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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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The Eyes of Faith

Jerry BridgesJerry Bridges:

In order to trust God, we must always view our adverse circumstances through the eyes of faith, not of sense. And just as the faith of salvation comes through hearing the message of the gospel (see Romans 10:17), so the faith to trust God in adversity comes through the Word of God alone. It is only in the Scriptures that we find an adequate view of God’s relationship to and involvement in our painful circumstances. It is only from the Scriptures, applied to our hearts by the Holy Spirit, that we receive the grace to trust God in adversity. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Existence

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

All things are indebted for their existence to the continuous sustaining action of God exercised through His Son. Nothing exists of its own inherent power of being. Nothing in all creation stands or acts independently of the Lord’s will. The so-called laws of nature are nothing more than the physical expression of the steady will of Christ. The law of gravity operates with unceasing certainty because Christ continuously wills it to operate. The chair I am sitting on while I write these words holds together because the atoms and molecules in the wood are held in place by His active will. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Defining Sin

The Discipline of GraceJerry Bridges:

A large part of our problem as evangelical believers is that we have defined sin in its more obvious forms — forms of which we are not guilty. We think of sin in terms of sexual immorality, drunkenness, lying, cheating, stealing, and murder. And in more recent years we’ve tended to focus on the societal sins of abortion and homosexuality. We see the ever-increasing pervasiveness of these more flagrant sins, and we see ourselves looking good by comparison.

Certainly these more gross sins of society are deep cause for concern, and I am grateful for the prophetic voices God has raised up to expose these moral cancers in our society. But we must not become so preoccupied with the sins of modern-day culture that we ignore the needs in our own lives. (The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness)

Trusting God

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

When I was an infant I had a bad case of measles. The virus apparently settled in my eyes and in my right ear, leaving me with monocular vision and deafness in that ear. Was God in control of that virus, or was I simply a victim of a chance childhood disease? God’s moment-by-moment sustaining of His universe and everything in it leaves me no choice but to accept that the virus was indeed under His controlling hand. God was not looking the other way when that virus settled in the nerve endings of my ear and the muscles of my eyes. If we are to trust God, we must learn to see that He is continuously at work in every aspect and every moment of our lives. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Giving Thanks

respectable-sins“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23 ESV)

Jerry Bridges:

Giving thanks to God for both His temporal and spiritual blessings in our lives is not just a nice thing to do – it is the moral will of God. Failure to give Him the thanks due Him is sin. (Respectable Sins)

Under God’s Control

Jerry BridgesJerry Bridges:

No one can act outside of God’s sovereign will or against it. Centuries ago, Augustine said, “Nothing, therefore, happens unless the Omnipotent wills it to happen: he either permits it to happen, or he brings it about himself.” Philip Hughes said, “Under God, however, all things are without exception fully controlled— despite all appearances to the contrary.” Nothing is too large or small to escape God’s governing hand. The spider building its web in the corner and Napoleon marching his army across Europe are both under God’s control.(Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

God’s Will Regarding Character

The Practice of GodlinessJerry Bridges:

As we prayerfully expose ourselves to the Scriptures, we begin to understand what God’s will is regarding our conduct and character. And then as the Holy Spirit applies His word to specific areas of our lives, and as we are obedient to His promptings, we begin to develop Bible-based convictions. Our values begin to change so that God’s standard becomes our delight and our desire. (The Practice of Godliness)

 

Is God Good, but not Sovereign?

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

Along with the doctrine of chance, many Christians are also buying into the philosophy expounded by Rabbi Kushner that God is good but not sovereign. One Christian writer, for example, speaks of her pain as being utterly frustrating to God and gives thanks to God for being her devoted, caring, frustrated heavenly Father. Faced with the dilemma of how a loving, sovereign Father could allow her to experience such agonizing pain, she found relief in the belief that God was indeed frustrated about her pain, shedding tears with her, even as a mother may weep at the suffering of her child.

In fairness to this writer, she suffered excruciating pain for months. As one who has suffered less severe pain, and that only for several weeks at any one time, I realize I have not sat where she sat; I have not had to wrestle to the degree she has with the love of God in the midst of unbearable pain. But, as so often has been observed, we are to establish our beliefs by the Bible, not by our experiences. The Bible leaves us no doubt: God is never frustrated. “No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35). It is true that God is involved in an invisible war with Satan and that the lives of God’s people often are battlegrounds, as seen in the life of Job. But even then Satan must get permission to touch God’s people (see Job 1:12; Job 2:6; and Luke 22:31-32). Even in this invisible war, God is still sovereign. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Believing in the Providence of God

Jerry BridgesJerry Bridges:

It is not easy to believe in the doctrine of the providence of God, especially in these days when it seems that doctrine has fallen upon hard times…

