If God Is For Us…

Romans 8:31-32 — “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” esv

This is a profound application of the truth of the gospel — that by His amazing grace to us in Christ, God is for us. Such a grand truth for all believers to have and to hold. In a fine little booklet, The Heart of the Gospel: God’s Son Given for You, Dr Sinclair Ferguson lingers over this Scripture, unfolding the relationship of God the Father and God the Son, as well as the application of God’s gracious favor to Christians. heart__30386.1430240414.1280.1280

For example, Dr Ferguson says —

We must be very clear that it is not redemptive history that died on the cross for us. It was not typology that died on the cross for us, nor systematic theology, not preaching, nor the sacraments. It was the person of the Son of God in our humanity who died on the cross in an inner-Trinitarian transaction of grace between himself and the Father. He bore the holy curse of God upon his soul and prayed, “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34). [page 19]

Near the end of this booklet, Ferguson employs biblical theology to explain the depth of Paul’s pastoral application here, and does it in a way that is helpful and heart-warming. (Ferguson is one of the best theologians writing today, with soundness and beauty).

Paul communicates something wonderful here about the truth of the gospel. What he says can transform our Christian lives and deal with our deep-seated needs, which keep unfolding from the depths of our being and which so often give rise to a mistrust of the Father. Paul is arguing that the fruit of Christ’s death on a tree reverses the fruit of the death that came from another tree [Gen. 3]. But there is even more than that! The fruit of the liberating truth enshrined in this death on the tree of Calvary is the ultimate antidote to the lie that caused death to come from the tree in the center of the garden of Eden in the first place. Remember that God set Adam in a garden surrounded by lavish plenty, but the Serpent hissed, “Has God said that he doesn’t want you to have any of this fruit?” That was a word from hell, and we have not escaped its echoes and implications reverberating in our own hearts and lives. Some of use hear it daily: “God doesn’t really want to do you good. Look what’s happening in your life. He doesn’t really love you.” Here, in this great statement of the gospel, Paul provides the medicine for this seat-seated sickness in your soul. If he did not spare his own Son for you, then you can be absolutely sure that the Father will stop at nothing to bless you, keep you, guide you, lead you, and bring you to glory. [page 22]

Amen! Friends, cling to the truth of Romans 8:32! I also encourage you to get a few copies of this fine booklet to read and giveaway to others. Believe the good news. Spread the good news.

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Our help in this world of snares

This world is no friend to those desiring to live in a manner pleasing to God. Thomas Manton wrote, 1308371_81342165

The world is full of snares; we are carnal, and there are carnal persons around us, and the devil is a restless enemy watching for all opportunities; and surely having so much pride in us, and love of pleasure, and so many worldly desires — we give in but too, too often. Therefore, unless GOD keep us, we shall be tossed to and fro like feathers with the wind of every temptation.

How glad we are to have God as our gracious and great helper! The doxology that ends the Epistle of Jude stirs us to praise the Lord —

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
(Jude 1:24-25, ESV)

“How Does Jesus Come to Newtown?”

In light of today’s horrific events in Connecticut, Pastor John Piper has written the following at his Desiring God blog.

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We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize . . . but one who in every respect has been tested as we are. ~ Hebrews 4:15

[Piper:]
Mass murder is why Jesus came into the world the way he did. What kind of Savior do we need when our hearts are shredded by brutal loss?

We need a suffering Savior. We need a Savior who has tasted the cup of horror we are being forced to drink.

And that is how he came. He knew what this world needed. Not a comedian. Not a sports hero. Not a movie star. Not a political genius. Not a doctor. Not even a pastor. The world needed what no mere man could be.

The world needed a suffering Sovereign. Mere suffering would not do. Mere sovereignty would not do. The one is not strong enough to save; the other is not weak enough to sympathize.

So he came as who he was: the compassionate King. The crushed Conqueror. The lamb-like Lion. The suffering Sovereign.

Now he comes to Newtown, Connecticut.

READ THE WHOLE THING HERE.

[Piper’s concluding thought]
The God who draws near to Newtown is the suffering, sympathetic God-man, Jesus Christ. No one else can feel what he has felt. No one else can love like he can love. No one else can heal like he can heal. No one else can save like he can save.

PS: I would encourage you to search the Desiring God website for additional helpful, biblical thoughts on the topic of “suffering”.

What’s a Christian Business Owner Supposed to Do?

Mark Taylor, President of Tyndale House publishers (and son of its founders) recently wrote about the penalties the federal government is seeking to impose on Tyndale in violation of their freedom of religion and right to act in accord with their biblically informed conscience.

What’s a Christian Business Owner Supposed to Do?.

(From Justin Taylor’s Gospel Coalition blog).

Tooth and Nail?

“But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Galatians 5:15 esv

Such violence is brutish. God hath armed the beasts with teeth and claws, but man with reason and judgment; to smite with the hand is beneath a man; to smite with the tongue beneath a Christian…

Thomas Manton, Works v:400

The little things…

“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31 esv

The prince of preachers, Charles H Spurgeon, (c.1869) reflects on this…

I would, with special earnestness, beg you to believe that God is in little things.

