THE HINGE ON WHICH ALL THEOLOGY TURNS

THE HINGE ON WHICH ALL THEOLOGY TURNS

“There are few books which written over 400 years ago are still applicable today; Martin Luther’s masterpiece, The Boncage of the Will, is one of those books. Anyone desiring to know more about the root of dissent between Luther and the Catholic Church must read this book.

In his treatise Luther systematically demolishes Erasmus’ arguments in favor of free-will. Luther brilliantly illustrates why the will is in total and complete bondage and enslavement to sin, and why free-will is a completely meaningless term. Luther argues that the only thing the will is free to do is to sin and rebel against God.

Luther shows that salvation is totally dependent on the grace of God and His sovereign Will. To say that even a small part of the human will can prepare itself to receive God’s grace is an utterly ludricous sentiment. Erasmus believes that a human being by a very small effort can earn God’s grace. Luther totally destroys this view and shows that to espouse such a view makes one worse than the Pelagians, who held that it took numerous great works to earn God’s grace”.
[by Seth Aaron Lowry]

“This book is as applicable today as it was when Luther first wrote this book. When so many Protestant Churches hold to a soteriological view more akin to that of Erasmus, it is absolutely vital that the truth of the Reformation be brought back into the spotlight. Read this book to gain a greater understanding of the major area of disagreement among the Reformers and the Catholic Church of the time, and also to understand that our salvation is not predicated on any meritorious work that we accomplish, but simply on the grace of God.

The denial of free will was the position of the Reformation. The Reformers had always been settled on this crucial issue. This was the “manifesto” of the Reformation. On this issue the Gospel, and Reformation Christianity, stands or falls. The selling of indulgences and other ecclesiastical abuses were not the central issues. They were the occasion for the Reformation, not the cause. Luther at the end of his rebuttal, in his book ‘Bondage of the Will’, praises Erasmus thus:

“I give you hearty praise and commendation on this further account—that you alone, in contrast with others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like trifles. . . . You, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot” (319).

Erasmus had understood the issues clearly and went straight for the jugular. If Erasmus had succeeded in this debate against Luther, Roman Catholicism would have triumphed, and the Reformation lost. What Erasmus failed to do 500 years ago, he now succeeds magnificently among the supposed posterity of the Reformation, who are even now returning to Rome.

If there is ever going to be a reclaiming of the Gospel, if there is ever going to be a second Reformation, this essential issue—the bondage of the will—must once again be proclaimed and successfully defended. No lesser victory will do”.

[Quoted from – ‘Martin Luther on Free-Will’ from The Highway]

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THE IMPARTED RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KING’S DAUGHTER

THE IMPARTED RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KING’S DAUGHTER

J.C. Philpot

“For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven.” [Matthew 5:20]

There are three kinds of righteousness, or at least three kinds of righteousness which bear that name. There is inherent righteousness, of which we have none. There is imputed righteousness, which is all our justification. And there is imparted righteousness, when God the Spirit makes us new creatures, and raises up in the heart that “new man, which after God” (that is, “after the image of God”) “is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

When the Lord, therefore, said, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall never enter into the kingdom of heaven,” he did not mean only an external righteousness wrought out by his obedience to the law for them, but an internal righteousness wrought out by the Holy Spirit in them. Thus we read of the inward as well as the outward apparel of the Church, “The King’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold.”

Two kinds of righteousness belong to the Queen; her imputed righteousness is her outward robe, “the clothing of wrought gold;” but imparted righteousness is her inward adorning, which makes her “all-glorious within.” This inward glory is the new man in the heart, with all his gifts and graces, what Peter calls “the divine nature,” “Christ in the heart, the hope of glory.” [Hallelujah!]

P.S. “This must be so if the Church is conformed to her Head, for He was “without spot” externally, and “without blemish” internally.” – A.W. Pink

A STONE OR BREAD?

A STONE OR BREAD?

What man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? — Matthew 7:9

No loving father would give a stone or a snake to his hungry son if he asked for a piece of bread or a fish. Jesus used the absurdity of that analogy in Matthew 7 to underscore the heavenly Father’s readiness to give good things to His children when they ask Him. He wanted them to have complete confidence in the Father’s provision for their spiritual needs.

