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.

————-

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.

Prayer for 2011

It’s the time of year that we think about New Year’s resolutions.  There are things about us that we want to change, so we make a list of habits to get rid of or habits that we want to add. I’m not here to give you advice about how to lose weight or save money or make better use of your time. I do want to help you think about your goals for growth as a Christian in 2011.

At Faith Bible Church, we have 3 main priorities. We call them “growth” priorities, because everything about our Christian life should be about growing, not remaining stagnant. We have a priority of personal growth, which we define as Pursuing our love for Christ. A key verse related to personal growth is Matthew 22:37: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. We also have a priority of church growth (not about numerical growth), which we define as Helping one another grow in Christ-like Maturity. A key verse related to church growth is Eph. 4:14-15 Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way…into Christ, from whom the whole body…when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. We have a goal of gospel growth, defined as Declaring in word and deed the gospel of Christ. One of the key verses that speaks about gospel growth is Acts 1:8, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.

Here are some more key verses relating to each priority, along with prayer suggestions to voice the heart for each area. May God bless you and answer these prayers in you according to His perfect will.

New Year’s Prayer for personal growth, church growth and gospel growth

Personal Growth

Psalm 63:1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;

my soul thirsts for you;

my flesh faints for you,

as in a dry and weary land

where there is no water.

Prayer for personal growth in 2011

  • Seeking after God
  • Thirsting for Him
  • Keeping a soft heart before Him

Church Growth

Heb. 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Prayer for church growth in 2011

  • Prayerfully helping fellow Christians towards love and good works
  • Encouraging each other by regularly meeting together
  • Exhorting each other that the Day of the Lord is near

Gospel Growth

Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes

Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, … grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,

Col. 4:3-4 …pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, …that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Prayer for gospel growth in 2011

  • Pray for a heart that is not ashamed of the gospel of Christ
  • Pray for boldness to share the gospel with words as well as deeds
  • Pray for open doors and opportunities to clearly speak the gospel of Christ

I Must Tell Jesus

Some Sundays I get the privilege to play a brief instrumental “meditation” after the message. For me, it’s a time of prayer and reflection that is expressed through music. It quiets my heart and helps me reflect on the truth just preached in the message. It is worship, plain and simple.

I don’t plan what I’m going to play. I do this for a couple of reasons.

First, I like the musical challenge of making something up on the spot. It helps me stay sharp as a musician/arranger/composer. I don’t ever mean to do it from a prideful standpoint. Some people serve and minister in ways that I could never dream of. This is something that I can do, so I just try to offer it to the Lord from a grateful heart.

The second reason I don’t plan what I’m going to play is that I like for the Holy Spirit to move in me, leading me to a song that might be appropriate for the morning. Sometimes, that song is an old hymn. Sometimes the song is a contemporary song. Sometimes, I just improvise something new, in the moment…playing a “new song”, as it were.

I listen to the sermon like everyone does. I am challenged and encouraged as I trust everyone is as God’s Word is preached and proclaimed. I then respond, in that moment, with worship of a song. My prayer for the body is that you will respond with worship according to the way God has gifted you. Serve, speak, encourage, exhort, teach and lead according to the way God has gifted you, as an act of worship to Him.

——————————————————-

This morning’s song (Oct. 31) was an old hymn, called “I Must Tell Jesus”. Several of you asked about it after the service. The words are printed below. I trust they will be an encouragement to you…

I Must Tell Jesus

by Elisha A. Hoffman

I must tell Jesus all of my trials;
I cannot bear these burdens alone;
In my distress He kindly will help me;
He ever loves and cares for His own.

Refrain

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
I cannot bear my burdens alone;
I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!
Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

I must tell Jesus all of my troubles;
He is a kind, compassionate friend;
If I but ask Him, He will deliver,
Make of my troubles quickly an end.

Refrain

Tempted and tried, I need a great Savior;
One Who can help my burdens to bear;
I must tell Jesus, I must tell Jesus;
He all my cares and sorrows will share.

Refrain

O how the world to evil allures me!
O how my heart is tempted to sin!
I must tell Jesus, and He will help me
Over the world the victory to win.

Hebrews 2:18 “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (ESV)

Hebrews 4:15-16 “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need”

Joining with you in prayer,

Brad