Repost: God’s Will For You

We can know God’s will for us. Are we willing to do it?

Our modern western minds tend to think of God’s will as what God wants us to do in a certain situation. God’s will as he presents it in Scripture is a little different than that. There are different types of God’s will (Sovereign decretive, Preceptive, Will of disposition) but that’s for others to teach. I’m writing about God’s will as revealed in Scripture.

These are all NIV. I added italics.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is true worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

I don’t believe we can take God’s will out of this passage and change it to mean what we’d like, which often ends up being what God wants us to do at a particular point in time. I’m learning that it’s important to be careful to keep the meaning within the context.

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of the foolish. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love your fellow believers, fear God, honor the emperor.
1 Peter 2:11-17

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.
1 Peter 4:19

Suffering is obviously something that’s put on us, not something we choose to do, but continuing to do God’s will while suffering is God’s will, if you’ll allow me to write an intentionally strange sentence.

So with all of this general stuff about God’s will for us, how does he answer us when we ask him things? Psalms are a good place to look for this. It’s really a subject for another post, and probably by someone other than me, but I found this example. I can’t remember why I was looking at the NKJV, but the words chosen fit well. Again, our modern western minds might be disappointed in how Spurgeon doesn’t even touch on how God might answer us specifically in telling us what to do in a particular situation.

Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.
Psalms 143:8 NKJV

David is pleading with God to ask Him what he wants him to do in order to be obedient to Him in a way that is right. Psalm 143:10 NKJV says:
Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.

Spurgeon’s commentary on verse 8 is very helpful. If you’re interested in this subject, read the whole Psalm first and notice all of the things David is looking for from God.

“Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”  The Great First Cause must cause us to hear and to know. Spiritual senses are dependent upon God, and heavenly knowledge comes from him alone. To know the way we ought to take is exceedingly needful, for how can we be exact in obedience to a law with which we are not acquainted? or how can there be an ignorant holiness? If we know not the way, how shall we keep in it? If we know not wherein we should walk, how shall we be likely to follow the right path? The Psalmist lifts up his soul; faith is good at a dead lift [was Spurgeon into powerlifting?], the soul that trusts will rise. We will not allow our hope to sink, but we will strive to get up and rise out of our daily griefs. This is wise. When David was in any difficulty as to his way he lifted his soul towards God himself, and then he knew that he could not go very far wrong. If the soul will not rise of itself we must lift it, lift it up unto God. This is good argument in prayer, surely the God to whom we endeavour to lift up our soul will condescend to show us what he would have us to do. Let us attend to David’s example, and when our heart is low, let us heartily endeavour to lift it up, not so much to comfort as to the Lord himself.

Also see:
God’s Will Is Not a Secret | Scripture Zealot blog
Finding God’s Will | Scripture Zealot blog
Praying God’s Will | Scripture Zealot blog

Scripture Memory and Smartphones

If you have a smartphone, now you really have no excuse. I’ve been thinking about possibly memorizing some Scripture again. I wrote about the watch beep method in Scripture Memory: My Story (in two parts with links to other resources). The problem with a watch beep is it’s so easy to get used to the sound and stop hearing it. I firmly believe that when I memorized Scripture for the first few years, God enabled me to hear it every single time. Now with smartphones, we can use an hourly chime app to remind us to look at our current verse. (For a while I did this on my computer, working at home.) The chime can be changed if we get used to it, and there is the option to use vibrate. There are also Scripture memory apps. It’s great how we can use technology for Bible reading plans, reading or listening during downtime (as little as that happens for some people), and memorizing. If you have one, do you use yours in any other ways?

Which means you’ve gotta fight to learn these [verses] and memorize these things and have these verses tumbling around in your fore-frontal lobal brain part. Whatever that is.

