the cause of Christ.

Oh! did ye know the sad pain which those endure who fall. Could ye tell how many have fallen, (and have not perished, it is true,) but still have dragged themselves along, in misery, throughout their entire existence, I am sure ye would take heed.

Come with me to the foot of the mountain of presumption. See there the maimed and writhing forms of many who once soared with Icarian wings in the airy regions of self-confidence; yet there they lie with their bones broken, and their peace destroyed. There lies one who had immortal life within him; see how full of pain he appears, and he looks a mass of helpless matter. He is alive, it is true, but just alive. Ye know not how some of those enter heaven who are saved, “so as by fire.”

One man walks to heaven; he keeps consistent; God is with him, and he is happy all his journey through. Another says, “I am strong, I shall not fall.” He runs aside to pluck a flower; he sees something which the devil has laid in his way; he is caught first in this gin, and then in that trap; and when he comes near the river, instead of finding before him that stream of nectar of which the dying Christian drinks, he sees fire through which he has to pass, blazing upon the surface of the water. The river is on fire, and as he enters it he is scorched and burned.

The hand of God is lifted up saying, “Come on, come on;” but as he dips his foot in the stream, he finds the fire kindling around him, and though the hand clutches him by the hair of the head, and drags him through, he stands upon the shore of heaven, and cries, “I am a monument of divine mercy, for I have been saved so as by fire.”

Oh! do you want to be saved by fire, Christians? Would ye not rather enter heaven, singing songs of praises? Would ye not glorify him on earth, and then give your last testimony with, “Victory, victory, victory, unto him that loved us;” then shut your eyes on earth, and open them in heaven? If you would do so, presume not. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”


23 July 2018

Convictions of the Christian “Social Justice” Movement and Responses Thereto

by Hohn Cho



Reader AK said: I and others are still unclear on the "woke dogmas" or the unifying convictions of this "Christian justice movement"

This is a somewhat challenging question, because as with many decentralized movements, different people are going to answer this question in diverse ways. But as someone who participated avidly in the secular version of this movement for many years and has observed it in the church for several years, here is my effort.

My goal is to fairly present a number of views common to the "social justice" movement within conservative evangelicalism in the US, even as I acknowledge that the list is neither comprehensive, nor necessarily universal to every individual "social justice" advocate.

  1. Certain groups have been marginalized and oppressed throughout American history. These groups include, but are not limited to, ethnic minorities and women.
  2. This oppression, especially when amplified over many years—and in certain cases, many generations—has resulted in negative effects that have real impacts to this very day.
  3. This problem is both a historical and a current one, in that vestiges of the historical problems persist systemically within existing structures today.
  4. Moreover, the current inequities are so vast that to apply a "clean slate" or "equality of opportunity" paradigm alone would be neither sufficient nor just.
  5. Accordingly, as a matter of fundamental justice, existing inequities ought to be addressed by eliminating systemic problems and tangibly assisting those who have been oppressed.
  6. Because these inequities resulted from societal structures benefiting those with power and privilege, any costs associated with #5 should be borne primarily by society and the privileged.
I believe the above six concepts could likely be true of either a secular or a Christian "social justice" advocate. The below six concepts will attempt to focus in on the Christian perspective.

  1. Christians ought to be deeply concerned about these inequities, because we are called to love our neighbors, to love even our enemies, and to help the "least of these" as the example of the Good Samaritan clearly lays out.
  2. Any failure or even lack of enthusiasm to put into action this call to love our neighbors and help the least of these is a sin, or at the very least a detriment to our Christian witness, and thus individual repentance in these areas is appropriate.
  3. The church has a role to play as well, initially in the casting off and corporate repentance of any overt past or present sins relating to oppressed groups (see, e.g., the Southern Baptist Convention and slavery).
  4. As part of the repentance in #9, or at least as part of the compassionate sensitivity associated with #7, the church should actively disciple its members to love our neighbors, and examine itself to see if it is placing even unintentional barriers to fellowship for oppressed groups.
  5. One way these barriers to fellowship for oppressed groups could be discerned is examining the ethnic makeup of one's local body and comparing it to the ethnic makeup of the surrounding community.
  6. Some would argue that corporate repentance by the church should include measures such as reparations and/or proactive hiring/ordination of pastors/elders from oppressed groups, in a type of affirmative action. Others (often amillennial and post-millennial believers) would argue that an overt role of the church should be to actively work toward social change and improvement.
Subject to my earlier qualifications, I think that's enough for a basic sketch. And now that I've laid out what I hope is a fair summary, I'm going to respond with a brief set of conceptual rebuttals.

