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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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HOPE

One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4 ESV)

Reading The BibleSeek for His Wisdom and you will also find hope for the future.

TRUST IN HIM WHOLLY

Charles SpurgeonCharles H. Spurgeon:

“What is it to believe in Him? It is not merely to say ‘He is God and the Savior’, but to trust in Him wholly and entirely and take Him for all your salvation from this time forth and forever as your Lord, your Master, your all.” (All of Grace, 32)

LONG FOR THE GIVER NOT HIS GIFTS

Wire Rim Glasses ca. 2002David Powlison:

“We are meant to long supremely for the Lord himself, for the Giver, not his gifts.  The absence of blessings – rejection, vanity, reviling, illness, poverty – often is the crucible in which we learn to love God for who he is.  In our idolatry we make gifts out to be supreme goods, and make the Giver into the errand boy of our desires.” (Seeing with New Eyes, 134-135)

My Hope is Strong in Him

In the words of St. Augustine:

“How much Thou hast loved us, O good Father, Who hast spared not even Thine own son but delivered him up for us wicked people. How thou hast loved us, for whom He who thought it not robbery to be equal with Thee became obedient even unto the death of the cross, He who alone was free among the dead, having power to lay down his life and power to take it up again, for us he was to Thee both Victor and Victim. For us he was to Thee both Priest and Sacrifice, turning us from slaves into Thy sons being Thy Son and becoming a slave. Rightly is my hope strong in Him.”

Knowing You have a Saving Interest in Christ

Knowing that you are saved in Christ is a matter of the highest importance. Yet many ignore this subject while others foolishly think they have assurance without any solid ground. There are few walking the narrow way. Certainly people should be more serious about this matter since they may deceive themselves. William Guthrie (1620-1665) writes:

Since there are so many people living under the ordinances, pretending, without ground, to a special interest in Christ, and to His favor and salvation, as is clear from the words of our Lord–‘Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name, and in Thy name have cast out devils, and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.’ (Matt. 7: 22, 23). ‘Afterwards came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But He answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.’ (Matt. 25: 11, 12.) ‘Strive to enter in at the strait gate; for many I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.’ (Luke 13: 24.) And since many who have good ground of claim to Christ, are not established in the confidence of this favor, but remain in the dark, without comfort, hesitating concerning the reality of godliness in themselves, and speaking little in the commendation of religion to others. . . .

[N]ot only may a godly man come to the sure knowledge of his gracious state, but it is more easily attainable than many apprehend. . . A godly man may argue thus, Whosoever receive Christ are justly reputed the children of God-‘But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God’ (John 1 12); but I have received Christ in all the ways which the word there can import: for I am pleased with the device of salvation by Christ, I agree to the terms, I welcome the offer of Christ in all His offices, as a King to rule over me, a Priest to offer sacrifice and intercede for me, a Prophet to teach me; I lay out my heart for Him and towards Him, resting on Him as I am able. What else can be meant by the word “receiving”? Therefore may I say, and conclude plainly and warrantably, I am justly to reckon myself God’s child, according to the aforesaid scripture, which cannot fail. (The Christian’s Great Interest)

The Evil of Murmuring and Complaining

God’s people should comfort themselves in whatever befalls them, by resting quietly and submissively in the bosom of God. Consider that whatever comes to pass proceeds from the decree of their gracious Creator and loving Father. Only He knows what is best for them and will make all things work together for their good. Thomas Boston says:

Whoever may be the instruments of any good to us, of whatever sort, we must look above them, and see the hand and counsel of God in it, which is their first source, and be duly thankful to God for it. And whatever evil of suffering or afflictions befall us, we must look above the instruments of it to God. . . . We should be patient under whatever distress comes upon us, considering that God is on our side. Job 2:10 “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” This would be a happy means to quiet our complaining at adverse dispensations. Hence David says, “I was mute, I did not open my mouth, because it was you who did it.” Psalm 39:9

