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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Pondering Creation, an Advantage to Faith

Manton Mondays — Insights on the Word from puritan Thomas Manton

Hebrews 11 begins with a wonderful description of faith in action:  “[1] Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. [2] For by it the people of old received their commendation.’ (ESV)  It then immediately speaks of the role faith in understanding the act of creation (11:3), “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.” 

Thomas Manton points us to the great advantages for our faith in pondering God’s creation….

[Turning our minds to creation] is a wonderful advantage to faith to give us hope and consolation in the greatest distresses. The whole creation is a standing monument of God’s power; we see what He can do— Psalm 114:8, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” As long as heaven and earth is standing, we need not distrust God’s power — Jer. 32:17, “Ah Lord God, behold Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power, and stretched out arm; and there is nothing too hard for Thee.” So Psalm 146:5-6, “Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help; whose hope is in the Lord his God, which made heaven and earth, and sea, and all that therein is, which keeps truth for ever.” The works of creation are but pawns and pledges of the possibility and certainty of everything promised. Every promise is as powerful as God’s first creating word, “let there be light.”

In those four phases, Manton shows his mastery of the Word, and his pastoral heart to help and encourage us — read them again, and again.

  • Creation is a monument of God’s power; we see what He can do…
  • As long as heaven & earth stand, we need not distrust God’s power…
  • The works of creation are but pawns & pledges of the possibility and certainty of everything promised.
  • Every promise is as powerful as God’s first creating word, “let there be light!”

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Paul’s prayer for his preaching

At the end of his letter to the Ephesians, the imprisoned Apostle Paul writes and requests pray for his ministry of the Word — “[18] praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, [19] and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, [20] for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:18-20, ESV, emphasis added).

Commenting on this, the late John R. W. Stott wrote* about the importance of clear and bold preaching — male-lion-14-1407039-639x962

Clarity and courage remain two of the most crucial characteristics of authentic Christian preaching. For they relate to the content of the message preached and to the style of its presentation. Some preachers have the gift of lucid teaching, but their sermons lack solid content; their substance has become diluted by fear. Others are bold as lions. They fear nobody, and omit nothing. But what they say is confused and confusing. Clarity without courage is like sunshine in the desert — plenty of light but nothing worth looking at. Courage without clarity is like a beautiful landscape at night time — plenty to see, but no light by which to enjoy it. What is needed in the pulpits of the world today is a combination of clarity and courage . . .  Paul asked for the Ephesians to pray that these might be given to him, for he recognized them as gifts of God. We should join them in prayer for the pastors and preachers of the contemporary church.”

*from The Message of Ephesians, (The Bible Speaks Today series); IVP, 1979; page 286.

Spiritual hope

Manton Monday — Insights from puritan Thomas Manton

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation.”  (Hebrews 11:1-2 ESV). In a most interesting, brief comment,  Puritan Thomas Manton speaks of both a natural hope and a “spiritual” hope as he reflects on this verse.  Manton

“…when we delight in a thing when we hope for it; Natural hope is the flower of pleasure and foretaste of happiness; SPIRITUAL HOPE is the harbinger and forerunner of those eternal and unmixed delights which the Lord has prepared for us.”

May the Lord help us to hope for the best of things.
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Care for your soul!

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? – Matthew 16:26

The title of this post sounds archaic. No one talks about their soul anymore. Even those whose eyes have been opened seldom speak this way in modern days. We would do well to remember what previous generations have said about the significance of the soul. Here are a few quotes from my recent Sunday sermon.  

“The fundamental error of sinners is undervaluing their own souls!” (Matthew Henry)

“As the man is more noble than the house he dwells in, 
 so is the soul more noble than the body.” (John Bunyan)

“The soul is such a thing, so rich and valuable in its nature, that scare one in twenty thousand counts of it as they should. (Bunyan)

“The whole world cannot make up to a man for the loss of his soul!” (JC Ryle)

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God sees us praying (or not)

Manton Monday — Insights from puritan Thomas Manton

One of the great encouragements for keeping up our prayers comes from the instructions of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 6:6   “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” esv. Jesus reminds us that our heavenly Father sees us. Of course, such a fact will unsettle those who neglect prayer (or do worse things, thinking no one sees them). Puritan Thomas Manton speaks of both consequences of the fact that “God sees” us in secret  — Manton

Here are the encouragements to this personal, private, and solitary prayer, taken from God’s sight, and God’s reward. From God’s sight, [He observes] thy carriage; the posture and frame of they spirit, the fervor and uprightness of heart which thou manifest in prayer is all known to Him. Mark, that which is the hypocrite’s fear, and binds condemnation upon the heart of a wicked man, is here made to be the saints’ support and ground of comfort — that they pray to an all-seeing God (1 John 3:20, “…for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything…”). Their heavenly Father sees in secret; He can interpret their groans, and read the language of their sighs. Though they fail as to the outside of a duty, and there be much brokenness of speech, yet God sees brokenness of heart there, and it is that He looks after. God sees.

[Works, Vol. 1, page 9]

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Luther

Consider this fine endeavor.

The Wanderer

Some readers might recall the Through the Eyes of Spurgeon documentary released a couple of years back, directed and produced by my good friend, Stephen McCaskell. Well, Stephen is back on the trail, this time hoping to produce a documentary called Luther: The Life and Legacy of the German Reformer.

At the moment, he is seeking to raise the necessary remaining funds through a Kickstarter campaign. At time of writing, he’s about 25% of the way there – only another $15000 (CAD) to go. Bear in mind that this means that a $100 CAD pledge is only about £55-60 GBP or $80 USD. There’s more bang for your buck here, so you can pledge more than you think!

Here’s the promotional trailer:


If you have a minute and a few shekels to spare, please consider heading over to Kickstarter to help. The Spurgeon documentary has been viewed over…

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