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Will and Works of God- Book Third- Introduction

Book Third

INTRODUCTION.

DUTY OF DELIGHTING IN THE WILL AND WORKS OF GOD.[1]

If any one supposes that religion consists merely of self-denial and painful austerities, and that it is filled with gloom and melancholy, to the exclusion of all happiness, he greatly mistakes its true character. False religions, and false views of the true religion, may be liable to this charge; but the religion which has God for its author, and which leads the soul to God, is full of peace and joy. It renders us cheerful amidst the trials of life, contented with all the allotments of Divine Providence, happy in the exercises of piety and devotion, and joyful in the hope of an endless felicity. Heaven is near in prospect; and, while on the way to that world of perfect and eternal bliss, we are permitted, in some measure, to anticipate its joys, being, even here, blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.[2] We are enabled, not only to pursue our pilgrimage to the good land with content and cheerfulness, but even to “delight ourselves in the Lord.”[3] Our happiness is not merely the absence of grief and pain, but it is positive delight.

The delight which attends other religious exercises should be felt in the investigation of religious truth, and should stimulate to diligence and perseverance. Divine truth is not only sanctifying, but it is also beatifying. To the ancient saints it was sweeter than honey and the honey-comb;[4] and the early Christians, in “believing” the truth as it is in Jesus, “rejoiced with joy unspeakable and full of glory.”[5] If we loved the truth as we ought, we should experience equal delight in receiving it; and careful investigation of it would be a source of pure and abiding pleasure. It would not suffice to employ our intellectual powers in the discussion of perplexing questions appertaining to religion, but we should find a rich feast in the truth that may be known and read by all. The man who indulges his skeptical doubts, and suffers himself to be detained by questions to no profit, is like one who, when a bountiful feast is spread before him, instead of enjoying the offered food, employs himself in examining a supposed flaw in the dish in which it is served. The glorious truths which are plainly revealed concerning God, and the things of God, are sufficient to enable every one to delight himself in the Lord.

We have before seen that love to God lies at the foundation of true religion. Love, considered as simple benevolence, has for its object the production of happiness, and not the receiving of it. But, by the wise arrangements of infinite goodness, the producing of happiness blesses him that gives as well as him that receives. It is even “more blessed to give than to receive.”[6] But when God is the object of our love, as we cannot increase his happiness, we delight in it as already perfect; and all the outflowing of our love to him, finding the measure of his bliss already full, returns back on ourselves, filling us also with the fulness of God. God is love; and to love God with all the heart is to have the heart filled, to the full measure of its capacity, with the blessedness of the divine nature. This is the fulness of delight.

In the existence and attributes of God a sufficient foundation is laid for the claim of supreme love to him; but, for the active exercise of the holy affection, God must be viewed not merely as existing, but as acting. To produce delight in him, his perfections must be manifested. So we enjoy the objects of our earthly love by their presence with us, and display of those qualities which attract our hearts. Heaven is full of bliss, because its inhabitants not only love God, but see the full manifestations of his glory. To enjoy God on earth, we must contemplate him in such manifestations of himself as he has been pleased to make to us who dwell on his footstool. These we may discover in the declarations of his will, and in his works, which are the execution of his will. In a contemplation of these, the pious heart finds a source of pure, elevating delight.

When the Son of God consented to appear in human nature for the salvation of man, he said: “I delight to do thy will, O my God.”[7] If the same mind were in us that was in Christ Jesus, we, too, would delight in the will of God. We should be able to say with David, “I will delight myself in thy commandments;” and with Paul, “I delight in the law of God.” We should yield obedience to every precept, not reluctantly, but cheerfully; not cheerfully only, but with joy and delight. It would be to us meat and drink to do the will of God, as it was to our blessed Lord. Our religious enjoyment would consist not merely in receiving good from God, but in rendering active service to him; like the happy spirits before the throne, who serve God day and night, and delight in his service. Not only should we delight to render personal service to our Sovereign, but we should desire his will to be done by all others, and should rejoice in his universal dominion. “The Lord reigneth, let the earth rejoice.”

