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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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PRAYING ACCORDING TO HIS WILL

14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. (1 John 5:14-15 ESV)

If you have put all of your trust in Jesus, you are a son or daughter of God. In Christ, we have confidence when we come into the presence of God. We know that God will hear our prayers. Notice, however, the qualifying phrase – “if we ask anything according to his will”. In other words, if we pray according to God’s Will, He will hear us and grant our petitions.

This is wonderful news but how do we know God’s Will? We must read the Scriptures and pray for wisdom. Prayer is not just a verbal recital of your wish list. Prayer requires two-way communication. You are not speaking to empty air; the God of the universe is listening to you and He wants you to listen to Him.

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SALVATION AND SOVEREIGNTY

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)

In this verse is one of the great mysteries that theologians and believers have argued about for centuries. How far do man’s will and God’s sovereignty go in determining the salvation of the Christian?

Salvation is certainly a demonstration of God’s glory. We know that God is absolutely sovereign over everything that exists because He created anything that does exist. (Colossians 1:16 ESV) God’s salvation through Jesus Christ is also evidence of the degree to which that sovereignty stretches. Jesus said:

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THE PERFECTIONS OF GOD

Richard Baxter:

baxter“Remember the perfections of that God whom you worship, that he is a Spirit, and therefore to be worshipped in spirit and truth; and that he is most great and terrible, and therefore to be worshipped with seriousness and reverence, and not to be dallied with, or served with toys or lifeless lip-service; and that he is most holy, pure, and jealous, and therefore to be purely worshipped; and that he is still present with you, and all things are naked and open to him with whom we have to do. The knowledge of God, and the remembrance of his all-seeing presence, are the most powerful means against hypocrisy.”

GOD’S PROVIDENCE

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner D.D.:

Yet as regards God’s providence we are to understand that He is intimately concerned with every detail in the affairs of men and in the course of nature.  “To suppose that anything is too great to be comprehended in His control,” says Dr. Charles Hodge, “or anything so minute as to escape His notice; or that the infinitude of particulars can distract His attention, is to forget that God is infinite . . . . The sun diffuses its light through all space as easily as upon any point.  God is as much present everywhere, and with everything, as though He were only in one place, and had but one object of attention.”  And again, “He is present in every blade of grass, yet guiding Arcturus in his course, marshalling the stars as a host, calling them by their names; present also in every human soul, giving it understanding, endowing it with gifts, working in it both to will and to do.  The human heart is in His hands; and he turneth it even as the rivers of water are turned.” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

DOCTRINE OF ELECTION

John MacArthurJohn MacArthur:

[Doctrine of Election] It probably ought to be the first thing you teach a young believer. Now that you have come to Christ, this is what I want you to know. You were saved by the sovereign grace of God who stepped into your life in the midst of your death and blindness and gave you life and sight and picked you up and brought you into His Kingdom. Sheer grace has done this for you. That, I think, is the first thing you should say to a new convert. This is, if in fact, you are faithful to the confession you have made, if in fact your love for Christ and desire to honor, to worship and to obey Him continues to grow, this will be an ongoing evidence that God has wrought a miracle in your life. And because of that, you need to know, this is really important, that you should live a life of gratitude for a work has been done in you which you did not deserve and did not earn. (excerpt from interview)

GOD’S PROVIDENTIAL CONTROL

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner:

Throughout the Bible, the laws of nature, the course of history, the varying fortunes of individuals, are ever attrib­uted to God’s providential control.  All things, both in heaven and earth, from the seraphim down to the tiny atom, are ordered by His never-failing providence.  So intimate is His relationship with the whole creation that a careless reader might be led toward pantheistic conclusions.  Yet individual personalities and second causes are fully recog­nized,—not as independent of God, but as having their proper place in His plan.  And alongside of this doctrine of His Immanence, the Scripture writers also present the kindred doctrine of His Transcendence, in which God is distinctly set forth as entirely separate from and above the whole creation. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

OMNIPOTENT RULER

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner:

Heaven and earth and all that is in them are the instruments through which He [God] works His ends.  Nature, nations, and the fortunes of the individual alike present in all their changes the transcript of His purpose.  The winds are His messengers, the flaming fire His servant: every natural occurrence is His act; prosperity is His gift, and if calamity falls upon man it is the Lord that has done it (Amos 3:5, 6; Lam. 3:33-38; Is. 47:7; Eccl. 7:14; Is. 54:16).  It is He that leads the feet of men, [wherever] they whither or not; He that raises up and casts down; opens and hardens the heart; and creates the very thoughts and intents of the soul.” And shall we not believe that God can convert a sinner when He pleases?  Cannot the Almighty, the omnipotent Ruler of the universe, change the characters of the creatures He has made? (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

HAVE DONE WITH CHANCE

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“Blessed is that man who has done with chance, who never speaks of luck, but believes that from the least, even to the greatest, all things are ordained of the Lord. We dare not leave out the least event! The creeping of an aphid upon a rosebud is as surely arranged by the decree of Providence as the march of a pestilence through a nation. Believe this, for if the least is omitted from the supreme government, so may the next be, and the next, till nothing is left in the Divine hands. There is no place for chance, since God fills all things.” (1891, Sermon #2205)

