Thomas Watson on Affliction

This is from Thomas Watson’s book The Lord’s Prayer. I’ve been finding that books like this are just as good for dealing with suffering as books on suffering (which many posts on this blog are about). Not just the parts of them on subjects dealing with suffering directly, but for example in this book, the extensive part on Our Father is very edifying in every way. The quote below is from part of the section on Thy Will Be Done. Notice the hierarchy of numbering goes from [] to () in the bold parts. I think the most difficult part of reading the Puritans are the lists with the numbers. They can go three and four deep. It’s more difficult when it’s an eBook, like this one is for me. At least it makes it easy to copy and paste. I think this is especially good for those dealing with suffering or who might wrestle with the subject:

When do we not submit to God’s will in affliction as we ought?

(1) When we have hard thoughts of him, and our hearts begin to swell against him.

(2) When we are so troubled at our present affliction that we are unfit for duty. We can mourn as doves—but not pray or praise God. We are so discomposed that we are not fit to hearken to any good counsel. “They hearkened not unto Moses, for anguish of spirit.” Exod 6:9. Israel was so full of grief under their burdens, that they minded not what Moses said, though he came with a message from God to them; “They hearkened not unto Moses, for anguish of spirit.”

(3) We do not submit as we ought to God’s will when we labor to break loose from affliction by indirect means. Many, to rid themselves out of trouble, run themselves into sin. When God has bound them with the cords of affliction—they go to the devil to loosen their bands! Better it is to stay in affliction, than to sin ourselves out of it. O let us learn to stoop to God’s will in all afflictive providence.

But how shall we bring ourselves, in all occurrences of providence, patiently to acquiesce in God’s will, and say, “May your will be done”?

The MEANS for a quiet resignation to God’s will in affliction are:

[1] Judicious consideration. “In the day of adversity consider.” Eccl 7:14. When anything burdens us, or runs cross to our desires, did we but sit down and consider, and weigh things in the balance of judgment, it would much quiet our minds, and subject our wills to God. Consideration would be as David’s harp, to charm down the evil spirit of frowardness and discontent.

But what should we consider?

That which should make us submit to God in affliction, and say, “May your will be done,” is:

(1) Consider that the present state of life is subject to afflictions, as a seaman’s life is subject to storms. [No one escapes bearing the lot which all suffer.] “Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward;” he is heir apparent to it. Man comes into the world with a cry—and goes out with a groan! Job 5:7. The world is a place where much wormwood grows. “He has filled me with bitterness (Heb with bitternesses); he has made me drunken with wormwood.” Lam 3:15. Troubles arise like sparks out of a furnace. Afflictions are some of the thorns which the earth after the curse brings forth. We may as well think to stop the chariot of the sun when it is in its swift motion, as put a stop to trouble. The consideration of a life exposed to troubles and sufferings, should make us say with patience, “May your will be done.” Shall a mariner be angry that he meets with a storm at sea?

(2) Consider that God has a special hand in the disposal of all occurrences. Job eyed God in his affliction. “The Lord has taken away;” chap 1:21. He did not complain of the Sabeans, or the influences of the planets; he looked beyond all second causes; he saw God in the affliction, and that made him cheerfully submit; he said, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Christ looked beyond Judas and Pilate to God’s determinate counsel in delivering him up to be crucified, which made him say, “Father, not as I will—but as you will.” Acts 4:27, 28, Matthew 26:39. It is vain to quarrel with instruments. Wicked men are but a rod in God’s hand! “O Assyria, the rod of my anger.” Isaiah 10:5. Whoever brings an affliction—God sends it! The consideration of this should make us say, “May your will be done;” for what God does he sees a reason for. We read of a wheel within a wheel. Ezek 1:16. The outward wheel, which turns all, is providence; the wheel within this wheel is God’s decree; this believed, would rock the heart quiet. Shall we mutiny at that which God does? We may as well quarrel with the works of creation as with the works of providence.