See here the evil of murmuring and complaining at our lot in the world. How apt are you to quarrel with God, as if he were in the wrong to you, when his dealings with you are not according to your own desires and wishes? You demand a reason, and call God to an account, Why did this happen to me? Why am I so much afflicted and distressed? Why am I so long afflicted? And why such an affliction rather than another? Why am I so poor and another so rich? Thus your hearts rise up against God. But you should remember that this is to defame the counsels of infinite wisdom, as if God had not ordered your affairs wisely enough in his eternal counsel. We find the Lord reproving Job for this, chap. 40:2 “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?” When you murmur and brood under cross and afflictive dispensations, this is a presuming to instruct God how to deal with you, and to reprove him as if he were in the wrong. Indeed, there is a kind of implicit blasphemy in it, as if you had more wisdom and justice to arrange your circumstances, and to carve out your own portion in the world. This is what you really mean when you say, “If I had been on God’s counsel, I would have ordered this matter better; things would not be with me as they are now.” Oh presume not to correct the infinite wisdom of God, seeing he has decreed all things most wisely and judiciously. (“Important Lessons Drawn from the Decrees of God”)

A Praying Heart

 

 

 

 

According to Bishop J. C. Ryle:

A right heart is a PRAYING heart. It has within it “the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15). Its daily feeling is, “Your face, Lord, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8). It is drawn by an habitual inclination to speak to God about spiritual things—weakly, feebly, and imperfectly perhaps—but speak it must. It finds it necessary to pour out itself before God, as before a friend, and to spread before Him all its needs and desires. It tells Him all its secrets. It keeps back nothing from Him. You might as well try to persuade a person to live without breathing, as to persuade the possessor of a right heart to live without praying.

The Problem of Anger

Do you have a problem with anger? In my opinion, more and more people today seem to have difficulty with anger. We are becoming a people of very low “Emotional IQs”. Does “Reason” leave the room when you become angry? When people with low “Emotional IQs” become angry, the rational part of the mind seems to shut down and their anger becomes destructive. “A man of quick temper acts foolishly. . . .” (Proverbs 14:17 ESV)

Such people actually lose control of themselves. “Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9 ESV) Most people have learned and are mature enough, fortunately, to keep their anger under control. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. (Ephesians 4:26-27 ESV) Here we see that a person can be angry without sin. Even Jesus became angry on some occasions toward the sinful disobedience of men. The anger of God the Father and Son is a righteous anger, but today – I’m writing about sinful anger – not righteous anger.

Whereas righteous anger is all about things of the Will, Honor, and Glory of God; sinful anger is really all about us, our inconvenience, our pride, and our will. So, what does the Bible say we are to do about sinful anger?

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4:31 ESV) “But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” (Colossians 3:8-10 ESV) In verse after verse, it becomes obvious that this type of ongoing anger is incompatible with the Christian life. Note too that anger is put into a class which includes wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, and lies.

Unlike God the Father and Son, human beings are filled with the imperfections of sin. Our anger is often wrong and unnecessary because of false presumptions. We become angry over personal issues and yet remain silent when God is dishonored and sin is exalted.

However, man’s sinful inclinations can be transformed; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV) “But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:17-18 ESV) This does not mean that a Christian will now live a sin-free life, but it does mean that we are no longer compelled by sin as we were before we received grace.

Irrational anger may now be defeated! “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2 ESV) Discipline the way you think. “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2 ESV) For it is now possible to: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15 ESV)

The Christian life is all about the inner transformation that begins with salvation. As you consistently read and meditate on the Scriptures, praying to God for wisdom and understanding, the Holy Spirit will help you grow in holiness. Anger problems can be overcome – but the Holy Spirit teaches us through the Word of God and prayer. If you are not a consistent reader of God’s Book and do not attend church regularly, then you are not fulfilling your part in the process of sanctification. You must take an active part in renewing your mind through the Word of God.