GOD ALMIGHTY

Loraine Boettner:

The Christian knows that the day is certainly coming when, willingly or unwillingly, every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  In the Scriptures, He is represented to us as God ALMIGHTY, who sits upon the throne of universal dominion.  He knows the end from the beginning and the means to be used in attaining that end.  He is able to do for us exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or even think.  The category of the impossible has no existence for Him “with whom all things are possible,” Matt. 19:26; Mark 10:27.  This, however, does not mean that God has power to do that which is contrary to His nature, or to work contradictions.  It is impossible for God to lie, or to do anything which is morally wrong.  He cannot make two and two equal five, nor can He make a wheel turn around and stand still at the same time.  His omnipotence is as sure a guarantee that the course of the world will conform to His plan as is His holiness a guarantee that all His works will be right. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

FIGHT FOR US, O GOD!

hear_my_cry_o_godJohn Piper:

“Fight for us, O God, that we not drift numb and blind and foolish into vain and empty excitements. Life is too short, too precious, too painful to waste on worldly bubbles that burst. Heaven is too great, hell is too horrible, eternity is too long that we should putter around on the porch of eternity.”

THE PLAN OF GOD

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner:

The very essence of consistent theism is that God would have an exact plan for the world, would foreknow the actions of all the creatures He proposed to create, and through His all-inclusive providence would control the whole system.  If He foreordained only certain isolated events, confusion both in the natural world and in human affairs would be introduced into the system and He would need to be constantly developing new plans to accomplish what he desired.  His government of the world then would be a capricious patchwork of new expedients; He would at best govern only in a general way, and would be ignorant of much of the future.  But no one with proper ideas of God believes that He has to change His mind every few days to make room for unexpected happenings, which were not included in His original plan.  If the perfection of the divine plan be denied, no consistent stopping place will be found short of atheism …

History in all its details, even the most minute, is but the unfolding of the eternal purposes of God.  His decrees are not successively formed as the emergency arises, but are all parts of one all-comprehending plan, and we should never think of Him suddenly evolving a plan or doing something which He had not thought of before. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

THE LORD IS KING

Charles H. SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“There is a holy familiarity with God which cannot be too much enjoyed, but there is a flippant familiarity with God which cannot be too much abhorred! The Lord is King. His will is not to be questioned! His every Word is Law. Let us never question His Sovereign right to decree what He pleases and to fulfill the decree—to command what He pleases and to punish every shortcoming.” (1891, Sermon #2195) “The prerogative to give life or to take it away must remain with the Most High. The wit and wisdom of man are altogether powerless to bestow life upon even the tiniest insect! We know of a surety, doctrinally, and we know it with equal certainty by experience, that we can do nothing towards the quickening of men apart from the Spirit of God. If He does not come and give life, we may preach till we have not another breath left, but we shall not raise from the tomb of sin even the soul of a little child, or bring a single sinner to the feet of Christ!” (1892, Sermon #2246)

GOD RULES

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner D.D.:

By virtue of the fact that God has created every thing which exists, He is the absolute Owner and final Disposer of all that He has made.  He exerts not merely a general in­fluence, but actually rules in the world which He has created.  The nations of the earth, in their insignificance, are as the small dust of the balance when compared with His greatness; and far sooner might the sun be stopped in his course than God be hindered in His work or in His will.  Amid all the apparent defeats and inconsistencies of life God actually moves on in undisturbed majesty. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

THE PURSUIT OF SUCCESS AND WEALTH

Chasing MoneyJohn Calvin:

Instead of rushing on regardless of right and wrong, by wiles and wicked arts, and with injury to our neighbors, to catch at wealth and seize upon honors, we will only follow such fortune as we may enjoy with innocence. Who can hope for the aid of the divine blessing amid fraud, rapine, and other iniquitous arts? As this blessing attends him only who thinks purely and acts uprightly, so it calls off all who long for it from sinister designs and evil actions. Continue reading

GOD HAS A PLAN

Loraine BoettnerLoraine Boettner D.D.:

If God had not foreordained the course of events but waited until some un-determined condition was or was not fulfilled, His decrees could be neither eternal nor immutable.  We know, however, that He is incapable of mistake, and that He cannot be surprised by any unforeseen inconveniences.  His kingdom is in the heavens and He rules over all.  His plan must, therefore, include every event in the entire sweep of history. …

The Pelagian denies that God has a plan; the Arminian says that God has a general but not a specific plan; but the Calvinist says that God has a specific plan which embraces all events in all ages. In recognizing that the eternal God has an eternal plan in which is predetermined every event that comes to pass, the Calvinist simply recognizes that God is God, and frees Him from all human limitations.  The Scriptures represent God as a person, like other persons in that His acts are purposeful, but unlike other persons in that He is all-wise in His planning and all-powerful in His performing.  They see the universe as the product of His creative power, and as the theater in which are displayed His glorious perfections, and which must in all its form and all its history, down to the least detail, correspond with His purpose in making it. (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

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