(3) Consider that there is a NECESSITY for affliction. “If need be, you are in heaviness.” 1 Peter 1:6. It is needful that some things are kept in brine. Afflictions are needful upon several accounts.

[1] To keep us humble. Often there is no other way to have the heart low—but by being brought low. When Manasseh “was in affliction, he humbled himself greatly.” 2 Chron 33:12. Corrections are corrosives to eat out the proud flesh. “Remembering my misery, the wormwood and the gall, my soul is humbled in me.” Lam 3:19, 20.

[2] It is necessary that there should be affliction; for if God did not sometimes bring us into affliction, how could his power be seen in bringing us out? Had not Israel been in the Egyptian furnace, God had lost his glory in their deliverance.

[3] If there were no affliction, then many parts of Scripture could not be fulfilled. God has promised to help us to bear affliction. Psalm 37:24, 39. How could we experience his supporting us in trouble—if we did not sometimes meet with it? God has promised to give us joy in affliction. John 16:20. How could we taste this honey of joy—if we were not sometimes in affliction? Again, he has promised to wipe away tears from our eyes. Isaiah 25:8. How could he wipe away our tears in heaven—if we never shed any? So that, in several respects, there is an absolute necessity that we should meet with affliction; and shall not we quietly submit, and say, “Lord, I see there is a necessity for it?” “May your will be done!”

(4) Consider that we have brought our troubles upon ourselves; we have put a rod into God’s hand to chastise us. Christian, God lays your afflictive cross on you—but it is of your own making. If a man’s field is full of tares, it is what he has sown in it. If you reap a bitter crop of affliction, it is what you yourself have sown. The cords which pinch you are of your own twisting. If children will eat green fruit—they may blame themselves if they are sick; and if we eat the forbidden fruit, no wonder that we feel it gripe. Sin is the Trojan horse which lands a multitude of afflictions upon us. “Your own conduct and actions have brought this upon you. This is your punishment. How bitter it is! How it pierces to the heart!” Jeremiah 4:18. If we by sin run ourselves into arrears with God, no wonder if he sets affliction as a sergeant on our back, to arrest us. This should make us patiently submit to God in affliction, and say, “May your will be done.” We have no cause to complain of God; it is nothing but what our sins have merited. “Have not you procured this unto yourself?” Jer 2:17. The afflictive cross, though it be of God’s laying, is of our making. Say, then, as Micah (chap 7:9), “I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him.” “Whatever a man sows he will also reap.” Galatians 6:7.

(5) Consider that God is about to prove and TEST us. “For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.” Psalm 66:10, 11. If there were no affliction, how could God have an opportunity to try men? Hypocrites can serve in a pleasure boat: they can serve God in prosperity; but when we can keep close to him in times of danger, when we can trust him in darkness, and love him when we have no smile, and say, “May your will be done,” that is the trial of sincerity! God is only trying us; and what hurt is there in that? What is gold the worse for being tried?

(6) Consider that in all our afflictions, God has kindness for us. As there was no night so dark, but Israel had a pillar of fire to give light—so there is no condition so cloudy, but we may see that which gives light of comfort. David could sing of mercy and judgment. Psalm 101:1. It should make us cheerfully submit to God’s will, to consider that in every afflictive path of providence, we may see his footstep of kindness.

There is kindness in affliction, when God seems most unkind.

[1] There is kindness in affliction—in that there is love in it. God’s rod and his love may stand together. “Whom the Lord loves, he chastens.” Heb 12:6. As when Abraham lifted up his hand to sacrifice, Isaac loved him. Just so, when God afflicts his people, and seems to sacrifice their outward comforts, he loves them. The farmer loves his vine when he cuts it and makes it bleed; and shall not we submit to God? Shall we quarrel with that which has kindness in it, which comes in love? The surgeon binds the patient, and lances him—but no wise man will quarrel with him, because it is in order to a cure.

