I do not advise that we end the year on a somber note. The march, not the dirge, has ever been the music of Christianity. If we are good students in the school of life, there is much that the years have to teach us. But the Christian is more than a student, more than a philosopher. He is a believer, and the object of his faith makes the difference, the mighty difference. Of all persons the Christian should be best prepared for whatever the New Year brings. He has dealt with life at its source. In Christ he has disposed of a thousand enemies that other men must face alone and unprepared. He can face his tomorrow cheerful and unafraid because yesterday he turned his feet into the ways of peace and today he lives in God. The man who has made God his dwelling place will always have a safe habitation. (The Warfare of the Spirit)
I realize anew that, just as we must learn to obey God one choice at a time, we must also learn to trust God one circumstance at a time. Trusting God is not a matter of my feelings but of my will. I never feel like trusting God when adversity strikes, but I can choose to do so even when I don’t feel like it. That act of the will, though, must be based on belief, and belief must be based on truth.
Parents naturally wish to save their children from suffering. Often, however, this protective instinct becomes an obsession and is carried to extremes. Such behavior on the parents’ part does more harm than good. Thomas Adams writes:
‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.’ (Heb. 13:8)
Many persons are solicitously perplexed, how their children shall do when they are dead; yet they consider not how God provided for them when they were children. Is the ‘Lord’s arm shortened?’… Is not ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever?’ ‘I have been young,’ saith David, ‘and am now old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken’—that is granted, nay—’nor his seed begging bread,’ Ps. 37:25.
Many distrustful fathers are so anxious for their posterity, that while they live they starve their bodies, and hazard their souls, to leave them rich. To such a father it is said justly: … Like an over-kind hen, he feeds his chickens, and famishes himself. If usury, circumvention, oppression, extortion, can make them rich, they shall not be poor. Their folly is ridiculous; they fear lest their children should be miserable, yet take the only course to make them miserable; for they leave them not so much heirs to their goods as to their evils. They as certainly inherit their father’s sins as their lands: ‘God layeth up his iniquity for his children; and his offspring shall want a morsel of bread,’ Job 21:19.
On the contrary, ‘the good man is merciful, and lends; and his seed is blessed,’ Ps. 37:26. That which the worldling thinks shall make his posterity poor, God saith shall make the good man’s [children] rich. The precept gives a promise of mercy to obedience, not only confined to the obedient man’s self, but extended to his seed, and that even to a thousand generations, Exod. 20:6. Trust, then, Christ with thy children; when thy friends shall fail, usury bear no date, oppression be condemned to hell, thyself rotten to the dust, the world itself turned and burned into cinders, still ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever.’
Now then, as ‘grace and peace are from him which is, and which was, and which is to come;’ so glory and honor be to him, which is, and which was, and which is to come; even to ‘Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever,’ Rev. 1:4. (“The Immutable Mercy of Jesus Christ”)
If Madison Avenue executives were trying to attract people to the Christian life, they would stress its positive and fulfilling aspects…Unfortunately, we who live in the West are so conditioned to this very thinking (and to precisely this type of Christian evangelism or salesmanship) that we are almost shocked when we learn that the first great principle of Christianity is negative. It is not, as some say, “Come to Christ, and all your troubles will melt away.” It is as the Lord himself declared, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?” (Mt. 16:24-26). (Foundations of the Christian Faith: A Comprehensive and Readable Theology, p. 459)
Logic and God:
The logic for God is so overwhelming that the philosopher/theologian R. C. Sproul insists that a reasonable man must acquiesce to this conclusion. The evidence is so compelling, that one must override his senses to deny Him. It is only the person who is blinded by his own agenda that refuses to accept it. A thinking person who denies God must do so on the basis of preferring to believe there is no God in order to try to escape His judgment, thus irrationally seeking autonomy. Our challenge to the skeptic: At some point you must be willing to rationally consider the evidence and honestly seek with an open mind details about the God who made you.
The scriptures are the only external guide in matters of religion; they are the road signs we should follow. John Gill writes:
Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein; and ye shall find rest for your souls. (Jeremiah 6:16)
In this chapter the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians is threatened and foretold, and the causes of it assigned; in general, the great abounding of sin and wickedness among the people; and in particular, their neglect and contempt of the word of God; the sin of covetousness, which prevailed among all sorts; the unfaithfulness of the prophets to the people, and the people’s impenitence and hardness of heart; their want of shame, their disregard to all instructions and warnings from the Lord, by the mouth of his prophets, and their obstinate refusal of them; which last is expressed in the clause following the words read; and which, though an aggravation of it, show the tender regard of the Lord to his people, and may be considered as an instruction to such who had their doubts and difficulties in religious matters; who were halting between two opinions. . . .
The direction given to stand in or on the ways, etc. to do as men do when they are come to a place where two or more ways meet, make a stand, and view the roads, and see which they should take; they look about them, and consider well what course they should steer; they look up to the way-marks, or way-posts, and read the inscriptions on them, which tell them whither such a road leads, and so judge for themselves which way they should go. Now in religious matters, the way-marks or way-posts to guide and direct men in the way are the scriptures, the oracles of God, and they only. Not education-principles. It is right in parents to do as Abraham did, to teach their children to keep the way of the Lord (Gen. 18:19). The direction of the wise man is an exceeding good one; Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it (Prov. 22:6); that is, easily and ordinarily: and it becomes Christians under the gospel dispensation to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4); and a great mercy and blessing it is to have a religious education; but then, as wrong principles may be infused as well as right ones, into persons in their tender years, it becomes them, when come to years of maturity and discretion, to examine them, whether they are according to the word of God, and so judge for themselves, whether they are to be abided by or rejected. I know it is a grievous thing with some persons to forsake the religion they have been brought up in; but upon this foot, a man that is born and brought up a Turk or a Jew, a Pagan or a Papist, must ever continue so. Sad would have been the case of the apostle Paul, if he had continued in the principles of his education; and what a shocking figure did he make whilst he abode by them. . . .
Nor are the customs of men a rule of judgment, or a direction which way men should take in matters of religion; for the customs of the people are for the most part vain (Jer. 20:3), and such as are not lawful for us, being Christians, to receive or observe (Acts 16:21); and concerning which we should say, We have no such custom, neither the churches of God (1 Cor. 11:16). Custom is a tyrant, and ought to be rebelled against, and its yoke thrown off.
Nor are the traditions of men to be regarded; the Pharisees were very tenacious of the traditions of the elders, by which they transgressed the commandments of God, and made his word of no effect; and the apostle Paul, in his unregenerated state, was zealous of the same; but neither of them are to be imitated by us: it is right to observe the exhortation which the apostle gives, when a Christian (Col. 2:8); beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the traditions of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Take care you are not imposed upon, under the notion and pretense of an apostolic tradition; unwritten traditions are not the rule, only the word of God is the rule of our faith and practice. (“The Scriptures: The Only Guide in Matters of Faith”)
Our entire confidence in our acceptance before God is based solely upon the fact that Jesus was our legal representative in His sinless life and obedient death.