As the ancient saints delighted in the will and government of God, so they delighted in his works. They saw in them the manifestations of his wisdom, power, and goodness; and they delighted to meditate on them. His glory, displayed in the heavens, and his handy work, visible in earth, they contemplated with holy pleasure. They rejoiced to remember, “It is he that made us;” and, in approaching him with religious worship, they were accustomed to address him as the Creator of all things; “Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is.”[8]

The goodness displayed in God’s work awakens gratitude in the pious man. While he enjoys the gift, he recognises [sic] the hand which bestows it; and each blessing is rendered more dear, because conferred by him whom he supremely loves. He sees in creation a vast store-house of enjoyment, and blesses the author of it. He receives from the providence of God the innumerable benefits which are every day bestowed, and he blesses the kind bestower. God is in every mercy, and his heart, in enjoying it, goes out ever to God, with incessant praise and thanksgiving.

The trail of our delight in God is experienced when affliction comes. The pious man feels that this, too, is from the hand of God. So thought all the saints, of whose religious exercises the Bible gives us an account. They bowed under affliction in the spirit of resignation to God, as the author of the affliction. So Job,[9] “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” So David,[10] “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth; because thou didst it.” So Eli,[11] “It is the Lord; let him do what seemeth him good.” So Paul’s companions,[12] “We ceased, saying, the will of the Lord be done.” The ancient saints believed in an overruling Providence, and they received all afflictions as ordered by him, in every particular; and on this faith the resignation was founded by which their eminent piety was distinguished. To the flesh, the affliction was not joyous, but grievous, and, therefore, they could not delight in it, when considered in itself; but, when enduring it with keenest anguish, they could still say, with Job, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.” They firmly believed that the dispensation was wisely and kindly ordered, and that God would bring good out of the evil; and, however oppressed with suffering, and filled with present sorrow, they still trusted in God; and delight in him alleviated their misery, and mingled with their sorrows.

Let love to God burn in our hearts while we contemplate his existence and attributes. Let delight in him rise to the highest rapture of which earthly minds are susceptible, while we study his will and works. The grand work of redemption, into which the angels especially desire to look, and which is the chief theme of the song of the glorified, is fitted to produce higher ecstasy; but even the themes of creation and providence may fill us with delight, if we approach them as we ought. When the foundations of the earth were laid, the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy; and angels now delight to be the ministers of God’s providence. Let us, with like devotion to Almighty God, delight in his will and works.

[1] Ps. xxxvii. 4. Delight thyself in the Lord.

Ps. xl. 8. I delight to do thy will, O my God.

Ps. cxix. 47. I will delight myself in thy commandments.

Rom. vii. 22. I delight in the law of God.

Ps.. cvii. 22. Declare his works with rejoicing.

[2] Eph. i. 3

[3] Ps. xxxvii. 4.

[4] Ps. xix. 10.

[5] 1 Pet. i. 8.

[6] Acts xx. 35.

[7] Ps. xl. 8.

[8] Acts iv. 24.

[9] Job i. 21.

[10] Ps. xxxix. 9.

[11] 1 Sam. iii. 18.

[12] Acts xxi. 14.

John L. Dagg- Manual of Theology

Free Ebook- God’s Will, Man’s Will, and Free Will

April 8, 2016 1 comment

thewillby Ernest C. Reisinger (1919-2004)

in ePub, .mobi & pdf formats

HT Chapel Library

From the Introduction: “Does salvation depend upon man’s willingness to be saved apart from a prior work of the Holy Spirit? We will see that no one is saved against his will; however, God changes the “willer” so as to make the sinner willing. We will see that the subject of free will is at the very heart of Christianity and has a profound effect on our message and method of evangelism. We will see that “whosoever will may come.” We will see that the Bible teaches that salvation depends not on man’s willingness but on God’s willingness, God’s grace, and God’s power—and if God did not have power over man’s will the whole world would go to hell. We will see that God does not exclude anyone in His invitations; however, sinners do exclude themselves.”