–John Piper

Quote(s) of the Day: Imputation

I found this section in The Cross of Christ by John Stott to be very educational regarding the subject of imputation. I’m about a third of the way through the book and find it to be very systematic and thorough, in addition to simply being interesting. I’m very lacking in knowledge of the symbolism in the Old Testament, which he writes about quite a bit. The things he mentions at the beginning of the second paragraph are items he covered earlier in the book.

When we are united to Christ a mysterious exchange takes place: he took our curse, so that we may receive his blessing; he became sin with our sin, so that we may become righteous with his righteousness. Elsewhere Paul writes of this transfer in terms of ‘imputation’. On the one hand, God declined to ‘impute’ our sins to us, or ‘count’ them against us (2 Cor. 5:19), with the implication that he imputed them to Christ instead. On the other, God has imputed Christ’s righteousness to us. Many are offended by this concept, considering it both artificial and unjust on God‘s part to arrange such a transfer. Yet the objection is due to a misunderstanding, which Thomas Crawford clears up for us. Imputation, he writes, ‘does not at all imply the transference of one person’s moral qualities to another’. Such a thing would be impossible, and he goes on to quote John Owen to the effect that ‘we ourselves have done nothing of what is imputed to us, not Christ anything of what is imputed to him’. It would be absurd and unbelievable to imagine, Crawford continues, ‘that the moral turpitude of our sins was transferred to Christ, so as to make him personally sinful and ill—deserving; and that the moral excellence of his righteousness is transferred to us, so as to make us personally upright and commendable’. No, what was transferred to Christ was not moral qualities but legal consequences: he voluntarily accepted liability for our sins. That is what the expressions ‘made sin’ and ‘made a curse’ mean. Similarly, ‘the righteousness of God’ which we become when we are ‘in Christ’ is not here righteousness of character and conduct (although that grows within us by the working of the Holy Spirit), but rather a righteous standing before God.

When we review all this Old Testament material (the shedding and sprinkling of blood, the sin offering, the Passover, the meaning of ‘sin-bearing’, the scapegoat and Isaiah 53), and consider its New Testament application to the death of Christ, we are obliged to conclude that the cross was a substitutionary sacrifice. Christ died for us. Christ died instead of us. Indeed, as Jeremias put it, this use of sacrificial imagery ‘has the intention of expressing the fad that Jesus died without sin in substitution for our sins’.

Christ Died Because of My Sins

“Who delivered up Jesus to die? Not Judas, for money; not Pilate, for fear; not the Jews, for envy; — but the Father, for love!”

–Octavius Winslow

God didn’t spare his own Son but handed him over to death for all of us. So he will also give us everything along with him.
Romans 8:32 GW

“As we face the cross, we can say to ourselves both ‘I did it, my sins sent him there’ and ‘he did it, his love took him there.'”

–John Stott

I used to have a hard time with that. I didn’t send him there. I would never do that! But if I want to be saved, I have to admit I’m a sinner not worthy of being with a holy God that I’ve always wanted to be in relationship with. In order for me to have that, I need to accept and embrace the fact that Christ wouldn’t have died it if wasn’t for my/our sin(s). I need to humble myself and admit that so that I can receive God’s gift and be at peace with him.

Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ
Romans 5:1 NET

Around the Web

I’ll just post this for the long weekend to give you any reading material you might want.

I pray that anyone reading this will have a nice Thanksgiving, for those who celebrate it. For those with no family or who are going through afflictions in any way, I pray that God’s grace will be sufficient for you. Let’s remember that not everybody is happy and shiny during holidays.