Sometimes, however, it may seem as if the Lord has given us “stones” instead of “bread.” But in His wisdom, He actually is working through our circumstances to give us something far better than what we requested. An unknown author expressed it this way:

I asked for health that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity that I might do better things.
I asked God for strength that I might achieve;
I was made weak that I might learn to obey.
I asked for riches that I might be happy;
I was given poverty that I might be wise.
I asked for power and the praise of men;
I was given weakness to sense my need of God.
I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;
I was given life that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing I asked for but everything I hoped for;
In spite of myself, my prayers were answered—
I am among all men most richly blessed.

Yes, God always gives us what’s best for us.

We ask amiss, but God answers aright!

 

THE CHRISTIAN’S WEAKNESS IS HIS STRENGTH

THE CHRISTIAN’S WEAKNESS IS HIS STRENGTH

J.C. Philpot

“Though I be nothing.” [2 Cor 12:11]

Paul did not mean to say that he had no religion, but none in himself. ‘What! could not Paul stand against temptation?’ Not more than you or I, unassisted by the grace of God. ‘Could not Paul pray more than I can?’ No, not at all, except so far as the spirit of grace and supplications was given to him. ‘Could not Paul love more than I do?’ Not a bit more, nor think a spiritual thought more, as far as self was concerned. I do not mean to say that Paul did not pray, believe, and love more than any of us do; but he did not perform these actions in himself one whit more than we can. He says, expressly, “In me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing;” and therefore not the good thing of faith, or love, or divine communion.

Now when the Lord has brought a soul down to be nothing, he then makes His strength perfect in that nothingness; He communicates strength to pray, strength to believe, strength to hope, to love, to receive the gospel. Just like the poor man with the withered hand, to whom Jesus said, “Stretch forth thine hand.” It was withered, he could not do it of himself. But Christ’s strength was made perfect in weakness: when He spake the word, the withered hand was stretched forth, and became whole as the other. So with the dead Lazarus–he was asleep in death; but when the voice of love and power penetrated into the tomb, “Lazarus, come forth,” life was made perfect in the dead corpse. So with the Old Testament worthies, who “out of weakness were made strong” (Heb. 11:34).

And so, each in our measure, it is with us; our weakness, helplessness, and inability are the very things which draw forth the power, the strength, and the grace of Jesus.

GOD IS DETERMINED TO MAKE THE WORLD A WILDERNESS TO ALL HIS ELECT THAT THEY MAY NOT FIND THEIR HAPPINESS IN IT

GOD IS DETERMINED TO MAKE THE WORLD A WILDERNESS TO ALL HIS ELECT THAT THEY MAY NOT FIND THEIR HAPPINESS IN IT

J.C. Philpot

“They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in.” Psalm 107:4

The true Christian finds this world to be a wilderness.

There is no change in the world itself.

The change is in the man’s heart.

THE WILDERNESS WANDERER thinks it altered—a different world from what he has hitherto known . . . his friends, his own family, the employment in which he is daily engaged, the general pursuits of men – their cares and anxieties, their hopes and prospects, their amusements and pleasures, and what I may call ‘the general din and whirl of life’, all seem to him different to what they were—and for a time perhaps he can scarcely tell whether the change is in them, or in himself.

This however is the prominent and uppermost feeling in his mind—that he finds himself, to his surprise – a WANDERER IN A WORLD which has changed altogether its appearance to him. The fair, beautiful world, in which was all his happiness and all his home—has become to him a dreary wilderness.

Sin has been fastened in its conviction on his conscience.
The Holy Spirit has taken the veil of unbelief and ignorance
off his heart. He now sees the world in a wholly different
light–and instead of a paradise it has become a wilderness – for sin, dreadful sin, has marred all its beauty and happiness.

It is not because the world itself has changed that the Christian feels it to be a wilderness—but BECAUSE HE HIMSELF HAS CHANGED.

There is nothing in this world which can really gratify or satisfy the true Christian. What once was to him a happy and joyous world has now become a barren wilderness.

The scene of his former . . pursuits, pleasures, habits, delights, prospects, hopes, anticipations of profit or happiness – is now turned into a barren wasteland.

He cannot perhaps tell how or why the change has taken place, but he feels it—deeply feels it. He may try to shake off his trouble and be a little cheerful and happy as he was before—but if he gets a little imaginary relief, all his guilty pangs come back upon him with renewed strength and increased violence.

God means to make the world a wilderness to every child of His, that he may not find his happiness in it, but be a stranger and a pilgrim upon earth.