Ernest C. Reisinger (1919-2004) pastored Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida, for many years. He was also a respected conference speaker and inspiration for the creation of Founders Ministries (www.founders.org), which faithfully has upheld the return to the faith of the founders of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Pages: 48.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Introduction

1. Free Will and Man’s Four-fold State, Part One

2. Free Will and Man’s Four-fold State, Part Two

3. Free Will and Free Agency

4. Free Will and the Antinomy

5. Related Doctrines

6. The Human Will and Doctrinal Decline

Appendix: Definitions of Doctrines

Endnotes

Short Biography of Ernest C. Reisinger

 

 

Source [Monergism.com]

Angels and men, good and bad, do nothing but what has been decreed by God

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015The carnal mind the source of the objections which are raised against the Providence of God. A primary objection, making a distinction between the permission and the will of God, refuted. Angels and men, good and bad, do nought but what has been decreed by God. This proved by examples.

1. From other passages, in which God is said to draw or bend Satan himself, and all the reprobate, to his will, a more difficult question arises. For the carnal mind can scarcely comprehend how, when acting by their means, he contracts no taint from their impurity, nay, how, in a common operation, he is exempt from all guilt, and can justly condemn his own ministers. Hence a distinction has been invented between doing and permitting because to many it seemed altogether inexplicable how Satan and all the wicked are so under the hand and authority of God, that he directs their malice to whatever end he pleases, and employs their iniquities to execute his judgments. The modesty of those who are thus alarmed at the appearance of absurdity might perhaps be excused, did they not endeavor to vindicate the justice of God from every semblance of stigma by defending an untruth. It seems absurd that man should be blinded by the will and command of God, and yet be forthwith punished for his blindness. Hence, recourse is had to the evasion that this is done only by the permission, and not also by the will of God. He himself, however, openly declaring that he does this, repudiates the evasion. That men do nothing save at the secret instigation of God, and do not discuss and deliberate on any thing but what he has previously decreed with himself and brings to pass by his secret direction, is proved by numberless clear passages of Scripture. What we formerly quoted from the Psalms, to the effect that he does whatever pleases him, certainly extends to all the actions of men. If God is the arbiter of peace and war, as is there said, and that without any exception, who will venture to say that men are born along at random with a blind impulse, while He is unconscious or quiescent? But the matter will be made clearer by special examples. From the first chapter of Job we learn that Satan appears in the presence of God to receive his orders, just as do the angels who obey spontaneously. The manner and the end are different, but still the fact is, that he cannot attempt anything without the will of God. But though afterwards his power to afflict the saint seems to be only a bare permission, yet as the sentiment is true, “The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; as it pleased the Lord, so it has been done,” we infer that God was the author of that trial of which Satan and wicked robbers were merely the instruments. Satan’s aim is to drive the saint to madness by despair. The Sabeans cruelly and wickedly make a sudden incursion to rob another of his goods. Job acknowledges that he was deprived of all his property, and brought to poverty, because such was the pleasure of God. Therefore, whatever men or Satan himself devise, God holds the helm, and makes all their efforts contribute to the execution of his judgments. God wills that the perfidious Ahab should be deceived; the devil offers his agency for that purpose, and is sent with a definite command to be a lying spirit in the mouth of all the prophets, (2 Kings 22:20.) If the blinding and infatuation of Ahab is a judgment from God, the fiction of bare permission is at an end; for it would be ridiculous for a judge only to permit, and not also to decree, what he wishes to be done at the very time that he commits the execution of it to his ministers. The Jews purposed to destroy Christ. Pilate and the soldiers indulged them in their fury; yet the disciples confess in solemn prayer that all the wicked did nothing but what the hand and counsel of God had decreed, (Acts 4:28,) just as Peter had previously said in his discourse, that Christ was delivered to death by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, (Acts 2:23;) in other words, that God, to whom all things are known from the beginning, had determined what the Jews had executed. He repeats the same thing elsewhere, “Those things, which God before had showed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he has so fulfilled,” (Acts 4:18.) Absalom incestuously defiling his father’s bed, perpetrates a detestable crime. God, however, declares that it was his work; for the words are, “Thou midst it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” 141 The cruelties of the Chaldeans in Judea are declared by Jeremiah to be the work of God. For which reason, Nebuchadnezzar is called the servant of God. God frequently exclaims, that by his hiss, by the clang of his trumpet, by his authority and command, the wicked are excited to war. He calls the Assyrian the rod of his anger, and the ax which he wields in his hand. The overthrow of the city and downfall of the temple, he calls his own work. David, not murmuring against God, but acknowledging him to be a just judge, confesses that the curses of Shimei are uttered by his orders. “The Lord,” says he, “has bidden him curse.” Often in sacred history whatever happens is said to proceed from the Lord, as the revolt of the ten tribes, the death of Eli’s sons, and very many others of a similar description. Those who have a tolerable acquaintance with the Scriptures see that, with a view to brevity, I am only producing a few out of many passages, from which it is perfectly clear that it is the merest trifling to substitute a bare permission for the providence of God, as if he sat in a watch-tower waiting for fortuitous events, his judgments meanwhile depending on the will of man.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 18-Henry Beveridge Translation