And so, dear Christian, are you still often overcome by sinful anger? Continue then to renew your mind and keep a firm grip on God’s Holy Word. By this, “you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. . . .” (Ephesians 1:18-19 ESV)

Listen to Jesus Christ

Only God endures and is the unchanging God. The God who spoke to men of old is the God of the ages, the God whose history runs through the Bible and who has been guiding it since the beginning. It is truly His Word. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones urges us to listen to the words of Jesus Christ:

This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:27-29 ESV)

Very well, there is the great negative message of the Bible, that man will never succeed in building a durable and a lasting and a solid kingdom. These things can all be shaken as we are witnessing it and worse is going to happen. There is one kingdom that cannot be moved, that cannot be shaken. ‘Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace’. What is this? Here we are now in our proper world. We know not what tomorrow may bring forth. What are we to do? Is there any message? Is there anything that comes anywhere to give me some understanding and a word of hope? There is. What is it, what can I bank on tonight? What should I listen to and hold on to when everything is collapsing round and about me?

This man says, it is a word, ‘this word. Yet once more, He has already said: ‘See that ye refuse not him that speaketh’ [Hebrews 12:25]. This man’s message is this, that amidst the babel of voices in our world, there is another word – and the essence of wisdom is to listen to this word. It is the word that was spoken by Jesus Christ and which made him say: ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away’ [Matthew 24:35]. Or which the Apostle Peter quoted in these words, it is the same thing but in the graphic manner of the Apostle Peter. He tells these Christians that they have become Christians ‘by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever’ [I Peter 1:23]. Then listen: ‘For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man’ – British Empire and every other glory – ‘all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: But the word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you’ [I Peter 1:24-25]. It is the word I am preaching to you now, it is the word my friend is going to preach, the word, this word.

What is it? Why is this word durable? Why is this word better than the word of the philosophers, the scientists, the politicians, the sociologists, and the educationalist? Why is this the only word I should listen to? The answer is, it is the word of the Lord; it is the word of God. My dear friends, are you not tired of the words of men? (“A Kingdom which cannot be Shaken”)

The Lord Would Have the Wicked Made Known

Take heed, and walk fearfully and carefully. Let us view the truth through a magnifying-glass set before our eyes. Look at those who seemed to be passing for good Christians and yet, they are fallen; having in themselves nothing but wickedness. Read closely the following words of John Calvin:

But shun profane and vain babblings; for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymeneus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

Satan cometh with his poison and plagues, that he may destroy all. We see the flock of God troubled and tormented with ravenous wolves that devour and destroy whatsoever they can. Must we be moved with mercy towards a wolf: and in the mean time let the poor sheep and lambs of which our Lord hath such a special care, let them. I say, perish? When we see any wicked man troubling the church? Either by offences or false doctrine, we must prevent him as much as lieth in our power: we must warn the simple, that they be not misled and carried away; this I say, is our duty.

The Lord would have the wicked made known that the world may discern them that their ungodliness may be made manifest to all. St. Paul speaketh of some who are busy bodies, idlers &c.: these must be pointed out likewise, that they may be shunned. What must be done to those who have the sword in hand; who have become very devils; who can in no wise live in peace and concord, but thrust themselves forward to bring all to naught? When we see them thus, must we hold our peace? Let us learn to know them that trouble the church of God, and keep them back, and endeavor to prevent them from doing injury. Hereby we see how few there are that have a zeal for God’s church.

We speak not only of open enemies … but we see others that seek to turn us away from the simplicity of the gospel: they endeavor to bring all things into disorder; they sow tares, that they may bring this doctrine into hatred, and cause men to be grieved with it; others would have a licentious liberty to do what wickedness they choose, and thus throw off the yoke of our Lord Jesus Christ. . . .

And yet, who is there among us that setteth himself against these things? Who is there that saith, let us beware and be watchful? On the contrary, those that ought to reprove such wickedness sharply not only wink at it, and let it pass, but they favor it, and give it their support. We see the wickedness that overspreads the land; we see those that endeavor to pervert and bring to naught our salvation, and bring the church of God into doubt; and shall we dissemble, and make as though we saw none of these things? We may boast as much as we please about being Christians, yet there are more devils among us than Christians, if we countenance such things.