  1. No question there have been past injustices. Indeed, as we move back in history, we see a wretched and at times horrifying catalogue of evils and wrongs, and no single people group has a monopoly on this, as either victim or perpetrator. And delving into this issue begs the question of how broadly do you go, how far back do you go? Happily, we have answers from Scripture, because Ezekiel 18:20, Jeremiah 31:30, Deuteronomy 24:16, Galatians 6:4-5, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Romans 2:6, and other verse are crystal clear that each man is responsible for his own sins, and not the sins of his ancestors or other people.
  2. Additionally, to say it plainly, there is a fact-based debate over how prevalent and dire the sin of partiality vis-à-vis oppressed groups is in the US right now. I neither need nor desire to dispute personal experiences of ill treatment—and indeed, I could share several of my own—in order to observe that accusations of systemic problems in a nation of over 325 million people require more than proof-by-anecdote. Hard data are far more persuasive, and in that regard, there are many competing studies out there. And having reviewed dozens of them, my own view is that the best data are multivariate analyses which demonstrate the reality that complex issues, such as reasons for inequality, defy simple univariate answers (e.g., "it's all the fault of discrimination"). Meanwhile, the worst data tend to be studies from highly liberal/leftist humanities professors which contain clear methodological limitations, or even engage in question-begging, to assume the ideologically desired conclusions.
  3. Moreover, I've also seen a tendency among "social justice" advocates to ignore or minimize positive news and data, such as the increase in approval of interracial marriages from 4% in 1958 to 87% in 2013, representing "one of the largest shifts of public opinion in Gallup history". Or the reality that the US did indeed elect—twice!—an ethnic minority to the highest and most powerful position in the land. This does not mean the sin of partiality has disappeared, of course, but it does indicate progress. The reality is, it is and always will be impossible to eliminate the sin of partiality this side of glory, because the Scriptures are clear that we are all sinners, as Romans 3:9-10 and many other verses declare. We don't need to be fatalistic about this, of course, but it is more than appropriate to consider concepts such as magnitude, urgency, and even diminishing returns as we examine the sweep of stewardship of all that is set before us.
  4. This begs a fundamental question . . . how do we opt to prioritize "social justice" within the grid of many hundreds of Christian commands? There are, after all, "things of first importance" described in Scripture, and there are commands we are to be doing at all times, such as rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks. (And I will note that in contrast, we are never called in Scripture to always be mourning, protesting, or expressing grievances.) Given a spare hour, should you spend it reading the Word, praying, doing street evangelism, serving your spouse via housework, or playing with your children? The answer is one of Christian liberty and stewardship, and ultimately each one of us will give an account to God for that hour per Romans 14:12. For anyone else to insist that you need to spend your time, money, or resources in a specific way, or to prioritize their heartfelt cause over your own, amounts to a treacherous path toward legalistic conscience-binding.
  5. Even when it comes to loving our neighbor, caring for the least of these, or doing justice, that remains an issue of liberty and stewardship. It might surprise you to hear that even with all of the constant media uproar about police shootings, the left-of-center Washington Post and the liberal The Guardian reported that 68 unarmed people (of all ethnicities) in 2017 and 170 unarmed people (again, of all ethnicities) in 2016, respectively, were killed by police in the US. Each of those people carried the Imago Dei, and regardless of the nature or justifiability of the shooting, I don't doubt that they each had loved ones who mourned their deaths. I can think of a dear friend who lost a loved one to a police shooting, and I mourned and still mourn with her. But in terms of relative commonality, more people (189) died of constipation in the US in 2016 . . . which, to be fair, sounds like a pretty awful way to die as well. In contrast, the horror of abortion murdered an estimated 926,200 unborn babies in 2014, a disproportionately high number of which were ethnic minorities, by the way. In that light, are those of us who believe the issue of abortion is, say, at least 5,000 times more important than the issue of unarmed people killed by police being somehow unfair or unreasonable?
  6. When it comes to repenting of the failure to love my neighbor, I am personally far more convicted and motivated with respect to sharing the Gospel with those around me, than I am of the sin of partiality as it pertains to ethnicity. In complete candor, for a variety of reasons, I am not currently convicted of the sin of partiality as it pertains to ethnicity. This is not to say that I am perfect in this area, of course, nor to say that the Holy Spirit won't someday convict me in this area, perhaps even deeply. But Christians are capable of maintaining a clear conscience in certain areas or toward certain people, as the Scriptures plainly state in Acts 23:1, Acts 24:16, Romans 9:1, 1 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 1:12, 1 Timothy 1:19, 2 Timothy 1:3, and 1 Peter 3:16. Self-examination in these areas can be helpful and profitable, but it crosses into presumption and trying to be the Holy Spirit in another's life when certain "social justice" advocates insist that people are or should feel guilty of this or that particular sin. At the end of the day, 1 Corinthians 4:5 tells us that hidden things and the purposes of the heart are for the Lord to reveal and disclose, not for others to assume or believe the worst.
  7. Regarding the issue of privilege, there is no question that certain people are born with greater privileges than others. I joked recently that I was outraged that I was born without white privilege, tall privilege, attractive privilege, born-to-wealthy-parents privilege, firstborn privilege, and especially in our Reformed-ish circles, able-to-grow-beards privilege. At the end of the day, it is the Lord alone who in His sovereignty ordains the privileges and challenges associated with our birth, so why should we have either pride or shame in those circumstances, with which we had absolutely nothing to do? Moreover, as Christians, to the extent we are granted privileges, we praise Him, and to the extent we are granted challenges, still we praise Him as James 1:2, Romans 5:3, 1 Peter 1:6, and other verses make very clear.
I will close for now by saying that the biggest concern that I and numerous others have about the "social justice" movement in the church is that turning our attention toward social concerns necessarily increases their relative priority, and thus necessarily decreases the relative priority of Gospel proclamation. Again, just to speak plainly, I am far more concerned about the furtherance of the Gospel to the uttermost ends of the earth, than I am about certain marginal improvements with respect to, say, living standards in our own abundantly blessed first-world country.

