Archive for the 'Quotes' Category

Thoughts On Guidance and Being Led By The Spirit

A few rambling thoughts and some not rambling quotes. I’m in a bit of a funk and don’t feel up to putting together a well-written post–if I’ve ever done one. I put horizontal lines between sections that don’t flow. Such a cheater.

I remember being in group Bible studies and the group would pray. Whoever was leading would say, “Go ahead and pray if you feel led.” I always thought, What if I want to pray but don’t feel led? Do I have to feel led to do anything? We can do good things without being whispered to.

Here is a verse that many people pull out and make a whole doctrine out of:

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.
Romans 8:14

Tempted as we might be to consider the Spirit’s leading as referring to guidance for vocation (“Is the Spirit leading me to change jobs?”) or matrimony (“Is the Spirit leading me to many him/her?”), this is not what Paul has in view. Paul is justifying the conclusion he drew in verse 13, that putting sin to death by the power of the Spirit leads to life.


Instead of a preoccupation with issues of guidance (the preoccupation of our era), we should be concerned to ask the Lord:

“How can I live in a way that reflects the holiness of my Savior?”

“Will You show me how to deny myself?”

“Which sin, or part of a sin, am I to kill today?”

-Derek Thomas, How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home

And he shows us these things largely though Scripture or something that’s a reminder from it.

Here it is again in context:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

14For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”
Romans 8:12-15

We aren’t trusting God when we need to know what to do in every situation. We’re not trusting his guidance (Proverbs 16:9, 20:24) or his providence. God doesn’t always, or usually, tell us what to do outside of Scripture, or give us some sort of feeling when he wants us to do something. He also doesn’t turn his leading into a guessing game of “is this the Holy Spirit or…?”

We also have this need to want to know the future. Look at all of the ‘newspaper prophecy’ books. We have to trust that even if we make what looks like a good decision today, things may change tomorrow and it might not seem like such a good decision anymore. (Although we can only judge our decisions by the information and thought put into it at the time of the decision.) This is still within God’s providential plan. Just as God doesn’t tell us the future, other than what he clearly states in the Bible, he won’t always tell us what the best thing we can do for the future is. That doesn’t seem very helpful to us. Who are we to question God or make up our own doctrines that are more to our liking? His main concern is making us more like Christ. We know how God loves us by what he sent his Son to do on the cross for us, resulting in us being the children of a loving, merciful, kind, gentle Father. And yet like any child, we often like to do things our way, even if it has nothing to do with reality.

When Jesus says that His sheep “hear his voice,” He is not referring to an ongoing conversation like a telephone call. He was not saying that people would hear audible or inner voices from God. He was referring to His call to salvation. Jesus is calling His sheep to an endless life of fellowship with the living God. These believers follow Christ and show renewal in the new direction and commitment of their lives to Him.

–Tom Provost, Thus Saith The LORD Part 2 – Word of Life Wisconsin

I think it’s important that with terms like Biblical wisdom, we need to make sure we’re defining those terms according to what the Bible says. It’s easy for us to make assumptions based on our culture, whether that be at large or the Christian culture.

Here are some quotes about guidance from a previous post:

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

Also see:
About that little voice in your heart… | MOS – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Reading Is Good, Even If You Forget It

The full title should be that reading is good for you, even if you don’t remember most or all of what you read.

I was reading a blog post on why it’s beneficial to learn greek and Hebrew even if you lose it. I went through beginning Greek and am now purposely not ‘keeping it’. I would rather spend my time memorizing Scripture instead of trying to keep up my Greek vocabulary. However, I learned enough to basically know what commentators are talking about when they write about Greek, and I can read a commentary on the Greek of a book like Colossians, which is very helpful.

But back to reading–there is a quote below from the article that reminds me of how I feel about reading. And you get to read about it (yay). I’ve always felt that when reading Christian books, even if I don’t take notes and/or remember what I read, it still influences me. When things are repeated, they get learned. And most of all, reading for me is a great way to worship God.