Therefore, let us look well to the doctrine which is here given us; and if we see wicked persons trying to infect the church of God, to darken good doctrine, or destroy it, let us endeavor to bring their works to light, that every one may behold them, and thereby be enabled to shun them. If we attend not to these things, we are traitors to God, and have no zeal for His honor, nor for the salvation of the church. (“Pure Preaching of the Word”)

King Jesus

Jesus is exalted to be a King and a Savior, that He may give all that is needed to accomplish the salvation of all who come under His rule. Charles H. Spurgeon writes:

Some truths which it is hard to explain in words are simple enough in actual experience. There is no discrepancy between the truth that the sinner believes, and that his faith is wrought in him by the Holy Spirit. Only folly can lead men to puzzle themselves about plain matters while their souls are in danger. No man would refuse to enter a lifeboat because he did not know the specific gravity of bodies; neither would a starving man decline to eat till he understood the whole process of nutrition. If you, my reader, will not believe till you can understand all mysteries, you will never be saved at all; and if you allow self-invented difficulties to keep you from accepting pardon through your Lord and Savior, you will perish in a condemnation which will be richly deserved. Do not commit spiritual suicide through a passion for discussing metaphysical subtleties. . . .

You are not asked to trust in a dead Jesus, but in One who, though He died for our sins, has risen again for our justification. You may go to Jesus at once as to a living and present friend. He is not a mere memory, but a continually existent Person who will hear your prayers and answer them. He lives on purpose to carry on the work for which He once laid down His life. He is interceding for sinners at the right hand of the Father, and for this reason He is able to save them to the uttermost who come unto God by Him. Come and try this living Savior, if you have never done so before.

This living Jesus is also raised to an eminence of glory and power. He does not now sorrow as “a humble man before his foes,” nor labor as “the carpenter’s son”; but He is exalted far above principalities and power and every name that is named. The Father has given Him all power in Heaven and in earth, and he exercises this high endowment in carrying out His work of grace. Hear what Peter and the other apostles testified concerning Him before the high priest and the council:

The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins (Acts v. 30, 31).

The glory which surrounds the ascended Lord should breathe hope into every believer’s breast. Jesus is no mean person—He is “a Savior and a great one.” He is the crowned and enthroned Redeemer of men. The sovereign prerogative of life and death is vested in Him; the Father has put all men under the mediatorial government of the Son, so that He can quicken whom He will. He openeth, and no man shutteth. At His word the soul which is bound by the cords of sin and condemnation can be unloosed in a moment. He stretches out the silver scepter, and whosoever touches it lives.

It is well for us that as sin lives, and the flesh lives, and the devil lives, so Jesus lives; and it is also well that whatever might these may have to ruin us, Jesus has still greater power to save us. (All of Grace)

Full Assurance

Fear cannot abound in a man’s heart when he knows that Christ is with him and will strengthen him in the face of evil and temptation to do evil. Christ has you firm in His grip. Andrew Bonar writes:

“It is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17: 11).

“There I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat” (Exod. 25: 22).

Dear reader, we affectionately urge this matter upon you; for we believe it nearly concerns your own salvation, your own peace and holiness. If my warrant to be assured of salvation depended upon the measure of my attainments, how could I ever be assured of salvation? How could I ever be assured that I had attained such a measure as would secure my acceptance, and my deliverance from the hand of my enemies, that I might serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of my life? How could the jailer have been safe in rejoicing in Christ, the same hour of the night? How could the eunuch have been warranted in going on his way rejoicing?

But, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the Lord.” Blessed be God, it is not a peradventure, left in uncertainty until after death or judgment, on which I am pleaded with to rest my eternal all. It is a work devised for sinners, undertaken for sinners, wrought out for sinners, finished for sinners, and accepted by God for sinners, whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead. And we have not to go to the uttermost parts of the earth to seek it. O reader! that finished work, that immediate acceptance and salvation, is nigh thee in thy hand in thy mouth in thy heart! “Hearken unto Me, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness; behold! I bring near My righteousness!” (Isaiah 46. 12, 13). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16. 31).

But is there, then, no hope that we are in Christ unless we possess this full assurance? We do not say so, though we believe that this question has often been used as a refuge from the guilt of not resting with full confidence on the blood of Christ. By reason of the weakness of their faith, and the strength of corruption within, the holiest of men are often found walking in darkness; but what we plead for is this, that if a child of God be not kept in peace as regards his acceptance, it is not for the want of something in Christ, but because of his own want of faith, to take freely what has been so freely given; and that all such doubts and fears regarding the fullness of Christ whatever be the humbled and exercised look they may assume while they are the believer’s misery, are no less truly the believer’s sin.

And this is the true way of holiness. The same apostle who proclaims salvation “to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly,” beseeches us, by those very mercies of God, to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God. The same sprinkled blood which speaks peace to the sinner, proclaims to that sinner continually, “Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6. 20). (“The Mercy Seat”)

God’s Certain Knowledge

According to Thomas Boston:

Has God decreed all things that come to pass? Then there is nothing that falls out by chance, nor are we to ascribe what we meet with either to good or bad luck and fortune. There are many events in the world which men look upon as mere accidents, yet all these come by the counsel and appointment of Heaven. Solomon tells us, Prov. 16:33. that “the lot is cast into the lap, But its every decision is from the LORD.” However disordered and fortuitous things may be with respect to us, yet they are all determined and directed by the Lord. When that man drew a bow at random, 1 Kings 22:34, it was merely accidental with respect to him, yet it was God that guided the motion of the arrow so as to strike the king of Israel rather than any other man. Nothing then comes to pass, however random and uncertain it may seem to be, but what was decreed by God.

Hence we see God’s certain knowledge of all things that happen in the world, seeing his knowledge is founded on his decree. As he sees all things possible in the telescope of his own power, so he sees all things to come in the telescope of his own will; of his effecting will, if he hath decreed to produce them; and of his permitting will, if he hath decreed to allow them. Therefore his declaration of things to come is founded on his appointing them Isa 44:7, “And who can proclaim as I do? Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me, Since I appointed the ancient people. And the things that are coming and shall come, Let them show these to them.” He foreknows the most necessary things according to the course of nature, because he decreed that such effects should proceed from and necessarily follow such and such causes: and he knows all future contingents, all things which shall happen by “chance,” and the most free actions of rational creatures, because he decreed that such things should come to pass contingently or freely, according to the nature of second causes. So that what is casual or contingent with respect to us, is certain and necessary in regard of God. (“Important Lessons Drawn from the Decrees of God”)

Believing is the Proof of the Spirit’s Work

In grace, we repent and believe, although neither would be possible if the Lord did not enable us. We relinquish sin and trust in Jesus, and only then do we perceive that the Lord has produced in us to will and to do according to His own good pleasure. Charles H. Spurgeon writes on this subject:

“YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN.” This word of our Lord Jesus has appeared to flame in the way of many, like the drawn sword of the cherub at the gate of Paradise. They have despaired, because this change is beyond their utmost effort. The new birth is from above, and therefore it is not in the creature’s power. Now, it is far from my mind to deny, or ever to conceal, a truth in order to create a false comfort. I freely admit that the new birth is supernatural, and that it cannot be wrought by the sinner’s own self. It would be a poor help to my reader if I were wicked enough to try to cheer him by persuading him to reject or forget what is unquestionably true.

