“I Will Help You”

Let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: “I will help you.  It is but a small thing for Me, your God, to help you.  Consider what I have done already.  What!  Not help you!  Why, I bought you with My death.  What!  Not help you!  I have died for you and, if I have done the greater, will I not do the less?  Help you!  It is the least thing I will ever do for you.  I have done more, and will do more.  Before the world began, I chose you.  I made a covenant with you.  I laid aside My glory and became a man for you.  I gave up My life for you.  And, if I did all this, I will surely help you now.  In helping you, I am giving you what I have bought for you already.  If you had need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it to you.  You require little compared with what I am ready to give.  It is much for you to need, but it is nothing for Me to bestow.  Help you!  Fear not!  If there were an ant at the door of your granary asking for help, it would not ruin you to give him a handful of your wheat.  And you are nothing but a tiny insect at the door of My all-sufficiency.  I will help you.” – Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), from Morning and Evening, the morning devotion for January 16, on Isaiah 41.14.

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Holiness in the Christian Life

I need not tell you of this who knew him, that it was his great design to promote holiness in the life and exercise of it among you: But it was his great complaint that its power declined among professors.  It was his care and endeavor to prevent or cure spiritual decays in his own flock: he was a burning and a shining light.  Alas!  It was but for a while, and we may rejoice in it still. – David Clarkson (1622-1686) from his funeral sermon for John Owen (1616-1683).

Matthew Henry (45) (6)

The antiquity of [the gospel]: it was “promised before” (verse 2).  It was no novel upstart doctrine, but of ancient standing in the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament, which did all unanimously point at the gospel, the morning beams that ushered in the sun of righteousness – this not by word of mouth only, but in the Scriptures. – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), commenting on Romans 1.1-7.

On Obeying God’s Word

Our Lord never spoke a word to be the subject for your curious speculations, but that you should humbly believe it, exercise your believing mind upon it, and derive peace and comfort from it. – William Mason (1719-1791), commenting on Matthew 10.30.

Not Only God of the Jews

Jewish people were extremely conscious of their special covenant relationship with God, in which Gentiles did not share.  It was to the Jews that God had entrusted His special revelation (3.2).  Theirs, too, as Paul will soon write, are “the adoption as sons. . .the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises” (9.4-5).  What the Jews forgot, however, was that their privileges were not intended for the exclusion of the Gentiles but for their ultimate inclusion when, through Abraham’s posterity, “all peoples on earth” (Genesis 12.2-3) would be blessed.

This covenant with Abraham has been fulfilled in Christ.  He is Abraham’s “seed” and, through him, the blessing of salvation now extends to everyone who believes, without exception or distinction.  If the gospel by justification by faith alone excludes all boasting, it excludes all elitism and discrimination, also.  God is not the God of Jews only, He is the God of Gentiles, too (29), since there is only one God (it is the truth of monotheism which unites us) who has only one way of salvation.  He will justify the circumcised (Jews) by faith and the uncircumcised (Gentiles) through that same faith (30).

From: The Message of Romans: God’s Good News for the World by John R. W. Stott; The Bible Speaks Today series (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1994), p. 120.  Comment on Romans 3.27-31.

True Vocations

The monastery and the cloister, with their vows against the estates that God has established for human relationships, purposefully shut out the neighbor.  Indeed, the monks and nuns who were considered the holiest were the hermits and anchoresses, those who lived absolutely alone, devoting themselves to God but having no contact whatsoever with a neighbor.  In contrast, God calls those who want to serve Him to do so by serving their neighbors.  Thus, a Christian who is acting in vocation – a mother who is changing her baby’s diapers, a little boy who is doing his chores – is doing a holier work than that of all the man-made asceticisms of the monasteries.  In Luther’s colorful and comical language, “A miller’s maid, if she believes, does more good, accomplishes more, and I would trust her more if she only takes the sack from the donkey than all the priests and monks [do] if they sang themselves to death day and night and tormented themselves until they bleed.”

From: “The Glory of God Alone: Luther on Vocation” by Gene Edward Veith, in The Legacy of Luther, edited by R. C. Sproul and Stephen J. Nichols (Orlando: Reformation Trust, 2016), p. 184.

Our Inadequate Thoughts – Humility in Action

From now on, I will be attempting to say things that cannot altogether be said as they are thought by a man – or, at least, as they are thought by me.  In any case, when we think about God the trinity, we are aware that our thoughts are quite inadequate to their object and incapable of grasping Him as He is.  Even by men of the caliber of the apostle Paul, He can only be seen, as it says, “in a mirror, dimly” (1 Corinthians 13.12).  Now, since we ought to think about the Lord our God always, and can never think about Him as He deserves since, at all times, we should be praising Him and blessing Him (and, yet, no words of ours are capable of expressing Him), I begin by asking Him to help me understand and explain what I have in mind and to pardon any blunders I may make.  For I am keenly aware of my weakness, as of my willingness.  And I also ask my readers to forgive me wherever they notice that I am trying and failing to say something which they understand better or which they are prevented from understanding because I express myself so badly, just as I will forgive them when they are too slow on the uptake to understand what I am saying.

From: The Trinity by Augustine; translated from the Latin by Edmund Hill; The Works of St. Augustine: A Translation for the 21st Century series, Part 1, Volume 5 (New York: New City Press, 1991), p. 189.  (On the Trinity 5.1)

Machen on Faith

The true reason why faith is given such an exclusive place by the New Testament, so far as the attainment of salvation is concerned, over against love and over against everything else in man except things that can be regarded as mere aspects of faith, is that faith means receiving something, not doing something or even being something.  To say, therefore, that our faith saves us means that we do not save ourselves even in the slightest measure, but that God saves us.

From: What is Faith? by J. Gresham Machen (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1925), p. 173.