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Jesus’ First Sermon

Copyright © 2018

by Jim Kerwin

a scroll of the Hebrew scripturesWhat is “the acceptable year of the Lord?1

Every time there is a “first” in the Scriptures, it is good to take note of it, because often the Holy Spirit is laying down a special foundation, or principle, or doctrine. I believe this is true in the case of Jesus’ first recorded sermon, which we will look at today. You will find His message in Luke chapter 4. You can turn there (I’ll give you the verses in a minute) while I introduce the subject.

Part of what I teach leaders when I come to Latin America is the importance of context when they are reading and studying and teaching and preaching God’s word. The two most important points are these:

  1. Every time we come to the Scriptures, as we are reading we must ask ourselves, “What is the context of this verse, this passage, this chapter, this book? What is the context within the text, and what are the historical, cultural, and original language contexts? What do I need to know to fully understand the passage like the first readers did?
  2. The greatest context is that of the entire Bible, which is why I encourage all Christian leaders – indeed, all Christians – to read through the Bible cover to cover at least once every year.

As you turn with me to Luke 4:14, let’s think about the context of our passage. In the previous chapter, Luke 3, Jesus was water-baptized by John; immediately the Spirit of the Lord [click to continue…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 5)

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part V:
Advice to the Sanctified

Section 25 (continued)

Question 29: Can those who are perfect grow in grace?

Answer: Undoubtedly they can; and that not only while they are in the body, but to all eternity.

Question 30: Can they fall from it?

Answer: I am well assured they can: matter of fact puts this beyond dispute. Formerly we thought, that one saved from sin could not fall; now we know the contrary. We are surrounded with instances of those who lately experienced all that I mean by perfection. They had both the fruit of the Spirit, and the witness; but they have now lost both. Neither does anyone stand by virtue of anything that is implied in the nature of the state. There is no such height or strength of holiness as it is impossible to fall from. If there be any that cannot fall, this wholly depends on the promise of God.

Question 31: Can those who fall from this state recover it? [click to continue…]

Earth’s Most Powerful Preacher

Copyright © 20111

Percy Gutteridge

Psalm 19

  1. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.
  2. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night shows knowledge.
  3. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
  4. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
  5. Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoices as a strong man to run a race.
  6. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hidden from the heat thereof.
  7. The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.
  8. The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
  9. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
  10. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
  11. Moreover by them is your servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.
  12. Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.
  13. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.
  14. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Who Is Earth’s Most Powerful Preacher?

Let’s consider the question, “Who is the most powerful preacher that God has ordained on earth?” And understand that I’m not talking about a human being. I am not going to pick out one of today’s famous evangelists or ministers and say, “This one is the most powerful preacher,” because none of them has the worldwide audience or impact of God’s sovereign choice. So then, let’s refine the question and ask, “What is the most powerful preacher that God has ordained on earth?” as we examine potential candidates.

The Sun?

How about the sun? Is the sun earth’s most powerful preacher? Our Scripture passage says that the sun is really a preacher; it comes out of its chamber as a bridegroom. It comes up in the morning and goes down at night, going right over the whole circuit of heaven, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. It preaches of light, it preaches of energy, it preaches of power, it preaches of judgment, it preaches even of love. It preaches also of life, because there would be no life without the sun. The sun preaches to us about so many things.

But men don’t take any notice. In fact, some foolish people [click to continue…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 1)

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part I:
Historical Background
of the Teaching

Section 1

What I purpose in the following pages is, to give a plain and distinct account of the steps by which I was led, during a course of many years, to embrace the doctrine of Christian Perfection.  This I owe to the serious part of mankind; those who desire to know all the truth as it is in Jesus.  And these only are concerned in questions of this kind.  To these I would nakedly declare the thing as it is, endeavouring all along to show, from one period to another, both what I thought, and why [click to continue…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 2)

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part II:
The Teaching Explained

Section 17

On Monday, June 25, 1744 our first conference began, six clergymen and all our preachers being present.  The next morning we seriously considered the doctrine of sanctification, or perfection.  The questions asked concerning it, and the substance of the answers given, were as follows:—

Question: What is it to be sanctified?

Answer: To be renewed in the image of God, in righteousness and true holiness [Ephesians 4:24].

