the Woodshop at the Cross

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God Uses Everything For Our Good…Even Evil

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I think this may be a good quote to help us understand how God can use evil and/or sin. Just because God uses sin and evil, He is not guilty of wrongdoing. And He can still be good even if He uses sin, evil, and evil people. All things, not some or most, but…

All things work together for good.

This expression “work together” refers to medicine. Several poisonous ingredients put together, being tempered by the skill of the apothecary, make a sovereign medicine, and work together for the good of the patient. So all God’s providences being divinely tempered and sanctified, do work together for the best to the saints. He who loves God and is called according to His purpose, may rest assured that every thing in the world shall be for his good. This is a Christian’s cordial, which may warm him — make him like Jonathan who, when he had tasted the honey at the end of the rod, “his eyes were enlightened” (I Sam. xiv. 27). Why should a Christian destroy himself? Why should he kill himself with care, when all things shall sweetly concur, yea, conspire for his good?

~Thomas Watson, from All Things For Good, page 11; Banner of Truth Trust

Getting Back On The Horse…and Christian Contentment

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It’s time to get back into blogging, through the Puritans and the like…and whatever else I find to be spiritually edifying. It’s been about two years since I’ve blogged here faithfully. And, Lord willing I’ll get back into it now. I have truly missed being here!

Over the past couple of years, our family has had to endure some trials and by the grace and mercy of God, He has brought us through them with a tenderness that has been very sweet. The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs (1599-1646) has been a treasure trove in the midst of afflictions and has been a means that the Lord has used for our encouragement that He is Lord over our lives…and over our afflictions. This book is a 200 plus page exposition on Philippians 4:11, ‘I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content’

“Contentment is taking pleasure in God’s disposal”

This is a terribly offensive statement to the humanistic ego, and I would say that the most powerful word in the above statement is the word “in“. A few sentences after Burroughs says this, he lays waste to having only a reminiscent view of the good that the afflictionwas for us. He argues that we should find contentment in the midst of the affliction, because it is God who has ordered it.

Here’s Burroughs in his own words:

To acknowledge that it is just that I am afflicted is possible in one who is not truly contented. I may be convinced that God deals justly in this matter, he is righteous and just and it is right that I should submit to what he has done; O the Lord has done righteously in all ways! But that is not enough! You must say, ‘Good is the hand of the Lord.’ It was the expression of old Eli, ‘Good is the word of the Lord’, when it was a sore and hard word. It was a word that threatened very grievous things to Eli and his house, and yet Eli says, ‘Good is the word of the Lord.’ 

Perhaps some of you may say, like David, ‘It is good that I was afflicted’, but you must come to this, ‘It is good that I am afflicted.’ Not just good when you see the good fruit it has wrought, but to say when you are afflicted, ‘It is good that I am afflicted. Whatever the affliction, yet through the mercy of God mine is a good condition.’ It is, indeed, the top and the height of this art of contentment to come to this pitch and to be able to say, ‘Well, my condition and afflictions are so and so, and very grievous and sore; yet, through God’s mercy, I am in a good condition, and the hand of God is good upon me notwithstanding.’

~Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment;  Banner of Truth Trust; page 34

Fate & Providence

From the church bulletin yesterday:

What is fate? Fate is this-Whatever is, must be. But there is a difference between that and Providence. Providence says, “Whatever God ordains must be; but the wisdom of God never ordains anything without a purpose. Everything in this world is working for some one great end…The doctrine of Providence is not, that what is, must be; but that, what is, works together for the good of our race, and especially for the good of the chosen people of God.

~Charles Spurgeon

Learning Meekness

“for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. “
(James 1:20 NKJV)

My father used to tell me that nobody ever wins an argument. His point was that the moment anger or passion takes hold of a conversation, everything said after that is just destructive. I believe I have proved his point on several occasions to the detriment of others and the embarrassment of myself, since receiving his advice. Anger in a conversation would rather take truth as a sword to destroy someone rather than an instrument of precise pruning. We might trim a hedge by cutting it down, but that would kill it.

For a Christian, truth coupled with anger is a sin. We think we are to go, and that we should, set that person straight. Most often we care not for someone until we care to rip them to shreds with the truth. Truth is precise and razor sharp, so great care and love must be coupled with truth in order to administer it properly. God is Truth…God is Love. Both. Not one or the other, but both at the same time.

This is what should be defining Christianity…

Here’s Manton on this:

Christianity, of all religions, is the meekest and most humble. It is founded upon the blood of Christ, who is a Lamb slain. It is consigned and sealed by the Spirit of Christ, who descended like a dove. Both are emblems of a meek and modest humility. And should a meek religion be defended by our violences, and the God of peace served with wrathful affections, and the madness of an evil nature bewray itself in the best cause? Christ’s warfare needeth not such carnal weapons; as Achish said, ‘Have I need of mad men?’ 1 Sam. 21:15. So, hath Jesus Christ need of our passions and furies? Doth the God of heaven need  a tongue set on fire of hell? James 3:6.

