Life Entry – Infinite Comfort in “Whatsoever Comes To Pass”

It is an infinite sort of comfort to know that God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass.  In these days of transition and uncertainty, both generally and personally, I have found peace in God’s Sovereign will.  Moreover, I have gained much joy from His New Covenant promises purchased for me by my Lord Jesus Christ.  

Time and time again our plans are met with failure.  They do not come to pass as we intended that they should.  We are thus reminded of our finiteness, and our need for a vibrant trust in God.  Where this is not had, where one is not so invested in the Gospel, I do not know how they make it from day to day through the realities of failures, and the destruction of inflexible man-made plans.  Personally, I would dig a hole and live out my life in utter obscurity and nothingness, never planning or doing anything because I had the knowledge that not all things go according to plan – at least humanly speaking.

My wife and I have long sought a home in Louisville, Kentucky.  Every time we seem close to closing something quite drastic happens on the other end to prevent us from doing so.  Our inclination is to complain, or at least to sorrowfully sigh.  Tears have been shed as life appears to stall before us.  This is but a feather-light and momentary trial that does not compare to those far more weighty issues that many people, many Christians face from hour to hour for the sake of Christ.  However, where God has us right now, it is the trouble of the day.

I return to this infinite comfort.  I know that God has ordained whatsoever comes to pass by the testimony of Scripture.  On a practical level this means that if something has not yet come to pass, though I ask and pray and beseech God that it might believing that He will do what accords with His will, then I ought not to be presumptuous about it, saying, “we will do this or that tomorrow and set up shop here or there, etc.”  However, when something does come to pass we may say, “Ah, God has had His hand it; He has brought it to pass; even the evil of sin, He allows and turns for our good and His glory.”  But there is more comfort to be had in this reality.

For the believer, God has made this promise and ratified it in the highest manner.  This promise, and this manner of ratification, we may attach as a qualifier to His Sovereign acts insofar as they pertain to those of the promise, the children of God.  In Jeremiah 32, the Lord says, “I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them.  And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.  I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul,” (40-41).  I have found it to be an amazing thing that God is not impersonal or neutral in this promise – notice, God “will rejoice” in doing us “good,” and He will do this with all of His heart and His soul.  Moreover, He has ratified this at the highest cost to Himself.  This is the measure of His dealings with the Church, that “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” which is another way of saying, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose,” (Rom 8:32, 28 respectfully).

In other words, the whole of God’s dealings with us to do us good – even in the midst of what we call trial or things that we dimly perceive as life struggles – is founded upon the infinite majesty of His faithfulness and the blood of His Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Whatever comes to pass involves this omnipotently grounded promise of God to His children, such that we know that in all things God is working for our good in that ultimate sense of glory.  This is the promise and Christ is the basis.  There is nothing more sure in all creation than this covenant, than God’s dealings with His people.

And what is our response?  Certainly it is not an arbitrary or inauthentic, almost insincere joy, as if we ought to “act” one way outwardly because we sort of think that we are a people of promise, while inwardly we are cursing the day we were born.  May it never be!  This insincerity we already have in abundance in modern evangelicalism.  No, God “rejoices” to do us good.  Think upon this reality – God…rejoices…to do us good…at the cost of Jesus Christ.  If we can stare into the daily refinery of suffering and trial, believing that God – in the midst of it – is rejoicing to do us good in and through it, and that this intention is omnipotently purchased and guaranteed by Christ’s love, should we not, with that measure of resolute faith in the promise, really, inwardly and outwardly rejoice in whatsoever comes to pass, that in that will we are drawing closer to Christ, closer to eternal bliss with God.  Ought we not to become bold, courageous, fierce with the Gospel of Christ in all things if we embrace with solidarity this covenant truth.  Let us therefore imitate Christ who submitted, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you.  Remove this cup from me.  Yet not what I will, but what you will,” and after that will had been accomplished, looking outwardly horrific and hopeless, the Spirit writes, “this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men,” but, “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death,” and thereby sinners may be reconciled to God through faith in Christ and His merit on our unworthy behalf.  So God is working with joy to do us good in Christ and in all things to bring us to glory.  Let us then rejoice in these awesome realities purchased for us by our Lord Jesus Christ, taking comfort in whatsoever God has ordained should come to pass in our lives, knowing with absolute confidence that God’s goal is our ultimate good in everything and that this goal is being carried out with Sovereign omnipotence in view of Jesus Christ.

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A Life Entry on Idolatry and the God of Romans

This is an assessment of the response that I was hearing following dear Dr. David Platt’s sermon wherein he quoted the first eight chapters of Romans.  Hopefully, it applies to what we call a life entry.