BELIEVERS NOT SAVED BY THEIR DECISION

BELIEVERS NOT SAVED BY THEIR DECISION

preacher Gary Shepard

Believers are not saved by their “decision.” No, they are saved because God decided upon them, chose them in Christ and blessed them with all spiritual blessings in Him before the world began. He redeemed us by His blood and calls us. Yet, as believers in Christ and servants of the living God in this world, we have many decisions in this life. These decisions, some big and some small (so we think), do not determine anything but they do reveal many things. You see, it is our decisions concerning the things of this life that prove to be the test of our faith. Decisions concerning family, work, recreation, worship, etc. Actually, every decision in life! In making these decisions there are a number of things we as believers should consider:

1. Will I be acting according to God’s plain commands and statements in His Word? The Spirit of God never leads us to act contrary to the written Word. “He that is of God hears God’s words” John8:47

2. Will my decision be for the glory of God above all things? “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” 1Co 10:31

3. Will what I choose to do really work for my spiritual and eternal good? “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” 1Co 10:23“Set your affection on things above ”

4. Will the course of action I choose encourage or be a good example for the people of God? “Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.” Ro 14:19

5. Will my decision work for the good of Christ’s church in this world and the advancement of His gospel? Will it encourage the one He has sent to feed and watch over my soul?

Remember Joshua’s words to the people: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Jos 24:15 God give us grace to serve YOU!

WHAT OLDER DIVINES SAID CONCERNING ‘SELF-EXAMINATION’

WHAT OLDER DIVINES SAID CONCERNING ‘SELF-EXAMINATION’

Compiled by Michael Jeshurun

 “Examine yourselves whether you are in the faith, prove your own selves” ( 2 Corinthians 13:5), yet that is the very task which the great majority of professing Christians refuse to undertake, and if it is pressed upon them, they see no need for engaging in it, firmly assured that all is well with them spiritually. It is natural for us to think well of ourselves, yet just to the extent that we are influenced by self-esteem will our judgment be prevented from forming a true estimate of ourselves. And while self-love and self-flattery rule our hearts, we shall decline this essential duty of self-examination. Pride produces presumption, so that its infatuated victims are secure in their conceit that they are heirs of Heaven, when in fact they have neither title nor meetness to it. Those thus bewitched cannot be induced to prosecute a course of self-examination, nor will they tolerate a searching and probing ministry, be it oral or written.”  [A. W. Pink]

The writer has met many people who profess to be Christians, but whose daily lives differ in nothing from thousands of non-professors all around them. They are rarely, if ever, found at the prayer-meeting, they have no Family Worship, they seldom read the Scriptures, they will not talk with you about the things of God, their walk is thoroughly worldly; and yet they are quite sure they are bound for heaven!  Inquire into the ground of their confidence, and they will tell you that so many years ago they accepted Christ as their Savior, and “once saved always saved” is now their comfort. There are thousands of such people on earth today, who are nevertheless, on the Broad Road, that leadeth to destruction, treading it with a false peace in their hearts and a vain profession on their lips.  [A.W. Pink]

I commend solitude to any of you who are seeking salvation, first, that you may study well your case as in the sight of God. Few men truly know themselves as they really are. Most people have seen themselves in a looking-glass, but there is another looking-glass, which gives true reflections, into which few men look. To study one’s self in the light of God’s Word, and carefully to go over one’s condition, examining both the inward and the outward sins, and using all the tests which are given us in the Scriptures, would be a very healthy exercise; but how very few care to go through it!  [C.H. Spurgeon]

Make up your spiritual accounts daily; see how matters stand between God and your souls (Psalm 77:6). Often reckonings keep God and conscience friends. Do with your hearts as you do with your watches, wind them up every morning by prayer, and at night examine whether your hearts have gone true all that day, whether the wheels of your affections have moved swiftly toward heaven. [Thomas Watson]

When a man has judged himself, Satan is put out of office.  When he lays anything to a saint’s charge, he is able to retort and say, “It is true, Satan, I am guilty of these sins, but I have judged myself already for them; and having condemned myself in the lower court of conscience, God will acquit me in the upper court of heaven.”  [Thomas Watson]

Men compare themselves with men, and readily with the worst, and flatter themselves with that comparative betterness. This is not the way to see spots, to look into the muddy streams of profane men’s lives; but look into the clear fountain of the Word, and there we may both discern and wash them; and consider the infinite holiness of God, and this will humble us to the dust.  [Robert Leighton]