Rethinking the Text: God’s “Still, Small Voice”? | internetmonk.com

“God told me” and the Sufficiency of Scripture : 9Marks

Friendship sexualized, trivialized, and For Profit | MOS – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Pitting Holiness Against Holiness – we are made holy; we are to be holy

The Upward Call – The language of grumbling – this is something I’ve been working on a lot
Also see: Murmuring Is A Sin | Scripture Zealot blog
HT: Links I like

Learning about Pain from Luther, Bunyan & th| Bible | Desiring God by John Piper, Daily Devotionals Online, Bible Study, Christian Video

Puritan Perspectives on the Lord’s Prayer

Let us have a great esteem of the Lord’s prayer; let it be the model and pattern of all our prayers. There is a double benefit arising from framing our petitions suitably to this prayer. Hereby error in prayers is prevented. It is not easy to write wrong after this copy; we cannot easily err when we have our pattern before us. Hereby mercies requested are obtained; for the apostle assures us that God will hear us when we pray ‘according to his will.’ I John V 14. And sure we pray according to his will when we pray according to the pattern he has set us. So much for the introduction to the Lord’s prayer, ‘After this manner pray ye.’

“Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
–Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer, 2.

Owen and Watson on Meditating on Scripture

The mark of a Christian is one who thinks a lot about what they read in their Bible. I was looking through my notes on Owen’s book The Glory of Christ and remembered Watson writing about it also. If you’re not familiar with them, they were both Puritans.

Having attained the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ from the Scripture, or by the dispensation of the truth in the preaching of the gospel, we would esteem it our duty frequently to meditate thereon. It is to be feared that there are some who profess religion with an appearance of strictness, who never separate themselves from all other occasions, to meditate on Christ and his glory; and yet, with a strange inconsistency of apprehensions, they will profess that they desire nothing more than to behold his glory in heaven for ever. But it is evident, even in the light of reason, that these things are irreconcilable. It is impossible that he who never meditates with delight on the glory of Christ here in this world, who labours not to behold it by faith as it is revealed in the Scripture, should ever have any real gracious desire to behold it in heaven. They may love and desire the fruition of their own imaginations; — they cannot do so of the glory of Christ, whereof they are ignorant, and wherewith they are unacquainted. It is, therefore, to be lamented that men can find time for, and have inclinations to think and meditate on, other things, that maybe earthly and vain; but have neither heart, nor inclination, nor leisure, to meditate on this glorious object. What is the faith and love which such men profess? How will they find themselves deceived in the issue!

–John Owen, The Glory of Christ

He [the devil] will let men profess, or pray and hear in a formal manner, which does him no hurt and them no good. But he opposes meditation, as being a means to compose the heart and make it serious. He can stand your small shot, if you do not put in this bullet of meditation. He cares not how much you hear—but how much you meditate. Meditation is chewing the cud, it makes the Word digest and turn to nourishment; it is the bellows of the affections. The devil is an enemy to this. When Christ is alone in the wilderness, giving himself to divine contemplations, the devil comes and tempts him, to hinder him. He will thrust in worldly business, something or other to keep men off from holy meditation.

–Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer, Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the LORD,
meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.
Psalm 1:1-3 NLT

Puritan Prayer: The Awakened Sinner

Here is a partial prayer that I especially like from The Valley of Vision.

I confess that thou hast not been in all my thoughts,
That the knowledge of thyself as the end of my being
Has been strangely overlooked,
That I have never seriously considered my heart-need.

But although my mind is perplexed and divided,
My nature perverse,
Yet my secret dispositions still desire thee;
Break the fatal enchantment that binds my evil affections,
And bring me to a happy mind that rests in thee,
For thou hast made me and canst not forget me.

Let thy Spirit teach me the vital lessons of Christ,
For I am slow to learn;
And hear thou my broken cries.

Been Reading: Seeking the Face of God

I would like to write a few posts about what I’ve been reading, and may keep that up as I go along. I used to write about them in my secondary blog just to keep track. Now I keep track in Goodreads and started taking notes using Evernote. I’d like to review those notes a little while after I’m done with a book and might post any highlights here. Hopefully that will help me to remember more of the important things that I learned, or just review and post the quotes that I liked. (I badger people with these on Facebook.)