I admit enjoyment in his quotation, and find in it an admirable quality.  There is no doubt that the grace of God is blowing feverishly upon that young man.  Moreover, there is no doubt that he did not intend the kind of response that I was hearing as a part of the background noise preceding class soon after.  This is – after all – the danger of such a display of grace.  Humanity is inclined to honor the man rather than the God who called him, converted him, made him usable, sanctifies him for His glory, and works through him so that the Scriptures properly teach us, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure,” and again, “For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me,” (Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:29; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:10).

Therefore, when I heard murmurings about the greatness of the man instead of the greatness of Romans 1-9:5, I became grieved in heart.  If we can hear Romans read or quoted to us, or if we can sit down with this pure Gospel itself and read it straight through, and glory in the messenger more than Romans 1:16, 17, or 18, or 3:21-26, or 5:1, 6-11, or 6:4, or 7:24-25, or 8:1-4, and 28-39, and more than this, in the God of Romans, then I say we have terribly missed the mark; we have sinned; we have then committed idolatry; we have shown forth our Romans 1:18-32 tendencies, and I no less than anybody else.

I am thankful to God for Dr. David Platt, just as I am thankful to God for John Piper and Al Mohler, John MacArthur and John Owen, Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards; and I’m just as thankful for Eric Schaefer, Patrick Harmon, David Lyles, Bryan Barley, Joe Keune, and Daniel Moore, my friends who constantly sharpen me.  But I am infinitely more thankful that I know the God of Romans through faith in Jesus Christ, and that He has made Himself known to me, the wretch.  I am infinitely more excited about knowing and enjoying God – oh, His glorious benefits, promises, and words I do love and long for, but these are but the infinite rays streaming from the Eternal Son.  Christ is preeminently beautiful.  God help me to always honor Him, while thanking You for faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.

Bible Entry – Galatians 1:10

I have continued in Galatians 1 for it seems too long now as I have tried to balance the demands of seminary with the privileges of Christianity, husbandry, and the tiresome church search.  However, Galatians 1:10 has prodded my heart recently.  “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God?  Or am I trying to please man?  If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  This verse falls as an extension of v. 1 to distinguish the apostle from the false teachers.  Paul seeks to establish the origin of his apostleship and, thus, the true allegiance of Gospel-oriented teachers.  It is important coming out of vv. 6-9 that we capture the literary context of v.10:  When Paul speaks of “approval” and aiming to “please”, he means in relation to his preaching and the Gospel of the grace of Christ.  In other words, Paul bears witness to the pure Gospel because he is seeking the approval of God.  Conversely, it seems apparent that the impure and heretical doctrine that was being taught had an impure motive accompanying it.  These teachers sought the approval of man.  They aimed to please man.  I do not mean to sound as if this is hard to do or not a danger for believers to fall into; it is a great temptation for every person to seek the approval of men and so to cloak the message with light-hearted words, smiles, giggles, jokes, and stories; or to distort the pure Gospel by removing the offense of the cross of Christ.  In so doing, they offer a kind of message within which the salvific power of God is not pleased to dwell.  “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:18.  Moreover, by there charismatic speech they demonstrate human ingenuity rather than a “demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God,” 1 Corinthians 1:4b-5.  

That being said, bondage to Christ brings a pure Gospel.  This has inclined me to examine my motives in all things but especially in the preaching and teaching of God’s Gospel.  Why am I doing this?  When I study, do I study unto the Lord or for the applause of men?  When I preach, do I preach unto the Lord and with a passion for His name and the advancement of His Gospel or for the acclaim of people?  When I teach, do I teach so that I can hear myself articulate doctrine well or do I teach with a compassion for God’s flock?  

Bondage to Christ is correlative to pleasure in Christ.  “If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”  The idea expressed in this verse is this – the one we aim to please is our master.  We are the slave of the object of our affections.  If we aim to please man, then the message and our lives will morph into a display pleasing to men.  People will feel comfortable with us in our ungodliness and impurity.  People will applaud our message because it strokes their sinful humanity.  However, if Christ is our pleasure, then we will enslave ourselves to Him for His service, with His Gospel, to His Church and the world of unbelievers.  Now we see that whatever the object of our pleasure, to that we are a slave.  Redemptively, then, to be a slave of Jesus Christ is to aim at pleasing Him because (1) He has enlisted us for His service (2 Timothy 2:4), and (2) He is most pleasurable and worthy of our servitude (Psalm 16:11).  The more we take pleasure in Christ, the more intimately we will serve Christ, and in the context, cling to the Gospel of pure grace and the activity of that grace enabling faith – this alone is the basis of salvation – faith in Jesus Christ who saves.  If we aim to please God and seek His approval, then we will offer ourselves as willing and living sacrifices unto Christ, while embracing and loving and preaching and serving in the Gospel of His sheer grace.  God help us to remain steadfast in Jesus’ name.  Amen.