 Resolved, whenever my feelings begin to appear in the least out of order, when I am conscious of the least uneasiness within, or the least irregularity without, I will then subject myself to the strictest examination (July 4, and 13, 1723). [Jonathan Edwards]

Resolved, to inquire every night, as I am going to bed, wherein I have been negligent, what sin I have committed, and wherein I have denied myself – also at the end of every week, month and year. [Jonathan Edwards]

Resolved, constantly, with the utmost niceness and diligence, and the strictest scrutiny, to be looking into the state of my soul, that I may know whether I have truly an interest in Christ or not; that when I come to die, I may not have any negligence respecting this to repent of.  [Jonathan Edwards]

In light of the sober possibility of profession without possession, the New Testament exhorts us to examine ourselves, to see if we are in the faith, to make our calling and election sure (2 Cor. 13:5). We have a moral obligation to encourage others to do likewise.  [William Webster]

THE GREEN TREE 

THE GREEN TREE

Jim Byrd

“For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?” [Luke 23:31]. 

These words were uttered by our Savior to those who wept for Him as He made His way toward the place of crucifixion. Christ is the green tree, full of the sap of life, delightful and well-pleasing to the Father. He was pure in His nature, without sin in His life, harmless in His actions and perfect in all His ways. In and of Himself, He was not deserving of being cut down and cast into the fire of divine wrath. The agonies which awaited Him were brought about because the sins of His people were imputed to Him.

The innocent Lamb of God had taken responsibility for the redemption of those given Him by the Father in the covenant of grace and the time had now arrived when He would retire our indebtedness by enduring divine wrath in our stead. Though He was the sinless One, yet when He bore our transgressions, He would not be spared the sword of judgment and He “DIED FOR OUR SINS ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES.” [1Cor 15;3] We are assured from the Word of God that when Christ offered Himself as the sacrifice for our offenses, His people were redeemed by His precious blood [1 Peter 1:18-19]. The just vengeance of God which fell upon the Shepherd who died as the Substitute for His sheep, will never fall upon those in whose place He died.

Now, if these things happened “IN A GREEN TREE,” that is, if the Father dealt so severely with Him Who had no inward guilt, no sins of His own, what will happen to those who leave this world laden with guilt and sin reigns within them? They are as dry trees, fit only to be cast away and forevermore endure the fiery indignation of God.

In the destruction of the wicked we see the just consequence of having no Substitute, no Sin-Offering and no Mediator. What unspeakable horror awaits those who die clinging to their self-righteous rags and despising the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ! The cross-death of the Son of God stands as solemn proof that the God of the Bible must and will punish sin.

 

THE SOVEREIGN GOD OF THE PSALMS 

THE SOVEREIGN GOD OF THE PSALMS 

Rev. Steven R. Houck

 God’s Sovereign Grace

Salvation is the work of GOD’S GRACE ALONE. It is the work of God’s SOVEREIGN grace. The psalmists knew of no grace that must be EARNED BY MAN OR ACCEPTED BY THE WILL OF MAN. Salvation is not CONDITIONED by what man does, but is based totally upon the faithfulness of the Covenant God. God’s people are saved only because God has established His covenant with them and promised to save them. Thus God’s people rejoice and sing, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. For I have said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: thy faithfulness shalt thou establish in the very heavens. I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant.” (Ps. 89:1-3).

The covenant faithfulness of God will never fail. Even when God’s people violate the covenant, God remains faithful. He saves them in spite of their unfaithfulness, through the promised Seed. He promises, “My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will 1 make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven. If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips.” (Ps. 59:28-34).

It is the SOVEREIGN SAVIOR, therefore, Who regenerates, converts, justifies, sanctifies, preserves, and glorifies His people. This was King David’s conviction as demonstrated by Psalm 51. Unto Whom does David turn in the midst of his great sins? Does he find comfort in the fact that HE did something for salvation? NO! He prays, “Have mercy upon me, O God. according to THY lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of THY tender mercies blot out my transgressions.” (Ps. 51:1). He pleads for God’s mercy. He does not look to himself for he acknowledges, “I was shapen in iniquity. and in sin did my mother conceive me,” (Ps. 51:5). He is a sinner. How CAN he save himself? Thus he seeks his salvation in sovereign grace.