Martin Lloyd-Jones on how to set the Lord before us:

There are many ways of doing this [setting the Lord always before us-Psalm 16:8], but none is more important than the Word, the Bible. God has revealed Himself to us there; so as we read it, we obtain knowledge about God. He is speaking to us through the Word about Himself and about ourselves, so that the more we know it and read it, the more it will take us into the presence of God. So if you want to set the Lord always before you, spend much time in regular, daily reading of the Bible. And let it be systematic reading, not just picking it up at random and turning to a favorite psalm and then to somewhere in the Gospels. No; it must be Genesis to Revelation! Go through the Book year by year. I think any Christian should be ashamed who does not go through the entire Bible once a year. Go through it systematically. Many schemes have been designed and can be purchased that will tell you how to do this and will help you do so. Or if you like, you can work one out for yourself as I once did. But whatever you do, insist upon it. God’s Word speaks to you—listen to Him, and you will come into His presence. Set Him before you by reading the Bible. You can do this also in prayer—talking to God and listening to Him.

Those are ways in which you can set Him before you. Also read biographies of godly people. When you see the kind of life they were enabled to live, you will feel, “Oh, that I were like that!” You will discover that the reason for their living as they did was that they always set the Lord before them. And so you read that when they were taken desperately ill or when bereavement and sorrow came, it did not disturb their equanimity, they were not finally upset. They were not inhuman; they did feel these things, and they felt them very acutely. But they did not lose their balance. They did not feel that all was lost and gone. And when trials and calamities came, even wars, they did not feel that everything had collapsed. Not at all! They went on, and there was a kind of added sweetness and beauty about their lives and a still greater joy and peace.

Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms by Martyn Lloyd-Jones

I liked this book a lot. The Psalms are somewhat of an enigma for me, and this helped just a little bit with that, but I found it to be simply a good book on seeking God. It’s hard to imagine not liking anything he wrote.

So I did read a biography called A Grief Sanctified by Richard Baxter with reflections by J.I. Packer throughout, and found it somewhat disappointing. Packer often repeated some of the things that Baxter says. I chose it more from the standpoint of dealing with loss, but Baxter didn’t write a lot about that. The story of Baxter and his wife was interesting, but I just didn’t get a lot out of it.

Praying Spiritually

“Spiritual prayers are best. Have you a diseased body? Pray more that the disease of your soul may be removed than of your body. “Heal my soul, for I have sinned.” Psalm 41:4. The plague of the heart is worse than a cancer in the breast. Have you a child that is lame? Pray more to have its unholiness removed than its lameness. Spiritual prayers are more pleasing to God, and are as music in his ears. Christ has here taught us to pray against sin, “Deliver us from evil.”

Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer

I will harp on this idea of praying spiritually until the day I die.

Regarding the quote: Praying for someone’s temporary comfort and not praying for their salvation, if it’s in doubt, is the meanest thing anyone can do.

As far as the subject of healing, when praying for Christians, pray for that, but more importantly for perseverance, faith, hope, that God would use whatever the situation to bring them closer to Him, to know His character better, to become more Christlike, etc. We don’t know if healing is God’s will or not, but we know those other things are in fact God’s will for believers. It’s all over the Bible. We can’t go wrong by imitating the prayers of Jesus and Paul.

Also see:
Complete List of Paul's Prayers | Scripture Zealot blog
Praying for the Soul | Desiring God by John Piper, Daily Devotionals Online

Quote of the Day: Gregory Beale on Suffering

I don’t know if I’ve written this before, but I really don’t like the idea that God allows suffering and the whole system of how he uses that for spiritual growth. However, imagine that there is suffering, and God doesn’t use it. It’s just there, but has no purpose. That would be much, much worse. Praise God that he redeems our suffering and makes it extremely valuable.

While the means of growth is the word of God, the context of our growth is often suffering…. Suffering is not an automatic lever to release the life of Christ in us, but suffering is the occasion that we look for Christ’s life to flow in us (2Cor. 4:10, 11). When we are comfortable, we too easily trust in the adequacy of our resources. When we are afflicted, we realize the inadequacy of our resources and look to Christ so that his life is released in us. The life flows not only in us but through us to bless others…. The life of Christ not only strengthens us in weakness but also renews us in glory through suffering.