I only like to read books that are going to affect my life with God directly in some way. All are subjects that cause me to wonder, ponder, learn and grow closer to God or show me my sin or something about myself God would like to point out. And if I forget it, part of what I read is stuck in my brain and spirit, and I know for sure that God will and has used it as he would like. He can also call it back to mind (John 14:26).

Reading has become a very important part of my life. The Bible always gets read every day; I made a commitment to that. But when I don’t also read outside of the Bible, I miss it because it’s spiritually therapeutic, at the risk of sounding like I have a self-help gospel complex. I can’t imagine not reading the Bible.

The article linked above included this quote.

Most of what is shaping you in the course of your reading, you will not be able to remember. The most formative years of my life were the first five, and if those years were to be evaluated on the basis of my ability to pass a test on them, the conclusion would be that nothing important happened then, which would be false. The fact that you can’t remember things doesn’t mean that you haven’t been shaped by them.

–Douglas Wilson

Part of the reason I’ve been blogging less is because I don’t want to give up more of my reading time. I’m trying to find a balance.

One other thing I’m thinking about if you’re still reading this is how much note-taking I should do. It takes more time and causes less reading, but the things written above doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t try to retain more of what we read. Some people retain more than others, and for me, I remember a lot of some books and others, I can hardly remember the title. I started using Evernote for that purpose, but I’ve purposely tried backing off on that a little. I’m always saving quotes though. If you take notes (or don’t), I’m always open for feedback.

Also see:
What I’ve Been Reading–Goodreads

Affliction Is Essential to Spiritual Health

God ordains affliction and we don’t want to believe this.

Who can command and have it done,
if the Lord has not ordained it?
38 Is it not from the mouth of the Most High
that good and bad come?
Lamentations 3:37-38 NRSV

It is of so much greater concern for us to get our spirits brought down than our outward condition raised. But who believes this? All men strive to raise their outward condition; most men never mind the bringing down of their spirits, and few there are who apply themselves to it. And what is that but to be concerned to minister drink to the thirsty sick, but never to mind to seek a cure for them, by which their thirst may be carried off.

–Thomas Boston, Crook in the Lot

We think the cure is comfort. God thinks the cure is the eternal state and spiritual health of a person.

The man himself is more valuable than all external conveniences that attend him. What therefore betters the man is preferable to what betters only his condition.


It is far more needful for us to have our spirits humbled under the cross than to have the cross removed. The removal of the cross is needful only for the ease of the flesh, the humbling for the profit of our souls, to purify them, and bring them into a state of health and cure.


But what God requires is, rather to labor to bring down the heart than to get up the head. Here lies the proof of one’s suitableness for heaven; and then is one in the way heavenward, when he is more concerned to get down his heart than to get up his head, to go calmly under his burden than to get it off, to bow under the mighty hand than to put it off him.

–Thomas Boston, Crook in the Lot

Much more could be said about this, and how it affects prayer, but I will leave it here for now. This was the most significant book I’ve read in a long time.

we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:3

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

Psalm 119 – Christian Living

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity;
and quicken thou me in thy way.
Psalm 119:37 KJV

I want to be quickened to more life, energy, delight, and devotedness in the way of my God. The secret of Christian progress is simplicity and diligence. “This one thing I do,-forgetting the things that are behind, and reaching forth to those things that are before; I press towards the mark, for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 3:13-14 KJV] The Spirit leaves no wish in the heart for beholding vanity. The world with all its flowery paths, is a dreary wilderness; and Christ and heaven are the only objects of desire-“He who shuts his eyes from seeing evil, he shall dwell on high; his place of defense shall be the munitions of rocks; bread shall be given him, his water shall be sure. Your eyes shall see the King in His beauty: they shall behold the land that is very far off.” [Isaiah 33:15 KJV]

–Charles Bridges, An Exposition of Psalm 119

We live a life of simplicity and diligence, but always keeping in mind that it’s God who actually ‘quickens’ us to change us and what we want, if we want him to.

I’m memorizing Psalm 119:33-37 and am reading Treasury of David by Spurgeon and this commentary on those verses. I highly recommend both. You can find them for free online in electronic format or in book form by using the Amazon button in the right column. Bridges also has an exposition on Proverbs which is excellent. It’s at a level everyone can read and application oriented.