Answering the objection that God repents and his Providence is not fixed

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015The second part of the chapter, disposing of two objections. 1. That Scripture represents God as changing his purpose, or repenting, and that, therefore, his Providence is not fixed. Answer to this first objection. Proof from Scripture that God cannot repent.

On the Providence of God, in so far as conducive to the solid instruction and consolation of believers, (for, as to satisfying the curiosity of foolish men, it is a thing which cannot be done, and ought not to be attempted,) enough would have been said, did not a few passages remain which seem to insinuate, contrary to the view which we have expounded, that the counsel of God is not firm and stable, but varies with the changes of sublunary affairs. First, in reference to the Providence of God, it is said that he repented of having made man, (Genesis 6:6,) and of having raised Saul to the kingdom, (1 Samuel 15:11,) and that he will repent of the evil which he had resolved to inflict on his people as soon as he shall have perceived some amendment in them, (Jeremiah 18:8.) Secondly, his decrees are sometimes said to be annulled. He had by Jonah proclaimed to the Ninevites, “Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be overthrown,” but, immediately on their repentance, he inclined to a more merciful sentence, (Jonah 3:4-10.) After he had, by the mouth of Isaiah, given Hezekiah intimation of his death, he was moved by his tears and prayers to defer it, (Isaiah 38:15; 2 Kings 20:15.) Hence many argue that God has not fixed human affairs by an eternal decree, but according to the merits of each individual, and as he deems right and just, disposes of each single year, and day, and hour. As to repentance, we must hold that it can no more exist in God than ignorance, or error, or impotence. If no man knowingly or willingly reduces himself to the necessity of repentance, we cannot attribute repentance to God without saying either that he knows not what is to happen, or that he cannot evade it, or that he rushes precipitately and inconsiderately into a resolution, and then forthwith regrets it. But so far is this from the meaning of the Holy Spirit, that in the very mention of repentance he declares that God is not influenced by any feeling of regret, that he is not a man that he should repent. And it is to be observed, that, in the same chapter, both things are so conjoined, that a comparison of the passages admirably removes the appearance of contradiction. When it is said that God repented of having made Saul king, the term change is used figuratively. Shortly after, it is added, “The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for he is not a man, that he should repent,” (1 Samuel 15:29.) In these words, his immutability is plainly asserted without figure. Wherefore it is certain that, in administering human affairs, the ordination of God is perpetual and superior to every thing like repentance. That there might be no doubt of his constancy, even his enemies are forced to bear testimony to it. For, Balaam, even against his will, behaved to break forth into this exclamation, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he said, and shall he not do it? or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19.)