[2] There is kindness in affliction—in that God deals with us as his children. “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons.” Heb 12:7. God has one Son without sin—but no son without stripes! Affliction is a badge of adoption. Says Tertullian, “Affliction is God’s seal by which he marks us for his own.” When Munster, that holy man, lay sick, his friends asked him how he did? He pointed to his sores, saying, “these are the jewels with which God decks his children!” Shall not we then say, “Lord, there is kindness in the cross, you treat us as your children. The rod of discipline is to fit us for the inheritance. May your will be done.”

[3] In kindness God in all our afflictions, has left us a promise. So that in the most cloudy providence, the promise appears as the rainbow in the cloud. Then we have God’s promise to be with us. “I will be with him in trouble.” Psalm 91:15. It cannot be ill with that man with whom God is; I will be with him, to support, sanctify, and sweeten every affliction. I had rather be in prison and have God’s presence, than be in a palace without it.

We have the promise that he will not lay more upon us than he will enable us to bear. 1 Cor 10:13. He will not try us beyond our strength; either he will make the yoke lighter—or our faith stronger. Should not this make us submit our wills to his, when afflictions have so much kindness in them? In all our trials he has left us promises, which are like manna in the wilderness.

[4] It is great kindness that all troubles that befall us shall be for our profit. “God disciplines us for our profit.” Heb 12:10.

Around the Web – Oct.24.2014

Why Study Revelation? – Word of Life Wisconsin

Union with Christ (eBooks) | Monergism – I will be reading the ones by Watson and Horton – I found that a good way to convert a web page to ePub is to save it in a word processor as an HTML document, then use Calibre to convert it to ePub

Baker Book House Church Connection | Mark 13, the ESV, and Essentially Literal Translation

4 Things That Happen When You Study Leviticus More Than 10 Years | The Gospel Coalition

Why Christians Should Listen to Mike Rowe on (Not) 'Following Your Passion' | Acton PowerBlog – goes along with ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’, ‘you can do anything you put your mind to’

Lumina – new Bible.org Bible study app

‘Must Read’ Blog Post

I don’t know if I’ve ever written ‘must read’ other than I feel that the book Knowing God is a must read for every Christian, especially those somewhat new (advanced beginner?), as far as I’m concerned.

I found a blog post titled Bible Ignorance at Reformation21 Blog to be one of the best posts I’ve ever read. It’s aimed largely at ministers and students of theology. I’m not pointing it out for ministers; I think this applies to any student of theology, which is all of us.

You can just stop reading here and go there if you’d like.

A few years ago I made a commitment to make sure I read the Bible every single day.* What’s being said in this article makes that seem like nothing, not that I’m minimizing the importance of it. It’s nothing new; nothing we probably haven’t read before, but it really hit me this time. Matthew Henry says to pray using the language of the Bible. D.A. Carson urges us to imitate Paul in our praying. Comparing my worldly prayers to Paul’s really changed how and what I pray for. This can’t happen without knowing the Bible.

Scripture is so deep and multi-faceted, not just because of what’s written, but because the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to more and more of it the more we read and understand it (Ephesians 1:17, Hebrews 4:12). If we’re born again and the Holy Spirit resides in us, we should be glad to spend time in Scripture. If we don’t feel that way, we can pray for God to enable us, and he will do that for us–this being his will for us (Joshua 1:8, Psalm 119:9-11), as we strive to spend more time (Matthew 21:22, Psalm 37:4, 1 John 5:14, Philippians 2:12b).

I often think about how much time I spend reading the Bible versus how much time I spend reading books and articles. It’s difficult to know how to balance it because the books all help to know God better through better understanding of Scripture.

*If I should forget a day for some strange reason, which I’ve done a few times in the past, God is in no way displeased with me and I don’t feel guilty–just a little silly to forget something so important. I don’t read twice as much the next day to make up for it, unless I’m on a reading plan. This doesn’t happen anymore. Just thought I’d point that out so that it doesn’t sound like a legalistic or works oriented thing.