I like this quote a lot and can identify with it, so I thought I’d post it since I haven’t been doing much of that. I have some other short posts in mind.

Is It OK To Lie?

This is a quick post based on an article I skimmed and would like to read more carefully. I may be too long, so I provided a quote, and you can decide if you want to read more. My writing may sound haphazard (or maybe it always does). I hope you don’t mind that I don’t want to spend time refining this one.

I’ve been thinking about whether or not it’s ever OK to lie. The law was made for man as they say, and it may be of benefit in very rare cases to lie, or so I’ve been wondering. Below is a very strict article about lying. Scripture talks about it a lot, not just “not bearing false witness”. I’ve had Numbers 19:11 memorized for decades which says, “Do not steal, do not lie, do not deceive one another.” The not deceiving part makes it much more difficult. You can technically tell the truth and still be deceiving someone. I have more thinking to do about it. I’m not just thinking about lying, but about the law. I’ve always believed in honesty and obeying Scriptural (except for OT ceremonial and those specific only to Israel–we won’t get into that) and governmental laws. I just sometimes wonder about if it’s OK to occasionally break it. This is a long (probably too long) article by a good author. A good paragraph is:

“The injunctions of Scripture which bear directly on the demand for truthfulness have reference to speech or utterance. ‘Speak every man truth with his neighbour’ (Ephesians 4:25). Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour’ (Exodus 20:16). ‘Lie not one to another’ (Colossians 3:9). It will have to be understood that this covers other forms of signification as well as the spoken word. Words spoken are simply signs by which thought and meaning are conveyed, and there are numerous other means of communication by which truth can be conveyed or lying perpetrated. There are particularly the signs of gesture and action, sometimes closely associated with the spoken word and sometimes wholly intelligible without words. But as the Scripture itself deals with the question in terms of speech, and since that is the most common means of communication, we may do likewise. What does the Scripture mean by ‘lying’ as the prohibited thing and by ‘speaking truth’ as that required? May we under any circumstances utter what we know to be untrue, what we believe to be false? Are we always under obligation to declare what we know or believe to be true?7 May we affirm part of the truth and conceal the rest? These are the questions that inescapably arise, not only in the exigencies of life but in the interpretation of Scripture. We are compelled to come to terms with such questions because the biblical record supplies us with instances in which untruth was blatantly spoken and in which truth was concealed. Does the Scripture approve such conduct under certain circumstances?”

–John Murray

See the rest: The Sanctity of Truth

Many in these post-modern times will think it too strict. I personally don’t, and it helps me in thinking out this somewhat minor issue, because if honesty is your policy, it won’t come up very much at all. But it does help us to better understand the law in Scripture.

Then there are the three purposes of the law according to Calvin and many others, which I also think is a very interesting subject.

Sproul the Troll

Classic curmudgeonliness from R.C. Sproul in Knowing Scripture:

The Christian who is not diligently involved in a serious study of Scripture is simply inadequate as a disciple of Christ. To be an adequate Christian and competent in the things of God we must do more than attend “sharing sessions” and “bless me parties.” We cannot learn competency by osmosis. Biblically illiterate Christians are not only inadequate but unequipped. In fact, they are inadequate because they are not equipped.

The plans of the diligent lead to profit
as surely as haste leads to poverty.
Proverbs 21:5

I wanted to put some Scripture with this and thought about ‘diligent’ and came up with this one that I have memorized. I have to admit, I’ve never really thought of this from a spiritual perspective–meaning gaining knowledge and wisdom through studying the Bible.

(By ‘troll’ I mean in the internet sense–kind of–not the classic sense.)

Quote of the Day: Providence; Announcements

Since I haven’t been blogging much lately, I was thinking that I should remind you of the area in the right column where you can subscribe to this blog via e-mail. However, it disappeared. ! So I put it back. I hope that none of you are coming to the site itself to see if there are any posts and then not seeing any for a long time. Please either use an RSS feed reader if you read other blogs, or sign up for the e-mail notification if you aren’t seeing them on Facebook or Twitter (@aplectic). If it shows the post in the e-mail, I would still click on over here. There are things like block quotes which will look better, Scripture references can be moused over or touched (John 1:1), and there are cool tooltips with a dotted underline to give you a definition of big words that might be used, like ontology.

