God justifies the ungodly

from Spurgeon’s book, “All of Grace”

Romans 4:5 “And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness”

“He makes those just who are unjust, forgives those who deserve to be punished, and favors those who deserve no favor. You thought, did you not, that salvation was for the good? that God’s grace was for the pure and holy, who are free from sin? It has fallen into your mind that, if you were excellent, then God would reward you; and you have thought that because you are not worthy, therefore there could be no way of your enjoying His favor.

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It does sound surprising, does it not, that it should be possible for a holy God to justify an unholy man? We, according to the natural legality of our hearts, are always talking about our own goodness and our own worthiness, and we stubbornly hold to it that there must be somewhat in us in order to win the notice of God. Now, God, who sees through all deceptions, knows that there is no goodness whatever in us. He says that ‘there is none righteous, no not one’. He knows that ‘all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags,’ and therefore the Lord Jesus…comes, not because we are just, but to make us so: he ‘justifies the ungodly’.”

Thirsting and Hoping

Ps. 42: 1 “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?”

Ps. 43:5 “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”

I love the bookends of Ps. 42:1-2 and 43:5. In one of the most vivd word pictures of the Christian’s longing for fellowship with God, the psalmist speaks of his soul-thirst (Ps. 42:1-2). It is a poignant, powerful observation that God alone will satisfy the deepest thirst that we have: the thirst for living water.
Psalm 43 ends with the psalmist directly addressing his soul. It has been often said, perhaps best by Martin Lloyd-Jones, that we spend too much time listening to ourselves and not enough time talking to ourselves. The psalmist picks up this challenge and speaks directly to the very disquiet of his inmost being. It’s as if he is saying, “soul, don’t you remember who you were thirsting for and longing for just a short while ago? You were thirsting for the *living God*. You knew that only He could satisfy the deepest longing, the deepest appetite for nourishment and fulfillment. This same God is the One in Whom you will again find your hope. You will praise Him! Oh, remember!”
May God grant us the grace today to hope in Him.

Mercy

Spurgeon on the Christian’s ongoing need for mercy from God:
“Only on the footing of free grace can the most experienced and most honoured of the saints approach their God. The best of men are conscious above all others that they are men at the best. Empty boats float high, but heavily laden vessels are low in the water; mere professors can boast, but true children of God cry for mercy upon their unprofitableness.
We have need that the Lord should have mercy upon our good works, our prayers, our preachings, our alms-givings, and our holiest things. The blood was not only sprinkled upon the doorposts of Israel’s dwelling houses, but upon the sanctuary, the mercy-seat, and the altar, because as sin intrudes into our holiest things, the blood of Jesus is needed to purify them from defilement. If mercy be needed to be exercised towards our duties, what shall be said of our sins? How sweet the remembrance that inexhaustible mercy is waiting to be gracious to us, to restore our backslidings, and make our broken bones rejoice!”

Our Purpose Here on Earth

I just read this encouraging devotional thought from Spurgeon’s “Morning and Evening”:

If God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here. It is possible for a man to be taken to heaven, and to be found meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, though he has but just believed in Jesus. It is true that our sanctification is a long and continued process, and we shall not be perfected till we lay aside our bodies and enter within the veil; but nevertheless, had the Lord so willed it, he might have changed us from imperfection to perfection, and have taken us to heaven at once. Why then are we here? Would God keep his children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battle-field when one charge might give them the victory? Why are his children still wandering hither and thither through a maze, when a solitary word from his lips would bring them into the centre of their hopes in heaven? The answer is—they are here that they may “live unto the Lord,” and may bring others to know his love. We remain on earth as sowers to scatter good seed; as ploughmen to break up the fallow ground; as heralds publishing salvation. We are here as the “salt of the earth,” to be a blessing to the world. We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for him, and as “workers together with him.” Let us see that our life answereth its end. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to “the praise of the glory of his grace.” Meanwhile we long to be with him, and daily sing—

“My heart is with him on his throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
‘Rise up, and come away.’ ”

The works of God in the ordinary

From D.A. Carson, commenting on Neh. 4: “If God is God, if he has graciously made himself known in the great moments of redemptive history and in visions and words faithfully transmitted by prophets he has raised up, why should we not also think of this God as operating in the so-called “natural” course of events? Otherwise we have retreated to some myopic vision in which God works only in the spectacular and the miraculous, but otherwise is absent or asleep or uncaring. The God described in the Bible is never so small or distant. ”

This is my encouragement for the day, to look for the amazing hand of God in the ordinary events of life. And once I see His hand, to worship Him in thankfulness and awe, that He is so intimately involved in every aspect of my day.