G. K. Beale, God Dwells Among Us: Expanding Eden to the Ends of the Earth as quoted in a blog post, Beale for Dummies by Carl Trueman

Apparently Gregory Beale has switched to the scholar standard of two first initials, contra The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism by Gregory K. Beale.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5 NIV

Christ Feels Our Suffering

How can it be compatible with Christ’s glory now in heaven, to have a fellow feeling with our sufferings?

This fellow feeling in Christ arises not from an infirmity or passion—but from the mystic union between him and his members. “He who touches you, touches the apple of his eye.” Zech 2:8. Every injury done to a saint—he takes as done to him in heaven. Every temptation strikes at him, and he is touched with the feeling of them.

–Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer

I wanted to look more into this. It’s comforting to know that Christ not only identifies with our suffering because he himself suffered, but because he is with us now (John 14:23). The idea of the apple/pupil of his eye is unique to the Old Testament as far as I can tell, even if there is the same sentiment expressed in other ways in the New Testament.

John Calvin says in his commentary on Zechariah 2:8:

Whosoever touches you, touches the apple of his eye; and to this view I certainly am more inclined; for this idea once occurs in Scripture,

“He will protect us as the apple of his eye.” (Psa 17:8.)

As then the Holy Spirit has elsewhere used this similitude, so I am disposed to regard this passage as intimating, that the love of God towards the faithful is so tender that when they are hurt he burns with so much displeasure, as though one attempted to pierce his eyes. For God cannot otherwise set forth how much and how ardently he loves us, and how careful he is of our salvation, than by comparing us to the apple of his eye. There is nothing, as we know, more delicate, or more tender, then this is in the body of man; for were one to bite my finger, or prick my arm or my legs, or even severely to would me, I should feel no such pain as by having my eye or the pupil of my eye injured. God then by this solemn message declares, that the Church is to him like the apple of his eye, so that he can by no means bear it to be hurt or touched.

And John Gill:

How careful and tender must we suppose the God of grace, and our merciful Redeemer and High Priest, to be over his dear people, parts of himself, redeemed by his blood, and designed and prepared for eternal glory and happiness; and how daring must such be who offer the least violence unto them; nor must they expect to escape his wrath and vengeance, that seek their hurt, and give them disturbance; see Psa 17:8

Also Matthew Henry:

What he will do for his church shall be an evident proof of God’s tender care of it and affection to it: He that touches you touches the apple of his eye. This is a high expression of God’s love to his church. By his resentment of the injuries done to her it appears how dear she is to him, how he interests himself in all her interests, and takes what is done against her, not only as done against himself, but as done against the very apple of his eye, the tenderest part, which nature has made very fine, has put a double guard upon, and taught us to be in a special manner careful of, and which the least touch is a great offence to. This encourages the people of God to pray with David (Psa 17:8), Keep me as the apple of thy eye; and engages them to do as Solomon directs (Pro 7:2), to keep his law as the apple of their eye. Some understand it thus: “He that touches you touches the apple of his own eye; whoever do you any injury will prove, in the issue, to have done the greatest injury to themselves.”