Question: What is implied in being a perfect Christian?

Answer: The loving God with all our heart, and mind, and soul (Deut. vi. 5). [click to continue…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 3)

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part III:
Tares Among the Wheat Contrasted
with the Wonderful Testimony of Jane Cooper

Section 20

In the year 1762 there was a great increase of the work of God in London.  Many, who had hitherto cared for none of these things, were deeply convinced of their lost estate; many found redemption in the blood of Christ; not a few backsliders were healed; and a considerable number of persons believed that God had saved them from all sin.  Easily foreseeing that Satan would be endeavouring to sow tares among the wheat [Matthew 13:24-30], I took much pains to apprise them of the danger, particularly with regard to pride and enthusiasm.  And while I stayed in town, I had reason to hope they continued both humble and sober-minded.  But almost as soon as I was gone, enthusiasm broke in.  Two or three began to take their own imaginations for impressions from God, and thence to suppose that they should never die; and these, labouring to bring others into the same opinion, occasioned much noise and confusion.  Soon after, the same persons, with a few more, ran into other extravagances,—fancying they could not be tempted; that they should feel no more pain; and that they had the gift of prophecy, and of discerning of spirits. [click to continue…]

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection (Part 4)

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

A Plain Account of Christian Perfection

by John Wesley

Part IV:
“Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection”

Section 25

The next year [1763], the number of those who believed they were saved from sin still increasing, I judged it needful to publish, chiefly for their use, Farther Thoughts on Christian Perfection:

Question 1: How is “Christ the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth”? (Rom. x. 4)

Answer: In order to understand this, you must understand what law is here spoken of; and this, I apprehend, is:— [click to continue…]

This entry is part 7 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

Public Domain1

Evangelist Thomas Cook

The reason why many do not apprehend the true nature of the salvation of Jesus Christ is because they do not understand the true nature of sin. Defective views of sin lead to incorrect views of privilege. What we think of the Atonement depends greatly upon our view of the evil which made it necessary.

Without the fullest information about sin, no man can have the fullest information about himself; or, what is still more important, without understanding sin no man can ever understand God and His dealings with us. The man who has felt his guilt most deeply always appreciates most the value of Christ’s redeeming work. Sin has many aspects, but there are two primary forms in which it exists. We can form no adequate conception of its nature, nor of the remedy God has provided, unless we look at it from these two points of view. We must discriminate between guilt and depravity. [click to continue…]

This entry is part 5 of 28 in the series New Testament Holiness

Public Domain1

Evangelist Thomas Cook

It is a mistake to suppose that there is any state of grace this side of heaven which puts a Christian where he is exempt from temptation.  So long as a soul is on probation, it will be tested by solicitations to sin.

It is true, when the heart is cleansed from all evil, the warfare within ceases. The struggle with the flesh, or inbred sin, or depravity, by whatever name it may be called, comes to an end when all antagonisms to God are expelled from the soul, and Christ reigns without a rival. But there are other enemies than those which exist within, against whom we shall have to fight strenuously to the end. “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness (wicked spirits) in high places” [Ephesians 6:12]. This implies temptation, but temptation cannot be inconsistent with holiness, because Jesus was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” [Hebrews 4:15].

The Christian life is a long battle, but that fact does not imply that we are sinful, or inclined to sin. The nearer we live to God, the thicker and faster will Satan’s arrows fly. Some Christians do not live near enough to God to be the subject of a downright spiritual struggle. There is no better evidence of grace and progress than that we are much harassed by Satan’s emissaries. He does not need to employ his forces against nominal and inconsistent professors of religion. Severe temptation often precedes, or follows, special and signal blessing. Christ’s great battle with Apollyon occurred immediately after the descent of the Holy Ghost at His Baptism. As soon as He had received the signal anointing, which was to prepare Him for His great mission, “then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” [Matthew 4:1]. His temptation was evidently a part of the Divine plan, not only permitted, but arranged for. Experience was gained in His conflict with Satan, which could not have been obtained in any other way. Having “suffered being tempted,” [Hebrews 2:18] He is now able to succour those who are tempted as would have been impossible had He not resisted Satan’s fiery darts Himself.