If you have a sharp eye, you may notice that I increased the line space, which is the space between lines, so it may be a little easier to read. Somehow I all of a sudden noticed that it’s a little squished compared to most books or other web sites. The type size of the post should also scale better.

I’m going to try to do some reposts and possibly finish some partially written posts in the near future. I’m not quite sure the best way to do reposts, so let me know if you like to copy an old one, or just change the date of an old one, leaving the comments intact.

I will leave you with and a quote that I really like from Michael Horton’s The Christian Faith and related Scripture:

Out of the lavishness displayed in the marvelous variety and richness of creation itself, God continues to pour out his common blessings on all people. Therefore we neither hoard possessions as if God’s gifts were scarce nor deny ourselves pleasures as if God were stingy. Believers and unbelievers alike share in the common joys of childbirth and childhood, friendship and romance, marriage and family. Unlike life under the old covenant theocracy, there is no guarantee in this time between Christ’s two advents that the lives of Christians will go better than those of non-Christians. The promise, rather, is that even calamities cannot frustrate God’s salvation of his elect, but, on the contrary, are turned to our ultimate good.

It is always dangerous to interpret one’s temporal circumstances as a sign either of God’s favor or of his displeasure. […] However, believers have no right to God’s common grace any more than they do to his saving grace. God remains free to show compassion on whomever he will, even to give breath, health, prosperity, and friends to those who breathe threats against him. The psalmist never resolves this paradox philosophically, but eschatologically—that is, by entering God’s sanctuary and recognizing that the temporal pleasures of the ungodly conceal their ultimate doom, while the saints’ temporal struggles conceal their ultimate glory.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.

For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers. And those He predestined, He also called; and those He called, He also justified; and those He justified, He also glorified.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He did not even spare His own Son, but offered Him up for us all; how will He not also with Him grant us everything? Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us. Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Romans 8:28-39

God’s divine sovereignty and man’s moral freedom

I just came across this first quote regarding the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart as recorded in Exodus in the Handbook on the Pentateuch by Victor Hamilton, and thought I’d post it. Hamilton then mentions Romans 9:17-18 in that both the OT and the NT “holds in tension God’s divine sovereignty and man’s moral freedom.” Then I thought I’d repeat a quote by John MacArthur that I’ve posted in the past.

The remarkable thing, however, is that his never led to a flat determinism, depriving Man of the responsibility for his actions. At all times the capacity for self-determination is insistently retained. The whole ethical exhortation of the prophets is based on the conviction that decision is placed in the hands of men. But the Law too rests on this presupposition. The fundamental postulate of moral freedom is thus found in equal force alongside the religious conviction of God’s effective action in all things; and no attempt is made to create a harmonizing adjustment between them. It is testimony to the compelling power of the Old Testament experience of God that it was able to affirm both realities at once, and to endure the tension between them, without discounting anything of their unconditional validity.

–Walther Eichrodt, As quoted in Handbook on the Pentateuch, pg 172

How these two sides of God’s truth—His sovereignty in choosing us (Romans 9) and our responsibility to confess and believe (Romans 10)—reconcile is impossible for us to understand fully. But Scripture declares both perspectives of salvation to be true (John 1:12-13). It’s our duty to acknowledge both and joyfully accept them by faith.

–John MacArthur

What should we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! For He tells Moses: I will show mercy to whom I show mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it does not depend on human will or effort, but on God who shows mercy. For the Scripture tells Pharaoh: For this reason I raised you up: so that I may display My power in you, and that My name may be proclaimed in all the earth. So then, He shows mercy to whom He wills, and He hardens whom He wills. You will say to me, therefore, “Why then does He still find fault? For who can resist His will?” But who are you–anyone who talks back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” Or has the potter no right over His clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor? And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory–on us whom He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?
Romans 9:14-24

Bonus – I also remembered this little insert box thingy in the NLT Study Bible in Ezekiel. I like that study Bible because those things are all over the place. It’s like a box of chocolates–you never know what you’re going to get.


