The Advantages of Understanding Providence

by Theodore VanderGroe

Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. —1 PETER 4:19

Question 28: What advantage is it to us to know that God has created, and by His providence doth still uphold all things?

Answer: That we may be patient in adversity; thankful in prosperity; and that in all things, which may hereafter befall us, we place our firm trust in our faithful God and Father, that nothing shall separate us from His love; since all creatures are so in His hand, that without His will they cannot so much as move.

The words of the apostle Peter, read to you as our text, encompass the very delightful, precious, and comforting duty of believers to be patient and persevering in all their justly deserved adversities and tribulations that befall them here upon earth according to the will of God. It is an exhortation that they grow not slack in faith and sanctification, but rather, that they cast all their burdens upon the Lord their God and “commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” Both in nature and in grace, He will not forsake His creature and the work of His hands, but rather, He will faithfully sustain, preserve, and protect them, and graciously provide all that is needed for time and eternity.

Tue, 01/21/2020 - 13:07 -- john_hendryx

The Trials and Sufferings of the Godly

by Thomas Watson

God's own people often suffer great afflictions.

"This is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure; in vain have I washed my hands in innocence. For I am afflicted all day long!" Psalm 73:12-14

How can this be consistent with God's justice?

'God's ways of judgment are sometimes secret, but never unjust!' The Lord never afflicts His people without a cause; He cannot be unjust towards them.

There is some good in the godly—therefore the wicked afflict them; there is some evil in them—therefore God afflicts them!

God's own children have their blemishes. "But aren't you also guilty of sins against the Lord your God?" 2 Chr. 28:10. These spiritual diamonds—have they no flaws? Do we not read of the spots of God's children? Are not they guilty of much pride, passion, worldliness? Though, by their profession, they should resemble the birds of paradise, to fly above, and feed upon the dew of heaven; yet, as the serpent, they often lick the dust!

The sins of God's people, do more provoke God than the sins of others. "The Lord saw this and was filled with loathing. He was provoked to anger by His own sons and daughters." Deut 32:19. The sins of others pierce Christ's side; the sins of His people wound His heart! Therefore is not God just in all the afflictions which befall them? "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins." Amos 3:2. I will punish you sooner, surer, sorer—than others.

Wed, 01/15/2020 - 17:08 -- john_hendryx

The Covenant of Grace in Time and Eternity

by Herman Bavinck

Election is not the whole counsel of redemption, but is a part, the first and principle part, of it.  Included and established in that counsel is also the way in which the election is to be actualized - in short, the whole accomplishment and application is redemption.  We know that the election was purposed in Christ, and that the counsel of God is not merely a work of the Father, but also a work of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It is a Divine work of ther Holy Trinity. In other words the counsel of redemption is itself a covenant - a covenant in which each of the three Persons, so to speak, receives His own work and achieves His own task.  The covenant of grace which is raised up in time and is continued from generation to generation is nothing other than the working out and the impression or imprint of the covenant that is fixed in the Eternal Being. As in the counsel of God, so in history each of the Persons appears. The Father is the source, the Son is the Achiever, and the Holy Spirit is the one who applies our salvation.  Hence everybody immediately and to the same extent does injustice to the work of the Fsather, the Son, or the Spirit, when he removes the foundation of eternity from time by loosening history from its anchorage in the gracious, almighty Divine Will.  

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 12:01 -- john_hendryx

We shall see Him as He is!

by Thomas Boston

"We shall see Him as He is!" - 1 John 3:2

Then we shall behold Him who died for us, that we might live forevermore; whose matchless love made Him swim through the Red Sea of God's wrath, to make a path in the midst of it for us, by which we might pass safely to our heavenly Canaan. Then we shall see what a glorious one He is, who suffered all this for us! Then shall we be more able to understand, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love really is.

When we shall fully realize that the waters of wrath which He was plunged into, are the wells of salvation from whence we draw all our joy; that we have received the cup of salvation, in exchange for the cup of wrath which He drank — how will our hearts leap within us, burn with seraphic love, as Heaven resounds with our songs of salvation!

We shall eternally, without interruption, feast our eyes upon Him — and be ever viewing His glorious perfections! In Him shall we see everything desirable — and nothing but what is desirable. We shall look into the heart of God, and there see the love He bore to us from all eternity, and the love and goodness He will bear to us forevermore.

We who are heirs of God, the great heritage — shall then enter into a full possession of our inheritance; and the Lord will open His treasures of goodness unto us, that our enjoyment may be full. We shall not be stinted to any measure — but the enjoyment shall go as far as our enlarged capacities can reach. We shall be fully satisfied, and perfectly blessed in the full enjoyment of divine goodness.

Our love to the Lord, being purified from the dross of self-love, shall be most pure. We will be all love, when we come to the full enjoyment of God in Heaven, by intuitive and experimental knowledge of Him, by full participation in the divine goodness.

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 18:25 -- john_hendryx

Books I Read in 2019

I love to read books; especially books on the Bible and theology.  As you can see, with only 52 books on the list, I am not a fast reader and look with great admiration at those who can read a 600 page volume of dense theology in a week. But slow reading, it seems to me,  does give one to greater reflection.  Below I will list the Christian books as well as fiction and non-fiction books I read in 2019.  Most of these books were very good but inclusion of a book on this list does not necessarily imply an endorsement.  Those books which are particularly excellent and would recommend that you must pick up, I have given five stars beside them (*****).

Christian Books

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 13:09 -- john_hendryx

Fellowship with the Triune God

by Herman Bavinck

“ Fellowship with the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14), and secondarily with each other (1 John 1:7; 1 Cor. 12:12-31; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:16). The purpose of human life is fellowship with God; to live in Him is life's goal. The spiritual life is to live in fellowship with the Triune God—that is, in the Holy Spirit, through Christ, with the Father. This fellowship is one—that is, divine—and yet different with respect to the three Persons. First there is the fellowship of the Holy Spirit convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment; then, that of Christ adopting us and granting us His benefits; thereafter that of the Father adopting us as His children in and because of Christ. The spiritual life always moves among those three Persons and is therefore a genuinely rich life, rich in diversity, without monotony. The believer experiences the life of God Himself: from the Father through the Son in the Spirit and, conversely, in the Spirit through the Son to the Father. The spiritual life is therefore a life of God (Eph. 4:18), a life that originates from God, is granted by grace, unites us with God, is worked in us immediately through the Holy Spirit, and has the spiritual life of God Himself as model and example. The spiritual life of believers is a shadow, an impression of the most perfect life of God Himself, so that it is said that they share in the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4).

—Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, p. 250.

Mon, 12/16/2019 - 17:13 -- john_hendryx

Lasting Forgiveness for the Members of the Church!

by John Calvin

Lasting forgiveness for the members of the church!
Not only does the Lord through forgiveness of sins receive and adopt us once for all into the church, but through the same means he preserves and protects us there. For what would be the point of providing a pardon for us that was destined to be of no use? Every godly man is his own witness that the Lord's mercy, if it were granted only once, would be void and illusory, since each is quite aware throughout his life of the many infirmities that need God's mercy. And clearly not in vain does God promise this grace especially to those of his own household; not in vain does he order the same message of reconciliation daily to be brought to them.30x So, carrying, as we do, the traces of sin around with us throughout life, unless we are sustained by the Lord's constant grace in forgiving our sins, we shall scarcely abide one moment in the church. But the Lord has called his children to eternal salvation. Therefore, they ought to ponder that there is pardon ever ready for their sins. b(a)Consequently, we must firmly believe that by God's generosity, mediated by Christ's merit, through the sanctification of the Spirit, sins have been and are daily pardoned to us who have been received and engrafted into the body of the church.