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 17-Henry Beveridge Translation

God’s providence urges sinners to repentance

February 10, 2016 Leave a comment

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015He shakes off their lethargy, and urges them to repentance.

9. Meditation continued.
10. The right use of inferior causes explained.
11. When the godly become negligent or imprudent in the discharge of duty, Providence reminds them of their fault.
12. It condemns the iniquities of the wicked.
13. It produces a right consideration of the future, rendering the servants of God prudent, diligent, and active.
14. It causes them to resign themselves to the wisdom and omnipotence of God, and, at the same time, makes them diligent in their calling.

9. At the same time, the Christian will not overlook inferior causes. For, while he regards those by whom he is benefited as ministers of the divine goodness, he will not, therefore, pass them by, as if their kindness deserved no gratitude, but feeling sincerely obliged to them, will willingly confess the obligation, and endeavor, according to his ability, to return it. In fine, in the blessings which he receives, he will revere and extol God as the principal author, but will also honor men as his ministers, and perceive, as is the truth, that by the will of God he is under obligation to those, by whose hand God has been pleased to show him kindness. If he sustains any loss through negligence or imprudence, he will, indeed, believe that it was the Lord’s will it should so be, but, at the same time, he will impute it to himself. If one for whom it was his duty to care, but whom he has treated with neglect, is carried off by disease, although aware that the person had reached a limit beyond which it was impossible to pass, he will not, therefore, extenuate his fault, but, as he had neglected to do his duty faithfully towards him, will feel as if he had perished by his guilty negligence. Far less where, in the case of theft or murder, fraud and preconceived malice have existed, will he palliate it under the pretext of Divine Providence, but in the same crime will distinctly recognize the justice of God, and the iniquity of man, as each is separately manifested. But in future events, especially, will he take account of such inferior causes. If he is not left destitute of human aid, which he can employ for his safety, he will set it down as a divine blessing; but he will not, therefore, be remiss in taking measures, or slow in employing the help of those whom he sees possessed of the means of assisting him. Regarding all the aids which the creatures can lend him, as hands offered him by the Lord, he will avail himself of them as the legitimate instruments of Divine Providence. And as he is uncertain what the result of any business in which he engages is to be, (save that he knows, that in all things the Lord will provide for his good,) he will zealously aim at what he deems for the best, so far as his abilities enable him. In adopting his measures, he will not be carried away by his own impressions, but will commit and resign himself to the wisdom of God, that under his guidance he may be led into the right path. However, his confidence in external aid will not be such that the presence of it will make him feel secure, the absence of it fill him with dismay, as if he were destitute. His mind will always be fixed on the Providence of God alone, and no consideration of present circumstances will be allowed to withdraw him from the steady contemplation of it. Thus Joab, while he acknowledges that the issue of the battle is entirely in the hand of God, does not therefore become inactive, but strenuously proceeds with what belongs to his proper calling, “Be of good courage,” says he, “and let us play the men for our people, and for the cities of our God; and the Lord do that which seemeth him good,” (2 Samuel 10:12.) The same conviction keeping us free from rashness and false confidence, will stimulate us to constant prayer, while at the same time filling our minds with good hope, it will enable us to feel secure, and bid defiance to all the dangers by which we are surrounded.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 17-Henry Beveridge Translation

A holy meditation on Divine Providence

calvin.jpg_7MA21605611-0015A holy meditation on Divine Providence.
1. All events happen by the ordination of God.
2. All things contribute to the advantage of the godly.
3. The hearts of men and all their endeavors are in the hand of God.
4. Providence watches for the safety of the righteous.
5. God has a special care of his elect.

6. These calumnies, or rather frenzied dreams, will easily be dispelled by a pure and holy meditation on Divine Providence, meditation such as piety enjoins, that we may thence derive the best and sweetest fruit. The Christian, then, being most fully persuaded, that all things come to pass by the dispensation of God, and that nothing happens fortuitously, will always direct his eye to him as the principal cause of events, at the same time paying due regard to inferior causes in their own place. Next, he will have no doubt that a special providence is awake for his preservation, and will not suffer anything to happen that will not turn to his good and safety. But as its business is first with men and then with the other creatures, he will feel assured that the providence of God reigns over both. In regard to men, good as well as bad, he will acknowledge that their counsels, wishes, aims and faculties are so under his hand, that he has full power to turn them in whatever direction, and constrain them as often as he pleases. The fact that a special providence watches over the safety of believers, is attested by a vast number of the clearest promises. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” “Casting all your care upon him: for he careth for you.” “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” “He that toucheth you, toucheth the apple of mine eye.” “We have a strong city: salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks.” “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” Nay, the chief aim of the historical books of Scripture is to show that the ways of his saints are so carefully guarded by the Lord, as to prevent them even from dashing their foot against a stone. Therefore, as we a little ago justly exploded the opinion of those who feign a universal providence, which does not condescend to take special care of every creature, so it is of the highest moment that we should specially recognize this care towards ourselves. Hence, our Savior, after declaring that even a sparrow falls not to the ground without the will of his Father, immediately makes the application, that being more valuable than many sparrows, we ought to consider that God provides more carefully for us. He even extends this so far, as to assure us that the hairs of our head are all numbered. What more can we wish, if not even a hair of our head can fall, save in accordance with his will? I speak not merely of the human race in general. God having chosen the Church for his abode, there cannot be a doubt, that in governing it, he gives singular manifestations of his paternal care.

John Calvin-Institutes of the Christian Religion-Book I-Chapter 17-Henry Beveridge Translation

Is It Possible for Christians to Idolize the Bible?

January 26, 2015 13 comments

My comment: As I discuss scripture on social media, I am often accused of making the Bible an idol. Those who accuse me of this do not like it when I constantly appeal to scripture to make my case concerning the topic under discussion. I am usually told by many on social media that we are not to make the Bible an idol, but the main thing is for a person to have Jesus in their heart. Now I would absolutely agree that we need to know Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, but where and through what medium does our Lord communicate his will to us? Christ’s will can only be made known to us through sacred scripture.

Scripture tells us that the very words of holy writ are inspired of God. In 2 Timothy 3:16-17 Paul says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,……..” Paul’s declaration of scripture’s inspiration refers to its origin. He uses the Greek word ‘theopneust’, which means ‘God-breathed’. Though the word is usually translated ‘inspired’, which means to breathe in, technically the word ‘theopneust’ refers to a breathing out, which might more accurately be translated ‘expired’. Paul is saying that scripture is expired or breathed out by God. This breathing out is the breath of God.

The Reformers had a high view of scripture. They believed that the Bible is the Word of God, the verbum Dei, or the voice of God, the vox Dei. Matter fact it has been said that justification was the material cause of the Reformation, while the issue of authority was its formal cause. The battle cry of the Reformers and now my battle cry also, is sola fide and sola scriptura. Faith Alone and Scripture Alone is what I stand on. With this much stated, I want to point you to an article:

 

 

By Colin Smith

A few months ago, I read the following in an article by an author who self-identifies as an evangelical: “While the Bible is an important and authoritative guide for Christian faith and practice, it isn’t the foundation or center of our faith- Jesus is… Studying Scripture is valuable, but nowhere near as valuable as cultivating a day to day relationship with the God incarnate.”

This author has a number of views that make him a bit of an outlier in the evangelical movement as it’s been traditionally defined. However, I’m finding that his view of Scripture is increasingly common. More and more, I hear sentiments within the Church like:

 

•“Many Christians are putting too much emphasis on the Bible instead of Christ and the Holy Spirit.”
•“The Trinity is not Father, Son, and Holy Scripture.”
•“Beware of making the Bible an idol.”

Hence the question: Is it possible for Christians to idolize the Bible?

 

 

 

Read the entire article here.