But is it not remarkable that the very chapter in which our Lord makes this sweeping declaration also contains the most explicit statement as to salvation by faith? Read the third chapter of John’s Gospel and do not dwell alone upon its earlier sentences. It is true that the third verse says:

Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 

But, then, the fourteenth and fifteenth verses speak:

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

The eighteenth verse repeats the same doctrine in the broadest terms:

He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

It is clear to every reader that these two statements must agree, since they came from the same lips, and are recorded on the same inspired page. Why should we make a difficulty where there can be none? If one statement assures us of the necessity to salvation of a something, which only God can give, and if another assures us that the Lord will save us upon our believing in Jesus, then we may safely conclude that the Lord will give to those who believe all that is declared to be necessary to salvation. The Lord does, in fact, produce the new birth in all who believe in Jesus; and their believing is the surest evidence that they are born again.

He who could go so far as to die on the cross for us, can and will give us all things that are needful for our eternal safety. “But a saving change of heart is the work of the Holy Spirit. “ This also is most true, and let it be far from us to question it, or to forget it. But the work of the Holy Spirit is secret and mysterious, and it can only be perceived by its results. There are mysteries about our natural birth into which it would be an unhallowed curiosity to pry: still more is this the case with the sacred operations of the Spirit of God. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” This much, however, we do know—the mysterious work of the Holy Spirit cannot be a reason for refusing to believe in Jesus to whom that same Spirit beareth witness.

If a man were bidden to sow a field, he could not excuse his neglect by saying that it would be useless to sow unless God caused the seed to grow. He would not be justified in neglecting tillage because the secret energy of God alone can create a harvest. No one is hindered in the ordinary pursuits of life by the fact that unless the Lord build the house they labor in vain that build it. It is certain that no man who believes in Jesus will ever find that the Holy Spirit refuses to work in him: in fact, his believing is the proof that the Spirit is already at work in his heart. (All of Grace)

The Infinite Power and Goodness of God

What limitations have you put upon God’s relationship to you? Is it wise for the finite to judge the infinite? According to A. A. Hodge:

God’s providence, in every part of it, must be an expression of his essential perfections, of infinite wisdom and power and of absolute righteousness and benevolence. Nothing can be a surprise to his intelligence, or too complicated for his wisdom, or too difficult for his power, or inconsistent with his perfect righteousness or love. These essential attributes of the great Ruler are abundantly manifested in all his works.

The whole universe and the entire course of its history as far as known to us, exhibit unquestioned evidence of limitless intelligence and power and of unmistakable righteousness and benevolence. This is witnessed to by the entire volume of human literature, that of philosophers, scientists and poets, as well as that of the special devotees of religion. Nevertheless, the course of providence from the point of view of man unilluminated by a supernatural revelation is full of anomalies to him utterly insoluble. The question is not whether the face of nature and the course of providence give evidence of the intelligence, power, righteousness and goodness of God this is admitted by all sober men but the true question is, as put by John Stuart Mill in his posthumously published Essay on Theism, “Are the facts of nature and the history of events, as we know them, possibly reconcilable with the belief that the Creator and Controller of the world is at the same time infinite in his wisdom and in his power and in his righteousness and in his goodness?”

Mr. Mill is assured that this reconciliation is impossible in view of the awful prevalence of moral and physical evil. He is sure that God must be limited either in his wisdom or his power or his benevolence, and is inclined to think that he is limited in all, and upon the whole, with an imperfect standard and a limited ability, strives to do as well as he can.

The apparent incongruousness of the facts, and hence the difficulty of the problem, we admit. But we have seen God because we have seen Christ, and we have learned to read all the course of providence in the light of the Cross. Since the baptism of Pentecost we have been convicted of sin and of a guilt we are utterly unable to gainsay [deny] or remove. We have been convinced that the finite can never measure the Infinite, and that self-convicted sinners can never judge the integrity of the All Holy.

In the light of Calvary we have an impregnable assurance that the Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is unlimited in wisdom and in power, and that he can do no wrong. Bowing our heads in unquestioning submission to his sovereign rights and with confidence in his absolute perfection, we exclaim in the face of all apparent anomalies, [“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36 ESV)] (Popular Lectures on Theological Themes)

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