Fri, 12/06/2019 - 17:01 -- john_hendryx

Distinguishing God’s Will and His Precepts: A Brief Study of Calvin’s Biblical-theological Teaching

D. Scott Meadows 

John Calvin wrote that “God’s will is . . . the cause of all things, [which makes] his providence the determinative principle for all human plans and works, not only in order to display its force in the elect, who are ruled by the Holy Spirit, but also to compel the reprobate [i.e., the non-elect] to obedience” (Institutes I, xviii, 2, “How does God’s impulse come to pass in men?”).1

To refute his opponents, Calvin wrote, “It is easy to dispose of their first objection, that if nothing happens apart from God’s will, there are in him two contrary wills, because by his secret plan he decrees what he has openly forbidden by his law” (Institutes I, xviii, 3, “God’s will is a unity”). This complex argument may easily be misunderstood. The enemies of Calvin’s teaching about Providence believed that many things happen that actually are not God’s will. Calvin strongly objects to that notion. His opponents considered God’s law to be one aspect of God’s will, and, granting for sake of argument Calvin’s notion of God’s decree to be His will, they reasoned, “there are in him two contrary wills” (His law [commandments, precepts] and His decree), “because by his secret plan he decrees what he has openly forbidden by his law.” Now Calvin granted, along with his opponents, that if God’s law were thought of as His will, this would inescapably lead to the absurd conclusion of “two contrary wills” in God. Both Calvin and his opponents rejected this as a preposterous idea. Calvin’s ensuing argument was to deny that God’s law is His “will,” a term that should only be used formally of His decree.2

Fri, 11/22/2019 - 10:11 -- john_hendryx

Can We Get Meaning and Purpose out of Life by Being a Good Person?

Those who attempt to get meaning, purpose and satisfaction out of life by being a good person will be sadly disappointed. If we want justice in the world we ought to be careful what we wish for, because more often than not, the injustice is our own. The problem with the world is not simply "out there" but it starts with me. When we discover the truth about ourselves and our moral failures, our first reaction is often to redouble our efforts and pledge to to do better. While this can be good on the surface, the problem runs much deeper than that... a problem in our nature. Because, in the end, we won't do better. And we all know it.

Let me explain. When we look at the Ten Commandments honestly, we all fail miserably at it. Have I personally ever stole anything, or lied, or lusted, or been angry at my brother, coveted or taken the Lord's name in vain? For me it is yes to all of the above. Which makes me a lying, blaspheming thief who wants to take more than I give. I am guilty of all of the above. My resolution to do better, while good, is a recipe for failure because deep down, in my own nature, apart from grace, I am depraved. The problem is bigger than myself. Just do a personal inventory/diagnostic by going through the Ten Commandments (and the Sermon on the Mount - Matt.5-7) yourself. Have you broken any of these laws? Can you obey them and love your neighbor as your ought by simply resolving to do so? I have yet to meet anyone who has, or can.

Sat, 11/09/2019 - 12:48 -- john_hendryx

Can a Person Self-Identify as a Homosexual and Continue a Gay Lifestyle and be a Christian?

A visitor claimed that someone could still self-identify and continue a gay lifestyle and be a Christian.

If a person goes to Christ to save them from hell, but does not want Him to save them from sin, then it is a false understanding of the gospel. Christ saves us from sins' guilt AND tyranny over us.

Those who self-identify as homosexual are sinners just like me. I am clearly not any better and obviously am not redeemed because I am more righteous. But when God does a work of grace in a person, he has a new identity in Christ. Our sin is not our identity. We don't say we are adulterous Christians, thieving Christians or covetous Christians any more than we say we are gay Christians. Like most theologically sound churches, my own church has many people who used to identify as gay. No longer (1 Cor 6:10-11). Now we all worship the same God in church each week together, regardless of our former sin. Of course, all Christians will struggle with sin all their life, but it is not their identity, nor do they continue in such sin without repentance, being indifferent to it. That is false teaching. Everyone is called to repent. Shall we withold the gospel from a particular group by pretending they are different than we are? Or exempt certain sins from repentance? We are all born with the inclination to one sin or another. There is no excuse for any Christian refusing them the gospel for some political or social pressure. Christ is the Lord who sets us free from our bondage.

Thu, 10/31/2019 - 15:03 -- john_hendryx


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