Always Forgive, Usually

I once read John Stott write something like, “Why should we forgive someone who hasn’t asked for forgiveness?” This kind of took me aback, because it has been said that we’re supposed to always forgive.

Later on I read blog posts about where people will come out and forgive a mass murderer, even if they weren’t directly affected by the killer and  how this kind of steps in front of the victims and their loved ones and may in a way cut off their process of forgiveness, whatever that entails. And if someone is unrepentant and doesn’t want our forgiveness, does it make sense to give it to them?

There has obviously been a lot written about this, and I’m sure there are as many opinions on it as there are real life variations in circumstances. But here is a quote I just read by R.C. Sproul that’s helpful:

It’s important that we look closely at this directive from Jesus regarding forgiveness. It is often taught in the Christian community that Christians are called to forgive those who sin against them unilaterally and universally. We see the example of Jesus on the cross, asking God to forgive those who were executing Him, even though they offered no visible indication of repentance. From that example of Jesus, it has been inferred that Christians must always forgive all offenses against them, even when repentance is not offered. However, the most that we can legitimately infer from Jesus’ actions on that occasion is that we have the right to forgive people unilaterally. Though that may be indeed a wonderful thing, it is not commanded. If we look at the commandment that Jesus gives in Luke 17:3, He says, “If your brother sins, rebuke him.” Notice that the first response to the offense is not forgiveness but rather rebuke. The Christian has the right to rebuke those who commit wrong doing against him. That’s the basis for the whole procedure of church discipline in the New Testament. If we were commanded to give unilateral forgiveness to all, under all circumstances, then the whole action of church discipline to redress wrongs, would itself be wrong. But Jesus says, “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents…,” — here is where the command becomes obligatory — if the offender repents, then it is mandatory for the Christian to forgive the one who has offended him.

–R.C. Sproul, Christians Should be Forgiving People

As far as smaller offenses go, or people who just annoy us, I like how the NLT renders the first part of Colossians 3:13:

Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

On this one I will be reading Moo’s commentary, along with others.

Encouragement For Sinners

I have been in a slump that is worse than the one before. I’m going through a very difficult time and would appreciate prayer. Faith is being tested.

I won’t apologize for lack of posts because I don’t presume that people wait for posts with bated breath (whatever that means). But I know that for some reason people like blogs to have regular posts.

I have found that similar to how C.S. Lewis found heavier theological works better devotional material than devotionals themselves, solid theological works can be just as good or better for suffering than books on suffering. I could write more about that, but for now, The Lord’s Prayer by Thomas Watson has been a great book during a difficult time, and it’s fantastic for knowing God better as much as it is for prayer. It’s becoming one of the best books I’ve read.

On to one of the quotes that I thought might be encouraging to some readers: If we have a right hatred of sin (Romans 12:9) and have become slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:18), and God leaves us in certain sin and tests us through it, we should consider this a normal part of Christian life. This is something I had been thinking about before I read this, which summarizes it better than I could.

The best of saints have remainders of corruption. ‘They had their dominion taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season.’ Dan 7:12. So in the regenerate, though the dominion of sin be taken away, yet the life of it is prolonged for a season. What pride was there in Christ’s own disciples, when they strove which should be greatest! The issue of sin will not be quite stopped till death. The Lord is pleased to let the in-being of sin continue, to humble his people, and make them prize Christ more. Because you find corruptions stirring, do not therefore presently unsaint yourselves, and deny the kingdom of grace to be come into your souls. That you feel sin is an evidence of spiritual life; that you mourn for it is a fruit of love to God; that you have a combat with sin, argues antipathy against it. Those sins which you once wore as a crown on your head, are now as fetters on the leg. Is not all this from the Spirit of grace in you? Sin is in you, as poison in the body, which you are sick of, and use all Scripture antidotes to expel. Should we condemn all those who have indwelling sin, nay, who have had sin sometimes prevailing, we should blot some of the best saints out of the Bible.

–Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer

The Best Book for New Christians

OK, so I haven’t read every book in the world that are supposed to be for new Christians. The one mentioned below is by far the best one that I have read. If you’re short on time, skip to the last paragraph and the quote below it; otherwise, you can read about a few other helpful books too.

I have seen lists of books for new Christians written by bloggers. I think they almost always overshoot. They recommend fantastic books like Knowing God by J.I. Packer, which is one of the best popular level, contemporary books on God ever written (again I realize I haven’t read all of them), but I know from experience that there are Christians who’ve been saved for decades who still need milk and can’t handle this book. (That’s another subject.) I think many Christians, especially those who are well read, forget what it’s like to be new. This is that ‘one book’ that I think every Christian, or certainly everyone in the early stages, should read. But how many times have you read that? Everybody has their opinion.

At one time I was on the lookout for books that fit this category. I looked at The God Who Is There by D.A. Carson, which is a great book aimed at newer Christians. See posts where this book is mentioned. I read this recently and learned a lot from it, but I think it might get to be too much for new Christians. He’ll start out explaining what the gospels are, but then goes on and gets a little ‘thick’. It’s really a great book though for an ‘advanced beginner’. He starts out writing a lot about Genesis, then goes to John, then to Revelation (but not everything in-between). I’m not sure if he is one to write a book for new Christians. He knows like 39 languages and can quote book, chapter and section from Calvin’s Institutes like he wrote it himself. As a tangent–sometimes I tend to exaggerate a little. I think he only knows about 29 languages, or maybe 7.

I also looked at Basic Christianity by John Stott. The book is true to its title, but I don’t know if the content, including the tiny typeface of the edition I have, is quite suitable for most new Christians these days. Maybe it was when he first wrote it 50 years ago.

Then I remembered the one I read when I was a new Christian. It’s upstairs among some really old books that I don’t have on my regular bookshelf. Turns out that the book with the red cover and yellow title has been reprinted over and over in that span of 30 years and now has a nice new cover. You can’t go wrong in buying The Fight: A Practical Handbook for Christian Living by John White, for a new Christian. I’m not sure why I haven’t seen it mentioned. Maybe the title is off-putting. But people are obviously buying and reading it, and for good reason.

Here is a guide through the basic areas of Christian living we wrestle with throughout our lives: faith, prayer, temptation, evangelism, guidance, Bible study, fellowship, work. In this very personal book he offers new Christians sound first steps and older Christians refreshing insights into the struggles and the joys of freedom in Christ.

The Fight by John White for Young Christians

Do you have any suggestions?

Also see:

Knowledge and God’s Glory

The better we know God, the more we can glorify him. In another part of the book Edwards writes that this will make us happy, which glorifies God. Or happier, or less unhappy–whatever your circumstance may be. As far as I can see, God expresses this chiefly through Scripture, then the Holy Spirit in various ways, His mighty acts–including the marvelous work on the cross and what he does in our lives, and creation. I’ve included Scripture below that I think applies.

Again, the word glory, as applied to God in Scripture, implies the view or knowledge of God’s excellency. The exhibition of glory is to the view of beholders. The manifestation of glory, the emanation or effulgence of brightness, has relation to the eye. Light or brightness is a quality that has relation to the sense of seeing; we see the luminary by its light. And knowledge is often expressed in Scripture by light. The word glory very often in Scripture signifies, or implies, honor, as any one may soon see by casting his eye on a concordance. But honor implies the knowledge of the dignity and excellency of him who hath the honor; and this is often more especially signified by the word glory, when applied to God. Numbers 14:21: “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD,” i.e. all the inhabitants of the earth shall see the manifestations I will make of my perfect holiness and hatred of sin, and so of my infinite excellence.

Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
listening closely to wisdom
and directing your heart to understanding;
furthermore, if you call out to insight
and lift your voice to understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it like hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and discover the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 2:1-6 HCSB

The mind of the discerning acquires knowledge,
and the ear of the wise seeks it.
Proverbs 18:15

For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God.
Romans 14:11

I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the glorious riches of His inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power to us who believe, according to the working of His vast strength. He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens — far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.
Ephesians 1:17-23

Counter-cultural Quote/Scripture of the Day

Counter-cultural would refer to Christian culture as well as anything else. This isn’t talked about much. This is a strange one for many of us. I think it’s encouraging to know that God has control over the evil in the world and that it will be ended for our happiness and for God’s glory. I don’t know what that happiness will be like, but we can take comfort now in the fact that it will end up this way, and that God has a purpose and is sovereign over all of it at this time, as horrible as it is in this world.

God’s judgments on the wicked in this world and also their eternal damnation in the world to come are spoken of as being for the happiness of God’s people. So are his judgments on them in this world. Isaiah 43:3, 4. “For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour. I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou hast been precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” So the works of God’s vindictive justice and wrath are spoken of as works of mercy to his people, Psalm 136:10, 15, 17-20 [“To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn: for his mercy endureth for ever. . . . But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea: for his mercy endureth for ever. . . . To him which smote great kings: for his mercy endureth for ever: And slew famous kings: for his mercy endureth for ever: Sihon king of the Amorites: for his mercy endureth for ever: And Og the king of Bashan: for his mercy endureth for ever”].

And so is their eternal damnation in another world. Romans 9:22, 23: “What if God, willing to show his wrath and make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.” Here it is evident the last verse comes in, in connection with the foregoing, as giving another reason of the destruction of the wicked, viz. showing the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy: higher degrees of their glory and happiness, in a relish of their own enjoyments, and a greater sense of their value and of God’s free grace in bestowing them.

Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World

The LORD has made everything for his own purpose,
even wicked people for the day of trouble.
Proverbs 16:4

Around the Web – Sep.22.2014

Serving Those With Mental Illness: Free eBook | HeadHeartHand Blog

It Was a ‘God Thing’ (Really?) « The Reformed Reader – Michael Horton’s book is on my wish list

Does the Bible Ever Get it Wrong? | Canon Fodder

Over 125 Free eBooks Listed Alphabetically by Author | Monergism

Why We Don't Allow Comments – Reformation21 Blog – If you read it, be sure to make it through to the part about retired people. I allow comments on my blog because almost all of them are helpful and edifying, and because of the fact that I hardly get any comments, I don’t really have to spend time moderating.

God Is Not A Needy Parent

The pleasure God has in the creature is not properly pleasure from the creature
Nor do these things argue any dependence in God on the creature for happiness. Though he has real pleasure in the creature’s holiness and happiness, yet this is not properly any pleasure which he receives from the creature. For these things are what he gives the creature. They are wholly and entirely from him. His rejoicing therein is rather a rejoicing in his own acts and his own glory expressed in those acts, than a joy derived from the creature. God’s joy is dependent on nothing besides his own act, which he exerts with an absolute and independent power

[...]

From what has been said, it appears that the pleasure God hath in those things which have been mentioned is rather a pleasure in diffusing and communicating to, than in receiving from, the creature.

–Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World

We love because God loved us first.
1 John 4:19

I praise God that he’s not a needy parent. When parents have children to have someone to love them, it’s obviously not healthy for the child and it becomes a burden to them. I think many children can unconsciously sense this and develop hostility because of it. It also causes plain old dysfunction. But being a perfect Father, God delights in communicating to his children and delights in them communicating to him, but his happiness isn’t dependent on what his children can give him. A way of looking at Revelation 3:20 may be that God is telling the elect that he is happy to have close fellowship with his children if they would take advantage of it, instead of ignoring him.

