Featured Links on Monergism.com
A Vision for a Gospel Centered Life (Free eBook) by Dr. Timothy Keller
Exposition of Revelation (MP3 Series) by G. K. Beale
109 Sermons on the First Chapter of the Gospel of John by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (MP3 Series)
Dr. Sinclair B. Ferguson (MP3 Resources by Series)
Eric Alexander (MP3 Resources by Series)
Exposition of the Epistle of the Ephesians (230-Part MP3 Series) by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Exposition of the Epistle to the Romans (MP3 Series) by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Practical Religion by J. C. Ryle (Free eBook) - available in Kindle .mobi and ePub formats
Yielding to God’s Providence by J.C. Ryle
Biography Of J.C. Ryle - Philippians 3:17-18,4:8 (MP3) by Bart Carlson
Bible Secrets Revealed: The Complete Series by Michael J. Kruger
The following is a short discussion about the texts in which Paul thanked God for the faith of those to whom he was writing. Now, if as some claim, Paul was only thanking God for His part in their coming to faith, then who are we to thank for the part we play? Therefore, I intend to explain why God, not in part, but in whole delivers us from our corrupt estate, and for this, He deserves not part or even most of the thanks, but all of the thanks and glory. Here are some of the passages in question:
"For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. I Thess. 2:13 (...which effectually worketh also in you that believe.)
Notice that it is man's reception of the Gospel that is the explicit grounds for which Paul is thanking and glorifying God! Paul gives God all the glory for man's initial reception of the Gospel, and correspondingly thanks God for it. In his second letter to the same church Paul reminds them again who deserves thanks for their faith:
"But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
Christ is a sufficient Saviour; but what has He done, and what will He do, not merely for the men who were with Him in the days of His flesh, but for us? How is it that Christ touches our lives?
The answer which the Word of God gives to that question is perfectly specific and perfectly plain. Christ touches our lives, according to the New Testament, through the Cross. We deserved eternal death, in accordance with the curse of God’s law; but the Lord Jesus, because He loved us, took upon Himself the guilt of our sins and died instead of us on Calvary. And faith consists simply in our acceptance of that wondrous gift. When we accept the gift, we are clothed, entirely without merit of our own, by the righteousness of Christ; when God looks upon us, He sees not our impurity but the spotless purity of Christ, and accepts us “as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.”
For the last few months Michael J. Kruger has been working through the various episodes of Bible Secrets Revealed from the History Channel. This series challenges a number of popular beliefs and conceptions that people hold about the Bible, and raises questions about the integrity and reliability of the Scriptures. In each of the posts below, he summarizes the main content of each episode and offers an evaluation and response.
This entire series reminds us of two critical truths:
1. Our popular culture is prone to distort and misrepresent the teachings of the Bible. It is striking how sensationalistic and misleading popular-level programming can actually be when it comes to the Bible. Although this series had some good moments, as a whole to see the History Channel offer the standard Da Vinci Code-style approach to the Bible was dissapointing.
2. The church must be equipped to respond to these sorts of critiques. Given the high-profile nature of the History Channel (and similar style programming), the average person we are trying to reach is going to be exposed to this type of material. And we need to be ready to offer some answers if we expect non-Christians to give the biblical message a hearing.
But, the implications are even bigger than this. Even believers are being exposed to these sorts of arguments, and often find their confidence in the Bible shaken. At that point, they need a pastor who can speak intelligently about these issues.
Hopefully, these posts below can play a small part in equipping the church for these challenges:
A closer look at a couple of texts in the book of Acts may be able to shine some light on the subject.
"...as you yourselves know — this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it." - Acts 2:23
"...for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." - Acts 4:27
According to these texts, did God ordain and predestine the crucifixion of Jesus to take place? ? Were the men who did it held responsible? (See 2:23b). Did God coerce or force them to murder Jesus? Or is it something their wicked hearts wanted to do voluntarily? We can only surmise, then, that what men meant for evil, God meant for good. The intent and motives for the event were completely different. As such, I would propose that this is a good example of how we are to see God's involvement in evil throughout the Bible. He ordains sin sinlessly because he has an often unseen purpose which is ultimately for His glory.
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine…and I lay down my life for the sheep…My sheep hear my voice, and I know them…and they shall never perish” (John 10:14 f., 27 f.)
“What matters supremely, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it — the fact that He knows me. I am graven on the palms of his hands. I am never out of his mind.
All my knowledge of him depends on his sustained initiative in knowing me. I know him because he first knew me, and continues to know me. He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is not a moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters.
