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Archive for the ‘goodness of God’ Category

220px-John_Calvin_by_Holbein

There are other circumstances in which those who are pious should stand firm in peace and patience. Such qualities should extend to every situation that we encounter in this life. No one, then, has properly denied himself except the one who has abandoned himself to the Lord so that every aspect of his life will be governed by his will. The person thus composed in soul will neither judge himself to be miserable, nor will he spitefully complain against God for his lot in life, come what may.

The true necessity of having such a disposition is clear if you consider how many unforeseen events we are exposed to in this life. We are continually harassed by one illness or another; the plague advances; we are cruelly vexed by the calamities of war; frost and hail render the land barren and leave us with little, devouring our expectations for the year’s crop. Wife, parents, children, and close relatives are snatched away by death; homes are consumed by fire. These are events which make men curse their lives, despise the day they were born, hold in contempt heaven and its light, rage against God, and, being fluent in blasphemies, accuse God of unfairness and cruelty. But the believer must in these circumstances consider the mercy and the Fatherly kindness of God. If the believer, then, should see his house made lonely by the loss of those nearest to him, even then he must not stop praising the Lord. Rather, he must turn himself to this thought: “The Lord’s grace continues to dwell in my home and will not leave it desolate.” If the believer should see his crop consumed by drought, disease, or frost, or trampled down by hail and famine threaten him, even then he must not despair within his soul, nor should he become angry toward God. Rather, he must persist with confidence in this truth: “But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever” (Ps. 79:13). God, then, will provide for us, however barren the land. If the believer should be afflicted by illness, he must not be so stung by the severity of his hardship that he erupts in impatience and demands from God an explanation. Rather, he must, considering the justice and gentleness of God’s discipline, recall himself to patience.

Indeed, the believer should accept whatever comes with a gentle and thankful heart, because he knows that it is ordained by the Lord.

(A Little Book on the Christian Life, by John Calvin; translated by Aaron Dendinger an Burk Parsons, Reformation Trust, 2017, pp. 51-53)

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thankful

I had the privilege of preaching on the subject of thankfulness this morning. Here is a summary of my sermon in one sentence: We have many reasons to be thankful, and have the obligation to make our gratitude to God and other people.

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psalm-136-header

This morning I had the privilege of preaching on Psalm 136 (“The Great Thanksgiving”). Here is a one-sentence summary of my sermon: We ought to give thanks to God at all times, in all places, and in all circumstances, because of His character, creation, redemption, and provision.

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“The foundation of all true knowledge of God must be a clear mental apprehension of His perfections as revealed in Holy Scripture.  An unknown God can neither be trusted, served, or worshipped.” A.W. Pink’s book The Attributes of God helps lighten the darkness when it comes to the knowledge of God. In seventeen chapters, Pink explores various attributes of God such as holiness, power, faithfulness, wrath, and goodness with clarity and faithfulness to Scripture.

Ignorance of God is at the root of the problems in today’s church (as well as society). We desperately need a deeper, more expansive view of God – His Persons and work. This book helps us achieve that. Tolle lege!

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“The most terrifying truth of Scripture is that God is good” (Paul Washer).

How can that be true? Don’t we run into the arms of the goodness of God when things go wrong? Yes, we do, but we should think carefully about it.

God is good. Absolutely good. Perfectly good. Eternally good. Infinitely good. Everything about Him is good, including His sovereignty, by the way. But here’s where things get rough: you and I aren’t good. In fact, we’re far from good. We’re sinful by nature, choice, and habit. All of us fall far short of God’s perfect standard of goodness.

Because God is good, He must punish sin. If He didn’t, He would be neither just nor good. That’s a terrifying prospect: God will punish all sin, including mine, because He’s good. He’s too good not to! The penalty of sin is to bear the full wrath of God against sin in hell forever.

If we are to be rescued and delivered from such a fate, the justice of God had to be satisfied. The Lord Jesus Christ – fully God and fully man – satisfied His Father’s justice (and goodness) in His sacrifice on the cross which paid the full penalty of all of the sins of everyone who would ever repent and believe in Him.

God alone is the only One who can accomplish this. His goodness convicts us of our sin and provides everything we need to be saved from His wrath. That’s the gospel! That’s good news!

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You’ve had those days, or maybe even weeks, when nearly everything you’ve planned gets dashed. Nothing seems to work out the way you thought it would. A routine trip to the grocery store turns into something far more. Your schedule for the day is smashed into a million little pieces. You know what I’m talking about – you’ve been there.

Interestingly enough, dashed plans are evidence of the sovereignty of God. Proverbs 16:1 says, “The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the LORD.” Proverbs 16:9 adds this: “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:33 says, “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.” Proverbs 19:21 says, Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”

God’s Word, and the wisdom found in it, teaches us that the plans we make are always subject to the veto power of God. He, as the wise sovereign ruler of the universe, may overrule us for our good and His glory.

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As I’ve been preaching through James, in my study of each passage I come across far more information than can ever be used in the sermon itself. Last week’s sermon was on 1:16-18 (titled “Don’t Be Deceived!”) and this quote from Warren Wiersbe “made the cutting room floor” so to speak.

Referring to James 1:17 (“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”), he wrote:

One of the enemies tricks is to convince us that our Father is holding out on us, that He does not really love us and care for us. When Satan approached Eve, he suggested that if God really loved her, He would permit her to eat of the forbidden tree. When Satan tempted Jesus, he raised the question of hunger. “If Your Father really loves You, why are You hungry?”

The goodness of God is a great barrier against yielding to temptation. since God is good, we do not need any other person (including Satan) to meet our needs. It is better to be hungry in the will of God than full outside the will of God. Once we start to doubt God’s goodness, we will be attracted to Satan’s offers; and the natural desires within will reach out for his bait. Moses warned Israel not to forget God’s goodness when they began to enjoy the blessings of the Promised Land (Deut. 6:10-15). We need this warning today.

We certainly do need that warning today.

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