How can God deceive a prophet and still hold him accountable for his actions? Ezekiel 14 raises this question in many people’s minds. How can we reconcile God’s sovereign control over all things with the personal choices and decisions for which we will be called to account?
The Bible traces all things back to God’s sovereignty. That the rain falls on the just and unjust alike is part of God’s sovereign plan (Matt 5:45). Even a false prophet could give a prophecy that led people astray only with the Lord’s permission or direction.

At the same time, God is in no way responsible for our sin; it is our responsibility because it comes from our own sinful desires. In giving deceitful messages to false prophets, God was simply giving them and their hearers exactly what they wanted (cp. 2 Thes 2:11). Unless God restrained them from their sin, they would naturally choose lies instead of the truth and worship creation in place of the Creator (Rom 1:18-25). God simply gave them permission to enact their hearts’ sinful desires.

The remarkable fact is not that God allows some sinners to persist in their chosen delusions, but that he saves sinners, changes our natures, and gives us the desire to do good for the glory of God (see 36:25-26; Rom 8:1-11; Eph 2:10).

Vindicating God Instead of Ourselves

The Crook in the Lot by Thomas Boston is one the best, if not the best books I’ve read on dealing with affliction. I may write more about that at some point; but here is one of my favorite quotes from the book. It may take a few reads to understand it.

Even good men … think God deals His favours unequally, and is mighty severe on them more than others. Elihu marks this fault in Job, under his humbling circumstances. And I believe it will be found, there is readily a greater keenness to vindicate our own honor from the imputation the humbling circumstances seem to lay on it than to vindicate the honor of God in the justice and equity of the dispensation. The blindness of an ill-natured world, still ready to suspect the worst causes for humbling circumstances, as if the greatest sufferers were surely the greatest sinners, gives a handle for this bias of the corrupt nature. But God is a jealous God, and when He appears sufficiently to humble, He will cause the matter of our honor to give way to the vindication of His.

–Thomas Boston, The Crook in the Lot

John Owen on Infant Baptism and Covenant

At this time I am not a pedobaptist, however I haven’t looked into it at length, and my view on this could be altered. It hasn’t been a major interest of mine. We have no children, and therefore no grandchildren. Not that it isn’t an important issue, because it involves things like covenant.

For those who haven’t looked into this at all and wonder how that whole thing works, here is a quote by John Owen from his commentary on Hebrews from a post titled John Owen was never a Baptist by Lee Gatiss.

Infants are in the covenant, were baptised in apostolical times, and should be now.
“For whereas there were two sorts of persons that were baptized, namely, those that were adult at their first hearing of the gospel, and the infant children of believers, who were admitted to be members of the church; the first sort were instructed in the principles mentioned before they were admitted unto baptism, by the profession whereof they laid the foundation of their own personal right thereunto; but the other, being received as a part and branches of a family whereupon the blessing of Abraham was come, and to whom the promise of the covenant was extended, being thereon baptized in their infancy, were to be instructed in them as they grew up unto years of understanding. Afterwards, when they were established in the knowledge of these necessary truths, and had resolved on personal obedience unto the gospel, they were offered unto the fellowship of the faithful. And hereon, giving the same account of their faith and repentance which others had done before they were baptized, they were admitted into the communion of the church, the elders thereof laying their hands on them in token of their acceptation, and praying for their confirmation in the faith. Hence the same doctrines became previously necessary unto both these rites;–before baptism to them that were adult; and towards them who were baptized in infancy, before the imposition of hands. And I do acknowledge that this was the state of things in the apostolical churches, and that it ought to be so in all others.” Hebrews vol 5:58

– See more at: John Owen was never a Baptist – Reformation21 Blog

How dead guys deal with afflictions

These two paragraphs below by the Puritan Thomas Boston are more rich than the whole new book I just read [skimmed] on worry. These are just introductory remarks. He will go on in detail about how to go about this, instead of just leaving it at that and moving onto the next thing. I can see why some people are cynical about new popular level books. It’s easy to get pulled in by the blurbs and descriptions, and the newness of something. Many contemporary (even Reformed) authors also seem to be reticent to come out and say that God is the ultimate direct or indirect cause of everything, Biblical as it is (Lamentations 3:37-38).

