Thursday, March 24, 2016

Psalm 42:5

"Why are you in despair, O my soul? 
And why have you become disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence.

The psalmist is talking to himself, admonishing his own soul to change perspective.  For he had the same decision each of us has:  stare at circumstances, or gaze at God.  The one leads to ongoing disappoint, while the other produces promised peace (Isaiah 26:3). 

This peace leads to assured confidence of hope.  Unlike the "hope" of common conversations ("I hope the game won't be rained out"; "With so many people attending, I hope we can find a parking place"), biblical hope is grounded in the immutable character of the living God. 

Thus, Scriptural hope transcends disappointments, disturbances, and situational despair.  With our hearts fixed on the sovereign Lord of every aspect of our lives, we can choose to praise Him for the help of His presence!

NOTE:  May we follow the example of the psalmist, and encourage ourselves in the faith through admonitions and reminders of God's unchanging goodness.  Someone has well said, "The most important sermon you will ever hear is the one you preach to yourself." 

Friday, March 11, 2016

ELECTION

HOLY TRINITY,
All praise to Thee for electing me to salvation,
         by foreknowledge of God the Father,
         through sanctification of the Spirit,
         unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus;
I adore the wonders of Thy condescending love,
   marvel at the true believer's high privilege
                               within whom all heaven comes to dwell,
                                abiding in God and God in him;
I believe it, help me experience it to the full.
Continue to teach me that Christ's righteousness
      satisfies justice and evidences Thy love;
Help me to make use of it by faith as the ground of my peace
      and of Thy favor and acceptance,
      so that I may live always near the cross.
It is not feeling the Spirit that proves my saved state;
      but the truth of what Christ did perfectly for me;
All holiness in Him is by faith made mine,
      as if I had done it;
Therefore I see the use of His righteousness,
      for satisfaction to divine justice and making me righteous.
It is not inner sensation that makes Christ's death mine
      for that may be delusion, being without the Word,
      but His death apprehended by faith,
      and so testified by Word and Spirit.
I bless Thee for these live exercises of faith,
     for the righteousness that is mine in Jesus,
     for grace to resign my will to Thee;
I rejoice to think that all things are at Thy disposal,
     and I love to leave them there.
Then prayer turns wholly to praise,
     and all I can do is to adore and love Thee.
I want not the favor of man to lean upon,
     for I know that Thy electing grace is infinitely better.


             -- The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Praise His Name, He Never Changes

"I, the LORD, do not change."  (Malachi 3:6)

The faith by which we are to walk is grounded in the character of the One who changed us.  Our faith rests primarily in the truth that He never changes.  His immutability is the bedrock upon which our confidence and assurance of salvation are built. 
 
His constancy is the over-arching attribute which encompasses them all.  For, could we depend in faith upon a god whose character vacillates? What would become of all His promises, His declarations and determinations if He could change at any moment?  How could we live in joyful, confident expectation if the god we served might keep His word? 

Yet, there are multiplied millions of professing (and genuine, as well) believers who assert and teach that it is possible to lose one's salvation.  It is contended that the Christian can commit sin so heinous as to forfeit the salvation he once experienced and enjoyed. 
The implications of such a position are staggering:  (a) the character of the immutable God is impugned, casting doubt upon His precious and magnificent promises related to eternal security; (b) the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ is maligned, considered insufficient to completely cover the believer's sins for eternity; (d) the ministry of the blessed Holy Spirit is demeaned, implying that His sealing, sanctifying, and securing work can, at the last, be overcome by sin. 
(e) Such a perspective also shifts the basis for salvation from grace to works(!)  The question immediately comes:  How many good works are necessary to keep one saved, if, indeed, salvation can be lost? 
No, salvation is from the LORD (Jonah 2:9), first to last, and He CANNOT be thwarted. 
The one whom the Father sets His heart upon from all eternity in election, whose sin is atoned for by the Son, and regenerated by the Holy Spirit will persevere in the faith to the end of his days.