This is momentous knowledge. There is unspeakable comfort — the sort of comfort that energizes, be it said, not enervates — in knowing that God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good. There is tremendous relief in knowing that his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me, so that no discovery now can disillusion him about me, in the way I am so often disillusioned about myself, and quench his determination to bless me. . .There is great incentive to worship and love God in the thought that, for some unfathomable reason, He wants me as His friend, and desires to be my friend, and has given His son to die for me in order to realise this purpose.”
“We may ask, no doubt, why God does not extend his saving grace to all; and why, if he sends it to some only, he sends it to just those some to whom he sends it rather than to others. These are not wise questions to ask. We might ask why Christ raised Lazarus only of all that lay dead that day in Palestine, or in the world. No doubt reasons may suggest themselves why he raised Lazarus. But why Lazarus only? If we threw the reins on the neck of imagination, we might possibly discover reasons enough why he might well have raised others, too, with Lazarus, perhaps many others, perhaps all the dead throughout the whole world. Doubtless he had his reasons for doing on that great day precisely what he did. No doubt God has his reasons, too, for doing just what he does with his electing grace. Perhaps we may divine some of them. No doubt there are others which we do not divine. Better leave it to him, and content ourselves. facing, in the depths of our ignorance and our sin-bred lack of comprehension, these tremendous realities, with the O altitudo of Paul: ‘O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past tracing out!’ Or may we not even rise to the great consenting ‘Yea!’ which Christ has taught us: ‘Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight!’ After all, men are sinners and grace is wonderful. The marvel of marvels is not that God, in his infinite love, has not elected all of this guilty race to be saved, but that he has elected any. What really needs accounting for — though to account for it passes the powers of our extremest flights of imagination — is how the holy God could get the consent of his nature to save a single sinner.
Visitor: Does the Bible really teach that there is no such thing as chance? My version still says that "time and chance happen to all."
If everything - absolutely everything mind you - was decided before that first "let their be" then Ryle's last paragraph simply makes no sense. All that talk about what we should seek and strive to do and believe is advice impossible to follow because what I believe as well as what I do were, apparently, fully and finally established before the foundation of the earth. Radical Calvinists will vehemently disagree with me about my ability to make any choice - however trivial - but only because God decided some time ago that they would. Nothing to do with them though, just grace that they back the right horse. Me though? Apparently there is a God in Romans who makes things he hates and will eventually destroy. Weird though, don't you think, not to mention any of that in Genesis 1, where things are only "good" and "very good"?
A two-part response:
1) The Bible teaches that God is all-seeing (Psalm 33:13-15), never-sleeping (Psalm 121:3-4) and cares deeply about His people (Romans 8:38-39). He assures us that He knows every hair on our head, and when every sparrow falls ... but He comforts us that we "are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7).
The text and all of Ecclesiastes is speaking from a human perspective, so time and chance refers to man who does not know his time. Please read the text in context:
by J.C. Ryle
The complete set of J.C. Ryle's classic expositions on the four gospels in one eBook
Observing this need in his own parish, J.C. Ryle prepared his Expository Thoughts on the Gospels which have enriched the earth for more than a century with undiminished popularity and usefulness.
Ryle's 'plain and pointed' words are a great stimulus to the reading of the Bible itself. While his chief aim is to help the reader to know Christ he also has another object in view. He writes so that his commentaries on the Gospels can be read aloud to a group. Unlike many authors he is equally good, read or heard. There are many other fuller commentaries on the Gospels, but no others make such compelling listening--whether it be in the family, in neighborhood groups, or over the air--as those of J.C. Ryle.
Ryle's own comments:
"Nothing whatever, whether great or small, can happen to a believer, without God’s ordering and permission.
The providential government of God over everything in this world is a truth of which the Greek and Roman philosophers had no conception. It is a truth which is specially revealed to us in the word of God. Just as the telescope and microscope show us that there is order and design in all the works of God’s hand, from the greatest planet down to the least insect, so does the Bible teach us that there is wisdom, order, and design in all the events of our daily life. There is no such thing as ‘chance,’ ‘luck,’ or ‘ accident’ in the Christian’s journey through this world. All is arranged and appointed by God. And all things are ‘working together’ for the believer’s good. (Rom. viii. 28.)
Let us seek to have an abiding sense of God’s hand in all that befalls us, if we profess to be believers in Jesus Christ. Let us strive to realize that a Father’s hand is measuring out our daily portion, and that our steps are ordered by Him. A daily practical faith of this kind, is one grand secret of happiness, and a mighty antidote against murmuring and discontent. We should try to feel in the day of trial and disappointment, that all is right and all is well done. We should try to feel on the bed of sickness that there must be a ‘needs be.’ We should say to ourselves, ‘God could keep away from me these things if He thought fit. But He does not do so, and therefore they must be for my advantage. I will lie still, and bear them patiently. I have ‘an everlasting covenant ordered in all things and sure.’ (2 Sam. xxiii. 5.) What pleases God shall please me.’”