Quote of the Day by Jonathan Edwards

What God aimed at in the creation of the world, as the end which he had ultimately in view, was that communication of himself which he intended through all eternity. And if we attend to the nature and circumstances of this eternal emanation of divine good, it will more clearly show HOW, in making this his end, God testifies a supreme respect to himself and makes himself his end.

There are many reasons to think that what God has in view, in an increasing communication of himself through eternity, is an increasing knowledge of God, love to him, and joy in him. And it is to be considered that the more those divine communications increase in the creature, the more it becomes one with God; for so much the more is it united to God in love, the heart is drawn nearer and nearer to God, and the union with him becomes more firm and close, and at the same time, the creature becomes more and more conformed to God. The image is more and more perfect, and so the good that is in the creature comes forever nearer and nearer to an identity with that which is in God. In the view therefore of God, who has a comprehensive prospect of the increasing union and conformity through eternity, it must be an infinitely strict and perfect nearness, conformity, and oneness. For it will forever come nearer and nearer to that strictness and perfection of union which there is between the Father and the Son. So that in the eyes of God, who perfectly sees the whole of it, in its infinite progress and increase, it must come to an eminent fulfillment of Christ’s request, in John 17:21, 23. That they all may be ONE, as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be ONE in us; I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in ONE.

–Jonathan Edwards, The End for Which God Created the World

And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18 NRSV

For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.
Colossians 1:9-10 NRSV

I’ve always wanted to think about God more. I read the book  The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence at least twice. It always left me wanting though. It may be because he doesn’t include spiritual disciplines, talk about God’s enabling,  the gospel, and other important topics very much. In reading the quote by Edwards, and of course much of the Bible, I can see why our spiritual nature would badly want this. Partly for this reason, I spread out my spiritual disciplines throughout the day.

There are a lot more thoughts I have on this. The book really causes me to think about a lot of things. I won’t write any more now at the risk of bungling it. Much can be misunderstood. I like how Edwards goes over specific objections with answers after presenting his ideas.

Quotes of the Day: God’s Guidance

See my comment at the bottom.

Finally, in all this, the matter of various horizons, the uncertainty of the future, the view of the life of the godly as beset with uncertainty and how we are to regard it and handle it, has importance for the topic of guidance. How does the Lord guide his people? Assuring us a Christian life with a beginning, a middle and an end, with the end being the tying up of all loose ends? It is an interesting fact that the apostles, in giving much doctrinal and practical guidance, never once (as far as I can see) gave guidance with respect to Christians’ futures. They are never asked, and never offer such guidance, as to what the will of God is for their lives and how they are to discern this. This is disappointing for any one hoping, through prayer or Bible study or some other discipline, to be handed a torch which has the magical power of shining a golden light illuminating the path leading from the present to an assured tomorrow, or to the next year, or the next decade of our lives.

–Paul Helm, Helm’s Deep: Ecclesiastes and the New Testament

Don’t spend your life waiting for God to whisper sweet nothings in your ear. God has already spoken.

–Carl Trueman

Our pictures of life are far too often like eating fast food, or like living under the shadow of a rule book, or like staring glassy-eyed out into the third heaven waiting for “a word from the Lord”. Wisdom challenges all this. It says to us, warmly yet firmly, “Grow up!”, “Mature!”, “Move beyond childhood into adulthood!”, “Use the mind God has given you!”

Wisdom is about learning to apply the gospel to every area of our thinking and doing. We will be tempted to justify our ignorance and mental laziness by saying that we’re trusting the Lord. We may even appeal to Proverbs 3:5-6 to defend this attitude. But that’s not what Proverbs 3:5-6 is about. Rather, it encourages diligent, careful, prayerful, intelligent and enthusiastic exploration of life in the light of the gospel.

–Mark Storm, Symphony of Scripture

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5

My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding–
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
Proverbs 2:1-5

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
Proverbs 9:10

Also see:
About that little voice in your heart… | Reformation21 Blog – this book that he’s quoting from is a book I read and will be drawing upon for my upcoming posts on Christian Sayings

After all of that, I would slightly disagree with the idea that God only speaks from the outside, as the blog post above says, although maybe I’m taking that too literally. I strongly believe that the Holy Spirit speaks to us from within when it comes to conviction of sin(s), and reminding us of what He’s taught us in the past (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit can also open our eyes to spiritual things we hadn’t realized before (Ephesians 1:18), but none of this is ever new revelation that hasn’t been addressed in Scripture. Whenever we hear the Holy Spirit speak, we always need to confirm it with Scripture. Our hearts are too easily deceived (Jeremiah 17:9). We need to be saturated in Scripture in order to discern from within, and especially nowadays from without, what is true. The danger is when people are too lazy to spend time in Scripture and then expect God to tell them what to do, and believe just about everything they see and read on the internet. Can people be internet Bereans by using Snopes, getting other opinions, and checking sources? I don’t know about that, but the lack of discernment in more minor areas is frightening when you think about what lack there is for major areas, especially since we are in the end times, and as we need to be ready for Christ’s return (1 Thessalonians 5:2-4, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 3:3).

I realize that most regular readers already know about and agree with some of these things I’ve been writing about. Instead of just complaining about them, I want to do something about it. There are often people who come here from search engines who might benefit from the curmudgeonly posts; that is if they’re not offended, or disagree.

God Hates?

And God commends people for hating the evil that others are doing. What about “do not judge”? (Sarcasm) More on that later.

It seems that much of the church may need to be more aware that we are living with/before God and that he isn’t always happy about everything, and he isn’t always satisfied with believers, and especially not with those who are faking it. He doesn’t always “meet us where we’re at”, whatever that means. But praise God that he covers the sins of believers and doesn’t hold them against us. In addition, that we are in his favor (Luke 2:14). It may sound strange, but God doesn’t just love us because of what his Son did for us on the cross, but he also likes us. That he is always for us (Romans 8:31-32). And that he is holy x3 (Isaiah 6:3, Revelation 4:8).

You have endured, suffered trouble because of my name, and have not grown weary. 4 However, I have this against you: The love you had at first is gone. 5 Remember how far you have fallen. Return to me and change the way you think and act [repent], and do what you did at first. I will come to you and take your lamp stand from its place if you don’t change. 6 But you have this in your favor-you hate what the Nicolaitans are doing. I also hate what they’re doing.
Revelation 2:3-6

Do not judge people who hate the evil that people do, based on their right assessment (judgement) of it, or those who point attention to it in a way that benefits others.

Anybody have another reference for being in God’s favor? There’s one I’m not finding.

Also see:
God's Love In The Bible and Evangelicals View of It | Scripture Zealot blog

Exhortation from Jonathan Edwards

And so the final and most important exhortation to us from the life and work of Jonathan Edwards is this: in all our life and all our study and all our ministry let us seek to glorify God by being satisfied in him above all things. Let us press on to know in the depth of our being that “the steadfast love of the Lord is better than life” (Ps. 63:3). And so let us find the God-exalting freedom from this world that will make us the most radical, sacrificial servants of good on earth—that men may see our good works and join us in glorifying God by enjoying him forever.

–John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (With the Complete Text of The End for Which God Created the World)

Around the Web – Sep.4.2014

A smaller list than usual:

Covenant by Michael Horton | Reformed Theology Articles at Ligonier.org – a short and very educational article

3 Tips from C.S. Lewis on Blogging and Tweeting | Nathan W. Bingham – I especially need to pay attention to #2

5 Things Jonathan Edwards Teaches Us about the Christian Life | Crossway – not what you might think

Koinonia: Michael Horton's Pilgrim Theology: 4 Coordinates of Key Doctrines, Part 1 [Infographic]
Koinonia: [Part 2] Infographic – Michael Horton's Pilgrim Theology: 4 Coordinates of Key Doctrines