All people— believers as well as unbelievers— experience anxiety, frustration, heartache, and disappointment. Some suffer intense physical pain and catastrophic tragedies. But that which should distinguish the suffering of believers from unbelievers is the confidence that our suffering is under the control of an all-powerful and all-loving God; our suffering has meaning and purpose in God’s eternal plan, and He brings or allows to come into our lives only that which is for His glory and our good. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Even When Life Hurts

Jerry BridgesJerry Bridges:

Thousands of Christians have experienced…injustices at the hands of teachers, coaches, fellow workers, and supervisors at work. Perhaps you have, too. When these events occur, they always hurt. We cannot dismiss them with the glib expression, “God is in control.” God is in control, but in His control He allows us to experience pain. The pain is very real. We hurt, we suffer. But in the midst of our suffering we must believe that God is in control, that He is sovereign. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Jerry Bridges on Providence

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

Historically…the church has always understood the providence of God to refer to His care of and governance over all of His creation at all times. Well-known theologian J. I. Packer defines providence as, “The unceasing activity of the Creator whereby, in overflowing bounty and goodwill, He upholds His creatures in ordered existence, guides and governs all events, circumstances, and free acts of angels and men, and directs everything to its appointed goal, for His own glory.” Note the absolute terms Packer uses: “unceasing activity,” “all events … all acts,” “directs everything.” Clearly there is no concept of stop-and-go, part-time governance on God’s part in this definition.

Packer’s definition of God’s providence is very complete and, I believe, very accurate according to Scripture. For my own sake, I have developed a slightly shorter definition that I can more easily remember: God’s providence is His constant care for and His absolute rule over all His creation for His own glory and the good of His people. Again, note the absolute terms: constant care, absolute rule, all creation. Nothing, not even the smallest virus, escapes His care and control. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Jerry Bridges: Nothing is so Small

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

Nothing is so small or trivial as to escape the attention of God’s sovereign control; nothing is so great as to be beyond His power to control it. The insignificant sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His will; the mighty Roman empire cannot crucify Jesus Christ unless that power is given to it by God (see Matthew 10:29; John 19:10-11). And what is true for the sparrow and for Jesus is true for you and me. No detail of your life is too insignificant for your heavenly Father’s attention; no circumstance is so big that He cannot control it. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Jerry Bridges: God’s Plan

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

No plan of God’s can be thwarted (Job 42:2; Isaiah 14:27)); when He acts, no one can reverse it (Isaiah 43:13); no one can hold back His hand or bring Him to account for His actions (Daniel 4:35). God does as He pleases, only as He pleases, and works out every event to bring about the accomplishment of His will (Isaiah 46:10). Such a bare unqualified statement of the sovereignty of God would terrify us if that were all we knew about God. But God is not only sovereign, He is perfect in love and infinite in wisdom. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Jerry Bridges on the Sovereignty of God

Trusting GodJerry Bridges:

One of our problems with the sovereignty of God is that it frequently does not appear that God is in control of the circumstances of our lives. We see unjust or uncaring or even clearly wicked people doing things that adversely affect us. We experience the consequences of other people’s mistakes and failures. We even do foolish and sinful things ourselves and suffer the often bitter fruit of our actions. It is difficult to see God working through secondary causes and frail, sinful human beings. But it is the ability of God to so arrange diverse human actions to fulfill His purpose that makes His sovereignty marvelous and yet mysterious. No Bible-believing Christian has any difficulty believing that God can and has worked miracles— instances of His sovereign but direct intervention into the affairs of people. Regardless of our theological position regarding miracles occurring today, we all accept without question the validity of the miracles recorded in Scripture. But to believe in the sovereignty of God when we do not see His direct intervention— when God is, so to speak, working entirely behind the scenes through ordinary circumstances and ordinary actions of people— is even more important because that is the way God usually works. (Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts)

Jerry Bridges: Saints or Sinners?

The Discipline of GraceJerry Bridges:

I am sometimes asked, “As Christians, should we view ourselves as saints or sinners?” My answer is, both. We are simultaneously saints and sinners. The apostle Paul often referred to believers as saints (Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1), and we really are. We are saints not only in our standing before God but in our essential persons as well.

We really are new creations in Christ. A real, fundamental change has occurred in the depths of our beings. The Holy Spirit has come to dwell within us, and we have been freed from the dominion of sin. But despite this we still sin every day, many times a day And in that sense we are sinners.

We should always view ourselves both in terms of what we are in Christ, that is, saints, and what we are in ourselves, namely, sinners. To help us understand this twofold view of ourselves, consider Jesus as an analogy. In His own person He was sinless, but as our representative He assumed our guilt. However, He never had any of the personal feelings associated with guilt. He was fully conscious of His own sinlessness even when bearing our sins and the curse of our sins in our place. In like manner, while we should always rejoice in the righteousness we have in Christ, we should never cease to feel deeply our own sinfulness and consequent unworthiness. (The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness)

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