Temptations are permitted for a purpose. None can come without Divine permission. Did not Satan complain that God had set a hedge about Job which he could not pass without a special permit [Job 1:10]? The Indians say that when a man kills a foe, the strength of the slain enemy passes into the victor’s arm. In that weird fancy lies a great truth. Each defeat leaves us weaker for the next battle, but each conquest leaves us stronger.

“Did Jesus Christ know that Judas was a thief?” [John 12:4-6] was a question asked at one of our recent holiness meetings. The reply was in the affirmative. “Then why did the Master, if He knew that, give him the bag?” continued the interrogator. The reply was as follows: God allows the bag to be put in every life—by the bag is meant that which is constantly testing our loyalty to Him—and usually the temptation comes in the weakest place of our character. God permits this because He knows we can only gain strength in the weak place by overcoming temptation at that point. Each new triumph brings an increase of moral power, and makes victory the next time easier. This is probably the reason why Bunyan2 places nearly all the great combats which Christian fought with Satan early in his journey. The first years of Christian life are the formative period of Christian character, when the assaults of the tempter are fullest of possibilities of benefit to the believer.

Samuel Rutherford3 writes: “The devil is but a whetstone to sharpen the faith and patience of the saints.  I know that he but heweth and polisheth stones all the time for the New Jerusalem.”

Some sincere souls are in constant bondage because they have never been taught to discriminate between evil thoughts and thoughts about evil. We must discern between things that differ. So long as we are in this world, and so long as we have five senses coming in contact with a world abounding with evil, Satan will be sure to use these as avenues of temptation. But no taint comes on the spirit from temptation which is at once and utterly rejected. It may and should be instantly repelled.

Milton4 says:

Evil into the mind of God or man
May come and go, so unapproved, and leave
No spot or blame behind

It may seem difficult to some to ascertain whether certain states of the mind are the result of temptation, or the uprisings of the evil of their own nature. But when suggestions of evil awaken no response and kindle no desire, when they cause a shudder and a recoil, when they are opposed to our usual inclinations and desires, and cause pain, we may safely conclude that they are from without and not from within, and no self-reproach need ensue.

An evil thought springs from evil existing in the heart, but a thought about evil is a suggestion, flashed upon the mind by what we see or hear, or by the law of association, or by the enemy of our souls. Those who are holy have no evil within, consequently no evil thoughts; but intruding thoughts and whispers of evil will often need to be resisted. These are an unchangeable condition of probation.  Provided proper caution has been used to avoid occasions of temptation, “no spot or blame” [2 Peter 3:14] is left behind, any more than the shadow of a cloud passing over a beautiful lake disturbs or defiles it. It is not temptation, but the yielding to it that is sinful, and there is a condition in which we may, with St. Paul, always triumph [2 Corinthians 2:14].

Cover of Thomas Cook's book Available in e-book format for
Kindle Kobo

Temptation is first presented to the intellect, flashed it may be in a moment, the thoughts are appealed to—this is the earliest stage of temptation. Thence it is transmitted to the sensibilities, in which region it operates upon the senses, appetites, passions, or emotions. There is danger lest these be excited with a desire for gratification. A critical stage of temptation is now reached, but no guilt is necessarily contracted. In the case of those whose hearts are not entirely cleansed from sin, the temptation finds more or less inward sympathy, but there is no guilt incurred unless the evil suggestion is cherished or tolerated. The will has yet to be challenged, and upon its decision depends entirely whether the tempter is to be successful or not. If the will says “No” to the temptation, the tempter is foiled and defeated, and the soul comes off more than conqueror.

Though it is possible for the fully-cleansed soul to listen to Satan, and to reason with him until he again ejects sin into the heart as of old—he “beguiled Eve by his subtlety” [2 Corinthians 11:3], whose heart was perfectly pure—still it is not so likely that he will be successful as before the heart was cleansed from sin. There is no porter Parley6 within the citadel then, to open the castle gates to the enemy who is without. Holiness makes none so secure as that they cannot sin, but it gives them to possess all the elements of strength and stability. Though the warfare be long and severe, yet, by abiding in Christ, victory may be constant and complete; and as storms help to root the trees, we shall find that the best helps to growth in grace are the affronts, the crosses, and the temptations which befall us.


