On the Doctrine of Election in the Book of Romans

Paul insists that, even if many Jews do not believe, it is not because God’s word has failed (Romans 9.6).  Far from it: it has never been the case that all of Abraham’s children would be included in the covenant.  God insisted that the line would be through Isaac, not Ishmael or the children of Keturah (9.7).  To put the matter differently, only the “children of the promise” are regarded as Abraham’s offspring, not all the natural children (9.8).  Moreover, Paul had already reminded his readers of the promise to Abraham that, in his seed, all the nations of the earth would be blessed (4.16-17), not Jews only.

From: For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word: Volume One by D. A. Carson (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1998).  Devotion for August 19, on Romans 9.

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From the Psalms

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.  And those who know Your name put their trust in You, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.  (Psalm 9.9-10)

Faith and Assurance are Not the Same

If faith were assurance, then a man’s sins would be pardoned before he believes, for he must necessarily be pardoned before he can know he is pardoned.  The candle must be lighted before I can see it is lighted.  The child must be born before I can be assured it is born.  The object must be before the act.  Assurance is, rather, the fruit of faith than faith itself. – William Gurnall (1616-1679)

Every Church is a Mixed Congregation – Believers and Unbelievers

It is one thing to be in the church by a visible communion and to use the same profession and the same sacraments; another to be of the internal and invisible communion of the church and to be bound together by the same bond of faith and Spirit.  I grant that the reprobate and wicked are in the church in the former sense, but I deny that they are in the latter.  Christ denies it (John 8.44; 10.26).  John denies it (1 John 2.19).  And, as “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel” (Romans 9.6), i.e., those who will spring from Israel according to the flesh still are not the true Israel according to the Spirit, to whom the promises are made; thus neither are all who are in the church of the church.

From: Institutes of Elenctic Theology by Francis Turretin; translated from the Latin by George Musgrave Giger; edited by James T. Dennison, Jr. (Phillipsburg: P&R Publishing, 1997), Volume 3, Page 21 (18.3.24).

On Christ’s Generosity

I know my Lord is no niggard.  He can – and it becometh Him well – to give more than my narrow soul can receive. . .Christ is a well of life, but who knoweth how deep it is to the bottom? – Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661), from a letter to Lady Kilconquhar dated August 8, 1637.

On God’s Chastening His People

In our shortsightedness, we sometimes think God is a little abrupt when, in certain passages, not least in the Old Testament, He instantly chastens His people for their sins.  But, what is the alternative?  Quite simply, it is not instantly chastening them.  If chastening were merely a matter of remedial education to morally neutral people, the timing and severity would not matter very much; we would learn.  But, the Bible insists that, this side of the Fall, we are, by nature and persistent choice, rebels against God.  If we are chastened, we whine at God’s severity.  If we are not chastened, we descend into debauchery until the very foundations of society are threatened.  We may, then, cry to God for mercy.  Well and good, but at least we should see that it would have been a mercy if we had not been permitted to descend so far down into the abyss.  Granted the shape and trends in Western culture, does this not argue that we are already under the severe wrath of God?  Have mercy, Lord!

From: For the Love of God: A Daily Companion for Discovering the Riches of God’s Word: Volume One by D. A. Carson (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1998), devotion for August 11, meditating on Romans 1.18ff.

On Christian Liberty

The liberty which Christ has purchased for believers under the gospel consists in their freedom from the guilt of sin, the condemning wrath of God, the curse of the moral law, and their being delivered from this present evil world, bondage to Satan and the dominion of sin, from the evil of afflictions, the sting of death, the victory of the grave, and everlasting damnation – as also, in their free access to God and their yielding obedience to Him, not out of slavish fear but a childlike love and a willing mind, all which were common also to believers under the law but, under the New Testament, the liberty of Christians is further enlarged in their freedom from the yoke of the ceremonial law, to which the Jewish church was subjected, and in greater boldness of access to the throne of grace, and in fuller communications of the free Spirit of God than believers under the law did ordinarily partake of. – Westminster Confession of Faith 20.1.

A Confession of Sin and Guilt

O Lord, no day of our lives has passed that has not proved us guilty in Your sight.  Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart, praise has been often praiseless sound, our best services are filthy rags.  Blessed Jesus, let us find a refuge in Your appeasing wounds.  Though our sins rise to heaven, Your merits soar above them.  Though unrighteousness weighs us down to hell, Your righteousness exalts us to Your throne.  All things in us call for our rejection, but all things in You plead our acceptance.  We appeal from the throne of perfect justice to Your throne of boundless grace: grant us to hear Your assuring voice – that by Your stripes we are healed, that You were bruised for our iniquities, that You have been made sin for us that we might be righteous in You, that our grievous sins, our manifold sins, are all forgiven, buried in the ocean of Your concealing blood.  Keep us always clinging to Your cross, flood us every moment with descending grace.  In Your merciful name we pray.  Amen. – author unknown

From the Psalms

When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have set in place – what is man, that You are mindful of him, and the son of man, that You care for him?. . .O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!  (Psalm 8.3-4, 9)

“Mary Magdalene”

When blessed Mary wip’d her Saviour’s feet/(Whose precepts she had trampled on before)/And wore them for a jewel on her head/Showing his steps should be the street/Wherein she thenceforth evermore/With pensive humbleness would live and tread.

She being stain’d herself, why did she strive/To make Him clean, who could not be defil’d?/Why kept she not her tears for her own faults/And not His feet?  Though we could dive/In tears like seas, our sins are pil’d/Deeper than they, in words, and works, and thoughts.

Dear soul, she knew who did vouchsafe and deign/To bear her filth; and that her sins did dash/Ev’n God Himself: wherefore she was not loth/As she had brought wherewith to stain/So to bring in wherewith to wash/And yet in washing One, she washed both. – George Herbert (1593-1643)