God must “create” in him “a clean heart” and “renew a right spirit” in him. Only God can “restore” to him “the joy of salvation” and “uphold” him with His Spirit. If he is to be clean, God must “purge” him with hyssop and “wash” him so that he is whiter than snow. He knows that His salvation is God’s work alone and therefore he declares, “O God, thou God of my salvation.”(Ps, 51:14). We find this throughout the Psalms. In the midst of sin, the psalmists rely on God’s sovereign grace. For all of the life of the believer is directed and controlled by God and His grace until He finally gives to him complete salvation, Thus all believers can say, “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” (Ps. 73:24).

Moreover the Psalms teach us that salvation is not dependent upon man’s choice, but upon the sovereign choice of God. The determining factor in salvation is God’s will. The psalmists speak of God’s election in many places. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (Ps. 33:12). In God’s eternal and unchangeable counsel, He has chosen certain ones to be His people whom He saves. “For thou Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure.” (Ps. 135:4). He does not save all. God never intended to save everyone.

HE SAVES ONLY THOSE WHOM HE HAS CHOSEN.

GOD HAS BUT ONE PEOPLE FOR HIS “PECULIAR TREASURE.”

ALL OTHERS KNOW NOTHING OF HIS SALVATION.

It is upon His chosen people alone that He bestows His mercy, grace, and love. He has only wrath for the wicked. Thus the psalmist speaks of reprobation when he says of God, “Thou hatest all workers of iniquity.” (Ps. 5:5). “The Lord trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loves violence his soul hateth.” (Ps. 11:5). God’s sovereign predestination was manifested throughout the old dispensation by the fact that God gave His Word to only His people. “He sheweth his word UNTO JACOB, HIS STATUTES AND HIS JUDGMENTS UNTO ISRAEL.

HE HATH NOT DEALT SO WITH ANY NATION: AS FOR HIS JUDGMENTS, THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN THEM.

Praise ye the Lord.” (Ps. 147:19-20).

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY OVER THE WICKED

Closely connected with God’s sovereignty in salvation is God’s sovereignty over the wicked. God always saves His people through the judgment of the wicked. God’s people need to be saved from their enemies. In many places the psalmists even pray for the destruction of their enemies. In Ps. 68 we read, “Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him. As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.” (Ps. 68:1-2). Sometimes very strong language is used. “Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth: break out the great teeth of the young lions, O Lord.” (Ps. 58:6).

The BASIS for such prayers can only be the sovereignty of God. The almighty power of God controls even the wicked for the sake of God’s people and their salvation. “He [God] suffered no man to do them [God’s people) wrong: yea. He reproved kings for their sakes: Saying, touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.” (Ps. 105:14-15). Though the wicked seek to destroy God’s people and the cause of Truth, God holds them in His power and will not allow them to do anything which He has not appointed. “The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to naught: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect.” (Ps. 33:10). Though the “heathen rage… and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed,…He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision” (Ps. 2:1-4). God uses all the wicked deeds of the ungodly to advance the cause of His kingdom. Even their rebellion serves the Lord.

Yea, for the sake of His people, the Lord destroys the wicked. This is nowhere more evident than in the destruction of Egypt. The psalmist praises God for the destruction of the enemies of God’s people when he declares, “Who smote the first-born of Egypt, both of man and beast, Who sent tokens and wonders into the midst of thee, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his servants.” (Ps. 135:8-9). Not only Egypt, but also other heathen nations were destroyed for the sake of God’s people. “Who smote great nations, and slew mighty kings; Sihon king of the Amorites, and Og king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan: And gave their land for an heritage, an heritage unto Israel His people” (Ps. 135: 10-12). Thus God’s people are saved through the destruction of the wicked by the sovereign power of God. With the psalmist therefore all of God’s people must praise God and say, “Through God we shall do valiantly: for he it is that shall tread down our enemies.” (Ps. 108:13). Because God is sovereign even over the wicked, the salvation of God’s people is absolutely sure. Praise the Lord. He is the sovereign Savior.

The Comfort of God’s Sovereignty

From all that we have shown thus far, it ought to be clear that the various themes of the sovereignty of God run throughout the Psalms like golden treads. They are everywhere. If you were to pull out these threads by cutting out the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, you would unravel the entire Psalter. FOR THERE IS NOT ONE PSALM THAT DOES NOT REFER TO THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER. It is impossible to find a single Psalm which IGNORES this doctrine.