This entry is part 1 of 11 in the series God's Ways and Man's Methods
Author Bio Introductory Chapter 1

God’s Ways and Man’s Methods
of Becoming Holy, Contrasted
Isaiah Reid
Editor of THE HIGHWAY, 1
And Late Pastor 2 of the Presbyterian Church,
Nevada, Iowa

Originally published from The Highway Office

Transcribed and annotated by Jim Kerwin
Co-edited with Denise Kerwin
Copyright © 2010


In answer to the request of many readers of THE HIGHWAY, in which the bulk of the matter of the following pages first appeared, and in hopes that greater numbers may be reached and influenced for good, they are hereby sent forth in permanent form.  May the God of all Grace bless these pages to all who read them.  Your brother in Jesus,

Nevada, Iowa, July 16, 1880 3 [click to continue…]

“How They Grow”: Part 13

This entry is part 13 of 16 in the series How They Grow

Advance by Disappointment Do not say, “What is the cause the former days were better than these?” for you do not enquire wisely concerning this. Ecclesiastes 7:10

He takes away the first that He may establish the second. Hebrews 9:19

The path of the just is as a shining light which shines more and more unto the perfect day. Proverbs 4:18

Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end. Isaiah 9:7

The things which happened to me have fallen out rather to the furtherance of the gospel. Philippians 1:12

Forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those things which are before. Philippians 3:13

The wild, bone-chilling January winter howls outside the window pane and drives its powdered snow through the key hole in the door and through the smallest opening about the window sash.  It is the dead of midwinter.  The glow of the furnace below keeps me in June atmosphere within, however, and I am thinking of the past, of the long years that are gone into the deep irrevocable past—the past that is not wanted back, when my heart was fully set on a very different line of life than that which I have followed.  My mind ran after and my hands took after the workers in wood.  I longed for the shop, and to learn how to work with wood; and I pictured to myself how I would some day do and how I would enjoy doing it.  [click to continue…]

Concerning Taking All As From God

This entry is part 4 of 22 in the series Soul-Help Papers


s I sat down for my morning lesson, I said, “Now, Lord, I want to read for myself.  I read for study and to speak to others; but now talk to me, not what to say to others so much, as talk to me especially.”  So I opened the book, and the first thing He said was, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” Proverbs 27:1.

At first I feared some bad accident, or bad news, or some ill; and then it seemed as if He really could not mean to frighten me about tomorrow, but rather to teach me to make ready for it, and how best to come to its threshold.  Adam Clarke 2 says his old manuscript Bible reads, “Glory not thou in one dwelling.” 3  That is, don’t build too much on the continuance of the present; it does not abide.  Then I remembered what James had said about the treasures of this world and its “grace and fashion passing away.” 4 [click to continue…]

Concerning the Undesired and Unexpected in Life

This entry is part 21 of 22 in the series Soul-Help Papers


f we notice the story of the lives about us, not to say much of our own, we see there enters therein much of the unwelcome and unsought.  Life goes not in the expected, but in the unexpected channel.  The road seems to turn almost directly from the route mapped out for it.  All predictions and prophecies seem to have miscarried.  Expectations have not been realized.  Life has not brought or fulfilled expected prophecies.  The soul is thrust out—all unprepared for its surroundings—into what appears to be a barren land, and all roads run crosswise and contrary to every expectation. [click to continue…]

The Most High and the Elohim

Copyright © 20121

Percy Gutteridge

  1. There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed2 evil.
  2. And there were born unto him seven sons and three daughters.
  3. His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the men of the east.
  4. And his sons went and feasted in their houses, every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink with them.
  5. And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus did Job continually.
  6. Job 1:1-5 KJV

All People

Job is a very remarkable book, one of the most remarkable books in the Bible, containing an amazing amount of wisdom. But please understand that the Book of Job is not about an Israelite, for Job didn’t belong to the tribes of Israel. It tells you that Job “was the greatest of all the men of the east” (Job 1:3). “Ah,” you say, “but don’t you realize that Israel is in the east?” Yes, but you must realize that if one is writing in Israel, Israel would not be in the east—Arabia would be in the east. This Bible is written from the geographical point of view of someone living in Israel. When the Bible speaks about east and west, you must mentally reorient yourself as though you are living in Israel in order to get your bearings properly. In that mindset you properly interpret “west” and “east” as being relative to Israel. [click to continue…]