He’s starting out using text from Ecclesiastes which is one of my favorite books in the Bible. This is my first exposure to Boston. Maybe I will especially like him.

The crook in the lot is affliction, continued for a shorter or longer period of time, as opposed to acute pain or discomfort–something that goes crooked in your allotment in life.

‘1. The remedy itself [dealing with adversity] is a wise eyeing of the hand of God in all we find to bear hard on us: “Consider the work of God,” namely, in the crooked, rough, and disagreeable parts of your lot, the crosses you find in it. You see very well the cross itself. Yea, you turn it over and over in your mind and leisurely view it on all sides. You look to this and the other second cause of it, and so you are in a foam and a fret. But, would you be quieted and satisfied in the matter, lift up your eyes towards heaven, see the doing of God in it, the operation of His hand. Look at that, and consider it well; eye the first cause of the crook in your lot; behold how it is the work of God, His doing.

2. Such a view of the crook in our lot is very suitable to still improper risings of heart, and quiet us under them: “For who can make that straight which God has made crooked?” As to the crook in your lot, God has made it; and it must continue while He will have it so. Should you ply your utmost force to even it, or make it straight, your attempt will be vain: it will not change for all you can do. Only He who made it can mend it, or make it straight. This consideration, this view of the matter, is a proper means at once to silence and to satisfy men, and so bring them to a dutiful submission to their Maker and Governor, under the crook in their lot.’

–Thomas Boston, The Crook in the Lot: Or a Display of the Sovereignty and Wisdom of God in the Afflictions of Men, and the Christian’s Deportment Under Them

God’s sovereignty over the crooked

I love Ecclesiastes, and this short book has been a really nice change of pace.

We often forget that things that are bad are often going to stay bad. There is no promise that they will get better (John 16:33). If things are bad, they are by God’s permission or even design (Lamentations 3:37). And all things are for part of God’s will for his glory, which is for our good (Romans 12:2, Romans 8:28-29).

Follow the insight of wisdom. Consider the work of God in all these things. A wise man will never kick against the goads. Who can straighten what He has made crooked? Will a man be able to bend the world in a different direction than the Almighty has? This central doctrine in the book must he allowed to sink deeply into our souls. Is it crooked? Then the Lord God made it so. But why? If He had wanted us to know that, then He would have told us. The closest we get to an explanation is found in Romans 9—

What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath–prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory–even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? (Rom. 9:22-24) [NIV]

The ultimate explanation is that God does all things to glorify His name and exalt His majesty. But regardless of various reasons for the crookedness of the world, the fact remains that the Bible affirms God’s sovereignty over the crooked. He truly is the only Lord.

–Douglas Wilson, Joy at the End of the Tether The Inscrutable Wisdom of Ecclesiastes

Quotes on Bible Reading

Here are some quotes I’ve posted before on the most important thing we can do along with prayer. In order to pray, we need to use the language of the Bible.

The primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible but to know God.

–James Merritt

If I want to love God more, I have to know Him more deeply. The more I search the Scriptures and focus my mind’s attention on who God is and what He does, the more my soul breaks out in flames.

–R.C. Sproul

Next to praying there is nothing so important in practical religion as Bible reading. By reading that book we may learn what to believe, what to be, and what to do; how to live with comfort, and how to die in peace.

Happy is that man who possesses a Bible! Happier still is he who reads it! Happiest of all is he who not only reads it, but obeys it, and makes it the rule of his faith and practice!

–J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion, p. 97

We measure Scripture’s story by ours. The attitude the psalm [Psalm 1] commends involves delighting in Yhwh’s teaching—especially (we might add) when its story seems irrelevant or it takes a different stance from us. That is the moment when studying Scripture becomes interesting, significant, and important. We then delight in it. The way that delight expresses itself is by talking about it day and night–-in other words, ceaselessly.

–John Goldingay, Psalms 1-41, pg 84, referring to Psalm 1

The Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.
Acts 17:11

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