The wonder of the book of Psalms, however, is that the great majority of the Psalms do not simply mention the sovereignty of God: THEY EMPHASIZE IT! A careful study of the Psalms indicates that ninety percent of them devote at least fifty percent of their content to this doctrine. Think of that! One half of the content of one hundred and thirty six (136) Psalms deal with the themes of God’s sovereignty. Moreover, one third of the Psalms are entirely devoted to these themes. This is amazing! It demonstrates conclusively that the sovereignty of God is the central theme of the book of Psalms. This book EMPHATICALLY exalts God as the sovereign God. Therefore, if the Christian is to be faithful to the Lord Who inspired these Psalms, He must not only believe, hut he must also emphasize God’s sovereignty.

This fact can be further demonstrated by the manner in which the psalmists deal with this doctrine. They do not treat the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in a cold, abstract manner. The beauty of this book of praise is that God’s sovereignty is indeed the HEART and SOUL of the Psalms. The psalmists love this doctrine. It is precious to them. They find great comfort in the fact that their God controls and works all things for their salvation. They have nothing to fear.

Even in the midst of tribulation, the psalmists have peace and contentment. This is the experience of all those who trust the sovereign God. They can say, “The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life: of whom shall I be afraid?” (PS. 27:1). God’s people have nothing to fear because the sovereign God is their Savior; He holds the very life of His people in His hands, and no one can touch that life apart from His appointment. For God’s sovereign control extends to all of creation. There are no creatures which can take God’s people away from their God. Thus Christians sing together, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea: though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof.” (Ps. 46:1-3).

The doctrine of God’s sovereignty, therefore, gives to the believer a wonderful joy. He is happy because he knows that he is safe in the everlasting arms of God. King David spoke of that joy when he exclaimed, “The King shall joy in thy strength, O Lord; and in thy salvation how greatly shall he rejoice.” (Ps. 21:1). The great strength of the Lord is the very basis of the Christian’s joy. What joy could the children of God have if God was some impotent, weak god who had no sovereign power to save them? None whatsoever! The Christian rejoices because God is not only WILLING, but also ABLE to save them. Thus the psalmist prays, “But let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them: let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee.” (Ps. 5:11).

The Praise of God’s Sovereignty

This joy which the believer experiences naturally produces a gratitude that praises God for his greatness. Thus we find praise throughout the Psalms. In fact, the books of Psalms is a book of praise precisely because its theme is that of God’s sovereignty. It is the sovereignty of God that is praised. Because God saves His people and delivers them from their enemies by His sovereign power, believers sing of his greatness.

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD AND PRAISE ARE INSEPARABLE!

The psalmist says, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Ps. 145:3). Because the Lord is great, He is greatly to be praised. God’s people are exhorted, “O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph.” (Ps.47:1). What could be the reason for such shouts of praise? The answer– “For the Lord most high is terrible: he is a great King over all the earth… God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.” (Ps. 47:2.7). Someone who does not believe in the sovereignty of God has no basis whatsoever for praising God.

God reveals Himself and His greatness to His people by means of His works. Throughout the Psalms, therefore, the psalmists praise God for these wondrous works. Because God’s sovereignty is exhibited in His works, the psalmist says, “I will praise thee: for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” (Ps. 139:14). Here the sovereign act of creation is praised. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. The psalmists, however, praise God for all of His mighty acts. In fact, believers from one generation to another are to continually praise God for His sovereign works. “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honor of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works. And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts: and I will declare thy greatness.” (Ps. 145:4-6).

What is true of God’s works in general is especially true of His work of salvation. The believer praises God for all of His works as they relate to his own salvation. He praises Him because He sovereignly works all things for their salvation. Thus the Church sings, “O sing unto the Lord a new song; for He hath done marvelous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory. The Lord hath made known his salvation….He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.” (Ps. 98:1-3). God’s people praise Him because they recognize that their salvation is the result of the mighty right hand and holy arm of the Lord. Salvation is the result of the marvelous things God has done. Moreover, the believer knows that His salvation goes back to the eternal election of God. Therefore, he praises God for His sovereign will which has chosen him to salvation. “Praise the Lord; for the Lord is good: sing praises unto his name: for it is pleasant.

FOR THE LORD HATH CHOSEN JACOB UNTO HIMSELF, AND ISRAEL FOR HIS PECULIAR TREASURE. (Ps. 135:3-4).