He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Deuteronomy 32:10 KJV

Some may prefer the less sentimental and more accurately anatomical:

For the LORD of Hosts says this: “He has sent Me for His glory against the nations who are plundering you, for anyone who touches you touches the pupil of His eye.
Zechariah 2:8 HCSB

God Afflicts Those He Loves

Just a few:

It was good that I had to suffer
in order to learn your laws.
The teachings that come from your mouth
are worth more to me than thousands in gold or silver.
Psalm 119:71-72 GW

The LORD tests righteous people,
but he hates wicked people
and the ones who love violence.
Psalm 11:5

The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child. Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live? For a short time our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him. We don’t enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right.
Hebrews 12:6-11

Even if he makes us suffer, he will have compassion in keeping with the richness of his mercy. He does not willingly bring suffering or grief to anyone,
Lamentations 3:32-33 GWN

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith — more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire — may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:3-7 HCSB

We must be careful what we attribute to God

This is a very interesting part of a prayer from the Valley of Vision. I’m still pondering its meaning. In any case, we need to be careful when we get a feeling inside or a random thought and assume it’s God whispering things that only our corrupt imagination could decipher.

When my mind acts without thee,
it spins nothing but deceit and illusion;

[…]

Keep me from the error of thinking
thou dost appear gloriously
when some strange light fills my heart,
as if that were the glorious activity of grace,
but let me see that the truest revelation of thyself
is when thou dost eclipse all my personal glory
and all the honour, pleasure and good of this world.

The Son breaks out in glory
when he shows himself as one
who outshines all creation,
makes men poor in spirit,
and helps them to find their good in him.

Grant that I may distrust myself,
to see my all in thee.

The Valley of Vision, “Love to Jesus”

Also see:
Mumblings from God

Should “The Word of God” Be Reserved for Christ?

I remember a few years ago reading a blog post where the author postulated that the term “The Word of God” should be reserved for Christ, and not Scripture. That’s how I remember it anyway. It could have been “God’s Word”. Either way, as much as I’ve learned from material on the internet, I’ve been frustrated by hair splitting and things that don’t really matter, which I regret I spent the time reading. This one actually made me wonder. Then there is “bibliolatry”, whatever that means, knowledge being a bad thing, and whatever other ideas people dream up.

Here is John Owen’s take on this. I also like how he skewers some people’s method of reasoning, which is still going on today as much as ever. (This was scanned and OCR-ed, so I apologize for any mistakes I might have missed.)

The first is worded in somewhat of this fashion. “The title of ‘Word of God’ (say our fanatics) belongs to Christ, and to Christ alone. It is therefore blasphemy to confer that title on Scripture. Can you thus honor the Bible, without reducing the honor due only to Christ? Surely the Bible is not Christ! Surely it is letter, and not Spirit! The title of Jesus Christ is ‘the Word of God.’ Leave it to Him, and let the Bible rest content with its own titles and nature!”

But see the trick and deception here. We are to be so led on by our love and reverence for Christ that we are supposed to be blinded to the different uses and significations of the same words. By a mere homonym, a simple coincidence of sound, it is intended to drive us out from under the authority and perfection of Scripture! And note that by this these wretched men are not merely seeking to bring in an objection against the name and title of Scripture alone (if that were so they might at least be deserving of some pity), but no, the case is quite different. By this unique stratagem, they not only strip the Bible of its authority and remove it from its appointed place, but actually are attacking the very personality and divine existence of Christ Himself. By thus limiting all reference to the “Word of God” to Christ Himself, they are free to take all of those texts in which the term does not well fit the historical Christ, God-and-man, and apply them to a fictitious “Christ,” a dreadful argument of their own imaginations, who they equate to the pretended “inner light,” which they say is common to all men, a “no-one knows what” spiritual everything, which is in truth quite nothing at all. When Scripture, in hundreds of places, makes mention of “the Word of God,” of “preaching the Word,” of “spreading” or “reception” of the Word, where the actual physical presence of Christ cannot be intended, they are thus free to twist the passages into anything at all that suits their fancy by this device of an “inner light,” of which they themselves are, of course, the sole possessors, of which nothing at all has been heard up to now. This fiction of an “inner light” or “inner word” must be dealt with in its own proper place, and along with it their fictitious “Christ.”

–John Owen, Biblical Theology, pg. 778-779

He then goes on in much more detail.

But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”
Luke 11:28 NASB

He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
Revelation 19:13 NASB

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.