It is the little troubles of life that annoy us the most. A man can put up with the loss of a dear friend sometimes, better than he can with the burning of his fingers with a coal, or some little accident that may occur to him. The little stones in the sandal make the traveler limp; while great stones do him little hurt, for he soon leaps over them.

Believe that God arranges the littles. Take the little troubles as they come and bring them to your God, because they come from God. Believe that nothing is little to God, which concerns His people. To Him, indeed, your greatest concerns may be said to be little; and your little anxieties are not too small for His notice.

The very hairs of your head are all numbered; you may, therefore, pray to him about your smallest griefs. If not a sparrow hops upon the ground without your Father — you have reason to see that the smallest events in your career are arranged by Him, and it should be your joy to accept them as they come, and not make them causes of irritation, either to others or to yourselves.

This is a truth on which you may rely implicitly, and exercise yourselves continually, until you lull the sharpest pains, calm the most feverish excitements, and obtain the sweetest repose that a Christian can indulge in.

Everything in the future is appointed by God. All is in the hand of the great King. The Lord is King; let his people rejoice!

Mocking Muhammad Vs. Mocking Christ – A Deep Difference

The headlines are full of the violent reprisals of the defenders of Muhammad.

David Mathis asks, what, then, does it mean when Muhammad’s followers begrudge him the kinds of mockery Jesus embraced, and taught his followers to likewise embrace?

In a briefly and timely article, which gleans from the wisdom of John Piper’s writings, Mathis reminds us of a deep — and beautiful — difference between Jesus and Muhammad: Jesus definitely intended to be mocked, humiliated — and killed.

Jesus is unique. And Christians believe there is a divine beauty in the mocking that he willingly subjects himself to by becoming man — because it’s a mocking and reviling and bruising and dying that is for us and for our salvation.

There is also significance to our (non-violent) response when our Savior is despised: “Jesus’s uniqueness and beauty is on display if his followers respond with grace when he is reviled.”

Read the whole thing at the Desiring God blog.

Words for the Grieving Ones

On Thursday morning many friends will gather alongside a family as they lay to rest a much loved wife and mother, who died in the early morning hours last Monday. Only a few months ago she was in the prime of life, caring for her husband, serving children in a local school and walking faithfully with her Lord. Then the cancers came; and a grim prognosis; and a season of difficulty for this saint. Grief gained a beachhead in our hearts weeks ago, and its invasion is now in full force.

In the midst of her treatments and the dramatic changes to her body, though, her spirit was undimmed and her delight in her family and daily life continued. Her simple, bright online notes communicated a measure of the wonderful personality we knew and loved — and encouraged many of us to hold our days more precious too. In her last days, we often saw evidence of the Scripture, “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 esv

I had been much in fervent prayer for this sister for many weeks, in the pulpit and in private. I also have often wondered why such afflictions came to such a choice servant in the prime of her life. Although we do not often discover the answer to such “why” questions, we are reminded in the Bible about the holy and good character of our God. For instance, just today I read further in the passage cited above (Lamentations 3) and found these words about our God:

“The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. …For the Lord will not cast off forever, but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; for he does not afflict from his heart or grieve the children of men.” (3:25, 31-33)

That last verse in particular is instructive: We dare not judge the heart of God simply by a few of His actions. An old puritan pastor, Thomas Brooks, unfolds some implications of this text, for those wrestling with grief:

“No man can tell how the heart of God stands by his actions. His hand of severity may lie hard upon those upon whom he has set his heart as you see in Job and Lazarus. …Consider the gracious, blessed, soul-quieting conclusions that come out of afflictions. As Christ commanded the boisterous winds and the roaring raging seas — “He rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm” (Matt. 8:26) — so let the conscience speak to the soul: Be quiet and still; ‘Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord’ (Psa. 27:14), and ‘Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.’ (Psa. 37:7).


May the truth of God’s Word be like a sea-wall against the battering waves of our grief. God does not willingly or wantonly afflict His children! Our sovereign Lord does all things in accordance with His perfect will, for His glory and (ultimately) for the good of His people! And “He will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love.”

~ pdb

Moby Dick’s Melville: “The pulpit is the prow”

The Pulpit is the Prow?

I spotted this wonderful image-packed
citation at Jared Wilson’s blog today…
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“…for the pulpit is ever this earth’s foremost part; all the rest comes in its rear; the pulpit leads the world. From thence it is the storm of God’s quick wrath is first descried, and the bow must bear the earliest brunt. From thence it is the God of breezes fair or foul is first invoked for favorable winds. Yes, the world’s a ship on its passage out, and not a voyage complete; and the pulpit is its prow.”

— Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

We shall thank God for every storm

“If we are true Christians, we must not expect everything smooth in our journey to heaven. We must count it no strange thing, if we have to endure sicknesses, losses, bereavements, and disappointments, just like other men. Free pardon and full forgiveness, grace by the way and glory to the end – all this our Savior has promised to give. But He has never promised that we shall have no afflictions. He loves us too well to promise that.

By affliction He teaches us many precious lessons, which without it we should never learn. By affliction He shows us our emptiness and weakness, draws us to the throne of grace, purifies our affections, weans us from the world, makes us long for heaven. In the resurrection morning we shall all say, ‘it is good for me that I was afflicted.’ We shall thank God for every storm.”

~ J.C. Ryle
in Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Mark 4:35-41), Banner of Truth Trust