~Thomas Manton (from his commentary on James)

Calvin On Living Well

In ordering the life well, let faith and religion be the foundation, which being taken away, all other virtues are but smokes.

Religion cannot be separated from the fear of God and the reverence of Him, neither can any man be counted godly, save he who, acknowledging God to be his Father and Lord, doth addict himself wholly to Him.

-John Calvin, from his commentary on Acts 10

A Mass of Contradictions

The Christian is enabled to rejoice greatly, even when he is grieved by manifold trials. He rejoices and grieves at the same time. He is a mass of contradictions. He is weak, yet strong; has no righteousness, yet is divinely righteous; has no strength, yet is invincible; a worm, yet threshes mountains (Isaiah 41: 14-15); poor, yet making many rich; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing. Joy and grief fill his heart at the same time, so that it is possible that he may ‘receive the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost’ (1 Thess. 1:6).

~Robert Murray M’Cheyne

from a sermon entitled Rejoicing in Affliction

The Only True Source of Comfort

This is what we might call, trying to ride a bike without the bike…

Is it not enough that men should be contented with such a stupid blindness, as, being called Christians, to look no farther for their comfort and consolation than moral considerations common to heathens would lead them, when one infinitely holy and blessed person of the Trinity has taken this office upon him to be our comforter, but they must oppose and despise him also? Nothing more discovers how few there are in the world that have interest in that blessed name whereby we are all called.

~John Owen

Death, The Christian’s Friend

The life in heaven begins at death. Death is the birthday of that life of immortality, and that is the life which can only truly be called life. When Christ came by dying to purchase life, it was not this sorry life on earth, but the life in the world to come, that life of immortal glory; and death’s day is the birthday of this life. And for our bodies, they are but refined by death, and fitted, as vessels cast into the fire, to be molded, to be most glorious vessels after. 

Death is ours every way. It is our greatest friend under the mask of an enemy. So that, whatsoever Satan may suggest to the contrary, death is ours; our friend that was our enemy; a good thing that was an ill. Our fancy in a temptation may make us apprehend those things that are useful and good to be terrible and ill, and those things that are truly dangerous to us as if they were the only good. Satan abuseth our imagination, by amplifying the good of evil, and the evil of good. But, indeed, death, and all that makes way unto it, sickness, and misery, they are ours; they do us good, they fit us for heaven. Sickness, it fits us for death; it unlooseth the soul from the body. As for the profits, and pleasures, and honors of the world, what do they? They nail us faster to the world, and do us hurt.

Therefore, death is ours. It is a good messenger; it brings good tidings when it comes. Hereupon it is that the wise man saith, ‘The day of death is better than the day of birth,’ Eccles. 7:1. When we are born, we come into misery; when we die, we go out of misery to happiness. It is better to go out of misery than to come into it. If the day of death be better than the day of birth to a Christian, certainly then death is theirs. It makes a short end of all that is miserable, and it is a terminus from whence all good begins. There is nothing in the world that doth us so much good as death. It ends all that is ill both of body and soul, and it begins that happiness that never shall have an end. Therefore, ‘blessed are they that die in the Lord, saith the Spirit,’ Rev. 14:13, ‘A voice from heaven’ saith so, and therefore, ‘Write,’ saith he. It may be written if the Spirit saith it: it is testimony and argument enough. ‘Blessed are those that die in the Lord: they rest from their labors; and their reward follows them.’ For they rest from all that is evil, and from that only. All that is good, ‘their works follow them.’ So that if all evil cease, and all good follows, I hope death may well be said to be ours, and for our good.

~Richard Sibbes

from A Christians Portion; volume 4 of Works, pages 11-12

Choosing Our Religion

A full and hearty choosing of this God for our God and portion, in opposition to all other persons and things : Psalm 16:2. ‘my soul, thou hast said unto the Lord, Thou art my Lord.’ Psalm 119:57. ‘Thou art my portion, Lord.’ We are not at liberty to choose our God or our portion, what we will give our hearts to, love most, &c. God, as our great Lord and Master, has determined that for himself. And law vengeance will pursue the neglect of it.

-Thomas Boston, volume 2 of Works, page 93

God’s Glory In Salvation Through Judgment

Speaking of Jude St. John, here is a great quote he shares: 

The transformation the church needs is the kind that results from beholding the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18-4:6). The glory of God is a saving and judging glory-an aroma of life to those being saved and death to those perishing (2 Cor. 2:15-16), and this saving and judging glory is at the center of biblical theology. If there is to be a renewal, it will be a renewal that grows out of the blazing center that is the glory of God in the face of Christ. This saving and judging glory, I contend, is the center of biblical theology.

Jim M. Hamilton Jr., God’s Glory In Salvation Through Judgment
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