The Proclamation of God’s Sovereignty

The doctrine of God’s sovereignty is such a wonderful Truth that the saint cannot keep it to himself. He bursts forth in praise to God, but he also speaks of God’s sovereignty to others. He proclaims the sovereignty of God. The psalmist declares, “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people. Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him: talk ye of all His wondrous works.” (Ps. 105:1-2). God’s people make known God’s great deeds and His wondrous works. They talk of them one to another. In fact, Christian parents must take care that they tell their children of the sovereign works of God. They must be very faithful in that so that their children can say, “We have heard with our ears. O God, our fathers have told us, what work thou didst in their days, in the tine of old. How thou didst drive out the heathen with thy hand, and plantedst them: how thou didst afflict the people, and cast them out. For they got not the land, in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm, and the light of thy countenance, because thou hast a favor unto them. Thou art my King, O God: command deliverances for Jacob.” (Ps. 44:1-4).

This Truth is not something that the Church “believes” but does not promote and proclaim. True Christians do not hide it. They are not afraid of the doctrine of God’s sovereignty. Thus God’s people are to declare God’s sovereignty even to the heathen. The people of God are admonished, “Declare his glory among the heathen, his wonders among all people. For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised: ho is to be feared above all gods… Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved….” (Ps. 96:3,4,10). The Christian is to declare God’s glorious wonders even to the unbeliever. The message that is proclaimed to the unconverted is the message of God’s sovereignty. The unbeliever must not think that salvation is dependent upon his will. He must be told that “the Lord reigneth” in all the world and especially in salvation. In fact, God’s people must make this proclamation a part of their daily life. They must continually show forth God’s wonders. For the psalmist says, “Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.” (Ps. 96:2). God’s sovereignty is such a central part of the Christian’s experience that it must be remembered and talked about on a regular basis.

Surely anyone who bows before the authority of God’s Word will recognize that the Christian must not only believe the doctrine of God’s sovereignty, but he must also emphasize it. It is the heart and soul of the Psalms and therefore must be the heart and soul of the believer’s faith. The person who emphasizes this glorious Truth is NOT one-sided. Rather those who do not emphasize this doctrine are guilty of distorting the Truth of the gospel. The doctrine of God’s sovereignty can be found on every page of the Psalms. Yea, on every page of Holy Scripture. It is the believer’s comfort and joy, the basis for his thanksgiving and praise of God. and it is the Truth that must be proclaimed in the church and in the world. Indeed, “THE LORD HE IS GOD…” (Ps. 100:3).

Let that be the heart of your faith so that you can say with the psalmist who closes the entire book of Psalms with the words, “Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of HIS POWER. Praise him for HIS MIGHTY ACTS: praise him according to His EXCELLENT GREATNESS… Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. PRAISE YE THE LORD.” (Ps. 150:1,2,6).

Read the full article –

http://www.prca.org/pamphlets/pamphlet_26.html

IT IS GOD WHO WORKETH IN US BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO

IT IS GOD WHO WORKETH IN US BOTH TO WILL AND TO DO

J.C. Philpot

“His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.” –Genesis 49:24

Our ancestors, you know, were celebrated bowmen. Victories were won at Cressy and Agincourt by the English cavalry, who were skilled in the use of the bow. Latimer says, in a sermon preached before the king, that no man could be a good archer who did not learn from his boyhood; and the custom he tells us was for the father to put his hands upon the son’s hands, to teach him how to shoot, and throw the whole strength of his body into the bow. When the boy drew the bow, it was not the strength of his own arm that drew the string, nor was it the keenness of his eye that directed the arrow to the mark.

The child appeared to draw the bow and to direct the arrow; but the hand of the father was upon the hand of the child, and the eye of the father was guiding the eye of the child; thus though the child seemed to draw the bow, it was the strength of the father that really pulled the string.

So in the case of Joseph to whom our text refers, “the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.” God put his hands upon the hands of Joseph, drew the bow for him, directed the arrow, and hit effectually the mark.

Apply this to your experience. When you pray effectually, it is not you that pray; it is the Spirit of God who prays in you; for he helps our infirmities, and intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. When you believe, it is the Spirit of God that works faith in you; when you hope, it is the Spirit of God that produces hope in you; when you love, it is the Spirit of God that sheds abroad love in you; it is the arms of his hands that are put upon your hands, and they are made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob.