It is the doctrine of Christ that is appointed to guide us to God. It is that whereby God draws souls to salvation and to Himself. Those who revolt thence, in doing so, revolt from God. The advantage and happiness of firm adherence to Christian truth: it unites us to Christ (the object or subject-matter of that truth) and, thereby, to the Father also, for they are one. – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), commenting on 2 John 7-9.
Total depravity is not utter depravity, which would mean that we always sin to the greatest extent possible in whatever we do. We are not as wicked as we could be, for God’s law is in our consciences and it holds back even the worst of us from descending into the vilest actions in every circumstance (Romans 2.12-16). Nevertheless, total depravity means we are as bad off as we could be, for it means that we are at enmity with God. Because sin taints everything we do and are, we have fallen short of the glory of God and cannot merit eternal life (Romans 3.23). We are cut off from the Lord and cannot save ourselves.
From: Tabletalk, Volume 42, Number 5 (May, 2018), p. 56. From the devotional for May 24.
When the hearts of His people are most humble, when their prayers are most fervent, when their faith is strongest, when their forces are weakest, when their enemies are highest – then is the usual time that Christ puts forth His kingly power for their deliverance (Isaiah 33.2). – Thomas Watson (ca. 1620-1686)
Why did Jacob tell his sons, “Go, buy grain for us, so that we don’t starve”? Why didn’t he trust God’s promise to protect and take care of him? Why was Jacob afraid of dying when, up to now, he had experienced God’s help and guidance throughout his life? God had protected him, his entire family, and all his servants in the foreign country of Canaan. Why did he stop trusting God’s promise when it was still fresh in his mind? He had always taught his children about God’s promise. Where is your faith now, Jacob? Where is the promise?
Here is how I reply to these questions: God orders us to believe and trust in His goodness but, at the same time, we should never test Him. We must take advantage of opportunities that God gives us. If we don’t, we aren’t living according to His plan. At the same time, we must continue to maintain our faith and hope in God. That’s why Jacob didn’t say, “Stay here and wait. The Lord is powerful enough to make food fall right out of the sky. Maybe that’s the way He will choose to feed us.” No, that’s not what God’s promise means.
There’s no doubt that God can take care of you in a miraculous way. But, you must not pass up opportunities that could provide the help you need. If you don’t use what is readily available to you, then you are testing God. Jacob was careful not to test God. He didn’t sit idly at home, hoping to get food some other way. He sent his sons to Egypt to buy grain, saying, “What are you waiting for? Food isn’t going to rain down from the clouds. Go! Believe in God and do what you can.” – Martin Luther (1483-1546), commenting on Genesis 42.1-2.
From: By Faith Alone: Martin Luther, edited by James C. Galvin (Iowa Falls: World Bible Publishers, 1998), devotion for April 1.
May the whole earth be filled with His glory! Amen and Amen! (Psalm 72.19)
This is a large petition. To intercede for a whole city needs a stretch of faith, and there are times when a prayer for one man is enough to stagger us. But how far-reaching was Solomon’s dying intercession! How comprehensive! How sublime! “May the whole earth be filled with His glory!” It does not exempt a single country, however crushed by the foot of superstition. It does not exclude a single nation, however barbarous. For the cannibal as well as for the civilized, for all climes and races, this prayer is uttered. The whole circle of the earth it encompasses, and omits no son of Adam.
We must be up and doing for our Master or we cannot honestly offer such a prayer. The petition is not asked with a sincere heart unless we endeavor, as God shall help us, to extend the kingdom of our Master. Are there not some who neglect both to plead and to labor? Is it your prayer? Turn your eyes to Calvary. Behold the Lord of life nailed to a cross, with the thorn-crown about His brow, with bleeding head and hands and feet. . .
Can you bow before the Crucified in loving homage and not wish to see your Monarch master of the world? Out on you if you can pretend to love your Prince and desire not to see Him the universal ruler. Your piety is worthless unless it leads you to wish that the same mercy which has been extended to you may bless the whole world.
Lord, it is harvest time. Put in Your sickle and reap. – Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), from Morning and Evening (August 6) (slightly edited)
I have often said that there is not a greater help to the way of peace than a prayerful reading of the Bible. The profitable way of reading it is to read it with application and as if God, through His Word, were holding individual converse with me. – Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847), from a letter to a Mrs. Dunlop dated June 8, 1842.
Then, King Nebuchadnezzar fell upon his face and paid homage to Daniel and commanded that an offering and incense be offered up to him. The king answered and said to Daniel, “Truly, your God is God of gods and Lord of kings and a revealer of mysteries, for you have been able to reveal this mystery.” Then, the king gave Daniel high honors and many great gifts, and made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon. Daniel made a request of the king, and he appointed Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego over the affairs of the province of Babylon. But Daniel remained at the king’s court. (Daniel 2.46-49)
The apostles and apostolical ministers are the messengers of the Lord Jesus. It is their honor, the chief they pretend to, to bring His mind and messages to the world and to the churches. This is the wisdom and the present dispensation of the Lord Jesus, to send His messages to us by persons like ourselves. He who put on human nature will honor earthen vessels. It was the ambition of the apostles to be found faithful and faithfully to deliver the errands and messages they had received. What was communicated to them they were solicitous to impart. – Matthew Henry (1662-1714), commenting on 1 John 1.5-7.
For the right keeping of the heart, I know not a more summary and thoroughly evangelical expedient than we find in Jude 20-21. – Letter: Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) to a Mrs. Glasgow (April 30, 1821)
[Jonathan] Edwards, though the profoundest of all writers on the more deep and hidden tracks of speculation, is also the plainest and most practical on the more popular topics of Christianity, nor have I read anything more urgently, and even appallingly impressive, than are some of his sermons. His works are now formed into a complete edition, and I think of them that they should hold a place of super-eminence in every theological library. – Letter: Chalmers to Mrs. Glasgow (November 15, 1821)
From: Letters of Thomas Chalmers, edited by William Hanna; reprint (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2007), pp. 113-114, 116. Originally published as: A Selection from the Correspondence of Thomas Chalmers, edited by William Hanna (Edinburgh: Constable, 1853).
Because nothing takes place without His knowledge or against His will, it ought not to be doubted that it happened by a certain and deliberate counsel (which it is safer to admire than curiously to pry into). Of this only ought we to be certainly persuaded – that God has done nothing in this business either repugnant to His justice (because He was not bound to hinder sin, or to His wisdom because, since He willed the condition of the creature to be mutable, there was no reason to oblige Him to do anything towards it exceeding the mode of nature) or to His goodness (because the love with which He pursues the creature, as long as he continues in his integrity, does not, forthwith, proceed so far as to be bound to keep him from falling, especially since He can, even from that evil, elicit also good). – Frances Turretin (1623-1687), Institutes, 6.7.9 (Volume 1, pages 517-518)