Church history is filled with the wreckage of denominations and organizations which became distracted by social issues, and then over the course of time, abandoned their Gospel priorities and even their doctrinal fidelity. We Christians in America are already so apt to being distracted by the shiny things of the world, some of which might even be good or neutral things, in and of themselves. My prayer is that we will refuse to be diverted from the beauty and simplicity of the perfect Word of God and His Gospel by an unnecessary focus on anything peripheral to that, whether it is "social justice" or worldly politics—often two sides of the very same distracting coin.

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22 July 2018

“Alone"

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The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from the The Cheque-Book of the Bank of Faith, September 26, Pilgrim Publications.

"Lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations." Numbers 23:9

Who would wish to dwell among the nations, and to be numbered
with them? Why, even the professing church is such that to follow the Lord fully within its bounds is very difficult. There is such a mingling and mixing that one often sighs for “a lodge in some vast wilderness.”

Certain it is that the Lord would have his people follow a separated path as to the world, and come out decidedly and distinctly from it. We are set apart by the divine decree, purchase, and calling, and our inward experience has made us greatly to differ from men of the world; and therefore our place is not in their Vanity Fair, nor in their City of Destruction, but in the narrow way where all true pilgrims must follow their Lord.

This may not only reconcile us to the world’s cold shoulder and sneers, but even cause us to accept them with pleasure as being a part of our covenant portion.

Our names are not in the same book, we are not of the same seed, we are not bound for the same place, neither are we trusting to the same guide, therefore it is well that we are not of their number. 

Only let us be found in the number of the redeemed, and we are content to be odd and solitary to the end of the chapter.