"If thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it."
God's altar was to be built of unhewn stones, that no trace of human skill or labour might be seen upon it. Human wisdom delights to trim and arrange the doctrines of the cross into a system more artificial and more congenial with the depraved tastes of fallen nature; instead, however, of improving the gospel carnal wisdom pollutes it, until it becomes another gospel, and not the truth of God at all. All alterations and amendments of the Lord's own Word are defilements and pollutions. The proud heart of man is very anxious to have a hand in the justification of the soul before God; preparations for Christ are dreamed of, humblings and repentings are trusted in, good works are cried up, natural ability is much vaunted, and by all means the attempt is made to lift up human tools upon the divine altar. It were well if sinners would remember that so far from perfecting the Saviour's work, their carnal confidences only pollute and dishonour it. The Lord alone must be exalted in the work of atonement, and not a single mark of man's chisel or hammer will be endured. There is an inherent blasphemy in seeking to add to what Christ Jesus in His dying moments declared to be finished, or to improve that in which the Lord Jehovah finds perfect satisfaction. Trembling sinner, away with thy tools, and fall upon thy knees in humble supplication; and accept the Lord Jesus to be the altar of thine atonement, and rest in him alone.
Many professors may take warning from this morning's text as to the doctrines which they believe. There is among Christians far too much inclination to square and reconcile the truths of revelation; this is a form of irreverence and unbelief, let us strive against it, and receive truth as we find it; rejoicing that the doctrines of the Word are unhewn stones, and so are all the more fit to build an altar for the Lord.
"As it began to dawn, came Magdalene, to see the sepulchre."
Let us learn from Mary Magdalene how to obtain fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Notice how she sought. She sought the Saviour very early in the morning. If thou canst wait for Christ, and be patient in the hope of having fellowship with him at some distant season, thou wilt never have fellowship at all; for the heart that is fitted for communion is a hungering and a thirsting heart. She sought him also with very great boldness. Other disciples fled from the sepulchre, for they trembled and were amazed; but Mary, it is said, "stood" at the sepulchre. If you would have Christ with you, seek him boldly. Let nothing hold you back. Defy the world. Press on where others flee. She sought Christ faithfully--she stood at the sepulchre. Some find it hard to stand by a living Saviour, but she stood by a dead one. Let us seek Christ after this mode, cleaving to the very least thing that has to do with him, remaining faithful though all others should forsake him. Note further, she sought Jesus earnestly--she stood "weeping". Those tear-droppings were as spells that led the Saviour captive, and made him come forth and show himself to her. If you desire Jesus' presence, weep after it! If you cannot be happy unless he come and say to you, "Thou art my beloved," you will soon hear his voice. Lastly, she sought the Saviour only. What cared she for angels, she turned herself back from them; her search was only for her Lord. If Christ be your one and only love, if your heart has cast out all rivals, you will not long lack the comfort of his presence. Mary Magdalene sought thus because she loved much. Let us arouse ourselves to the same intensity of affection; let our heart, like Mary's, be full of Christ, and our love, like hers, will be satisfied with nothing short of himself. O Lord, reveal thyself to us this evening!
Today's reading: Psalm 10-12, Acts 19:1-20 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: Psalm 10-12
1 Why, LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.
3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.
4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
5 His ways are always prosperous;
your laws are rejected by him;
he sneers at all his enemies.
6 He says to himself, "Nothing will ever shake me."
He swears, "No one will ever do me harm."
Today's New Testament reading: Acts 19:1-20
Paul in Ephesus
1 While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?"
They answered, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
3 So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?"
"John's baptism," they replied....
[Nō'ah] - rest.
1. The son of Lamech of the posterity of Seth - the tenth from Adam. He died at the age of 950 years (Gen. 5:29, 30, 32; 6:8). The LXX version says that the name is a play on the statement, "This same shall give us rest."
The Man Who Built the Ark
Nothing is known of the early life of Noah, who first appeared on the scene when he was five hundred years old. Evidently his father, Lamech, was a religious man and gave his son a fitting name, meaning rest . This much we do know about Noah, he lived in a time when men were universally corrupt, so much so that God said He would destroy the human race (Gen. 6:1-7).
In the midst of an age of moral darkness, Noah was perfect in his generation. He walked with God and had a life radiant with righteousness. Intimate with God, he learned of His purpose to destroy mankind (Heb. 11:7), and was given the strange and almost impossible task of building a vessel large enough to shelter his family and a pair of all the birds and the beasts of that time.
Noah set about the tremendous work of the Ark's construction. Daily he had to endure the ridicule of the godless. At last the waters of judgment covered the earth, but all within the Ark were safe and saved. What a striking illustration the Ark affords of Christ, who preserves us from the flood of divine judgment. Here is an outline for the pastor to extend:
I. Noah walked with God in spite of surrounding iniquity (Gen. 6:8-12). There were saints in Caesar's household.
II. Noah was obedient when appointed to a difficult task (Gen. 6:14-21; 7:5).
2. Also the name of a daughter of Zelophehad, the grandson of Gilead (Num. 26:33).